recipe craft

One of the funnest things about homebrewing is being able to research and formulate your own recipes.  I have developed (on paper anyway) more recipes than I will ever be able to brew in this lifetime.  I’m constantly researching a style and contemplating ways to make it my own.

Now just like everything else there isn’t really an original recipe for a beer style. If you come up with one, chances are you have invented a new style.  That’s not to say creativity is lost in brewing, as it absolutely exists.  The creativity lies in the ability to marry those ingredients to develop beer flavors that express your recipe idea.

The ability to take the raw ingredients and understand how this will taste once fermented is pretty awesome.  I’m continually learning more about malts, hops, yeast characteristics, esters, adjuncts, etc…..  Ultimately, I’d like to be able to know exactly what I’m going to taste just by looking at a recipe, and then see if I can recreate that.

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low n slow

Another passion of mine is BBQ.  I’m not talking your run of the mill grilling.  I’m talking low n slow smoking, pork butts, rub, sauce, hickory, offset smoker, pulled pork deliciousness. I finally had an opportunity to light the smoker and get down to some Que.

I decided some pulled pork was in store for the 4th of July.  I purchased some boneless pork butts, hickory chunks, and put together a rub. The most important part to good BBQ is temperature control.  If you understand how to control your fire, smoking good BBQ is actually quite easy.

So at 5 am on the 4th, I drug my ass out of bed and got the fire lit.  11 lbs of shoulder went on just after 6 am, and a mere 11 hours later we had delicious pulled pork.  I wish there was some great story to accompany the smoking session, but mostly it consists of sitting around watching the fire temp and drinking the occasional beer.  There is really not a big secret to BBQ, just manage your fire and don’t rush it.  It’ll be done, when it’s done.

sour days

When first introduced to sour ales, I honestly thought “What in the Hell is this!”  I had no idea why you would intentionally let your wonderful creation catch infection and turn sour.  Isn’t Lactobacillus a desirable culture in my yogurt, it belongs no where near my beer.  I mean that was Brewing 101 stuff….prevent the infection.

And now?  Well, now I get it.  Now I drink them.  Now I desire them.  And now, I brew them.

Ryland Brown

16 lbs US 2-Row

2   lbs Munich 10

1   lbs  Honey Malt

1   lbs  Chocolate Malt

1   lbs  Flaked Rye

1  oz  Nugget (80 min)

1  oz  Glacier  (5 min)

Wyeast 1056

This base brown ale was racked to a 5.5 gallon whiskey barrel and inoculated with Wyeast 3763 Roselare Ale Blend.  A fabulous blend Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus that brings a sour funk to the malt base.  I’m not sure if I can wait another six months after I rack this onto raspberries.  It’s going to be hard, but I’ll just brew more.

the helles you say

This is my first attempt at a lager, hope it doesn’t suck.  I’ve always been a bit intimidated by lagering.  Seemed like much more to it than brewing an ale.  I don’t have set temperature control, and only limited space for actual lagering, so the style alluded me.  And truth be told, I like to drink ales better.

If no lagering chamber was to be had, how do I lager?  Well, I’ve been an idiot, because I have a cold basement and that’s all you really need.  My basement usually sits around 50-52 during the winter months.  Well into lagering temps. 

So why did I take on lagering?  The challenge, the prestige (in my own mind), but mostly my desire to have a Helles Bock for spring.

Helles Bock

Type: All Grain

Batch Size: 10 gal

Boil Time: 90 min

Original Gravity: 1.071

Final Gravity: 1.014

23 lbs     Pilsen Malt

1.5 lbs    Cara-Pils (Dextrine)

1.5 lbs     Munich Malt

1.75 oz   Norther Brewer (60 min)

1.00 oz  Hallertauer (10 min)

Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian Lager)

Mash @ 152 for 60 min.  Fly sparge @ 170 for 60 min.

Ferment for 14 days @ 52.  Diacetyl Rest @65 for 72 hrs.  Lager for 2 months. 

Well I’m excited to see how this beer turns out.  I’ll post up some tasting notes once it is ready.

what inspires your beer?

I recently came across an article regarding the 20 Most Influential Beers.

http://firstwefeast.com/drink/the-20-most-influential-beers-of-all-time/s/31484/

Reading this article got me to thinking about the most influential beers my own life.  I decided to take a list of 5, mainly cause I couldn’t get past 5 and only limit it to 20.  So these are the beers that have influenced me.

