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One man’s journey to create the perfect beer…

Archive for October 7th, 2008

Drinking with the Dark Side- Budweiser

Posted by ebrius on October 7, 2008

I’m sure you’ve all seen the ads for Budweiser’s new ‘American Ale’. “Top fermented with Crystal Malt and Cascade Hops”, or something like that. But anyway, I was out the other night and just happen to see it on tap. Now, like most beer connoisseurs out there I tend to avoid American Macrobreweries, but I figured, this might have some potential, so, I tried it.

Now, I have to say, for a beer brewed by Budweiser, it actually tastes pretty good. The crystal malt is there (albeit very subtle), and guess what, there are even hops! Now, I wouldn’t buy this at the store, I would much rather stick with: Stone, Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, Boulder, Sam Adams, etc. But still, it was much better then I expected, and if a bar was having a special in it, I’d definitely get it again.


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Getting Ready for the IPA

Posted by ebrius on October 7, 2008

This is going to be my first attempt at my favorite beer style, India Pale Ale. Like most hop heads, i love the overbearing, bitter, refreshing flavor of IPAs. This beer is going for one thing, Hops. I was thinking of making a balanced IPA, with a balance of maltiness and bitterness, but then I thought, “Whats the fun in that?”

Honorable East India Pale Ale

6lb  Extra Light Dry Malt Extract

1lb    Crystal 40L
.375lb Crystal 20L
.375lb Crystal 60L
.25oz  CaraPils

0.5oz  Columbus      @ 60
1oz    Cluster       @ 60
0.25oz Cascade       @ 50
0.25oz Columbus      @ 40
0.25oz Cascade       @ 30
0.25oz Columbus      @ 20
1oz    Fuggles       @ 10
0.75oz Cascade       @ 10
1.25oz Cascade       @ 0
1.25oz Cascade       @ DH
1oz    Kent Goldings @ DH after two weeks

White Labs California Ale WLP001

1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15

Priming Sugar:

OG:  1.058
FG:  1.015
IBU: ~100
ABV: 5.5 %
SRM: 10

As you can see, I’ll be adding hops throughout the entire boil in the hopes of brewing a very complex hops flavor. I was worried that too many specialty grains would distract from the hopiness, so I chose to go with about 2lbs of standard Crystal Malt, which might be a little much, but we will see. I also added some CaraPils in the hope of improving head retention, I’ve never used it before, so we’ll see if it really does anything. Whats interesting about this one is that I’ve decided not to move it to a secondary, and I will instead dry hop at increments while the beer is still in the primary. The ingredients should arrive today, which will give me enough time to prep the yeast and brew this weekend. I plan to move my Christmas Ale into a secondary the same day I brew this.

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Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Posted by ebrius on October 7, 2008

It might be a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but not too early to brew a Christmas Ale. For my third brew I decided to go with a dark, balanced ale with Christmas Spices added. In tribute to Sam Adams, I’ve nicknamed it New Fezziwig Ale

7lb  Dry Dark Malt Extract
3lb  Honey

.5lb Chocolate Malt
.5lb Crystal Malt (80-L)
.5lb Black Patent Malt

1oz  Chinook    @ 60
1oz  Willamette @ 30
1oz  Willamette @ 10

All Steeped for 30 minutes after flame out
1 oz Ginger, Grated
3 Oranges, Peeled and Quartered
3 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Whole Nutmegs
6 Whole Cloves

1 tsp Irish Moss @ 30

Wyeast British Ale 1098

Priming Sugar:

OG: 1.08, Expected FG: 1.02, FG: ?, ABV: ?
Brewed:  9/21/08
Moved:   ?
Bottled: ?
Tasted:  ?

Brewing went as expected, the only issue was that I added the honey too early and probably killed any flavor it would add. The next time I brew with honey I’ll probably add it right after flame out
I’ve only faced one problem with this brew so far. About 24 hours in I went to check on the progress, I immediately knew something was wrong when I could smell the beer as I approached the container. Apparently I had some very healthy yeast on my hand, it managed to fill the extra 2 or so gallons in the container and leach out of the airlock! So, I removed the cover, cleaned and sanitized it, and refiled the airlock. This has not effected anything so far, in fact, I took a gravity measurement about a week in and it was down to 1.020, which is exactly what I wanted. The beer also smelt very good, the aroma from the orange and cinnamon was very refreshing.

