I’ve been reasonably good at documenting my brewing process (hence this blog), but haven’t done as much for recording the resulting product. This post is a first attempt at formalizing personal evaluations of my homebrew.
- I brewed this up on March 31, and bottled it on April 27. Thus, it has had a little over three months to condition. The sample I’m evaluating here was from a mini-keg. The character of the beer has changed somewhat from first sampling; definitely a little more mellow in the aroma (a good thing).
- Medium amber color. Clear, with only a minor chill haze.
- Nice head with good head retention
- Modestly malty, with a very minor hops aroma
- When I sampled this beer a month or two ago, the hops aroma was fairly strong and spicy/herbal. Not at all what I expected, especially for how El Dorado hops was described.
- A moderately malty flavor, but not overly so. There is a modest bitterness, but not too much so.
- The finish is smooth with a slight caramel flavor, and nicely hoppy
- Carbonation is moderate; about right for this style of beer
- Would I brew this again?
- Overall, this has turned into a decent beer, but not my very best. Particularly in its earlier days, I didn’t really care for how the dry-hopped El Dorado aroma came through; far more vegetal than I was expecting, and very little if any of the promised citrus/fruity notes. It wasn’t unpleasant, necessarily, just not to my personal taste. I was a little unimpressed by how the El Dorado hops worked for this beer; I might try them for bittering again, but not for dry hopping.
- All in all, I’m going to test a few other amber ale recipes.
- Overall rating: 5/10
Mopping up some loose ends from the brewing season…
El Dorado Amber Ale
- After 20 days of dry-hopping, I bottled this on April 27.
- Final gravity was 1.010 at 60 degrees; down from 1.053 original gravity, this works out to 5.6% abv.
- Total yield was 2 mini-kegs (5 L), 15 12-oz. bottles, and 2 22-oz. bottles. The former was carbonated with 1.5 tbs. of corn sugar each; the latter with carbonation drops.
- It took almost 2 days before I saw activity in the primary fermenter. I suspect this was a combination of high gravity and a slow start typical for the BRY-97 yeast strain.
- After 15 days in the primary fermenter, I transferred this to the secondary fermenter on 27 April 2014. Gravity at this point was 1.022, down from 1.076.
- I let the beer sit in the primary for around 3 weeks, and added 1 oz. of Nelson Sauvin hops on Sunday, May 18, for dry-hopping.
- Bottling day was June 5, so I had a total of 18 days dry-hopping. Gravity at this point was 1.013 at 60 degrees, working out to a final abv of 8.3%.
- I ended up with 3.5 gallons of beer. This was primed with 3 oz. of corn sugar dissolved in 2 cups of water, to reach a target of 2.5 volumes CO2.
- I sampled a bottle after a week; it is shaping up quite nicely. The aroma is sweet and quite reminiscent of the white wine aroma I expected for Nelson Sauvin hops. Taste so far is pleasantly bitter with just a touch of sweetness (the hops again, I think).
Over the past two weeks, there has been some action on various batches. This is all summarized below.
- On April 7, one week after brewing, I transferred the El Dorado Amber Ale over to the secondary fermenter. Gravity at this point was 1.014, down from 1.053; this equals 6.5% abv and 72.6% apparent attenuation.
- I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets, aiming for two weeks of dry hopping prior to bottling
- After seven days of vanilla beans in the secondary fermenter, this beer was ready to bottle. I recently got a second-hand set of “PhilTap” minikegs (thanks, Dad!), and this was the first batch to get the PhilTap treatment, along with the Gondwana IPA.
- At bottling, gravity was 1.014, down from 1.064. This indicates 6.6% abv and 77.0% apparent attenuation.
- The kegs were each carbonated with 1.5 tbs of corn sugar. The remaining 1.9 gallons were carbonated with 1.65 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 0.5 cup of water (target carbonation=2.6 volumes).
- The total yield for this batch was: 2 5-L mini-kegs, 11 12-oz bottles, 3 22-oz. bottles, and 1 16-oz. grolsch bottle.
