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.

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Capturing The Spirit Of 3 Floyds Gumballhead

Hi fellow heroes!

I have been planning on taking more runs at 3 Floyds Gumballhead cloning because I never really did it properly and my post on cloning Gumballhead is by far my most popular. My blog has a total of 11,745 hits to date and that single post has been responsible for 1,404 of them. Almost 12%.

However, I’m here to tell you that I am not an absolute cloner of beers. I’m much more into capturing the spirit of a beer but putting my own personal twist on it. My latest 3 Gumball-esque endeavors all demonstrate that very well. The 3 Floyds guys wanted a summer wheat beer that didn’t suck with great hop character and that’s my mission too. With that said, I am happy to share my recipes and thoughts.

Here’s the guidance Brewing With Wheat gives:

2012-07-24 13.27.21

It appears Gumballhead may have changed over time as 3 Floyds’ site now says it’s 5.6%, 35 IBUs, and only mentions Amarillo hops. Having worked in a professional brewery, I can confirm that beers can change based on ingredient availability, new supply channels, a brewer’s whims, etc.

Fortunately I only want to make nice hop-forward American Wheat beers that capture the spirit of Gumballhead, so I won’t agonize over IBUs or hop selection.

With that said, on 10/7 I brewed Grant’s Golden Gumball. I was trying to nail down the Gumball malt bill but because I couldn’t get any Amarillo at the time, I played around with some other hops I liked and/or found potentially intriguing.

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 9 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.5 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.13 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 4.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 79.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 91.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
7 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        71.2 %        
2 lbs 8.0 oz          White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         2        25.4 %        
5.3 oz                Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                 Grain         3        3.4 %         
28.00 g               Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.30 %] - Boil  Hop           4        16.5 IBUs     
27.00 g               German Brewer's Gold [6.20 %] - Boil 10. Hop           5        4.6 IBUs      
28.00 g               German Brewer's Gold [6.20 %] - Boil 0.0 Hop           8        0.0 IBUs      
29.00 g               Galaxy [13.70 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           7        0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               German Brewer's Gold [6.20 %] - Boil 5.0 Hop           6        4.0 IBUs      
2.0 pkg               California Ale V (White Labs #WLP051) [3 Yeast         9        -             
28.00 g               Citra [14.10 %] - Dry Hop 12.0 Days      Hop           10       0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               Galaxy [13.70 %] - Dry Hop 12.0 Days     Hop           11       0.0 IBUs

German Brewer’s Gold did deliver on some of the spicy black currant notes, but it was fairly mellow and balanced. The additional Galaxy & Citra were nice, but I think I’ll mull over the BJCP guidelines for 6D American Wheat and consider a more aggressive dry hop than 2 oz on future versions. I thought California V WLP 051 did just fine.

My biggest complaint was there was a strange lingering slightly nutty note in the finish, which almost has to have been the Aromatic. Mind you, I love Aromatic and use 4-6 oz of it in many of my recipes, but even the 5.3 oz in this recipe seemed too much. Perhaps it melds a little better if you use the WLP 002 English Ale that Gumball uses. Yeast can play a huge factor in whether or not a grain bill works.

The water additions to 5 gallons of RO in the mash were: 2mL Lactic Acid, 4.5g Gypsum, 7.2g Epsom, 1.4g Canning Salt, 3.2g Calcium Chloride, & 1g Pickling Lime and the mash pH was 5.6. I sparged with 4 gallons of un-altered RO. (I am indeed starting to read up on whether or not I should acidify my RO sparge water by the way.) Mash temp was 149.

Anyway, Grant’s Golden Gumball turned out pretty nicely overall. Apparently fest-goers at Brew’s Best at Lake Las Vegas tore through 5 gallons of it and 2 other kegs of mine. Here’s a pic of it (in the middle):

brews best beers

On a side note, I know a couple of brewers that I’ve turned onto German Brewer’s Gold have had good results. My buddy Clyde took 3rd (behind me :P) in the Nevada State Championship with his Belgian Pale featuring Brewer’s Gold. (Interestingly enough, we brewed those at his house on the same day.) Speaking of the NV Championship, here is the cover sheet for my score sheets:

nv champ scores

I’ll put up pics of my bad self acting ridiculous with all 6 NV State Championship medals soon. I put them all on when they were awarded to me at the SNAFU meeting last Friday. I felt like a fat, bearded Mark Spitz. Here’s the link to a pic of him for those that don’t understand.

