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03-20-00

Beer Review #320 Piercing Pils

03-20-02Dogfish Head is out with yet another new beer, a lager this time around. Piercing Pils is the name of the beer and it is a “Czech-style Pilsner brewed with pear juice, pear tea and Saaz hops,” because you know you can’t be Dogfish Head without throwing something weird into the mix.

Piercing Pils pours a yellow straw color and it has a bit of a haze to it. A medium white head fades into a thin white head and remains for the rest of the drink. Dogfish Head has recently gotten large enough to have it’s own branded bottles and Piercing Pils looks gorgeous coming out of their new bottles. The nose is sticky sweet with bits of sulfur. It also has a good bit of citrus that adds a nice layer to the aroma of the beer.

On the first taste I was really surprised at the amount of citrus that comes out of this beer. A lime-like flavor starts and ends the beer. There isn’t a ton of malt to talk about but there are some nice bread notes that come out as you drink the beer. I’m not a giant fan of pears but this beer allows you to experience a good pear flavor without becoming dominant. The hops really come in at the end and clean-up the beer nicely.

I really didn’t expect to like this beer as pears are just not my thing. I found myself really enjoying this beer. It’s easy to drink and it goes down very easily. Not all new Dogfish Head beers agree with me but this one does. (more…)

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.

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.

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.