  • Ommegang Hennepin:  This was my “Holy Shit” beer.  The Saison style ale from Ommegang Brewing in Upstate, New York turned me into the Saison freak I am today.  I can’t imagine a world without these “farmhouse ales”, and further more I don’t want to.  The refreshing funkyness of a good Saison, well it’s almost better than……come to think of it, really nothing.
  • New Belgium Fat Tire: Now to be honest……I hate this beer.  But, it made me seek other craft beer.   It influenced my thought process about beer.  There had to be more than Bud,Miller,Coors out there.  I was really surprised Fat Tire wasn’t in that Top 20 list mentioned above.
  • Union Colony Brewing Kolsch:  This German Style Ale provided many gallons of hydration in my college days.  It is sad that the brewery is now defunk, but those are the brakes.  During that time, I always wondered “What the Hell is a Kolsch?”  Is it a lager?  Is it an ale?  Well my best explanation is that it is a bit of both.  A wonderfully refreshing style originated in Cologne, Germany.  It is fermented at ale temperatures then lagered to create a great clear beer.  It is on my Beer Bucket list to drink a Kolsch in Cologne some day.
  • Avery The Czar: Everyone needs a little Russian Imperial Stout in their lives.  This beer is my favorite example of the style.  There are a great many awesome RIS examples on the market.  To me this is the best.  Dark, malty, coffee, chocolate, stone fruit, hops, and darkness.  Did I mention DARK?  Cause its dark and just a beautiful beer.
  • Guinness Draught: This beer probably led to my understanding of beer more than any other.  It’s so rich in flavor, yet not a heavy beer at all.  Those people who tell me Guinness is too heavy have no real understanding of beer.  They are only seeing the color, and while extremely dark it is not a beer that overpowers your pallate.  Now I just wish I had some Nitro to serve my own Dry Irish Stout.

So readers, post back a comment and let me know what beers influence you.

Brewed in 2013:

20 gallons.

the new baby brews

On January 5th my family was blessed with a new addition to the family.  Fletcher Lee has brought us sleepless nights, already countless diaper changes, a big brother that is bouncing off the walls, and a new sense of family. 

It has also afforded me some time to take from work and welcome the little guy.  So what am I to do with these days off……………………..why brew of course.

First batch kicked off……………………….Fletch Lives!  Clever right?  This is a Imperial IPA with a generous kick of Amarillo and Glacier in the whirlpool.  I did make a mistake with this brew.  I have been brewing 10 gallon batches, and tried to scale down this one to 5.  Well, I wasn’t watching my sparge closely enough and ended up with 7 gallons post boil.  What does that do to you?  Gets you a starting gravity of 1.071 instead of 1.082.  Oh well, this will be a 7% deliciousness that should kick ass at Extreme Beerfest. 

Brew Total 2013

5 gallons

2012 in review

As I set out in 2012, I had a few brewing goals. 

1. Brew 6 seperate styles of beer.

2. Brew 120 gallons.

3. Make some mead.

4. Enter some competitions.

Well I didn’t achieve all my goals.  I did however brew 150 gallons and 12 seperate styles.  No mead got made, obviously I was too busy brewing beer.  No competitions entered, however I did take my beers to several different beer festivals and received a lot of great feedback at those.

What did I learn?  Probably the biggest thing being……..the more you brew, the better your beers will get.  As the year went along I found myself making more consistent beer.  It was pretty awesome to see.   Another thing……………styles are just guidelines.  I found that brewing based on guidelines, was not nearly as rewarding and liberating as when I brewed to taste.  I found that I learned more about my ingredients and yeast characteristics when I didn’t restrict myself to exact style guidlines.  And finally………..you’re only one lax sanitation from a shit batch of beer. 

Some of my favorite brews from the year:

  • Steffi Kolsch:  brewed this for my sister-in-laws graduation.  This beer was a crisp, refreshing beer.  I especially liked getting compliments from the BMC crowd when served at her party.
  • Daytripper Imperial English Pale:  this was a beer I based off a beer from Phantom Canyon Brewing in Colo Springs, CO.  The warming alcohol along with the slight sweetness was a crowd pleaser.  I also aged 5 gallons in a whiskey barrel….bomb!
  • Rye-annon Rye Saison:  I love the use of Rye in my beers.  When combined with the Farmhouse Ale, it’s an awesome combination.  I find myself using rye in most of my beers now.
  • Dead Flower IPA:  this was the first homebrew where I remember being really thrilled.  I used 5 different hops in this beer (Centenneal, Willamette, Citra, Cascade & Glacier).  The flowery, citrusy hop character was awesome. 
  • Rigby English Brown Porter:  I fuckin nailed this beer.  It drinks so smooth.  Represents everything about a porter that I love, caramel, roast, nuttiness.  And I brewed it, which makes it even more awesome. 

So what will 2013 hold in store?  I really don’t know for sure, but I know I’ll brew a lot of beer.  I would like to improve on my processes, and try to brew some more styles.  I’ll probably get around to entering some competitions.  I’ll also try to brew my legal limit for 2013…….200 gallons.