This Week on BrewZasters: Brewing a Single-Hopped Ale

Humulus lupulus

The hop plant with cones. The cones hold the hop oil which give beer its bitterness. (Photo credit – Flickr)

This week on BrewZasters, we brew a beer using a single type of hop–in this case the Falconer’s Flight hop.

Many in the Lake County Homebrewers club are brewing these Single Hop Experiment (SHE) ales this month with the plan to compare, contrast, and exchange the beers at our meeting next month (which should occur on August 2o–the 3rd Monday of the month–at 6pm).

The recipe is very simple. The grain bill is: 9.5 lbs of 2-row malted barley, 0.75 lbs of crystal 60L malted barley, and 0.5 lbs of crystal 15L malted barley. Mash at 152F (this should give a specific gravity after the boil of 1.050).  Then the amount of hop added at 60 minutes is calculated to deliver 25 International Bittering Units (IBU–I calculated 0.68 oz of Falconer’s Flight would give 25 IBU), then 1 oz of the hop at 10 minutes and 1 minute before the end of the boil, and 1 oz of the hop in the fermenter as a “dry hop.” The yeast is White Labs California Ale WLP001.

Other than slightly scorching the bottom of my mash tunand ripping a gaping hole in my BIAB bag that I use for my mash…oh and raising the mash temperature waaaay too high again, and I’m a gallon short (4.5 gallons yield), the brew went swimmingly. The wort tastes great. Now, we wait for 14 days….

This Week on BrewZasters: Bottling Laurel India Pale Ale

Last time on BrewZasters), we lost all of our  Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale clone  from our three Tap-a-Draft bottles.

Tap-a-Drafts are a compromise between bottles and kegs. It’s nice filling only three bottles…The handle has an issue. If you do not confirm that the handle is secure and the locking tab is in place, it leaks… About 15 minutes later the beer had found its way into vegetable crisper (onions, celery, and lettuce were marinating in beer), behind and under the crisper, and onto the kitchen floor…we lost one-third of our product, or about $10 retail. Damn. [Update: Lightning struck twice and a second TAD leaked. The TAD needs to be checked constantly.]

My version of Laurel IPA. Slightly cloudy with a SRM color around 6.

Well, gluttons for punishment that we are, today we packaged our third batch of Laurel India Pale Ale. The initial tastings of the flat beer hint at this being another dynamite batch. This time we filled just one Tap-A-Draft so that we can sample the Laurel sooner but we didn’t expose all our batch to the TAD [I checked that it was still holding product after writing this sentence.] We bottled the remainder in 12-ounce bottles.

We will keep constant vigilance on this batch. It is a sin to spill beer.

Fermentables
Ingredient    Amount        %         MCU    When
Pale 2-row 
Ale Malt     13lb 15oz     94.7 %    7.6   In Mash/Steeped
Carapils Malt  7.20 oz     3.1 %     0.1   In Mash/Steeped
Caramel 40L    5.40 oz     2.3 %     2.5   In Mash/SteepedHop Schedule
Hop                     %Alpha     Amt         Timing
Magnum                 11.0 %     0.77 oz    First Wort Hopped
Cascade                 5.9 %     1.85 oz   60 Min From End
Centennial              9.5 %     0.75 oz   30 Min From End
Simcoe                 12.5 %     0.30 oz   10 Min From End
Columbus(Tomahawk)     15.5 %     0.30 oz   10 Min From End
Centennial              9.5 %     0.45 oz   At turn off
Cascade                 5.9 %     0.20 oz   At turn off
Cascade                 5.9 %     2.12 oz   Dry-Hopped
Centennial              9.5 %     1.15 oz   Dry-Hopped
Citra                  11.1 %     1.00 oz   Dry-Hopped
Yeast
 White Labs WLP001-California Ale

mashed at 151F using 9 gallons of water
Output:
7.5 gallons wort pre-boil grav 1.044 @ 113F (Corrected pre-boil of 1.053)
Original gravity: 1.065
Final Gravity: 1.013
ABV: 6.9%

This Week on BrewZasters: Kegging our Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ clone

The finished product.

