Another BrewZaster: Feedback Edition

 

I thought it might be fun to share the tasting notes on two of our beers.An Unexpected IPA. It was supposed to be an American Pale Ale.

Last month two of Flogthis Brewing’s home brewed beers were judged as part of the Battle of the Brews home brew competition. We here at Flogthis Brewing want to thank the Sonoma Beercrats for the home brew portion of this event.

The two beers were part of a split batch of our House Pale Ale (recipe here); one batch was pitched with Safale S-05 yeast and dry-hopped with Australian Galaxy hops, and the other with Safale S-33 yeast. The beers were entered as a Pale Ale (BJCP Category 10A) and a Blonde Ale (BJCP Category 6B) respectively. Given the hopping schedule, the Blonde category was a bit of a stretch, but the S-33 yeast does eat a bit of the bitterness.

The Pale took Second Place.

Here is the feedback the beers received from the two sets of judges:

Judge #1 – 10A American Pale Ale entry 45

Aroma                                                                      9/12

Nice hoppy aroma, citrus, floral, piney-good array of American aromas.

Appearance                                                           2/3

Clear, good Golden-Amber color, moderate head falls quickly.

Flavor                                  13/20

Good hop flavor supports aroma. Crisp, refreshing. Good bitterness, not overdone. Malt flavor is a bit neutral; more like a blonde ale.

Mouthfeel                           3/5

Well carbonated, medium-full mouth feel. A bit astringent.

Overall impression                                 8/10

A very nice example of the style. A little more richness from the malt would better support the well-chosen hop profile, maybe a touch of caramel malts?

Total                                                                                                 33/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ _ _ _ _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ _ _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ _ _ _ _ Lifeless

 

Judge #2 – 10A American Pale Ale entry 45

Aroma                                              8/12

Has hop and malt aromas. light bready aromas from the malt, but distinctly missing the hallmark hop character of an APA. No diacetyl or DMS. Some hops come through as it warms up.

Appearance                                   2/3

Very clean gold color with off-white head that quickly subsides to a thin foamy film.

Flavor                                              13/20

Light vegetal flavor (DMS?) Comes through over the malt flavor. Strong hop bitterness but surprisingly less hop flavor. Malt comes through with bread and crackers. Slightly sour character too. Maybe from grain hull tannins?

Mouthfeel                                                   3/5

Medium light body, a little light on the carbonation and some astringent dryness in the finish.

Overall impression                                 7/10

I see where this beer is going but it seems too bitter, and without enough aroma and flavor. Also there is a little sour/astringency that distracts from the overall character. But, with lesser bittering and more hop flavor/aroma this would be right on track.

Total                                                                                     33/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ _ _ x _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ _ _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ _ _ x _ Lifeless

 

Judge #3 – 6 B blonde ale entry 46

Aroma                                                                      8/12

Hop-dominated aroma, yet light overall. Vinous, grapefruit-rind, orange-rind combo. Lighter fruits like melon, peach appear. Light malt graininess, no off aromas.

Appearance                                                           3/3

Clear, golden, SRM ~ 5. Thick, long-lasting head and fine white bubbles. Looks great.

Flavor                                  12/20

Balanced flavors of hops and malt, though pushing the upper “west coast” and of the blonde style on hop flavor and bitterness. Appropriate fermentation, no off flavors. Aftertaste.

Mouthfeel                           4/5

Medium body, high carbonation, some astringency. Light warmth from alcohol.

Overall impression                                 6/10

This is a “West Coast” blonde. Although I prefer a less intense blonde with hoppiness, this is mostly to style. My biggest criticism is the lingering bitterness. As this should be an entry-level craft beer, the lingering bitterness reduces over all drinkability.

Total                                                                                                 33/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ x _ _ _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ x _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ x _ _ _ Lifeless

Judge #4 – 6 B blonde ale entry 46

Aroma                                              7/12

citrus and peach hop aromas-medium, some grainy malt in background, light esters-OK for style

Appearance                                   3/3

deep gold-like copper, clear, light phase, persistent white head

Flavor                                               11/20

light, clean malt flavor, some slight graininess-wheat? Medium hop flavor-American, moderate bitterness

Mouthfeel                                                   3/5

Medium-light body, medium-high carbonation, some alcohol warmth-not to style

Overall impression                                 6/10

This blonde ale is close to crossing the line to pale ale territory. The hop bitterness and alcohol are too high for a blonde ale. The fermentation and execution otherwise is fine; lower your malt and hop bitterness.

