A little over a year ago, I brewed a batch of Irish stout based on a recipe in Jennifer Talley’s wonderful book, Brewing Session Beers. The result was pretty enjoyable, so I wanted to revisit the recipe. The main changes from the previous version was a different base malt (Maris Otter instead of American two-row) and using pale chocolate instead of full-on chocolate malt.
The end result was something that is almost there, but in need of a few last tweaks. I love it as a low-alcohol session beer, but feel it still needs a bit more body. I’ll certainly be coming back to this in the future!
Session Stout II
6 lbs. Maris Otter Malt (Bairds)
1 lb. flaked barley
12 oz. roasted barley (Bairds)
7.5 oz. pale chocolate malt (Crisp)
4 oz. black barley (Briess)
2 oz. rice hulls
1 oz. Helga hop pellets (5.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
1.09 oz. East Kent Goldings (6.0% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet
1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)
1.042 s.g, 1.009 f.g., 4.4% abv, 31 IBU, 42 SRM
Infusion mash with batch sparge
Water built from Claremont tap water with Campden tablet.
I mashed in with 166° strike water to hit a target temperature of 152°. After 60 minutes, I added 1.4 gallons of water at 185°, waited 10 minutes, vorlaufed and collected the first runnings. Next, I added 3.3 gallons of water at 185°, waited 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
In total, I collected 6.25 gallons of water with a gravity of 1.035, for 71% efficiency.
I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and cooled down to yeast pitching temperature (combination of cooling coil and time in fermentation chamber after transfer).
I transferred the beer to the fermenter and pitched the yeast. I brewed this beer on 4 December 2018, and fermented at 66°. Starting gravity was 1.042.
I kegged the beer on 4 Janaury 2019, when it had a final gravity of 1.014. This equates to a measured abv of 3.7%.
Chocolatey, roasty, very clean
Deep deep brown, black in the glass; very fine light brown head with excellent persistance; brilliantly clear
Deceptively light flavor, that tilts towards the roasted side with a hint of chocolate. Not a terrible amount of malt backbone. The roastiness is balanced well against the hoppiness. Moderately bitter beer.
Dry, light-bodied beer, with moderately high carbonation as perceived in the mouth.
Would I brew this again?
This is a pretty tasty, very drinkable beer. I feel like it is just a touch lighter on base malt character and mouthfeel than I like, although this is a pretty easy fix (a bit more base malt or perhaps use full octane chocolate malt instead of pale chocolate). The base recipe itself is pretty solid.
For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to blog about every single batch I brewed in 2018. Many of the ones that didn’t make the cut were repeat brewings of successful recipes. Because I’m not likely to get all of them with full blog posts at this stage, I’m giving myself semi-amnesty by listing them with brief comments.
Cerveza de Jamaica 1.1
This was a rebrew of the first version, which I really liked. Version 1.1 was modified very slightly to add a little more hibiscus and a little more orange peel, and the result was an incredibly tasty beer!
Double IPA / Hoppy Blonde Ale
This was an experiment with parti-gyle techniques, co-brewed with a friend. The double IPA ended up at around 7.8% abv, and was fairly tasty. The blonde ale rounded out at 4.6% abv, and was also pretty nice. The experiment was a lot of work on brew day, but a fun attempt.
Raspberry Belgian 2018
I rebrewed a house favorite recipe for a beer festival, and thus didn’t really get to taste the final result (sadly). Everything on the process was tasty, though, so I’ll be doing this one again too.
Bavarica Session IPA
This one was pretty disastrous! The flavors clashed horribly (never again will I use Munich malt in a session IPA), and I dumped most of the batch.
Grab Bag IPA
Basically to use up a bunch of ingredients. Nothing memorable here, although it was pretty drinkable.
Grapefruit Wheat Ale
I don’t have many notes on this, other than that I used Amoretti grapefruit craft puree for some of the flavoring.
I’ve done soooo many American-style IPAs (especially tending towards the citrusy/fruity variety) that I’ve lost sight of what else an IPA can be. I wanted to get back to the style’s roots roots, with an English-style recipe. Creatively, I decided to call it…English IPA. It’s modified from a recipe on the AHA website, which won gold in the NHC during 2016.
12 lbs. Maris Otter malt (Bairds)
0.5 lb. biscuit malt (Dingemans)
0.5 lb. red wheat malt (Briess)
6 oz. crystal 120 malt (Great Western)
6 oz. crystal 40 malt (Great Western)
1 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc pellet, 10 minute boil
1 oz. Fuggles hop pellets (5.6% alpha), 10 minute boil
2 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (6.0% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
2 pkg. Nottingham dry yeast (Lallemand)
3 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (5.0% alpha), dry hop in keg
1.064 s.g, 1.015 f.g., 6.5% abv, 49 IBU, 11 SRM
Infusion mash with batch sparge
Water built from Claremont tap water with mineral additions.