Last time on Brew Disasters (from now on to be referred to as BrewZasters), we had sampled our clone of Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale and detected  hints of clove (phenolics) and banana (isoamyl acetate) in the aroma and taste.

And we here at Flog This Dead Brewery wondered  if, given these possible imperfections, should we throw the whole batch down the drain, as Dogfish Head Brewing did in nearly every episode of Brew Masters? Hell no! Was our answer. We dry-hopped the bejeezus out of it with  2.33 oz   of  Cascade 1.0 oz of Simcoe, 0.53 oz of Columbus (Tomahawk), 0.45 oz of Perle, and 0.15 oz of Nugget–if a hop was in stock it went into the carboy. And, we hoped time would do its magic and remove the off-flavors.

Tasting Notes – NOT cloned – but not bad

After another two weeks in the secondary, the beer is not a clone but it tastes pretty darn awesome. The hops jump out of the glass and hit your nose like a wave of citrus and pine. It’s light in color (about 5 SRM). When you sip the hops hit your tongue first and it finishes with a bright citrus flavor with some pine in the background.

Troubles in kegging bottling Tap-A-Drafting

For bottling, we added 4 ounces of corn sugar and put the beer in our three Tap-a-Draft bottles. Tap-a-Drafts are a compromise between bottles and kegs. It’s nice filling only three bottles rather than 52 12-ounce bottles. A 16 ounce CO2 cartridge charges up the system and carbonates it. The handle has an issue. If you do not confirm that the handle is secure and the locking tab is in place, it leaks. This is what happened: I missed making sure the handle was completely secured and put it in the refrigerator. About 15 minutes later the beer had found its way into vegetable crisper (onions, celery, and lettuce were marinating in beer), behind and under the crisper, and onto the kitchen floor. Not quite as large a mess as the time the glue from labeler in Dogfish Head Brewing spilled all over, but a mess it was. And, we lost one-third of our product, or about $10 retail. Damn.

 

Sam Calagione has much higher standards than we do. His company has flavor profiles and everything. Whereas our motto is “When in doubt, hop the bejeezus out of  it.”

 

Yeast Ranching notes

These are some notes I took when the owner/brewer of the soon-to-be-opened Kelsey Creek Brewing gave a seminar on yeast ranching to some members of the Lake County Homebrewers club.

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To grow and cultivate (aka “ranch”) yeast you want clean clear wort with the trub precipitated out to mix with agar to put on the petri dishes. You will also need inoculation loops and  inoculation needles.

Required for yeast ranching:

Process:

Sprinkle agar over the top of the cooled wort. Do not dump the agar rather sprinkle in around (7g/250ml). No need to stir. Sanitation is not critical yet, since it will go into a pressure cooker which serves as an autoclave. Be sure to add nutrient to your wort.
After it has been used, every time you touch something in the pressure cooker you spray it with isopropyl 70 alcohol.

Pour the agar & wort solution using the “pacman” technique
Make sure the agar sets up ~45min before flipping over to lessen the condensation

Place a drop of diluted yeast solution on the dish with the agar. Then remember the spot and drop sterile saline on the yeast’s spot.

Then use the needle to drag the drop to streak it.

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Nice to haves:

  • Hemocytometer (local veterinary offices may have these lying around)
  • microscope

To check yeast viability a bulb flask is used (9 ml of sterile and 1 ml of yeast and 1 drop of methylene blue) and .0001 ml of of solution is placed on hemocytometer slide

Resources:

This Week on Brew Disasters: Off flavors-Banana & Clove in the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ clone

The Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale clone looking very cloney.

Last time on Brew Disasters we were trying to clone Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Al eand had several problems right out of the gate: Instead of a desired mash temp of 150F, the mash temp was 170F! And, the pre-boil specific gravity came in low at 1.043. That was a full 12 points below the 1.055 that was our target.

