Here we are, it's finally time to put my 12% Imperial Stout down for a nice long twelve month nap. To quickly recap, I'm brewing a huge imperial stout, and trying my best to mimic the barrel aging process for the beer. I've been wanting to brew a beer like this for a quite a long time, so it feels really good to finally get moving with it. I'll skip over most of the barrel aging process, as I covered that in my last post.

For this recipe, I borrowed heavily from my prior Imperial Stout. I felt that beer turned out really nicely, so I wanted to carry over as much as I could. The main goal here was just to amp up the gravity to the 1.120-1.125 range to finish out around 12-13% ABV. To get there, I'm adding a couple pounds of 2-row, and I'm cheating with a couple pounds of DME. My efficiency starts to fall off a cliff around 1.100, so using DME for a beer like this becomes really attractive. Considering it's such a small percentage, and I really don't want to boil this beer for 3-4 hours, DME it is. Lastly, I added another quarter ounce of Apollo to get another 5IBU or so. Everything else with the recipe is the same.

The next step was charring 1oz of oak cubes. I got my propane torch, some water, and headed into the garage. I torched the cubes on one to two sides until they turned bright orange, and then doused them out with water. Those went into a few ounces of Maker's Mark for three weeks before they were strained and dropped into the beer. You can see the difference in the color of the two bourbons in the picture at the top. One is Maker's Mark straight out of the bottle, and the other is Maker's after 3 weeks of soaking.

The brew day for this beer was interesting. Any time you cram something like 27lbs of grain into a 5 gallon batch it always is. I started off by getting a huge starter of WLP090 going. I don't tend to worry too much getting 9-10% beers to the finish line, but 12-13% without using exotic yeast can be tough. I used 2 vials in a 5L starter for this one. As for the brew day, it was fun. I mashed for 60 minutes as usual. I also added a little extra water to the sparge volume for efficiency's sake, since this was a 120min boil. The first runnings of the beer were 21 Plato, and my gravity after the 2 hour boil was 27.75 Plato. This was a little under my target of 28-28.5, but I'm not too stressed about it. Next year, I'll boil the batch for another 30minutes, I had extra wort left over. I skipped the whirlpool for this one, and started chilling right away. It's always interesting just how much thicker wort like this is than a normal gravity beer. Anyway, after chilling to 60F, I hit the beer with a solid three minutes of oxygen before pitching the yeast.

Despite rigging up a blow off tube, I'm always surprised by how much yeast blows off of an Imperial Stout. I lost about a half gallon of wort, but I think something like 25% of the yeast must have blown off. Things really slowed down after 3 days, and at 5 days the gravity was still chilling at 1.048. After ten days I was still at 1.033. It took almost a full three weeks to hit a final gravity of 1.026. My only theory on what took so long is that the massive blow-off resulted in a large loss of healthy yeast, and maybe that slowed down the race to the finish. I'm not entirely sure. Either way, the beer tastes really great at this point, and the final gravity was in the range I was looking for.

Brewed: 12-7-15
Kegged: 12-27-15

Oaked: 12-28-15
OG: 1.118
FG: 1.026
ABV: 12.1%
IBU: 50
6 Gallons

23lbs 2-row

2lbs Munich
10oz Roasted Barley
10oz Chocolate Malt
8oz Carafa III
8oz English Med Crystal (55L)
6oz C120
2lbs DME
Mash at 151*
1.75oz Apollo @ 90

.75oz Apollo @ 15
WLP090 - Super San Diego Yeast
1oz Medium Plus American Oak Cubes - Charred, and soaked in Bourbon

And that's about where this story ends for now. I just got done racking the 12.1% stout into a keg, and tossed the oak cubes in a day later. My plan is to purge the pressure valve on the keg once every month or two to let in a tiny bit of O2 into the keg, and see where that gets me. The goal is to sit on this beer for close to 12 months so that it's ready to go for Christmas 2016. I can say that the base beer turned out pretty fantastic for being flat and quite young. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a full year to get any conclusive results on how this little experiment went. Since time tends to be the hardest variable to quickly replace, I've already charred another 1oz of oak cubes, and I have them soaking in bourbon. If things go well with this year's batch, the oak cubes will be ready to rock for next years batch.

Anyway, cheers for now, and Happy New Year!

