Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tasting: Momma's Mango's Pale Ale and Time of the Month Pale Ale

So I've been putting off reviewing these fruit beers hoping they'd get a bit of carbonation. No luck. I may add some dry yeast to a few bottles and see what happens. Plus I brew way less in the summer as my weekends are always busy but I've never brewed so little as I have the past couple months.

Momma's Mango's Pale Ale

Appearance- pours a crystal clear orange with almost no head but lots of bubbles do permiate throught the glass.
Smell- Very light fruitiness that is noticably mango. A light bit of weak hopiness is detectable but they are sort of earthy and not all that attractive smelling. A grainy bit of malt is also present.
Taste- Starts with a big mango punch that is surprisingly fruity and in charge. The nose sort of leads you astray from that. No real noticable hop presence or bitterness. The finish is cracker crumb like as there is a light toast that lingers along with a touch of the caremel malt.
Mouthfeel- Medium to light body that could be nice if there was just some more carbonation. The finish is dry and quenching.
Drinkability- I tried this beer about a month ago and thought it was a drain pour. Everything seemed so out of whack but whatever I hated is gone. These really need some carbonation and the beer may be somewhat tasty with sone sparkling carbontion. The mango tastes fresh and clean still but I think the beer would have benefitted GREATLY from a more agressive hop profile and this beer could have been something more along the lines of Townhall Brewing's Masala Momma.

Time of the Month Pale Ale

Appearance- Pours a crystal clear orange with almost no head but lots of bubbles do permiate throught the glass - looks exactly like the Momma' Mango's.
Smell- Intensily perfumed beer that smells exactly like Blood Oranges. Tart and fruity I get nothing else in the nose.
Taste- Not as intensily flavored as the nose smelled but the blood orange is fully in charge. It's got a mix of something between a light raspberry thing and normal oranges. Quite a bit more bitter than the Mango but such is the nature of the fruit. Almost a pithy like bitterness in the finish.
Mouthfeel- Medium to light body that could be nice if there was just some more carbonation. The finish is dry and quenching.
Drinkability- Again, like it's mango counterpart a bit of snappy carbonation would do wonders. Very unique brew, but a few alterations would take thus from sub par to very tasty quite easily.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Imperial Bourbon Bacon Maple Breakfast Snout

After taking a bit of a brewing break for a few months I decided it was time to come back with something unique and manly. When I think of manly I think of three things; Beer, Chew & Bacon. Since the first one is automatically included, I passed it over. My Smoked Stout is basically liquid chew spit so I checked that off the list. That leaves one thing, bacon!

Okay, so maybe above is a bit of a fabrication but I was “inspired” by a thread on BeerAdvocate about using bacon in a martini. After further discussion another beer blogger’s ideas eventually gave me the technique I was going to use (see Buffalo Wing Beer – big thanks to Ryan for the help on this). I’m going to take about 4 oz of bacon fat and 4 oz of Vodka (unfortunately Everclear isn’t sold in Minnesota) and give them a shake. I’ll try to shake the mixture for a good day or so to make sure the alcohol gets nice and bacon-y. Once that happens, I’ll toss it in the freezer until the fat freezes and drain off the bacon flavored Vodka. Then I’ll repeat a couple more times to make sure all fat is gone. Then I’ll add the appropriate amount of bacon alcohol at bottling. More on this when I actually do it.

Sticking with the whole bacon theme I thought that I would just make this beer somewhat breakfast themed. I want to do an Imperial Stout of some kind and I’ll add some oatmeal to the mash and maple syrup to the boil to solidify the whole breakfast thing. Then in the secondary I’m going to add approximately an ounce of toasted American oak that I’ve had soaking in bourbon for about 2 weeks. Everything else is fairly straight forward. I want a light chocolate/coffee thing underneath without being too harsh or roasted/charred. I’m not 100% sure how much of the bacon will actually come through with all these big flavors it’ll be fun finding out.

