My Latest IPAs! Full Tasting Notes, Recipes, and Water Profiles.

Hello heroes!

Sorry for the sporadic updates. Rest assured my brewing has been cruising along at anywhere from 1 to 3 brews a week. Lately I’ve been tinkering around with the ideal water profile for an IPA and all sorts of hop combinations, grain bills, & yeasts along the way.

I thought it was about time I put up an update on all the IPAs, recipes, water profiles used, etc.

First up is Water Tweaker IPA (also known as Jamil Says & Like Father Like Son):

Brewed 11/25, Kegged 12/19, Bottled 1/6, Tasted 1/13

Tasting Notes

Nose – Luscious peach, light floral and resin, clean hop punch

Flavor – Interesting dynamic from a drier water profile & maltier (for me) IPA grain bill, good mouthfeel, pleasant finish, light fruit, apricot, resin, delightful rounded fruity flavor

Water Profile (according to Bru ‘N Water) was: 88.4 Calcium, 20.9 Magnesium, 8 Sodium, 152.7 Sulfate, 4 Chloride,  & 83.2 Bicarbonate with an Alkalinity of 69 and a Residual Alkalinity of -7. I mashed at 149 and the mash was 5.45 pH. All of my salt additions went into the mash and I sparged with RO. (Additions: 4.34g Gypsum, 7.2g Epsom, 2.09g Lime, 3mL Lactic Acid)

Recipe

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 9.03 gal
Post Boil Volume: 7.11 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.63 gal
Estimated OG: 1.068 SG
Estimated Color: 6.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 66.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 87.8 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
12 lbs 12.0 oz        Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        86.4 %        
12.0 oz               Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)             Grain         3        5.1 %         
1 lbs                 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 15L (15.0 SRM)    Grain         2        6.8 %         
4.0 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)    Grain         4        1.7 %         
2.0 pkg               Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) [35 Yeast         12       -             
30.00 g               Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           5        49.1 IBUs     
12.00 g               Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min         Hop           7        3.9 IBUs      
12.00 g               Mosaic [12.70 %] - Boil 10.0 min         Hop           6        3.8 IBUs      
16.00 g               Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min          Hop           9        4.4 IBUs      
19.00 g               Mosaic [12.70 %] - Boil 5.0 min          Hop           8        5.1 IBUs      
28.00 g               Mosaic [12.70 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           10       0.0 IBUs      
14.00 g               Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           11       0.0 IBUs      
57.00 g               Mosaic [12.70 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days     Hop           13       0.0 IBUs      
33.00 g               Nugget [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days     Hop           14       0.0 IBUs      
27.00 g               Mosaic [12.70 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days      Hop           16       0.0 IBUs      
31.00 g               Nugget [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days      Hop           15       0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               Mosaic [12.70 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days      Hop           17       0.0 IBUs

Next is Citrus Bomb 1 (also known as CB1 and Wayward Citrus Bomb 1):

Brewed 12/3, Kegged 12/25, Bottled 1/6, Tasted 1/13

Tasting Notes

Nose – Dank peach, over-ripe melon, grainy malt, apricot, boozy fruit cocktail

Flavor – Lemony, tangy, mandarin oranges, very light malt presence, finish has some roundness, not a long lingering dryness, not intensely bitter. Very clean with bitter lemon, plum, citrus, & some white grape/winey notes.

Water Profile was: 102.5 Calcium, 21.1 Magnesium, 18.4 Sodium, 231.9 Sulfate, 40.4 Chloride, 28.9 Bicarbonate with an Alkalinity of 24 and a Residual Alkalinity of -62. Mash was 152 and pH was 5.52 and I sparged with all RO. (Additions: 8.98g Gypsum, 7.31 Epsom, .92g NaCl, 1.5g CaCl, 1.01 Lime, 2mL Lactic Acid)

Recipe can be found here.

After Citrus Bomb 1 you must have Citrus Bomb 2! As you’ll recall these were the 2 brews I did for the ‘Average Brewday’ tab.

Brewed 12/3. Kegged 12/30. Bottled 1/6. Tasted 1/13.

Tasting Notes

Nose – Fruit, a little dank fruit cup, tropical with piney forest notes, over-ripe mandarin orange, grassy resin. Side note – I’ve noticed Nelson can add some boozy notes that make you think there are fusels or ‘alcohol burn’.

