Brew Day: 3/31/18 – Brown Eye Woke v4.5, bottling day, and Experiments!

We had quite a busy Saturday ™ this past weekend; we bottled our latest IPA, the sample tastes amazing at the moment. The added bittering charge really seems like it made all the difference in this beer. We are really looking forward to cracking one open in the next few days to taste it carbonated. We brewed Brown Eye Woke v4.5 since our last batch didn’t ferment all the way down… or did it?!

Plot twist: the older batch of Brown Eye Woke is sitting at 1.008, which is lower than it normally gets but I’m going to assume that’s because of the extra yeast we pitched. It definitely has a bit of a yeasty aroma so I’m almost certain it was an over pitch. Since we now have some extra beer laying around we have decided to have some fun with it. We are going to separate them into 3 different batches each with different additions. We so far have these laid out;

  • Chocolate, Vanilla, Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Apple Brandy oak cubes and Coconut

We’ll see how they come out, but either way it’s fun to experiment with batches. The only way you learn is if you try. Plus, since we are doing a robust porter with Apple Brandy oak and Coconut, this will be a nice trial run for us. I’ll update you all once that is complete, should be in the month or so. We also have some fresh fruit ready for our Gose! Right now we have a Gose planned to be split into four (4) one (1) gallon batches with the following fruits;

  • Kumquats (fresh picked from a coworkers house)
  • Prickly Pear (fresh picked from wild bushes in Tucson, AZ)
  • Key Lime Pie (Fresh Limes, lime leaves, vanilla)
  • Strawberry

That should be a fun batch! Maybe we can even blend some together if they all come out nice. Our hops are starting to sprout up again as well! It’s getting a little hotter so they are about to come out and play, generation two coming up.

Lastly we bottled up our most recent IPA. Hit our FG perfectly and the sample tastes so, so smooth. It’s got some sweetness on it right now that will most likely get cleaned up in the bottle but it’s aroma is bursting with grapefruit, passion fruit, and citrus. It’s got a beautiful color as well. We haven’t thought of a name for it yet, though.


Now, on to the brew day! Literally the same exact grain/hop bill as the last batch. Nothing new to see here but I’ll post it here anyway.

Grist: Hops Mash:
8#      Maris Otter 1 oz East Kent Golding @ 60 60 Minutes @ 154F
.8#     Victory 1 oz East Kent Golding @ 15
.8#     Brown Malt Boil:
.75#   Special Malt 60 Minutes
.75#   C-40 Yeast
.5#     Chocolate Malt WLP002 (English Ale Yeast)
Estimated OG: 1.054 Actual OG: 1.058 Extra
Yeast Energizer @ 15
Estimated FG: 1.010 Actual FG:
Age of coffee beans after
Estimated ABV: 5.77% Actual ABV: Fermentation has completed
For two weeks


A new theme that we definitely enjoyed was our temperature actually held the entire time and exactly where it needed to be. Holy shit, what a concept! With that said we also increased our efficiency on this batch a bit, we hit 1.058 instead of 1.054. Sometimes, it’s the little things in life.

Before I get too far into this post I want to acknowledge a program. That program is called Bru’n Water (, it’s a fantastic program that every brewer should use. Especially when you start going down the rabbit hole of water additions and how they impact certain styles of beers. Also something nice to have is from my boy Ty (, this is a sheet that shows you what type of water you should be aiming for.

Moving on, we collected 7.5 gallons of sweet wort and began our boil. We opted out of using the hop spider for this brew since it was only 2 oz of hops, we just created a whirlpool at the end to dissolve whatever remnants there were.

After our boil concluded we ended up with about 4.7 gallons of wort that was chilled to 68F. We pitched our yeast and tucked it away in the fermentation fridge, after about 22 hours we had activity. We have high hopes for this batch, especially since our last one didn’t work out so well for us (yet…). Competition season is still in full swing, so this will be getting submitted shortly.

Next Brew Day – 4/14/18

West Coast Pilsner & Gose – Double brew day. The Gose only takes 1 ½ hours to be ready so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Upcoming Brews –

Porter – Robust porter with Apple Brandy oak cubes and coconut
Idaho 7 Pale Ale – Idaho 7 New England inspired pale ale
Grant Us Eyes – Nelson and Mosaic New England IPA
Orange Wheat – Wheat beer with Cara-Cara and Blood Oranges


Brew Day: 3/17/18 West Coast IPA with Citra and Vic-Secret hops

I’ve been kind of quiet on this blog lately and that’s really just because our past two brew days have been unmitigated disasters. Brown Eye Woke v4 was mashed too high only fermented to 1.030, I added a starter culture to try and drop it down even just a bit more to no avail. We don’t know what to do with the leftover wort… Josh and I were debating on pitching some Brettanomyces and turning it into “Brett’s Brown Ale” but we are unsure. It may be going to dump city USA soon.

