This was a quick brew to serve at a homebrew festival…I roughly followed past recipes, and used zest from 5 Valencia oranges soaked in 4 oz. of vodka for the orange flavoring (added at kegging). It was my first brew back on my batch sparge system (while my Anvil Foundry was temporarily down). I had some major efficiency issues–I suspect maybe a poor crush for the grains–and thus had to improvise heavily with extract. The brew definitely didn’t go as planned, but at least it got done. My subsequent brews in the old mash tun went much better, thank goodness, and now I’m back on the Foundry!
2022 Orange Summer Wheat Ale
6.5 lb. red wheat malt
3.25 lb. 2-row pale malt
6 oz. Viking dextrin malt
8 oz. rice hulls
0.8 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 tsp. WLN1000 yeast nutrient (White Labs)
1 pkg. German Ale Yeast (SafAle K97)
1.043 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.3% abv, 21 IBU, 4 SRM
Full volume mash, no sparge, 152°
Claremont tap water, Campden tablet added to remove chloramines
I added 8 gallons of water to the mash tun, letting it settle to 157° before adding the grains and 8 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH. The mash settled around 152° initially, and I let it sit for 75 minutes before vorlaufing and collecting the runnings.
In total, I collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.027, for barely 45% mash efficiency. This is some of the worst efficiency I have ever had, and I’m not sure why. I suspect either I had a poor crush with the high volume of wheat malt, or perhaps the wheat malt didn’t have the enzyme potential expected (which doesn’t make complete sense to me), or some other factor. In any case, I had to improvise major-time and add 1.5 lb. of extra light Briess DME to bring the gravity into a tolerable range.
I brought the runnings to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled down to ~70° before transferring to the fermenter.
I brewed this beer on 10 April 2022. Starting gravity was 1.044. Once I pitched the yeast, I fermented at ~65°.
Prior to brew day, I zested 5 fresh-picked Valencia oranges and put the rind into a 4 oz. bottle topped up with vodka. On kegging day, I strained out the zest.
I kegged the beer on 23 April 2022, and added the orange tincture at that point.
Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.5% abv.
I force carbonated, and it was served at a beer festival on April 30. I couldn’t attend, and got the keg back. Two weeks later, I transferred to a pinlock keg for serving. I didn’t have my usual ball lock quick disconnect handy, so I had to do the less-than-desirable task of transferring directly into the keg and then purging it with CO2 via the pressure relief valve.
The beer is cloudy and a sort of muddy reddish orange color. The head is white and persistent.
A fairly pleasant orange and orange blossom aroma is prominent, but not much else.
Orange and doughy malt flavors, with a moderate level of bitterness.
Light body, moderate carbonation, dry finish. There is a somewhat unpleasant astringency on the finish.
Would I Brew This Again?
This was a very disappointing version of my normally likable orange wheat ale. The orange character is nice, and K97 is an awesome American wheat ale yeast, but the astringency and muddy coloration keep this from being a winner. So many things went sideways on this brew that I have no doubt my next iteration will be far superior. All blame goes to technique flaws, not the recipe itself. This batch is not a complete dumper, but it comes very close.
I just love the “traditional” northwestern IPAs, as mentioned numeroustimesbefore on this blog. So many breweries focus on the tropical fruit profiles, which I also love, but sometimes I just want pine and citrus and dank flavors in my IPA.
This latest batch doesn’t follow any particular recipes; I’m just aiming for a bit of interesting base malt character with a touch of crystal malt. So, I leaned on the two-row for about three-quarters of the grist, along with a bit of Golden Promise for interest, some crystal 40, and a bit of biscuit. The latter two used up my supplies, so it was good housecleaning.
The hopping was traditional with a twist. A recent HOPBOX had some of their hop extract, enough to add about 47 IBU. According to their website, it’s mostly CTZ-type hops with some other semi-random aroma varieties. That sounded like a perfect bittering base for my beer, and I have also wanted to try out some of these hop extracts for awhile. I elected to put the rest of my hops all in the whirlpool and dry hop additions. In this case, Amarillo, Centennial, and Cascade were perfect choices.
This batch was brewed while my Foundry was down for repairs, so I used the “traditional” batch sparge technique. I’m glad to say I still have the skills here, and hit my numbers really closely.
