Friday, January 6, 2012

Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork (Batch #5)

I aborted Batch #5.......I guess I'm pro choice. It didn't feel good, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

It hadn't yet developed into a beer....just a sickly resemblance of what could have I decided to dump it.... and I hope it doesn't effect beer and I's relationship.

Loading Mercury with a pitchfork, and my truck is almost full......well, we'll how batch #6 turns out (fingers crossed).

I may have to go back to square one.......

*Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork is from Richard Brautigan

Friday, December 30, 2011

Coffin Varnish (Batch #4)

It feels like the days of prohibition here in the Homegrown household...... Dumping beers down the drain, getting a case of bootlegged Pliny the Elder....  Chaos and Order, like these warm nights in Winter, and instead of snow, we get a crazy thunderstorm!!

I have my first spoiled batch.... almost inevitable for every home-brewer. I am pretty sure where I went wrong, at least i hope so, or I will have a much larger problem with the two batches fermenting as we speak. It has been heartbreaking dumping all my precious Giggle Water down the sink. I hope I never have this happen again. It's many hours of work, waiting, enjoyment and wonderment, all down the drain. Oh yeah, and the greenbacks from my wallet. Sad for sure, but it has taught me a lesson, and made me a bit more aware and thoughtful of my process.

As I have stated before, I LOVE HOPS, I love the bitterness, I love the flavor, I love the Aroma. So with each of my batches, I add a little extra hops here and there, I dry hop every batch, and I also make a Hop Tea, that I add post boil, before primary fermentation.... and with this last batch I added hop tea at bottling time, thus my infected beer.(I hope that's where it came from).

When I had made my previous Hop Teas, I use boiling wort and Hops in a sanitized French Press, and let them sit about 5-10 minutes, press and add into carboy. I have had successful results, or at least I was yet to have an infection in my beer. Well this last batch I decided that the hop tea would be better noticed when adding at bottling time. It was a blunder for sure. I used the priming sugar/water pint to use in the french press with my hops, I didnt add it to the press at boiling temp and I made a mess when pressing it out, spillage, spray and a fumbling pour. After all of this, I am going to stay away from the tea for a bit.

So what does this spoiled beer taste like?? Sour apple warheads, (just the sour part), alcohol burn, and whatever a bitter-asshole would taste like ;]

On a lighter note, I just got hooked up with a case of Pliny the Elder...oh man,  yes a case!....24 500ml bottles of Hop Heaven. It was a special delivery, straight from Santa Rosa, brewery fresh, bottled 10 days prior and 10 hours in the car!  Thanks Calvin and Lauren!!!!

Stay tuned for a post on the great "Pliny the Elder" from Russian River Brewing

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beer for Breakfast (Batch # 3)

As I was enjoying the last glass of my third batch of Homegrown Suds, I realized I had never taken a picture of the beer yet!!!  Luckily I got a photo just in time, amid a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment and learning.

This batch tested my patience for sure, and taught me some lessons. I feel I have grown as a brewer with this one. I will know if this is all true with my next couple of batches, making some adjustments.

I went into this beer, hoping for a dry, light bodied, and highly hopped ale. What I got was a roller coaster of tastes. Because I have little patience and want to drink my beer too early, I began opening these bottles way too soon.  I started drinking them with no carbonation, because they were so good. Then I became worried that I never primed them right at bottling time, because over time the carbonation was very minimal. I initially began cellar the beer in the basement, the cool basement of Fall. Big mistake. I realized it was too cold downstairs for the bottles to condition in a timely manner so I moved them upstairs to a warmer climate. Long story short; in one week I gained the carbonation that I should have had three weeks ago.

This was also a flavor evolution. In my first tastings, the beer was incredibly hoppy. I added a decent amount hops in the boil, a hop tea i added into the primary, and a nice dry hop; at this point the beer lacked bitterness but had lots of aroma and flavor. Then over the next couple weeks, from behind the green flavor erupted a dominate sweetness of honey and toffee, still holding a lot of the aroma and flavor hops, and gaining carbonation. At this point I had already moved the beer upstairs to condition(3 weeks). Over the next two weeks, until now, as I am enjoying this last beer, the flavor balanced out, and finally the bitterness presented itself. I am not really sure why or how that happened, but the sweetness on the front of the tongue met its match with bitterness that held to the sides and back of the pallet.

Overall pretty good, I wont do this same recipe again, though it was plenty great!!!  My next batch, #4 ready to drink in a week or two, in recipe is quite similar. So we will see!!