Our other planned brew day was for this West Coast IPA, we originally “brewed” it on 03/03/18 and again had temperature problems. Big ones. We heated the strike water to 167F (it was raining and pretty cold outside) and when we preheated the mash tun everything seemed to be fine, however our mash temperature was only at 145F. Panic mode! We decided to just do a batch sparge instead of a fly sparge as we normally do. Long story short, the water at its peak reached about 148F. Not high enough for an IPA, of course.

We decided to just boil as usual and make a Berliner Weiss or Gose. It was at that point we remembered we adjusted the water profile for an IPA… not exactly ideal for a soft bodied sour. We ended up dumping the batch and saving the Hops and Yeast for another brew day. That day was on the 17th. We used the same recipe and hoped everything went well this time … spoiler alert … it did!

Grain Bill Estimated Original Gravity Mash
10#   2-Row 1.050 – 1.054 60 Mintues  @ 151F
1#     C-10 Actual Original Gravity  
  1.054 Boil
Hops & Schedule Estimated Final Gravity 60 Minutes
.5 oz Vic-Secret @ 30 mins 1.010 – 1.012  
.5 oz Citra           @ 30 mins Actual Final Gravity Mineral Additions
1 oz  Vic-Secret @ 10 mins   5.8g Gypsum (Mash)
1 oz  Citra           @ 10 mins Estimated Alcohol by Volume 3.5g Epsom Salt (Mash)
2.5oz Vic-Secret@ Flameout 5.24% – 5.76% 1.9g Calcium Chloride (Mash)
2.5 oz Citra         @ Flameout   4.6g Gypsum (Boil)
1 oz Vic-Secret   5 Day Dry Hop   2.8g Epsom Salt (Boil)
2 oz Citra             5 Day Dry Hop   1.5g Calcium Chloride (Boil)
Yeast   Yeast Energizer @ 15 mins
A24 “Dry Hop” Imperial Yeast   Whirlfloc Tablet@ 15 mins

This grain bill actually turned out more of a Pale Ale, but we hopped it like we normally would an IPA, we expect the balance to be perfect. We mashed in at 150F and some change, a little under our target temperature but not the end of the world (hopefully…). We have been having issues with our mash temperature and it’s pretty frustrating. I’m having trouble comprehending why we spent so much money on a SS Brewtech Mash Tun if it won’t hold temperature any better than the $50 cooler we converted. I’m sure we are overlooking something dumb and this will turn around, soon. Ugh.

This may not be a traditional West Coast IPA, it’s more of a hybrid. We have been experimenting with these types of styles for a few months and we are continuously making tweaks to the recipes and to the brewing process. The main components we have been exploring has been the hop schedules and water profile. The most recent pale we made (Medusa-Oblongata) used a softer water profile, sort of like a New England IPA. It came out delicious, but it was lacking a bit of crispness you get from a pale ale. With that said we decided to add a bit of Epsom salt to this batch, to emphasize the hop character.

Anyhow, we mashed out and collected 7.2 gallons of sweet wort and started our boil. We added our first hop charge at 30 minutes we wanted to give this one a bit more bitterness than the most recent batch that used only late addition hops (10 minutes, 5 minutes, flameout). It wasn’t a huge charge, only 1 oz total, but it should be enough to impart some of the bitterness we are looking for.

After our boil we ran our wort through the plate chiller into our carboy. We collected about 4.5 gallons of wort, aerated it for 30 seconds, and cooled to pitching temperature. Our plate chiller brought it down to about 75F, it wouldn’t have mattered if we pitched at that temperature, but we still brought it down to 66F before doing so. I was expecting a bit of a quicker start from the Imperial Yeast “A24 Dry Hop” because of the higher cell count, but it took about ~22 hours for activity to start.

We are going to dry hop on 3/26/18 and bottle that Saturday. That is also our next brew day. What a coincidence! We are planning to rebrew Brown Eye Woke (call it version 4.5?) if the last batch is as dead as I believe it to be. There is a bit of schedule for our upcoming brews as well, and I’d like to share it with you.

Upcoming Beers:
3/30: Brown Eye Woke – Coffee Brown Ale, Gose – kettle soured (splitting into 4 separate fruited batches; hand picked prickly pears, cherry & hibiscus, raspberry, and strawberry kiwi).

Dates TBA:
West Coast Pilsner – Hoppy Pilsner style lager
Porter – Robust porter with Apple Brandy oak cubes and coconut
Idaho 7 Pale Ale – Idaho 7 New England inspired pale ale
Grant Us Eyes – Nelson and Mosaic New England IPA

These beers should keep us busy for next couple of months. Definitely looking forward to the porter, I’ve been looking to make a coconut beer for quite some time. Actually “Brown Eye Woke” was originally brainstormed as a coffee and coconut brown. Then it became a coffee and vanilla brown ale. We all know now it is a coffee brown ale, sometimes less is more. Cheers.