Spring Classic IPA
10 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
3 lb. Golden Promise Finest Pale Ale malt (Simpsons)
9 oz. 40L caramel malt (Briess)
4 oz. biscuit malt (BlackSwaen)
10 mL Yakima Valley Hops CO2 hop extract (48.91% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.8% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 oz. Cascade hop pellets (8.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (12.5% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
2 pkg. American West Coast Ale dry yeast (Lallemand BRY-97)
1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.8% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Cascade hop pellets (8.7% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (12.5% alpha), dry hop in keg
1.059 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 6.5% abv, 69 IBU, 7 SRM
Infusion mash to hit target of 148°, 60 minutes, batch sparge
Claremont tap water with gypsum added to to achieve 79 ppm Ca, 6 ppm Mg, 91 ppm Na, 172 ppm SO4, 85 ppm Cl, 144 ppm HCO3, 118 ppm alkalinity, 58 ppm RA
I heated 4.6 gallons of water (with Campden tablet) to 159°, and mashed in with my grains to hit 149°. I added 6 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH. I mashed for 60 minutes before adding 0.75 gallons of 185° water. I let it rest, vorlaufed, and then collected the first runnings. Next I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let it rest at around 170° for 10 minutes, and then collected the second runnings.
In total, I collected 7.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.050, for 75% mash efficiency.
While the kettle was coming up to a boil, I soaked the hop extract in hot tap water, in order to make it easier to add. That certainly did the trick!
I added 6 g of gypsum to the boil, to hit my water target.
Once the kettle was boiling, I added the hop extract and then added other items per the recipe.
After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the flame, added the whirlpool hops, and let it rest (with occasional stirring) for 15 minutes before chilling.
I transferred the wort to my fermenter and chilled it down to 66° before pitching the yeast.
I brewed this beer on 15 April 2022, and fermented it at 66°. Starting gravity was 1.059, right on target.
I moved the beer to ambient on 24 April 2022, and kegged it on 4 May 2022. I added the drop hops at this point, with a mesh bag inside the keg.
The final gravity was 1.011, for 6.4% abv. I’m very pleased on how closely I hit my numbers overall!
Pours as a golden, somewhat hazy beer, with a creamy white head that is very persistent. The head leaves gorgeous lacing down the sides of the glass.
Orange and overall citrus notes, with a slight malty background. The yeast character is quite clean.
A citrus, citrus pith, pine, and resiny hop bitterness at the front, with a clean malty presence and a light bit of candy behind that. The hop character has that “sticky” quality on the tongue that I really adore in a good traditional American IPA.
Medium body, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish.
Would I brew this again?
I feel like I’ve gotten my “traditional” West Coast IPAs down pretty well now. I know the hops and hop combos I like, and have found that perfect balance of crystal malt and base malt. I also have a few variations on recipes that work well. It definitely has a “hop haze,” which I suppose dings it a little bit in terms of my overall score, but I also expect that should be cleared out by the end of the keg. BRY-97 is my favorite IPA yeast now, too! Another thing I love about this beer is that I perceive it just a little differently every time I sample it. Sometimes the pine hits me, sometimes the orange, sometimes the resin.
Because this is an incredibly busy time of year in the non-beer part of my life, April slid past and now we’re a good chunk of the way into May. So, I’ve got a combined post this time around.
Beer Batch Updates
I have kegged my Belgian pale ale, and it won both the brew club competition as well as the Southern California Homebrew Festival bragging rights competition! My personal assessment was that it was a decent beer, but not fantastic. But, I guess I was wrong.
I brewed and kegged a version of my orange wheat ale, to go to the SoCal Homebrew Festival. It’s not my best iteration, but it will do. Because my Anvil Foundry was down for a month or so (see below), I went back to a standard mash with batch sparge. Something went sideways–mismeasure of grain mass, maybe?–and I only got 50% mash efficiency.
I brewed and kegged an American IPA, focusing on a more traditional piney/citrusy profile. I used Centennial, Cascade, and Amarillo hops to reach this goal.
I brewed the 2022 iteration of Alta California Lager on 24 April, and it is now in the final stages of fermentation before cold crashing.
I brewed a Scottish 70/- Heavy on 7 May, in order to have a flavorful but lower alcohol beer on-hand. I’m letting it ferment out at ambient temperature (around 66 to 68° in the garage), which is perhaps taking a small chance but I also think it’s a recipe that will benefit from a fruitier yeast character. I used US-05, so any fruitiness will probably be fairly restrained.
What’s On Tap?
My Pre-Prohibition Lager is on tap, and wow is it delicious. It’s exactly the beer I wanted to bridge into the warm days of spring! I’m going to be sad when it’s finished.
