Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Trip to the Brewshop

It was a busy brew related weekend for me! I hosted the RAZE brewclub meeting at my house Friday night. Not everybody could make it but I sampled some awesome beers, saw a cool oxygen free beer transfer gadget, and talked a lot about brewing. On Saturday I took the fam to the zoo and then made a stop at Midwest Supplies. I grabbed a bunch of Warrior hops, some Summit and Strisselspalt hops, a bunch of o-rings, a good supply of US-05, a smackpack of one of the new Wyeast VSS releases (Imperial Ale - here), and a new book: Farmhouse Ales. Today was brewday, so I did a partial mash Oatmeal Stout. This was my first time brewing an Oatmeal Stout so I used Jamil's recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, although I did make a few minor changes based on what I had on hand. I also managed to rack my Hopsicle IPA into secondary on top of an ounce of Columbus hops. Now I'm relaxing with a homebrew.

I'm thinking I'm going to brew an Imperial IPA again pretty soon. I've got pounds of hops in the freezer and a fresh smackpack of the Imperial Ale yeast, so it is officially on deck. Rather than screw with a starter though, I think I'm just going to brew an APA with it and save the cake. I'll probably brew that next weekend and try out my new Warrior hops and possibly first wort hopping too. Three weeks after that I should be ready to brew the Imperial and have it ready for Kristen's birthday.

So for Christmas I got a 365 days of beer page-a-day calendar. Saturday's beer was Saison Dupont. Reading that got me fired up about saisons like Ommegang's Hennepin so I adopted another resolution for the year: learn how to brew a good saison. So far it's a pretty good read. I'm thinking about brewing my first one after the APA. EDIT: Monday I picked up a 4 pack of Ommegang Hennepin, a 750 of Saison Dupont, and Surly Cynic for research.

In other brew news, Kristen actually suggested that I get a propane hot water on demand system and build a small shed of some sort with a sink and stuff so that I can have everything I need on the brew patio and not have to make so many trips in an out of the house and back and forth to the garage/basement. I love that woman. I'm thinking an inline filter might be a good idea too. Any suggestions on what I should do?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Brew Year's Resolutions

It's hard to believe it's almost been a month since I last blogged! Despite the craziness of the holiday season, I did manage to keep brewing. Since my last post, I blew the Ahtnanum APA keg, blew the Red Hook Harvest clone experiment keg, brewed my version of Jamil's Evil Twin red ale, brewed Jamil's Irish red ale, brewed an IPA, and put off brewing an Oatmeal Stout so that I can recuperate today. Details about my brews:
  • Ahtanum APA: Bittered this with some Nugget then added 3 ounces late in the boil (1 oz each at 10, 5, and flameout). I used the same malt profile as usual for my APA (6 pounds Pilsen DME, .5 lb Caramel 60, .5 lb Carapils), but this beer was pretty blah. The Nugget did provide a nice clean bitterness, but the Ahtanum didn't provide nearly the citrus that I expected from reading the description. It tasted and smelled more flowery to me. It was still a good beer, but didn't really do it for me. I think I'll stick to Cascade and Centennial for my APA.
  • Red Hook clone: This beer turned out to not be real close to the original because there was too much roasted barley. However, I really liked this beer alot. It wasn't really a session beer, but it was a great fall or winter brew. This was probably one of the most balanced beers I've brewed so far. There was a nice roasty and smoky backbone to this one with just enough hops to balance it out. Style wise, I'm not really sure what this would be. I read the BJCP descriptions and it is really a toss up between a brown, red , or porter. I'm having a really tough time deciding whether I should brew this again next fall the same way or decrease the roasted barley presence a little.
  • Jamil's Evil Twin: I am not calling this Jamil's Evil Twin anymore since it wasn't hopbursted and I didn't use the same hops, so it is more inspired by his recipe. I am calling it Big Red because that's what it is, a big, malty, hoppy red ale. I used .25 oz of Nugget to bitter and then an ounce of Simcoe and Amarillo at 10 minutes and then again at flameout. This beer is GOOD! Nice deep red in color, awesome hop flavor and aroma, and good malt flavor to back it up without being too sweet. When I brewed this I was drinking and inspired by Widmer Brrr and Lagunitas Imperial Red, and I think I hit the mark on this one. It will be brewed again.
  • Hopsicle IPA: Named this one because I froze brewing it. This was a minimash with 3 pounds of Golden Promise just to see what would happen. Bittered this one with Nugget, then threw in some Simcoe, Centennial, and then the last of my hop harvest (a mix of Cascade, Centennial, and Zeus). This one will probably get dryhopped with Columbus.
  • Jamil's Irish Red: Kegging this one today, haven't tried it yet. I've got high hopes though!

After increasing my brewing skills and volumes over the last year, now I'm looking forward to 2009. Here are my brew year's resolutions in no particular order:

  • Brew more. I would like to be able to not buy beer anymore except for when I'm working on a recipe. I brewed over 100 gallons in 2008, hoping to do even more in 2009.
  • Move up to 10 gallon batches. I'm having a tough time keeping the kegerator full and I think this will help, especially now that I am brewing tried and true recipes that I know I will like.
  • Upgrade the kegerator. Hopefully by the summer I will have a chest freezer with a collar that will be capable of dispensing 4-6 different beers. Variety is good, but this might also make it easier for me to keep the kegerator full without brewing every other weekend.

Any of my huge volume of loyal readers out there have any resolutions, beer related or not?