Total                                                                                     30/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ _ _ x _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ x _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ _ x _ _ Lifeless

 

 

 

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This Week in BrewZasters: Go Yeast Old Man

Yeast Explosion

Yeast will build up some explosive pressure when they are well fed in a sealed container. I am still finding spots of yeast in nooks and tiny crevices around the kitchen.

Microscopic yeast are in the air all around us. They are the reason that we have beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks.

Beer (and therefore yeast) lubricated the rise of civilization:

At some point in prehistory yeast fell into the gruel of one of our ancestors–after all, yeast is in the air around us. The gruel had been made from grain that had started to sprout (when seeds sprout an enzyme is released that breaks the starches stored in the seed into sugars the seedling will need for energy). Or perhaps the gruel tasted bad and our ancestor spit into the bowl (our saliva contains enzymes that break starch into sugars). The yeast started eating the available sugars. As they ate they produced ethanol (C2H5OH) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The next day, our ancestor would have noticed some froth on the top of the gruel, sipped it, and she (yes, she) found it didn’t cause problems. In fact, she felt better after drinking the frothy liquid.

She had discovered what Oscar Wilde discovered generations later:

“I have made an important discovery…that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, produces all the effects of intoxication.” — Oscar Wilde

Without yeast we would not have beer or civilization.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Ron (who runs Kelsey Creek Brewing) gave me a container of Irish ale yeast–a big container of yeast. So much yeast that I could have used it for 100 gallons of wort (rather than the 5 gallons I planned to make). I put the plastic container in the refrigerator for use in the following day’s brewing. Cold temperatures make yeast less active. But, even with the cold, they were active enough to produce a lot of CO2 gas.

The picture above shows the aftermath of my opening the plastic jar. I’m still finding yeast in places in our kitchen.

Fortunately for me, my wife loves the beer I make.

===============

Here is some yeast (in a Better Bottle fermenter) eating sugars and producing CO2 and alcohol:

Related articles:

Tap-A-Draft Review

The Tap-A-Draft system  is a reasonable compromise between the drudgery of bottling and the ease of kegging. Each of the three see-through plastic mini-kegs holds 6 liters (1.58 gallons or 203 ounces) of liquid. The three bottles can hold 4.75 gallons of product. It costs about  $70.

Tap-A-Draft system

Pros:

  • It’s  affordable. It’s significantly cheaper than a kegging system (by 60-100%).
  • You don’t need a second refrigerator  to hold it. In my refrigerator it took up about one-third of the lower shelf. That’s a significant displacement, but not ginormous.  The bottle is 12.5″ long, and 7.5″ in diameter. The dispenser spout adds 4″ to the length.
  • You can see through the PET plastic bottle. So you know how much beer or homemade soda you have on hand.
  • You can force carbonate beer or soda, and drink it darn-near immediately.
  • The dispensing valve has two built-in regulators that maintain a constant 15 psi.
  • You have to fill three bottles only, instead of 51 12-ounce bottles.
  • The CO2 cartridges are easy to handle and change out.
  • The dispenser has a one-way check valve to keep CO2 in the bottle.
  • Pressure relief in case of excessive pressure. If the pressure in the bottle exceeds 60psi, the valve opens to release the pressure in the bottle.
  • The valve carries a one-year warranty against any manufacturing defects.

Cons:

  • The dispenser valve is not spring loaded.
  • You must ensure the valve is completely closed and the locking tab is securely in place, otherwise it will drip. I have lost three gallons of beer in a span of two weeks.  (Yes, it is “operator error” but it requires a boatload of diligence to keep it from happening.)

Because, I have now suffered two dispenser valve accidents and lost some darn good beer (My L’il Sumpin’ gone–I was tempted to lick the floor), I’m going to use fill only one Tap-A-Draft bottle and put the remainder of the beer in 12-ounce or 22-ounce bottles. Your mileage may vary.

I am a Homebrewer – five reasons you should be one too

  1. Homebrewing offers you the chance to be creative. If you want habañero and pine needles infused beer, you can have habañero and pine needles infused beer. Light or dark…pink, if that’s lights your candle, is yours to make.
  2. Homebrewing gives you honest feedback as to whether you did it correctly. Other art forms and sports require subjectivity. Beer doesn’t lie.[1]If your beer has a problem, it tells you.
  3. When you homebrew, you know what goes into your beer. Only the finest habañeros for your habañero infused beer.
  4. When you homebrew, you connect with a tradition that is thousands of years old.
  5. When you homebrew, you will learn the secret handshake that all homebrewers around the world know that gets them free beer at all places that serve good beer. [2]

Footnotes:
[1]Obviously, when you enter tasting competitions that is different. Beer however will make you think you are stronger, wittier, smarter, cleverer, handsomer, than you really are.
[2]I made that last one up. There is no secret handshake.

