Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
Magic Hat Brewing Company was nice enough to send me some samples of their spring seasonal variety pack. Included is today’s beer, a Rye IPA, and a second yearer Pistil. I’m not going to re-review Pistil as I have already done it here, but it was much more flavorful then I remember it being. I remarked last year that it would be nice on a warm day, but I had it while it was sleeting out and found it very quenching. Anyway, on to today’s beer, Saint Saltan which is a Gose that comes in at 4.6%. The brewery has the following to say about the beer:
A pious piece of a seldom-brewed German style, Saint Saltan is tart, light and crisp. Salt and coriander combine with traditional Hallertaur hops to create a holy and sessionable sipping experience.
Saint Saltan pours a nice golden color with a slight haze that clears as the beer sits. There is a thin white head that also fades as the beer is allowed to breathe a bit. The nose is nice and bready along with some honey malt odors. It is actually a little grainy and smells fresh. I didn’t get any hops or anything else to make note of. The earthy grain smell is wonderful on this one.
On my first taste I was actually surprised to taste a nice bit of salt. Usually I’m not a fan of salty beers (especially in IPAs) but this beer’s salt component is minor, but noticeable. The slight salt then fades into a mild sour note. As I continued to drink the beer the salt and sourness faded away and some really nice malt flavors came out. Nothing on this beer is super assertive in the flavor department but each piece says quiet and comes out in stages. It was really interesting to taste the flavor progression on this one. You usually don’t get sour notes that fade away, but they really do on this one.
This beer is easily drinkable and enjoyable. At 4.6% you could easily knock a few of these out in a sitting. It’s not my preferred beer style per say but I did find myself disappointing that they send a limited number of samples. If anyone from Magic Hat is reading this I would like to demand more free samples /sarcasm. This beer is pretty solid and I think that I would enjoy it while watching my Phillies fail in Spring Training. Continue reading →
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
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.
I brewed my Pilsner last Saturday, just as the snow ended. The snow setting made brewing a real treat compared to the normal blustery winter brew day. The recipe for this beer was pretty simple and the grain crush went quickly. Even though it was cold out, my mash water heated up quickly. My goal was to use a high water to grain ratio at low temperatures to get as much sugar out of the grain as possible, I ended up putting four gallons of water into ten pounds of grain. This gave me a 1.6:1 quart to pound of grain ratio. Typically this ratio is closer to 1.25:1. I have been doing these higher ratios recently and I have found that my efficiency has gone up, so I’m sticking with it.
I mashed for 90 minutes hitting my target of 151 °F through the whole mash. I then added my strike water at 175°F and let the whole thing rest for another ten minutes. Once everything was completed I began my boil. I went for a 75 minute boil this time around as I collected a bit more wort than I was anticipating. I added my whole leaf Hallertau hops at 60 minutes as you can see below.
I rarely use whole leaf hops, but they look awesome in the beer. For the next 45 minutes I read my book while waiting for the next hop addition. At 15 minutes I added the Sterling hops (pellets), my wort chiller, and the Irish moss. At 10 minutes I added a yeast nutrient that I have had good success with. Come fame out I turned on the wort chiller water. At this time I also begin transferring a different lager beer from the fermentor to the keg. Doing two things at once is nice, but also hectic.
I had to switch between checking on the beer transfer and stirring the wort to help it cool more quickly. As the completed beer finished its transfer, I put the airlock back on the fermentor in order to protect the yeast cake from the air. The wort cooled down to 60 °F in about 20 minutes and I decided to put it in the fermentor. The whole leaf hops tried to clog my auto-siphon but they did not succeed. After all of the wort was in the fermentor I shook it up to make sure that the yeast mixed with the beer and to make sure that it was properly oxygenated.
My target goal of 1.053 was hit dead on. I really love hitting my goals and I am going to continue to do a looser mash and longer mash time as the success that I have had with it continues to impress. Within six hours this beer was producing bubbles in the airlock. I plan on leaving it in my basement for a month at 55 °F. From there I will keg it and lager it at colder temperatures for two to four weeks. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I transfer it over to the keg. Continue reading →
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:
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.
Being that March is almost over, I figured that I should put a review of a Märzen up here. Märzen is German for March beer. See you learn something new everyday. This particular brew is made by Gordon Biersch out of San Jose, California. Right off the bat, if you are a fan of subtle, malty lagers, this on is for you.
The beer pours a nice orange amber color and it is perfectly clear. There is a slightly off-white head to goes along with it. The nose was actually pretty full for a lager, as most lagers tend to be kind of stale on the nose. The things I picked up on the nose was malty, bready, and toasty notes. There was a sweetness about the nose that I really enjoyed. A single note of hop could be found towards the end, but I really had to search to find it.
On the first taste the bready notes from the nose overrun the palate. The rest of the malt washes in as well after a few sips. There is a slight hop finish that tasted like Hallertau, which is one of the classic if not the most classic German hop. There is also a slightly honey-like flavor in the beer, which I really enjoyed. There is a very clean finish that leaves a great aftertaste.
Gordon Biersch Märzen comes with a medium body and nice carbonation. The carbonation seemed a bit lower than a normal beer, which really let the malty flavor shine. It is super drinkable and a great beer for March. I really loved every drop of the six pack that I purchased. If you like malty, clean beers that are more complex than the nose would lead you to believe then this is a beer for you. I also have a love of quality German lagers. Call it my German ancestry or my eastern PA roots, but I really love almost any German style of beer. This is one of my new favorites and I am glad that I found it in the season it was supposed to be drank in. Continue reading →