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Single hop ale – Cascade

First runnings

First runnings

Probably the last beer I’ll brew until Fall unless things work out for the better.  It’s the first week of May and unlike last year, we have yet to turn on the air conditioner.  So we could have brewed a batch but again, time is short now a days.  After Denver brewed an IPA using Dry English Ale yeast as Stone Brewing does, Brian and I had to get on the bandwagon.  As I’ve done with all the beers I brewed this year, we’ve stuck with lower ABV targets, all under 5%.  But brewing on Gratis Brewing’s system gave us a better efficiency.  Even with a yeast mistake this single hop Cascade pale ale still attenuated to 5.5% ABV.

oxygen insertion

oxygen insertion

By no means can I say I’m knowledgeable of  all hops, but I might know someone who is.  I do know which ones I have brewed with and of those that I really like.  Cascade would be the major one that I really enjoy.  There are many commercial examples of beers that solely use Cascade hops.  It is also one that falls in the bittering and aroma category.  Thankfully Mark over at 5 Points Growlers and Home Brew Supply opened a fresh bag of Cascade leaf hops for me.  Posting a full Ziploc bag holding six ounces of Cascade hops had quite the remarks on BookFace.  Using Gratis’ setup warranted some recipe changes since I’m not fully familiar with brewing what I would consider double batches.  I have yet to brew a really good beer on his system too.  But I have no problem wearing a rookie shirt and brewing in the minor leagues still.  One day though, right?  I think I ended up adding 5.25 oz of Cascade hops.  I should have asked Brian to dry hop the two carboys, which would have been tough with those .75 oz of Cascade hops in my fridge at home.

Cascade carboys

Cascade carboys

The yeast mistake garners the minor league pay too.  Using a very fresh vial from 5 Pts. I propagated it to 1 liter.  Then I split it, using not quite half of it for the White Pale Mutt along with the German Hefeweizen yeast.  That beer did turn out really well.  Still too much banana and bubble gum from that WLP-300 yeast strand, but the WLP-007 dried it out nicely.  So I took the harvest Dry English Ale yeast from the fridge and propagated that to 1L, then I stepped it to 2L and would use that to pitch with.  My FG was only 1.o20 which isn’t bad, but I was hoping for more like 1.013 FG.  With the super efficiency of the soon to be known Southern Brewing Co. pilot system, it still shot over our 4.8% ABV and ended up with 5.5% ABV.  The beer is drinking nice with a mild bitterness and some subtle sweetness with the higher final gravity.  My hop schedule was 60 minutes, 30, 15, 10 and finally 5 minutes.  Without the yeast mess up and some dry hopping, this would be a great beer.  It’s going to be just fine as a good beer to get us through the Summer months.

cheers to rainy days

cheers to rainy days

Now if we want to talk about great beers brewed the same day using the same yeast strain then I have to mention the SBC Racing Mud Puddle IPA.  Last night served kind of like the release party for SBC Racing.  Brewed with a first wort hopping of NZ Hallertau, then bittered constantly throughout the boil with Motueka and finally dry hopped with Citra.  It runs the color of a murky Georgia red clay mud puddle and drinks like a peach NEHI.   Such a great beer and check out SBC Racing on BookFace.

Later we’re going to talk about our first attempt at brewing parti-gyle style.  An ancient brewing style that uses the same grain to produce different batches of beer, all being lower in ABV from the original.

Cheers race fans!

SBCR mud puddle IPA

SBCR mud puddle IPA

SBC Racing Mud Puddle

SBC Racing Mud Puddle

Yeast week

WLP007 1L starter

WLP007 1L starter

So this past week saw a scheduled Friday off.  A day that is usually consumed with way too many chores scattered through-out the day to plan anything fun.  Even if it’s just lunch downtown with the wife.  Even though I caught a little expected grief on missing lunch I was excused to finally brew at the house.  I also threw some meat on the smoker.  It’s an inexpensive one from Academy but will do the job once I figure things out.  The second smoking was better than the first, so hopefully I’ll have it figured out next try.  It’s not near as bad as brewing beer.  I haven’t dumped a smoked butt yet.  It all gets eaten!  But I digress.  Back on topic of yeast.  I recently posted about washing yeast for the first time.  This is the process of saving $8 per brew to reuse yeast from the previous brew.  “Shit actually works!”

