Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Mash, Three Beers

So I got around to bottling and kegging my Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde beers today. The plan was to bottle all of the Mr hyde, about 26 x 500ml bottles, bottle 6 x 500ml of the Dr Jekyl and then keg the rest of the Dr Jekyl. In the end I actually bottled three different beers.

First off this was a parti-gyle style beer with a big beer (Mr Hyde) and a small beer (Dr Jekyl). This was the first time I had ever attempted this type of brewing and so the brew day threw up some unexpected results, however this has been a process that I have really enjoyed and something that I will certainly try again.

Not happy with just producing two beers when it came to bottling day I decided that it would be interesting to also bottle a blended version of these beers. Due to the fact that they both came from the same mash I thought that this would work well. At the end of bottling day I had:

5 x 500ml bottles and 1 x corny keg of Dr Jekyl - American Pale Ale (4.3%)

18 x 500ml bottles of Mr Hyde - American Double IPA (8.4%)

6 x 500ml bottles of Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde - American Blended IPA (6.35%)

The proof as they say will be in the tasting, and I am really looking forward to trying these three beers in a couple of weeks time. The DIPA tasted really good from the fermenter, boozy but with a great hop kick. The APA on the other hand tasted a little thin but had a great hop flavour, hopefully this will develop a little body during its conditioning.

In a few weeks time I will post the results of the first tasting, I'll try the three beers in one sitting, this will be a little unfair on the DIPA as it will need more time to condition properly, but this should give me a good early indicator of how these beers have turned out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beer Review: Anchor Small Beer

Having recently brewed my Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde big and small beer I was interested to see a bottle of Anchor Small Beer in Hollands of Bray. This beer is made from the second runnings of the mash from which Anchor make their Old Foghorn Barley Wine and at 3.2% it certainly is a small beer, however the situation is helped somewhat by its packaging in a 650ml bottle.

The beer pours a pale amber colour, crystal clear, with a thin white head. Quite an unusual aroma, piney earthy hops are present and there is also a very slight funkiness. Very light bodied as you would expect and very clean on the palate. I would say it is overcarbonated which hides some of the flavour. Dissapointingly this beer lacks much flavour. The lack of flavour is understandable, a beer that is only 3.2% lacks body and an ale with no body lacks the platform on which the brewer can build flavour. The only redeeming feature of this beer is a nice level of bitterness on the finish.

Overall quite dissapointing and not a beer I would buy again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beer Review: Prohibition Ale

A couple of months ago I remember a night in the Bull & Castle consuming copious amounts of prohibition ale on draught, I thought it was a fantastic beer but needless to say the next morning I wished it had not tasted as nice. When I spotted some bottles of Speakeasy's Prohibition Ale in the off-licence I had to pick up a few.

A truly stunning beer.
The beer pours a dark amber colour with a thick off white head. It possesses one of the nicest aromas I have ever experienced, sharp sweetness from the malt is reminiscent of sticky toffee. This is balanced by a lovely citrus grapefruit hop hit. The taste is just fabulous; caramel, toffee and cinnamon are all present, all backed up by a fantastic amount of late kettle hops. Not really a session beer at 6.1% but one you could really enjoy two or three bottles of.

This is truly a stunning beer, an American Amber Ale that ticks all the boxes and one of the best beers I have ever tasted. If you ever see this in bottle, grab as much as you can!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beer Review: Bass Ale

What does Bass taste like now?

Bass Ale, Not what it used to be
Over the summer I had read Pete Brown's book, Hops and Glory, this was a book I really enjoyed. It tells the story of the history of IPA and one of the main 'characters' in the book is Bass Ale. Recently while browsing through the beer shelves I saw cans of Bass and I thought, I wonder what it tastes like now?

Unfortunatley the answer is, not great! The beer pours an unusual red colour that reminded me of red lemonade. A thin white head dissipates quickly. Aroma is actually quite nice, sweet malt with the merest hint of hops. The taste however is very dissapointing, thin and watery to the point of having absolutely no flavour or taste. I know it is a difficult for a brewer to get flavour and body into a beer with such a low ABV (3.8%) however this tastes of nothing.

This is a beer stripped of all of its key components and is a far cry from the Bass that was part of a revolution in beer in the 1800's, however the brewer still clings to this past by proudly stating on the can "traditionally brewed for quality since 1777".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beer Review: 5 Barrell Pale Ale

I have really enjoyed the beers from Odell Brewing that I have sampled over the last few months (St Lupulin Pale Ale, Cutthroat Porter and 90 Shilling Ale) and last night was the turn of their 5 Barrell Pale Ale. On the label for this beer Odell focuses on the part that hops play in the beer, they use four kettle additions, a hopback as well as dry hopping.

The beer pours a lovely amber colour with a small thin white head. There is a very sweet citrus aroma of lemon with a hint of orange on the nose, as it warms up you get a slight minty note from the aroma. Light to medium bodied with a very smooth finish. Lemon flavour carries through to the taste giving an immensely refreshing feel. Quite hoppy but the hop profile is very smooth.

Would make a lovely summer beer. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 17, 2010

AG #5 and #6 - Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde - Brew Day

For some time I have been wanting to change my brew day process in order to maximise my volumes due to the fact that I have less time to brew. With that in mind I decided to brew a parti-gyle beer which would allow me to create two brews from the one mash. Parti-gyle involves using a grain heavy mash and producing one strong beer from the first running and then a weaker beer from the second runnings. I decided to forulate a recipe that would produce an IPA and an APA. The recipe I came up with I called Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde.

One of the challenges with parti-gyle brewing is recipe formulation and gravity calculations and this is the one area where I fell down on this brew. I had estimated that I would be able to produce a beer of 1066 from the first runnings and then a beer of 1040 from the second runnings. The seconds runnings produced a beer of 1043 and so I was happy with that, however the first beer produced a monster of 1122! Obviously I had miscalculated along the way and so in the end I diluted this first beer down to a more manageable 1078.

Here are some pics of the brew day:

A total grain bill of 8.95KG was used, this was supplemented in the second runnings by the addition of 300g of DME. The grain used was Maris Otter, Munich, Crystal and Carapils.

One of the areas that I had struggled with in the past was to keep my mash temperature up, however having insultaed the mash tun much better I managed to only lose 1c over the course of the 60 minute mash. I mashed in at 68c and the temperature only dropped to 67 in the last 10 minutes.

This amount of grain was the most I ever used and certainly tested the max capacity of my mash tun. In fact I could not fit enough water in to give me the water to grain ratio I wanted and so I did a mini sparge of 5 litres to give me my target pre boil volume of 14.5 litres for the strong beer.

The first runnings appear very dark which is what you would expect from a 1122 wort.

No issues with the brew day as a whole (apart from the gravity miscalculation). Did two separate boils and the total brew day lasted 8 hours which was long, but at the end of it I had 20 litres of 1043 APA and 14 litres of a 1078 IPA. Fermenting both with US-05 and the next morning they were both fermenting happily.

Parti-gyle calculations:

Here is how I calculated my gravities, obviously it went drastically wrong somewhere and so if anybody can offer any advice that would be great. In order to get the total mash gravity I put all of the grain into beer tools and set it at a volume of 41.5 litres (14.5 for the big beer and 27 for the small beer). Beer Tools told me that this would give me a total batch gravity of 1044. If I split the batch into 1/3 - 2/3 then I estimated that I should get 1066 from the first third and 1040 from the second 2/3. Now obviously something went wrong as I ended up with 1122 from the first 1/3. Can anyone spot any obvious mistakes from what I did?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beer Review: Dungarvan Copper Coast Red Ale

I have really enjoyed the two beers from Dungarvan brewing that I have tried so far (Black Rock Stout and Helvic Gold). Next up was Dungarvan's take on the traditional Irish Red Ale.
Irish Red Ale, not a style I
can get excited about

The beer pours a rusty red colour with a thin off-white head. Aroma is subdued with sweet malts being the only dominant aroma. Medium bodied with a nice level of carbonation. A nice beer, however it does not provide any standout characteristics. The hops are very subdued, almost invisible (which many will say is in keeping with the style), while the malts are there but don't offer enough of a punch. Also I discerned a very slight metallic aftertaste which didn't help.

Overall very dissapointing after I really enjoyed their stout and blonde beers.

To me, Irish Red Ale is just not a style of beer that you can get excited about. A nice change would be for some of the Irish brewers to go more the route of an American Amber Ale crossed with an Irish Red, this would provide you with the chewy malty background but then also give a nice hop punch that would balance everything out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

AG #2 - Steam Punk - Revisited

I will be the first to admit that one of my weaknesses as a brewer is my lack of patience. I tend to want to get my beers through fermentation and conditioning as soon as possible and never seem to allow beers to develop. Back in the first week in June I bottled my second ever All Grain beer (Steam Punk) and managed to keep back a few bottles which I enjoyed last night.

My conclusion when reviewing this beer at the end of June was that it lacked a decent level of bitterness and that if I was honest it was probably not a beer I would brew again, however 10 weeks later my opinion has changed somewhat.

The beer pours a dark golden colour with a slight red hue. The head dissipates quickly to leave a thin white head. Hops and bready malts are both apparent on the nose, light bodied with a nice level of carbonation. This has developed into a nice smooth beer, the hops have become slightly subdued but a slight pepperiness is still present. Very clean taste and immensely drinkable. This beer has certainly enhanced with age and is something that I think I would brew again. The one thing I would probably alter would be to add some citrus hops, maybe Amarillo, into secondary to give it a nice fresh citrus zing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beer Review: Butte Creek Organic IPA

An IPA that gives equal billing
to its hops and its malt profile.
Described as "a delight for all hop heads" on the label, I was really looking forward to this 6.4% IPA from Butte Creek Brewing.

The beer pours an amber colour with a thin white fluffy head. Aroma is dominated by the hops (citrus predominantly) but there is also a nice sweet malt presence. Medium to full bodied with a big flavour profile. The taste is nicely balanced between the up front hops and the caramel dominated malt. The caramel is nearly cherry like and this is cut through nicely by the hops. However there is surprisingly little bitterness on the end, something that I would have expected from an American IPA.

A really nice IPA that gives equal billing to its hops and its caramel malts, not quite the hop head described on the label, but nonetheless comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

AG #4 - Session Stout, first impressions

This recipe was based on my Standard Stout, however even though I was very happy with that beer (very happy!), I decided to tweak the recipe a bit. This tweaking involved upping the roasted flavour, along with the bitterness, while also changing the yeast.

One problem that I encountered during the brew day was that I missed my volume by quite a bit, this had the result of giving me a beer that was concentrated into 21 litres, but the ingredients were formulated based on a volume of 26 litres. The result of this was to make my "tweaks", major changes! This is apparent in the final brew.

The beer pours a lovely jet black with a thick creamy tan head. The first thing that hits you from the aroma of this beer is the roasted barley, this dominates the smell. This is a full bodied beer with a low level of carbonation, the mouthfeel is very nice with a big deep level of bitterness at the end. I think the yeast certinaly makes a difference in this beer, the Irish Ale II yeast that I used in the original recipe gives a lot smoother taste and also gives a hint of sweetness, whereas I find the Danstar Nottingham yeast used in this version to be quite harsh.

Overall this is a very nice beer, however it just was not what I was looking for from this brew. The roasted taste and bitterness are too strong, also at 5% ABV it is a whole 1% above what I was aiming for. I am hoping that these flavours will mellow and balance over time, in the meantime it is still a beer that I will enjoy. However when brewing my next stout I will revert to the original recipe.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Beer Review: Big Daddy IPA

I have had the pleasure of trying a few beers from the Speakeasy Brewery in San Francisco, both in bottle and on keg, however two beers that I had never tried were their Big Daddy IPA and their Payback Porter, both of which I managed to pick up recently in Drinkstore. The great thing about these two beers is that they come in 650ml bottles, a great size in my opinion.

Big Daddy IPA: you've got to
love the label design.
The IPA pours a light golden colour with a large white fluffy head. Nice strong hop aroma, predominantly citrus with a hint of pine. Low to medium bodied with a nice low level of carbonation. The flavour is all about the hops, citrussy up front, smooth in the middle and a high level of bitterness on the end, finishes very dry making you want to reach for that next sip before the glass has touched the table. Quite strong at 6.5% and this comes across as a slight booziness in the taste.

I like the fact that the hop profile of this beer is quite complex, although it has that traditional citrus hop aroma, the taste it is more multidimensional than that. The citrus is certainly there but it is joined by earthy and piney characteristics. A very nice beer, nothing outstanding, but definitely worth picking up a bottle.

I'll report back soon on the Porter, but if the IPA is anything to go by I know it's going to be good.

Friday, September 3, 2010

AG #5 and #6 - Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde - Recipe

I have been wanting to come up with a Parti-Gyle recipe for a while in order to increase my brew day capacity (due to the fact that brew days are few and far between these days) and so this is what I have come up with:

Total Grain Bill will be:
5200g Maris Otter
2800g Munich Malt
350g Crystal 100 (100g will be added after the first runnings and allowed steep for 20 mins)
150g Crystal 60 (All will be added after the first runnings and allowed steep for 20 mins)
190g Caraipls (.25kg will be added after the first runnings and allowed steep for 20 mins)

This should give me a total batch gravity of 1044. Using a Parti-gyle of 1/3 - 2/3 this should give me an IPA of 1066 and an APA of 1040 (the APA boosted by the addition of 300g of DME late in the boil).

Edit : Check out the brew day post to see how I fared (major gravity miscalculation happened!)

The hops schedules are as follows:

Dr Jekyl - AIPA (14.5 litres) - 6.5%

21g Chinook - 60 mins
32g Cascade - 15 mins
32g Amarillo - 1 mins
35g Cascade - 1 mins

IBU's approximately 67

Mr Hyde - APA (27 litres) - 3.9%

15g Chinook - 60 mins
20g cascade - 15 mins
22g cascade - 10 mins
20g cascade - 5 mins
20g cascade - 1 min

IBU's approximately 30

Hoping to brew this up next week and will report back with how it all went, this will be my first attempt at this type of process (i.e. Partigyle) and so I expect an eventful brew day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beer Review: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

A love the big bitter slap
in the face that the 90 Minute
IPA delivers.
I have been looking forward to this beer ever since I tried its stable mate, the 60 Minute IPA. The name of this beer comes from the fact that during the boil part of the brewing process the wort is continually hopped for 90 minutes.

The beer pours a lovely amber colour with a thick creamy white head. Fantastic citrus hop aroma, that is slightly sharp on the nose. Medium bodied with a creamy texture, hop flavour at the beginning is replaced by a big bitter slap across the face at the end, fantastic stuff. The hop bitterness comes in quickly and lasts long after your mouth is dry. Despite the powerful bitterness and the 9% ABV this is immensly drinkable and you need to be careful as you would quickly forget the ABV as you reach for another bottle.

This is the extreme end of the hop scale, but Dogfish have taken this one step further with their 120 Minute IPA; a beer I have to try. Buy this beer now!