Flavor – Dry with slightly minerally finish, some rich fruity notes – dries out to very clean finish. Might need slightly more malt backbone for Tasty McDole’s water profile. White grape winey notes with dank undertones.

Water Profile was (very close to what Mike ‘Tasty’ McDole does for all of his water): 110.3 Calcium, 19 Magnesium, 31.9 Sodium, 318.4 Sulfate, 54.9 Chloride with an Alkalinity of -50 and a Residual Alkalinity of -140. Mash was 152 and pH was 5.52 and salts were split evenly on a per gallon basis between the mash and sparge water. (Mash Additions: 8.02 Gypsum, 3.54 Epsom, 1.07 NaCl, .57 CaCl, 2 mL Lactic – Sparge Additions: 6.95 Gypsum, 3.04 Epsom, 1.07 NaCl, .42 CaCl)

Recipe can be found here.

Believe it or not I have more IPAs in my chest freezer! The next one is Thirst For Burst IPA. Both TFB and the Purring Kitten 5 Session IPA were inspired by this recipe in the Nov/Dec 2013 Zymurgy magazine:

20140115_232542

Brewed 12/9, Kegged 1/6, Tasted 1/13

Tasting Notes

Aroma – Rich danky fruit, tropical and floral spicy resin. Light mandarin orange – very Enjoy By-ish with no one signature hop but plenty of hop character. Light pineapple as it warms.

Flavor – Danky spicy resin. Fruit with an immediate dank punch, pleasant but light malt, lingering dryness. No doubt this is an IPA. No ups and down in the flavor wave – just a deliberate hop punch.

Water Profile was: 107.9 Calcium, 21.4 Magnesium, 28.8 Sodium, 321.4 Sulfate, 51.4 Chloride, 16 Bicarbonate with an Alkalinity of 13 and a Residual Alkalinity of -76. Mash was 150 with a pH of 5.31. All salt additions went into the mash. (Mash Additions: 14.48 Gypsum, 7.43 Epsom, 1.81 NaCl, 1.11 CaCl)

Recipe

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 9.03 gal
Post Boil Volume: 7.11 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.63 gal
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Estimated Color: 5.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 56.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 84.4 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
8 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        61.5 %        
2 lbs                 GW Pale Malt (2.0 SRM)                   Grain         2        15.4 %        
1 lbs                 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 15L (15.0 SRM)    Grain         3        7.7 %         
8.0 oz                Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)             Grain         4        3.8 %         
2.0 pkg               California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35. Yeast         14       -             
35.00 g               Columbus (Tomahawk) [15.30 %] - Boil 15. Hop           8        18.1 IBUs     
40.00 g               Galaxy [15.40 %] - Boil 15.0 min         Hop           6        20.9 IBUs     
40.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.60 %] - Boil 15.0 min  Hop           7        17.1 IBUs     
35.00 g               Columbus (Tomahawk) [15.30 %] - Boil 0.0 Hop           10       0.0 IBUs      
30.00 g               Galaxy [15.40 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           12       0.0 IBUs      
30.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.60 %] - Boil 0.0 min   Hop           13       0.0 IBUs      
31.00 g               Centennial [8.90 %] - Boil 0.0 min       Hop           11       0.0 IBUs      
38.00 g               Motueka [7.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           9        0.0 IBUs      
1 lbs 8.0 oz          Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM)          Sugar         5        11.5 %        
31.00 g               Motueka [7.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 Days     Hop           15       0.0 IBUs      
30.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 D Hop           16       0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               Galaxy [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 Days     Hop           17       0.0 IBUs      
20.00 g               Centennial [10.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 Days Hop           18       0.0 IBUs      
23.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Da Hop           20       0.0 IBUs      
25.00 g               Galaxy [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days      Hop           19       0.0 IBUs      
21.00 g               Centennial [10.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days  Hop           21       0.0 IBUs      
18.00 g               Citra [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days       Hop           22       0.0 IBUs

Purring Kitten 5 Session IPA should also get a mention because it’s delicious.

Brewed 12/9. Kegged 1/6. Tasted 1/13.

