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Beer Review #151 Old Dominion Octoberfest

I’ve had a few Old Dominion Brewing Company beers since I moved to Delaware a year and a half ago. Most recently I had some of their beers when I was at the Good Beer Festival. Old Dominion is brewed about an hour’s drive down Route 1 from my house in Dover, De. I still haven’t gotten a chance to take a tour of their brewery, but I have a few free weekends coming up where a tour would fit in nicely.

The first thing that caught my eye about this Oktoberfest is that it isn’t spelled in the traditional way. See that “C” in there instead of the “K?” That’s not normal, in fact, I’ve never seen it on another Oktoberfest style beer. Old Dominion’s take on a Oktoberfest pours a nice copper color and it is crystal clear. The head is has a light tan hue to it, which was a bit darker than I expected. As a general rule of thumb on Oktoberfest beers I expect the head to be white the lighter the color. This one’s head was darker than most that are a similar color.

The nose is pretty straightforward with some slight malt and hoppy background. The hops were not like others, these hops were spicy and complimented the malt odor, not overpower it. The taste was more complex than the nose let on. The normal malt flavors lead into some very distinct caramel tones. The hops then come in and balance out the sweetness, but don’t take all of the sweetness away. The beer finishes with a nice biscuit dryness. I was surprised to find a little heat in this one as well.

I really enjoyed this one. For a beer that didn’t promise a lot based on the nose, it really delivered on flavor. Of note on the bottle, eight German malts and four hop varieties were used in the making of this beer. I guess that’s were the complexity came from. Good work Old Dominion, this beer will be on my repurchase list for next year. (more…)

Simple way to add complexity to homebrew

Hello long lost beer website. It has been a busy time around here. We are going to be moving back to the east coast, Delaware to be exact, and I was recently back home (PA) to attend my sisters graduation from college. All in all a lot of good things are happening right now. During the hours I spend on the plane I spent a lot of time catching up on some books. Homebrew books to be exact.

One of the book (I really don’t remember which one) was talking about ways to make your beer more complex. It can be done in a number of ways; specialty malts, different base malts, etc. All of these are well and good, but I finally got around to trying something that I have wanted to do for awhile now. Mix homebrew.

For some reason it never really occurred to me to mix and match and come up with something that should taste good. I had a pale ale that I had made, which came out a bit too caramely and my Winter Warmer which is super dark and tasty. My Winter Warmer really ended up being more of a strong stout, mainly becasue I didn’t add any spices like I was originally thinking of doing. I was have a beer on the couch watching the Flyers and decided to make a half and half with my two homebrews.

I have to say, I liked what I tasted. The hops from the pale ale gave the stout some more kick and the caramel helped round out the body of the stout a bit more. The stout helped mask all of the caramel and gave a wonderful richness to the beer. In all the sum was better than the parts. I might start trying to do this more (once I brew again that is) with styles that should compliment each other or maybe even something that doesn’t. Who knows. Homebrew is all about making something that you enjoy drinking and can be proud to call your own.

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.

07-31-01

Belgian Tripel Recipe

07-31-01Now that I am finally established in Texas I can get back to homebrewing again. It has been a long time since I brewed the SB Birthday Beer. Does the date of that post really go all the way back to Feburary. That sucks. I’ve been really digging Belgian beers for the past few months and have been coming up with ideas in my head about what all I need to do to make it as good as it can be. So I came up with the following recipe:

  • 12 lbs Belgian Pils
  • .5 lbs Belgian Pale
  • .5 lbs Wheat malt
  • .25 0z Tettnanger (4.5% at 120 mins)
  • .25 0z Tettnanger (4.5% at 90 mins)
  • .25 0z Tettnanger (4.5% at 60 mins)
  • .25 0z Tettnanger (4.5% at 30 mins)
  • .5 oz Saaz (5.0% at 10 mins)
  • Yeast: WLP530 (Abbey Ale) or another Belgian Strong if unavialable

I plan on mashing the grains at 152 degrees for 90 minutes to try and get as much sugar out of them as I can. I hope to collect a total of 5 gallons of wort for boil when all is said and done. I then want to boil for two hours and bring down the level of wort to around 3.5 gallons. I haven’t brewed here before and I am almost 3,000 ft. higher in elevation so I don’t know if the boil time will need adjusting.

I will ferment in the primary for a week, switch to a secondary for another week, and then bottle and contition for 2-3 weeks. I hope to have a nice estery beer that comes in between 9.5-9.7% abv. My SG goal is going to be 1.090, maybe a bit higher or lower depending on my effiency.

My hop choices came down to English (Fuggles and Goldings) or the German hops I picked. Saaz hops has a history of being a bit more fruity and I want those esters to shine. With such a long boil I wanted to strech out the primary hops and split them up into four small additions. It might add a bit of complexity but will make it not overpowering. I am still considering just a single addition at the hour mark, but I still can’t make up my mind. The final IBUs should come in at about 28 IBUs. I’m going to ferment on the upper edge of the recommended temperature at 75 degrees or so.

Is there anything I missed or any other considerations I should look at before brewing this bad boy up. I’m hoping to make a go at it this weekend or next depending on how fast the ingredients ship and how fast I can build my mash tun.