Dance Party IPA

This one was a total experiment for me! Experimental hops, experimental yeast, and experimental fermentation. My local homebrew shop had a new variety called Samba, with tropical characters that sounded pretty neat! So, I picked up a few ounces for a batch. I also had been meaning to try out Lallemand’s new dry Voss kveik strain, so grabbed some of those packets.

For this beer, I wanted a tropical/citrus character and fairly light drinkability, alongside a “full-strength” IPA. So, I combined Centennial, Samba, and Simcoe for a whirlpool as well as a dry hop addition.

Dance Party IPA

  • 12.5 lb. 2-row Xtra Pale Malt (Viking)
  • 0.75 lb. Carapils malt (Briess)
  • 1 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Samba hop pellets (11.6% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 pkg. Voss Kveik Ale dry yeas (Lallemand)
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Samba hop pellets (11.6% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.059 s.g., 1.013 f.g., 6.1% abv, 62 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet and 5 g of gypsum added at the boil, to bump up the bitterness
  • 60 minute full volume infusion mash, 152°

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 6 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the mash pH.
  • After a 60 minute mash with recirculation at 152°, I bumped up the temperature to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out.
  • Following the mash, I removed the grain basket and brought the kettle to a boil.
  • In total, I had 6.3 gallons with a gravity of 1.050, for 66% mash efficiency. I added 5 g of gypsum to the boil, to bump up the sulfate.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding finings and hops per the schedule.
  • After the boil, I did a 15 minute whirlpool at around 195°, and then chilled down to 90° and transferred to the fermenter.
  • Starting gravity was 1.050. I brewed this beer on 27 March 2021.
  • I pitched the packet of yeast directly, and began fermentation at 90°. After 18 hours, I raised the temperature to 95°, and then raised to 100° at the 24 hours mark after yeast pitch. After 72 hours, I lowered the temperature to 90°.
  • I kegged the beer on 7 April 2021, with the dry hops floating loose in the keg and a screen on the floating dip tube to filter out hops.
  • Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.8% abv.

Tasting

I didn’t have time to do a formal tasting on this one before the keg was kicked, but have a few general perceptions. First, the fermentation had a super clean character, and the kveik lives up to its reputation. I would totally do this fermentation profile again! Second, I really enjoyed the hop combo, but think that I probably overbittered it a bit, and the hops drowned out any potential malt character. There was a touch of astringency from the dry hops also, at times, which I think also detracted from the final flavor. So, if I redo this kind of IPA I might use a more character-rich base malt such as Vienna or Maris Otter and maybe a touch more of a crystal malt (e.g., crystal 20 or even crystal 40). That aside, the Samba hops did live up to their tropical reputation, and played well with the rest of the hops. It might be interesting to switch up the hop combos; I think this beer would be great with any combo of Samba, Citra, and/or Mosaic.

So…I would probably do this again, but modify things significantly. It was definitely worth the experiment, and I’ll likely dive into more kveik fermentations this summer! I give the beer itself a 5/10…not awful, but not quite where I want it to be either.

Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale

For Christmas this year, I wanted a special small-batch beer to sip on a cold, dark evening. I usually buy some barrel-aged commercial beers (Firestone Walker’s 2019 Old Man Hattan is particularly nice), so that flavor profile didn’t terribly appeal to me as a homebrew, especially not in larger volumes. After a bit of thought, I settled on a smoked ale. I’ve done a handful of those over the years, trying out the porter and brown ale styles previously. For this iteration, something in the Scottish ale space was appealing. I could get plenty of malt and plenty of body, and it would (hopefully) stand up well to any smokiness. Thus, the Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale was born!

The recipe is built around the Scottish Export Ale BJCP style, which according to my reading sometimes is made with smoked variants. My version was based in part on Brulosophy’s Short & Shoddy Wee Heavy Recipe. To add a bit of smoked character, I put in two pounds (~16% of the total grain bill) of Briess cherrywood smoked malt.

In the spirit of the Short & Shoddy series, I cut a ton of corners in the brew day. I only did a 30 minute, full-volume mash, and a 30 minute boil. I used some oldish yeast, which meant I needed three packages total.

Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale

  • 9 lbs. Maris Otter malt (Crisp)
  • 2 lb. Cherry wood smoked malt (Briess)
  • 5 oz. Biscuit malt (Dingemans)
  • 5 oz. Caramel 120° malt (Briess)
  • 5 oz. CaraPils malt (Briess)
  • 4 oz. Crystal 75° malt (Bairds)
  • 1 oz. Whitbread Golding Variety hop pellets (8.7% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Tartan yeast (Imperial Yeast #A31)
  • 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)

Target Parameters

  • 1.063 s.g, 1.019 f.g., 5.8% abv, 21 IBU, 15 SRM
  • 3.25 gallon batch
  • Full volume infusion mash, 156° target temperature
  • Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet treatment to remove chloramines

