I Can Be Your Hero Baby! 4 Awards + 2nd in Best of Show!

Big news guys! Big news indeed! I took one 1st, one 2nd, & two 3rd place awards in the recent SNAFU Memorial Competition. My winning entry in Category 23 Specialty went on to win 2nd in the Best Of Show judging as well! Not bad for a 3.5% Session IPA!

First and foremost I want to say a BIG BIG thank you to my girlfriend who allows our modest apartment to look like a homebrewing bomb went off in it at all times. If you’ve seen a few of the pictures I’ve posted, you know what I mean.

Also, much love to my brewer from another mother Weston Barkley. Not only is he Joseph James’ latest and greatest Assistant Brewer, but he’s also been a huge positive influence on my brewing these last 6 months. Weston & I are pictured below appreciating the finer things in life.

Besides being a bottom, Weston is also an accomplished homebrewer. His 5 awards this weekend put his total into the ‘Dude Let Somebody Else Win Stuff’ classification. Weston & I are supposed to whip up a Raspberry Saison soon for Joseph James to pour at the Montelago Festival on 11/10 (where the ridiculous Polaris DIPA will be flowing), so I am naturally excited. You can’t spell anything in my wheelhouse without farmhouse!

In other news, my homeboy Clyde & I knocked out a heavily hopped Pacific Jade showcase beer yesterday on his awesome Sabco system.

We used Jamil’s Pale Ale with Crystal recipe but got 90% brewhouse efficiency instead of his default 70%, so we have 12 gallons of slightly under-bittered Pacific Jade IPA running right now. The debate now is if 5.6oz of gorgeous Pacific Jade is enough for dry hopping. Regardless, it was a lot of fun to see ye olde Brew Magic in action and I look forward to tasting our first collaborative beer!

Now for the rundown of Saturday 10/20’s SNAFU Memorial Heroic award winners:

1st Place in Category 23 Specialty Beer (and 2nd in Best Of Show) – Purring Kitten Session IPA – Link to recipe I based grain bill & IBU levels on & link to recipe for Purring Kitten itself.

Purring Kitten is an effort I’m very proud of and will soon try to replicate. 2nd out of 160 something entries is a result I’m rather happy with. Dave Otto of Big Dogs, coming off a Silver win at GABF, declared it good but registered his complaints about its lacking ethanol content. That bastard. 🙂

2nd Place in Category 16 Belgian & French Ale for 16C Saison – Feisty Farmhand – Recipe here

While I personally haven’t been blown away by WLP 585 Belgian Saison 3, people have been a fan of this beer. Although, the awards and a recent post by The Mad Fermentationist have me contemplating giving that strain another look.

3rd Place in Category 16 Belgian & French Ale for 16E Belgian Specialty Ale – Sluggish Farmhand – Recipe same as ye olde Feisty one

Hilariously enough, the split batch of Saison De Starter & Saison De Vial that I made a while back became Feisty & Sluggish Farmhand. Sluggish was the side with no starter & I bottled it about a month later than Feisty. I entered both because I’d capped out on entry fees and I wasn’t sure if a Saison with all that late & dry hopping would fly in the 16C Saison category if the judge was a strict traditionalist. On top of all that, Feisty & Sluggish were judged by separate 2 person panels & competed against each other in the mini Best Of Show for the category (of 17 entries).

Honorable Mention in Category 16 Belgian & French Ale for 16E Belgian Specialty Ale – Hay Gurl – Recipe here

Here’s where I really started laughing. Hay Gurl scored well enough for an Honorable Mention and would’ve placed 3rd without the Farmhand saison twins goofing around in there. Admittedly, Hay Gurl is taking an interesting turn now. The Brett tastes a little different from your standard Brett B & besides eating up all the hop aromas it’s also kicking off some chewy meat qualities.

3rd Place in Category 14 IPA for 14A English IPA Burton Hop Party

This was absolutely mind blowing to a hero such as myself. Out of 22 entries, Burton Hop Party placed 3rd. Mind you, this is a beer I don’t particularly enjoy drinking. It seems very muddled, it has some Citra at flameout & in the dry hop, & the finish seems a little off. I got 5 sips in and poured it out about a half hour ago. I plan to re-punch the Category 14 hole. I’m not sure this one was terribly well-deserved. Regardless, it was based on Jamil’s English IPA recipe and I think that’s an even bigger winner if you follow his hop schedule, yeast choice, and all around good advice. I did not and I got a pretty ribbon. Silly stuff.

Just to sum up, I’ve crossed Categories 14, 16, & 23 off the list. These are arguably my best categories, but I’m confident the other 20 ain’t no thing. I definitely need a chest freezer to continue my reign of homebrewing terror.