Brew Day: 02/17/18 Brown Eye Woke v4

With competition season starting up soon we decided to brew our only award winning beer to try and build upon our success from last year. Enter Brown Eye Woke: our brown ale aged on coffee beans. We received two medals for it last year (it would’ve been three had I submitted the bottles on time… oops). We always use a different coffee in each version. This year we opted for Four Barrel Nicaraguan el Diablo beans. We hit our numbers on the mark (with a bit of increased efficiency even!) and the brew day went incredibly smooth. Initial wort sample was nice and roasty/sweet. I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Do I smell a first place medal?

Grist: Hops Mash:
8#      Maris Otter 1 oz East Kent Golding @ 60 60 Minutes @ 154F
.8#     Victory 1 oz East Kent Golding @ 15
.8#     Brown Malt Boil:
.75#   Special Malt 60 Minutes
.75#   C-40 Yeast
.5#     Chocolate Malt WLP002 (English Ale Yeast)
Estimated OG: 1.054 Actual OG: 1.054 Extra
Yeast Energizer @ 15
Estimated FG: 1.010 Actual FG:
Age of coffee beans after
Estimated ABV: 5.77% Actual ABV: Fermentation has completed
For two weeks

A few things to note, other than my beautiful organized table for our recipe, are some minor tweaks to the recipe. Two things stick out – a higher mash temperature and a half ounce more of hops. When we submitted our beer last year, two points of constructive criticism stood out. One was that it needed more hops and the other was that it was a little thin. With those remarks in mind we took what we feel are the necessary steps to making a better beer. Only time will tell!

We heated our strike up to 165F and we preheated our mashtun this time, however we may have over done it. The mash temp was at 155F for most of the mash duration which is unfortunate but we hope it won’t affect the fermentability of the wort too much. We collected 7.5 gallons of sweet wort and started our boil.

In order to make the hop presence and bit more prominent we decided to forgo our usual hopping schedule and do a first wort hopping, and made it a full ounce as opposed to ¾ oz. We kept the 2nd hop charge at 15 minutes as we normally do. Hopefully this adds a bit of complementary bitterness to the roasty notes of the grain bill and coffee.

A small rolling boil about to form after a hot break

After boiling for an hour we chilled the wort down to 77F and dropped it in the fermentation fridge until it cooled to about 70F. Then we pitched our yeast (WLP002) and closed it off until we are ready to add the coffee beans. We collected about 4.8 gallons and hit our original gravity numbers on the mark. It’s always a good feeling to hit our numbers but it was especially nice to hit them on the nose while we brewed a beer for a competition.

We did a lot of other things this past weekend as well. Most notably, we bottled 15 gallons of beer! We bottled:

  • “One with the Shadows” Stout –Roasty-Chocolate Stout
  • “Medusa Oblongata” – Medusa & Victoria Secret Pale Ale
  • “Destination: Terror” – A Rye Honey Saison with Lime Zest added

It was definitely a long brew day but it was also a very satisfying one. I can’t wait for these beers to condition so we can taste them as the initial sample going into the bottles was great. Of the bunch I’m most excited to try the stout, reason being that stouts are the last key to our homebrew puzzle. Hopefully this is a winner. Cheers.


Grant Us Eyes V3 Taste Test

I just couldn’t wait and had to open up a bottle of “Grant Us Eyes,” our hazy IPA with Nelson & Mosaic hops. It hasn’t quite been two weeks in the bottle, but it is developing very, very nicely. I did a carbonation and taste test yesterday (1/31). Here are the results:

Bottle date: 1/20/2018                  Carbonation: 2.4 Volumes

Aroma: Fruit medley; apricot, mango, and grapes up front with a nice passion fruit and peach aroma on the backend of the smell. It’s very tropical and it’s a very dense smell. A lot going on, but you can definitely smell each distinct hop aroma.

Appearance: A hazy golden orange, really nice color.

Body: Probably the softest or “cloudiest” beer we’ve ever made. I think we nailed the water profile for this one. Incredibly smooth and keeps you coming back for more… or to use one of my favorite words: crushable.

Taste: This is where the beer shines (thankfully). Huge notes of grape (white wine?), apricots, and mango up front. Then on the backend you get this juicy flavor of peaches mixed with berries. There is a distinct grapefruit and passion fruit flavor as you swallow. Very well rounded and you can taste all of these hops upon drinking it.

Overall, extremely pleased with how this beer came out and hopefully everyone else will be when we are serving it our Super Bowl party. Cheers.

Brew Day – 1/20/18 “One with the Shadows”

If we have an Achilles heel in regards to brewing it is without doubt stouts. We have attempted to brew stouts a few times and each time had underwhelming results. Whether it be the yeast not fully fermenting (twice) or infection (it was our second batch… and we definitely tried to do too much) we just haven’t had success with stouts. We are hoping that our fortune turns around with this most recent batch.