Well, it’s difficult for us to tell if the cooling of the grain from 170F to 149.5F succeeded. But, the adding of 0.5 pounds of corn sugar and 0.5 pounds of dry malt extract may have created another problem: phenols and esters. Specifically the addition of corn sugar could be the culprit for why there are hints of clove (phenolics) and banana (isoamyl acetate) in the aroma and taste. John Palmer says in How to Brew, that adding sucrose or refined sugar (corn sugar probably meets that criterion) contributes to ester production. The easily digestible sugar could have revved the English yeast (Fermentis’s Safale 04) and they could have been over-stimulated and giving off unwanted phenols and esters.

Given these modest, though real, imperfections, would we throw the whole batch down the drain, as Dogfish Head Brewing did in nearly every episode of Brew Masters?

Sam Calagione has much higher standards than we do. His company has flavor profiles and everything. Whereas our motto is "When in doubt, hop the bejeezus out of it."

Well, we here out Flog This Dead Brewery looked at our flavor profiles and realized we have no flavor profiles. We wondered if our degrees Plato were met, and we had no idea what that meant. Finally, we checked our standards, and realized we had none, well, maybe not none, but extremely low.

So, since we have incredibly low standards (after all, we answer to no one but ourselves) and we have won a gold medal for a previous screw-up, we crossed our fingers and dry-hopped the holy bejeezus out of it with 2.33 oz of cascade hops, 1 oz of simcoe hops, and 0.5 oz of Columbus hops.

This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale…the bottling

It’s been nearly a month since we at Flog This Dead Brewing avoided injuring even though we boiled 10 gallons of wort for over 3 hours inside a drafty hall filled with randomly running children and tipsy people. We were able to move the wort into fermenting carboys and added yeast at which point the wort changed (legally at least) into beer. A week later we took a sample (using a wine thief, essentially a long plastic pipette)  and its specific gravity measured 1.023.  Though there were some “dish soap” tastes–probably phenols produced by the yeast.

Hydrometer shows the finishing specific gravity of 1.014

After one month in the primary and secondary combined, and two weeks after dry-hopping with an ounce of cascade hops, the specific gravity has reached its final gravity of 1.014.

So today, the beer will be bottled and set aside for bottle conditioning. Bottle conditioning is the process of adding sugars to the beer to awaken the yeast and get them working again. Their burping of carbon dioxide inside the bottle will carbonate the beer.

But, first we will taste the month-old beer to see how it’s doing so far. The beer has a deep red color with a floral nose and taste (reminiscent of rose petals). The soapiness is gone and hoppiness jumps out at you but it is still slightly sweet. In future batches, I think the malt might use a little more presence. Since this was an extract brew there was not much we could do about that. The yeast ate the extract and left the beer a little drier. In an all-grain batch I might try mashing in the 155F (68C) range which will leave some more unfermentable sugars that the yeast can’t digest.

I’ve decided to experiment  with the flavor profile by bottle conditioning half of the batch with corn sugar (0.46  oz/gal) and half with honey (0.56 oz/gal). I’m interested to see how the honey will play with the already great flavors. It may be too much of a good thing. We will know in a few more weeks which method was the right choice.

Carbonation calculation for a brown ale.

Here’s the recipe for the Big Irish American Red beer:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

Cervesariis Feliciter.” (“Long live the Brewsters”) — Ancient Roman Blessing

This Week on Brew Disasters: Cloning Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

Basic beer brewing equipment. Includes four fe...

Nothing like my brewing equipment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Week on Brew Disasters: Cloning Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.

Note: a pictorial of the brewing process is toward the end of this post.

We here at Flog-This-Dead Brewing are excited to try brewing a new (to us anyway) beer: Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. The grain bill is 16 pounds; a 50/50 blend of wheat and barley. The beer has minimal brewing hops and, true to the Lagunita’s way, massive dry hopping, 4.5 ounces for a 5 gallon batch.

A huge thank you to the Jamil Zainasheff and Mike “Tasty” McDole of the Brewing Network‘s Can You Brew It and Lagunitas Brewing Company for sharing their Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale recipe with them. And, lastly, thanks to my buddy Paul for pointing me to the recipe and my loving wife for helping at just the right times.

