Brew 9: First Recipe: Pale Ale
After doing research on recipe design (primarily by reading Designing Great Beers and Brewing Classic Styles, and following the /r/homebrewing Tuesday recipe critique threads), I was ready for my first attempt at recipe. Following feedback from a discussion thread, I settled on this recipe.
I can highly recommend this approach, as it cuts a good deal of time from the brewday with no perceived downside (by me, at least).
Brew day went mostly smoothly, other than a slightly low mash temp (1-2 degrees).
After bringing down the temperature a bit, I tried pushing ice water through the chiller with the pump from my keg washer.
I switched away from ground water too soon… I ran out of ice before it was chilled all the way.
I was able to get the temperature lower than I had with my warm groundwater though, down to ~70.
Beersmith predicted this beer would finish at 1.012, but it actually came in at 1.006 (88% apparent attenuation). I was worried that this indicated infection, but a search shows many other people online reporting similar attenuation with 1056. It was somewhat lacking in body, perhaps from the over attenuation. There was a lot of pleasant hop aroma from the citra, and a nice smooth bitterness, but very minimal honey taste from the honey malt.
My initial impression was that the beer was good, but not exactly what I was expecting. I got happier with this the more I had it though… once I stopped being overly-critical, I was able to appreciate it as a good beer. It was very refreshing, and in particular it was great when mixed 4-5:1 grapefruit soda.
Perhaps even more importantly, I finally managed to get to the bottom of the off taste in my first pour after reading through this thread. I ditched my original lines and went with Ultra Barrier Silver PVC Free, and the taste was finally gone!
Brew 10: Second Recipe: Brown Ale
I tried recirculated ice water through the chiller again, and made it much simpler by adding some quick connects. It worked much better this time… I didn’t switch until the temperature had gotten closer to 100, and I actually ended up below pitching temp by a couple degrees.
I picked up a Beerbug, as I was interested to see the progress of fermentation. I also had to pick up a stopper, as Beerbug fits a standard airlock opening, and Speidel has a larger one.
Unfortunately, this was a nice waste of money, as the Beerbug is now no more than an expensive paperweight.
Before their site went AWOL, I had mixed feelings… it seemed to be more sensitive to temperature changes than a hydrometer, and read quite a bit lower than the gravity reading taken at kegging time. However, it tracked the progress of fermentation well, and showed clearly when it was complete.
I hope a better product comes along to take its place (Tilt, anyone?)
The beer came out with a nice chocolatey taste, but maybe a touch too sweet. At first I thought it was very slightly fruity (possibly from the yeast), but that dissipated a bit as it aged.
I didn’t get much of the nutty taste I’ve read from Golden Naked Oats, so I may not have added enough (or may have chosen a beer with too many other flavors). It had great mouthfeel, coming off as almost creamy.
Brew 11: Third Recipe: Sorta NEIPA
I had recently come across New England IPAs… and having no easy access to the style on the west coast, I thought it would be interesting to give it a try. After reading some general IPA advice and getting some feedback, I put together this recipe... since I hadn’t had one though, I was a bit hesitant to go all the way with it, so I went a little light on the oats and kept the sulfate:chloride a touch above 1:1.
I also decided to try malt conditioning while lowering my mill gap to 035”. This turned out to be a terrible idea, as my mill completely jammed (even after raising the gap back to .040”). I had not previously had problems with a cordless drill… this time though, I ended up having to grab a corded drill from the neighbors to get through the grain.
Afterwards though, the brew itself was mostly uneventful… mash temp came in a bit low (possibly because of colder outside temps). Efficiencies were close, and FG was just a touch low.
This beer came out very good, though I can’t really say how close it is to a real NEIPA.
It had a super strong fruity aroma which persisted even after more than a month in the keg (I like to hope at least partially because of the closed transfers...), and amazing head retention.
There was moderate bitterness on the front, and just a very slight lingering grassy taste on the back, possibly from the large dry hop.
The lighting in the picture makes it look darker than it actually was; it was much more orangey looking in person.
While it was quite tasty, I didn’t quite pull off the creamy mouthfeel… probably because I hadn’t completely followed the recommendations for oats and water chemistry.
Brew 12: Fourth Recipe: Oatmeal Stout
For my last brew as part of this misadventure, I decided to put together an oatmeal stout recipe.
I unfortunately don’t have much in the way of pictures, as I just had to pick the one day during the year that it rains in Southern California, so I had to rush to get everything under a canopy.
I neglected to take a picture of the beer itself, so you’ll have to take my word that it definitely looked like a stout.
The brew day went fairly smoothly. After my ill-advised malt conditioning attempt, I tried leaving the mill gap at .035” and picking up a corded drill, which made it significantly easier to mill at a lower more consistent speed. Possibly as a result, my brewhouse efficiencies bumped up to about 70%, a neighborhood I’ve been able to stay in consistently since.
I didn’t read up on toasting of oats ahead of time, so I missed the general recommendation of toasting them several days in advance and placing them in a paper bag, and instead ended up toasting them morning of. This was my only time making this beer, but I didn’t detect any harsh character from this though. The beer came out very smooth and chocolatey (maybe even a bit too much, I might up the amount of roast barley next time).
I enjoyed this process a ton going through it, and I’ve since continued to delve further into recipe design, small batch testing, and moar gear. Looking back, it was a bit daunting to make the leap, especially as someone who tends to over-research and over-prepare for things (spending time researching 3-vessel HERMS/RIMS or water chemistry before ever doing all-grain is probably not a great idea…).
Tags for this post: all grain, equipment, transition, brewing