Brewed on April 15th 2010

Batch Size – 2.5 Gallons
Boil Size – 3.6 Gallons
Total Grains – 11.3 lbs
Total Fermentables – 12.05 lbs
Anticipated OG - 1.113
Boil Time - 90 min
Bitterness – 69.5 IBU's

9.0lbs Maris Otter (2.28 SRM) – 74.7%
0.5lbs Cara-Pils (0.05 SRM) – 4.1%
0.3lbs Crystal 120 (2.60 SRM) – 2.5%
0.5lbs Black Malt (18.08 SRM) – 4.1%
0.5lbs Chocolate Malt (12.65 SRM) – 4.1%
0.5lbs Oats Raw (0.08 SRM) – 4.1%
0.75lbs Maple Syrup (1.9 SRM) – 6.2%

0.5oz Northern Brewer (8.0% Pellet) – 120 min
0.5oz Northern Brewer (8.0% Pellet) – 30 min
1.0oz Willamette (5.0% Pellet) – 15 min

Wyeast 1056 American Ale (73-77%, 60-72%)

1.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 5 min
1 tsp Irish Moss – 5 min

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Waxing Bottles - Classy!

I've really been looking forward to Minneapolis Town Hall's Barrel Aged Beer Week and more specifically, their Czar Imperial Stout aged in Jack Daniel's barrels. It's one of those beers that would easily break into Beer Advocates top 100 if more people had the opportunity to try it (just like 3 Hour Tour) or was brewed in Southern California. In preparation for this beer release I purchased some silver wax from Midwest Brewing so that I could seal the tops of my Barrel Aged Czar growlers. The growlers are cold counter pressured filled (or so I hear) but I just don't trust the twist cap tops to hold the carbonation and keep out the oxygen. I'd really like to sit on one for a while to share with friends come August at The Great Taste of the Midwest.

I didn't have much idea of how to melt the wax but I remember reading something about someone using a small tuna or cat food can to melt the wax on their stove. Sounds good to me. I emptied one of my cats wet food cans and washed it out as best I could. The bags of wax beads are 1 lb each and I probably poured in maybe 2-3 oz total in the can. I just wanted to melt enough wax to cover the lip of the growlers (and eventually the caps of Langs Lil Smokey since I had extra wax). Keep in mind, the little wax beads will melt down quite a bit so add a bit more than you think you'll need.

For maybe the first time ever, things went smoothly and exactly as I had envisioned. I kept the heat on a level 2 of 10 so it was fairly low in the grand scheme of things. I didn't want everything getting too hot and be a bitch to work with. I slowly stirred the beads with the back end of a wooden matchstick once everything started melting and kept the chunks moving. At first the wax was thick and chunky but once it starts melting, the rest of the beads quickly follow. It eventually turns out to be nice and smooth and even seems a bit thin (my picture is rather blurry, I know). No worries though because once you dip the lids , the wax cools very quickly. I was able to do the growlers and my last 15ish Lil Smokey bottles in about 5 min. Once the wax fully cools and hardened, i just left it in the can and put the can a Ziploc bag to be reused the next time I need some wax. Eazy Peezy and the bottles look really cool.

I'll definitely be doing more of this with beers that I know I'll be aging (my Surly Wort will look reeeeaaaal nice with some Red or Brown wax). It gives the bottles a little extra something and serves as a extra seal on whatever you wax. Maybe not needed with a good seal on the bottle caps but whatever, the coolness factor is well worth it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Time of the Month Pale Ale & Momma's Mango's Pale Ale

I really love any sort of beer with fruit in it so I've been dying to do one since last years Blueberry Wheat that a friend and I whipped up. I really REALLY love Minneapolis Town Hall's Mango Momma and I'd love to try to replicate that. I know I won't be able to though because I don't have a draught system (yet) and I can't just age a IPA on Mango's in a keg. So I'm going to take a couple pounds of fresh Mango's, toss them in the secondary and let my brew do it's thing. I also decided that Blood Oranges would be fun to use because they are in season and pretty damned tasty.

