Countdown IPA

So named because we’re on the countdown to a new baby in the household…gotta brew while I can! This recipe is basically a minor tweak of my Centennial IPA, just mixing up the hops a little bit both for variety and complexity as well as to burn through a bit more of my stash. I also swapped in the US equivalent of the Belgian crystal malts, so that I didn’t have to buy more malt. Finally, I added a touch of Carafa Special II to deepen the color a bit.

Countdown IPA

  • 10.5 lbs. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 1.75 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western)
  • 0.5 lbs. 20° caramel malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lbs. 10° caramel malt (Briess)
  • 1.5 oz. Carafa Special II (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), first wort hop and 90 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Ekuanot (HBC 366 aka Equinox) hop pellets (13.6% alpha), dryhop in keg
  • 1 oz. Simcoe LupuLN2 (23.8% alpha) cryohop pellets (23.8% alpha), dryhop in keg
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 149°. Batch sparge.
  • Claremont tap water with RO and salt additions to hit targets of 113 Ca, 22 Mg, 24 Na, 194 SO4, 42 Cl, 207 HCO3, 170 ppm alkalinity, 76 ppm RA.
  • 1.066 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 7.2% abv, 68 IBU, 9 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter


  • My base water for this beer was all Claremont tap water. I added 3.2 g of gypsum, 1.8 g of epsom salts, and 0.6 g of calcium chloride to 4.3 gallons of mash water, along with 45 mL of 10% phosphoric acid. I used the same masses of salts for 4.75 gallons of sparge water, with 50 mL of 10% phosphoric acid there.
  • I mashed in with 4.3 gallons of water at 157.3°, to hit a mash temperature target of 149°. I mashed for 90 minutes; at the end, temperature was down to 145°. I collected the first runnings after a vorlauf, and then added 4.75 gallons of sparge water at around 185°. I let the mash sit for 10 minutes before vorlaufing and collecting the remaining runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.2 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.052, for 78% efficiency.
  • I boiled the hops per the schedule, adding the kettle finings and yeast nutrients appropriately. After the full 90 minute boil, I turned off the heat, added the final hops, whirlpooled for 5 minutes, and began chilling.
  • Groundwater is pretty warm this time of year, so I could only chill the beer down to around 85°. I transferred to the fermenter and then let it chill overnight (~10 hours) down to 66°. I pitched the yeast, and things had begun to take off within 18 hours.
  • Starting gravity was 1.064. I brewed the beer on 14 July 2017 and pitched the yeast early on the morning of 15 July 2017. I’ll be fermenting at 66°.
Posted in India Pale Ale, IPA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Beer Tasting: Lemondrop Wheat Ale

20170704_155850I am absolutely thrilled with this beer! In fact, a little too thrilled…the keg is nearly dry. Time for a tasting, then!

Lemondrop Wheat Ale

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.047; f.g. = 1.011; 4.8% abv; 4 SRM; 34 estimated IBU
  • Appearance
    • Hazy light straw color, with firm and persistent white head. When poured well, it’s like a topping of meringue. Gorgeous!
  • Aroma
    • Light citrus (slightly lemony) and slightly bready aroma
  • Flavor
    • Citrusy forefront, with a smooth and doughy middle, fading then into a lingering but pleasant bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Light body and moderate carbonation, with a medium-dry finish
  • Would I brew this again?
    • In a second! This is solidly in the running for favorite beer of 2017 so far. It’s just about the perfect summer beer–light, refreshing, and ridiculously drinkable. I’m burning through this keg at a pretty quick pace! The Lemondrop hops are a fun addition, too. Although I wouldn’t call them distinctly “lemon” in all aspects of their character (i.e. it’s not “lemon oil” or “Lemon Pledge”), they definitely have a citrus note that contributes nicely to the overall character of this beer. The only, very minor, flaw in this batch is that the finish has gotten just a touch harsh over time, likely due to the extended keg dry hopping. That’s easily fixed in the next iteration, though. I am quite pleased with just about every other aspect of this recipe; the balance between pilsner and wheat malt is perfect, and the yeast is also a true winner. WLP320 has just a touch of character, but it’s not overwhelming like European wheat beer yeasts. Also, it stays in suspension forever, which also helps with appearance and presentation. I don’t think this would be as good of a beer with a Chico strain yeast. I also think my water adjustments paid off; it’s not overly minerally in character like some of my past lighter beers.
  • Overall
    • 9.5/10
Posted in hops, tastings, wheat beer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beer Tasting: Palaeotis Pils 1.1

This batch was all gone last week; luckily, I got my tasting in before it was all gone.

