Posts Tagged ‘stout’

beer critiques and recipe modifications

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only brewer out there who is a little biased while reviewing the fruits of their labor.

  • after spending hours milling, mashing, sparging, boiling, and cooling, results that taste anything close to beer are most likely celebrated.  in addition, friends and family who enjoy the fruits of the homebrewer’s labor may be reluctant to offer even the slightest criticism, as a result of politeness or perhaps a desire to maintain a steady stream of homemade libations.
  • however, constructive criticism resulting from accurate observations of a beer’s characteristics can only help to improve future incarnations of such beer.  even casual drinkers unfamiliar with the BJCP style guidelines can help by summarizing significant elements they observe in a neutral manner (e.g., “I smell a lot of grass and flowers,” “this beer tastes like bread,” “it smells like a dirty diaper,” etc.)
  • in my case, I was able to review some valuable criticism when I got my OC fair beer comp scoresheets back in the mail.  the reviews ran the gamut – some were written by BJCP certified judges, some by fellow homebrewers; some were thorough and offered suggestions, while others were painfully sparse and overly general (and frankly worthless).  scores ranged from a 9 (saison) to a 35 (golden strong).
  • reading these score sheets opened my eyes to some overlooked “defects” in my beers and prompted me to impartially review my current draft lineup.  in the interests of progress, I also made note of some potential modifications that could be used to overcome identified undesirables.

name:

nightmare stout

style:

dry irish stout

observations:

light coffee nose, thin body, slight tang in finish, poor head retention

modifications:

mash higher for more malt/body, use a bigger starter, use 2-row instead of pils, longer boil

 

 

name:

trappist weisse

style:

belgian wit

observations:

dry finish, “delicate” floral/spice aroma

modifications:

mash higher, higher fermentation temp for more phenols, use different yeast (german hef or belgian wit instead of trappist strain)

 

 

name:

simple cider

style:

dry apple cider

observations:

dry champagne nose, tart apple flavor with tart, dry finish, very champagne like

modifications:

experiment with other yeast strains that are less dominant/highlight the apples more and don’t attenuate as much (beer strains, etc.)

 

 

name:

house saison

style:

saison/belgian specialty ale/sour ale

observations:

fruity/sour aroma, clean barnyard funk with smooth sourness, slight oxidation

modifications:enter in a more relevant judging category(even though fantome is an example of the BJCP saison category)/explain beer in notes, higher initial fermentation temps and more dregs earlier during fermentation, purge carboy with CO2 when adding dregs

 

 

  • hopefully objective tasting sessions like these will lead to an improved experience for everyone involved, even if I don’t brew with competitions specifically in mind.  constructive criticism shouldn’t hurt any brewer’s feelings!

kolsch redux, homebrewer workshop

Friday, February 11th, 2011

last weekend I threw together a variation of my kolsch and had a new homebrewer, BB, over to help out with his first batch.

  • I recommended williams’ kolsch as a first-time brew due to its straightforward recipe and my luck brewing it in the past.
  • as for my all-grain version, I changed up my standard recipe to knock out some of my hop stock:
  • 0.50 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 2.56 %
    14.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 71.79 %
    5.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 25.64 %
    ~1.00 oz each
    HG Chinook, Columbus [?.00 %] (60 min) Hops 25.8 IBU
    ~1.00 oz each
    EKG, Saaz [X.00 %] (15 min) Hops 3.6 IBU
    1.00 oz Fuggle[X.00 %] (5 min) Hops 1.4 IBU
  • my brew setup must have been jinxed, because despite adding a healthy dose of rice hulls my mash got stuck again.  I swapped my false bottom (which I think is just too small for my mash tun) for a stainless braid, which I will keep in there for the time being while I ponder a suitable replacement (a jaybird custom false bottom? a reinforced braid setup?).
  • I also found some time to keg the eventful batch of hybrid stout while waiting for my wort to cool.
  • BB’s brew was smooth sailing as well, albeit with a few hiccups (a last-minute hop substitution and tossing the hops in his better bottle).  I got an excited phone message the next night describing the miracle of fermentation and a vigorously bubbling airlock.
  • I wish I could say the same for my batch.  my starter smelled buttery/malty, and after two days no activity was evident.
  • luckily I had a couple of packets of dry yeast (safale US-05 and S-04) that I tossed into each keg, which kicked off fermentation in a matter of hours.  I was more than a little bummed about the forced style change though…

http://www.overcarbed.com/?p=1003

hybrid stout: disaster strikes!

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

last friday I dropped by san pedro brew co. to sample some brews with JW and watch him rack his wit (or was it a hef?) to one of the bright tanks.

  • we tasted the black lager and ale next to the version JW brewed for the brew co. as well as some commercial examples.  I was really happy with how the brew turned out – the lager was clean and dry with a subtle roast back that made for a very sessionable holiday beer, while the ale ended up as a smooth roasty mild.
  • we also tried JW’s bohemian pils and his wit, which were both on their way to becoming solid draft options at the brew co.
  • the tasting got me excited for the hybrid stout brew day that JF and I had planned for the weekend.  little did I know that my brew day luck was about to run out.
  • the grain bill for the brew was based on a dry irish stout, with some added flaked oats and a little black patent:
    • 11.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 60.27 %
      4.25 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 23.29 %
      1.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 9.59 %
      1.00 lb Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 5.48 %
      0.25 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.37 %
      3.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 28.0 IBU
      1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (30 min) Hops 7.2 IBU
      1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale
  • I hit my mash temp of 154, held it for an hour, and then started the sparge.  this is where some brewday lessons were learned:
  • don’t crush flaked grains, and use tons of rice hulls to balance them out. the sparge turned out to be a no-go, as the mash was seriously stuck.  I had added a few (3-4) handfuls of hulls when I mashed in, but I immediately regretted not adding a pound or more to the mash.  also, I had carelessly tossed the flaked barley and oats into the crusher with the rest of the specialty grains, turning them into dust that plugged the keggle’s false bottom like cement.
  • if the false bottom clogs, replace with braided hose and batch sparge. after removing the entirety of the mash and clearing the false bottom tube, I added a pound of rice hulls and a couple gallons of hot water and dumped the mash right back in.  wort flowed freely for about a minute, then slowed to a trickle as the pulverized barley and oats again plugged up the false bottom tube.  I ended up removing the entire mash a second time, replacing the false bottom with my old cooler mash tun braided hose, and massaging out 10.5 gallons of wort through an impromptu batch sparge.
  • watch your back and take it slow.  I’m not gonna lie, the sparge sucked.  in my haste to get the boil going, I deadlifted a partially full keggle and bent over a thousand times to empty and refill the mash tun.  by the time the wort was cool and ready to rack, my back was seriously tweaked and I was hunched over like an old monk, which effectively killed the rest of my weekend.
  • despite the above mishaps (in addition to a broken thief, one overflowed keg, and a painful cleanup), JF and I actually hit our numbers spot on, with an O.G. of 1.047.  I added a healthy starter of 1056 and in less than 12 hours vigorous fermentation was observed.  after all the work that went into it, this brew will likely taste spectacular to me, even if there is a slight aftertaste of sweat and tears…