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 5.35 gallons of water at 165.5°, hitting a mash temperature of 155°. By the end of the 30 minute mash, temperature was down to 152°.
  • I vorlaufed and collected 3.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.068, for 56% mash efficiency. This is a bit “thicker” than targeted, so I added 0.5 gallons of water to get 4.25 gallons of wort at a slightly lower gravity.
  • I boiled for 30 minutes, adding hops at the 15 minute mark. I then chilled down to 70°, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.066, on 24 November 2019. I fermented at 67°.
  • I kegged the beer on 10 December 2019. It had a final gravity of 1.014, for 6.9% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Copper colored beer, moderately hazy, with a thin but persistent head.
  • Aroma
    • Faint smoke aroma, but not overbearing. Slight caramel note, and very mild fruity esters as the beer warms up.
  • Flavor
    • Modestly smoky, balanced nicely against the caramel and bready aspects of the malt. Bitterness is moderate, clean, and just about perfect for this beer. There is a very slight but pleasant sweetness to the beer. As I finish a glass, the smoke disappears behind the rest of the beer. On the one hand, it would be nice to smokiness be a bit more prominent, but on the other hand I think the drinkability would suffer. This is a rare smoked beer that can stand up to multiple pints!
  • Mouthfeel
    • This beer has a reasonable bit of body, and a medium-sweet finish. Carbonation level is moderate.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I liked this beer pretty well! I find commercial smoked beers to be hit or miss, and I think the very moderate level of smoked malt I use paid off. Pretty much everything works about this one, and it’s a nice beer to enjoy on a cool SoCal winter day. I wish the clarity was a bit better at this point, but I never bothered to cold-crash the beer, nor did I use gelatin or even hot-side finings. I expect a combination of these would clear things significantly. I might also mash just a touch higher, as this beer would benefit from a slight bump in body.
  • Overall
    • 8/10

Beer Tasting: Raspberry Belgian

20170423_154842My first attempt at a fruit beer was fairly decent…it was quite refreshing on a hot day, and the two gallons or so got depleted pretty quickly. I did squeeze in a tasting before it was all gone, with plenty of ideas for next time.

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.039; f.g. = 1.011; 3.8% abv; 3 SRM; 15 estimated IBU
  • Aroma
    • A very nice raspberry aroma front and center!
  • Appearance
    • Clear and pinkish-red. The head is off-white, low, and modestly persistent.
  • Flavor
    • Slightly tart and dry, with not much in the way of malt character. The raspberries come through as mild and a nice complement to the tartness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Fairly thin, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I like where this recipe is heading, but it needs some pretty heavy modifications. I think the low starting gravity (1.039, versus 1.043 as requested by the recipe) hurts things a little bit, and so a bit more attention and adjustment to the starting wort to match the higher gravity is in order. I don’t think mash temperature needs much adjustment–I would likely just add in a bit more base malt and perhaps double the oats to add a bit more mouthfeel. Next time, I might also consider swapping out some or all of the pilsner malt for 2-row, to give the beer a touch more malt character. The raspberry comes across quite nicely; I think the amount and the technique worked out well. I’m pleasantly surprised in particular by how clear this beer turned out! It’s really pretty. Finally, the beer is less tart than I expected. Next time, I might do a 24 hour kettle sour before boiling.
  • Overall
    • 5/10

Raspberry Belgian

Our brew club is focusing on fruit beers for the April meeting, so I wanted to have something ready to go. Thumbing through the recently published Brew Your Own book, I saw a tasty-looking recipe for a clone of Funkwerks Raspberry Provincial.

One interesting thing about the BYO recipe is that it uses acidulated malt rather than kettle souring to achieve the sourness. I vacillated on which approach I would take, but in the end went for acidulated malt for simplicity.

I modified the recipe slightly for the hop bill, and also scaled it down from 5 gallons to 3 gallons. I figured I didn’t really want 5 gallons of a raspberry beer, tasty though it might be. I also will be using a home-made puree from frozen raspberries, rather than canned raspberry puree. The cans are huge, more than twice the volume I need for this recipe, and a bit expensive, so it didn’t make sense to waste the money buying a whole ton of extra raspberry. Per recommendations on the fruit puree company website, I upped the quantity of fruit by 12 percent a bit to account for all of the stuff that doesn’t make it into a typical puree can (seeds, etc.). The final modification was to go with a full-volume mash, to save a bit of time.

Raspberry Belgian

  • 2.5 lb. floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.25 lb. white wheat malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 0.75 lb. acidulated malt (Weyermann), added to last 20 minutes of mash
  • 0.3 lb. flaked oats
  • 0.3 lb. flaked wheat
  • 0.25 lb. Carapils malt
  • 0.16 lb. rice hulls
  • 0.12 oz. Warrior hops (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.20 oz. Willamette hops (5.1% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Belgian Wit Ale yeast (WLP400, White Labs), prepared in 0.5L starter
  • 17 oz. raspberry puree, added after 4 days of fermentation

Target Parameters

  • 155° mash, 60 minutes
  • 1.043 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.1% abv, 15 IBU, 3 SRM, 3 gallons into the fermenter

Procedure

  • I added 5.25 gallons of water at 170°, and let it cool down until it hit a temperature of 159.5°. Then, I mashed in with my grains (except for the acidulated malt) and hit a temperature of 155.4°.
  • After 40 minutes, the mash temperature was down to 150.4°. At this piont, I added the acidulated malt.
  • At the end of the 60 minute mash, the temperature was down to 148.7°. I vorlaufed and collected 4.2 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.030. This equated to 64% efficiency. That is a fair bit below my normal efficiency in the upper 70s, but I figure that was probably due to the full volume mash, no sparge technique, as well as the high number of adjuncts.
  • I added hops per the schedule, over the course of a 60 minute boil.
  • After 60 minutes, I chilled to 70°, transferred to the fermenter while aerating, and pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.039, a bit below target. I think I’m okay with that, given how new this brew is to my experience. I find it interesting that, at least in a casual tasting, the flavor isn’t that prominently sour or tart. I wonder how that will come through in the finished beer?
  • I brewed this on 10 March 2017, and will be fermenting at 71°. On March 14, I will add the raspberry puree.