At any rate, I’m sure more beer shenanigans are just around the corner and I’ll be sure to report them as they come. I’m cracking open a Joseph James Hop Box Imperial IPA right now and intend to enjoy it.

Proost y’all.

Finally Brewed English IPA, Congrats @tonbrewhouse, and Picking Wet Hops with @lostabbey

Hi dearest beer friends! I have a number of things to report to you on this lovely morning. First up is that I finally brewed a batch of English IPA! If you’ve followed along, that’s been about a month and a half in the making now.

I brewed Jamil’s recipe from Brewing Classic Styles but my version has a few tweaks as per usual. I bumped the OG up to 1.073 & upped the bittering hops a little. I also added some Admiral & Citra at flameout. Hop Union’s description on the package of Admiral is pretty dead on: “Pleasant. Hoppy”.

Actually, I changed the hop bill pretty much completely now that I think about it. I just couldn’t resist some Citra at flameout even though my East Kent Goldings hops seemed fairly legit. Quality of EKG apparently can be problematic. My pound from Hops Direct is pretty earthy, sweet sickly floral. It all melds together to give off a little danky licorice.

I also went with WLP023 Burton Ale yeast because its flavor descriptors looked fun & because its optimum fermentation temp range is 68-73. No pesky swamp coolering for this batch! Good thing I decided to link to it. Reviews indicate it might blow the lid off the bucket. I better put it in the bathtub.

My new Thermapen & wort chiller were nice additions to my brewday. The Thermapen is awesome. Quick readings. Good times. It’s only slightly unsettling that I got to mash out before finding out my Thermapen was consistently reading 6-8 degrees lower than my probe thermometer. I’ll make sure my Thermapen is properly calibrated today. I suspect it is, which means I’ve been mashing REALLY LOW for as long as my thermometer has been off. Wort chiller experience was a little off the heezie too because I didn’t find the right fitting to hook it up to the sink at Home Depot. I’m supposed to go back today to find the guy that ‘knows about these things’.

Speaking of iffy brewing, I got good and bad news this morning from the Beehive Brewoff in Utah. 595 entries & no awards for this humble brewer right here. I entered I Am Nelson Pale & the last 3 bottles of Lazy But Belgian. It’ll be interesting to see the score sheets. The good news is that my brewer from another mother Weston “Lil Spoon” Barkley won 1st (in Category 7 Amber Hybrids) for Mongrel, his highly decorated California Common! So congrats to the unstoppable Ton Brewhouse & best of luck in the Best of Show judging.

In other news, on Monday my beer buddy Mike & I drove down to the San Diego area to help Port Brewing/Lost Abbey pick wet hops harvested from a local field. Thankfully they brought them from the field, so we got to pick them in the warehouse. The hops were Nugget & Chinook and they smelled delicious. My nose couldn’t be trusted for days after.

Those guys were amazing hosts and rewarded us big time for our 5-6 hours of free labor. We got unlimited beer while we were hop picking & got to do some special sampling once we finished up. On top of that they sent us on our way with a couple extra bottles of our choosing! If anybody’s going to be in that area or an opportunity that like pops up again, I highly recommend it (and will likely see you there).

Finally, I feel obligated to report that there’s a chance my pursuit of total BJCP dominance could be slightly derailed. I interviewed for the position of head brewer on a 17bbl system in an area brewpub on Wednesday, so until I hear back I’ll likely be tinkering with Hef & IPA recipes AKA the recipes I’d need to develop first for that gig. Here’s a pic of my potential work station:

If I do get the gig, I will do everything I can to either merge this blogging effort into that enterprise OR link everybody to the new brewmaster blog that I’ll start. Rest assured that it is still my goal to master many styles & be an open book about all of my brewing efforts.

Off to the gym. Proost y’all.

English IPA Tasting

A big element of brewing all of these new styles will be becoming familiar with them as well. In the case of English IPA I’ve maybe only tried a handful in the last few years. With that in mind, I acquired the four English IPAs I could find at the local beer spot this evening. Research. Purely research my dear Watson.

BrewDog Old World IPA: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16315/76026

Wow. A lot of biscuit with a little toast in the nose. Lingering caramel toffee note that’s rattling around on my taste buds long after the last sip. I could definitely see trying to caramelize some of the wort and/or using some of the bigger crystal malts to try and achieve these flavors. Might be getting a little fruit and spice from the hops. For an American hop head like myself, I’m more accustomed to my hops being served up unabated. Although as it warms and my defenses to this malty assault rise, I can pick out a little more of the floral elements.

My favorite comment comes from JayQue on BeerAdvocate: “A nice take on the style. Hardly a session beer based on the abv, but I am in the process of drinking the whole bottle, and it is going down very easy.”

This appears to be an attempt at re-creating the original India Pale Ales meant to withstand long voyages, so I’m curious to see how the others compare. It probably wasn’t ideal to drink it first at 7.5% in bomber form, but it was the only one that was cold at the store.

