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!

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.

1st Attempt at Gumballhead Clone and Other Beerdonkulousness

I like to think of myself as a man of the masses. A people pleaser if you will. My blog post that gets the most views and by far the most search engine hits is the one on throwing together a 3 Floyds Gumballhead clone. Guard De Gumball has been bottled for 5 days now (and is plenty well carbed), so I thought I would share my impressions (and recipe).

First of all, I ran this beer on WLP072 French Ale yeast. I believe the clone called for WLP002 English Ale, or something similar. The wisdom of that choice is debatable. Interestingly enough, part of the reason I ended up using French Ale yeast was my friends at UBottleIt (my local homebrew store) have trouble getting rid of the Platinum aka seasonal yeast strains AND I like all things farmhouse related.

With all that said, I have a drinkable little beer on my hands here. It came in at 6.17% ABV (1.064-1.017). The original version is 5.6% ABV. The pleasant little grapefruity note of Amarillo is definitely in the mix, but not dominant. I suspect a cleaner yeast like WLP001 Cali Ale would allow the hops to shine considerably more.

It’s tough for me to put my finger on exactly how I feel about it otherwise. It feels a little bit like a beer torn between being an easy drinking late hopped pale & a pleasantly maltier style. I suspect it will meld together a little better once it’s been bottled for a couple weeks. Right now I’d give Guard De Gumball a 3 out of 5 bottle caps on Untappd (and I just did).

So far, I think my next attempt will be on WLP002 or 007 and I’ll dry hop a little bigger & longer. At any rate, here’s the recipe (and as you can see I’m more of a ‘convey the message’ guy than a ‘present things nicely’ guy):

Since we’re sampling 5 day old beer, I thought I’d update everyone on how the session IPAs were progressing as well. Session IPA 1 aka Purring Kitten is very promising. It has a gorgeous tangy grapefruity aroma, good body, & an interesting malty/bready taste with a lingering satay sauce finish (which I enjoy).

Session IPA 2 aka Snoozing Kitten is the same beer but with a blend of Munich malts in place of the Vienna in version 1, different hops at the same times & IBU levels, and WLP009 Australian Ale yeast in place of WLP006 Bedford British. So far Session 2 is not quite as good as the first attempt. The Vienna malt appears crucial. Session IPA 3 on WLP540 Abbey IV got bottled a couple days ago, so I’m waiting to sample it.

My other news to report is that I left the limes in too long for the Lime Saison. The samples taste like Mr. Clean’s fruity genitals now. Heather at UBottleIt was kind enough to give me an expired package of Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend, so in that went! We’ll check back with Lime Saison in 6-12 months.

Speaking of wild things, the Belgian Dubbel wildin’ out with Jolly Pumpkin dregs smells great and looks wilder every time I check on it. I’ll probably bottle it up for the next competition, since I can’t sneak it in for the 10/20 SNAFU Memorial at this point.

I’m also working on putting together a collaborative hoppy beer with my fellow Las Vegas blogging Cicerones for the Montelago Beerfest on 11/10. Regardless of the results, Luis from Hooked On Hops & Aaron from The HopHead Report are good dudes, and you’ll probably enjoy their stuff as well. On that note, I’ll also be contributing for Hooked On Hops from time to time so go ahead and bookmark that shizzle!

Also, my most recent order from Amazon (using thebrewingnetwork.com affiliate link) was the new IPA book from Mitch Steele and a scale that measures grams much more accurately for my brewing salt additions. The IPA book was somewhat useful for some recipes and recipe formulation perspective, but unless you want to geek out on the history of the style, I wouldn’t bother. The scale should prove quite useful.

Finally, please feel free to shoot me an email or leave a message if you’d like any help/tips for preparing to take the Cicerone test. I’d be happy to oblige. Alright, time to enjoy my Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine over by the pool.

Proost y’all!

