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!

Fun with Water, Farmhouse Oktoberfest and Lime Saison Update

Howdy my brewing brothers and sisters. Since my last post I’ve brewed a couple batches & continued to expand my knowledge & efforts in the field of water building.

If you’ve followed my brewing at all, you’ve noticed I have a tendency to start trying things and then I double back for proper schooling. Water building certainly has not been an exception. My 8/20 Hef had a Residual Alkalinity of -58 with a Chloride:Sulfate ratio of 2:1. Perhaps a little aggressive on the chlorides. My 8/24 Hef had a Residual Alkalinity of -80 with a Chloride:Sulfate ratio of 0.89:1. A little more reasonable. It appears Residual Alkalinity values that low are acceptable for rather light beers, although they might be coming in a touch hot.

Anyway, I built water for my 8/27 Farmhouse Oktoberfest and had a RA of -60 with a Chloride:Sulfate ratio of 1:1. I based my water building off of an online water profile I found for the city of Munich (75ppm Calcium, 120 Sulfate, 18 Magnesium, 2 Sodium, 60 Chloride). I upped the chlorides to shoot for a little maltier interpretation of the style. All was well. My RA looked low for the color of the beer, but I was ballparking Munich’s water. However, today I ran into Munich’s water profile for Oktoberfest in John Palmer’s How To Brew and he indicates the sulfates are 10ppm & chlorides are 2ppm.

Needless to say, my water is way out of the ballpark if those are more accurate numbers. Even my chloride:sulfate ratio is way off. Oh well, we’ll see how it turns out. I did a small single decoction mash on an Oktoberfest base recipe (a modified version of Jamil’s in Brewing Classic Styles) that’s running on White Labs 670 AKA saison yeast with brettanomyces. I’m not sure with all those other factors that my water building attempt will be the biggest issue. At least Farmtoberfest dresses stylishly.

Regardless, my water knowledge is growing appreciably. I listened to (and took notes) on the first 3 Brew Strong water shows. I’ve listened to the 4th part with the Q&A, but I don’t take notes or retain things quite as well on the treadmill.

I have also taken a look at the Vegas water profile & filled its values into this water spreadsheet for your using pleasure. At first glance it appears that Vegas water is best suited for rather bitter beers that are pale-amber-copper colored. These deductions are based on a Chloride:Sulfate ratio of 0.41 & a Residual Alkalinity of 64. John Palmer says a ratio 0-0.5 puts you in very bitter beer territory & a RA of 0-120 puts you in that color range.

My other news to report is that a sampling of the 6/10 Lime Saison went down quite favorably with one of the Mikes that assisted in last night’s brewing. It had a little spice, a little fruit, & the lime is present but not overpowering. I added 2oz of Motueka dry hops almost a week ago and I dare say that bad boy might be ready for bottling.

Alright, time to squeeze in a quick workout & then go do a little grilling and beer pairing. Proost y’all!

German Hefs and Oktoberfests

Hello fellow heroes! I’m just finishing up sampling 8 Oktoberfest-style beers so the knowledge I shall drop shall be slightly altered. Fun, but altered.

First I want my loving fans to know that I’m still waiting to hear back on the brewpub gig, which is having some interesting effects on my brewing. It has me holding off on acquiring a chest freezer & other upgrades, but it has me brewing more in case these are my last homebrew batches for a while. It also has me working on German Hefs because supposedly the DE filter will be the toughest thing to master in the brewpub setting and an unfiltered beer would be first on deck.

Taking all that into account, I brewed a hef on Monday. After listening to Jamil talk about how to nail a hef, I did a decoction and I’m trying to run it at around 62 in my new ghetto Walmart swamp cooler. The recipe was 53/47 White Wheat to German Pils and I used Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephaner with no starter. The swamp cooler is usually about 60-61 when I check it in the morning & drops to between 54-57 when I drop a couple frozen water jugs in. On my next batch, I might add one at a time to see if I can keep the floor temp of the swamp water a little warmer.

Also, lately I’ve been brewing with RO water and then adding gypsum, calcium chloride etc to build the water profile I want. I realized right before I was going to fire up ye olde burner that I’d been Firestone Walkering my last few brews AKA IPAs (100ppm Calcium, 100ppm Sulfate) but wasn’t ready to build water for a hef. Based on info from The Mad Fermentationist & using this spreadsheet I went with a 2 to 1 Chloride to Sulfate ratio and ended up with 83ppm Calcium, 108ppm Chloride, & 54ppm Sulfate. I’d have added Epsom salt for a little Magnesium if I’d have had some on hand. I thought those numbers were fairly on point with the historical brewing water of Germany, but it turns out that ratio was reversed in Munich & Dortmund. Anyway, it’ll be fun to see how it turns out.

I’ll be listening to Brew Strong episodes tonight and tomorrow to get a feel for what water adjustments I want to do for tomorrow’s batch of hef.

In other news, my feline assistant enjoys the swamp cooler and whistling airlock & Jamil’s hef episode has both fairly spotty audio quality & a funny story about Justin’s friends puking in a limo (at the beginning).

So given my renewed interest in German hefs, I tasted some commercial examples:

Weihenstephaner – 98 on Beer Advocate – Hits me as a big vanilla banana. Silky smooth. Has crowd pleaser written all over it. Clove becomes more present as it warms. Hint of bitterness & lingering carbonation on finish. Great beer. I tried it first because I’m supposedly using its yeast for my hef.