I didn't really have much of a plan when I decided what fruits I wanted to use but over the last week I came up with a beer base. I wanted to keep the hops fruity and the bitterness fairly low. So I went with Amarillo and Simcoe and the majority in the last 15 min of the boil. I kept the base of the beer fairly simple with a lot of 2-Row, some Crystal 20 for color and White Wheat for head retention. Decided to throw in about 8ounces of Oats to keep things silky smooth. I'm only doing a 4 gal batch so 2 gal on each fruit is gonna be real nice.

My brew day went really smooth and I'm pretty sure I set a all-time record for not screwing up and not forgetting anything. Since it damn near hit 30 today it was pretty darned warm (for Minneapolis) and I even had a chance to wash my car during the boil. I missed my mash temp by 1 degree which shouldn't be a huge deal but I'm fairly anal about getting my mash exact. Once the boil wound down and I got the wort down to pitching temp, I tried 2 new purchases. A 8 gal nylon mesh bag and a simple fish tank air pump attached to a diffusion stone to aerate my wort. The nylon mesh bag worked great! I lined my fermenter with the bag and just poured my cooled wort into the bag. Pulled the bag out and Viola!, all the hops and crud were gone! Too bad the air pump didn't work as good... Since it didn't work AT ALL!! Gotta take that back damnit!

I really look forward to the results on this one. I hope the fruit really comes through.

Batch Size - 4 Gallons
Boil Size - 5.2 Gallons
Total Grains - 10.5lbs
Anticipated OG - 1.057
Boil Time - 60 min
Bitterness - 41.1 IBU's

8.0lbs American 2-Row (36 ppg, 2 SRM) - 76.19%
1.0lbs White Wheat (40 ppg, 2.4 SRM) - 9.52%
1.0lbs Crystal 20L (35 ppg, 2.0 SRM) - 9.52%
0.8lbs Raw Oats (37 ppg, 1 SRM) - 4.76

0.25oz Simcoe (13% Pellet) - 60 min
0.25oz Simcoe (13% Pellet) - 30 min
0.25oz Simcoe (13% Pellet) - 15 min
0.25oz Amarillo (8.5% Pellet) - 15 min
0.25oz Simcoe (13% Pellet) - 5 min
0.25oz Amarillo (8.5% Pellet) - 5 min
0.50oz Amarillo (8.5% Pellet) - 0 min (Whirlpooled)

Fermentis - Safale US-05 (75-80%, 59-75F)

1tsp Irish Moss - 5 min

Brewed 2/21/2010

Pitched my yeast at about 80 degrees and it was bubbling away fairly aggressively the next morning at about 70 degrees. I might let it go another day before taking it downstairs and hopefully getting it down to the mid 60's.

OG was measured at 1.058. Right at 60% efficiency which is exactly what I planned for when I put together this recipe. I still suck... Even crushed the grains a quite a bit more than usual.


OG: Measured at 1.012. Corrected to 1.013 at 71 degrees. Should put this brew right at 6% ABV.

Transfered 2 gal of the beer to a 3 gal carboy with about 2 1/2 pounds of Blood Oranges and the other 2 gal to a 5 gal carboy that has about 3 pounds of Mango's. I also added maybe 3-4 tablespoons of Blood Orange zest that I had soaked in tequilla for about a week to the Blood Orange carboy.

The beer wasn't too bad but the yeast was too prominent and it really could have used a bit more late additions. Since this brew is getting quite a bit of fruit added to it I'm not too worried about it though. If I ever just wanted to make this beer, I'd easily double or triple the late hop additions. The beer wasn't too bitter at all either so I might even bump up some of the early bittering Simcoe. The color was okay but it was super cloudy. No more White Wheat in a Pale Ale. Live and learn I suppose.

I think I'll let the beer sit on the fruit for at least 14 days. I'll shake or stir the carboys every couple days to make sure the fruit sugars get fully fermented. I really think these are going to be really tasty. Wish I could serve on draft to really keep the fruit nice and fresh tasting.


Well I ended up letting the beer sit for almost an entire month. I swished the fruit and beer around about once a week and wanted to be 100% sure the beer was finished. The mango's looked the same for the most part but the blood oranges had a really pale, gross look to them. Although they were still firm, almost all the color was out of them. Weird stuff.