Tasting Notes

Aroma – Rich pineapple, cherry, complementary malt – like a bright fruit cocktail. Some plum, nose is big and bold. Carbonation level makes a big difference on how well this one pops.

Flavor – Balanced hoppy finish. Doesn’t taste 4%. Light bodied with a clean finish & not terribly long dryness. A lingering slight biscuit note with strong hop flavor.

Water Profile was: 103.2 Calcium, 18.8 Magnesium, 19.4 Sodium, 222.6 Sulfate, 38.2 Chloride, 74.6 Bicarbonate with an Alkalinity of 62 and Residual Alkalinity of -23. Mash was 149 with a pH of 5.32. All salts went into mash. (Mash Additions: 9.03 Gypsum, 6.51 Epsom, .95 NaCl, 1.19 CaCl, 1.11 Lime, 1 mL Lactic Acid)

Recipe

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 8.51 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.59 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.13 gal
Estimated OG: 1.043 SG
Estimated Color: 7.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 48.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 81.8 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
6 lbs                 Great Western Pale Malt (2.0 SRM)        Grain         1        64.7 %        
1 lbs 4.0 oz          Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                    Grain         2        13.5 %        
8.0 oz                White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         3        5.4 %         
5.1 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt - 30L (30.0 SRM)    Grain         5        3.5 %         
5.1 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)    Grain         6        3.5 %         
4.0 oz                Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                 Grain         7        2.7 %         
6.1 oz                Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)             Grain         4        4.1 %         
4.0 oz                Victory Malt (25.0 SRM)                  Grain         8        2.7 %         
2.0 pkg               East Coast Ale (White Labs #WLP008) [35. Yeast         15       -             
41.00 g               Citra [11.70 %] - Boil 15.0 min          Hop           9        17.5 IBUs     
30.00 g               Galaxy [15.40 %] - Boil 15.0 min         Hop           10       16.9 IBUs     
29.00 g               Simcoe [13.20 %] - Boil 15.0 min         Hop           11       14.0 IBUs     
51.00 g               Citra [11.70 %] - Boil 0.0 min           Hop           12       0.0 IBUs      
40.00 g               Galaxy [15.40 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           13       0.0 IBUs      
30.00 g               Simcoe [13.20 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           14       0.0 IBUs      
30.00 g               Citra [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 Days      Hop           16       0.0 IBUs      
25.00 g               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 Days     Hop           18       0.0 IBUs      
34.00 g               Citra [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days       Hop           20       0.0 IBUs      
37.00 g               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days      Hop           19       0.0 IBUs      
33.00 g               Galaxy [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 9.0 Days      Hop           21       0.0 IBUs      
30.00 g               Galaxy [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 17.0 Days     Hop           17       0.0 IBUs

The fruits of all of this brewing labor have been wonderful and intoxicating. I sent a few of these beers off to competitions and I’ll be sending more soon. I’ll be sure to update on how everything does.

For the sake of water profile comparison here’s an excel sheet: WaterProfiles01-15-14. At this point, if you put a gun to my head and made me take one of these water profiles for IPA brewing eternity, I’d take the ‘Safe Play IPA’ water I put together for Citrus Bomb 1. I think it’s well-geared for IPAs but I get the impression it would stand up better to both West Coast hop bombs and a little more malt-forward takes on the style.

The Tasty McDole profile with higher sulfates was quite nice on Thirst For Burst but a little over the top (it seemed) on Citrus Bomb 2. Obviously grain bill, hopping, mash pH, yeast, etc can play huge roles as well….and probably did. Dialing in a water for the specific beer you’re crafting looks like the ideal way to go to me.

I’ve already re-brewed Water Tweaker with slightly more aggressive water, slight grain bill tweaks and Simcoe in the mix with the Mosaic & Nugget. I also plan to continue pursuing hop bursted IPAs like Thirst For Burst, as I’m a big fan of Stone’s brand of hop bomb and I think that immediately ushers you into the ballpark.

Time to keep scouring the interwebs for more water knowledge. Until next time friends.

10 Awards In One Night & French Saison Wine!

Yep. Saturday was obviously a good night. To celebrate I brewed an Amber with Chinook & Motueka hops and drank beer with friends. Although I would’ve done the same with no awards. It’s always a celebration when you’re a homebrewer!