Let's talk about an interesting topic: Barrel-aged beers. I started thinking hard about these after I just paid $9.99 for a 16oz bottle of Bourbon County Stout this Black Friday. It got me thinking: I'm a competent homebrewer, I'll just crank out a batch and age it myself. Experience making high gravity beers: Check. Tasty RIS recipe: Check. Barrel-aging: Um, not so much. And there lies the sticky point: Barrel aging. It's something home brewers struggle to replicate short of getting together with a club, buying a barrel, and brewing 55-60 gal to fill said barrel. I personally have little to no experience with it. I've oaked a few beers before, but none had anything close to what I would call "barrel-aged" flavor.

So I've spent the last weeks putting a few things together. First, a recipe for a 12-13% ABV Imperial Stout that will serve as the base beer for many adjunct-filled adventures over the next few years. Second, a plan for starting a home-brewed vertical of my own, including some sweet labels. The plan is to brew a barrel-aged stout once a year, then age it for a full year. Each year's batch will get a different adjunct (vanilla bean, coffee, chocolate, etc). Next, I went ahead and brewed that recipe for the massive Imperial stout over the weekend. It's fermenting away happily (read:vigorously) right now.  Lastly, and most importantly, I've spend a lot of time thinking about just how the hell can we recreate barrel aging at the home brew scale.

Let's first talk about what the status quo seems to be for replicating bourbon barrel-aged flavor at home. Buy some toasted oak cubes, toss them in some bourbon for awhile, then add them to the beer for another length of time. There's a few variations to this method, but most seem to follow that script. The issue is, it just doesn't re-create that barrel aged flavor commercial examples have. Also, we end up having to add large amounts of bourbon (4-12oz) to get a noticeable effect. That is order of magnitude more than a barrel-aged beer picks up from the barrel. There's got to be another way to do this. Used barrels are expensive and just too big. New 5-gallon ones are available, but new barrels present their own problems.

The issue of oxidation, or lack of, is something that many advanced homebrewers have made some headway on. From using oak dowels, to aging in plastic buckets, there seems to be a few clever methods to slowly allow O2 into a beer while aging. I'd actually like to hear if anyone has experience with these methods. I'm not going to focus too much on the oxidation topic today. As of right now, I'm planning to vent the headspace of the keg (pulling the release valve for a second) once or twice while the beer ages.

The issue of replicating that bourbon barrel flavor is what I'd really like to talk about.. I've literally spent the past couple weeks thinking long and hard about what we're missing at the home-brew scale. I've scoured the internet as well, but didn't find much. I know batch sizes and surface area make a difference, but they can't have that much of a difference. So why is it that real barrels create the effect we're looking for, but oak cubes and bourbon can't?

Finally a eureka moment hit. I've seen videos showing how whiskey barrels are made. They're charred black like charcoal on the inside under intense flames. The oak cubes we use for brewing are merely toasted. Could that be the difference? Well toasted oak cubes were designed to replicate wine barrels, as the wine industry uses toasted oak barrels rather than charred ones. So I did some searching to see if anyone was talking about using charred oak in beer, and there doesn't seem to be anything meaningful. I finally stumbled across a four year old post post on HBT where KingBrianI tested the differences between toasted oak and charred oak in moonshine. Now feeling like I was onto something, I thought maybe the home distillers have thought of this. I searched "distilling oak char", and BOOM. Turns out our brothers on the illegal-side of the fence have done quite a bit of research on the topic. They face the same dilemma we do, in that toasted cubes seem to be the only product readily available on the market short of buying a new barrel. So many of them char their own oak using MAPP, propane, or oxy-acetylene torches. There's a very detailed post on the artisan distiller forum experimenting with just this topic. The person found the charred examples had more 'bourbony' character to un-aged whiskey than toasted oak did. Maybe the answer is right in front of us; we're using the wrong oak.

So what's my plan? Well I'm not entirely sure, as I don't have experience with any of this. Anything I try is just going to be a shot in the dark. I do feel like I'm onto something here though, so shoot in the dark I will. As for right now, I've got a giant Imperial Stout (1.118) cranking away in the primary. I'll post some recipe details here in about 2 weeks once it's ready to go down for a year long-nap in the keg.