100% Brett Rye IPA is delicious and other updates

Well, it’s time for an update! I’d been waiting to have a big announcement of when & where I’d be working as an assistant brewer, but things are developing more slowly than expected. Stay tuned on that front.

However, just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been brewing!

Batches since my last post:

– 8/29 All Galaxy Belgian IPA on WLP 530/570 mix

– 9/2 All 2-row Palisade Pale on WLP 002 (potential R&D for Laughlin)

– 9/14 Guard De Gumball on WLP 072 French Ale – finally brewed my version of Gumballhead!

– 9/15 Wit on WLP 410 using 2oz of Pacific Jade at flameout in place of orange peel

I’d like to advise caution with that Wit strain. I woke up to open fermenting and the bucket’s lid trying to surf the web in my computer chair. I’m just happy my trusty cat assistant seemed unscathed. She usually sleeps in this chair.

 

In the coming days I’ll also be brewing a Session IPA (4.2%) but I still haven’t decided what yeast to run it on. I’ve stepped up some expired vials of WLP 009 Australian Ale (& the starter wort was nice and mellow), but I also have some WLP 006 Bedford British Ale ready to rock. Basically everything limited release Platinum strain that I’ll have a hard time getting again. Here are links that I found helpful during recipe formulation: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.

I should also update my adoring fans on how the 4 beers I bottled on 9/3 are shaping up! The Sink Spoon 100% Brett Rye IPA is by far the star of the show. Very delicious. I had someone request a 6 pack to take to their wine club on the 20th. The idea of wine people being brought into beer by their most hated enemy, Brettanomyces, is almost more than I can handle. Anyway, here’s the recipe!

The saisons on WLP 585 & 670 were both pretty good. I think American Farmhouse 670 definitely has some future potential for me. The idea of slowly getting more Brett-ed out is just too exciting to pass up.

My New Zealand Union Jack didn’t taste terribly cloying & under-attenuated when I bottled, but now it’s just way too sweet. WLP 002 English Ale has so far proven to be an interesting animal to deal with. I bottled 3 gallons of NZ Union Jack & put the remaining gallon plus directly onto the WLP 644 Brett cake. I’m looking forward to seeing if that dries it out much & potentially playing around with the 002/644 mix.

In other news, my homebrewing award & score sheets from the So Cal Regional showed up! Lazy But Belgian (recipe here) got a 38 and 33, Lake Water For Chocolate Imperial Amber got 33 and 31, & Hops Ate My Homework got 31 & 30.

 

I think my favorite comments were from the judge that gave me a 38, but knocked me for glue on the bottle and the judge who told me that Hops Ate My Homework could use more aroma hops. The aroma hops comment made me laugh especially hard because that beer had 1.5lbs of hops in it & most of them were late or dry hops. At any rate, I’m just excited to have a ribbon to my name and can’t wait to rack up more.

Otherwise I have a lot of random beerliciousness ongoing. The 100% Brett C Tripel still tastes like umami & sweaty sloppy joes after 3 months, so I gave it the big pile of random Brett & sour dregs I’d amassed. So far in 2 attempts with Brett C as a primary strain I’ve found it to be a little disgusting.

My English IPA on WLP 023 Burton Ale appears crapped out at 1.020 despite a few vigorous attempts at rousing, so it got dry hops last night. I probably should’ve pulled the Lime Saison off of the limes when it tasted good, because now it’s a little overboard. I’m debating between pitching some Flanders style mix on it or hitting it with my big mess of stepped up Brett B & L. My 8/24 Hef isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as the 8/20 so I gave it an ounce of Nelson Sauvin dry hops. Nelson fixes everything in my book.

Anyway, as you can see the operation just keeps cranking along. I may whip up a few smaller, quicker turnaround beers to have more entries for the SNAFU Memorial a month from now. Surely I can dominate the non-existent session IPA category!

Before I sign off I want to say I love my girlfriend like crazy and I’m very happy to be celebrating our 1 year anniversary today! Pickle loves you Penguin! 😀

Proost y’all!