As you may recall, we here at Flog-This-Dead Brewing just supplemented our temperature monitoring from a handheld Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer to a BrewMometer by Blichmann Engineering. So we started the strike water temperature for our mash at 20F above our desired mash temp, because we had found that after adding our grain the water cooled 20F. Apparently, having a thermometer probe further down makes a big difference and the mash temperature did not drop the 20F expected. Yikes, instead of a desired mash temp of 150, the mash temp was 170F! We yanked the bag of grain out of the mash tun and began cooling the watery wort down.

After cooling the mash conversion process started at a temperature of 149.5 and after 60 minutes finished at 137F. A batch sparge was used and the total wort produced was 10.5 gallons with a pre-boil specific gravity of 1.043 (1.033 @ 117F); a full 12 points below the 1.055 that was the target, the addition gallon produced had a lot to do with that (You would think I could subtract 9 from the yield of the first runnings, but no, I muffed it). One-half pound of corn sugar and one-half pound of dry malt extract were added to boost the specific gravity.

It took over about an hour and a half to get the wort to boiling for the 90 minute boil.

Total time for brewing day (including cleanup–that’s why it’s a hobby and not a business): 12 hours.

First impressions:

  • Appearance: 10L hazy-like smoggy LA day
  • Aroma: fruity, sweet,
  • Flavor: Sweet-malty, fruity, a sweetness lingers on the tip of the tongue
  • Mouthfeel: syrupy (it is wort after all)
  • Overall impression: Good start. Slightly maltier than hoppy.

The Flog This Dead Brewing‘s recipe:

Target Wort Volume Before Boil:  8.00 US gals  Actual Wort Volume Before Boil:  10.50 US gals
Target Wort Volume After Boil:  6.00 US gals  Actual Wort Volume After Boil:  7.50 US gals
Target Volume Transferred:  5.25 US gals  Actual Volume Transferred:  5.50 US gals
Target Volume At Pitching:  5.25 US gals  Actual Volume At Pitching:  5.50 US gals
Target Volume Of Finished Beer:  5.00 US gals  Actual Volume Of Finished Beer:  5.00 US gals
Target Pre-Boil Gravity:  1.053 SG  Actual Pre-Boil Gravity:  1.048 SG
Target OG:  1.079 SG  Actual OG:  1.056 SG
Target FG:  1.018 SG  Actual FG:  -No Record-
Target Apparent Attenuation:: 75.50%  Actual Apparent Attenuation: 100.00%
Target ABV: 8.10%  Actual ABV: 7.40%
Target ABW: 6.30%  Actual ABW: 5.90%
Target IBU (using Tinseth):  29.9 IBU  Actual IBU:  31.8 IBU
Target Color (using Morey):  5.3 SRM  Actual Color:  5.3 SRM
Target Mash Efficiency: 70.00%  Actual Mash Efficiency: 82.30%
Target Fermentation Temp:  64 degF  Actual Fermentation Temp:
Fermentables
Ingredient Amount % MCU When
2-Row Malt  8lb 2oz 47.30% 2.4  In Mash/Steeped
White Wheat Malt  6lb 2oz 35.60% 2.5  In Mash/Steeped
Torrified Wheat  1lb 12oz 10.20% 0.6  In Mash/Steeped
Toasted White Wheat  3.12 oz 1.10% 0.5  In Mash/Steeped
Extract – Light Dried Malt Extract  8.00 oz 2.90% 0.3  Start Of Boil
Sugar – Corn Sugar/Dextrose (Dry)  8.00 oz 2.90% 0  Start Of Boil
Hops
Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
Nugget 13.00%  0.39 oz 15.9  Loose Pellet Hops  90 Min From End
Willamette (rhymes with damn it) 5.20%  0.28 oz 3.9  Loose Pellet Hops  45 Min From End
Tettnanger 4.50%  1.18 oz 7.7  Loose Pellet Hops  15 Min From End
Willamette 5.20%  0.32 oz 2.4  Loose Pellet Hops  15 Min From End
Cascade 5.90%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Centennial 9.50%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Chinook 11.50%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Simcoe 12.50%  0.85 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Amarillo 8.50%  0.63 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Columbus 15.50%  0.53 oz 0  Loose Pellet Hops  Dry-Hopped
Other Ingredients
Ingredient Amount When
Irish Moss  1.00 oz  in boil
Yeast
DCL S-04-SafAle

Taking a beer with off flavors to 1st place at Battle of the Brews

Oh Well, What the Hell a couple of weeks following bottle conditioning.