Schneider Weisse – 89 on Beer Advocate – Darker than the last beer. Finish goes a little iffy. More bitter. Finish has some bready/toasty/smoke flavors. Seems off. I’m not entirely sure that the trip to America wasn’t rather unkind to this bottle.

Ayinger – 92 on Beer Advocate – Very light in color. Mostly clove flavors. A touch of spicy hop. Clove, slightly bready, a little banana in finish. Good hef. No complaints here.

Paulaner – 91 on Beer Advocate – Shade darker, probably has some Munich. Finish is a little bready/toasty/bitter. Picked up a little clove & not much banana.

Konig Ludwig – 84 on Beer Advocate – Typical hef flavors are present but very mellow. Has a touch of clove, probably a little Munich malt. Graham cracker in nose. Reminds me of an American hef.

All in all I’m quite excited to hear that Wyeast 3068/White Labs 300 is Weihenstephaner’s yeast strain. I think that if I can nail the fermentation temps on a pretty simple base recipe, I’ll have an award winning hef that I love.

In other news, somehow yesterday I dreamed up a saison version of an Oktoberfest. I understand that Oktoberfest is a lager, but the idea was to use the Okto base recipe with a saison yeast & possibly some Brett.

Of course I had to taste 8 different Oktoberfests before important brewing decisions could be made!

I decided to taste all 8 & make notes before I consulted the BJCP guidelines. I wanted to form my own impressions based on my own preferences, before assessing which was doing its category the most justice.

Ayinger – 88 on Beer Advocate – Bready malt in nose, Germany-ness to it. Nose reminds me of an alt. Finish a touch bitter & smoky. Would like a tad softer & rounder finish with a little more residual sweetness. Improved as it warmed up. The style guidelines do indicate the finish should be on the dry side.

Spaten – 80 on Beer Advocate – Green bottle. Awesome. Finish has a little skunk to it. Not a ton of maltyness. Skunk overrides. Why does anybody use green bottles?

Gordon Biersch – 82 on Beer Advocate – Different profile than previous two. Feels like flavor wave drops off too quickly. Malt flees the scene & noble hops leave a long finish.

Shiner – 77 on Beer Advocate – A little bit more in my wheelhouse. Malty breadiness hangs on throughout. Little toast. Finish is rounder with a little noble hop. In the interests of full disclosure, this & Real Ale’s Oktoberfest were my first introductions to the style.

Stevens Point – 80 on Beer Advocate – Malt is less rich. Crisp clean finish. Very drinkable beer but it feels like they played it pretty safe.

Samuel Adams – 83 on Beer Advocate – Usually Sam’s beers are too malty for me. This style should be a softball. But no, the malt seems a little understated. Very clean with nothing offensive. The flavor profile could be a good amount richer for my taste.

Hofbrau Munchen – 76 on Beer Advocate – Woah! Very light! Apparently some domestic versions can be golden & like a strong Helles. This is way different from the others & it’s a little skunked from its green bottle. It drinks like a slightly richer pilsner. I thought this was mislabeled until I looked at the style guidelines.

Widmer – 78 on Beer Advocate – There’s something different about its malt profile. There’s a strange light fruit ester in the nose (which is not to style). Pretty drinkable, but not super clean & possibly has some off flavors.

So after all this tasting (while making 3 yeast starters) I’ve concluded I’d like my Oktoberfest to be a little richer, with very low hop bitterness. Above all I want to drink something that seems like somebody set out to make a rich malty beer. Not a hedged safe play easy guzzler.

Now with that knowledge, I need to marry that with my Farm-toberfest idea. I’ve chosen White Labs 670 American Farmhouse (a combo of saison & Brett) for this beer-bauchery. Given that I didn’t like the dry finishes of some of the beers, I’ll probably mash quite high to try and leave some residual sweetness. I’ll also use an extremely light hand on any hop flavor additions, as I wasn’t sure the noble hops were adding anything good whenever I could detect them.

Other than that, I just have a few random items to report. The SNAFU Memorial Competition is in a couple months & I’m starting to try and plan out what to brew to win ‘Best Use of Hops’ & ‘Best Big Beer’. I might be too late in the game to whip up some things for the big beer, but using a ton of delicious hops is always in my wheelhouse.

Yesterday I dry hopped most of the beers hanging out in the beer tower.

Lime Saison, Rufus, NZ Union Jack, Saison 3’s, Am Farmhouse, & Brett Rye IPA. All those bad boys got their first or second wave of dry hops. A lot of Nelson Sauvin involved of course. They should all turn out pretty well, assuming I have the time to bottle & keg them.

I was thinking Wild Dubbel might be a little more tame. Turns out I was wrong. I have 4-5 honey mangoes that are cut up and hanging out in the back of my freezer. Wild dubbel just might get some delicious fruit to play with too.

I still had yeast starters of WLP650 Brett B & WLP653 Brett L sitting around, so I decided to combine those and give them some new starter wort to chew on. I tasted their old starter worts too.

Brett B 650 – Heavy nail polish in aroma. Flavor hints at something else & then gets nail polished out.

Brett L 653 – Strange meaty/smoky aroma I can’t quite put my finger on. Has an umami-ness to it. The flavor profile is slightly more mellow but more meat with a touch of sweaty horse.

Can’t wait to team these awesome flavor profiles up! 😛

Alright, that wraps up this episode of heroicness.

Proost y’all.