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Belgian Wit Recipe

It has been super hot here for that past few days and I have been itching to brew something. The combination of heat and the perceived need to brew something light and refreshing lead me to try my had at a Belgian Wit. I haven’t tired to brew a Belgian beer in almost two years, and I’ve never brewed a Belgian Wit.

My recipes are generally a combination of research and simplicity. I find that many homebrewers often like to add 300 specialty grains because the grains add “something special” to their beers. I’m more of the mindset of, “breweries probably don’t add too many grain to their beers as they would cost to much to make, so I shouldn’t either.” I’ve been known to go crazy from time to time, but in general I like the KISS approach to brewing. For this beer, I kept the grain bill simple, but I added some ingredients that I have never worked with before to the mix. You can see my recipe below:

  • 5 lbs. Pilsner
  • 4 lbs Wheat Malt
  • .5 lb Oats
  • 1 oz Hallertau (3.0% AA) @ 60 min
  • 1 oz Saaz (2.6% AA) @15 min
  • .5 oz Bitter dried orange peel @ 5 min
  • .5 oz Coriander @5 min
  • Yeast: WLP410

I only went with three types of grain on this one with a slight edge to the Pilsner malt as I wanted to keep this beer out of a 50/50 ratio with the wheat. The wheat malt is still over 40% of the grain bill but I also wanted to try out oats as I’ve never had a chance to brew with them before. I’m hoping that they help give this beer a more silky character. The hops are pretty traditional European hops with low alpha acids and serve to help keep the beer in balance but are not intended to add any significant flavor or smell contribution.

The end of the recipe is where I was most excited. I’ve tried dried orange peel before but it has been almost four years and I thought this would be an excellent recipe to try it in again. The coriander is there to help the Wit be a bit more assertive in the spices that the yeast give off. WLP410 is on of White Labs seasonal releases that is only out there for May and June. It is rumored that it is the house Brewery Ommegang strain. It apparently has less phenolics then a typical Wit yeast strain and gives off more esters. It also doesn’t ferment as fully but I figure that the Coriander and esters will help give the beer a drying feeling at the end instead of leaving it overly sweet. The projected stats for this beer can be seen below:

  • Expected OG: 1.046
  • Expected FG: 1.011
  • Expected ABV: 4.5%
  • Expected IBUs: 14.5

I brewed this beer prior to posting this recipe and I did pretty well getting an OG of 1.042. I did make a mistake with the orange peel and coriander as I added them with my last hop addition instead of at the 5 minute mark.

Pilsner Recipe

Now that I am living in a place big enough to brew more beer, I have done just that. My “new” (moved in July) place has an unfinished basement that is perfect for all of my brewing supplies. One of the other benefits that I have found to having a basement was that it stays at a consistent 55 degrees in the winter, perfect temperatures for lagers. In my 5+ years of brewing, I have only attempted one lager before, but in 2012 alone I have brewed 3 and have plans for a few more before the weather warms up.

One of the first lagers that I brewed this year is a pilsner. I’m a big fan of a well done pilsner . I’ve only reviewed one pilsner on this site, but I have a few in the pipeline that need to get posted. Victory and Stoudts both make an excellent pilsner and I wanted to try my hand at making one. I also had a few lovely pilsners while I was in Germany last summer, so my intentions for this recipe is to make a mix of the examples that I enjoy with the southern German examples that I had.

There are many ways to do a pilsner, but I wanted to keep it simple with only two malts: pilsner and Munich. The idea behind the Munich malt is that it gives many of the same characteristics to a pilsner as what a traditional decoction would, without all of the work. I wanted to use only a touch of Munich so that the pilsner would retain its light color. I also wanted my pilsner to be a slightly more hops and ABV than a traditional one. I managed to stick within style, but on the extreme high side of the style. My recipe is below:

  • 9.5 lbs. Pilsner Malt
  • 1/2 lb. Munich Malt
  • 2 oz. Hallertau (3.3% AA) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz. Sterling (7% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • WLP 838 Southern German Lager

The expected outcomes for this beer are:

  • 5.2% ABV
  • 37 IBUs
  • 4.75 SRM

I really like Hallertau hops, but I wanted something a bit “punchier” for the aroma hop addition. Sterling is basically a strong version of Hallertau and has all of the same characteristics, but just intensified. I wanted to stay traditional with the ingredients as well, so I kept everything in line with that thinking.

The main reason I went with the Southern German Lager yeast is because I had a yeast cake of it from a previous batch of beer ready to go and I also like the flavor profile that it gives. The bready flavors seem to really come out with this yeast strain, and I thought that they would compliment the recipe. I also wanted to emulate the southern German pilsners that I had last summer.

 

Brown Porter Recipe

A brown porter is a style of beer that I have really enjoyed for a long period of time. I really enjoy fully flavored beers that provide a bit of roast, but also don’t kill you with alcohol. I also find porters to be more sipping beers, despite their low alcohol (4-5.4%). My thinking behind this beer was that I wanted to have something that was easy to make, super drinkable, and enjoyable in cold weather. I also wanted a beer that I could pitch on top of my IPA yeast. Below is the recipe that I came with for my take on a brown porter. It is as of yet, untested, but I will let you know how it turned out in a few weeks.

  • 6.25 lbs. English 2-Row
  • 2 lbs. Munich Malt
  • 1 lb. Crystal 40
  • 1/2 lb. Chocolate Malt
  • 1/4 lb. Roasted Barley
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (4.9% AA) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings (4.9% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • English Ale Yeast

The expected outcomes for this beer at a 75% efficiency is 5.2% ABV and ~28 IBUs.

Again I like using a 2-Row as my base malt for the majority of my recipes and an English version works really good in this style. To me it adds a bit more body and flavor than the American versions. I also like to add 10-20% Munich Malt to add some light caramels, biscuit, and bready flavors to my beers. I went pretty heavy with the crystal on this beer, but I wanted to have a sweetness to it. The crystal also adds some nice color to the beer. My final two malt additions, chocolate and roasted barley, are there to give the flavors they indicate. I wanted to have some chocolate malt to add some chocolate tones to this beer. The roasted barley is there to add the needed roast flavors and to help cut through the sweetness.

I went with some traditional English hops to stick with the flavor styles properly. I also like the mild nature of the hops and the “natural” quality they give to the beer. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this beer turns out as I love the style and I really hope that I can brew up a quality/repeatable recipe. Who knows, this could serve as a base for future beers.

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 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.