BeerAdvocate score: 84pts

I gave it 4/5 on Untappd.

Meantime India Pale Ale: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/5062/25231

A LOT less toasty malt than Old World. It appears to have arrived on 3/6 and sat on the shelf at room temp for the last 4 months, so if anything I’d expect bigger malt flavors. This is a pretty pleasant & mellow easy drinker. I’d read some talk of using sugars up to 10% (like many Belgians do) and it seemed off base. That is until I experienced the lighter body of Meantime.

A fresher example might give me a better idea of why it’s the 5th highest rated English IPA on BeerAdvocate. Picking up a little fruit. My stuffed up nose sure isn’t helping. I’m amazed that this and Old World are both 7.5%. Old World has a ton more backbone.

The Brewing Network has a Can You Brew It episode on cloning this beer. I might have to give it a shot, just to see what a fresher example can be like: http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/727

BeerAdvocate score: 89

I gave it 3/5 on Untappd.

Samuel Smith’s India Ale: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/113/573

Nothing on the bottle to indicate age. Was also out warm at the store. At 5% I find this to be a totally different animal. It’s got a little backbone and some English floral hop character, but compared to the last two beers it’s hard to believe it should occupy the same category. I’d believe it was brewed in India. But not stronger and hoppier to be sent to India.

Had it in the freezer to cool quickly, so I’ll let it warm up a little. As it warms I get a little more malt character and a little more hop, but it’s a fairly mediocre experience for me. If Samuel Smith’s had a party in town and the India Ale was free all night, I’d only go if everybody else wanted to.

BeerAdvocate score: 84

I gave it 3/5 on Untappd.

Flying Fish HopFish IPA: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/339/21538

Alright, we let the foreigners brew their beer. Let’s see what New Jersey has to offer. Woah! Right off the bat floral hops in my stuffy nose. Columbus is my first guess as far as the hop mix. 6.7% and a very nice citrusy floral beer. Not getting a heck of a lot of English style backbone though.

Looked at their website: http://flyingfish.com/beers/hopfish_ipa.html

A couple things strike me as odd. First is that I think this IPA is mis-categorized on BeerAdvocate (and at my local Total Wine). It’s made with Chico yeast aka White Labs 001 American Ale. It’s all American hops. I am impressed they dry hopped with Nugget and got such a floral character. My Nugget hops have always been pretty spicy with little floral. Also, the 25.3 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) seem awfully low. The range for English IPA is 40-60 IBU according to BeerSmith. It appears to be labeled an American IPA on Untappd upon further review. That IBU number still can’t be right. Regardless, a fairly pleasant beer. I could be stuck with a sixer of much worse.

My favorite BeerAdvocate comment comes from azdback: “Overall I didn’t really like this, but that is because I really don’t like English Style anything. The choice of malts and hops are spot on for the style but really not my choice to enjoy. I will score this with the style in mind though and if English IPA’s are your thing, this might be worth searching out.”

I could not disagree more with my fellow desert dweller. Besides the English crystal malt there is NOTHING English about this beer…other than maybe the lower bitterness that would be too low for the English as well.

BeerAdvocate score: 82 (shockingly as it is wildly not an English IPA)

I gave it 3/5 on Untappd.

English IPA Recipe Formulation

My first beer inspired by this project will be an English IPA. The appeal being that an IPA style beer is relatively in my wheelhouse and the ideal fermentation temps are 68ish. My thermostat is set at 70-72 most of the time (to my lovely girlfriend’s dismay) so a swamp cooler/guest room bathtub could be the ticket.

I love big fruity hops and clean malt bills on my IPAs, so this will indeed force me to open my drinking mind a little. My beers are my babies. I have to love them. Even if they have too much backbone, less than exciting hops & not nearly enough dry hop character. I see I’m selling this style well!

I’m awfully tempted to stick to Jamil Zainasheff’s recipe from Brewing Classic Styles or use an award winner from Homebrewtalk.com forums straight up. No tweaks. Find a baseline.

I don’t know. We shall see.  It’s very difficult for me not to insist on putting my mark on anything I brew, but with styles like this I’m very tempted to go by the book the first time. Surely I could sneak in a little Nelson Sauvin though!

I’ll continue to update as the formulation process moves along. Here are a few links that I’ve found helpful.

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Jamil-Show/English-IPA-The-Jamil-Show-09-22-08

http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style14.php

Yooper’s EIPA recipe: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/need-good-english-ipa-recipe-local-competition-220761/

Award winner from mrbowenz: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/anyone-brewed-ipa-ekg-140192/

Below are my notes so far. You can see where I started debating what style to do and went for the higher fermentation temp. You can also see my blog-related to do list & some commercial examples I can probably find in Vegas.