Note: I didn’t calculate an estimated OG or estimated FG because efficiency tends to be all over the place with big beers. I was hoping to get anywhere from 1.090 – 1.100 and we got 1.094, so I think we did ok. I calculated a 66% efficiency, which while not great, was on par with what I expected.

Grain Bill:                                                        Hops:
8#           Maris Otter                                         1 oz        Magnum           –       First Wort
7#           2-Row                                                   1 oz        Millennium      –       First Wort
2#           Chocolate
1#           Chocolate Rye                                   Yeast:
1#           Pale Chocolate                                  Wyeast 1098      2 packets
1#           Flaked Oats
1#           C-60                                                       Extra:
4 oz        Flaked Barley                                     Yeast Energizer             (15 Minute addition)

Mash:                                                                   Boil:
155F*    90 Minutes                                         120 Minutes

OG: 1.094                            EFG: 1.024^                        EABV: 9.12%

Goal: A nice toasty stout to keep us warm during this rough California winter. I’d like to incorporate roasted malt, caramel, toffee, and chocolate in this recipe. Viscous without being overly thick, coats the tongue after every sip.

*We had some temp issues with the mash tun so it only mashed in at 151F, hopefully the beer doesn’t turn out too dry.
^This is based off of yeast attenuation and calculations.

We have brewed a similar recipe once before and it came in at 1.102 but the yeast ended up dying at around 1.052. It still made a tasty beer, but unfortunately it became over carbonated and ended up detonating a few times. I even added rehydrated yeast to it to try and keep it going to no avail.

The mash temperature fluctuating was the only hiccup in what was a pretty smooth brew day. We heated it up to about 164F and even preheated the mash tun with some boiled water before the strike water was fully heated. Unfortunately because we used 21 lbs of grain it didn’t hold as well as we would’ve liked. I think our next big purchase is going to be a RIMS or HERMS system to keep the mash tun temperature stable. We normally don’t have a problem (give or take a ~.4 difference in F) but this is still something good to have.

I digress, as has been the case with most of our recent brew days this one was very, very smooth. It was pretty long though. We bottled “Grant Us Eyes” v3 in the morning before we started (as an aside, we hit our OG on the head and we hit our FG on the head), then as we started to heat the strike water, we figured out we didn’t have any propane left. Oops.

Perfect brewing weather

As previously noted our mash temperature was not as constant as we’d have liked it to be. It was a pretty windy day and the sun was at a premium. I tried to boil water to bring it up, and while it worked for 1F, it was still 3F below target temperature. Not the best way to start, but I don’t think it will be too much of an issue. You know what they say RDWHAHB (Relax, don’t worry and have a homebrew).

We added 2 oz of hops (1 oz Magnum and 1 oz Millennium) at first wort and boiled them for 2 hours. I wanted to use 2 oz of Magnum but I only had 1 available to me at the time, again, not a huge deal as Millennium hops are great in stouts. This is probably the darkest beer we’ve made, the wort looked just like motor oil when it was going into the kettle and while it was boiling. The wort smelled fantastic though, I hope it’s a sign of things to come.

After the boil we used our plate chiller to cool it down to pitching temperature. Since the ground water was relatively cold we chilled it to 70F within about 10 minutes. We still dropped the carboy in the fermentation fridge for 2 hours to drop it to 66F, but it wasn’t really needed. Post boil/chilled gravity reading initially clocked in at 1.088 and after temperature correction we calculated it being 1.094.

In order to prevent the yeast from dying or getting stressed we hit this beast with pure oxygen for 60 seconds and also aerated by swirling the carboy. We don’t want to take any chances this time around. I also gave it a swirl on 1/23 (3 days after brew date) to aerate just a little bit more, again, not taking chances. Fermentation has been vigorous and we probably should’ve used a blow-off tube, but it hasn’t been too bad. Luckily we left enough headspace in the carboy.

Competition season is coming up. We are incredibly excited to build off of the momentum we had last year. Brown Eye Woke will be a constant entry and possibly Dry Hop Naked. We would like to maybe enter something else but haven’t really sat down and thought about it. Hoping to take home first place in at least one competition this year!

Brew Day: 1/6/18 “Grant Us Eyes” V3.0

First brew day of the New Year, so let me get this out of the way and say “Happy Brew Year,” ok, that’s my only terrible pun in this post… maybe… no promises. Anyhow, for our first brew day we are brewing one of more “well-known” beers. “Grant Us Eyes” is a NE style IPA with Nelson and Mosaic hops. This will be the 3rd iteration of the beer and I tweaked the recipe a little bit to hopefully bring out the vibrant character of the hops a little more.

With the start of a new year, it’s good to set goals for yourself. This year we are going to attempt to do a few things we haven’t before:

  1. Blending beers
  2. Water chemistry
  3. Kegging

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that we have been starting our water chemistry with pre-weighted additions. This year, we are going to do away with that and calculate the water profile and mineral additions ourselves. We decided to use this brew as our taking off point.

Mash:                                                                                   Boil:
152F       60 Minutes                                                         60 Minutes

Grain Bill:                                                                             Hops:
11#         2-Row                                                                     6 oz        Nelson
.5#          Cara-pils                                                                 6 oz        Mosaic
.25#       Honey malt
1#           Flaked Oats

Mineral Additions:                                                           Yeast:
3.6g        (CaS04 – Gypsum)                                             Wyeast 1318 London III
7g           (CaCl2 – Calcium Chloride)

Estimated Original Gravity:                                          1.058 – 1.060
Estimated Final Gravity:                                               1.014 – 1.012
Estimated ABV:                                                                 5.96% – 6.29%

Actual Original Gravity:                                                  1.060

Goal: Hazy IPA with notes of grape, grapefruit, and citrus. Soft body that encourages drinkability.

Perfect day to brew.

It was a beautiful day for a brew day this past Saturday; a brisk 74F with a nice breeze and slightly overcast. You can’t ask for better weather during the first brew day of the year. We started off by heating our strike water up to about ~164F. We have been having trouble with the SS Brewtech Mash Tun holding temperature so we opted to pre-heat it this time, especially with the type of weather outside. It started off at 151F and some change, but eventually heated to 152.3F and held for the full hour. We weighed out our strike water mineral additions and dissolved them in while it was heating up.

Mineral additions for strike water (ignore the dirty table)

We spraged out at 166F and collected 7 gallons of wort. We did mainly late additions with this batch, which is also a bit different than what we normally do with this beer. We did a 10 minute addition of 1oz Nelson and 2oz Mosaic. Once that was done we did a flameout/hopstand of 2oz Nelson and 1oz Mosaic. We are going to do a dry hop on 1/10/18 of 1 oz Nelson and 2 oz Mosaic, then another dry hop on 1/16 of 2 oz Nelson and 1 oz Mosaic. We got the cryo hop version of our Mosaic hops, so hopefully they pack a bigger punch.


Once the boil was over we chilled the wort through our plate chiller and pump (which is a real game changer) to about 77F. Next we added the yeast to the wort and put it in the fermentation chamber that was chilled to 66F. After about 18 hours there was already activity from the yeast, so they were obviously very happy.

Now that we have the inaugural 2018 brew day out of the way, we can start setting up for the next brew day! It will most likely be on 1/20.

Bottle: “Grant Us Eyes” V3.0
Bottle: “Destination: Terror” – Tart Saison with honey and lime zest
Brew:   “One with the Shadows” – Stout*

*Stouts have so far been our Achilles heel. We haven’t brewed one that we were 100% happy with as of yet. We are hoping to rectify that with our next brew day. I’m thinking we are going to make a huge starter this time to avoid stalled fermentation.

Brew Day: Rye Pale Ale

It’s Football season (finally) and what does Football season call for? Session beers. Nothing beats getting our sloth on and vegging out for 7 hours with friends and some beers while watching the games. We’ve been wanting to keg for a while and this just gave us the shot in the arm to do it. This will be our first kegged beer, and it will be tapped at our friends backyard BBQ in the next month or so. While we are excited, we also need to make sure we make a nice sessionable beer that won’t intimidate our non-craft drinking friends.

We decided on a Rye Pale Ale with Denali and Mosaic hops (mostly late additions and dry hops). Denali is a hop I’ve heard a lot about but never used, so why not give it a shot?

Goal: Sessionable drinker that is high on flavor and mild in ABV. Citrus with a shot of tropical fruit on the nose and taste, creamy body, and dry enough to keep you wanting more.

8#           2-Row
2#           Rye Malt
.5#          C-20

.5 oz       Mosaic                  First Wort
.5 oz       Mosaic                  30 Minute
1 oz        Denali, Mosaic    10 minute
2 oz        Denali                   Flameout/Hopstand (20 minutes @ 180F)
Dry Hop                               2 oz Denali, 1 oz Mosaic

Safale US-05


Expected OG:                    Expected FG:                     Expected ABV:
1.048– 1.052                       1.010 – 1.008                      4.97% – 5.7%

Actual OG:

Mash Temp:                       Boil:
154F       60 minutes          60 minutes

One thing to note: We mashed this one a little on the high side. I wanted to try something, we have been getting unreal attenuation our past 3 batches and I’m not sure why. Our NEIPA (which is tasting phenomenal at the moment) got all the way down to 1.008 from 1.064, which not what we expected. We figured it would’ve been 1.012 or 1.010 tops, but it got lower. The beer itself didn’t suffer though, I expected it to be thin and dry, but it actually has a nice body (probably from all the oats) and the flavor is huge. I figured why not experiment with a relatively cheap batch?