As you may recall (well probably not), on December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the pre-boil specific gravity came in way too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to make it a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections. And, after 10 days in the fermenter, I tasted slight soapy and buttery flavors in the new beer. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

It has 5.5% ABV and and calculates out to 43 IBU.

Given these imperfections, would we bottle or would we throw the whole batch down the drain?

Well, we here out Flog This Dead (Mule) Brewery looked at our flavor profiles and realized we have no flavor profiles. We wondered if our degrees Plato were met, and we had no idea what that meant. Finally, we checked our standards, and realized we had none, well, maybe not none, but extremely low.

So, since we have incredibly low standards (after all, we answer to no one but ourselves) we went ahead and bottled, and hoping to mask the dish soap flavor, we used honey for the bottle conditioning fermentation.

Now, with only moments to go before we have to serve this beer–which we have renamed after some dead guy and claimed that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe involving wild honey and monk sweat–at the homebrewers portion of the semi-prestigious Battle of the Brews beer event. Let’s hope the honey will fool people into thinking the stuff tastes okay.

[Norm smiles and opens doors while carrying boxes filled with bottles of beer named after some dead guy and claiming that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe]

The Oh Well, What the Hell Pale Ale garnered 36 points at the Battle of the Brews in Santa Rosa, 2nd place had 35 points, and 3rd had 33.5 points. Woo hoo!

Success! Oh Well took 1st place in the homebrewers tasting competition in BJCP #10A American Pale Ale category.

This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale follow-up/Taste and Specific Gravity

Here's Big Red at 1 week old

Last week in brew disasters at the Rhythm and Brews festival in Lakeport, CA on Saturday, Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012, Paul and Norm avoided scalding anyone while producing 10 gallons of Big Irish American Red beer wort in 30 minutes 3 hours inside a drafty hall filled with randomly running children people unaware that we were boiling liquid.

Today, I took my first sample of the wort beer (That’s it on the right ==>). The specific gravity measured at 1.023. That’s after one week in the fermenter at 64F. I tasted it too. It’s okay. Though there are some “dish soap” tastes–probably phenols produced by the yeast. I’m hoping that a week or two longer in the carboy helps. Unless, it really is dish soap then there’s no hope for it.

Should I add more yeast to try to get the specific gravity down to 1.015 and clean up some of those phenol tastes?

Ingredients:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

Cervesariis Feliciter.” (“Long live the Brewsters”) — Ancient Roman Blessing

This week on Brew Disasters: Bottling Batch #2 of Laurel IPA

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A two and a half weeks ago on Brew Disasters we had checked the specific gravity of our Laurel India pale ale using a wine thief.

It tasted fine. There were hints of buttery diacetyl, but not overwhelmingly so. The specific gravity was 1.026. The original gravity was 1.068, which would give the beer an ABV of 5.6%.

But when we checked it again after a week it had dropped to 1.020. But when we checked it again a few days later it was still 1.020.  We had really muffed the mashing temperature.  Apparently there had been some fermentable sugars produced during the mash, but not enough for this batch to drop to 1.012 (7.8% ABV) as had December’s batch.

This batch of Laurel IPA had started with an original gravity of 1.068. Its final gravity was 1.020. That calculates to an average alcohol by volume (ABV) of 6.4%.

Batch two tasted great. The diacetyl taste had departed and the dry hopping with an ounce of whole-leaf centennial hops, and one-half ounce each of zythos and simcoe hops really made the aroma and flavor pop. It was time to bottle.

While the use of the whole hops made the beer taste great, the leaves got stuck in the mouth of the auto-siphon making the transfer to the priming bucket exceedingly slow. And, the further down the level of beer in the carboy dropped, the more frequently the siphon needed to be unclogged.

We are not putting whole hops in primary or secondary fermenters again. Once was enough.