Oh, I also sent my good buddy Weston Barkley a big thank you because he helped shape me into an award-winning homebrewer and not just a talented yet wayward smoke particle.

Anyway, here were all my winners:

Helles Too Good For You took 1st in both the Nevada State Homebrew Championship and Novembeerfest 2013 in WA. I knew I’d drank enough Weihenstephaner Original Premium to know a good Helles when I made one. The bottles I sent to Reno were a little flat from the beer gun, while the bottles that went to Washington should’ve been pretty dead on.

Dortmund! Borussia Dortmund! Dortmunder Export took 2nd in Novembeerfest for light lager. If you’ve been following along, that was the over-sized Helles 2 on WLP 830 from Big Dog’s. It was my only entry to fall short at the NV Championship and those bottles were also a little flat.

Wag The Dog Northern English Brown won the English Brown category at Novembeerfest. I would like to give it a little more chocolately, biscuity, malt backbone if I make it again, but it turned out nicely.

Mr. Bubbles Russian Imperial Stout (despite its smaller stature and weird minty hopping) got 3rd in Stouts at the NV competition. Sadly I only have one bottle left.

U Bottle It’s U Hop It IPA got 2nd in IPAs in Reno and the winner of the IPA category took Best In Show, so I feel really good about that result!

Breakfast In Antwerp Oatmeal Saison got 2nd in Belgian & French and my buddy Clyde got 3rd for his Belgian Pale in Reno! I’m drinking the re-brewed version of that beer right now in fact! Nelson & Mosaic are a wonderful combo!

It’s A Celebration Bitches! Smoked Dubbel took 1st in Wood-aged & Other smoked beers in Reno! I was waiting for the Best Of Show results and really hoping against all hope that a smoked beer had a shot. I was correct in thinking it didn’t.

Purring Kitten Session IPA (on WLP 006) & Unwanted Kitten (on WLP 002) both took 2nd in category 23 Specialty in Reno & WA. It is kind of a cool feeling to win the same award with a batch split on 2 different yeasts. As you can tell from the naming, I much prefer the beer on WLP 006 British Bedford. It adds a malty less hollow dimension that California Ale & English Ale have trouble providing.

I’ll try to get more of the recipes up on the Homebrewtalk forums, but anyone is free to leave a comment or email me and ask.

In other news, I’ve now brewed a Pale on WLP 041 Pacific Ale with Nelson & Citra, an Amber on a blend of WLP 041 & WLP 007 Dry English, & a Brown with Nugget, Chinook, & Galaxy hops on WLP 039 East Midlands (which apparently used to be called Nottingham). All of those beers fall in Category 10 American Ale, so if I can’t win something in 10 I’ll really have to go back to the drawing board.

My next 2 ‘brews’ will be a Kolsch with Calypso hops and a Petit Sirah red wine on Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. My plan is to age this weird wine on French oak chips and then age beers on those used chips. Who knows how it will turn out. All I have right now is a can & 3 smacked packs of glory (the can mentions mixing in an acid blend at the start so I’ll get that tomorrow):

wine adventure

I’m sure I’m doing something horribly ill-advised, but I can always sour it and/or add Brett right? Or maybe I can find a competition for wines done with ale yeast. Sky is the limit!

I’m tired. Time to go to bed. Brew on brewing brothers and sisters. Because you know I will!

Brewing Contest Entries

Hi friends!

In my last update I laid down the gauntlet for myself and decided I was going to max out my entries for the Nevada State Homebrew Championship. Nevermind the fact that most of the beers weren’t brewed.

True to my word I’ve brewed 4 times since the last update and will brew at least 2 more beers this week. Here’s the NV Championship rundown:

1. Purring Kitten Session IPA – Because I wanted to use the 2 three gallon carboys this batch was in and I’d heard Jamil discussing the surface area benefits of double dry hopping, I transferred both the WLP 002 & 006 sides to kegs and added Mosaic & Citra hops (as well as Biofine). The Kitten will be a slightly different animal than last time with the higher gravity & added hopping. I didn’t taste the beer but both sides smelled like hops were making sweet love to my whole olfactory situation.

2. Helles Too Good For You is still lagering away happily. Color looks good. For some reason I have total confidence in the 4 different lager yeasts I blended for it. I transferred the previous Helles batch that was on Big Dog’s Imperial Pilsner WLP 830 yeast and it tasted nice. Fairly dry and a touch bitter but good malt aroma.