I purchased some medium-plus toast American Oak cubes. Why toasted? It seems most cooperages toast the inside of the barrels prior to charring to bring out more of the vanillans. Next I'm going to blast the cubes with my propane torch until they're charred. I have zero experience charring oak cubes, so I'm just going to guess how much is enough. There's quite a few photos of bourbon barrels indicating their level of char. I'll try my best to replicate that.

The charred oak cubes should be pretty similar to buying a new 5 gallon barrel. The charred oak is going to impart entirely too much flavor into the beer in a very short period of time.  After all, we're trying to replicate a barrel that held whiskey for over a decade. The charred oak loses a lot of it's 'essence' over the years, as the whiskey gets darker and more oaky. So my plan is to soak the charred cubes in un-aged whiskey for at least a month, and then possibly some bourbon for another month. Hopefully that will help leech a good amount of the flavor from the cubes. Will two months of aging the cubes replicate the ten years or more of a traditional barrel? No clue, but there's only one way to find out.

So that's about it for now. There will be more posts to follow on this soon. I'm extremely curious if anyone has experience using charred oak in beer. I've searched extensively, but that doesn't mean there isn't someone out there. Not everything finds it's way onto the internet =) Also, if anyone has any experience on the oxidation front, I'd love to hear from you as well.

Over the past couple years here at Bertus Brewery there have been countless requests to brew a Fresh Squeezed clone; about 98% of which happen to come from Mrs. Bert. Since I also really love that beer, and I'm currently woefully lacking an IPA on tap, it seemed that the day has finally arrived! Fresh Squeezed is a really interesting IPA. It's not very bitter, nor is it in-your-face-hoppy. It has a pretty big caramel malt character, but it makes up for all of that with really juicy, citrusy, fruity aroma. It's smooth, approachable, and really well brewed.

I started putting together a clone recipe for this as I start every clone, by drinking the beer, and digging up all the info I can. Deschutes is quite generous in that regard, and provides us with about 80% of the information right off the bat. The malts are 2-row, Munich, and C75. The hops are Nugget, Citra, and Mosaic. They're quite broad on their gravity ranges and they didn't provide any hop schedule, but something is always better than nothing. Thankfully the gravities aren't hard to work out. I degassed a sample of the beer, and I have to admit I was pretty surprised to see the FG of Fresh Squeezed is 1.018. I was guessing maybe 1.014-1.015 or so. Nonetheless, with an ABV of 6.4%, that puts the OG at 1.068, which makes this beer quite a bit bigger than I was expecting. So with the target gravities in place, there wasn't much else to do other than some color estimates, and guessing at a hopping schedule. As for the yeast, Deschutes uses an English yeast; out of laziness, I'm using American. There's likely going to be a difference as a result, but I've been busy lately and I just didn't have time to make a starter. Sometimes practicality wins out over the sake of exactness. I'm also swapping out Nugget for Apollo, although that one I can't see having much of a difference.

Brew day for this beer was actually pretty fun. Some friends I haven't brewed with came over, and we shot the shit for a few hours while brewing. I haven't brewed in close to 5 months, so I definitely wanted to stretch this batch to 10 gallons to fill up some kegs, if for nothing else. I mashed for 60 minutes followed by a 60 minute boil. I steeped the whirlpool hops for 10 minutes prior to starting to chill. Given I brewed this in mid-October I was actually able to chill it down in a reasonable amount of time.

Brewed: 10-11-15
Dry Hopped: 10-15-15
Kegged: 10-21-15
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 60
12 Gallons

25lbs 2-row

3lbs C75
1.5lbs Munich
Mash at 158*
1oz Apollo @ 60

2oz ea Citra & Mosaic @ 10
3oz ea Citra & Mosaic @ 0Whirlpool for 15min
Safale US-05: 1.5packs per fermenter

Dry Hop (ea fermenter): 1.5oz ea Citra & Mosaic

This beer followed my typical fermentation profile. Starting around 17.2C, ramping up to 18.4, then finally 20C. Dry hops were added directly too the primary after four days, and then after ten days total both fermenters were kegged.