WLP007 & WLP300 starters

WLP007 & WLP300 starters

We wandered into 5 Points Growlers Beer & Brew Supply awhile back when Amber & Ty were in town for fills.  I always check out the yeast cooler to see if they have what I want or I’m curious about.  I found the only vial of White Labs WLP-007 Dry English Ale yeast and its fresh w/ a best before by date of 4/11.  Which means it was packaged on 1/11 this year.  Most beers aren’t that fresh.  Usually Monday before brewing is just recipe creation day, but I have more up my flask this week.  I made a 1 liter starter with that WLP-007 vial.  Denver used this in an IPA and it kicked ass.  This yeast is highly flocculent with high attenuation, which means it makes a clear beer and eats lots of sugars to produce a dry finish.  I want to use this yeast in a pale ale brewed at Gratis, so I can’t ‘waste’ it in this week’s brew.  Which means on Wednesday I ‘stepped’ it to 2 liters.  I crash chill the starter for the day and make a 2 liter starter on Wednesday after work.  I decant off the beer and pour the yeast slurry into a new starter.  I wake up Thursday morning to find it’s blown through the airlock.  Thankfully I save Star San while these things are happening.  I pull the airlock to cleanse and sani it before work.  By the time I make my sandwich for lunch the krausen is already pushing into the airlock.  “Hope it (the airlock) stays wet until I get home!”

I also got a 1 liter starter going with the White Labs WLP-300 German Hefeweizen yeast along with 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient.  When I checked on the yeast Thursday morning I was overly excited to see this yeast going strong.  Success!  A quick manual stir and the krausen woke up and spit right out of the air lock.  Now I’m not only cleaning up krausen from the WLP-007, but I have foam running down the cabinet doors in our laundry room.  If I shut the door with the HVAC vent open this room will stay almost exactly 70*F all the time.  Which is near perfect for ale yeast fermentation.

Thursday I finished a recipe and decide on a white pale ale.  This style recently came to life from a few select brewers and is still not recognized by the BJCP.  Some of the more famous beers are Deschutes Chainbreaker IPA, Westbrook White Thai and the Founders Brewing collab with Green Flash for the Linchpin White IPA.  The differentiating here is that I’m doing a pale ale, or a pale wheat and using a blend of WLP-007 and WLP-300.  While I didn’t measure yeast counts, I feel like I had a bigger slurry of 300 over 007, thus hoping to have a dry finish with a cloudy beer.

Friday rolls around and NO WORKY FOR ME!  I realize quickly that I’ve driven over my good water hose end and it’s inoperable, SOB!  So out comes the old hose which thankfully isn’t frozen.  I get the coolers sanitized to get some ice and Gatorade in them.  Finally get some charcoal burning in the smoker and get the pig’s bottom and whole yard bird on there with hickory chunks.  It’s too bad it’s Friday and no one is in the cul-de-sac to salivate other than me.  I’m pretty impressed with myself in that I get the mash water heating up at noon and by 5pm the yeast is pitched.  The grain bill is simple in Brewer’s Malt, White Wheat and some Cara-Pils along with some Sorachi Ace hops from Japan which are known for their lemon/citrus flavor.  Throw in the common American Cascade hops at 15 minutes and 5 minutes along with some fresh orange zest at 15 minutes and we should have a great citrus white pale wheat with around 5% abv just in time for front porch homebrew this Spring!

Don’t forget that the Classic City Brew Fest is just around the corner.  Go ahead and buy tickets, you may get a chance to brew with The Southern Brewing Company on their pilot system along with a tour of their new space before it’s open.  I’ll post links tomorrow, or just Goggle tonight.  Hope to see everyone there.

Slainte!

That’s some gold head

I’ve been a pseudo homebrewer for just over three years now.  This year is the second that I’ve entered homebrew into the Peach State Brew Off.   Last year I was comfortable with the professional judges critiquing of my beer.  Though none won medals, they all had positive feedback and some constructive criticism, just what I need at my early stages of brewing.  This year I brewed a pale ale recipe that I wrote shortly after I started brewing.  It was my fourth brew to be exact (3rd if you don’t count the porter that a former coworker brewed at my house).  I’ve changed the recipe slightly each time and I’m surprised at how much minor changes have a bigger effect.

After the comments I received last year from both the Peach State Brew Off and Savannah Summer Sud’s competition, I was feeling pretty good about brewing this beer again.  Only that I forgot when the entry deadline was and had to rush fermentation.  Well everything worked out ok and we landed our first homebrew ribbon.  Gold medal in the American Pale Ale category.

The video didn’t upload as clear as I would have liked, so I may replace it with a bigger version.  A link is at the very bottom if you’re viewing on mobile.  Now it’s time to tweak some more and brew again.  Beer sure does fly away when it’s good.  Cheers!