My American IPA is on tap, and it’s a bit young yet but will come into its own as it settles out. The flavor is awesome (a classic late 1990s West Coast IPA), but the yeast haven’t dropped completely clear yet, so it’s a bit on the hazy side. It’s got a great flavor of citrus and resin and pine.
I am moving my orange wheat ale on-tap soon, to fill the vacancy left after my altbier keg kicked.
What’s Coming Up?
I’m thinking about another IPA, something to highlight the tropical-type hops that I’ve been getting in my HOPBOXes. The draft version I’ve got uses Azacca, HBC 586, and Idaho Gem…I’m not sure if I’ll stay in that space, but it seems like a start.
I’m also looking at a German pils, using 100% Barke Pilsner malt, and Saphir+Hallertauer Mittelfrueh for the hops.
It feels like another beer should happen before some big events this summer (fieldwork, travel, and a house move), but I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe a dark or amber lager?
Back in March, I had some issues with my (otherwise beloved) Anvil Foundry. It turned out to be a bum power switch…after a bit of back-and-forth with their tech support and a new switch+wire, I am back in business! Even though I am past warranty, I really appreciate that they covered this replacement.
After about five months of fermentation, my beer vinegar (made from my weissbier) was ready to go. It had some amazing vinegar mother action (see image below). The flavor is exceptional, just like malt vinegar that you would put on fish and chips. I used it to spritz a pork shoulder during an extended smoke, and the flavors blended really nicely. I can’t wait to try another batch!
The Southern California Homebrewers Festival was held recently, and per tradition they had a style-focused competition. Each participating club could submit an entry for a bragging rights “best of show” beer…this year’s style of choice was Belgian Pale Ale. My beer was selected as the entry for our brew club (Horse Thief Brewer’s Association)…and I was blown away to learn that it was the top beer of the competition, among approximately 30 other entries! Due to a work conflict, I wasn’t able to be there in person, but enjoyed hearing about the results via text message (I was in the field when I received the news). The ?downside is that I received an empty keg back, so wasn’t able to enjoy the beer after my first few samples! I guess that means I’ll be brewing it again sometime soon.
These high ratings surprised me because I had never brewed the style before, was using an untested recipe, and didn’t actually expect to win. But hey, I won’t complain. Even though I didn’t think the beer was anything particularly special, other people obviously did, and I’m kinda proud of that.
The recipe I brewed here was a modification of Ben’s Belgian Pale Ale, which received a silver medal at the 2019 National Homebrew Competition. The recipe is posted on the AHA website; I figured that it would be a good starting point for my own version. This is not a style I’ve sampled a ton of, so I was working a bit in the dark. The original recipe called for flaked oats and red wheat malt, but I elected to pull those out to ensure a clearer result. After a bit of research, I settled on Omega Labs’ Belgian Ale A yeast, because it is supposed to be on the cleaner side for Belgian yeasts–a desirable quality in a Belgian pale ale. I suppose there are enough changes that the original recipe was an inspirational starting point, rather than anything I explicitly followed. I did choose to make Saaz the centerpiece of the hopping, in a nod to tradition.
Big Surprise Belgian Pale Ale
7 lb. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
2 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
12 oz. Cara 20 malt (Dingemans)
8 oz. aromatic Munich malt 20L (Briess)
8 oz. caramel Munich 60L malt (Briess)
4 oz. dextrin malt (Viking)
0.75 oz. Saaz hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
0.35 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
0.5 oz. Saaz hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 20 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 oz. Saaz hop pellets, 5 minute boil
1 pkg. Belgian Ale A yeast (Omega OYL-024)
1.051 s.g., 1.010 f.g., 5.4% abv, 29 IBU, 10 SRM
Claremont tap water, adjusted to hit 45 Ca, 6 Mg, 91 Na, 50 SO4, 115 Cl, 144 HCO3
Full volume mash, 60 minutes at 152° and 10 minute mash-out at 168°.
I mashed in with 7 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 1 g CaCl to adjust water chemistry, as well as 2.5 mL 88% lactic acid to adjust pH. I held at 152° for 60 minutes, before raising the mash to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out.
I removed the grains and heated the runnings to a boil. In total, I collected 6.1 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.047, for 71% mash efficiency.
I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled to ~66°.
On the morning of brew day, I made a 1L vitality starter to wake up the yeast.
I brewed this beer on 13 March 2022. Starting gravity was 1.052. I fermented the beer at ambient temperature in my garage, around 60°.
