Cerveza de Jamaica

I’m feeling experimental, and I’m feeling summer-y, and I need some good homebrew to sip on the porch on a warm Saturday afternoon. I discovered agua de Jamaica (a hibiscus tea often just sold as Jamaica) when I moved to California, and finally made my own last summer. This hibiscus-based tea is tart, tasty, and refreshing…which is a perfect accompaniment for a witbier! [For those who aren’t familiar, it’s pronounced roughly as “huh-MY-kuh”, not “juh-MAY-kuh”.]

My base recipe is a pretty standard witbier, with a grist of 50% pilsner malt and 50% flaked wheat. I’m using WLP400 as the yeast, and a small dose of Hallertauer Mittelfrueh for the bittering hops. Because I want to highlight the hibiscus flavor and avoid any clash with coriander, I’m just using some fresh navel orange peel for steeping. I decided to add the dried hibiscus flowers at flameout, basically the same as if I were making tea. I kept hopping levels towards the lower end of the witbier style, because I expect that the flameout additions may add some bitterness.

Dried hibiscus flowers

Cerveza de Jamaica

  • 5 lbs. pilsen malt (Briess)
  • 5 lbs. flaked wheat
  • 4 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.75 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • Peel of two medium navel oranges, 10 minute steep after flameout
  • 3 oz. dried hibiscus flowers, 10 minute steep after flameout
  • 1 pkg. Belgian Wit Ale yeast (WLP400), prepared in 1L vitality starter

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 152°, 60 minutes, batch sparge.
  • 1.050 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.1% abv, 11 IBU, 3 SRM
  • Water built from RO to hit target of 48 ppm Ca, 85 ppm Cl, -34 ppm RA.

Procedure

  • I built my mash water with 3.5 gallons of reverse osmosis water and 6 g of CaCl. I mashed in at 164°, adding 7.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, and hit a mash temperature of 150°.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 1.5 gallons of RO water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I then added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let it wait for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.8 gallons of runnings, with a gravity of 1.039, for 73% efficiency. I’ve learned that adding an extra half gallon of sparge or mash water is important for these beers that have lots of flaked grains, both to keep up volume under the extra absorption and to ensure I get better efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding the various ingredients per the schedule.
  • At flame-out, I added the fresh orange peel and dried hibiscus, and let them steep for 10 minutes. They stayed in while I chilled the wort, to extend the flavor extraction.
  • The wort is really awesome in appearance and flavor; it has a deep purple hue, a slightly tart flavor, and an aroma that mixes all of the additions in a tasty way. I can’t wait to try this after fermentation!
  • While mashing, I made a 1L vitality starter for the yeast. It ran on the stir plate for about 3 hours, and it showed signs of fermentation by then. After I pitched the yeast, solid signs of fermentation were visible within 18 hours.
  • I brewed this on 28 April 2018, and starting gravity was 1.048. Initial fermentation is happening at 68°; I’ll let it free-rise after 3 or 4 days.
Posted in Belgian wit, experimental recipe, Uncategorized, witbier | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Little Green EuroLager

Warm weather is around the horizon, which means pale lager season is soon to be here.  Time to get brewing! This recipe is modified from the “Generic Green Bottle” formulation in Dave Carpenter’s recent Lager book. The book is a nice, accessible overview of the subject, supplementing the conversational text with a nice appendix of recipes for a variety of styles.

Relative to Dave’s recipe, I substituted in Warrior for Magnum, and used Belgian malt instead of German. Additionally, I used WLP830 instead of the suggested Wyeast 2042 Danish Lager yeast. My heart is in the right place, though–this is intended to be a clean, middle-of-the-road European lager, and I figure that the ingredient substitutions will keep the flavor in that realm.

Little Green EuroLager

  • 9.25 lbs. Château Pilsen malt (Castle Malting)
  • 0.25 lb. Carahell malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 0.3 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. German Lager yeast (White Labs, WLP830)

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 149°, 90 minutes, batch sparge.
  • 1.049 o.g., 1.009 f.g., 5.2% abv, 24 IBU, 3 SRM
  • Water built from RO and Claremont tap water to hit target of 40 ppm Ca, 10 ppm Mg, 9 ppm Na, 41 ppm SO4, 39 ppm Cl, 87 ppm HCO3, 37 ppm RA.