3. King Kong Ain’t Got Ish On Me Belgian IPA – Both sides (WLP 400 & 410) cranked along pretty well. This was my 2nd experience with 410 aka Belgian Wit II. My first experience involved some open fermenting and a near cat fatality. Despite leaving a solid amount of head space, this second experience was quite similar. I awoke to a big yeasty mess. The cat escaped unscathed but the airlock on the left launched out of the carboy on the far right:

airlock launch

It took me a moment to realize just how serious things had gotten:

yeast on ceiling

Those spots are yeast and hops on the ceiling. We have very high ceilings. It’s probably at least 15 feet high at that point. I figured running the Wit II at a fairly well-controlled 67-69 with ample head space would take care of things. No need for a blowoff tube. Man was I wrong. If you ever want to murder someone by fermentation, fire up some well placed Wit II fermenters and give it a day.

Regardless, I have high hopes that the Belgian IPA on the WLP 400 Belgian Wit will be delicious.

4. It’s A Celebration Bitches! Smoked Dubbel – The brewday didn’t go too badly. The Briess Cherrywood Smoked malt smelled like gorgeous hickory smoked bacon, so I think it should play well with the Dubbel flavors. The one problem I did have was that it was 11pm and I ran out of propane just as my boil started. Sane people would go to a local store for more. I decided to fire it up in 4 pots on my stove:

no propane no problem

Figuring out the hopping was a little goofy, but luckily I only needed to hit it with 1oz EKG. My volume and gravity ended up pretty money and the wort smelled and tasted great, so we’ll see what the split of WLP 530 Abbey Ale & WLP 575 Belgian Style Blend can do with it. I chose those 2 because the 530 will be more dry and spicy and the 575 should be a little more ‘general Belgian’. It’s hard to know which side I should put my money on for coming out the best.

5. Kohatu For Dummies Pale Ale – I brewed this beer today and I think it has real promise. The Kohatu is 6.8 AA and not super over the top but it definitely has some intriguing pine & tropical notes. It’ll be fun to see all 50 IBUs of it shine on a pretty stripped down pale ale base. Unfortunately WLP 001 California Ale has been in high demand at U Bottle It lately, so I went with the 2 vials of WLP 006 Bedford British I was saving for a potential session IPA re-brew. I figured that if it worked for Purring Kitten, it’d work in the hoppy pale.

6. Wag The Dog Northern English Brown – This beer has still not been brewed. I’ll be brewing it tomorrow after work on either WLP 005, 006, or 041 depending on availability and if I’m in the mood to split it and acquire more 3 gallon carboys.

7a. Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA – The plan was to enter this hop-riffic homage to homebrewing and being able to get such coveted hops. I Burtonized the water so it’ll be interesting to see how hard a hop bomb hits with extreme IPA water (using 27 grams of gypsum) and 104 IBU of lupulin goodness. Here’s Fuzzy running into the kettle & first wort hopping:

citra fwh

Funny enough, I got up at 6am and brewed this beer (and obviously first wort hopped) and on my way to work in the afternoon I listened to Jamil’s latest style show on Double IPA. It turns out Jamil makes very solid points on why he thinks the practice is total BS and I have been converted. No more first wort hopping for me unless it’s a big Double IPA where I’m cramming hops everywhere I can.

7b. U Hop It IPA – I told my buddy Gary at U Bottle It that I’d put 7 entries in the contest and he said I should brew U Bottle It’s U Hop It IPA kit and enter that. Mind you I designed the recipe and have quite a bit of faith in the power of Simcoe, Columbus, Falconer’s Flight & Chinook. The problem with this plan is you can only enter 1 beer per subcategory, so 14B American IPA just became off limits to Fuzzy Bunny Slippers. All in all, I’m excited to put my U Bottle It mini-mash IPA recipe in the competition and see how it stacks up. Plus this will be the first time in 3 or 4 years that I’ll get to brew a mini-mash beer. Also, I’ll be using all RO water as usual but I’ll be building my water to the Vegas water profile which lends itself well to pales and IPAs with its friendly Sulfate to Chloride ratio. Here’s the kit on the shelves (next to Hop Delivery DIPA that I also made):

U Hop It Kit

Anyway, I’ll give detailed recipes and notes on anything that wins or scores well. Also, there’s another contest coming up through SNAFU that I already have 7 entries in. The SNAFU competition will consist of 2 categories: Best ‘big’ beer (OG over 1.060) and best use of hops. I’ll be sure to share more details as things develop. I’m planning on trying to uncap, re-yeast & prime a few bottles of both my Throw Up The Dub Dubbel & Agnostic Tripel. Both beers are about 15 months old and taste quite nice, other than their continuing lack of carbonation.

