Tasting The Spirited Gumballs

A little over a month ago I took a few shots at another two 3 Floyds Gumball-esque beers. I wasn’t going for dead ringer clones necessarily, but for beers that captured the overall spirit of the beer. That’s how they affectionately became known as the Spirited Gumballs.

I’ve had both on tap for a little over a week now and had a few friends over to try them. I wanted to get input from others because I feel that all too often you’re relying on the impressions of the brewer alone on these things.

Here’s my buddy Mike (a hardcore beer aficionado) sampling the two and writing tasting notes:

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Right off the bat I can see why they lager this beer for 3 weeks. It comes out fairly cloudy with 25% wheat. I added Biofine to mine when I kegged them. Both of my brews came in right around 5% ABV, so they were a shade lower than the 5.5 or 5.6% you’ll see on theirs.

All that said, I’ll go ahead and give the tasting notes & recipes.

The first Spirited Gumball on WLP 051 (Cal V) started at 1.048 & finished out at 1.010. Here were my tasting notes:

– Light tangy white grape, bubblegummy with creamy finish, some sweet wheaty notes with a touch of nut, a little floral/soapy finish, some hop spice and resin, pH might be a hair low.

Here were my buddy Mike’s thoughts from a blind tasting:

– Banana and kiwi aroma, typical Grant farmhousey-ness, Belgian wheat notes, no hops in nose, nutty & wheaty, good mouthfeel, delicious all day drinker, maybe a touch of booze heat, smooths out as it warms.

Even though Spirited 051 is my least favorite of the two, it’s still finding itself endangered after a short stint on the kegerator. I think Mike was picking up Belgian notes and heat from some of the Nelson Sauvin characteristics. I thought it went a little winey with some spicy resiny notes, partially because of its dance partner being Chinook. Also, Mike recently had Prairie Ales Merica, which is a farmhouse beer with Nelson.

I should also mention that the grain bill seemed pretty solid and probably rather close to what 3 Floyds is doing if their advice in Brewing With Wheat can be trusted.

Anyway, here’s the BeerSmith report on Spirited 051:

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: 1.048 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      
43.00 g               Nelson Sauvin [12.60 %] - Dry Hop 8.0 Da Hop           14       0.0 IBUs      
47.00 g               Chinook [11.40 %] - Dry Hop 8.0 Days     Hop           13       0.0 IBUs

Next up was Spirited Gumball 028 on White Labs Edinburgh. I used this yeast because I’m a little burned out on Union Jack IPA and beers done on the usual English Ale 002. The beer went from 1.050 to 1.012 and I was quite happy with the results. My tasting notes were:

– Lime, tangerine, lemon front with nutty back, a little sweet & sour mandarin orange, drinks drier than the first beer despite flaked oats & higher finishing gravity. Similar wheaty notes, flows better, seems better constructed as a beer. Creamy citrus with a light fruit juicy nose.

Mike’s take on it was:

– Lemony nose & taste, clean crisp dry wheat, subtle farmhouse as it warms, & citrus that fades as it warms.

I believe he also mentioned it reminding him of drinking Pyramid Hef coming up as a young buck on the ruthless streets of Portland.

Out of the initial 4 side by side samplers, Spirited 028 has won every time. With that said, I’m on my 3rd pint of Spirited 051 right now and it is also a lovely beer. Hopefully I’ll get around to entering both in upcoming January competitions.

1/23/14 EDIT: Spirited 028 took 2nd place in Winterbrew 2014 in Chicago.

Here are the BeerSmith stats for Spirited 028:

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: 1.050 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      
29.00 g               Citra [14.10 %] - Dry Hop 8.0 Days       Hop           15       0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               Motueka [6.70 %] - Dry Hop 8.0 Days      Hop           17       0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               Mosaic [11.50 %] - Dry Hop 8.0 Days      Hop           16       0.0 IBUs

All in all, I think I will continue down this road with Edinburgh 028 yeast and various citrusy hops. I should have some Azacca & El Dorado in my possession tomorrow, so hoppy shenanigans will likely ensue.

Sooner or later I’ll give a broader update on everything else I have going on. Here’s a picture of Purring Kitten 4, the French Saison Wine, & Water Tweaker IPA all waiting for transfer.

20131219_212323

Purring Kitten Session IPA on WLP 862 Cry Havoc smelled incredible. I can’t wait to try it in the coming days.

Alright friends, I’ll leave you with something that still cracks me up everyday when I get to work. My hairy face on a popular product:

20131119_185612

Be well and prosper y’all.

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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!

2 More Awards + Many Beer Updates

Hello again everybody!