So how did it turn out? Close. The beers look remarkably similar, with the Deschutes beer being maybe one half SRM lighter. Maybe. Clarity is the same, the head is the same, the color is just slightly too dark on mine. The clone's aroma is distinctly 'Fresh Squeezed', but a little too potent. I can't believe I'm saying this, but there's probably 30-50% too much try hopping in my recipe. I could caulk some of the difference up to freshness, but not this much. I'm also picking up on a tiny bit of esters in the aroma of theirs, but it's very slight. That brings us to the next point though. You definitely need English yeast for this beer. I was being lazy and used American yeast, but when tasting the beers, the difference is there. The real beer is that soft, full mouthfeel that IPAs brewed with English yeast have. There's also some esters in the flavor at the finish. The clone, while medium-full in body is missing that 'Britishness' for lack of a better term.

So what would I change? First and foremost, I'm going to try WLP002. That will also probably include a lower mash temperature, as it won't attenuate as well as US05. Next, to address the color issue, I'm thinking of cutting the Crystal 75 back by about 1oz per 6gal batch. Finally I think 2oz of dry hops total is probably more accurate. 3oz total was a little over the top for this beer, and while it tastes absolutely fantastic, Fresh Squeezed just isn't quite as aromatic as the clone is. So that's about it for now. I can definitely say this recipe will get revisited somewhere down the road. Cheers!

What if I told you that most of what we knew about Pliny clones was wrong? Well, about six months ago, I received an email from a fan of the blog who happened to stumble across some info about the Pliny recipe that looked pretty different than what we've heard from Vinny in the past. I’m intentionally leaving out some details, out of respect for Russian River, but I have every reason to believe the info to be accurate. The same recipe info was later posted to a popular homebrew forum, although it surprisingly didn’t garner much attention. With that said, please don't ask me for specifics, as I'm already pushing my moral boundaries here. I really debated whether or not I was going to post this recipe at all. After some deliberation, and considering just a cursory search will turn up the same details now, I decided that I'm not exactly divulging any secrets. So here's my experience brewing this newer (more accurate) Pliny recipe

So what were the big surprises? Well, actually quite a few.

- Cascade! This was the biggest surprise
- There’s no Carapils in the malt bill
- The mash temp is quite a bit higher than expected (154)
- The 45 minute addition is Amarillo Extract
- There’s less CTZ than I thought
- Half the bittering hops I had

I like many others, I had adopted my Pliny recipe from the popular ones Vinny has provided over the years. So we might as well take a look at how close my most recent Pliny recipe was from the real thing.

Mine                                       Theirs

87% 2-row                             93.5% 2-row
3.8% Carapils                        1.7% English C60
4.2% C40                              4.8% Dextrose
5% Dextrose
Mash @ 150F                        Mash @ 154F

Hops:                                     Hops:

@90:                                     @90:
48AAU                                  20AAU

@45:                                     @45:
9.5AAU Extract                     4.7AAU Amarillo Extract

@30:                                     @30:
1oz Simcoe                           1oz Simcoe

Flameout:                              Flameout:
1oz Centennial                      .75oz ea Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe
2.25oz Simcoe

Dry Hops:                             Dry Hops:
41% CTZ                              41.5% Simcoe
29% Simcoe                         33% Cascade
24% Centennial                   18% CTZ
6% Amarillo                         7.5% Amarillo

Quite a few differences, huh? RR is using just a splash of Crystal 60, and no other specialty malts. We did have the amount of dextrose roughly correct though. They're also mashing quite a bit warmer, which I assume makes up the difference for the extra crystal and carapils. The hopping looks quite a bit different; there's less than half the amount of bittering hops! While they obviously get better hop utilization at their scale, it's certainly not 100% more. The 45min addition is Amarillo specific, which also raised an eyebrow. The flameout addition is a big surprise. First, they're using Cascade, which I've seen no mention of before. Secondly, the varieties are pretty evenly split. The kettle hops are not as Simcoe-heavy as I assumed. As for the dry hops, we're in the ballpark, but not exact. The Centennial is replaced with Cascade, and there's less CTZ than I used.

So how did I end up adapting this into a recipe to brew. First, the amount of hops at 90min is small enough that I'm not going to bother with hop extract. Gone is the idea we need like 3.5oz CTZ for bittering. I'm using a mere 1oz of Apollo to achieve the 15AAU required. Also, considering the Amarillo Extract addition is so small (.5oz of pellet equivalent) and with 45min left in the boil, I'm using pellets. I don't even know if Amarillo-Specific extracts are available to home brewers, but I see absolutely no need to bother.  Also, I brewed this with WLP090 because I really don't find much of a flavor difference between it and 001. I know WLP090 really well at this point, so I try to use it whenever possible.