Anyway, based on thinking even 5.3 oz of Aromatic was a touch overboard I brewed 2 more versions of Spirited Gumball two days ago. The first was also on Cal V WLP 051 but with 3 oz Aromatic and 4 oz Carapils. I hopped it with Nelson & Chinook. I was going to do a Nelson & Chinook beer at Big Dog’s on a Belgo IPA, so I thought it’d be fun to see how that combo turned out in this arena.

I added 2.5mL Lactic Acid, 4.5g Gypsum, 4g Calcium Chloride, 7.2g Epsom, 1g Pickling Lime, 1.4g Canning Salt to the 5 gallon RO mash. Sparged with 4 gal RO un-altered. Mash came in a touch low at 5.2 ish. Mash temp was 149. I ended up dry hopping with 43g Nelson & 47g Chinook for 8 days before kegging.

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 9 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.5 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.13 gal
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Estimated Color: 3.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 29.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 83.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
7 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        70.4 %        
2 lbs 8.0 oz          White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         2        25.2 %        
4.0 oz                Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)             Grain         3        2.5 %         
3.0 oz                Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                 Grain         4        1.9 %         
2.0 pkg               California Ale V (White Labs #WLP051) [3 Yeast         12       -             
9.00 g                Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           5        16.0 IBUs     
10.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.60 %] - Boil 10.0 min  Hop           7        3.5 IBUs      
10.00 g               Chinook [11.40 %] - Boil 10.0 min        Hop           6        3.1 IBUs      
15.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.60 %] - Boil 5.0 min   Hop           8        4.3 IBUs      
10.00 g               Chinook [11.40 %] - Boil 5.0 min         Hop           9        2.6 IBUs      
28.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.60 %] - Boil 0.0 min   Hop           10       0.0 IBUs      
14.00 g               Chinook [11.40 %] - Boil 0.0 min         Hop           11       0.0 IBUs

That same day I started straying away from pure Gumball-ishness towards something in my wheelhouse. I went with 4 oz of Aromatic but added 4 oz Flaked Oats and 2 oz Victory malt. I also ran it on WLP 028 Edinburgh and hopped it with Citra, Motueka, & Mosaic. This version especially starts to encapsulate how I will take a beer as inspiration and then make it into my own animal.

In this beer I had to tweak additions a little because I was out of Calcium Chloride. In the 5 gallon RO mash I put 3 mL Lactic Acid, 4.5g Gypsum, 7.2g Epsom, 2.3g Canning Salt, & 1.5g Pickling Lime. Mash pH was 5.26. Mash temp was 150. I dry hopped this one with 29g Citra, 28g Motueka, 28g Mosaic for 8 days as well.

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 9 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.5 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.13 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Estimated Color: 4.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 27.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 84.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
7 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        69.2 %        
2 lbs 8.0 oz          White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         2        24.7 %        
4.0 oz                Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                 Grain         3        2.5 %         
1.9 oz                Victory Malt (25.0 SRM)                  Grain         5        1.2 %         
4.0 oz                Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                   Grain         4        2.5 %         
2.0 pkg               Edinburgh Ale (White Labs #WLP028) [35.4 Yeast         14       -             
9.00 g                Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           6        16.0 IBUs     
10.00 g               Citra [14.10 %] - Boil 10.0 min          Hop           8        3.9 IBUs      
15.00 g               Motueka [6.70 %] - Boil 10.0 min         Hop           7        2.8 IBUs      
12.00 g               Motueka [6.70 %] - Boil 5.0 min          Hop           10       1.8 IBUs      
12.00 g               Mosaic [11.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min          Hop           9        3.2 IBUs      
10.00 g               Citra [14.10 %] - Boil 0.0 min           Hop           11       0.0 IBUs      
10.00 g               Motueka [6.70 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           13       0.0 IBUs      
10.00 g               Mosaic [11.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           12       0.0 IBUs

Based on how those 2 beers turn out, I should have a better feel for what yeast and hops work best. Regardless, I strongly suspect both of those last two brews will be very tasty beers.

