The Ones That Got Away…

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.

Beer Tasting: Cerveza de Jamaica

IMG_20180706_162520I kegged this batch on 12 May 2018. It has been on tap for awhile now, and I’ve really been enjoying it. Better do a tasting before it’s all gone.

Cerveza de Jamaica

  • The Basics
    • 1.048 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.8% abv, 11 IBU, 3 SRM
  • Appearance
    • Pours with a tall and dense pink head, which persists wonderfully as the beer is consumed. The beer itself is a purplish pink color and slightly hazy. The beer has cleared up considerably since it first went on tap.
  • Aroma
    • Hibiscus, with a bit of tartness and spice behind that.
  • Flavor
    • Tart, with a slight hibiscus note next to a smooth and subtle maltiness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Fairly light-bodied and highly carbonated, with a medium dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! This is a wonderful beer, and perfectly refreshing for the current warm weather. In tasting opinions from other folks, it was suggested to up the hibiscus just a touch (to help it come through more distinctly in the taste) and also to add a bit more citrus character. To this end, I’m going to increase the amount of hibiscus in my next batch, and also up the citrus peel.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Cerveza de Jamaica

I’m feeling experimental, and I’m feeling summer-y, and I need some good homebrew to sip on the porch on a warm Saturday afternoon. I discovered agua de Jamaica (a hibiscus tea often just sold as Jamaica) when I moved to California, and finally made my own last summer. This hibiscus-based tea is tart, tasty, and refreshing…which is a perfect accompaniment for a witbier! [For those who aren’t familiar, it’s pronounced roughly as “huh-MY-kuh”, not “juh-MAY-kuh”.]

My base recipe is a pretty standard witbier, with a grist of 50% pilsner malt and 50% flaked wheat. I’m using WLP400 as the yeast, and a small dose of Hallertauer Mittelfrueh for the bittering hops. Because I want to highlight the hibiscus flavor and avoid any clash with coriander, I’m just using some fresh navel orange peel for steeping. I decided to add the dried hibiscus flowers at flameout, basically the same as if I were making tea. I kept hopping levels towards the lower end of the witbier style, because I expect that the flameout additions may add some bitterness.

Dried hibiscus flowers

Cerveza de Jamaica

  • 5 lbs. pilsen malt (Briess)
  • 5 lbs. flaked wheat
  • 4 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.75 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • Peel of two medium navel oranges, 10 minute steep after flameout
  • 3 oz. dried hibiscus flowers, 10 minute steep after flameout
  • 1 pkg. Belgian Wit Ale yeast (WLP400), prepared in 1L vitality starter

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 152°, 60 minutes, batch sparge.
  • 1.050 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.1% abv, 11 IBU, 3 SRM
  • Water built from RO to hit target of 48 ppm Ca, 85 ppm Cl, -34 ppm RA.


  • I built my mash water with 3.5 gallons of reverse osmosis water and 6 g of CaCl. I mashed in at 164°, adding 7.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, and hit a mash temperature of 150°.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 1.5 gallons of RO water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I then added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let it wait for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.8 gallons of runnings, with a gravity of 1.039, for 73% efficiency. I’ve learned that adding an extra half gallon of sparge or mash water is important for these beers that have lots of flaked grains, both to keep up volume under the extra absorption and to ensure I get better efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding the various ingredients per the schedule.
  • At flame-out, I added the fresh orange peel and dried hibiscus, and let them steep for 10 minutes. They stayed in while I chilled the wort, to extend the flavor extraction.
  • The wort is really awesome in appearance and flavor; it has a deep purple hue, a slightly tart flavor, and an aroma that mixes all of the additions in a tasty way. I can’t wait to try this after fermentation!
  • While mashing, I made a 1L vitality starter for the yeast. It ran on the stir plate for about 3 hours, and it showed signs of fermentation by then. After I pitched the yeast, solid signs of fermentation were visible within 18 hours.
  • I brewed this on 28 April 2018, and starting gravity was 1.048. Initial fermentation is happening at 68°; I’ll let it free-rise after 3 or 4 days.

Beer Tasting: Citra Wit

Citra WitMy Citra Wit has come and gone, but luckily I was able to squeeze in an “official” tasting in before the keg kicked!

  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.043; final gravity = 1.010; abv = 4.3%; estimated IBU = 13
  • Aroma
    • Light citrus aroma (reflecting the Citra hops) with a slight bready character. There is surprisingly little obvious yeast character (in terms of a spice note).
  • Appearance
    • Thick, white head with fine bubbles, that pours high and settles down to a broad blanket across the top of the beer. It leaves some lacing across the side of the glass. The beer itself is light yellow and beautifully cloudy.
  • Flavor
    • A definite bready character to the malt, with only the lightest of bitterness and a smooth finish. A gentle coriander comes through across the taste, but the grapefruit is surprisingly absent. This is a marked contrast to when I first brewed and transferred the beer.
  • Mouthfeel
    • This is probably more lightly carbonated than is true to style, but I’m OK with that. This beer has a really nice, light body and a fairly smooth finish that tends towards the delicate malt side rather than the hoppy side. The finish feels a little “flabby,” though, and I wonder if that might be resolved with some water adjustments.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a nice, refreshing beer, which hits most of the notes I am aiming for. I might try dry-hopping with fresh grapefruit peel on the next round, if I wanted a bigger grapefruit character (which I do). The appearance of the beer is dead-on for what I had in mind, and stayed that way until the end of the keg. I might play with the water profile a bit, to perk up the mouthfeel.
  • Rating
    • 7/10

Citra Wit Kegged

citra_witToday I kegged my Citra Wit, after 10 days in the primary fermenter. The beer has fermented out really nicely, down to a final gravity of 1.010, equating to 4.3% abv. Hey, I can call it a session beer! The taste and aroma are exactly where I wanted them–citrusy and lightly tart, with just a hint of that grapefruit coming at the end. I have a feeling that this is going to be one awesome beer.