What I have learned;

1) Crystal Malts (c and #, ie C30) add a sweetness to beer. These sugar molecules are harder for the yeast to eat and convert, there fore lending sweeter flavors to the beer.  Using a malt like 2 row in conjunction with other malts, has high enzyme power can help break these sugars down better for the yeast to enjoy. This I solve as I mini mash more, and move to all grain.

2) Patience.  Since I am not kegging yet, I cant force carb and enjoy my beer sooner, I have to wait. This next batch I am not opening a bottle until the three week mark. And not until 4 plus weeks will multiples get drank. I am wasting beer drinking it before it is at it best or better flavor.

3) Yeast, leave them alone and let them work their magic. Yeast are quite mysterious, and behave different beer to beer. As I do more batches, I have realized to just let them do there thing, and everything should turn out great.

4) Temperature, Since fall has rolled in the basement has dropped about 10 degrees cooler. I put a space heater down there and began a battle to control the environment. I began having fluctuations in fermenting temps, (we will see if this has effected the 5th batch), and slow fermentation and bottle conditioning. I have found with batch 6, a steady low heat keeps me at an ideal 68 degrees in the cellar.I had an awesome ferment this week.  Lets see if Lindsey kills me over the Power bill!!!


Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Home Brew

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fresh Hop Madness

I have been anticipating the release of this beer for nearly a year, and finally here it is!!!

Leafer Madness
Imperial Pale Ale
2011 Fresh Hop Edition
22oz Bottle

Once a year Beer Valley Brewing Company releases 2 Fresh Hopped versions of their beer; Black Flag Imperial Stout and Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale. They use local hops fresh off the vine, right here in the treasure valley, from Hop farms near the Snake River. Other brewing companies here in the Northwest release Fresh Hop beers, mostly a month earlier than this one. But because Leafer Madness is an Imperial Ale, it takes a bit longer to age and condition. And we are all well rewarded for our patience.

Another fun fact; Idaho is the 3rd largest Hop producing state behind Washington and Oregon. Idaho also houses the largest Hop Farm in The World!!!(unfortunately owned by A-B_ig Bad Beer company to use in their flavorless beer) -Whoa! easy on the negative vibes brah ;]

Anyways, this beer is so great, local brewery, local ingredients, big and heady!! Madness!!! 
This beer being freshly hopped, has a different taste than your regularly hopped beers. I'd say the flavor is a bit more bright, clean and fresh, like a cool bowl of salad hiding subtly in your glass of brew!! 
This beer has smooth hop flavor; flowery, herbal, and grassy. The aroma is flowery and piney; like sitting in a sunny meadow in late spring, that shines in the dark depths of a  pine forest. Yes magical, and you feel this magical as you drink the Leafer Madness.

After the pour, a huge white beautiful creamy-soft head develops, just like whip cream on a caramel latte. But  instead of a long day ahead, I suggest you take the afternoon off and drift away on a puffy cloud, of Leafer Madness!!

The malt is big in this beer, to make a 9% ABV, but balanced by loads of fresh hops from right here in Idaho. There is a forward sweetness, bready and grainy, with a soft deep hazy-orange color. Though the pleasant malt paves the way for a  hop-dank explosion, and the hops are what this beer is all about. The mouth-feel is medium, initial sweetness with a mild dry finish. Initial tastes picks up a citrus rind bitterness in the back and sides of tongue, that disappears with more drinks, and the other malt and hop flavors come forth. Some sweet and spicy/minty, flowery and lightly herbal/grassy. Flavor has it all!!

One shop has sold out for the year, I hope to have a couple more before they are gone....and then I will have to wait for next years late summer and fall, for another round of fresh hopped beers from the great Northwest.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Earth, Wind, and Beer....Hop Notch

Thank You Uinta!!!

This beer truly is Hop Top Notch, Top Hop Notch, Top Notch, and Hoptastically Fantastic.
 ** Say that 3 times fast **

How such a wonderful beer comes from Bizzaro-world Mormon land, I have no idea. But you would be quite surprised, Utah actually has a great beer culture, and has breweries that have been turning out fantastic beers for years; even in Utah!!! Enough of that stuff though...what really matters here is Hop Notch....   This is my new favorite IPA, and beer for that matter, hands down....Note: Uinta made great beer before they made awesome labels, *these are hot!!!  Up to par with Odells Brewing, Laurelwood Brewing, and Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada 'Life and Limb' bottle.....But that's whole other post I can do another time....

*Nonetheless, check out this link to their new label artwork....
Uinta Label Revamp

oh yeah... Fun Fact; On March 24th 2009 Utah finally made home-brewing Legal!!!  That only leaves Alabama  Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. -Wow!! They must think the Devil himself is a home-brewer. Thank you hey-zeus for beer!!!

