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Winter Warmer Recipe

11-20-01In my last homebrew post I talked about doing a Colonial American style beer. Well I am still working on that, but I have a lot more reading to do so that I can make it accurately. In the meantime, I thought that I would embrace the coming season change and got with a winter warmer. I’ve always been a fan of winter seasonal beers, but I have never made one of my own. My wife has also been asking me to make something dark and malty. A winter warmer fits perfectly into that style.

Let me begin with the fact that I have only had a handful of beers classified as “winter warmer” before in my life. I think my favorite belongs to Lancaster Brewing Company, which I enjoyed plenty of last year back in PA. The things I like about it are the facts that it has a huge body, a lot of different flavor notes (some fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and caramel), and it all comes in being very well balanced. Furthermore, for an 8.9% abv beer there isn’t much, if any, alcohol noticeable and there is not a lot of hop bite on the back. The malt and complexity in it are what shine in this beer.

So I began doing some research trying to find a starting point with this beer. And after all was said and done, I came up with a recipe that I think is unique and should deliver a great amount of complexity.

  • 8.0 lbs American 2-Row
  • 2.0 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Caramel Malt 90L
  • 1.0 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt
  • 0.5 lbs American Black Patent
  • 1.0 lbs Molasses
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 60 mins)
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 15 mins)
  • Nottingham Dry Ale yeast, with starter

I’m planning on mashing this at about 150 degrees for an hour. Doing so should give a nice balance between malt character and easy fermenting sugar. The 1 lb of molasses will be added into the kettle during the first runnings. I put a lot of dark malts into this beer becasue I want something with some coffee, molasses, and chocolate notes.

The chocolate wheat and rye were a last minute decision and the original recipe had one pound of wheat malt. I’ve never used chocolate wheat/rye malt and this is my first experience with rye malt overall, so I’m not entirely sure what impacts they will have. From my  understanding, rye malt tends to dry a beer out and give a crisper feel to it. Even at that, it makes up about 4% of then total grain bill, so it should not have a large effect weather it be positive or negative.

I also went with a dry ale yeast here for a few reasons. First, I used it on the pumpkin ale with good results. Second, the dry ale yeast is easy to make a starter with and with the fluctuation in temperatures here in Texas during this time of year (40 degrees between day and night) I didn’t want any active yeast to suffer. Third is that the optimal temperature range for this yeast is 57-70 degrees which falls perfectly into my apartment’s temperatures. Fourth, it is highly flocculant (precipitating) and highly attenuating. And lastly, it has a lost ester profile, so the malt should be able to shine through even more when it is not competing with the hops or yeast esters.

The final stats on the beer look like this:

  • OG 1.075
  • 39 SRM
  • 7.5% ABV
  • 20.0 IBUs

I plan of fermenting for a week (or until fermention is complete) and than putting it into a secondary for 2-3 weeks. After that I will bottle it and leave it condition for another 2-3 weeks (hopefully there will be no carbonation problems this time around). Then I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Belgian Tripel update

08-09-02The Belgian Tripel is fermenting away and is my most active fermentation to date. Most of my brews go crazy for a day and a half and then the bubble subside and the yeast start working on all of the tough sugars left. The Tripel on the other hand, has been bubbling like crazy for the past two days and shows no signs of stopping.

What I generally do with my brews is take a clear bottle and put a small sample of wort into it. I then seal it up with a rubble stopper and airlock. Of course all of this is sanitized. I do this for two reasons, the first of which being that I can see what is going on in the fermenter on a small scale because it is all based off of the same wort and yeast in the larger fermenter. The second is that I don’t have to waste wort getting samples out and don’t have to risk contamination in doing so. My refractomer only requires a few drops of wort, so it does not make sense to open up the whole thing to get a little bit out. You can read more about my “mini fermenter” here.

08-09-01

When I first put the wort in the mini fermenter I noticed some seperation happening towards the bottom. I believe that it was the wheat malt dropping out and some of the reminents from the hop pellets. When I check the mini fermenter today there was no sediment at the bottom. There was a very active fermentation going on, almost violent. I was and still am thrilled that the fermentation seems to getting along so well with my concerns about the yeast. As of this morning, the fermentation seems to have peeked and the bubbles as coming to a slow (but the violence happening in the bottle is the same). I still haven’t taken any gravity readings yet but that should be coming along soon. I want to wait for all of the activity on the top to subside before doing so. I’ll update in a few days on the progress of the beer.

Belgian Tripel Brew Day

08-08-01Yesterday I finally got to brew my Belgian Triple. I still need to think of a good name for it and I am taking suggestions. I recieved all of my ingredients from Austin Homebrew on Wednesday and quickly discovered that I had a few problems. The first was that the Wyeast 1214 Belgian Ale yeast was warm to hot. The summers here in Texas get scorching and the trip from Austin to Lubbock is a long hot one. I did order an ice pack, but that too was warm by the time it got here. The second was that Tettnanger and Saaz came in 2-3% less than what I was anticipating. I modified the recipe a bit to get similar IBUs out of the brew. I also change a few of the times in the mash and hopping schedule.