Besides all of those shenanigans, I recommend checking out Mad Fermentationist’s latest post on mash pH and the latest Brewing Network Brew Strong’s Water Q&A with Jamil & John Palmer. 

Purring Kitten Version 3 off of the kegerator is quite nice, so I should probably go ahead and brew the next batch soon. Breakfast In Antwerp Oatmeal Saison is on the docket to be brewed soon too. I should be kegging up my Ordinary Bitters & Attack Of The Blends IPA in the next few days.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I attended the Modern Times grand opening…but Mad Fermentationist AKA my homeboy Mikey T was a great guy to talk to. Really smart, humble, super friendly, etc. A seeker and sharer of truth and goodness.

Seriously guys, my crew was fairly in the bag (as this was our 4th brewery stop) and he and I were discussing random Brett strains as the bouncer was kicking us out (at the end of the night), but he walked us to the door – not missing a beat. Great guy and the beers were awesome. Shortly after our encounter I noticed my blog was getting hits from a link he provided on his.

In short, nothing but love for guys like Mad Fermentationist & Jamil & John on The Brewing Network. I keep trying my best to follow in their footsteps.

Alright, that’s all for tonight. Be well and brew even better my brewing brothers and sisters!

Building Water and Brewing Goodness!

Hello my brewing buddies!

Following up on last post, all of my contest entries for the 11/2 Nevada State Homebrew Championship are brewed and in various stages of fermentation, dry hopping, carbonating, etc.

The Mr. Bubbles Imperial Stout finished out at 1.029, so it’s sitting at 7.75% and very rich and roasty. I’m on the fence about trying to dry it out more. The Polaris flameout addition is also really shining through. Big ice candy & mint when you’re expecting roast in the aroma is both fun and a little weird.

I dry hopped both sides of the King Kong Ain’t Got Ish On Me Belgian IPA with Mosaic & Pacifica. It’s pretty easy to tell which side is WLP 400 & which is 410, as true to White Lab’s description, Wit II is better at flocculating. It appears I was out of hop bags when I brewed this one, as there is quite a bit of hop matter along for the ride. Here they are:

king kong wipas

I also dry hopped Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA today with Citra, Galaxy, & Kohatu. I forgot my Nelson & Mosaic at Clyde’s place so those might be a part of the second dry hop addition. With Jamil’s talk of double dry hopping being more effective and my remembrance of early experiences with it myself, I’m heading that way with all of my IPAs. Here are my brewing brothers Clyde & Mike. (Clyde was doing a Belgian Pale on Wyeast 3711 French Saison and I was doing an Oatmeal Belgian Blond on a blend of French Saison and WLP 500 AKA Chimay yeast):

clyde and mike

Other than all those fun things, I keep heading further down the water building rabbit hole. I’m now using Gypsum, Calcium Chloride, Epsom Salt, Canning Salt, Pickling Lime, Lactic Acid, & Chalk in various amounts depending on what profile I’m looking for.

For 3 of my latest Belgian brews I’ve shot for Chimay’s (unboiled) water profile. My Smoked Dubbel, Berliner Weiss, & Belgian Oatmeal Blond are all on “Chimay water”. I’ve found that often in order to hit the ideal mash pH I need to wait until the kettle to add some of the salts, especially the Pickling Lime.

11/6/13 EDIT: I’ve since found out you SHOULD NOT add anything that raises pH, like Pickling Lime, to the kettle. If your mash pH is good all should be relatively well.