Procedure

  • Two days before brew day, I made a 2L starter. After 36 hours, I cold crashed the starter for another 24 hours.
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of RO water with 2 g of Epsom salts, 2 g CaCl, and 5 mL 75% phosphoric acid, to hit a temperature of 149°. After 90 minutes, I sparged with 3.25 gallons of tap water (with 1/4 of a Campden tablet) and 1.75 gallons of RO water.
  • In total, I collected 7.1 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.042, for 84% efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, chilled to 75°, and then chilled to 49° over a period of 12 hours before oxygenating (a 60 second pulse) and pitching the yeast. I brewed the beer on 2 March 2018, and pitched the yeast on 3 March 2018.
  • I fermented at 52° for around 2 weeks, before raising to 66° or so. On 23 March, I dropped the temperature to 34° for a cold crash.
  • I kegged the beer on 3 April 2018, adding 1 tsp. of gelatin in 1 cup of water to clarify.
  • Starting gravity was 1.050, and final gravity was 1.006, for 5.8% abv.

Initial Impressions

My initial impressions of this beer, after it has been on tap for a few weeks, is that it is pretty awesome and almost exactly what I was looking for. Malt character is glorious, and the aroma is crisp. The yeast character is super clean. My only minor ding is that the bitterness can come across as a touch harsh; I’ve noticed that on a few batches of lighter beers where I use Warrior as the bittering hop. Despite that hop being billed as a good general bittering hop, I think it’s probably just a bit too forward for anything less robust than a porter or stout, or less hoppy than a pale ale. That aside, I’m absolutely enjoying the beer. It has received high compliments from several people whose opinions on beer I trust, which is an exceptionally gratifying piece of feedback.

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Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.5

Another year, another iteration of the Eagle Face! This is my absolute favorite recipe, and it has done well for me. I’m entering this in the national homebrew competition this year, after scoring a very respectable 40 last year. Unfortunately, the comments on the judging sheets were not as precise as I would like, other than a vague “needs more malt character.” So, I decided to change the background malt from 2-row to Maris Otter. Other than a minor change in bittering hops, this is pretty much exactly the same as I usually brew. Following last year’s example, I toasted the oats for a bit, too.

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.5

  • 7.5 lbs. Maris Otter pale malt
  • 1.5 lbs. flaked oats (toasted 1.25 hours at 300°)
  • 1 lb. 80° crystal malt
  • 1 lb. Victory malt
  • 0.75 lb. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb. roasted barley (Bairds)
  • 6 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.53 oz. Magnum hop pellets (11.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.31 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. English ale yeast (WLP001), prepared in 1L starter 24 hours in advance

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 158°, 60 minutes, batch sparge.
  • 1.062 o.g., 1.023 f.g., 5.2% abv, 37 IBU, 41 SRM
  • Claremont tap water, 56 ppm Ca, 9 ppm Mg, 23 ppm Na, 41 ppm SO4, 21 ppm Cl, 220 ppm HCO3, 135 ppm RA

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 4.25 gallons of water at 171°, to hit a mash temperature of 158°.
  • After 60 minutes, the mash was down to 157°. I added 0.75 gallons of water at 180°, let rest 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I then added 3.25 gallons of water at 180°, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.25 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.053, for 74% efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the schedule in the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I cooled to 72°, pitched the yeast, and put the beer in the fermentation chamber. I’ll be fermenting at 68°.
  • I brewed this beer on 24 February 2018. Starting gravity was 1.062–right on target!
  • Update: I kegged this beer on 8 March 2018. Final gravity was 1.028, a bit higher than predicted, but I’m pretty comfortable that the beer is fully fermented out. Everything tastes pretty good right now; calculated abv is 4.5%.
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First of Maibock

My homebrew club is doing an in-club style competition for its May meeting, featuring–appropriately–maibock. Flying in the BJCP guidelines as a helles bock, this is a fairly malty, higher gravity German lager. It’s also not a style I’ve brewed before–this provides a great excuse (and is a reminder of how participating in a homebrew club can push you to try new things)!