Other than all these competition beers, I’ve been scheming up a Nelson Sauvin hopped Oatmeal Belgian Blonde which I might brew at Clyde’s on Sunday. I’ll either do that on Wyeast 3711 French Saison or White Labs 500. I also need to brew a Berliner Weiss sooner rather than later because I want it in my kegerator and I need to perfect a recipe for my wedding in March!

Alright friends! I’m tired from early brewing so I’m headed to bed. Be well and prosper!

Nevada State Homebrew Championship!

Hello heroes!

I just registered the maximum of 7 entries for the upcoming Nevada State Homebrew Championship so that I can represent my club, SNAFU, to the fullest! The bad news is only 2 of the beers are brewed so far and everything is due in Reno by October 19th. My entries as of now are:

1. Purring Kitten Session IPA – 23 Specialty Beer – Both sides of the split batch have been on dry hops for 5 days now. My only concern is freshness once the contest is judged on November 2nd. I might try to re-brew this a couple weeks before the entry deadline.

2. Helles Too Good For You – 1D Munich Helles – My third batch of Helles should come out well. We’re just finishing up a 4 day diacetyl rest and lagering started today.

3. King Kong Ain’t Got Ish On Me Belgian IPA – 16E Belgian Specialty – My IPA with Mosaic & Pacifica hops on WLP 400 Belgian Wit yeast (inspired by a Big Dog’s cask I did) will refuse to be humble or humbled.

4. It’s A Celebration Bitches! Smoked Dubbel – 22B Other Smoked Beer – I’m using the Briess Cherry wood smoked malt and plenty of Aromatic malt for this adventure. Depending on carboy availability I might split it on 2 different yeasts. Chimay yeast AKA WLP 500 is back ordered, so I’m currently looking at WLP 575 as my first pick and WLP 530 as my second.

5. Kohatu For Dummies Pale Ale – 10A American Pale Ale – A single-hopped pale ale with this new New Zealand hop variety. Kohatu is said to give off pine and big tropical fruit, so we’ll see how it turns out.

6. Wag The Dog – 11C Northern English Brown – Inspired by Big Dog’s award-winning Red Hydrant, but using Maris Otter base malt and WLP 006 Bedford British yeast.

7. Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA – 14B American IPA – A wonderful mix of Simcoe, Chinook, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic & Citra. I can’t see how it won’t be the bee’s knees.

So as you can see I have an ambitious brewing schedule ahead of me and I’ll be entering beers in 7 different categories, 4 of which I have yet to win an award in. I still have beers like a Berliner Weiss & a re-brew of 100% Brett IPA on the schedule, but I could only get quick turn around beers into the contest.

Also, I’ll soon be brewing this mini-mash gem:

grantsaisonkit

I’d love to get a contest going to see who could brew the best version of this kit. Shoot me a message or drop by the store to get this party started.

Also, I want to give a shout out to the Austin, Texas craft beer scene as a whole but especially to Jester King, Real Ale’s Scots Gone Wild Sour Scotch Ale, Live Oak’s Rauchlager, and the all TX beer-featuring Craft Pride on Rainey Street. I recently got to spend a week back in Austin and I will definitely miss all of the above.

Here’s my crew having a gay old time at Jester King (the release of Atrial Rubicite certainly helped):

jesterkingfun

Alright, this hero is out. I’ll probably be brewing the IPA and Belgian IPA in the next couple days just to get going on all these entries.

Be well and prosper y’all!

My First Week @BigDogsBrewing and Other Homebrewing Fun

Hello brewing friends! I thought it might be nice to post an update on how my first 3 days of working at Big Dogs have been, not to mention my other brewing misadventures.