Hop Notch IPA
7.3% ABV
12oz Bottle

This beer is almost as fresh as it gets, two weeks in the bottle, from SLC to Boise. Bought at our local co-op.
The pour is easy, good carbonation and decent one finger head. The color is a clear/light amber, and bright.(not hazy) This beer has great aroma, I'm guessing because it is pretty fresh.

Fruity and Pine aroma, very inviting, and refreshing. Light sweet malt body with a clean finish(not to dry/not too sweet-perfect??), and very mild bitterness. This beer is very easy to drink, and is great for those who Love Hops!!!

The initial hop flavor is fruity and flowery, and finishes with a pine/grapefruit flavor in the back half of the mouth. The malt is pretty light, lightly sweet up front, with a smooth dry finish. The mouth is medium light, and clean. Very easy to drink, a throw-down session beer, if you want to get a little hammered!!!  Perfect, for bigger guys like me, effects of what a normal pale ale would give a smaller man.

Thank you to Utah breweries, this state makes really great beer!!!(to name a few; Wasatch/Squatters, Epic, Bohemian, etc....check them all out)

Keep your Mormons, but please keep sending your Beer!!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Batch #2, Come and Gone

Homegrown Suds Ale #2......we could call it China Red, Clifford the Big Red Ale, Amulet Imperial Amber, Forest Floor Ale....who knows,  I never actually coined the beer properly, but it did turn out pretty well. With refinement and experience, I will re-visit this custom recipe and see how to improve.

Batch #2 was a bit over my head, but not anything I couldn't handle. I just had never Mini-Mashed before, (halfway between extract brewing and doing all grain batch). I had a vague idea what I wanted for this beer to be, I just wasn't sure if the end result would mirror my plan.  The amazing thing, it turned out just as I hoped it would!!
My hopes were for an Ale that was big, malty and smooth, with a healthy mouthful of hops in it. I wanted my hop profile to be earthy, woody, minty, spicy and somewhat floral, but still leaving room for a substantial malt framework.

I did my first mini-mash, and it went pretty smooth. With nearly four pounds of grain; 2-Row Pale Malt, Chocolate Malt, Crystal 120, and Cara-red/C30, I mashed at approximately 150 degrees, and managed to pull out the sugars I needed, something like +20 gravity points with my hydrometer reading. I am not far enough along to know my efficiency, or my malt character dependent on my mash temperatures.....but that will come in due time. The rest of the sugars came from 7 pounds of Amber and Pale Malt extract. I was going for a big beer and I got it, getting about 7.5% ABV.

Hops used were Northern Brewer as a bittering hop, Perle and Willamette Hops for flavor, and Cascade -Willamette mix, for flavor and aroma at flame-out, as well as a Dry Hop in secondary. 

Bottle conditioning required more time for this batch, at three weeks, it still had a green flavor. But weeks four and on it was ready to drink, and was enjoyed. I am sure with more aging #2 will get even better, fortunately or unfortunately, I drank them all and gave plenty away. I guess I will have to brew more Beer!!!!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A somewhat Pale....Pale Ale

The first beer I've ever made, from stove to bottle, assembled by me(and Lin). Pretty cool!! Its like growing your own vegetables, or cooking your dinner from scratch, and other DIY things I love!!

  I am also impressed that through the process, nothing went wrong, whatsoever. I had heard stories from some local home-brewers about their mishaps through the first batch or two....infected batches, bottle bombs(over-carbonation and a mess), broken thermometers in the wort, broken hydrometers, boil-overs(another BIG mess), off flavors, etc...

This homegrown suds batch went off without a hitch, and doesn't taste too shabby either!!  Its color is somewhat pale, has a nice head, and a good body with it.  Flavor-wise, it seems to be where it should be, not too malty, and not too hoppy.-- even though I dry hopped it to kick it up a notch.

One thing I notice this beer vs a store bought Pale Ale that I am trying to mimic; My beer has more body to it. After a drink, it is heavier in the mouth, and has a little more sweetness to it, -but not amber ale sweet. I do think the sweetness has a good hop balance, and my aroma from dry hopping is slightly noticeable, but in being a hop-head, I want more Hops!
A store bought Pale, has a drier finish, a touch more crisp, and the sweetness it a bit better balanced with stronger flavoring hops.

I am saving some bottles to age longer, maybe though a little more cellar time, they will crisp up a little bit, and the flavors come together a little more.  I'll let you know.........

All in all, I'm quite happy with my first batch....its almost gone already!! And the next batch is working, and after that there will be another batch...... so my friends, stay tuned and keep your pints half full, and your suds a bubblin'!!