I think it’s interesting to note that the Chimay brewery is drawing off of a well within the monastery walls, so obviously profiles you find like this one in Bru N Water shouldn’t be viewed as gospel. Especially since the brewer could be boiling the water or treating it in other ways before using it. However, Bru N Water’s Chimay profile matches that which is given in Brew Like A Monk and Bru N Water also provides the profile for boiled Chimay water. Here’s a Belgian water chart from Brew Like A Monk:

belgian water profiles

Regardless, I’ve gone with the Chimay water for its relatively low mineral content, its balanced Sulfate to Chloride ratio, and because I very much enjoy their beers. I’m drinking their dubbel, the Chimay Red, right now and the finish is very pleasant. Not too dry and not overly rounded and malty.

Other good resources for building water I’ve found are all the water profiles at Brewer’s Friend, this Homebrewtalk thread, & this Brewing Waters Of The World page.

In other news, because my homebrewing was taking over the house again, I’ve been given my own room:

brew room 1

brew room 2

My trusty Assistant Brewer Kitty is not quite sure what to make of losing her room to homebrewing, but she’s shown great ability to adapt over the years.

Here are my friends U Bottle It U Hop It IPA, Wag The Dog English Brown, & Berliner Weiss all having a good time together (before their strenuous move to their new room):

u hop it brown and berliner

Ok, brew on my friends! I’m going to relax and have another beer.

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!

Working @UBottleIt and Brewing Like Crazy!

Hello friends!

I’m sure some of you are aware that I just worked my first week at my favorite homebrew store in the world, U Bottle It! I can’t tell you how happy I am to work with Gary and Heather every day. Not to mention the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives me to hook you fine folks of Las Vegas up with your winemaking & homebrewing needs.

Five gallon partial mash kits (designed and assembled by yours truly) for an Oktoberfest as well as a Pumpkin Spice Ale are now available on the shelves and hopefully I’ll get our Holiday Ale & ‘Grant’s Saison’ kits finished up tomorrow.

I’ve never taken much notice of any dry yeasts, but Lallemand’s Belle Saison looks quite interesting and I’ll definitely fire it up on the ‘Grant’s Saison’ kit in the coming weeks.

Above all else though, I really want to express my gratitude towards Gary & Heather at U Bottle It for welcoming me with open arms and wish my good friend Tom Harwood the best of luck in his new position as Assistant Brewer at Big Dog’s. I look forward to drinking a Big Dog’s Rye IPA very soon. 😉

The beauty of working at a homebrew store is that I’m getting a great opportunity to live and breathe homebrewing again. In the last month I’ve brewed 3 Helles lagers, a Russian Imperial Stout, & my Purring Kitten Session IPA. You’d think a beer that did as well as Purring Kitten would’ve been on the agenda sooner, but I was waiting for the seasonal WLP006 Bedford yeast to be available again. And I’d been a little busy. Or something like that.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some info on my latest brews:

Helles 7/28

–          I used the recipe from Brewing Classic Styles.

–          Mashed around 150-151 with 75% RO & 25% Brita filtered & boiled Vegas city water. Sparge was all RO. Salts added were 7g CaCl, 4g Epsom salt, & 2mL lactic acid.

–          I used 1.3oz of German Hallertau for bittering to 19.2 IBU.

–          My gravity came in at 15 plato (1.061) and my efficiency was 88% so this bad boy could easily be  1% ABV or more above the style guidelines.

–          I also set the timer incorrectly on my phone for my first hop addition and ended up boiling considerably longer than 90 minutes. The result being that I think my color is a little too dark.

–          I brewed spur of the minute so didn’t have a starter of the WLP838 made up. Therefore (because Jamil says pitch big for lagers), I pitched 2 vials of WLP838, 1 of WLP833, & 1 of WLP830.

–          Finally, this was my first time using my freezer & Johnson controller in this temperature range so the first few days it was getting as low as 44 until I got it a little better dialed in. Now it floats at 49-54.

Helles 8/4

–          I used the same water profile, grain bill, and mash temp as the previous for comparability.

–          Of course this meant I was going to end up with another 15 plato beer if I got similar efficiency. Of course I got 88% again.

–          I bittered with 0.7oz of Motueka for 18.9 IBU because my Hallertau smelled a little passed its prime.

