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 (https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/), 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 (https://www.watersbrewer.com/pages/water-adjustment-sheet), 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

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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)
    Extra
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: 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.

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

Hops:
.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

Yeast:
Safale US-05

Extra:
None

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

Actual OG:
1.050

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.

IMG-20170918-WA0010
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.

IMG-20170918-WA0009
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.

SMaSH Series Volume II: 2-Row & African Queen

One of my worst kept secrets is that I love drinking and in turn making (or trying to make) overly complex beers. When we first started this brew-venture I decided to run full speed before learning the basics. It was a humbling experience that I have definitely strayed away from since then. I’ve come to appreciate simplicity in grain bills and making easy drinkers is pretty satisfying, this is especially true when it is nearly 100F outside on a consistent basis.

Volume II of our SMaSH series was brewed on 7/1. It was made with African Queen hops, that we bought without having to support ABinBev and 2-Row malt. I think the overall goal of this is to have a dry crushable pale ale with some fruity notes. African Queen hops are pretty complex in their own right—citrus, apricot, cherry, and maybe a little bit of spice. We used them in a Dark Saison from a few months ago, but I’m pretty curious to see how they impact a simple pale ale.

One thing I’d like to point out is that we upped the amount of hops in this batch from 4oz to 5oz, because as good as the SMaSH I was, it fell off relatively quickly. Hopefully adding more hops to the recipe aides in that.

Grain Bill:
10 lbs                     2-Row

Hops:
5 oz                        African Queen

Hop Schedule:
.5 oz                       First Wort
.5 oz                       30 minutes
1 oz                        15 minutes
1 oz                        Flameout
2 oz                        Dry Hop (4 days)

Yeast:
1 packet               US-05

Mash:
152F                       60 minutes

Boil:
60 Minutes

Expected OG: 1.050—1.053
Expected FG: 1.012—1.014
Expected ABV: 4.9%—5.1%
Actual OG: 1.052

This was another pretty standard brew day, all things considered. We started early, hit our numbers on point, and finished quickly. We first started heating the strike water to 161F (to account for temperature loss when transferring) and added the grain and water treatment to the water. Since we built the gravity table our efficiency has went up a consistent 5%, which is absolutely welcomed. We collected about 6.9-7 gallons of wort and began our boil.

If you recall we were mulling over the idea of building a hop spider because of our recent issues with the plate chiller clogging. We decided to just build it, because why not? This was our first brew day with it in action. My only issue at the moment is the fact that we used PVC pipe to build the base. It’s the higher quality of PVC that has a higher heat threshold, but it still kind of sketches me out. I think we are going to use a sink drain in the future because stainless steel is an infinitely better option.

IMG-20170703-WA0015
First hop addition – 1/2 ounce @ 60 minutes

We added the hops in as we normally would while utilizing our shiny new hop spider. The hop additions were added as listed in the recipe information. One thing about the African Queen hops; when they are being boiled they smell almost exactly like apricots. Probably one of the better smelling hops I’ve had the pleasure of using.

IMG-20170703-WA0017
Rolling boil with our new hop spider!

We chilled the wort from 210F to about 77F in 5 minutes, and put the carboy full of wort in the fermentation fridge set at 38F for an hour until it hit the pitch temperature of 66F. After it cooled down to pitching temp we took a gravity reading: 1.052, right in line with where we wanted it to be. Next we pitched the packet of Safale US-05 and within 24 hours fermentation was under way.

All in all, successful and smooth brew day. No clugs, no hiccups, nothing except good times and an overall fun day. We bottled the dark Saison we brewed back in May so we should be able to sample those pretty soon. The black IPA is done conditioning as well, we will crack open one of those this weekend on our next brew day.

Next up is the Hoppy Pilsner! This should be fun to mesh a traditional German beer with the classic West Coast Dank. Exciting!

Oh, one more thing. We entered another competition for August. We were going to brew Brown Eye Woke again to submit that but getting word of the competition so late in the registration process we may just send over the Saison or the Black IPA, the taste test this weekend will determine which brew we send. Cheers.

IMG-20170703-WA0016