As the days turn towards winter, I’m in a dark [beer] mood. This is the time of year when I really like having a stout, porter, brown ale, or even an amber ale on tap to round out my beer choices.
To kick things off for the fall/winter dark beer season, I brewed up “Kveik the Keg Brown Ale.” It’s a total experiment, pulling together something that’s vaguely an American-style brown ale, with a repitch of the Hornindal kveik culture used in my recent pale ale. The idea was to make a sessionable beer holding ample malt character and a citrus highlight…something like a “chocolate orange” feel. I modified this from the Wasatch Premium Ale recipe in the Brewing Session Beers book by Jennifer Talley, because it looked like it had many of the initial features I was hoping for. For the malt base, I mixed American 2-row and light Munich malt, supplemented by a hefty dose of crystal 75, some chocolate malt, and a touch of Carafa Special III for color. For hops, I used all whole-Cascade hops. The Hornindal culture, which produces a subtle citrus character, would hopefully work alongside the Cascade. As you’ll see in the tasting notes, this was a pretty successful experiment!
Kveik the Keg Brown Ale
- 6.25 lb. 2-row brewer’s malt (Great Western)
- 2.5 lb. Munich light malt (Chateau)
- 1 lb. crystal 75 malt (Great Western)
- 2.6 oz. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
- 2.5 oz. chocolate malt (Briess)
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 0.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 30 minute boil
- 1.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
- 1 tsp. yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
- Hornindal Kveik (Omega OYL-091), repitched from previous batch
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), dry hop in fermenter
- 1.044 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.4% abv, 18 SRM, 33 IBU
- Infusion mash, 156°, batch sparge; 60 minute boil
- Claremont water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines.
- I mashed in with 3.4 gallons of water at 166°, to hit my mash target of 156°. After 40 minutes, I added 1.5 gallons of hot water (~175°), to raise the mash temperature to 164°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
- Next, I added 3.75 gallons of hot water, to hit a ~164° mash temperature. I let this sit for 10 more minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
- In total, I collected 7.3 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.038, for 76% mash efficiency.
- I brought the runnings to a boil, and added hops, nutrients, and finings per the indicated schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat, chilled the wort down to 89°, and transferred it to the fermenter.
- I brewed this beer on 19 September 2020. Starting gravity was 1.045, pretty close to my target. I pitched around 8 ounces of yeast slurry (which had been harvested a week prior), and saw signs of fermentation within 90 minutes of pitching the yeast! Within 18 hours, there was vigorous fermentation. What a solid start for this culture! I fermented this at ambient temperatures.
- On 23 September, I added 1 oz. of dry hops directly to the fermenter.
- I kegged the beer on 3 October 2020, adding 2.8 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup of water. The keg sat at ambient for ~10 days, before I topped up the pressure using force carbonation.
- Final gravity was 1.017, down from 1.045, for 3.6% abv.
- Very clear, deep brown beer with a persistent ivory head. It is exceptionally pretty!
- Moderate chocolate character to the malt aroma, with a slight citrus character, presumably from the yeast and hops. Very clean!
- The beer has a surprisingly rich, bready malt base (must be that Munich malt!), with a dark caramel and chocolate character behind that. Bitterness is at a moderately high level, but not over the top relative to the malt. There is definitely an orangey citrus character in play here.
- Moderate carbonation, with a fairly light body and a crisp finish. There is a very slight bit of what might be astringency on the extended finish, but it’s barely noticeable. It’s not harsh at all, but does seem a touch out of balance with the rest of the beer.
- Would I brew this again?
- Yes! I might make a few minor modifications, perhaps to dial the bitterness back just a touch and maybe reduce the dry hopping level or dry hopping time. I think the beer would also benefit from swapping out the 2-row base malt with a Vienna or Maris Otter-type malt, to enrich the malt character. All that said, it’s overall a pretty good beer. I really like how the kveik culture worked in this beer, and it’s pretty nice to find something for this yeast that’s not yet another oversaturated IPA. I’ll probably be brewing more beers like this down the road!
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