–          I pitched WLP830 that I took directly from the fermenter of Big Dog’s Pinscher Imperial Pilsner. I pitched a pretty healthy amount and could smell considerable hop aroma from Pinscher.

Helles 8/15

–          Knowing that I was getting pretty high efficiencies helped me to design this beer a little better. I got 85% efficiency and ended up with a 1.050 beer. This might actually be a real Helles!

–          I used 86.8% Pilsner, 7.9% Vienna, & 5.3% Munich and mashed at around 150.

–          The mash and sparge water were all RO and 8g CaCl, 7g Epsom salt, & 2mL lactic acid were added.

–          I hopped with 0.8oz German Opal for 18.1 IBU and threw in the remaining 0.2oz at 5 minutes.

–          Once again I was without starter so I put together a Franken-Lager blend of WLP802, WLP820, WLP833, & WLP862.

Here’s Helles 8/15 cranking away:

promising helles

Russian Imperial Stout 8/19

–          I did this as a ‘demo brew’ for my friends Sean & Andie last Monday and this was my first stout.

–          The grain bill was 77.1% Maris Otter, 8.6% Roasted Barley, 5.7% Special B, 3% Caramunich, 2.9% Pale Chocolate, & 2.8% Chocolate Malt.

–          I bittered with German Polaris for 63.7 IBUs, flavored with Meridian for 7 IBUs, & used 1.5oz Polaris at Flameout. I got such interesting minty ice candy flavors from Polaris the last time around, so I’m hoping those turn out well in a stout.

–          I mashed around 154 and built the water to resemble Dublin’s. The mash was 25% filtered Brita, 75% RO with 1.5g Gypsum, 0.5g Cacl, & 7g Chalk added.

–          I ended up pitching 3 aging vials of WLP090 San Diego Super & 2 vials of WLP001.

Purring Kitten Session IPA 8/23

–          I made a few changes on this re-brew. I was mashing at 151 but found out 15 minutes in that my probe thermometer was reading 3-4 degrees low. I heated to actual 151.

–          I kept the salt additions similar to the last go round but did a 90 minute boil instead of 60.

–          I used all RO and added 5.5g Gypsum, 3.5g CaCl, 8g Epsom salt, & 4g Chalk.

–          My grain bill was 64.7% 2row, 14.7% Goldpils Vienna, 5.9% Flaked Wheat, 5.2% C-40, 3.6% C-60, 2.9% Aromatic, & 2.9% Carapils.

–          My starting gravity was 1.048 versus 1.044 last time. I also spilt the batch on WLP006 Bedford (which I used last time) and WLP002 English Ale.

–          I substituted Chinook for Centennial in the recipe and upped my flameout additions.

–          I also found my probe thermometer untrustworthy with lower temps as my big bucket of water and fermentation was actually running 4-5 degrees cooler than I was being told. Therefore the Session IPAs started pretty low and the Russian Imperial Stout was fermented on the cool end of its desired range instead of the high end.

Here’s my magical bucket of water, frozen water bottles, & fermenting beers:

high tech fermentation

As per usual, it’ll be interesting to see how everything turns out. I should mention that I have been drinking my year old Farmhouse Oktoberfest (on WLP670 American Farmhouse) lately and it has some really interesting funky citrusy Brett notes to it. I can barely tell it ever started as a rich malty beer because now it drinks a little thin with a chewy almost ropey Brett finish.

I should also mention that hopes of heroicness have been revived! I went through the BJCP style guidelines today and picked a style from each of the 23 categories that I would like to brew. That set a lot of wheels in motion but the first recipe resulting from that exercise was a Smoked Dubbel for category 22B Smoked Beer as well as a 16E Belgian Specialty entry (possibly with some Brett B).

My other brews in the works are: a Berliner Weiss, a Belgian IPA using WLP400 Wit yeast and Mosaic & Pacifica hops (because the cask I did of dry hopped Wit at Big Dog’s smelled so awesome), a re-brew of my Sink Spoon Brett Rye IPA (that I will send bottles of to Joseph), & my French Bulldog Rye IPA on Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. Just because I’m no longer with Big Dog’s doesn’t mean I can’t brew the beer I had on deck!

