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!

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 @BigDogsBrewing and Polaris and Pacific Jade Impressions

Big news again friends! Big news indeed. Ye olde humble homebrew blogger will be starting work at Big Dog’s Brewing Company on Monday! The gig is going to start out part time and the brewer, Dave Otto, assures me it won’t be glamorous, but it’s a huge step in the right direction and I can’t wait to get started! I’ve also cranked out my first post for Hooked On Hops and I’m sure you’ll enjoy that too! Hell, before you know it I might actually be ‘somebody’ in the beer community!

As you may be able to tell, I also got all my awards from the SNAFU competition! I almost feel like a real boy now! And I’m using too many exclamation points!!!

On a more ominous note, I realized as I was pitching a blend of Wyeast German Wheat 3333 and White Labs Belgian Saison Blend 568 into my latest homebrew batch, that I may be straying from the goal of total BJCP category domination. Regardless, I can’t wait to taste the mix of banana from the kristallweizen strain with the clove & funk from the saison blend. I also threw in some Chinook & Bravo hops because Ton Brewhouse has turned me on to that combo. It should be a big hot sexy farmhousey mess.

If you’ve been following along you know that I’ve also been doing some beers that heavily feature hops that intrigue me. If you made it out to the Brew’s Best festival at Lake Las Vegas you may have gotten a taste of my Polaris Double IPA. The aroma I pick up from shoving my nose into a 4oz bag of hops is certainly a little different than how the hops came out in the beer. While the hops give off A LOT of dank with a hint of orangey citrus in the background, the beer itself was pretty smooth and maybe even a little minty. At this juncture I view Polaris as a strong candidate for efficient & smooth bittering (assuming it were widely available), but wouldn’t recommend loading up on it late for flavor & aroma.

The other surprise in this hop featuring frenzy was the Pacific Jade Pale that Clyde & I brewed. We found the pepper & orange descriptors rather misleading based on our findings. We were picking up artificial grape, white pepper, earthy mushroom, a touch of citrus, & maybe a little white wine. You could barely tell we dry hopped with 6oz of hops. I was hoping to find something that could hold a candle to hops like Citra & Nelson Sauvin, but instead I found Pacific Jade to be a little understated and strange. It could be rather interesting in a lager. Anyway, we’ll see how the beer comes along as it carbonates.

Otherwise I’m just pumped to start cleaning kegs and graining out the mash tun at Big Dog’s on Monday! I’m going to start working on a project I call ‘Dank Dog’, which will be a saison with big late additions of Columbus (and possibly other danky hops). Apollo certainly hasn’t been ruled out.

While Dank Dog’s day in the sun may not be on the immediate horizon, I see the project being fun anyway. I’m leaning towards WLP565 Belgian Saison I, but haven’t ruled out WLP568 Saison Blend or WLP560 Classic Saison Blend (which I just ordered 3 vials of from Austin Homebrew). Maybe I’ll just load up on Columbus and try them all. I’m pretty sure I can find friends to help me drink all of that beer.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now. Check out Mad Fermentationist & his buddy at Brew Science if you’re into fun with plating Brett strains and yeasty experiments in general.

Proost y’all.

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!

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!

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.

My First Homebrewing Award!

Good news on a number of fronts my brewing friends! I got my first homebrewing award in the 25th Annual Southern California Regional Homebrew Championship! I took 2nd in Belgian & French Ales for my Lazy But Belgian, an American Pale Ale on White Labs 560 Classic Saison Blend yeast. Not bad for an experimental beer and my first brew in Vegas on top of that!

It’s slightly unfortunate that category 16 was the first to go since I’m such a passionate Saison guy and they’re in the same category. I can guarantee this won’t be my last category 16 award. It’s too much fun to stay away.

It’s also unfortunate that I can only get that yeast from Austin Homebrew because right now it’s about 112 degrees everyday and I don’t want to have my yeast pals shipped cross country in these conditions.

At any rate, you can find the recipe here and you can be sure I’ll brew that up again at some point in the near future.

My other news is that my Cicerone test yesterday went pretty well. I’m 90-95% sure I’m now a Certified Cicerone, although I’ll have to wait a while to know for sure. There is debate in the beer community here about whether or not being a Cicerone makes me that much more employable, but it’s nice to have something beer-related on my resume. Next up is becoming a BJCP judge!