First I must include that today’s liquid inspiration is Sierra Nevada & Russian River’s Brux. This is my 3rd time having it and the last 2 times this ‘domesticated wild ale’ has been pretty nice. I was driven to try it again by comments made on the most recent Brewing Network Sunday Session. While they were answering a listener’s question I found out the primary yeast is Wyeast 3711 French Saison (also known as one of my absolute favorites) and it’s bottled with Brett B & Safbrew T58 (a spicy Belgian-style dry yeast). Not only did knowing all of the above warrant another crack at it, but I’d imagine it’s not the worst beer in the world to harvest dregs from. At any rate, it’s a lovely beer and worth the $16 to give it a try.

This week I worked roughly three 7 hour days in the brewery at Big Dogs and let me say that so far it has been a pleasure. Everybody has been very friendly and willing to help. Sam, the Packaging Director, gets a special shout out for having infinite patience with me as I get my bearings.

Monday was all out keg cleaning day. Thankfully, Big Dogs has a wonderful automated machine so the real trick is just listening for the cleaning cycle to be done while you’re cleaning other things (like the tops of kegs). This task can be slightly more difficult when your head brewer decides he’s going to jam out on his drum set for 20 minutes, but it’s all good in the hood. You can’t have a keg parade without a band.

I didn’t count the number of kegs I ran through, but I pretty much hit it hard from 9am to 3pm without stopping for lunch. We did blow a hose off and shoot caustic cleaning solution everywhere before I got started, which I thought was a fitting introduction to the brewing world. I’ve found that we use some pretty nasty chemicals on the professional side and caution is the name of the game.

On Tuesday morning I tried to assist Sam with filtering the Leglifter Light, which mostly involved peppering him with questions and occasionally closing a valve or two. Below are our various filters.

The rest of the day was filled with odds and ends things like cleaning out the mill room, moving some kegs in cold storage, other random cleaning, etc.

Wednesday was when the powers that be decided to sick me on cleaning the bar’s draught lines. Not only did I unhook serving tanks and push cleaning & sanitizing solution through all the lines, but they also had me break down all the Perlick faucets and scrub the gunk out of them. Breaking down & scrubbing the faucets made me laugh because that was the filmed demonstration on the Cicerone exam. Needless to say, I could up my score on that portion of the test considerably now.

I managed to get through cleaning the lines on 3 of the 8 serving tanks and then it was time to ‘grain out’, also known as the special bonding (and back building) rendezvous between Assistant Brewer and mash tun. I’ve found Big Dogs to have the most enjoyable mash tun for graining out (of the 3 I’ve done) because it doesn’t have any rakes in the way. They also have the nicest tools for getting the job done. I wouldn’t trade their hoe for the world.

Anyway, the batch I was graining out was Balls Of Holly which I’m told is a local favorite in the way of holiday seasonals. All the dates that went into the mash (by way of the open grant) weren’t nearly as bad to get out as I expected them to be. All in all, it was a good day. Oh, and I got insta-trained on the forklift (AKA The Hop Dog 500). The Hop Dog can be a little temperamental about how its wheels are pointed and its steering can get a little loose, but I could tell that we’ll be friends. We’ll quite likely cause some minor damage together from time to time, but no sense crying over unspilled milk.

As for my homebrewing, I’ve decided to launch 2 R&D projects that will hopefully someday be on tap at Big Dogs. I mentioned Dank Dog – the heavy Columbus Saison in my last post, but I’ve also decided to develop Clean Dog IPA (a lighter fruity answer to Big Dogs Dirty Dog IPA). The rough draft recipe for Dank Dog has been drawn up (50% 2-row, 25% pilsner, 12.5% vienna, 8.3% rye, 4.2% honey malt) and now I’m just waiting for the hops (Liberty & Columbus) to show up from Yakima Valley Hops. I also need to figure out how I’m going to ferment the beer warm enough.

Clean Dog IPA, on the other hand, got brewed today in its first iteration. The grain bill is 73% 2-row, 17.4% Vienna, 4.4% Carapils, 3.5% Crystal 15, and 1.7% Crystal 40. The hops are US Magnum for bittering, Liberty & Bravo for flavor and Bravo & Centennial at flameout. Given that the color came out rather dark & my efficiency was supposedly 58%, I’m wondering if the mill at the homebrew store wasn’t set quite right. I’ll have to investigate in the coming days.