Version 2 of my Purring Kitten Session IPA has won awards in Redmond, Washington and here in Vegas over the last two weekends!

XBrew 2013 in Redmond, WA had a separate category for Session IPAs and then it somehow ended up lumped in with 35 other entries in category 14 India Pale Ale. I still haven’t gotten the score sheets back, but Purring Kitten got 2nd to some lucky bastard’s IPA. Presumably that means it won their made up category 56A Session IPA.

In SNAFU’s 2013 Memorial Competition we were only competing for best beer with a starting gravity over 1.060 aka Best Big Beer or Best Use Of Hops. My Mr. Bubbles Russian Imperial Stout won its mini Best Of Show round at its table, but got 5th or 6th in the overall Best Big Beer judging. Big time congratulations to my buddies Clyde & Tom as they took 2nd & 3rd for a delicious fruit mead and a very nice Rye IPA respectively.

Best Use Of Hops aka The Sheldon Jackson Award was where Purring Kitten picked up another 2nd place showing out of 26 entries. U Bottle It‘s U Hop It IPA partial mash kit beer also took Honorable Mention, so I was proud of that effort.

Prepare for more news as I have 7 entries in this weekend’s Nevada State Championship in Reno, 4 entries in this weekend’s Novembeerfest in Washington, and 4 entries in next weekend’s Land Of The Muddy Waters Competition in the Quad Cities aka Iowa/Illinois.

Unfortunately I found my first experience with the beer gun to result in some under-carbed beers, so 3 or 4 of my entries that went to Reno will get dinged pretty heavily for that. You live you learn.

The real fun this weekend will be when the Purring Kitten run on WLP 006 Bedford British competes in Reno and the other half of the batch run on WLP 002 English Ale, aka Unwanted Kitten, competes in Washington.

In other news, we had a lot of fun doing a demonstration brew in U Bottle It’s parking lot this last Saturday. I re-brewed Purring Kitten with a few tweaks and my buddies Tom, John, & Jeff all brewed and talked to anyone interested about their processes etc. I continue to greatly enjoy working for Gary & Heather and interacting with our lovely little homebrewing community on a daily basis. Here’s a pic of some of the early crew:

ubottleitbrewday1013

Thanks to all my buddies and new friends that came out for that event. Hopefully you all went home and brewed great beer!

Otherwise I thought I’d post updates on how all of my latest brews are progressing:

7/28 Helles – I ended up dry hopping this with 1oz Falconer’s Flight and 1oz Motueka since 8/15 Helles came out so well and this bad boy was weighing in in the low 6’s. Now I have a strange dry hopped Dortmunder Export on my hands. This should be pouring at the upcoming Brew’s Best Lake Las Vegas Festival at the SNAFU booth.

8/4 Helles aka Dortmund! Borussia Dortmund! – Coming in around 6.4% so this is definitely a heavy Helles. I just entered it in a couple competitions as a Dortmunder Export and it drinks quite a bit like one. I drank some of this tonight alongside Ayinger’s Jahrhundert (a very nice beer), and while my beer is fairly different I think it might fit the BJCP style description a little better. The only thing I might get dinged on are some of the citrus notes. We shall see.

8/15 Helles aka Helles Too Good For You – This beer drank super money right out of the fermenter. Very similar to Weihenstephaner Original Premium. Carbonation has made a few notes a little sharper, but I still think it has a very good shot in the next few competitions it’s in. Regardless, I’m going to re-brew it because I thought it was amazing to put in my face hole.

8/19 Mr Bubbles Russian Imperial Stout – As I mentioned, it had a fairly good showing in the SNAFU Memorial. It’s been quite popular with my beer geek crew and it’s competing this weekend in Reno. Unfortunately I only have 1 bottle left.

8/23 Purring Kitten Session IPA – Kicking ass and taking names. I thought the split side on WLP 002 English Ale ended a little bitter and didn’t bring the same pleasant malty finish to the party as the WLP 006 Bedford. Version 3 in U Bottle It’s parking lot is on WLP 041 Pacific Ale for a little more fruit & body. I also snuck in a couple ounces of Special Roast for some light biscuit notes in the finish.

9/11 Wit IPA – I tasted both of these (it was split on WLP 400 & 410) and thought I went a little overboard on the hops. It smelled absolutely heavenly though, so I’m on the right track. I decided to blend the 2 and add WLP 644 Brett B Trois but had a small mishap during transferring:

carboy disaster

So all I ended up with was that little bit of the WLP 410 side. I went ahead and ran that on top of the Brett B & L side of Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA. Because why not?

