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IPA Recipe

Part of my New Year’s Resolution for Brewery Reviewery was to post more of my homebrewing activity. I really slacked off in the last year and most posted about my wants/needs for what I want to do with my homebrewery. The beer recipe below, a citrus hop flavored IPA, has already been brewed and completely drank. It is a really solid recipe and it might be my best beer to date.

Before we get to the recipe, let me go through my thinking on the recipe with you. To begin with, I really enjoy IPAs, but if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that I am not a big fan of piney hops. I know that all hops will inherently have some of this flavor, but I wanted to minimize it as much as possible. Because of that I did a lot of research into hops that give off a lot of tangy, citrus, tropical, and grapefruit flavors. What I ended up deciding on was a mix of Amarillo and Citra hops. It was actually my first time using both of these hops, and I already have plans to use them again.

I’m also not a fan of IPAs with all hops and no malt backbone. I’m a big fan of balanced beers, so having a good malt component was key in the formulation of this recipe. I modeled my projected beer to be similar to Smooth Hoperator. Below is the recipe along with the hopping schedule.

  • 10 lbs. American 2-Row
  • 2 lbs. Munich Malt
  • 1/2 lb .Crystal 40
  • 1/2 lb. Cara-Pils
  • 1.25 oz. Amarillo hops (9.3% AA) @ 60 minutes
  • .75 oz Amarillo hops (9.3% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • .25 oz Citra hops (13.4% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • .75 oz Citra hops (13.4% AA) @ 0 minutes
  • Yeast is a mix of American and English Ale

The expected totals for this beer at a 75% efficiency should be 6.6% ABV and it should have ~63 IBUs.

I really like using American 2-Row or English 2-Row as a base malt (I’m sure I’m with the majority of homebrewers out there with that one). In addition I like adding 10%-20% Munich Malt to most of my grain bills as it adds a nice malt complexity, body, and overall good flavor. It also add some light color to the beer. The half pound of Crystal 40 serves two purposes, 1. Adds malt body and sweetness and 2. Adds some color. The final malt addition is Cara-Pils which doesn’t add much in the way of sugar or flavor, but it helps support head retention.

The hops, as I mentioned earlier are all there to add citrus flavors to the beer. I really wanted to add the majority of the hops towards the end of the beer to give it a killer nose. The ounce and a quarter of Amarillo hops at the beginning was enough to give a solid bitterness without making it too bitter.

As I said, I this beer has been brewed and completely drank. It really turned out excellent and did everything that I wanted to do. The nose was bright and fresh, the malt was solid, the mouthfeel was slightly creamy, and the overall bitterness was on line with an IPA. This beer is no hop bomb, but a balanced example of the style.

It feels really good to design a beer from the ground up with goals in mind and then to accomplish all of those goals. I really feel like I am making major steps forward with my brewing and this beer is just a great example of this.

Summer Blonde Ale Brew Day

I hadn’t brewed in a long time, so I was pumped to finally get a chance to brew some beer and enjoy/use my new equipment. My brew day was supposed to begin around 11:00 AM or so, but I had some chores to do so I didn’t actually get to brewing till around 3:30 PM.

There were two new pieces of equipment in use on this brew day; 7.5 gallon pot and a propane burner. The burner is such an improvement over my previous gas stove and my current electric stove. Heating of the mash and strike water took half of the time and who doesn’t love the sound of gas burning?

I began my day by smacking my smack pack of Wyeast 1318 London Ale III. Within three hours it was fully inflated and ready to go. I’ve had some trouble in the past with the smack pack not really going, but this one took off like a rocket.

I heated my mash water (~4 gallons) to 163, to give a mash temperature of 153. While the mash was going for an hour I prepared my fermenter and other equipment for sanitation. After the hour was up I used a new “method” to get the wort out of the mash tun. The reason behind this was that I was listening to a homebrewing podcast a bit ago and they talked about boosting efficiency in your mash by letting your wort run slowly out of the grain instead of letting it flow like crazy. I’ve always let it flow like crazy, so this time I only opened the valveĀ  a bit and let a trickle. It took a lot longer, but the resulting wort gave me a 79% efficiency.

Once all of the wort was in the pot, the real fun could begin. I fired up the burner and awaited a boil. Wonderfully enough, the boil began in about 10 minutes. Have I mentioned how much I love my new burner? I was slightly worried about a boil over as I haven’t had a chance to test the temperature control on the burner yet. My worried were unnecessary as a small increase or decrease of the gas flow had an immediate impact on my boil.

From boil time to 15 minutes before flame out the brewing was pretty unexciting. With 15 minutes left to go, I placed my wort chiller into the wort to sanitize it and threw in some Irish Moss. With 10 minutes left to go I threw in a new product to me, Wyeast Yeast Nutrient. With 5 minutes to go I added the last addition of hops and at flame out I switched off the gas, started the water through the chiller, and awaited proper temperatures to be reached.

Being that it is the summer, the ground water is kind of warm and the chiller took almost a half hour to get near 70 degrees. I placed the wort into my new better bottle and threw the yeast in as well. Once completed, the better bottle, wort, and yeast were placed into my kegorator with the temperature set at 68 degrees. The is my first attempt at temperature control so we will see how that goes. I was encouraged to see bubbles with 8 hours of brewing. All in all, it was a wonderful brew day and I got the chance to play with a lot of new fun toys.