I know, I know. A lot of 16E Belgian Specialty and 23 Specialty. I’m making weird stuff as per usual. My general tastes in beer and desire to innovate will probably mean I re-punch those categories award-wise a fair amount (hopefully).

Finally, for anybody who has been doubting my assistant brewer’s work ethic and helpfulness, here’s a picture of her watering a plant while we were brewing:

watering plants

Alright, I’m off to hunt for more fermentation space on Craigslist. Be well and ferment clean my friends!

Helles Obsession Continued…

Hi heroes!

I know it seems like I only have the Munich Helles style on my brain lately, and to some extent that is true. I have 3 batches brewed up and fermenting and I already have the ingredients to make 2 more. Nevermind how I’m going to find the space for them all in this freezer.

helli

But there is hope for all you non-Helles fans. I’ll be re-brewing a few versions of my Purring Kitten Session IPA to (hopefully) have ready for a big competition in Reno on November 2nd. Also, I cleaned out all the old (non-Brett or sour) yeast vials from my refrigerator (and combined them with all the trash can-destined expired Wyeast smack packs I got from UBottleIt) and made a monster 5L starter.

franken starter

The blend has 15 different kinds of yeast and is 24 vials & packs total. 7 Belgian styles, 1 German, 5 American, & 2 British. I’d like to do a big weird Russian Imperial Stout or Barleywine and then add honeycomb sticks (from Black Swan) soaked in bourbon. I’ll have to see how the starter wort tastes before I waste time brewing a beer for it though. I’ll also have to use the bathtub or my ghetto (yet award-producing) swamp cooler-ish Walmart container to keep fermentation temps under control, as I doubt any of the 15 yeasts want to work with 49-54 degrees.

UPDATE: The Franken-starter wort tasted pretty meaty. I did not have confidence in its ability to do the job.

With all that said, I bought some Helles beers to drink and talk about! I can hear the applause now! Mind you all of these beers were purchased warm on well-lit shelves, so any impressions I have may not reflect how I’d feel about the beer in a fresher and more properly-treated state.

helles lineup

Weihenstephaner Original Premium90 on Beer Advocate – Very light color, light bready nose with little to no hop presence, very little hop bitterness, pleasant rounded finish with just a touch of malt character. Very easy drinker. If anything I almost want a little more out of it. But all in all a very nice beer.

Believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve ever had this beer. I love their Hef and I fell in love with this style a while back, but I guess ‘Original Premium’ never led this horse to Helles. Come to think of it, I only knew this was a Helles because I was looking for more examples of the style on Beer Advocate.

The ‘rounded’ malty finish on this that I so enjoy leads me to believe that ignoring the Munich water profile and going for a Chloride to Sulfate ratio that favors a more malty finish (according to John Palmer) could be the best approach. However, I likely will brew a basic Helles with ‘Munich water’ just to see if I can prove his point.

Paulaner Original Munich Premium Lager84 on Beer Advocate – Another very clear light golden beer, very similar nose to the previous with just a touch of baking bread, finish deviates a little as it is a touch drier with a little more hop character and perhaps a little oxidation.

It almost seems to have just a hint of banana or vanilla in the finish as well. This is another very enjoyable beer. I’d be happy as a clam if either of these first 2 beers were the keg pouring at a house party. I’m really impressed by how well these really light lagers hold up to age and less than ideal temperatures. It makes me want to go re-visit Germany sooner rather than later. Get the futon ready Mike ‘Basucher’ Werner!

Stiegl Goldbrau Premium Lager – 80 on Beer Advocate – So it would appear that Stiegl Leicht is actually their 3.3% Helles and I was lied to by a tiny placard at my local beer store. This is apparently a Marzen/Oktoberfest. It’s certainly darker than the first 2 beers, more carbonated, and has a little more pronounced toasty malt character. This is a prime example of why you have to be fairly beer savvy to even discover this style, let alone be able to reliably hunt it down. All in all, this is not a bad beer and pretty light for what I associate with an Oktoberfest. Unfortunately I don’t know the German word for ‘tweener’.