I should be doing some brewing and bottling this weekend and early next week. I’m finally going to get around to the English IPAs I was planning when I started the blog & hopefully I’ll get my Gumballhead-esque beer thrown together as well.

I’m headed to Aces & Ales tonight for the SNAFU homebrewers meeting and it just happens to coincide with their Strong Ale Fest, so it should be a lovely disaster of beerliciousness.

I leave you with my Beehive Brewoff competition entries soaking in PBW (to get their labels off). The last 3 bottles of Lazy But Belgian & I Am Nelson Extra Extra Pale Ale.

Proost y’all.

Off Flavor Fun, Herbal Brew on #IPADay, and Beer Celebrity

Tuesday night I went to Tenaya Creek to do an off flavor kit with Luis from Hooked On Hops, the Tenaya brew crew, & my homeboy Ben (a fellow SNAFUer). It was a lot of fun and it left me feeling pretty confident for the tasting portion of my Cicerone re-take next week.

BIG thanks to everyone involved for putting that together. The Tenaya guys were marvelous hosts & I need to find excuses to go drink beer with them in their brewery more often.

I’m still not confident that my palette is sharp enough to be an accomplished BJCP judge, but I can tell I’m getting much better at tasting beer in general. All my practice is paying off! 😛

In other news, I can now say I’ve brewed with herbs. I’ve actually been looking into spices & herbs a little lately, but I was not quite fully prepared for last night’s brew. My buddy Reggie showed up with a ton of herbs. Well, a pound. Far too much for a 5 gallon batch. I could immediately tell I was going to need to try to be the voice of reason in this endeavor.

First off, I threw together a relatively mellow grain bill earlier in the day with the hopes of having a little malty backbone to stand up to whatever lunacy may come its way: 40% 2row, 23% white wheat, 13% Maris Otter (leftovers from another batch), 10% organic Munich, 7% rye, 7% honey. The rye was there for a little body in case we added Brett. The honey was added by the mad herber.

The recipe was originally designed to be around 6.5% and I was planning on using more of the White Labs 585 Belgian Saison III. Instead we ended up with a starting gravity of 1.074 which will likely put us in the 8% range, not factoring in the other pound of honey Reggie wants to add in secondary. Our yeast choice morphed to a combo of a starter-less vial of White Labs 570 Belgian Golden Ale & a twice stepped up batch of White Labs 645 Brett C.

In general, I’m quite curious to see how Brett acts in situations like this. There are certain expectations for Brett when it’s the primary or secondary yeast involved, but it’s going in with a (likely) bigger army than its faster acting competitor. Obviously we will not get a remotely clean look at this interaction because of all the other donkeyness going on.

The donkeyness started when we made tea out of each of the herbs in coffee cups. I was aware of wormwood‘s presence in absinthe but didn’t really give tasting the tea much thought. I’m a brewer. I taste my ingredients and try to figure out how they’ll work in my beer.

After tasting each of the herbal teas I went out to hit the next temperature level in our step mash. That was when I noticed I wasn’t quite right. I’d only had one beer. What the hell?

It wasn’t terribly serious, but I was definitely feeling a little blurry. Great. I’m sure John Palmer recommends psychotropic herb sampling while brewing. That’ll be the new chapter in the updated version of How To Brew.

So anyway, the rest of the brewing went fine. I suppose. We got 6 gallons of likely disaster. We dumped in a pound of honey. We added strange herbal tea. We went and drank IPAs for IPA Day. We’re hoping for the best. 🙂

To add to the fun, I did not decant the Brett C starter because there was still a pellicle & truthfully I wasn’t sure a little starter wort was going to matter. Anyway, in goes the Brett & then I smell the flask. I was expecting slightly funky with maybe a little fruit. Instead it smelled like sweaty sloppy joes. Really really meaty. I don’t know Brett C well enough to know if something was wrong. Oh well. I guess we can always throw more herbs in.

Haha. I just read the herb skullcap can be used to treat alcoholism. What a wonderful ingredient for a beer!

In other news, I made a $19 fermentation chamber/swamp cooler for my upcoming English IPAs. 

It’s a 50gal container from Walmart and will fit 2 buckets & a 5gal glass carboy. It’s not the prettiest, but I think it should work fairly well. I’ll report back on its effectiveness.

I’ll leave you good people with my celebrity appearance in a Tenaya Creek Facebook ad: