I’ve had to slow down my brewing pace a bit, because I have a pretty good supply of beer at the moment. Even so, I’ve managed to get a few batches in!
Beer Batch Updates
I kegged my altbier on 31 January 2021. It hit a final gravity of 1.013, down from 1.040, for 4.3% abv. I used priming sugar for the initial carbonation, and finished it up in the lagering chamber before putting it on tap a few days ago.
I kegged my English IPA on 13 February 2021. It started out at 1.064 and finished at 1.019, for 5.9% abv.
I brewed a schwarzbier on 6 February 2021, repitching the Harvest lager yeast from my recent German pils batch. I expect it should be pretty close to finished, and I’ll begin cold crashing it this week.
I brewed an orange wheat ale on 13 February 2021, using a past recipe. I grated the zest from three oranges, and that is now steeping in a few ounces of vodka, to create an orange tincture that will go in at kegging time.
What’s On Tap?
On my picnic tap, I’m enjoying the clone of Houblon Chouffe. It’s at peak drinkability now!
The London Porter is conditioning on tap; as seen with past experience, the ESB yeast is pretty slow to flocculate. After a week or so, the beer is finally starting to drop clear. The yeast seem to have stalled out during fermentation, because it was 1.025 when I kegged and is now a notch below 1.020.
The latest version of Alstadt Altbier went on tap two days ago. Although it needs to condition and clear up a bit more, it’s a fantastic beer already. The aroma has a malty, floral character that is just plain delicious.
A German pils (“Pilsnerpeton“) also went on tap two days ago. This was my first all-Viking pilsner malt recipe, and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I dropped the hop level a bit on this one (targeting ~26 IBU), because I was feeling that some of my past versions were just a touch harsh for my taste (35 to 38 IBU). This is a lot closer to what I am looking for! The beer needs to clarify a bit more (it’s had ~5 weeks at lagering temperatures), but it’s quite nice. In a side-by-side with Bitburger, the commercial pils had better clarity, but mine had amazing heading and head retention, as well as excellent flavor (see the comparisons below).
What’s Coming Up?
Ingredients for a Munich dunkel are on-hand, to do the 2021 edition of my Dunkelosteus. I’ve missed that beer!
I need to brew my Alta California Lager soon, so that it can condition for a month or two in order to be ready for the warm days of late spring. I’ve done it with both grits and flaked maize, and think I’ll be going back to a cereal mash with grits on this version.
I have really enjoyed having a half-batch of something “different” on-hand, and as a way to try out high alcohol or experimental beers for which I wouldn’t want a full five gallons. I’m not sure what’s next in that arena, but I’ll figure out something.
Inspired by a recent article in Zymurgy, I made a batch of preserved lemons. It took about four Eureka lemons from the tree in your yard. After around four weeks of pickling, they turned out fantastically! I made some chicken tagine last night for supper. I had been a bit worried that the rind would be too much on these versus Meyer lemons, but it wasn’t a problem.
I also started a new batch of sauerkraut; the previous batch is running low.
In the winter months, it’s nice to have something malty and tasty but not overly heavy, as an “everyday” beer. Looking through Craft Beer for the Home Brewer recipe book, I ran across a clone recipe for 90 Shilling Ale from Odell Brewing Company. Although it has a Scottish name, the ingredients are anything but! I adjusted for the malts I had on-hand, and swapped in a pound of Vienna for a pound of 2-row, because I was finishing up my 2-row malt supply before opening a new bag. I called this batch “Aspiration Ale,” because it’s aspiring to be a 90 shilling ale, but sure as heck ain’t it!
7 lb. 6.5 oz. 2-row malt (Great Western)
1 lb. Munich light malt (Chateau)
1 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
9 oz. Carafoam malt (Weyermann)
8 oz. Crystal 75 malt (Bairds)
8 oz. Caravienne malt (Weyermann)
8 oz. white wheat malt (Briess)
1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 pkg. Nottingham yeast (Danstar)
1.051 s.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.2% abv, 9 SRM, 24 IBU
Infusion mash, 152°, full volume; 60 minute boil
Claremont water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines.
I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a target mash temperature of 152°. I added 3 mL of 88% lactic aid to a hit a pH of around 5.2 to 5.3. There was an amazing malt aroma to the mash; it smelled like malt and brown sugar and all sorts of goodness!
After 60 minutes, I raised the mash temperature to 168° for 10 minutes, and then removed the grain basket. In total, I got 6.4 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.045, for 68% mash efficiency.
I boiled the runnings for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the recipe. At the end of the boil, I chilled the wort down to 78°, transferred it to the fermenter, and let it sit at ambient temperature in the garage to let the temperature drop a bit more.
I fermented at 62° (garage ambient), and moved it inside to 65° ambient temperature on 7 December 2020.
I moved the beer outside to 60° ambient on 22 December 2020.
I kegged the beer on 27 December 2020, with 2.4 oz. of corn sugar. Final gravity was 1.012, for 5.0% abv. I hit my predicted numbers nearly exactly for this batch!
Medium amber beer with a moderately persistent ivory head and slight haze.
Malty, caramel aroma.
Toasty and malty, with a slight caramel character. This has a pretty clean yeast profile, with a touch of pear on the backend. Medium-low hop character; not much to report for this aspect!
Medium-light body and moderate carbonation. This has a really nice “round” finish!
Would I brew this again?
This beer drinks so easily. The balance between malt and hop is perfect, and it’s great to have an amber beer that isn’t too filling! There’s no way this is a “Scottish Ale” of any sort though (at least as compared to past recipes I’ve done), but in any case it’s a great beer. My minor ding keeping me from a perfect 10 is the slight haze; otherwise the beer is fantastic!
With the end of the year, I did a rebrew of Tremonia Lager, one of my favorite recipes from the past 12 months. This round uses an identical malt bill, although I switched out the bittering hops (Sterling instead of Magnum), and used Diamond lager yeast from Lallemand instead of W34/70. The water is slightly modified too, to accommodate our seasonal water changes and reduce the magnesium load.
Tremonia Lager 1.1
9.5 lb. pilsner malt (Weyermann)
1.5 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
1.5 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
0.85 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
2 pkg. Diamond Lager yeast (Lallemand)
1.057 o.g., 1.014 f.g., 5.6% abv, 26 IBU, 5 SRM
Infusion mash, 152° for 60 minutes, full volume
Claremont tap water adjusted with lactic acid and mineral additions, to achieve calculated water profile of 102 Ca, 45 Mg, 74 Na, 66 SO4, 89 Cl, 25 HCO3, -79 ppm RA, 20 ppm Alkalinity, 99 ppm effective hardness.
I tested my water the night before brewing, and added 6.75 mL of 88% lactic acid to neutralize carbonates. Then, I added 2 g of gypsum and 0.5 g of calcium chloride, to achieve the target water profile listed above. Unlike my first batch of this beer, I used no Epsom salts.
I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a target mash temperature of 152°. After sitting for 10 minutes, I began recirculation, for a 60 minute mash rest at 152°. Then, I heated the mash to 168°, holding it here for 10 minutes.
After removing the grain basket, I had 6.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.049, for 69% mash efficiency.
I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. I also added 1 tsp. of BrewTan B at the end of the boil, to help maintain freshness of the beer.
I chilled the beer down to 75° or so, and then transferred to the fermenter for the final chill down to 50°. Then, I pitched the yeast.
Starting gravity was 1.055. I brewed this beer on 21 November 2020.
On 30 November 2020, I raised the temperature in the fermenter to 60°, and then cold crashed to 33° on 4 December 2020.
I kegged the beer on 10 December 2020, with a semi-closed transfer into the purged keg. It lagered for a few weeks at this temperature before going on-tap.
Very clear, nearly brilliant gold beer, with a persistent fine white head. Beautiful!
Malt-forward, with a light sweet maltiness and low hop level.
Malty, delicious, with cracker-like character. There is a firm, moderately high bitterness, but not much hop character beyond that.
Medium body, moderate carbonation, with off-dry finish and lingering bitterness.
Would I brew this again?
This is a nice beer! I like the previous version a touch better, but this one is still pretty good. The hop character was a touch better previously, and I think the mineral balance is slightly out of whack, giving a slight harshness to the bittering. I might adjust the minerals to be just a touch closer to the “old” version next time around.
The past month has seen some pretty steady brewing, as I push forward with recipes both new and familiar. So, here is a quick update in the waning days of January…
Beer Batch Updates
I brewed a Belgian IPA, intended as a clone(ish) of Houblon Chouffe, on 12 December 2020. This was a fun and challenging beer, both for its high gravity as well as managing a Belgian fermentation. It’s now kegged and conditioning; initial impressions are that it’s a really good beer, and hit my mark pretty much dead on.
On 28 December, I brewed a German pils with 100% Viking pilsner malt, a mix of Perle, Sterling, and Mt. Hood hops, and Imperial’s Global lager yeast. It is now cold crashing, and should be kegged this week sometime.
On New Year’s Day, I brewed a second version of Alstadt Alt, which was pretty tasty the first time around. The malt bill is pretty much the same, although I’ve switched up the hops and yeast slightly for what I’ve got on-hand. I should be kegging that this week, also.
I brewed a traditional London-style porter on 8 January 2021, modified from a Gordon Strong recipe. I kegged it on 24 January 2021, adding 3 oz. of corn sugar for priming. Interestingly, the gravity was stalled out at 1.025. I’m not sure if this is due to a high percentage of unfermentable sugars (brown malt?), or the yeast stalling.
Following the really tasty English IPA I made two years ago, I rebrewed the recipe on 16 January 2021. It’s pretty much identical to the last version, because it didn’t seem wise to mess with success.
What’s On Tap?
I’m nearly at the end of my session stout keg; it still drinks beautifully!
The new batch of Tremonia Lager went on tap recently, and it continues to condition a bit in the keg. It’s just now hitting the peak. I’ll sit down for a tasting with this one and write up a full report in the next week or two.
Aspiration Ale, patterned after a clone recipe for 90 Shilling Ale by Odell Brewing Company, is on tap and tastes so good. It has a little ways to go to clear up, but it’s pretty squarely filling the “malty but not overly alcoholic amber-ish ale” category.
Although my keezer only has three faucets, I’ve been running Mahajanga IPA off of a picnic tap. There’s only a little bit left, but it still is a super nice beer! Because it’s pretty high alcohol (8.5% abv), I enjoy this as an occasional one-off, so it doesn’t make sense to put it on the main serving line.
What’s Coming Up?
I’ve got a lot of beer in the pipeline already, so the next few weeks will focus on lagers. I’m going to repitch the yeast from the pilsner, to make a schwarzbier as well as a Munich dunkel.
On the lighter side, it has been a long time since I last did my orange wheat ale. I’m getting ingredients together now, and will brew this in the next few weeks.
I feel like my process with the Anvil Foundry is pretty dialed in now, and I’m consistently hitting 67 to 68% mash efficiency. I wouldn’t complain if it was a bit higher, so I might tighten the mill up just a touch. Right now I have a mill gap of 0.037″ (it was set at 0.041″ for the old mash tun), and might take it down to 0.034″ or so.
The cooling fan in the base of my Anvil has started acting up, with an extra bit of noise. After a bit of troubleshooting, it seems that the fan is going bad, so Anvil tech support is sending a replacement fan. I’ll note that the 18 volt, 60 mm fan type is a pretty hard one to track down otherwise!
Although my tastes tilt towards lower alcohol (<5.5% abv) beers, I like something a bit stronger as a treat now and then. I’ve previously enjoyed Avery Brewing Brewing Company’s Maharaja, a 10% abv double (triple?) IPA, and found a clone recipe in Craft Beer for the Homebrewer. I modified the hops in my version, with Chinook in place of Columbus and Centennial on the boil. On the dry hop end of things, I was much closer to the original recipe.
The name is a play on Avery’s brew, honoring a city in northwestern Madagascar where I spent a bit of time during my fieldwork in that country.
10.5 pounds 2-row malt (Great Western)
7 oz. biscuit malt (Dingemans)
6 oz. crystal 120 (Great Western)
1 oz. Chinook whole hops (13.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 oz. Chinook whole hops (13.1% alpha), 30 minute boil
2 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
1 pkg. Safale American Ale yeast (US-05)
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Chinook whole hops (13.1% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (13.6% alpha), dry hop in keg
1.088 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 10% abv, 113 IBU, 13 SRM
Claremont tap water, with 2 g of gypsum added at end of boil
Full volume mash, 90 minutes at 147°, mash out to 168°, ferment at 65°
I mashed in full volume with ~5 gallons of water at 156°, to hit a mash temperature of 147°. I added ~4 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the mash pH.
After a 90 minute mash, I brought it up to 168° and held for 10 minutes before removing the grains.
I hit around 57% mash efficiency, with ~1.058 gravity for 4 gallons of runnings. This is pretty low, so I knew I would have to add a pound of DME.
I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops, DME, and kettle finings per the recipe.
I added 2 g of gypsum at the end of the boil.
Approximately 3.4 gallons of wort went into the fermenter. I gave this 30 seconds of pure O2, and then pitched the yeast. It fermented at ambient (~64°).
I brewed the beer on 25 November 2020, and it had a starting gravity of 1.077.
I kegged the beer on 19 December 2020, adding the dry hops at that time. Final gravity was 1.014, for 8.5% abv. I’m thrilled that the beer attenuated fairly well!
I removed the dry hops on 27 December 2020, to avoid overhopping or harshness.
The beer has an orangish, burnished gold color; it’s slightly hazy, but not overly so. It pours with a persistent ivory head with really nice lacing.
Slight caramel malt quality, and a prominent hop character of citrus rind and pine resin. There is no yeast character or hot alcohol character, which is awesome!
The beer is quite bitter, with a grapefruit rind and pine resin character to the bitterness. The malt flavor is somewhat grainy, and relatively moderate compared to the hops. Yeast character is very clean. This is a hop-forward beer!
Medium-light body, with an off-dry finish and moderate carbonation.
Would I brew this again?
Overall, this is a great recipe that just requires some hop adjustment. The hop character is a bit one-dimensional, with the Chinook dominating everything else. If I rebrew this, I’ll go closer to the original recipe, and ditch Chinook for all but a small dry hop addition. The malt character is about perfect, with enough body to stand up to the hops. The yeast management was perfect on this one–it attenuated well, and the yeast character was clean rather than boozy or fusel-ridden.