When I tasted the beers upon bottling the mango was really really good. The mango was nice and potent and I'm excited to what it'll taste like carbonated. The blood orange on the other hand was kind of weird. It has a fairly strong blood orange flavor but something is missing. I either needed more hops to add a bit more flavor and bitterness, or I needed to somehow make it sweeter. It's not horrible, but definitely wasn't I was going for. Hopefully it'll change a bit in the bottle. I look forward to the results.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tasting: Three Hour Tour Clone

Appearance- Pours a super dark black with light edges of dark brown near the top where light is able to penetrate. A nice two finger medium brown head forms thats nice and creamy. A beautiful cap and collar is maintained the entire beer unfortunatly little, if any, lacing remains.
Smell- Nice light chocolaty tones that are on the milk chocolate side along with a bit of sweet cream. The coconut isn’t all that potent in the nose but you can definitely tell it’s there. It’s got a light Mounds Bar smell going but not quite as potent as was Town Hall’s version. The coconut mixed with the light sweetness has a almost vanilla like smell.
Taste- Starts with a bit of lightly sweet milk chocolate and a bit more of that milky cream from the lactose. Definitely not too sweet though and I’m very happy with the amount of lactose that I added. The coconut is much lighter than it tasted when I bottled this and I think if I could have kegged this brew the coconut would have been a bit more intense. The finish is lightly chocolaty with a very light tinge of bitterness. Nothing really hoppy though, more of a charred bitter.
Mouthfeel- Even though I only used 3 carb tabs in this one it’s pretty well carbonated. I wish the carbonation was a bit less and it was a bit finer. The body ended being okay though as it’s around a light medium and not as thin as I was expecting.
Drinkability- Overall I’d say I’m somewhat happy with this brew. I wish the coconut was a bit more pronounced and I think I’d use a bit more crystal for more of a caramel flavor mixed in. The oats really would have aided in the mouthfeel as well. If I ever brew again I think I might toast some coconut and “dry hop” with those too. Definitely not bad but not 100% what I was wanting.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nooby Dånbær

My two favorite 'types' or 'kinds' of beers are anything brewed with coffee or fruit. My favorite of the latter kind is anything sour. So I decided it was time to finally get my first sour going. I did a bit of research and thanks to Mikes blog I got a lot of useful information about where to start. I found his Brewing Sour Beer At Home post exceptionally helpful and decided it was time to dive in (plus a few emails from Mike back-and-forth answering a few more specific question). I also started reading Wild Brews but haven't got through it yet. I mean I only have to wait a year to decide if it's good or not right?

On my search to find a suitable recipe I decided I wanted a very light Lambic base so that I could add plenty of fruit at a later date. Which fruit? I don't know yet. After the beer sours up I'll try it this summer and decide which fruit(s) will go best. I can almost guarantee one will be peaches though. I loves me some peaches. For the initial base I think I'll use some Pilsen and Wheat. Why exactly? I'm not sure but I have to start somewhere.

My Saccharomyces choice was fairly simple to start with since the end result isn't going to have any actual yeast character. The little bugs will take care of that. So I just went with Safale US-05 since it's cheap, easy and produces a fairly clean end palate. The bugs were a fairly simple choice as well. I went with Wyeasts Brettanomyces Lambicus 5526 blend since it has the full bevy of Brett and Lactic Cultures along with more Saccharomyces. Also, to make sure the beer really sours up nicely, it's recommended to pitch the dredges of a bottle of a commercial beer. Mine happens to be Cantillon Blåbær Lambik since I just happened to trade for (hence the name of the beer). I drank it 4 days before I brewed so pitched the dredges into a starter that I made to give the microbes something to do for a couple days. Since there is this sort of oxygen/non oxygen thing that each particular culture likes/dislikes (great description of these differences on the how to brew to brew sours link above) I decided I'd aerate the beer as normal, pitch the US-05 and give it a 6 hour head start before I tossed in the bugs.