9/12 – Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA – Burtonizing one’s water is ever so slightly insane for an IPA with little malt base. The mineral/salt flavors linger on your tongue minutes after you’ve taken a sip. Just way over the top. Good cautionary tale for new water builders. 🙂

9/15 Smoked Dubbel – I’ve sent the side on WLP 575 to a couple competitions now and it hasn’t done well in terms of ribbons. I’ll have to get together with Kyle from Joseph James soon and talk to him about tweaking it. It turned out almost exactly how I wanted it, but it may need more smoke to win any hardware.

9/16 Kohatu Pale – The sweaty pineapple is strong in this hop. Not impressed. Base recipe with WLP 006 Bedford works though. I used the cake today for a new IPA.

9/17 Wag The Dog Northern English Brown – Just sent this off to a couple competitions. The flavors are really starting to come together. Nice notes of toffee, caramel, a little butterscotch & chocolate. Drinking this while looking at the BJCP guidelines makes me optimistic about its chances.

9/17 U Bottle It U Hop It IPA – The kit is selling well at the store and just got Honorable Mention for Best Use Of Hops! I’ll be doing a few tweaks on it for the new kits I make, but for the first partial mash beer I’ve made in years, I’m calling it a success.

9/19 Berliner Weiss – I just bottled this the other day. The lacto was starting to kick in but not yet quite where I want it. Unfortunately I only took a gravity towards the end of bottling, so I bottled a bunch of Berliner at 1.013. Easily 4 or 5 points high. I figured 5 weeks was plenty, but I guess not. I added a little strawberry extract to a couple gallons and I find that quite pleasant. Have to watch for bottle bombs. Lesson learned.

9/22 Hoppy Oatmeal Saison – Was trying to make an Oatmeal Blond, but the spicy citrus notes from the French Saison 3711 and the Mosaic & Nelson made it much more of a strange and wonderful Saison-ish beer. I re-brewed this on 10/21 with only tiny tweaks. It’s entered in the Reno competition but that bottling run was on the low side for carbonation.

10/2 Best By Yesterday Double IPA – I split the batch on WLP 001 Cal Ale & WLP 500 Trappist. It’s got some experimental hops, rice, & a pile of Simcoe & Citra. I’ll probably have the Belgian side pouring at the Brew’s Best fest.

10/7 Grant’s Golden Gumball – I get a ton of hits with people looking for 3 Floyd’s Gumballhead clone recipes so I thought I’d finally take another crack at my spin on it. I hopped it with German Brewer’s Gold, Galaxy, & Citra and ran it on WLP 051 Cal V yeast. I dry hopped it a week ago, so a post with tasting notes shouldn’t be too far off.

10/8 Lacto Wit/Belgian Shenanigans – I took the Oatmeal Saison recipe, hopped it to 9 IBUs, and gave a single vial of WLP 677 Lacto a crack at it warm for 2 days. Then I pitched Wyeast Forbidden Fruit. Still haven’t sampled it. Should be weird.

10/13 Black Wit – I brewed this because more dark beers were requested for the upcoming Brew’s Best fest. I’ll be zesting oranges, lemons, limes, & a grapefruit in the next few days to add to the keg. I used de-husked Carafa II for color.

10/21 Hoppy Oatmeal Saison re-brew – Going to dry hop this bad boy tomorrow! Can’t wait to have it back on tap!

10/23 Ordinary Bitter – I was inspired to brew this by one of the new Brewing With Style Shows on The Brewing Network. I used Liberty & Aussie Pride of Ringwood hops and split the batch on Wyeast Ringwood & WLP 013 London Ale. I’ll probably dry hop the least competition-worthy of the two.

10/26 Purring Kitten re-brew – Went down fairly well considering it’s hard to field 20 questions and brew a beer. I tweaked the water, put some Special Roast in, simplified the hop bill, and ended up letting the hops steep after the boil for over an hour (while waiting for a chiller). It seemed to come out a little dark. Should be interesting.

10/28 Attack Of The Blends IPA – Brewed this today. Used Zythos, Falconer’s Flight, & Falconer’s 7C’s. Also had to sneak in a little Mosaic & Citra at flameout. Very stripped down grain bill and pitched part of WLP 006 cake. I was going to run it on WLP 090 San Diego Super but my starter wort tasted like I picked up some wild yeast or lacto.

If anybody would like recipes, more detailed notes on process or results, or for me to send them a bottle or two just let me know. Here’s what I’ve become very acquainted with lately: Entry forms and bubble wrap!

mailing entries

Be well my brewing brothers and sisters. Hero out!

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!

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!

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!