This recipe is modified in part from one that appears in Gordon Strong’s Modern Homebrew Recipes. I adjusted the grain bill and hops slightly, and opted for an infusion mash rather than a decoction mash. The main commonality is that the recipe is basically pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malt, in descending proportions. I added in some melanoidin to help up the maltiness (particularly since I wasn’t doing a decoction mash). Finally, I adjusted this to be a 3.5 gallon batch, rather than a 5 gallon batch. This is a bigger beer, and I just didn’t want 5 gallons of the stuff!

The name is mangled from a Jonathan Coulton song; apologies to everyone.

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First of Maibock

  • 5 lb. Château Pilsen malt (Castle Malting)
  • 2.5 lb. Vienna malt (Great Western Malting)
  • 1.5 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 0.25 lb. melanoidin malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 0.45 oz. Magnum hop pellets (11.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Tettnang hop pellets (2.2% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. SafLager West European Lager yeast (S-23)

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 152°, 60 minutes, batch sparge.
  • 1.068 o.g., 1.018 f.g., 6.5% abv, 27 IBU, 7 SRM
  • Water built from RO to hit target of 50 Ca, 5 Mg, 5 Na, 55 SO4, 70 Cl, 0 HCO3 ppm, RA -40

Procedure

  • To make my brewing water, I added 1.6 g gypsum, 0.3 g table salt, 1.2 g epsom salt, and 3.2 g calcium chloride to 6.5 gallons of RO water.
  • I mashed in with 3.15 gallons of water at 167° (and 4.75 mL of 75% phosphoric acid), to hit a mash temperature of 155°. After 40 minutes, the temperature was down to 152°. So, I added 0.65 gallons of water to bring the temperature back up to 157°. After a total of 60 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected the first runnings.
  • I added 2.75 gallons of water at 180°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained the mash tun.
  • In total, I collected 5.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.049, for 78% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and Whirlfloc per the schedule.
  • After 50 minutes of boiling, I measured the gravity and saw that it was at 1.058. This was well below my target, so I added 1.18 pounds of Briess pilsen DME to bring up the gravity.
  • After 60 minutes of boiling, I turned off the heat and chilled to 75°. I transferred to the fermenter, and put it in the fermentation chamber overnight to chill down to 54°. About 4 gallons of beer went into the fermenter.
  • I brewed the beer on 10 February 2018, and pitched the yeast on 11 February 2018. Prior to pitching, I hit the wort with 60 seconds of oxygen.
  • Starting gravity was 1.072.
  • On February 24, I let the beer free-rise to 64°. I’ll let it hang out at this temperature for a week or two before cold crashing.
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Evaluating my first hard cider

A few weeks back, I wrote about my first attempt at a cider. The recipe was dead simple (in fact, I called it Dead Simple Hard Cider), and the whole thing had fermented out in around two weeks. It clocked in at 5.4% abv; not too much, but not too flimsy, either.

ciderThe cider has maintained a consistent haze throughout its serving lifespan, and has a very thin and not terribly persistent head (unsurprising for a cider). It’s somewhat copper/gold in color, and has a nice apple aroma (with maybe a hint of something like diacetyl?). On the flavor end of things, it’s pretty dry, but not puckeringly so. I like the crispness that this brings. The flavor is…well, apple. It’s fairly tart, like the sorts of apples you would expect for a cider. More Granny Smith than Golden Delicious.

I put this cider squarely in the win column. It hit all of the marks I was hoping for, and is surprisingly drinkable. I might try backsweetening a future batch, but not by a lot. I like my ciders tart and dry! A different yeast variety, perhaps something with a bit more character, is also in the cards. A 3 gallon batch was about perfect, too. Cider is a nice treat, but not something I really want 5 gallons of. As the keg nears its end, I’m still enjoying it! And that’s a good state to be in.

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