Without going into it too much I do believe our fermentation fridge is having issues as well. Maybe not the fridge itself but our temperature controllers’ thermometer may be a bit wonky. Seems the bottom keeps too cold, even though the probe is attached the middle-bottom part of the carboy. I think I solved this issue in the simplest way possible: I put a tray that raises 3 inches under the carboy. It sits higher now and the temp is consistent throughout. Occam’s razor, sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one.

Moving on, the actual brew day was insanely smooth. We started our boil late this time at around 9am. The weather was perfect for brewing, overcast with a high of 77F. Putting a TV in our brewing area (re:garage) was the best decision I think we’ve made. We got to brew and watch football as well as enjoy homebrews. One would call that the trinity.

We got our boiling rolling at about 11:20AM and started adding our hops. The hop additions followed as stated above (60, 30, 10, hop stand). We collected 5.1 gallons of wort with an OG of 1.050, right on par with what we expected. The one thing we did forget to do was add the half pound of flaked oats. Oops. It may have increased the gravity by .02, if at all, so it isn’t the end of the world.

First hop addition, Mosaic.

We chilled the wort down to about 78F after one pass and threw it in the fridge for a couple of hours to bring it down to pitching temp. We let it get to 66F and pitched our yeast and tucked it away in fermentation cooler where it is currently bubbling away.

Hop stand after the boil.

Brown Eye Woke 3.0 has finished fermenting and is currently sitting on about 6oz of coffee beans from Mostra. I had a cup of the coffee today and it is incredible, it will definitely play nicely with the base of the beer. There is another homebrew competition we are entering. It is actually in the town that we grew up in and the brewery that our friend owns is throwing it (Ohana Brewing). I’m looking forward to getting back with him and submitting our beers.

Brew Day: Brown Eye Woke 3.0

This will be our third iteration of Brown Eye Woke, it’s been probably our best received beer since we started brewing. Though a friend of ours made a comment that rang pretty true in regards to this beer: it is pretty one note. This is actually very true. We then decided that we should switch the grain bill up and tweak the recipe just a bit. This led to two things: a bit of extra grain (1 pound extra, no big deal really) and the removal of biscuit malt. We removed biscuit in order to add Chocolate malt and a bit of C-40.

The goal was to add a bit of body to the beer and make the coffee complement the base malts instead of taking it over. Chocolate malt was mainly for color as we only used a half pound. Based off the initial tasting of the wort and the higher original gravity I think we are on the right track.

Grain Bill:
8#           Maris Otter
.8#          Victory
.8#          Brown
.75#       Special Roast
.75#       C-40
.5#          Chocolate Malt

.75 oz    East Kent Golding (45 minute addition)
.75 oz    East Kent Golding (15 minute addition)

WLP002 – English Ale Yeast

Yeast Energizer @ 15 minutes
Whirlfloc            @ 15 minutes

151F                       60 Minutes

60 Minutes

Estimated OG:                  Actual OG:
1.056                                     1.054

Estimated FG:

Estimated ABV:

We started up by heating our sparge water to 160F to keep the mash temperature at 151F during the full hour. It spiked up to 151.7F for a few minutes and then went down to 151F and stayed there for the remainder. I figure this was because of the weather outside. It was 101F while we under our canopy and the clouds kept coming in and out, pretty strange day in that regard. We ended up mashing in a little too much water and had about 7.8 gallons in the kettle instead of 7.5, because of this we missed our target OG by .002 points. I should’ve known to boil for a bit longer but it didn’t even occur to me at the time, call it heat exhaustion.

Mashing out, color and smell on point so far.

First thing that pops to me during the mash out is the color of the wort. Definitely more in line with what the color of a brown ale should be, especially after the 2nd batch was a little on the light side. The aroma coming from the kettle was remarkable as well; nutty, toasty, and caramel/chocolate. It’s a step in the right direction and hopefully the end result is a bit bolder.

We got the boil rolling pretty quickly and added our hops at the scheduled times. We opted against the hop spider for this specific batch because we only used 1.5 ounces of hops. I whirlpooled a little during the transfer through the plate chiller and it got a little clogged but we fixed that issue quickly. We cooled it from 210F to 85F in about 4 minutes. We weren’t happy with the fact we still had to drop the temp 17+ degrees, but it was hot outside so we didn’t want to do a second pass. We threw the carboy in the fridge and cooled it to 68F in about 3 hours.

We pitched our yeast, got everything working in the fermentation chamber and sealed her up. Once the beer has fermented completely we are going to add coffee, as always. This time we are using Mostra coffee. The specific bean being used is Costa Rica Tres Rios Aguas Claras single origin. Mostra describes it as Bordeaux wine, chocolate, and wet wood.  I think that will play very nicely with the base of this beer.