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Crazy Ivan Russian Imperial Stout

Posted by ebrius on October 7, 2008

After my first attempt at homebrewing ended successfully, I decided to venture on to a more interesting and challenging beer: A homemade recipe that used specialty grains and other additives along with malt extracts to create a strong, high gravity stout. Below is the recipe, followed by my first, second, and third impressions:

6lb  Dark Dry Malt Extract
4lb  Amber Dry Malt Extract

1lb  Chocolate Malt
1lb  Roasted Barley
.5lb Black Patent Malt
.5lb Caramel Malt 40

2oz Fuggles @ 60
1oz Casade @ 30

1/2 lb Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (added at start of boil)
1/2 gallon Cold Brewed Coffee (Kenya AA) (added to primary)
1/4 gallon Cold Brewed Coffee (Sumatra) (added to secondary)
1 tsp Gypsum @ 30
1 tsp Irish Moss @ 30

2 packages dried ale yeast

Priming Sugar:
Brown Sugar

Batch Size: 5 gallons
Boil Size: 2.5 gallons

OG: 1.11, FG: 1.04, ABV ~= 8%
Brewed:  9/4/08
Moved:   9/17/08
Bottled: 9/28/08

Brewed as most homebrews are, specialty grains steeped for 30 minutes at ~160 degrees. Wort was then brought to a boil and malt extracts and 6 oz of the chocolate were added. Because of the way the chocolate reacted to being boiled, the hot break took a particularly long time. Boil lasted 60 minutes with hops added at 60 and 30. Gypsum and Irish Moss were added at 30 minutes as well. After boil, wort was cooled and mixed with first batch of coffee and extra water in fermentator to equal five gallons. Yeast was then pitched and fermenter was closed.
Brew was moved to secondary about two weeks later, remaining coffee and chocolate were added to secondary.
Beer was then bottled about 11 days later (secondary didn’t really seem to be making a difference) with dark brown sugar as the primer.

First Impression (~ three days after bottling): Beer was very strong and sharp. Chocolate and coffee notes were very apparent. Brew bordered on undrinkable. Beer was strong and with yeasty and medicinal tastes. Off flavors did not make the beer undrinkable, but were noticeable

Second Impression(~ a week after bottling): Much better, flavors are now more subtle, chocolate and coffee are apparent at first, then lead into a sharpness from the Black Patent, and finally finish of with a bitter coffee-esk flavor.

Overall, I am very happy with this beer, I believe that it will only get better. I’ll write a proper review (appearance, aroma, etc) after three weeks of bottle conditioning

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Review: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Posted by ebrius on October 7, 2008

For my first review, I’ll be looking at beer from a brewery known by most hopheads, Dogfish Head. Dogfish Head has three different IPAs that they release on a regular basis, 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute. For this review, I will be looking at their 90 Minute IPA.90 Minute falls somewhere between 60 Minute and 120 Minute (go figure right?) and, in my opinion, is a perfect balance between the two. It has drinkability close to 60 Minute, but if you look hard enough, you can pick up hop and malt characteristics similar to 120 Minute.

Dogfish Head’s website lists 90 Minute as having an IBU of 90 and an ABV of 9%. Although it’s not listed, I’d guess its SRM falls around 12.

First, appearance: This beer has a nice clean pour with a deep amber color and very little head that quickly dissipates.

Next, aroma: Both malty and hoppy, it has hints of grapefruit and other citrus flavors, but there is also a malty smell there as well, I’d guess from a Crystal 80 or so. Overall, this beer is very pleasant and balanced.

Now, the most important part, taste: This beer is very full flavored and rich. It is not as bitter as one might expect from a beer listed at 90 IBUs, but this is not a bad thing. The balance of the malt and hops allows the finer flavors of both to come out. It finishes with a malty finish that anyone who has tried a 120 minute will recognize immediately. But in this beer the malty taste is more of a background flavor, which I think is much more preferable in an IPA

Lastly, mouth feel: Light carbonation that is slightly chewy. This is definitely not a beer that one could drink 6 of in an hour, but it is still very drinkable.

Overall, I would give this beer a 9/10. I honestly don’t believe that Dogfish Head could improve on this beer, except maybe lower the price.

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