Mahr’s Hell89 on Beer Advocate – This is a beer I’ve very much enjoyed as an occasional treat lately as it is $6 for a Euro torpedo bottle. I get a touch of not quite skunk, but something a little off on the nose from this bottle. The flavor and finish are still nicely malty and rounded with hints of vanilla. This is another Helles that steers me toward brewing with minimum hop presence and a water profile that plays up the malt and rounds out the flavor.

On a side note, I’m glad I’m forcing myself to have all of these beers in one sitting as I’ve discovered I like Weihenstephaner better than Mahr’s. That means I can switch from $6 bottles to $9.50 six packs. Who says beer blogging doesn’t pay?

Moosbacher Lager81 on Beer Advocate – Possibly a shade darker than the others, nose is pretty light in all departments, pretty light finish with once again hints of malt and vanilla.

It seems to be lacking a little malt oomph in the finish that a couple others had. Although a blind taste test with a style this subtle would be pretty daunting. As I drink more of it I’d say find the cheapest Helles you like and stick with it. $9.50 for a Weihenstephaner sixer still leads.

Ballast Point Longfin Lager81 on Beer Advocate – Wow! My previous impressions of this beer have been that it had a touch too much hop character and finished a little dry for a Helles. This bottle I’m drinking seems pretty heavy in the DMS department. The BJCP guidelines describe aroma expectations as:  “Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop aroma, and a low background note of DMS (from Pils malt).” This is pretty big cooked corn in flavor and aroma. Not my favorite, but again this isn’t typical of the last 3 six packs I’ve had of this beer.

Hofbrau Original85 on Beer Advocate – Another very clear beer, might be a slight bit darker than some of the others or might be my weird lighting by my pc, well carbed, don’t get a ton in the nose (maybe a little malt & the tiniest bit of smoke) but the finish has a solid malt presence, water profile may be cause for a slightly less rounded finish than others, a little better hop presence in finish too. I find this beer perfectly enjoyable, but then again I’m a few Helli in.

Spaten Premium Lager83 on Beer Advocate – Not much skunk despite the green bottle, finish has a little more hop and not the same roundedness of some of my preferred brands, not quite as pleasant as a number of the others.

I’ve found I like my Helles malty without being under-attenuated or cloying and pretty absent in the hop department. Even trying to differentiate between these beers has given me a great appreciation for the difficulty level of brewing one well. I’m considering dry hopping a Helles, and while Citra is awesome with everything, I debate trying a noble hop or a new German hop like Opal or Saphir.

Finally, I want to say cheers to my friends at Tenaya Creek Brewing Co. I’m pictured here drinking a growler of their Local 702 Pale Ale. Genius marketing and a very good beer. Party on my brewing brethren!

tenaya 702

Munich Helles Is The Mission

Hi all!

First, big thanks to everyone that came out and survived the downpour(s) at Summerfest on Saturday. We raised the bar again for best day in Draft House history, so needless to say I’m excited to try and help kill it again for Dogtoberfest.

Anyway, on Thursday I’m hoping to brew a Helles here at home. It will be both my first brew in the new place & the first lager I’ve ever brewed. I’m shooting for brewing 3 or 4 different recipes in the next couple weeks, but we’ll see what brewing life brings my way.

Assuming any of them turn out good I’ll either have a few of my certified judge friends grade them, ship them off to contests all over the country, or both. Mostly I’ll drink them.

Before I go any further I do want to acknowledge that my interest in this style was almost exclusively kindled by my good friend & brewer at Joseph James, Weston Barkley. If he weren’t a pro brewer himself I’d be tempted to stage a fake Big Dog’s Pro-Am contest just to be able to brew his Helles recipe on a large scale. And drink it on a healthy scale too. I’ve reached out to him to see if he has any interest in sharing the recipe for you fine folks.

Assuming Weston won’t come to your house and brew a Helles for you, I’ve found Mahr’s Hell to be a pretty nice (albeit not cheap) replacement.