After vigorous fermentation slowed down, I moved the fermenter inside on 18 March 2022, where the temperature was slightly warmer (~66°). Very vigorous fermentation took off again (filling the airlock with yeast), so I cleaned the airlock, sanitized it, and let it go from there.
I kegged the beer on 8 April 2022, using 3.5 oz. of corn sugar dissolved in 1 cup of water. Final gravity was 1.011, for 5.4% abv.
I let the keg sit at ambient for ~2 weeks, and topped up the carbonation with forced CO2. The flavor was pretty good, but it was not terribly clear. So, I added 1 tsp. of gelatin dissolved in water on 24 April 2022. Within two days, the clarity was gorgeous!
Very clear, light amber color. The beer pours with a creamy and persistent white head.
Bready and light caramel aroma, with a light pear-like fruitiness to the yeast aroma.
Light fruity yeast character at the front, with a bready/grainy malt character. Bitterness is moderate, with a smooth extended finish.
Medium body, medium carbonation, slightly dry finish.
Would I brew this again?
Gelatin improved the clarity on this beer a TON! I really like the restrained yeast character here; it is interesting without being cloying or overpowering. I would highly recommend the Omega Labs’ Belgian Ale A for anyone else looking to make this style–the pear quality is particularly enjoyable. The few samples I had were good enough, although not mind-blowing to me. I guess that’s the slightly understated nature of this style. I’m going to have to give it another try, because I’m now intrigued, especially given the fact that other people liked it so much.
Continuing my journey through the world of lagers, I decided to try a new version of a Pre-Prohibition lager. I’ve made something from this style range before, during my first foray into lagers, and it turned out pretty well. For the current batch, I used a blend of pilsner and 2-row malt to achieve a bit of complexity, layering in some flaked corn to give the “American” component. I got some Triumph hops in a HOPBOX selection, and thought this would be well suited for my American lager. Triumph is an American hop with European parentage, including some noble hops, and it is supposed to bring some noble characteristics along with delicate fruit qualities.
6.5 lb. Pilsner Malt (Viking)
4 lb. 2-row malt (Rahr)
1 lb. flaked corn
0.25 lb. rice hulls
0.5 oz. Triumph hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 60 minute boil
0.75 oz. Triumph hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 15 minute boil
1 tsp. BruTahB, 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
0.75 oz. Triumph hop pellets (7.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
2 pkg. Diamond lager yeast (Lallemand)
1.051 s.g., 1.008 f.g., 28 IBU, 5.7% abv, 4 SRM
Full volume Hochhurz mash, 45 minutes at 144°, 45 minutes at 10 minutes at 160°, 10 minute mash-out at 168°
Water built from scratch to hit 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, -47 ppm RA
I added 2.7 g gypsum, 2.2 g epsom salt, and 3.4 g calcium chloride to 7 gallons of RO water, to hit a target of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, and -47 ppm RA.
I heated the water in the Foundry to 150°, and added the grains to hit a mash temperature of 144°. I added 1.5 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH slightly. I held the mash at 144° with recirculation for 45 minutes, and then raised the temperature to 160°, holding it here for 45 minutes also. Finally, I raised the mash to 168° and held it here for a 10 minute mash-out.
After the mash-out, I removed the grain basket and brought the runnings to a boil. I collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.048, for 71% mash efficiency.
I brought the beer to a boil, aiming for 60 minutes, adding hops and such per the recipe. My Foundry had an issue mid-boil (the power switch was starting to burn out),so it took a bit of work to limp the boil through to the end. I adjusted the length of the boil time slightly to compensate.
After approximately 60 minutes of total boil, I turned off the heat and chilled to ~68°, before transferring to the fermenter and chilling down to 48° in the fermentation chamber. I then pitched the yeast.
I brewed the beer on 14 February 2022, and fermented at 52°. Starting gravity was 1.053.
I kegged the beer on 8 April 2022. Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.3% abv.
Brilliantly clear, light yellow beer with moderately persistent head. The head pours fairly thick, but thins out after awhile.
Clean! Slight grainy/corn profile; not much hop character, although there is a bit of a spice hop note.
Malty/grainy, with light corn flavor; moderately high bitterness, but not much for hop character otherwise.
Fairly crisp finish, with moderate carbonation. Medium body. Very smooth drinking!
Would I brew this again?
YES! This is a nice version of the style; I suppose it doesn’t hit all of the BJCP style notes, but it really is a pretty awesome American lager. A touch more hop aroma would be nice, but not mandatory.