It’s been a while since we have experimented with our batches, so we decided to do exactly that with this one. We are going to siphon off 1 gallon once it has completely fermented and been infused with coffee we will then transfer it onto oak. We previously did something similar with a stout we brewed, we transferred that to a 1 gallon carboy with apple brandy soaked oak. Unfortunately, that batch got pretty oxidized because the bung blew off while I was on vacation. For this specific batch it is going to be just regular oak with no bourbon.  I’m thinking either American or Hungarian chips will be best for this beer.

As a side note, we got the results back from the Maltose Falcons home brewing competition. We didn’t place in either category, but we ranked pretty high with our Saison. We ended up with a 32, which is decent. The pale ale did not fare so well, it ended up with a 22. The pale ale was disappointing because it never rounded into what it was supposed to be. The hop flavor was very diminished, it wasn’t clear, and it never carbed up fully. While it is kind of a bummer, but we are going to continue improve and take home some ribbons eventually. Cheers.

NE IPA: The Gathering Storm

New England IPA’s are the latest and greatest craze in the craft beer world and there is no denying it. They were started on the East Coast (as their name would infer) and focus on a different aspect of IPAs; a fruity, or even “juicy” side. Beers like Heady Topper, Sip of Sunshine, and Susan helped bring this style to life. NEIPA’s are typically unfiltered and have yeast that heavily flocculates giving the beer itself a “hazy” appearance. There is still a lot of research to be done regarding these hazy IPA’s, including why are they hazy? Yeast, Hop residue, and additives such as flour have all been cited as reasons for their appearance, and they all hold some merit. There is no “right” way to make a NEIPA, at least before you start dry-hopping.

One thing about NEIPA’s that are so polarizing is the fact that their very appearance goes against what most brewers are taught from the time they first start brewing: clarity is important. Some commercial examples of these beers look like the trub was dumped directly from the fermenter in your can or bottle. They aren’t particularly nice to look at, but they taste great. The typical west coast “dank” that IPA’s are commonly associated with is all but gone with this style. This is because of a ton of late hop additions in the boil to emphasize the hop flavor and not the bitterness. Typically you see NEIPA’s made with Galaxy, Citra, Mosaic, Denali, Huell Melon, and Amarillo hops—hops that are associated with tropical fruit tastes and smells.

That was a very long winded introduction, but I hope it was at least informative. With that said, this past weekend we re-brewed one of our NEIPA recipes “the Gathering Storm.” We changed things up a bit this time and instead of using Simcoe hops we opted for Mosaic. The first two times we brewed this it was a bit too bitter, and I suspect Simcoe was the culprit. We also changed all of our hop additions around—before we were using a half ounce of hops at first wort and then hopping everything else at 20 minutes, 5 minutes, and a whirlpool. For this iteration of this beer we did not use any bittering hops and waiting until 10 minutes left in the boil to start hopping, with much larger quantities.

Grain Bill:
77%        2-Row
10%        White Wheat
10%        Flaked Oats
3%          Honey Malt

5 oz        Citra (10 minute 1.5 oz, Flame out 1 oz, First Dry Hop 1.5 oz, Second Dry Hop 1 oz)
5 oz        Galaxy (10 minute 1 oz, Flame out 1.5 oz, First Dry Hop 1 oz, Second Dry Hop 1.5 oz)
4 oz        Mosaic (Flame out 1.5 oz, First Dry Hop 1.5 oz, Second Dry Hop 1 oz)

Wyeast 318         London III

Yeast Energizer @ 15 minutes

152F       60 Minutes

60 Minutes

EOG: 1.062-1.066              EFG: 1.014-1.016               EABV:6.29%-6.55%
AOG: 1.064

One other thing I’d like to note: this is the first time we have used WY1318 in any of our NEIPAs. We’ve used it in our Blonde (Dry Hop Naked) but not in the NEIPAs. Why? We always wanted to try something different and see if we can replicate the style with a less “traditional” yeast. We’ve used; WLP090, WLP023, WLP005, WLP644, and WY1335 all of which have had decent results (aside from the WLP023, that was a stinker). So we figured we’d give it a try this time.

Our new toy… SS Brewtech Mash Tun

We warmed our strike water to 163F and used our BRAND NEW SS BREWTECH MASH TUN. Man, it feels great to say that. We’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on it for so long and with the Cooler mash tun developing a leak (re: I broke it) it was finally time to splurge. It worked like a dream and held a constant 152 for most of the mash time. We had a bit of difficulty with the sparge arm but with a gravity set up it’s to be expected. We are going to do some test runs next time.

I’d say this brew day was pretty boring… I mean that because without any hop additions until nearly the end of the boil it gave us a lot of time to talk about future plans and upgrades. We added our first hop addition with 10 minutes left in the boil and it smelled incredible. We haven’t used Citra or Galaxy in sometime and it’s always a treat when they start boiling and releasing those sweet, sweet tropical fruit notes.

