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.

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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.

IMG-20180218-WA0007
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.

 

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.