Saturday, March 7, 2009

Homebrewing Thoughts

A sinus infection has put me out of commission for a while but I felt like doing a little beer-related writing. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of beer things by next weekend but I'll have to play that by ear. In the meantime I've been focusing a lot of time on homebrewing. I bought a Beersmith subscription a couple weeks ago and I've been addicted to it since then, putting together a bunch of recipes that I want to brew in the next few months. I really like doing 3-3.5 gallon batches because it costs less, it's less to bottle, and I can even do some all grain recipes at this size. But being the novice I am, I'm always looking for suggestions or discussion regarding homebrewing. There are a few really good homebrew discussion boards that I frequent: HomeBrewTalk, Northern Brewer Forums, The Brewing Network Forums, and MoreBeer! Forums. I also love to listen to The Brewing Network programs, namely The Jamil Show and Brew Strong. Not only are both immensely informative but these guys are great entertainment.

Back in January my friend Brian who was in town from Baltimore came over and we brewed a simple batch of Belgian Strong Pale Ale using two yeast strains, which still needs to be named. He's more creative than I am so I'll leave that up to him (we will call it Genesis). The batch sat in primary fermentation for 3 weeks and then in secondary for 2 weeks. It cleared up pretty nice in that time. Last weekend I checked the bottles (which had been carbonating for 7 days) and noticed I had cracked one during capping. So that this thing didn't become an accident waiting to happen, I carefully uncapped it and poured it in a glass to examine the flavor and aroma to this point. It was at room temp and it wasn't close to fully carbonated but what I could tell was that it had an awesome fruity smell from the two Belgian yeast strains we used. The taste also seemed pretty good, although I hate tasting uncarbonated beer at room temperature. At this point it has about another week to carbonate and then it should be good to go. I'm real excited about this one.

The beer I brewed last weekend, which I've name Graduation Wit, is done fermenting and I'll probably transfer it to bottles next week. I have no idea how it will turn out. I think I hit the malt profile pretty nicely, with equal parts of Belgian Pilsner and Flaked Wheat, with about 10% of Flaked Oats thrown in. The spicing was the hardest part to figure out. In all the recipes I researched online there was quite a difference in the amounts of corriander being added. I think I ended up adding about 0.4 oz for this 3.3 gallons. In addition, I didn't even bother getting Curacao bitter orange peel, so I used about 0.5 oz of zested Navel orange peel and 0.25 zested lemon peel. We'll have to wait and see if this brew turns out to be good.

I think my next beer will be an IPA based loosely on Alpine O'Brien's IPA. Obviously the hops are amazing in that beer, but there is a rich (but not sugary) maltiness to it as well. And it's also dry, as it should be. I don't know what they use other than pale malt (and probably some Crystal 40L), but I'm thinking they may throw some Munich or Vienna malt in there. I may email Alpine to see if they would give me any tips on this. As for hops, I'm leaning towards a combination of Amarillo and Cascade, with some high alpha Nugget for bittering. I don't have a huge range of hops available to me so I gotta work with what I can.


J.Rhode said...

Email Pat at Alpine either through their website or BA (he is "Alpine" on BA). I know he helped out somebody on BA with a recipe for Nelson. Interesting that Pat and Tom Nickel were shooting for a Blind Pig clone with O'Brien's IPA, doesn't remind me much of Blind Pig. By the way new batch of Nelson released yesterday.

You missed a good birthday run yesterday. Feel much better the day after this time. We hit O'Briens, Toronado, and Hamilton's. Tried the Bruery Berlinerweiss among many others, great beer.

Steve said...

Yeah O'Brien's IPA doesn't resemble Blind Pig that much to me, except they both are really awesome.

Bruery Berliner Weisse is awesome.

Glad you guys decided not to throw in the Hearth House for a nightcap.