The timing of this recipe was actually perfect. The wife and I bought a house earlier this year, and I needed to brew a big IPA for the housewarming party. What better than a keg of Pliny! As for the brew day, I'm still working out the kinks of brewing at the new house. I've setup my brew stand at the end of the garage, and while it works, the setup isn't ideal. It's funny how little of a difference it takes to throw you off your game. Especially since I've had zero changes in equipment for roughly two years. Nonetheless, everything went smooth enough. I mashed for 60 minutes, boiled for 90, allowed the wort to whirlpool for 15, and finally chilled the batch down to 64F.  From there I hit the wort with a good 90 seconds of O2, pitched the yeast, and buttoned-up the fermenter fridge at 17.2C.

I ramped the temperature up as fermentation progressed until it hit 20C near the end. After 4 days I added the first dry hop addition directly to the primary. I sat on those hops for 3 days before racking to a clean, sanitized, keg to stand in as a secondary. The second dry hops were added, and the keg was kept at 20C for another 7 days before crashing the (secondary) keg, and racking to a clean serving keg. After a week of carbing this up, we were in business.

Brewed: 04-15-15
Dry Hopped: 04-22-15
Kegged: 04-29-15
OG: 1.070
FG: 1.010
ABV: 7.9%
IBU: 70
6 Gallons

14lbs 2-row

4oz English C60
11.5oz Dextrose
Mash at 154*
1oz Apollo @ 90 (The recipe is actually 8.2ml Generic Hop Extract, or 15AAU)

.33oz CTZ @ 90
.5oz Amarillo @ 45  (The recipe is actually 2.5ml Amarillo Extract, or 4.7AAU)
1oz Simcoe @ 30
.75oz ea: Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe @ 0
Whirlpool for 15min
WLP090 - Super San Diego Yeast

Dry Hop 1:
1oz Simcoe
.833oz Cascade
.5oz CTZ

Dry Hop 2:

1oz Simcoe
.75oz Cascade
.36oz Amarillo
.36oz CTZ

So how did things turn out? Spot on. How different is this beer than my prior clone attempts? Not much. That was actually the biggest thing I learned from this. While the recipes looked quite a bit different, what we ended up with in the glass was pretty similar. Less bittering hops led to a slightly 'cleaner' tasting hop profile, and the Cascade in the dry hop somehow gives the beer a slightly more resiny aroma. I'm not really sure how, but it does. The color, mouthfeel, and even the citrus profile are exactly how I remember Pliny.

So ya, that's about it. If anyone decides to brew this, I'd love to hear your feedback. This has to be one of the more popular home-brew IPA clones out there. I'm curious how this compares to others'  attempts at cloning Pliny; especially those Pliny-accificandos. Cheers!

Well, it's been long enough. While this brew wasn't exactly a recent beer, it is still on tap at the house, and worthy of writing about. Today we're talking about German Kolsch. This is one of those beer styles that isn't exactly sexy, but I still really enjoy. We have a local brewery here in Tempe (Four Peaks) that makes a really fantastic, true-to-style, Kolsch. It's a really nice beer to drink during the hot summer months here, and it's been one of their staples for years. Aside from that, last year while in Europe we spent a couples days in Cologne, and I can't explain how awesome it was to drink Kolsch in some the venerable beer halls there. 

For those not acquainted, the beer halls in Cologne serve Kolsch in tall, tiny 200ml glasses, that they fill a dozen at a time from wooden barrels lifted to and fro with ceiling hoists. It’s pretty awesome to watch. The waiters walk around with a tray of a dozen or so beers, and simple swap your empties for full beers, leaving tick marks on your coaster to keep track of how many you’ve had. The only way to stop the never-ending stream of tiny glasses is to put your coaster on top of your glass when you’ve had enough. It’s definitely a fun, communal experience.

One of the interesting things about drinking beer while in Germany is that each town or region has a predominate style of beer: Alt in Dusseldorf, Kolsch in Cologne, Helles in Bavaria, etc. And while you would think it would get old drinking ten different Kolschs, the subtle differences between the beers become very apparent and very interesting. To my tastes, Paffgen was by far my favorite. It was a bit more hoppy than the average, and a bit crisper. It certainly didn’t hurt that their brewery was one of our favorite brewpubs in all of Europe, but that’s besides the point.

So that brings us back to the point of this post, I had been meaning to brew a quality Kolsch since we got back to the states last year. Although it was last December when this was brewed, some conditioning doesn’t hurt a beer like this. It’s been really nice to have on tap throughout the summer this year. I was definitely glad I stretched this batch to 10 gallons

Kolsch recipes are really quite simple in practice. Some German Pilsner malt, Hallertauer or Spalt hops, maybe a pinch of Munich malt, and Kolsch yeast. In my effort to make something similar to Paffgen, I found more than a few people mentioning that Wyeast 2565 is their house yeast. Most people mention that WLP029 is Fruh’s yeast. While Fruh was probably my second favorite Kolsch, it didn’t stack up to Paffgen in my opinion. Unfortunately, I absolutely hate brewing with 2565. It’s the biggest top-cropping yeast I’ve ever worked with. It climbs like no other, and clogs airlocks and blow-off tubes with no remorse. It also has the annoying habit of being incredibly powdery, which makes getting clear beer much harder. In the end, practicality won out over flavor, and I whipped up a giant starter of WLP029 to pitch into 10 gallons.

The recipe I settled in on was pretty simple: highly modified German Pils, a little wheat, a splash of Melanoidin malt, and that’s it. As I’m leaning this beer towards the hoppier end of Kolsch I decided to use Hallertau hops. They have a really pleasant aroma when used in moderation. That’s really about it as far as the recipe is concerned. The recipe for a beer like this really rather uncomplicated. 

To be perfectly honest, I don't remember much about the brew day for this beer as it was pushing ten months ago. I know it was a 60 minute (single infusion) mash with a 90 minute boil. I'm assuming the weather was nice out if anyone cares =) This really fermented out quickly. I ramped up the temp near the end of fermentation to help things finish up.

Brewed: 12-07-14
Kegged: 12-14-14
OG: 1.048
FG: 1.010
ABV:  5.0%
IBU: ~22
12 gallons

18lbs Pilsner Malt
1lb Wheat
8oz Melanoidin 
Mash @ 149*
3oz Hallertau @ 60
0.5oz Hallertau @ 30

WLP029 - German Kolsch Yeast

After a week or two on tap, this beer was finally fully carbed, but it really didn't hit it's peak until about 8 weeks in the keg had passed. There's nothing like cold conditioning lagers and lager-like beers. The funny thing is, now 10 months later, the beer still tastes pretty much the same. The delicate hop flavor has faded a bit, but otherwise it remains pretty much unchanged. The aroma is a really nice balance between pilsner malt and noble hops. The appearance is crystal clear, mostly to do with the long time it's spent in the keg by now. The head is bright white and clings to the glass as you drink. The flavor is what you would expect. That almost sweet maltiness that comes from pils malt with a nice balancing bitterness. There isn't much hop flavor left at this point, but the beer is still rather crisp and refreshing.

So how close did this turn out to Paffgen? Not exact. It's still a fantastic kolsch though. My hunch says that if I really want to brew something identical to Paffgen, I'm going to have to use WY2565, which I absolutely hate using. But for now, I'm nursing the last couple gallons of kolsch while the weather is still nice. Cheers!

Things have slowed down in the realm of brewing for me lately. The Wife and I purchased a house, which while awesome, hasn’t left much time for beer. Between the house-buying process, packing, moving, and unpacking, it’s been a busy couple months.

On the bright side, I get to setup my brewery in a permanent fashion, which is something I haven’t had the luxury of in the past. Since we’ve always rented, my entire home-brew setup was built with portability in mind. It will be a nice change of pace to set things up exactly how I want. Plus, it’s always fun to get to play with new toys. There was also a pretty sweet little nook to put the kegerator in, so that worked out pretty well.

I do still have a few prior things to write about. There are still a few beers (dating back to last year), that I have on tap, so let’s get to talking about them. I’ve been brewing a lot of 10 gallon batches lately. This is partially due to having less time to dedicate towards brewing, and the fact that I have an additional 7.0 cf freezer dedicated towards cold storage. It’s been really nice to have additional kegs that are carbed and conditioned ready to go on tap when a keg kicks. 

I’ve had a chance to use Equinox hops a couple times now, and I really like them. I’m actually more impressed with Equinox than I am with Mosaic, and that’s saying something. So it’s no surprise that I decided to take my de-facto house beer (American Amber Ale), and I find a way to integrate some Equinox hops into the recipe. This was a perfect excuse for a 10 gallon batch so that I could taste the beers side by side, and see what the Equinox added. 

In terms of the recipe for this beer, it’s pretty much the same Amber Ale I brew all the time. The brew day went really smooth. I mashed for 60 minutes, boiled for 60 minutes, and whirlpooled the wort for 15 minutes before chilling this down nice and cool. I pitched half of a 4L starter into each fermenter, and hit them both with 90 seconds of oxygen before setting the fermenting fridge at 17.2C. This fermented out strong, and I added the dry hops directly to the primary once fermentation was dying down. The first five gallons was dry hopped with Citra and CTZ. The second five was dry hopped with 2oz of Equinox. 

Brewed: 11-22-14
Dry Hopped: 11-26-14
Kegged: 11-30-14
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.017
ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 50
12 Gallons

20lbs 2-row
2.5lbs Munich
1.75lbs English Medium Crystal

14oz C120
5oz Chocolate Malt
Mash at 154*
1.6oz Apollo @ 60

2oz Simcoe @ 15
2oz ea Centennial & Amarillo @ 0
Whirlpool for 15min
WLP090 - Super San Diego Yeast
Dry Hop Fermenter 1: 1oz Citra + 1oz CTZ
Dry Hop Fermenter 2: 2oz Equinox

I dropped the temp on both the fermenters after 8 days, and then kegged them a few hours later. I was greeted with a bit of a surprise when I took a gravity reading though, FG was 1.017. I was expecting 1.014. With that said, the hydrometer sample tasted pretty good, so I shrugged my shoulders, and carried on. By early December the beer was ready to drink, and here still in early April it's held up very well.

The beer is a very nice deep crimson red, with a nice off-white head. The aroma is strongly reminiscent of the hops with some caramel malt that follows. The Citra/CTZ beer smelled more resiny, and the Equinox beer was much more Tropical. I didn't expect quite the difference. Both beers had a strong citrus note. The flavors are pretty similar with the addition of a nice bready, toasted note in the finish. Carbonation is medium to medium high, and the finish is medium as well.

This beer provided a couple good reminders for me. First, sometimes in home brewing, despite careful planning and execution, beers don't always turn out 100% as you expect. Even professional breweries have variations in their gravities, and as regimented as I would like to think I am, I'm not as disciplined as they are. Secondly, even if a beer didn't turn out as planned, it can often be quite good, sometimes just as much so as the beer you planned for.

In other news, I'll be documenting my new brewery build here in the next few months. I'm not planning to go nuts like some of the all-out electric builds you see, but I am planning on running some 240 to the back yard and building a brewing stand. Stay tuned for the details.

And finally, thanks to Northern Brewer for the shoutout on Twitter. Cheers guys!

I think this is like the 4th or 5th time I've brewed this beer, so sorry if it's getting a little repetitive. With the holidays fast approaching, and 1lb of last year's Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy in the freezer I needed to use up, this recipe was kind of a no-brainer. I also find it interesting, as Stone has started to release this beer with wider distribution, I think a little of the novelty has worn off. It's still one of the best DIPAs available these days, and one of my all-time favs. I have a theory regarding the availability of a beer and how good it's perceived as a result, but we'll save that topic for a later date.

We're not really changing much as far as the recipe goes. In fact everything I did was just because I had some hops to use up. I mash hopped the beer with Pacifica because I don't feel the mash hop really makes that much difference. I also peppered in a little El Dorado into the 15 minute addition. As for the yeast, I prepped a 3L starter of WLP090 a good 4 days prior, and crashed the starter the night before the brew.

It was a rather warm fall, which made for a really nice day to be brewing outside. I mashed this long and low for 75 minutes at 147. The mash hops made the recirculation flow a little slower than normal, but it didn't cause any problems. After a quick sparge, this was boiled for 90 minutes, then chilled down nice and low to 58F. Fermentation started very quick for this beer, as it was slowing down within 3 days, and done after 5.

Brewed: 11-09-14
Dry Hopped: 11-13-14
Kegged: 11-21-14
OG: 1.081
FG: 1.011
ABV: 9.3%
IBU: 90
6 Gallons

8.25lbs English Pale Malt (3.5L) 
8.25lbs 2-row
1lb Dextrose
Mash at 147* for 75min
2oz Pacifica - Mash Hopped
1.2oz Apollo @ 90
1oz ea. Simcoe, El Dorado, Northern Brewer, Amarillo @ 15
1.25oz ea. Citra, Cascade, Centennial @ Flameout
Whirlpool for 20min
WLP090 - Super San Diego Yeast
Dry Hop 1: 1.5oz ea Nelson Sauvin & Galaxy
Dry Hop 2: 1.5oz ea Nelson Sauvin & Galaxy

I wanted to use this post as a bit of a springboard to talk about some dry hopping techniques. It tends to be one of the questions I get asked most about, so I wanted to address some of the more common questions.

First off, oxidation is definitely the boogeyman that it's made out to be. I can't stress that point enough. My IPAs improved 3-fold once I started to get really serious about purging everything with CO2.

Secondly, yeast contact is, and isn't all that bad. I'll explain. I used to shun the practice of dropping the dry hop dose into the primary. From my experience the hop notes were muted, and the dry hop character just wasn't near as strong.  I also found some of the pellets got stuck in the yeast cake, and never fully broke apart.

I've found a use for this practice though with multi-stage dry hops. Lately I've been adding the first dose in the primary while there is still a fair amount of yeast activity. This ensures the pellets will mix thoroughly, and any O2 in the pellets will be scavenged by the yeast. I'll then rack to a CO2-purged keg, and dry hop the second dose there. Finally the beer is racked to a clean keg for serving. This might sound like a lot of work, but I find that it best replicates the typical commercial brewer's use of a conical.

Many commercial brewers including Sierra Nevada and Firestone Walker advocate adding dry hops while yeast are still active. Once fermentation is complete they'll drop the yeast and hops, then add more dry hops. Finally they'll chill the beer before transferring to bright tanks. For me to replicate that process it's Primary > Dry Hops > Rack to keg > Dry Hops > Rack to clean keg.

For brewers without kegging equipment or CO2 tanks, you'll have to experiment to see if your IPAs are better with all the dry hopping done in the primary or in the secondary. For me it was the later, but that was years ago, and I also sat on my primaries longer.

Lastly, you don't need to dry hop nearly as long as we've been told. I'm finding I get full dry hop flavor and aroma with just 2-4 days per addition, which is a far cry from the 7 we're used to.

So with all that said, let's talk about this beer.

I dry hopped this pretty quickly. The first dose went into the primary after just a few days, and I was racking this to a keg to dry hop after a week. I sat on those hops for a 4 more days before kegging this off. It was crystal clear and fully carbed by 12/7, which was roughly when I took pictures.

So as luck would have it, Stone announced they were releasing Enjoy By 12.26.14 just about a week after I brewed this batch. It's always nice to be able to compare a cloned beer against a fresh commercial example. Stone's was a little lighter in color, maybe 0.5SRM or so, and a bit cloudier than mine. Although haze in beer does tend to make it look lighter, so I'm curious if the SRM was actually all that off. Either way, both beers have a bright white head, even though theirs dissipates a little quicker.

As for the aroma, let me start off by saying, this Enjoy By was rather different than previous versions. It had a massive, very noticeable pineapple aroma, and that's not 'pretenious-beer-taster-talk'. I literally handed a glass to my wife and asked her: "What does this smell like?" to which she replied:"It smells like pineapple juice. What beer is that?". My version smelled like what I remember Enjoy By smelling like: tropical, yet dank, with plenty of citrusy aroma. There's just that unmistakable smell of the Nelson/Galaxy combo. The flavor of the two beers was much more similar. The pineapple flavor carried over, but it wasn't as strong as it smelled. Both beers hid their alcohol content well, and mouthfeel was very similar for both.

All in all, This beer turned out fantastic. It's just a really great DIPA recipe, there really isn't much more I can say; I could drink this 'till the cows come home. I am rather curious what Stone did differently with that 12.26 batch though. It was actually a very good beer, and the pineapple aroma was something new for an IPA. I suppose we'll figure that out another day though.

P.S. We're on Instagram now, @bertusbrewery. Feel free to follow us, and use the hashtag #bertusbrewery if it's relevant.


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