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Beer Review #125 Boxcar IPA

Today’s beer is actually a newly released beer that comes from Boxcar Brewing Company out of West Chester, PA. Boxcar IPA has been available in stores for just over two weeks now and I have yet to see a review of it online. Just one important disclaimer before we get into this review, Boxcar Brewing is where I help volunteer a few times a year for their community bottling days. So I do have a bit more of a personal relationship with the brewers than any other brewery that I have reviewed on here before, but that will not get in the way of me reviewing this beer as fairly as I can.

Boxcar IPA pours a hazy orange color with a fluffy white head. This beer is naturally carbonated but there does seem to be a bit more yeast in this particular beer than what there is in a normal bottle conditioned beer. It doesn’t bother me at all (homebrew is full of yeast) but it might put off some. The nose isn’t very hoppy for an IPA but instead the malt seems to dominate. There is a sweetness to the beer that I haven’t noticed on many other IPAs. This might be due to the fact that they use Belgian candy sugar in the production of this beer. I also noticed some bubble gum on the nose which was interesting.

On my first taste I was really surprised at how restrained the hops are on this IPA. I love a balanced beer but I think this one could have a bit more of a kick and still be perfectly fine. There are some slight fruity notes upfront along with the sweetness from the malt. I found the heat to be a bit strong when the beer warmed up, but while cold this beer is very sneaky. It doesn’t taste like 7.2% but it is.

Boxcar IPA is a very different IPA from what I have ever had before. I believe that it fits into the style guidelines nicely, but it just offers some different flavors than what one would expect. Try it out if you see it to try a unique IPA. (more…)

Belgian Dubbel Brew Day

08-22-03Last Saturday around the time of this post I had a chance to brew my Belgian Dubbel. The wife went to see the Time Travelers Wife, which gave me a few hours of time to brew. The whole idea behind the beer was to save some money on yeast and have another Belgian style beer on-hand since I’m really digging Belgian beers right now, so is the wife. I ordered from Austin Homebrew Supply again and followed the ingredients that I had originally set-out on using. I didn’t order a half pound of wheat malt from them becasue I already had a pound on hand. One problem, they shorted me a half pound of Belgian Pale malt. Crap.

08-22-02I decided to go on with brewing anyway and get that half pound reimbursed at another time. I threw all of the grain into the mash tun and heated my strike water to 165ºF. Being that I roughly had 6.5 lbs of grain and wanted to keep a water to grain ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound the 2 gallons of water reached that temperature very quickly. I then let it all sit there for an hour and again, it only dropped 2ºF from 152ºF to 150ºF in that hour. I’m really happy with my new mash tun.

On my last brew, I had a terrible efficiency, so I wanted to fix that up a bit. I collected my first runnings and threw it back on top of the grain and collected it again. My thinking was that the water was still hot and I could grab some extra sugar.  I heated up another two gallons of water to 180ºF for the second and third runnings. On both I let them sit in the mash tun for 10 minutes. By the end I had collected 3.5 gallons of wort for the boil.

08-22-04I did my 60 minute boil using .5 oz of Styrian Goldings hops and 1 oz of Saaz hops for 15 minutes. I also threw in some Irish Moss to try and help clarity. Why I didn’t do this for the Tripel is still a good question. I cooled down the wort and pitched it on top of the yeast cake from the Tripel as that is now in a carboy.

I was shooting for a gravity of 1.062 but actually got 1.053. It was better than the Tripel but still pretty poor. Only 65% or so. I’m not sure if the problem is coming my mash, the water, or 08-22-01how Austin Homebrew Supply is crushing the grain. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter after talking to some people my the local homebrew club. Maybe new brew I will borrow on of their grain mills.

This brew marks my first experience with Belgian candy sugar as well. I used a dark variety of it. I was a bit concerned about scorching, but during the wait time with the second and third runnings I dumped all of it (1/2 lb) into the boil kettle and stirred like a madman. The kettle was sitting on the floor under the mash tun. The liquid was still hot and it dissolved pretty quickly. No scorching at all! I’ll have a few updates on both of my beers soon.

Belgian Dubbel Recipe

08-14-02The evil homebrew monkeys are churning in my head. I already have the Triple going and I am planning on racking it to the secondary this weekend so getting the most out of my yeast sounds like a good idea. I have the space in my fermenters right now to make an additonal beer and I am still on my Belgian kick so this seems perfect. I am going to make a nice dark, malty, and spicy Belgian Dubbel.

Part of my want to make this beer (other than reusing yeast) came from the May/June 2009 addition of Zymurgy. In it they say, “It was a sight to behold: glistening ruby highlights; a thick, creamy head; aromas of malt and caramel; sweet, but with a dry finish; hints of dark fruit and spices.” O my, that sounds wonderful.

08-14-01I loosely based my recipe off of some research and some of the recipies that the magazine provided. I also only wanted to make a small batch, like a case worth. Below is the recipe that I decided on.

  • 5.5 pounds of Belgian Pale malt
  • 6 oz Belgian Special B malt
  • 4 oz Munich malt
  • 4 oz Caramunich malt
  • 4 oz wheat malt
  • 1/2 pound of Amber Belgian Candy sugar
  • .5 oz Styrian Goldings hops (60 mins)
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (15 mins)
  • WYeast 1214 (reused from Belgian Tripel)

I’m shooting for a gravity of 1.062 which is on the low end of the style guidlelines. A 6.13% abv will be a nice compliment to the Tripel and I am not looking for alcohol notes in this beer like I was for the Tripel. A bitterness of 20 IBUs falls right in the middle of the style guidelines. This beer is going to be darker than what the guidelines call for but I don’t really care that much. The upper end of the Lovibond scale is 17°L, this beer is expected to come in at 21°L so it isn’t a drastic difference. The only thing that should change a bit are those “ruby highlights” that Zymurgy talked about.

The Tripel is coming along nicely. There is a nice smell and spicyness to it currently. I am just waiting for the gravity to drop a bit more. I will update on the Tripel when I rerack it and a Dubbel brewday post should soon follow.