20170702_143220Palaeotis Pils 1.1

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.048; f.g. = 1.011; 4.7% abv; 4 SRM; 34 estimated IBU
  • Appearance
    • Light gold and crystal clear, with a thick white head on the pour that settles to a persistent blanket as I drink the beer. In the image, the condensation on the outside of the glass doesn’t do the beer’s appearance justice!
  • Aroma
    • Light and bready maltiness predominates, with a hint of slightly spicy hops behind that.
  • Flavor
    • Bready maltiness, with a restrained bitterness that builds as I drink the beer. Bitterness is persistent; it is maybe a touch harsh, and I wonder if that is because I used Warrior as the bittering addition?
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate body with a slightly dry finish. Carbonation is moderate–as it is pouring at the moment, with a fair bit of foam, I think I am losing some of the carbonation. This will hopefully settle down as the keg matures, as happened with my last keg of this style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is decent, but I think I prefer my previous iteration of the recipe. The aroma on that one seemed a little more pronounced–both on the hops and malt side–and I feel like the flavor was just a notch better. I wonder if that was due to the decoction on the first batch? I will probably return to Magnum hops for the bittering addition in the next version of this pilsner; the Warrior hops have an ever so slight harsh edge that is out of place for a delicate pilsner. I’m also going to use a German pilsner malt–I have 10 pounds of Barke Pilsner Malt that might be perfect for this task. The malt character came up as a critique in a recent competition, so I think that’s a fairly easy fix. I’ll also return to WLP830 for the yeast.
  • Overall
    • 7/10
Posted in German pils, pilsner, tastings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Kegging Updates: Raspberry Belgian, Thumbspike Saison 2.1

I’ve done a decent bit of kegging this past week, to square away some beers slated for the Lake Arrowhead Brewfest that I’ll be serving with Horse Thief Brewers. The festival is just under a month away, but with a new baby soon to arrive in the household I know that time will be tight. Gotta keg while the kegging’s good!

Raspberry Belgian, transferring to the keg

Raspberry Belgian 1.1, transferring to the keg

My cold storage space is also tight, so I’ve decided to get the beers carbonated and conditioned using a more “traditional” keg priming technique. Not only does it cut down on my CO2 usage, but it also should help to eat up any residual oxygen from the transfer and help the beers stay a bit fresher. Now of course it would be ideal to do the full keg purge with CO2 and closed transfer thing. But as I said…I’m tight for time and not keen on always blowing through my CO2 supply. I also feel that these two beers should hold up pretty well (both are fairly high alcohol and one is quite tart); if it was a delicate lager, crystal malt heavy porter, or hoppy IPA, I would definitely do things differently.

In any case, here are the details on everything.

Thumbspike Saison 2.1

I brewed this beer on June 25, and fermented it at the ambient temperature–around 75° on up. I kegged the batch on 12 July 2017, with 2.75 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup of water. Around 5 gallons went into the keg. Final gravity was 1.003, down from 1.055. This works out to around 6.8% abv.

Raspberry Belgian 1.1

I brewed this beer on 27 June, fermenting it at around 66°. On the fourth day of fermentation, 1 July 2017, I added around 1L (~4.25 cups) of Vintner’s Harvest raspberry puree. After about a week, I moved it out of the fermentation chamber to finish out at ambient temperature, around 78°.

I kegged the beer on 14 July 2017. The flavor was nice and tart, although at this point the raspberry comes through more in the aroma than in the flavor. I will have to see if that changes when I chill it and serve it carbonated; there might be some minor adjustments required prior to the festival, if that’s the case.

