Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Hopslam Project

The Hopslam clone was brewed on Saturday. We stuck with the same steeping grains that I listed in the original recipe, but bumped the DME up to 10 pounds and honey to 1.5 pounds. Since I was able to pick up Simcoe and Columbus, we changed the hops around quite a bit. Here's the hop schedule:
  • 60 minutes: 1 ounce Yakima Magnum
  • 30 minutes: 1 ounce Cascade, 1 ounce Simcoe
  • 20 minutes: 1 ounce mix of Cascade, Columbus, Amarillo
  • 15 minutes: 1 ounce mix of Cascade, Columbus, Amarillo
  • 10 minutes: 1 ounce mix of Cascade, Columbus, Amarillo
  • 5 minutes: 1 ounce Simcoe
  • Flameout: 2 ounces Centennial leaf

That's right, 9 ounces of hops. Everything went pretty well until after the wort was cooled. I probably had a few too many homebrews and added too much water to top up, and didn't account for the 1500 mL starter that we pitched, so the OG was a lot lower than originally calculated. According to the TastyBrew calculator, that dropped it from around 10% ABV to about 8.5%. Bummer. It should still make some awesome beer though. It is kicking massive amounts of foam into the blowoff tube right now and it smells great. I just brought it downstairs to keep the temp a little cooler.

It was really fun to brew with somebody else for once. Sharing the cost was cool, and Cole and I both ended up with enough hops and specialty grain leftovers for at least one batch each, so that's a bonus too. If I get around to it I'll post some pictures of Saturday's silliness.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dubbel Trouble

Yeah, yeah, corny title, but it's the truth. Here's the story:

I had come up with this awesome recipe for a Belgian dubbel, bought a 17 ounce hockey puck-looking lump of palm sugar from the Asian grocery store, and cultured yeast from a bottle of Chimay Red. I thought everything was good, brewed it up on Monday without incident, and pitched what I thought was an active starter (with about .5 inch or more of slurry at the bottom of my flask) at 64 degrees. I had this idea after reading on various forums that I should pitch around there and then just let the temps go up, so I pitched at 64 exactly and left the primary in an upstairs closet which would be warmer than downstairs (where I usually ferment).

Monday night - nothing
Tuesday morning - nothing, swirled it good
Tuesday night - nothing, swirled (starting to get nervous)
Wednesday morning - nothing (freaking out)
Wednesday night - nothing

Wednesday night I went and bought a smack pack of 1214, went home, and turned on the space heater for a few hours and swirled every 20 minutes or so. I pumped it up to about 68 and then at about 9 I decided to activate the smack pack. At 10 I pitched it, even though it wasn't swelled up too much, and added 2 tiny drops of olive oil as I poured it in.

Thursday morning - nothing
Thursday after work - nothing - so I turned on the space heater again and finally said F this and pitched a pack of Munton's Gold dry yeast that I had sitting around. As of this morning, it's just starting to throw tiny amounts of CO2 after I swirl.

I refuse to give up on this batch! So does anybody care to place bets?
  1. Will this make beer?
  2. Will it taste like dirty water?

In other news, the Hopslam will be brewed tomorrow!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hopslam Clone

Okay, so after much research and a couple of different versions, Cole and I have come up with what we hope is a close reproduction of Bell's Hopslam. In my last post I mentioned the thread that came up on the BrewBoard forum about a clone and how somebody mentioned using Vanguard, Hersbrucker, and a few others and that this person got the info straight from Bell's. We decided to disregard this information and go with the hops we can actually get our hands on that are really citrusy. The stuff tastes like grapefruit juice, right? The problem is, the suggestion of Simcoe that sounds right for this recipe is pretty tough to find, so we had to make do with what we could find:

Steeping grains:
  • 1/2 lb. honey malt
  • 1/2 lb. munich malt
  • 1/4 lb. caramel 10L
  • 1/4 lb. caramel 40L


