The ALEZ homebrew club was having a sub 1.050 brew competition. Meaning you could enter any brew with a SG of 1.050 or less. This is easy to carry out in terms of execution and it could be done inexpensive too. So I’m really craving a peach beer for summer and I write two recipes revolving around the use of peaches. Little peach pail (see what I did there? Pail instead of pale), would be a mild hopped pale ale and sub 1.050. Big peach pail would be a ridiculous hopped IPA with peaches still shining through. Now for the hard part, which to brew? I need the little beer but want the big beer. As time is running out to brew and finish a beer in time for the competition, I realize the lemon hefeweizen missed its target mark of 1.052 to end up with a SG of 1.048. Perfect! Now I can enter that and brew the big peach pail.
So I’m in Blockader picking up the stuff to brew with and realize I’ve forgotten to bring the beers for the competition and today is the deadline. Thankfully a few others have problems and the deadline is extended a few days. I go back the next day and drop off my two beers and even leave Evan a pale ale, the gold medal pale at that. Weeks go by and I read nothing on the judging, or how Evan liked the free beer offering. I finally take to Facebook to ask and a couple of others reply asking as well. So it seems like a great way to get some free beer from people who have slaved away to make a beer that can be judged. Lesson learned.
Back to the real reason I’m on the patio watching the clouds swiftly blow by backwards as TS Beryl pushes in off the Atlantic. Ok well it’s really so I can see how well the WordPress app is on Sarah’s new iPad while it’s cool and windy outside. But back to the topic of brewing the big peach pail. After I leave Blockader with ingredients in tow I realize at the local stores that peaches aren’t available yet, not even frozen peaches. I’m still a couple of days away from brewing so what am I going to do? I remember seeing several types of oak chips in Blockader and notice mango is in season. But I don’t want to wreck a good beer with ingredients I’ve never used, so let’s split this batch! I like trying new stuff since I’m still early in my brewing adventures and after having success first wort hopping the Belgian IPA we brewed at Gratis, I’m going to try that too.
Brew day – The first wort hopping involves taking a finishing hop with low alpha acids and sparging on top of it, while leaving the hops to boil the entire time. There’s some kind of scientific mumbo-jumbo that happens to prevent these hops from being too over powering. We have a wedding to attend the next day in Greenville and we’re spending the night. With a fermenter full at six gallons and not being around for when the blow off tube gets clogged, I try not to worry. We make home from a great wedding and a great weekend to find the blow off tube full of krausen, but thankfully still releasing Co2. Fermentation finishes after a week and we end up with a good beer that’s crystal clear when I rack and split the batch to secondary. Peaches still aren’t available, so mango it is for Sarah’s half of the batch. I decide from three or four types of wood chips on regular American oak chips. Now for the hardest part of this whole attempt. I cut the three mangos and drop them in a new hop sack. Measure out two ounces of oak chips and drop them in another new hop sack. Next is trying to fit each of those through the opening of my plastic carboys. After lots of finger magic they both go into each of their vessels. I can’t wait to try to get them out.
Time to bottle – I wasn’t fearing bottling near as much since I was planning on doing each of them on separate days and using 22 oz. bottles. I end up bottling them both the same night and finish around one in the morning. The mango basically fell out when I realize most of it was gone. Worrying the oak chips would swell after absorbing beer, they come out after a small amount of tugging. I did bottle six regular bottles if I decide to enter these in competitions. So after two weeks I grab a small bottle of each out of their hiding place and chill them for a bit. Smaller bottles will carb faster than bombers, so they each open with a nice gush of pressure. The mango pours a nice, big white head and perfectly clear. It has hints of a little funk on the back side, maybe from the mango dissolving or rotting, haha. It’s slightly sweet on the nose with subtle mango flavor. Hopefully Sarah will like it since she is a fan of DFH Aprihop. The oak pours with very little head, possibly from some oils or something in the oak chips. It smells like a huge bourbon in a rocks glass and tastes nearly the same. The oak will need some time to calm down and fade. Both have a nice, balanced hop bitterness that should hang around a while thanks to the first wort hopping.
Naming the beer – We’ve all had some fun of late giving our beers names. When Brian and I were bottling the Belgian IPA the bottling bucket fell off its pedestal. Brian with his back half to it some how feels it falling, reaches out with one arm and snags it. Hence the name Single Arm Snatch. So I have a fear of odd numbers. The thermostats are always on an even temperature. The volume in the car or at home is always and even number. This recipe will be all 7’s. Seven SRM for color. Seven percent ABV and 70 something IBU for bittering. It ends up 7.4 SRM, 7.86% ABV and 70.18 IBU. All even numbers!
I hate odd numbers. Cheers!