The first book I look to whenever I want to brew a new style is Brewing Classic Styles. The second is usually Designing Great Beers. I strongly urge you to buy both books as they are very useful references and they support very worthwhile people. I’ll post a few relevant pages of both and hopefully my favorite brewcasters and my Cicerone Godfather don’t get too upset.

Here’s Jamil & John Palmer’s Helles recipe. I’ll likely brew it as is first to have a baseline:

bcs_helles

Here are Ray Daniels thoughts on the style, a couple loose recipes, & a Munich water profile:

daniels_recipes

daniels_chart

daniels_munichwater

Daniels seems to have taken a little more hop forward approach, which is something I’ll steer clear of to start with. If anything I’ll keep the bittering charge around 18 IBU & do a whirlpool or dry hop addition of something fun & fruity. Motueka comes to mind. The other thing that stands out to me is the Munich water profile that Daniels shares. A 2:1 Sulfate:Chloride ratio should make for a more dry & bitter tasting beer if anything Jamil & Palmer have taught me is true.

In one of their water shows around the 27 minute mark they discuss water profiles for Czech pils, German pils, Helles & Dortmunder Export. Helles is discussed specifically at the 33 minute mark. My notes from listening say:

Munich Helles – Med mineral content water, 50-70ppm Ca levels, now you want Chloride to dominate more than Sulfate, softer less bitter, build Ca level with more CaCl. 

Palmer isn’t very specific about what ratio should be shot for so I’ll probably shoot for 1.5 times more Chlorides than Sulfates. I’ll also use RO water directly from Big Dog’s so that whatever water profile I end up with is as close as possible to doing a 15bbl batch. I’ll likely also sparge with RO as a scientific-minded buddy of mine thinks that is the way to go. Any mineral additions meant for post-mash will go into the ‘kettle’.

It is at this juncture that I wish I were the R&D brewer for some place like White Labs or New Belgium. I’d love to try the same recipe with a ton of different yeasts, water profiles, fermentation temps, etc. We’ll see what I can get my bad self into. My freezer will only fit 3 or 4 carboys at time. It’s a hard knock life.

As I said, the first recipe I brew will be Jamil & Palmer’s:

90.9% Pilsner, 6.8% Munich, 2.3% Melanoidin. (Single infusion mash at 150 as a protein rest & various step mashing procedures would be difficult to pull off at Big Dog’s.)

Other notable grain bills are Ray Daniels’ (I’m assuming Ayinger Helles malt is close to Pilsner):

77% Pils, 10% Wheat, 10% Carapils, 3% Belgian Biscuit AND 80% Pils, 11% Carapils, 9% Munich

Daniels definitely seems to hop a touch more aggressively, as he addes 20 & 5 minute additions.

I also found a recipe on Homebrew Talk that looks interesting and the NHC site has recipes for Gold medal winning Helles recipes from ’07, ’11, & ’12.

Also, I re-listened to a little bit of the old Brewing Network Jamil Show Helles episode where Jamil & Jon Plise started discussing the merits of protein rests, carafoam, etc. A very worthwhile listen if you’re crafting your own crack at the style.

Hopefully all the resources I’ve hunted down are pretty good for pointing not only myself, but anyone else interested in brewing this style in the right direction. I personally think the style has some potential openings for some good old Americanizing with dry hopping, but that’ll come in due course.

Finally, I’ll be going with Jamil’s recommended yeast strain WLP 838 Southern German Lager for the first brew. White Labs rates it perfect for the style.

I also have WLP 830 German Lager (which rates a 2 of 4 for Helles by White Labs) and WLP 833 German Bock Lager (which rates a 4). It’d be interesting to brew the same recipe on all 3 strains, although I doubt I’ll have that level of discipline.

Well, that’s all the Helles talk I have for now. I’ll report back when I’ve started cranking out brews!

I’ll leave you with a pic of my lady Rachel AKA Penguin and our good buddy Sarah doing some solid day drinking at the new Pizza Port location in Carlsbad (which is awesome by the way).

new pizza port

Be well brewing brothers and sisters!