From no brew to homebrew: Make your own beer in 3 simple steps

Malt Rainier ad

Malt Rainier ad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it take to get started brewing beer? First, “Relax don’t worry, have a homebrew” (or a craft beer if there’s no homebrew around). It’s very easy. People have been brewing their own beer for as long as they have been growing grains. Several people at the Lake County Home Wine Makers Festival asked me so here is what I think I know you’ll need: 1-ingredients, 2-equipment, and 3-cleaner, sanitizer, and a few other things.

1. Ingredients

Let’s keep this basic. What we think of as beer (or ale) is made from water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.

When just beginning it’s probably best to start with an easy-to-brew kit. There is a list of beginner’s kits at the bottom of this post. The kit will come with instructions and have most or all of the needed ingredients (some companies want you to pick the yeast):

  • Malt – When you’re just starting out my recommendation is to use a malt extract. Malt extract comes in liquid or powder form. Some extracts have already been flavored with hops and some have not. I prefer the non-flavored extracts so that I can add the hops but you’re free to choose. Just know that the extracts are not all alike.
  • Hops – hops add balance to the beer’s taste by bittering the sugary-sweet malt. Hops come in different flavor characteristics and intensities. As you get a few batches made with kits under your belt, you’ll begin to get a feel for what you prefer. One note about bitterness, the bitterness of the hops in the brew are expressed in International Bittering Units (IBUs). Generally, the higher the IBUs, the greater the bitterness (e.g. India Pale Ales like Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo will have more IBUs than Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale). IBUs aren’t the end-all-be-all since a beer with lots of malts (e.g. a “High Gravity” beer) can overpower high IBUs and the resulting beer may still taste quite sweet.
  • Yeast – yeast makes a huge difference in the taste of the beer. Different style yeasts make different styles of beer. My suggestion is to stick with ale yeasts until you’ve brewed a goodly number of kits. Lager yeasts need cooler conditions than the more-or-less room temperature fermenting ale yeasts.
  • Water – generally tap water that tastes okay is just fine, especially when you’re getting started, if you have a filter to remove chlorine, so much the better. If your water tastes yucky, then you will need to get 7-10 gallons of good water.

2. Equipment

  • Kettle for boiling the wort.

You’ll need something in which to boil most or all of your wort (the malt extract, water, and hops). A 7-gallon or larger kettle is ideal for boiling the wort, but partial boils will work. And you’ll need something to ferment your beer in (once yeast is added to the room temperature wort it technically becomes beer). Boiling takes around 60 minutes.

  • Equipment for fermenting the beer

There is a list of links to different companies starter kits (in the $60-$120 range) at the bottom of this post. I’ve mostly included kits with plastic fermenters (either food grade buckets with lids or plastic carboys). Some homebrewers prefer only glass carboys because glass doesn’t scratch. Plastic will accumulate scratches over time that will harbor batch-destroying bacteria, so it’s a good idea to replace them after several uses. The recommended replacement period ranges from five uses to one year. Glass breaks and makes shards that cut and puncture. Replacing 20 plastic buckets is much less expensive than one trip to the emergency room.

3. A few other things such as Cleaners and Sanitizers

Cleaners and Sanitizers – clean equipment makes clean tasting beer. In the old days we used household bleach to sanitize stuff. Today a host of cleaners and sanitizers abound. I use PBW to clean and StarSan to sanitize. They don’t leave tastes behind when they’ve finished cleaning and sanitizing.

Bottles – You need to put the beer somewhere after it’s completed fermenting. You can buy bottles from a homebrew supplier or get used bottles. Make sure they are not twist-offs because twist-off bottles won’t take a bottle cap. Note: Kegging is more advanced than bottling but involves less stuff. There are some reasonably inexpensive (~$70) and simple plastic “kegging” options around, such as the “Party Pig” and the “Tap-A-Draft” System if you don’t want to even mess with bottles.

Beginner’s Equipment kits –

Beginning Ingredient Kits (note: this list is hardly exhaustive of the easy to do kits, just remember some kits do not include the brewing yeast so you need to make sure you have the yeast to put in your batch):

Please leave a comment, suggestion, or question. Happy brewing.