Starting with Claremont tap water, I added 9 g gypsum, 5 g epsom salt, and 4 g CaCl to 4.6 gallons of water with a partial Campden tablet. I heated it to 166° and added the grains along with .5 tbs. of 88% lactic acid, to hit a mash temperature of 152° for 60 minutes. Then, I added 0.7 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings.
Next, I added 3.6 gallons of water at 185° with 0.3 tbs. of 88% lactic acid for the sparge. After 10 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected second runnings.
In total, I collected 6.9 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.055 and 75% efficiency.
I brought everything to a boil and added the various kettle ingredients per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and cooled to 85°. Finally, I transferred to the fermenter (with aeration) and cooled to 66°.
I brewed this and pitched the yeast on 7 November 2018.
I kegged the beer on 19 November 2018 and added the dry hops.
Original gravity was 1.063, and final gravity was 1.015, for 6.4% abv.
I drank this beer fairly quickly, because it was so tasty, and unfortunately I kicked the keg before I could do a full, formal tasting. Nonetheless, I kept a few brief notes on my last glass…
The beer had a hop-forward, nicely earthy aroma, with a slight caramel malt character behind that. On the taste, the malt and bitterness were well balanced. Hop character was pretty smooth on the finish, against the caramel malt qualities. Color was a gorgeous medium amber, with a slight haze.
Overall, I give this beer a 9 out of 10. I could perhaps round out the body a bit more (maybe with some oats or flaked barley), but overall this beer is pretty close to exactly what I wanted. The hops in particular are a treat–this feels like something Bilbo Baggins might enjoy next to the fire on a cold night in the Shire.
It’s pils time again, as I continue my exploration of European lagers. The July/August 2018 issue of BYO magazine had a tasty looking clone recipe, for Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Slow Pour Pils. Its simplicity was beautiful–pilsner malt, acidulated malt, Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops, and lager yeast. Additionally, it gave me a chance to play around with more step mashes and decoctions.
I followed the published recipe pretty closely, adjusting just slightly on my additions to ensure that the bittering hops would still hit my target of ~33 IBU. But, I then saw a correction in a later issue that the whirlpool addition should instead be a late hop addition. I figure this probably won’t mess things up too much, giving a bit more hop aroma, although also leaving slightly more potential for haze. In any case, the official recipe is posted at the BYO website.
Because I don’t have direct-fire capabilities for my mash tun, all of the steps had to be accomplished via infusions. This took a bit of creativity, but I managed reasonably well. As another wrinkle in the process, I tried for the first time a closed-transfer technique. In the past, I found that my pilsners tended to get that honey-like taste of oxidation after 6-8 weeks, which detracted from my overall enjoyments towards the end of the keg. As noted below, my attention to technique paid off pretty well!
Bierstadt Pils Clone
8 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
0.5 lb. acidulated malt (BEST)
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), first wort hop and 60 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 40 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
2 pkg. W34/70 Saflager lager yeast
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
1.048 s.g, 1.011 f.g., 4.9% abv, 33 IBU, 3.4 SRM
Infusion step mash with decoction
Water built from 8.12 gallons of RO water, with 1.6 g CaCl, 1.25 gypsum, 1 g epsom salts in 3.25 gallons of mash water, and 2.4 g CaCl, 1.9 g gypsum, 1.5 g epsom salts in 5 gallons of sparge water, to achieve -47 RA, 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, 63 ppm Cl
I mashed in with 2.5 gallons of water at 150° (1.054 quarts/pound of grain), aiming for a protein rest temperature of 131°. Instead, I hit 141°, and stirred frequently to get it down to 136° by the end of the 10 minute protein rest.
I next added 1.5 quarts of boiling water to achieve a mash rest of 144°. After 30 minutes, the temperature was down to 140°. I then added 1.5 quarts of boiling water, to hit 152°. This was below my target of 160°, so I added another 2 quarts of boiling water, to finally hit 160°. I let it sit here for 40 minutes before proceeding to the next step. In total, I added 4.5 gallons of water for the mash.
Next, I pulled a thin mash of 2.75 gallons, and boiled it for 10 minutes. Next, I added it back to the mash tun, to hit 168°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
Next, I added 3.25 gallons of water at 180°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
In total, I collected 6.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.053, for 87% mash efficiency.
I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and kettle finings per the schedule. To keep bitterness closer to my calculated numbers, I removed the boil hops before adding the whirlpool charge.
I chilled the wort to 85°, and then transferred it to the fermenter, where it was further chilled to 49° in my fermentation chamber. I oxygenated with 60 seconds of pure O2, and then pitched the two packets of dry yeast directly.
Starting gravity was 1.053, with brewing on 31 August 2018. I fermented at 50°, until 25 September 2018, when I cold crashed to 36°.
I did a closed transfer to the keg (under CO2 pressure) on 27 October 2018.
Final gravity was 1.012; down from 1.053, this works out to 5.4% abv.
1.053 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.4% abv
Brilliantly clear, light yellow beer, with a fine, white, and persistent head
Slight spicy hop aroma, with a pleasant and gentle maltiness behind that
Robust hop character nicely balanced against a grainy/sweet malt profile. Really nice!
Moderately dry, with a smooth finish that tilts toward the hoppy end in a gentle yet firm way.
Would I brew this again?
Absolutely! This has matured into a wonderfully drinkable, really delightful beer. I’m pleased with how such a simple recipe can produce excellent results.
I’ve gotten bored with tropical fruity, citrusy, guava bomb IPAs; they’re fairly easy to nail at least half-way well, but come across as a bit one-note after awhile. I don’t have a huge interest in the hazy IPA trend, either–they’re nice to try from time to time, but I don’t really want or need a 5 gallon keg of IPA orange juice. So, it’s back to the basics for me!
The new batch is fairly close recipe-wise to the old one, with the main change being in the yeast. I decided to give the Mangrove Jack Liberty Bell Ale (M36) a try; it’s supposed to be a strain good for English or American pale ales.
9.5 lbs. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
2 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western)
0.5 lb. Caravienne malt (Weyermann)
0.25 lb. Carahell malt (Weyermann)
3.4 oz. acidulated malt (BESTMALZ)
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), 15 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet
2 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
3 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), dry hop in keg
2 pkg. Liberty Bell Ale dry yeast (Mangrove Jack’s #M36)
1.063 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 6.7% abv, 59 IBU, 6 SRM
Infusion mash to hit target of 150°, 60 minutes, batch sparge
Water built from 3 gallons of Claremont tap water, 3.5 gallons of RO water treated with 4.5 g gypsum, 1.5 g epsom salt, 1 g calcium chloride, to hit target of 74 Ca, 10 Mg, 14 Na, 120 SO4, 27 Cl, 129 HCO3, 47 RA.
I mashed in with ~4.1 gallons of the RO water with minerals and the balance in tap water, at 161°, to hit a mash temperature of 150°.
After a 60 minute mash, I added 0.8 gallons of tap water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.5 gallons of tap water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
In total, I collected 6.5 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.051, for 72% efficiency.
I brought the kettle to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding hops per the schedule. After a full hour boil, I added the whirlpool hops and let them sit for 10 minutes before chilling, transferring to the fermenter, and pitching the yeast.
I brewed this batch on 18 September 2018, and fermented it at around 67°. Starting gravity was 1.058.
On 30 October 2018, I kegged the beer. Final gravity was 1.005, working out to 7.1% abv. The beer had a somewhat estery aroma and flavor on first taste (see below).
Original gravity = 1.058; final gravity = 1.005; abv = 7.1%; esimated IBU = 59
Slight phenolic, citrusy aroma
Fine white head that sticks around for awhile; the beer itself is light gold with a slight haze.
This is a very hop-forward beer, with a firm but even bitterness that persists on the tongue. There’s not a ton of malt character, but that’s OK for what this is. The hops have a slightly floral and citrusy character, which is unfortunately swamped out by a bit of a “hot” phenol note.
This is a fairly dry beer. Carbonation is appropriate to style.
Would I brew this again?
The description for Liberty Bell Ale yeast mentions pear esters in the aroma, which will get out of the way of prominent hop and malt aromas. Sadly, I couldn’t disagree more. The aroma was an estery mess on this one early on–it smelled somewhat like my early homebrew batches fermented without temperature control. I checked my records on power losses at home, and couldn’t find any record of a power outage during the height of fermentation, so I suspect it’s just a flaw in the yeast strain relative to this recipe. It doesn’t really seem like an infection, either, although I suppose that’s not completely outside the realm of possibility (especially given the low finishing gravity). The off flavor has moderated a fair bit as the beer sits in the keg, but in any case, I won’t be trying this yeast strain again.
5/10 — the off flavor overwhelms the positive features of this beer.