08-08-02Friday morning, around 9:30 or so, I smacked the pack to get the yeast woken up. I didn’t plan on actually starting the brew till 4:00 in the afternoon so that gave it plenty of time to puff up. The smack pack never really puffed up much past the first 2 hours. You can see in the picture to the left that it didn’t to much. I was a bit concerned but decided that it was too late to change anything.

I mashed my grains (12 lbs Belgian Pils, .5 lbs Belgian Pale, and .5 lbs unmalted wheat) for 90 minutes at 152ºF. The strike water temperature came in at 165ºF. After the 90 minutes I took the temperature again just to see how good my new mashtun held temps. The theomerter read 150ºF! I was pretty pleased what that result. I was acutally expecting it to drop much more than that.

I collected about 2.5 gallons of water from my orginal 4 gallons. I added another 3 gallons of water that came in at 170ºF. I collected my second runnings in the main boil pot and about a gallon of third runnings in a secondary pot. The point of this is to add it to the main pot once some of it boils away. I only have a 5 gallon pot, so trying to get the most out of it is tough. This is the method I have been using and it has worked. It also allows me to get the most out of the grains that I can.

08-08-07

08-08-06I boiled each pot for 30 minutes and then combined them. I also added 1 oz. of the Tettnanger at this time. I continued the boil for another 30 minutes and added .5 oz of Saaz hops. 15 minutes later I added another .5 oz of Saaz and 5 minutes after that I added a BrewVint Yeast Fuel. Finished out the boil for another 10 minutes and started the cooling process. 90 minute total boil. When all was said and done I had collected just under 4 gallons of wort, I was shooting for 3.5 gallons, and had a gravity of 1.074.

I was pretty happy with that, but it fell short of the gravity I wanted. Part of that was due to the increased wort volume and I think Beer Tools Pro overestimated the amount of sugar I would be able to get. I didn’t add anything to bring the gravity up to where I wanted it becasue I wasn’t sure about the health of the yeast. I pitched the yeast closed it all up and went over to a friends. I came back 4 hours later and the airlock was 08-08-04bubbling away. Success! The beer isn’t going to be as strong as I had intended but that’s ok. This is my first ever big beer and I am happy with the results thus far. If I would of done some more thinking and planning I would of tried to make a session beer with whatever sugars were left in the grain bed. Something to consider next time.

The Tripel should be in the primary for a week and the secondary for another week. Then it is bottling time. My apartment stays at a pretty consitent 75ºF so it should be just fine. And finally my new brewing partner enjoying all of the new smells. If you click the read more link after this you can see some more pictures from the brew day. (more…)

SB Birthday Beer

09-02-16-01One of my dear friends is turning 21 soon and she asked if I could make a homemade beer for her. Naturally I was thrilled that someone other than my roommate and I wanted to drink my beer, so I accepted the challenge. She is a big tea freak and wanted some tea flavor in the beer. I decided that a wheat beer would be ideal for a tea flavored beer. Wheat beers carry a lot of complex flavors that I thought would compliment the beer nicely.

I made a trip out to my homebrew store last week and got all of the necessary supplies. Below is a list of everything I picked up:

  • 3 pounds American 2-Row Pale malt
  • 3 pounds Wheat malt
  • 1 pound 60 Crystal malt
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (3.6%)
  • 1 tube liquid American Hefeweizen Ale yeast

I know that most wheat beers generally have a 50% wheat grain bill, but I wanted to make this an amber colored wheat beer and the homebrew store was running a bit low on wheat malt. This is supposed to make about 4 gallons worth of beer. I started my mash trying to get the grains to 110 degrees for 15 minutes, then 125 degrees for 15 minutes, and then finally 153 degrees for 45 minutes. All of these different temperatures are an attempt to release different characteristics from the wheat.

I boiled for the normal 60 with a half ounce of the Saaz going for the full boil and the other half ounce going for the last 15. I took the beer off the burner and put two teabags into wort leaving them there for only a minute or so. the  Everything went well and I cooled down the wort and pitched the yeast. The next day I took a look at my airlock and bubbles were firing away.

09-02-17-02I was unsure of the tea she wanted to use when I got my supplies. The day before brew day she gave me Chi Tea. I’m not a big tea guy so I made up a cup and found it to be very gingery. Not something I would put with a wheat beer with hefeweizen yeast. That’s the reason for such a short time in wort. I think the Chi would of gone great with a winter warmer type beer as the flavors are those I typically taste in a winter beer. At first glance I achieved an effieceny of 75% from my batch sparge and we are looking at an ABV of 4.3%. I’m pretty happy with that and I’m looking forward to trying this beer as it ages through and finally is ready to drink out of a bottle on her birthday in March.