My other recent brewing endeavor was a Pumpkin Saison at Clyde’s place on his badass Sabco.

He gets the lion’s share of the credit if the beer turns out incredible, but we did use my huge surplus of UK Pearl malt as the base. I believe he got the recipe and tips for dealing with the pumpkin on this Brewing Network Sunday Session. Putting the roasted pumpkin in a bag seemed to be the way to go.

Well, that’s all for now. Be well and prosper and of course come by and say hi if you find yourself in the Big Dogs neighborhood.

Proost y’all.

NZ Union Jack Brew Day and The Trouble With Cat Brewers

I’ve been scheming about it for months. Just salivating at the thought of cloning my new favorite IPA, but replacing the American tried and true with gorgeous New Zealand hops. Today was finally the day! I woke up, pounded my chest, and chugged an Amp energy drink. An amazing IPA was going to be brewed today!

Then I actually started trying to brew it. First I thought my digital thermometer was reading a little high, so I dropped my glass floating thermometer in to check. Dropped being the problematic part. This is why we can’t have nice things. Goodbye 5 gallons of RO water and tiny glass shards of broken measurement dreams.

No worries. I had enough RO & distilled to cover the mash. I just had to run to the store for RO water for sparging while I was mashing. I bet that sentence reads nicely for non-brewers. Anyway, life was still good.

Then during the mash, as I was stirring the grain, I noticed a sizeable hole in my bag. Mind you I’ve been overdue for a new bag. They’ve just been backordered at Austin Homebrew and I hadn’t bugged Heather at U Bottle It to stock them. Regardless, there was a hole. A dozen or so grains were floating around in my pot. Less than ideal. Boiling grain could lead to some astringent grainy flavors. Now I was making Husky Jack. I fished them out as best I could.

At some point I also sloshed wort onto my flip flop. Come to think of it, my foot and flip flop are still sticky. It’s a hard knock life.

However, my favorite moment of the brew day was when I was cooling the wort in the bathtub (with 64lbs of ice from the Breeze Right In). My usually trusty co-brewer, Sapphire, rolls in and proceeds to piss on the very towel my feet are on in front of the tub. People talk about Citra & Simcoe hops having a cat piss aroma but we here at Go Big Or Go Home believe in using only the freshest actual cat piss. It’s a wonder I don’t have suspicious chunks floating in all my beer given the cavalier attitude of my assistant. She couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of this post.

All in all, Husky Jack brew day went pretty well though. The wort tasted great, I got about 5 gallons at 1.072 (1.070 was aim), and generally I felt like I did all the necessary things to make legit beer. Oh, White Labs 002 flocs so well that I ended up accidentally dumping my stir bar into the bucket with the yeast. See you in a few weeks stir bar!

For anyone interested, the recipe for Firestone Walker Union Jack was given out on Brewing Network’s Can You Brew It. I followed that with a few minor changes. My Munich was Great Western organic (15-25L), I used organic crystal 15 in place of Caramalt, & I used Riwaka to replace Cascade & a Motueka/Wataku mix to replace Centennial. I also added an ounce of Galaxy at flameout and bittered with Southern Cross. Practically the same beer. 😛

That’s my Wild Dubbel. I bottled the tamer version a few days ago and named it Throw Up The Dub Dubbel. A reference to one of my favorite Westside Connection songs.

Wow! My furry co-brewer just knocked over my beer in reckless pursuit of a bug. I’d fire her if she weren’t union. Oh well. I suppose every homebrew blogger needs a little beer in his keyboard and mouse to be legit.

Anyway, I thought the wildness might have been starting to settle out but as you can see, that party is in full effect.

Oddly enough, 2 days in the bottle left The Agnostic Tripel tasting much better. I’m really excited about that beer now. The Nelson Pale, now called I Am Nelson, is nice too. There may be an S on my homebrewing chest before you know it.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll leave you with a fun fact I learned today: a refractometer doesn’t read gravity correctly on finished beer. When I acquired this handy tool I thought I was done with breaking glass hydrometers. It turns out that is not the case. It is quite handy before any alcohol gets involved though. In the beer I mean. 🙂

Proost y’all!