Vodpod videos no longer available.


PSBO gold pale ale, posted with vodpod

Orange Bee Hive

1st dry hopped homebrew

1st dry hopped homebrew

I’m going on my third year as a homebrewer. I just saw where my first brew was December 6, 2009. The first time I brewed using my own recipe would have been about a month after that. It was a pale ale and it was dry hopped using hop plugs. It turned out really good so I decided to change the recipe a little and dry hop with a different variety. That was the same beer that placed 4th in last year’s Peach State Brew Off. I changed it yet again after the judges recommendations and that beer placed 4thin last year’s Savannah Suds homebrew competition. I’ve always called it New Bee Pale Ale, since I was in fact a Newb and its brewed using honey. So for the fourth version (they’ve all varied slightly) I renamed it.

make shift 3-tier sparging

make shift 3-tier sparging

This rendition has twice the honey, at 2 pounds, and is added at flame out instead of at 15 minutes before flame out. This comes as recommendation from the head braumaster at Heinzellmannchen in Sylva, NC. Adding at flame out, instead of 15 bfo, always more of the honey to influence the taste and aroma profile since it’s not actually boiled. Before it was only supplying more gravity points, i.e. alcohol. The hops have remained the same for the last three versions, though I swapped the aroma and bittering hops during the boil in the second version. The last two versions were both dry hopped with Citra for two weeks. It’s tough to say why they have taste and aroma differences. My best guess is that the hops were not as fresh for this latest brew. It would be nice to be able to get a hold of some fresh Citra cones or leaf hops.

cold break

cold break

For some reason this brew day flew by. Not only in that it didn’t feel like an all day adventure, but it also wasn’t time wise. As usual it’s tough to leave our bed, but even tougher to not even ask for play time (never works btw). I think I stepped into the brewery (aka know as our garage) at 10am. Our neighbors ventured over near the end and I was putting the lid on the primary around 4:15 pm or so. Don’t ask what I did, because I don’t remember. If I had to guess, I believe I did lots of cleaning and sanitizing while I had the mash going. I had no hurdles either while sparging. No stuck mash, no left behind sugars (other than expected) or no wasted time to think of. This was the second time that I iced the water hose that supplies cooling water to the wort chiller. Winter, ha, what winter, still had the ground water cold, so we dropped the temperature from near boiling to 70°F in just around 40 minutes. This helps a lot to get the unwanted proteins to coagulate and drop out.

Orange Bee Hive APA

Orange Bee Hive APA

We’ve recently enjoyed a few pints of these at Gratis Brewing and our patio. I even gave a couple to Chef Miley of Chops and Hops (I owe him more than a few) and received good feedback in return. It makes the trouble all the more worth it when you get honest feedback from someone that knows and understands what makes a good beer. I don’t mind giving some to other friends, but some are just after free beer and an easy drunk.

Now we sit back and wait. Peach State Brew Off is this Saturday. Fingers crossed!

Sláinte!

Nantahala Brewing Co.

Nantahala River

Nantahala River

My last blog was about visiting Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva, NC the day before white water rafting down the Nantahala River near Bryson City.  My last blog also commented on how NC wins 2-0 over Georgia on beer laws.  The first was the brewery can actually sell beer to the consumer.  The second point was that not only can you buy beer, but you can also buy a growler and have it filled AFTER you get a free sample of what you’re buying.  Georgia won’t allow you to buy beer at a brewery, nore sample at a growler shop.  Another point for NC is that you can even visit breweries on Sunday and buy beer from that same brewery and even get a growler fill from the exact same brewery.  That’s like winning penalty kicks in overtime after you’ve already won in regulation.

Nantahala Brewing Co.

Nantahala Brewing Co..

So not only did my wonderful wife say we could visit Heinzelmannchen Brewery on Saturday, but she strongly encouraged me to visit Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City, NC on our way home.  This is just how sweet she can be.  I had to beg her to raft and promise I wouldn’t let her come out.  After having a fun time down the river, then changing, saying our goodbyes to the rest of the family, we grab a bite right over the river.  On the way home I decide we should just hurry home, but nope, Sarah insisted I visit the brewery.  “Well yes m’am.”Bryson City and the brewery are just right off 441 highway.  I almost didn’t need GPS to find it.  I gotta say, if anyone wants plans to open a brewery and make it classy, follow these guys.  Some one, or some three sank some big money into renovating this place.  Inside has dart boards, a huge Jenga set, along with large, long bar.  Hell, even the pisser is nice and new.  All done in rustic cabin’esce lumber and decor makes it fit right into the feel of the area.  Outside the front door is the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.  Upstairs looks like an old hotel from old western movies, yet they’re actually offices.

