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!

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proost y’all.

I Love @greenflashbrew Rayon Vert and Recipes For Good Saisons and Session IPA

Hi brewing brothers and sisters!

I’m writing this with 2 whistling airlocks serenading me, which I’d bet most of you agree is a beautiful thing. Anyway, I was working on a (still incomplete) piece for Hooked On Hops the other day about the coming wave of Brett beers and couldn’t quite remember the exact beer that got me interested in Brettanomyces. Today it hit me. Meet Rayon Vert!

Today I found Green Flash Rayon Vert had made its way to town and that gorgeous little 4 pack of goodness jogged my memory. Rayon Vert appears to be Green Flash doing its version of Orval: a fairly straightforward Belgian Pale bottled with Brett. Of course I prefer Rayon Vert because it was my first love, but also because its hopping is a little fruitier & base probably just a touch lighter. Rest assured Orval, your (fairly thick) bowling pin bottle will always be my first choice in a bar fight.

All of that segues (amazingly I knew how to spell that) into yesterday’s double brew day. After a strong 2 hours of post SNAFU meeting sleep I arose and brewed the second coming of my first beer on the White Labs 670 American Farmhouse strain (Hay Gurl) to bring the world Hay Gurl 2: My Boyfriend Brett Is Back. Labeling someday will be a nightmare.

Besides that, anybody that follows my brewing at all knows re-brewing any batch is almost unheard of. I’m too busy bouncing around from one Platinum strain to the next with the latest hops etc etc. I’m a big ball of brewing creativity which results in the occasional amazing beer, a lot of mediocre beer, & a fair amount of back-to-the-drawing-board beer.

But what can I say? I’m a sucker for fruity hops, saison yeast with Brett, & people enjoying my creations. That sums up Hay Gurl. RECIPE HERE. Also, yes…I do wish I’d have given the beer a slightly less ridiculous name that didn’t involve a Ryan Gosling reference.

But beyond that, getting to taste Rayon Vert nearly a year after my first encounter makes it clear that I’m striving to brew a fruitier hoppier version of my first love. While my beer knowledge & brewing abilities have probably quadrupled, I realize I’m unconsciously trying to tweak an ‘old’ favorite. The less romantic version of that story is that I love hoppy Belgians, fairly clean malt bills, & Brett. Of course I’m trying to combine all of the above.

At any rate, I shot for more sessionable (OG 1.052) with a bigger hop addition at flameout for Hay Gurl Deuce. (You may recall that Hay Gurl aka the 48% efficiency batch was originally going to be more on the sessionable side, but a broken hydrometer made me think it was less than banging.) Anyway, the aroma of my last 4oz of Citra wasn’t as killer as usual, but the Simcoe is still holding its shooting arm in the air on account of how baller it is. So yep yep, Hay Gurl 2 is off and running. It’s actually trying to blow off its lid 2 feet away from me. Good times.

My second batch of the doubleheader was the brainchild of myself, Aaron from The HopHead Report & Luis from Hooked On Hops. Everybody seemed interested in a lighter bodied Double IPA using my newly acquired pile of 21% AA Polaris hops, so I went ahead and whipped something up (using Jamil’s DIPA base recipe). Hopefully it’s yummy and we all agree it should be proudly poured at the Montelago Beerfest on 11/10. At 284 IBU with a hop that big and danky, I’m just excited to try it period. Worst case I’ll age half the batch on Brett and throw the other half at passing motorists in Ziplock bags. 🙂

Besides Hay Gurl, I have 10 other entries in this Saturday’s SNAFU competition. I have 2 others that have enough promise to share the recipes for. The Saison De Starter side of my 585 experiment (recipe here) turned out to be fairly popular and my Purring Kitten Session IPA #1 (recipe here) on White Labs 006 Bedford has earned high praise so far as well.

Wish me luck in the big competition this weekend! I’ll be judging Friday & Saturday and since I failed to enter a beer in EVERY single category, they’ll likely put me to good use. As always, feel free to ask for any help or guidance on the Cicerone test.

Proost y’all!

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.