I plan on letting the beer ferment and settle out for about 2-3 weeks before racking to the secondary for it's extended stay. I will be adding a Oak Spiral to the secondary as well. And then come this summer when the fruit is nice and fresh at the farmers market, I'll split the batch accordingly. This will be a fun first go at a Lambic and it should be a good learning experience. I'll probably brew up another in a couple months so I'll have a steady flow of sours to play with and blend. Need more carboys though!

Batch Size - 5 Gallons
Boil Size - 6.4 Gallons
Total Grains - 11.67lbs
Anticipated OG - 1.063
Boil Time - 60 min

8.33lbs Pilsen (36ppg, 1L) - 71.4%
2.5lbs Wheat (38ppg, 2L) - 21.4%
0.42lbs CaraPils (33ppg, 1.5L) - 3.6%
0.42lbs Vienna (33ppg, 14L) - 3.6%

0.5oz Saaz (4% Pellet) - 60 min

Fermentis - Safale US-05 (75-80%, 59-75F)
Wyeast Belgian Lambic Blend 3278 (--, 63-75F)
Cantillon Blåbær dredges

EDIT: The yeast blend above is correct, I originally posted that I used the Wyeast Brett Blend and that was incorrect.

1tsp Irish Moss - 5 min

Brewed January 9th 2010

Cold as shit, probably not the best planning ever. It's literally so cold that when I pull the lid off the brew kettle, the condensation on it freezes within less than 10 seconds. Brew day went really well, actually the most efficient day I've had in terms of brewing time and not forgetting one thing or another and slowing down the whole process. I mashed a bit hotter than usual to give the microbes a bit more num num's to munch on. I'm definitely more interested in sour than alcohol. Once the beer cooled and was aerated I pitched as normal. This is the first time I've used dry yeast in years so it was weird just sprinkling it on top. After about 6 hours the yeast had already starting doing it's thing so I dumped in the Wyeast packet and the Blåbær dredges. It's amazing how purple the starter is from just a ounce or so of the beer. Hopefully it doesn't girly up the color of the Dånbær!

OG measured in at 1.050. Slightly smaller than expected but definitely okay. This should put my ABV around 5.5% which is perfect. I think if it ended up at 6% with better efficiency, that would be a bit much. Although with the higher temperature mash who knows what the real ABV will end up being. Looks like this puts my efficiency at about 60%.

Transferred to secondary today and the beer has a nice Lambic nose. It smells sour but the taste isn't at all. It basically tastes like a totally unhopped, super dry wheat beer. Hopefully in the end, it tastes like it smells! The FG is down to about 1.009 or so already.

I boiled the oak spiral for about 10 min and it's amazing how intense the wood smells and how dark the water got. The recommendation on the package is one spiral per 3 gallons. I'm not 100% sure if that's for beer or wine but either way I'm going to be safe and only use one for the entire 5 gal batch. Now we wait...

Tasting: Langs Lil' Smokey

Appearance- Pours a super dark brown that borderlines on black with a small dark tan cap that’s fairly small even with a aggressive pour. A nice thick collar and thin cap is maintained the entire beer as is a bit of spotty lacing.
Smell- Chocolate and bacon. The smoke is very strong and has almost wet ashtray like traits. Very intense and exactly what I was hoping for. Notes of tobacco and leather are fairly prevalent as well and as the beer warms the chocolate fades. Mostly just intense smoke.
Taste- Crazy intense. A big rush of smoke hits my mouth immediately as its super intense and almost ham like. Notes of raw cocoa nibs hide underneath with a dry bit of chocolate. It’s a bit too bitter though as a light citric tone from the hops is noticeable but I don’t think the majority of the bitterness is the hops. I think it’s from the char of the roast and the intensity of the smoked malt. The alcohol is noticeable as well. Some coffee notes, tobacco and more smoke lingers and lingers.
Mouthfeel- Awesome feel. It’s thick and rich with velvety smooth body as the carbonation is light and spot on. I wish all my beers had this body.
Overall- Not bad. This will definitely tame up a bit over the next couple months and become much more drinkable. For now though, it’s very intense and about the manliest brew I’ve ever had. It’s slightly too bitter for the style though and the alcohol is slightly too high. This brew will get better and better though and that applewood will meld nicely.