quitters

quitters

Nantahala has been in operation for 15 months.  They, as all others, were uncertain on start up size and capacity.  Choosing to go with a small 10 barrell system seemed like a good idea.  Wrong!  They sell all 1000 barrells they produce.  Good I know, they sell it all.  Bad if you plan on producing more than the system can handle.  Sounds like someone is about to force their bright tank into a push system.  I hope not, because Nantahala makes some damn good beer.  I had a Noon Day IPA at a pizza joint in Sylva Saturday night.  I had the Up The River Amber for lunch after rafting.  I tried the wheat, blonde and famous ATX Pale Ale all at the brewery.  Thursday before our arrival they put up their special DIPA.  It was gone in a day and a half.  Too bad for me.  Really bad for Sarah when we drive back three hours just to get it.

The brewery had good business within the last hour of their Sunday opening.  So I will give the guy that was serving everyone some slack on not being very personable.  Then again, it would be hard to follow up how nice Dieter Kuhn was at Heinzelmannchen.  The guy wasn’t a brewer either, so I just enjoyed my beautiful company next to me.  Thanking her for insisting we visit and even more for driving my drunk ass home.  Okay, I wasn’t drunk, but she knew she should drive

Nantahala brewery bar

Nantahala brewery bar

So a great weekend gone by.  Another great weekend coming when we find some free time to go back.  It’s a pleasant three hour drive up 441.  Who’s with us?

Salute!

Pale Ale rebrew

After the debacle that was The Peach State Brew Off I had to rebrew the pale ale.  Ok, it wasn’t a debacle, but I used the judges comments to make what I thought would be corrections.  These should be simple right, since it wasn’t rated that poorly?  Fourth out of 13 for my first competition, not what I wanted, but I’ll live.  The two biggest complaints were not bitter enough, ‘bready’ tasting and better head retention.  Bittering is easy, if you understand the process.  Bread taste is in the description of the Vienna malt I used in the first batch.  For the head retention, it’s common to use Cara-pils malt, so I will.

New Bee pale ale batch 2                  New Bee pale ale batch 3

Grain bill – extract                              Grain bill – partial mash

2 lbs 2 row malt                                  3 lbs 2 row malt

1 lb Vienna                                          1.5 lbs Crystal C10

5 lb Pilsner LME                                 .25 lbs Cara-pils

1 lb Clover honey                                5 lbs Pilsner LME

———————                                  1 lb Orange Blossom honey

Hops                                                    Hops

1 oz Cascade – 60 min                        1 oz Centennial – 60 min

1 oz Centennial – 15 min                    1 oz Cascade – 15 min

2 oz Citra dry hop – 2 weeks              2 oz Citra dry hop – 2 weeks

Yeast                                                   Yeast

Wyeast 1056                                       Wyeast 1056

OG – 1.056                                         OG – 1.057

FG – 1.010                                          FG – 1.011

batch 2 vs batch 3

batch 2 vs batch 3

Batch 2 on the left was bottled on February 3 and batch 3 was bottled on April 23.  So in this picture, batch 3 had on bottle conditioned for basically seven days.  It’s been in the fridge for nine days.  So it may clear over a couple of more weeks in the bottle BEFORE chilling.  Although BJCP allows slight haze from dry hopping, you can clearly see the extract version has no haze.  The head in b3 is much ‘tighter’, or thicker and frothier.  Which is totally due to the use of Cara-pils and only 1/4 lb of it, goes along ways.  While I’m not including a picture of it, this helps a lot in retention.  It will lace the glass after each sip.  Ok, I gulp, so each gulp.  What a picture can’t show and something I can’t describe enough is the huge, HUGE citrus aroma on batch 2, even after three months of being in the bottle.  What this tells me is that quite possibly the hops were fresher in batch 2 than in batch 3.  I don’t recall where the ingredients from each batch came from, but it’s obvious when the cap is popped all the way through when it’s poured and even sipped on.

I’m not sure if it’s from the aroma alone, but the flavor in b2 is better than b3.  I may brew this again and add in some Vienna, or completely replace the C10 malt with Vienna.  I need to understand more clearly if Vienna malt is allowed in a true American Pale Ale.  Please comment if you know for sure.  Either way, I want to always have this in the fridge.  Either of these!

Prost!

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