Summer Blonde Ale Recipe

It has been some time since I posted a homebrew recipe on this site. As I mentioned previously , I haven’t brewed in about three months but I brewed a fair amount before my dormant period. I will make sure to get the recipes for my other beers up on here at some point soon.

If you have been following this blog for any period of time you will know that I love a beer with a bready finishing note. My wife likes the bready finish more than I do so when it came time to plan out my next beer recipe, I made sure to make something that was a bit more malt forward. While being more malt focused than normal, I didn’t want anything super sweet, and certainly not caramel flavors. I also wanted to make something that could be used to drink for the remainder of the summer.

I started by deciding to make an American Blonde Ale. This style very light in flavor and hopping, but also allows for some variety in both hops and malt. Using the American Blonde Ale style as my guide, with the following considerations:

  • Original Gravity: 1.035-1.050
  • Color: 3-6 SRM
  • Alcohol: 4%-5.5%
  • Bitterness: 15-25 IBUs

After reading a few more things about the style I found a few things about the flavor profile that I wanted to change. Jamil Zainasheff says “Blonde ale should always be a smooth, easy to drink beer with a clean fermentation profile and just a touch of malt character.” I wanted to add a level of yeast character to this beer with some fruity notes. For this reason I decided to use an English Ale style yeast that will help the beer hold some sweetness and also give it some nice fruity esters. I also decided to use about 10% wheat malt to give a bit a different malt character than a typical American Blonde Ale.

Below is the recipe that I decided on:

  • 7 lbs Pilsner Malt
  • 1 lbs Munich Malt
  • 1 lbs Torrified Wheat Malt
  • 1 oz Saaz hops at 60 mins.
  • 1 oz Saaz hops at 5 mins.
  • Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

I am hoping that this combination of ingredients will produce a beer that has a slightly richer body than an American Blonde Ale and that has a medium amount of fruity esters. If all goes right, my Summer Blonde Ale will have the following stats:

  • 5.25 SRM
  • 4.5% ABV
  • 22.5 IBUs

I’m looking forward to brewing this beer. There isn’t a lot of room for mistakes with this flavor profile so any mistakes will be very noticeable.

Dry hopping = bad bottling

When I bottled my Dry Hopped Dead Guy Ale last week I ran into a problem. Bottling was almost a failure. Let me start off with the fact that this way my first dry hopped beer that didn’t have the hop leaves contained in a bag. Needless to say there were a lot of hop leaves floating around in the carboy. I didn’t think that this was going to be a problem, but my auto-siphon was continually getting clogged wit the leaves.

This clogging had two negative effects. The first was that it took forever to transfer from the carboy to the bottling bucket. The second was that it introduced a lot of air/bubbles into the line from the auto-siphon to the bottling bucket. Air is great when beer is just starting it’s fermentation, but not so good when it is finished. In fact, it is downright bad to have that much air introduced into the beer. The beer did turn out pretty tasty (at least what I tasted from the bottling bucket) but we will have to wait a few week for it to carbonate to see how it really turned out.

Next time I think about dry hopping I am going to be getting a stainless steel sleeve that hops the flowers and also fits perfectly into a carboy. It was a fun experiment and hopefully the results will reflect the fun.

Winter Warmer

12-14-01About three weeks ago I brewed my version of a Winter Warmer. You can find the recipe here. I had a new mash tun setup going into this brew day because my last beer, Pumpkin Ale, had a stuck sparge and resulted in a bunch of other issues. While the Pumpkin Ale still turned out decent, it was not as good as it should of beer do to the loss of sugar/wort from the stuck sparge. With everything revamped in the mash tun, the Winter Warm was the first recipe to make sure everything was working properly.

I heated up my mash water and dumped the grain into the mash tun. I also had another piece of new equipment, a 3 foot metal slotted spoon, that I got for 2 bucks at a local restaurant supply store. It might not sound like a lot, but it really helps break up those dough balls and insure that I get all of the sugar I can out of the grain. Once the water hit the proper temp, I poured it in and started mixing everything together. My target mash temp was around 158, I was reading slightly above that. I waited a bit for it to cool down and added a touch of cold water, but it was still a little high. Not being an exact kind of person, I put the lid on and started the timer.

12-14-03An hour later I opened the mash tun to find a wonderful sight. Lots of light and dark colored grain laying all over the place. Equally mixed and everything. MLK would of been proud. After positioning my boil kettle, I opened the ball value leading from my mash tun to watch a thick black liquid run out. I think this is by far the darkest beer I have ever made. I couldn’t tell if it was running clear at all becasue it was so dark.

After collecting my first runnings I added the strike water for the second, let it sit in there for about 10 minutes and let it run out into the kettle as well. This round was much lighter. It was still dark by beer standards, but you could see through it and had a nice nut brown ale color to it. I also added the pound of molasses during this time, using the hot second runnings to clean out the jar for me as 12-14-04molasses is very sticky.

The wort then boiled for an hour with all of the hop additions happening when they were supposed to. I did not add any Irish Moss to this batch because the beer was so dark, and there is no chance of seeing through it as is. Once it was all cooled down and the yeast pitched, I took a gravity reading. Holy smokes! I hit it right on the head. I wanted to get a gravity of 1.075 and that is exactly what I got. Never before have I hit a target gravity. I always fall a few points below. It fermented for a week and then was racked to the secondary. I will be bottling it later this week and let it condition for a bit. It should be ready for New Years if all goes well and those carbonation problems don’t keep happening. (more…)