Once the boil was over we added our next hop addition as a hop stand. We dropped the temperature from 210F to about 185F and held it there for 30 minutes. Once that was done we got as much wort out of the hop spider as we could and began to chill the wort to pitching temperature.  The temperature was dropped from 180F to 68F in about 10 minutes, incredibly efficient. We pitched our yeast package (pre-swelled) right after and hit it with 20 seconds of oxygen. Put it in the fermentation fridge and let it rest. Our first dry hop addition will be 8/9 and the second will be 8/15. We are hoping to have this bottled by 8/17, which is the day before we leave to Oregon for the eclipse.

Some turbid wort, wouldn’t you say?

We are still waiting for our results from the brew competition held by Maltose Falcons, once we get them we will definitely update you! Cheers.

West Coast Pilsner + Updates

With our fermentation chamber finally built and operating properly we are finally able to brew lagers & pilsners. Not exactly my favorite style of beer, but a good lager is a benchmark of how well you can actually brew. I say this because a lager doesn’t hide behind adjuncts (mostly) and is supposed to taste clean and simple. Any off-flavors are going to be exaggerated because there isn’t a whole lot going on there. With that said, this isn’t an ordinary pilsner.

This is called a “West Coast” pilsner because it’s brewed with a pilsner grain bill but hopped like an IPA. I wanted to call this “Pilsnear” because it’s nearly a pilsner (hur hur) but I was met with anguish towards the name… sometimes I feel my wit goes unappreciated. Anyway, the idea is to create a moderately hoppy summer crusher with a little backend sweetness that you would get from a more traditional pilsner. We had some issues with our mash tun (I broke it opening the garage) and we had a bit more boil off/evaporation than I had originally accounted for so we overshot our OG by about .10 points. That is with a dip in our usual efficiency as well. Our efficiency was about 73% for this batch, down from 77% and 79% from our last two brew days, respectively.

Overall the brewday was fairly simple and we yielded a little less than we wanted, 4.5 gallons, but it’s not the end of the world.

Grain Bill:
10.75 lbs                               Pilsner
.75      lbs                              Cara-Pils

2 oz                                        Saaz Hops
2 oz                                        Noble (Tettnang)
2 oz                                        Cascade
2 oz                                        Amarillo (Dry Hop)

3 packages                          Safale S-23

60 minutes         @            153F*

90 minutes

Expected OG: 1.056 –1.058
Expected FG: 1.012–1.014
Actual OG:1.066
Adjusted FG: 1.015–1.019
Expected ABV: 6.51%–6.7%

*I want to defend my  decision to mash a bit higher than a traditional pilsner for a second. I know the purists hate deviation from the norm, but I feel it is warranted. This is not a traditional pilsner and I want to truly make this a hybrid between an IPA and a pilsner. I will also say this though; because of our cracked mash tun our actual mash temp was about 150F, so I guess it technically worked out…

Semantics aside, it was a very easy brew day. We started at 8:00am and finished by 12:30pm, one of the quickest we’ve had in a long time as well. As noted earlier the mashtun now has a hole in it (that we didn’t notice until about 40 minutes into the mash) so we lost some volume + efficiency on it. We still got 6.9 gallons of wort, though.

We boiled this one for 90 minutes to try and eliminate all the possibilities of producing some DMS in the wort/beer. Granted I don’t think it was 100% necessary I also don’t think it would hurt the beer. We used the hop spider again to get all the nice German hops from clogging our plate chiller. This gave us a really nice cold break and a pretty clear beer, as well.

We brewed this on July 15th and added the dry hops on July 27th. Fermentation was just about done and I raised the temperature from 51F to 66F to get rid of any lingering diacetyl. Once that is done, which I suspect should be by 7/30. I’m going to cold crash and “lager” it for 2 weeks before we bottle.

That’s it when it comes to the brew day, but I have a few more updates I’d like to share.

First would be that we entered another competition. This one is the Maltose Falcons LA county fair homebrew competition. We submitted two beers: The Dark Saison and the SMaSH Volume II. The Dark Saison came out killer. I think it’s the best beer that we have brewed so far. It’s really complex; Caramel, dark fruits, leather, and just enough acidity and funk to keep you wanting more. I have high hopes for it. The SMaSH was entered just to see how well our basics of brewing are. The grain bill is extremely simple (2-Row + African Queen hops) so hopefully if any bad practices/flavors stick out we should be able to fix them relatively quick.

Second would be our hop plants. We planted some Cascade and Centennial hop rhizomes in late May/early June (I forget when exactly) and they are started to sprout some hops. The Centennial bines went crazy and the Cascade bines were lagging behind, looking like a low yield. However over the course of time the exact opposite has happened. The Cascade is full of hops and the Centennial is looking a bit lackluster. Once they are ready to harvest we are going to make Dry Hop Naked 3.0. This is a few months out, but still the thought of brewing with hops we grew is exciting. Cheers.