Because I wanted to keep this beer for home use too, I split it between two mini-kegs. Three gallons went into one, with 1.82 ounces of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup water (targeting around 3 volumes of CO2). The remaining 2 gallons or so went into another keg, which I force carbonated to around 2.8 volumes.

Final gravity for this batch was 1.013, down from 1.044. That clocks in at 4.1% abv–a very nice session beer!

Posted in Belgian sour, fruit beer, kegging, sour, sour beer | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dark Helmet Schwarzbier

As I continue to work my way through lager styles, I also realized that a lot of my recent brews have been fairly light (at least color-wise). This generally fits my summer drinking preferences, but I’m starting to get the itch for something with just a touch more robustness. Now, I don’t want anything too dark and filling (after all, it’s still hot here!), and I’ve been doing a lot of amber type beers recently, so schwarzbier sounded intriguing.

To sum up the BJCP 2015 style description, schwarzbier should be roasty yet also highly drinkable. That’s intriguing! I’ve maybe only sampled one or two in the very distant past (if ever), so I was a bit in the dark (no pun intended) as to how I should craft the recipe. So, I turned to the ever-reliable Brewing Classic Styles by Zainasheff and Palmer. With a few minor adjustments for ingredients, I was ready to roll. Following the lead of Gordon Strong, I elected to add all of the dark and crystal malts at vorlauf. This is supposed to impart a smoother character, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

As for the name of this brew, I’m not the first to be so clever, but that didn’t deter me. The schwartz is strong with this one.


Spent grains after the mash

Dark Helmet Schwarzbier

  • 4.5 lbs. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 4.25 lbs. Château Pilsen malt (Castle Malting)
  • 6 oz. chocolate malt, added at vorlauf (Briess, 350 SRM)
  • 6 oz. crystal 40 malt, added at vorlauf (Great Western)
  • 3.5 oz. black barley malt, added at vorlauf (Briess)
  • 3.5 oz. Carafa Special II, added at vorlauf (Weyermann)
  • 1.25 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. SafLager West European Lager yeast (S-23)
  • 1 pkg. SafLager Lager dry yeast (W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.6% abv, 26 IBU, 28 SRM, 5.5 gallons into the fermenter
  • Water built from RO and tap water to hit target of 67 ppm Ca, 7 ppm Mg, 27 ppm Na, 30 ppm SO4, 89 ppm Cl, 126 ppm HCO3, 103 ppm alkalinity, and 51 ppm RA.
  • 60 minute mash at 152°, batch sparge, 60 minute boil


  • For my mash water, I used 3.25 gallons of RO with 1 g table salt and 3.5 g calcium chloride. For the sparge water, I treated 5 gallons of Claremont tap water with a quarter of a Campden tablet. All together, this should hit my general brewing water parameters as outlined above.
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of water at 162.6°, to hit a mash temperature of 153.5°. This was down to 150° after 35 minutes.
  • I sparged with 1.5 gallons of water at 175°, let it sit for 10 minutes, added the dark grains, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Then, I sparged with 3.5 gallons of water at 175°, let it sit for 10 minutes, and collected the second runnings.
  • All together, I collected 6.8 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.039, for 72% efficiency.
  • I started the boil, and added all of the hops, etc., per the schedule in the recipe.
  • After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort to 80° and put it in the fermentation chamber to chill for a few hours, until the beer was down to 48°.
  • I pitched the two packets of S-23 into a slurry of distilled water, which did show appropriate activity. But, I also noted that they were expired by 10 months.
  • There wasn’t any real activity visible in the fermenter after around 24 hours, so I opted to pitch in some extra yeast. Luckily, I happened to have a few packets of W34/70 on-hand. Fermentation was underway visible around 48 hours after the initial pitch. Perhaps I was being overly cautious, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
  • I am fermenting this at 50°. Starting gravity was 1.046.
  • I brewed this batch on July 3, 2017.
Posted in lager, Schwarzbier, Uncategorized | Leave a comment