- After 17 days of dry hopping with 2 oz. of Citra hops pellets, this beer was ready to package. As I was transferring it out, I was hit with a fantastic hops aroma – a fantastic bouquet of passionfruit with a little citrus. These also held up in the tasting.
- At bottling, gravity was 1.008, down from 1.047. This equals 5.1% abv, and an apparent attenuation of 82.3%.
- The kegs were carbonated with 1.5 tbs of corn sugar. The remaining 1.5 gallons was primed with 1.45 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 0.5 cup water.
- The total yield for this batch was 2 5-L mini-kegs, 8 12-oz bottles, 2 22-oz. bottles, and 1 16-oz. Grolsch bottle.
- After a week, I tapped one of the mini-kegs. The result is beautiful! The hops aroma is still fantastic, although the beer doesn’t have a lot of body (not surprising given the high fermentability). Even so, the flavor is quite clean, which is nice after my early worries.
|Gondwana IPA, first pour from the mini-keg
Now having an all-grain amber ale, IPA, and porter under my belt, I decided to try another all-grain amber ale. I based this recipe off of Amarillo Amber Ale from BYO magazine. I made some small substitutions for what was available at my local (and awesome) homebrew store, primarily in switching up the Weyermann malts with approximate equivalents. I also ended up using El Dorado and Nugget for the hops (they had just run out of Amarillo!). As I designed this recipe in BeerSmith, I was super excited to try a whole bunch of new grains and hops.; this sort of beer geekery is why I got into homebrewing! And even better, this was my most successful all-grain brewing session. I scored 75% efficiency, my best to date.
El Dorado Amber Ale
- 9.3 lbs. Best Malz Pilsen malt
- 0.25 lbs. aromatic malt
- 0.25 lbs. 40° crystal malt
- 0.25 lbs. carastan malt
- 0.25 lbs. caravienne malt
- 0.1875 lbs. chocolate malt
- 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer
- 0.5 oz. Nugget hops pellets (14.4% alpha acid) – 30 minutes boil
- 0.5 oz. El Dorado hops pellets (15% alpha acid) – 10 minutes boil
- 0.5 oz. El Dorado hops pellets (15% alpha acid) – 5 minutes boil
- 0.5 oz. El Dorado hops pellets (15% alpha acid) – 14 days dry hop
- 1/2 tsp. Irish moss
- 1 pkg. SafAle English Ale Yeast S04
- Add 1 tbs. of 5.2 pH stabilizer to grist
- Add 13.5 quarts of water at 170° to grist in mash tun, for target temperature of 152°. The temperature stabilized here within 5 minutes, and only dropped 1 degree over the entire 60 minutes of mashing.
- Mash for 60 minutes, add 1 gallon of water at 170°. I collected 3.5 gallons of runnings.
- Next, I added 3.1 gallons of water at 170°. The temperature settled at 160°. I let the mash tun sit for 10 minutes, and then I collected 3.4 gallons of runnings. This totaled 6.9 gallons of wort collected; with a gravity of 1.042, I calculate 75% efficiency for my mash.
- Because I had collected such a volume of wort, I elected to boil for a total of 90 minutes. Once I had the wort to a boil, it boiled for 60 minutes before the first hop addition.
- At 60 minutes, I added 0.5 oz. Nugget hops pellets.
- At 75 minutes, I added the Irish moss.
- At 80 minutes, I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets.
- At 85 minutes, I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets.
- At 90 minutes, I removed the pot from the heat, and began cooling it with my wort chiller.
- It took around 30 minutes to cool the wort to 75°. From here, I transferred the wort to my primary fermenter.
- I proofed the yeast in 1 cup of 85° degree water, and pitched it. The space where I am fermenting is about 65° ambient temperature–perfect for this yeast strain.
- I collected 5 gallons of wort, with a starting gravity of 1.053 (at 60°). Once I had adjusted the mash efficiency in BeerSmith for my system, I was exactly on the nose for o.g. This will potentially yield ~5.2% abv.