  • 9 lbs Briess Pilsen DME
  • 1 lb. honey


  • 60 minutes: 1 oz Yakima Magnum
  • 30 minutes: 1/3 ounce Ahtanum, 1/3 ounce Amarillo, 1 ounce Cascade
  • 20 minutes: 1/3 ounce Ahtanum, 1/3 ounce Amarillo, 1 ounce Cascade
  • 10 minutes: 1/3 ounce Ahtanum, 1/3 ounce Amarillo, 1 ounce Cascade
  • Flameout: 2 ounces Centennial leaf hops

How does that look? According to the TastyBrew calculator we're looking at an OG of 1.091 and 101 IBUs, with the majority of the bittering coming from the late additions. We tried to balance out our desire for a big double IPA with the scarcity of hops and economic considerations. This is still going over 80 bucks! Does that sound like it might taste like Hopslam to you? We're hoping it gets close, if not, it will hopefully be a damn good beer anyway.

PS - I'll be brewing up my first dubbel with harvested Chimay red yeast this weekend. Woohoo!

EDIT: I just scored 3 ounces of Simcoe and 3 ounces of Columbus! Now it's back to the drawing board. Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Next Project

Well, before I fill you in on my latest planned brewing adventure, how about an update on my stash? The DIPA is kicked, along with the Deported stout, and my Blonde Abbey and Full Monty are dangerously close to being gone. Sniff. On the upside, my Bourbon Barrel Brown is tasting pretty damn good, although more oaky than I expected, especially since I only threw in an ounce of oak chips for 4 days. I do really like it and think that it's one of the better brews I've made, it's just not a session brew - probably a good thing, that will force me to keep some for a while and see how it changes over time.

My all-Cascade Hopburst APA is now carbed and tastes awesome, if I do say so myself. It's not as citrusy like I normally associate with Cascade, which I'm thinking is the result of only doing the late additions. It is a beautiful gold color, clear, nice white head, sweet malty backbone, a taste of sweet caramel or honey, with the citrusy, piney hops balancing it out nicely. This was a really easy beer to make too, so if you want the recipe let me know. With lighter colored beers like this I'm really digging the full boil action - I was never able to get golds and yellows on the stovetop.

I bottled my Wee Heavy Saturday, the sample was a nice mahogany color, very malty sweet, a little alcohol in the finish, and just a slight peaty or smoky flavor, which is weird since there isn't any peated or smoked malt in it. I'm anxious to see how this one develops over time - the plan is to drink some young (an ale brewer's version of a maibock?), and then keep the rest for next fall and winter.

Now on to the PLAN. So my buddy Cole and I have both been enjoying the Bell's Hopslam lately. Over a few beers after work on Friday, we devised a plan to tag team a clone of this, splitting the work and cost. We both figured that with the cost of hops lately and the high gravity of this bad boy, it will get pretty spendy. I've figured out from the Bell's website that the OG is around 1.090 and I'm thinking around 100 IBUs. This is the best thread I could find so far: . On this thread, somebody said that according to Bell's, they "use Hersbrucker, Centennial, Glacier, Vanguard, & Crystal in the kettle, and then dry hop with Simcoe." Does this sound right to you? I don't know much about a lot of those hops, but I don't recall ever hearing "citrus" associated with any of those except Centennial and Simcoe. Any ideas? I'm thinking more about Ahtanum, Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade, Galena, Simcoe, Columbus. We'll be brewing this up in 2 weeks (I've got a dubbel on deck for next weekend), so any input you've got would be great!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Non-Technical Post, I Promise!

Alright, judging from the amount of responses to my last post my readers (all 2 of you) are either: not interested in starters, bored by long winded technical treatises on the finer points of yeast harvesting and propagation, or both. So, here's a short post to bring you back in the fold.

I bottled up my all-Cascade Hopburst APA last night. The sample tasted damn good, but not as hoppy as I expected, probably because I've been destroying my sense of taste by drinking too many SN Bigfoot and Bell's Hopslams lately. This APA should be a good one once it's carbed up.

Right now I am drinking the last bomber of my Summit 2IPA. I am very close to crying. All I have left of this batch is a 34 oz special reserve. I will be bringing this, plus 34ozers of my Deported Stout, Blonde Abbey, Full Monty cherry bitter, and a few Bourbon Barrel Browns and a single uncarbed bottle of the APA to the Dells this weekend for the waterpark extravaganza. See you there Bri!