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.


I've been excited to write about this beer for a little while now, as I've been trying to craft a session IPA recipe for well over a year. Session IPAs (or whatever you want to call them) are polarizing beers. Personally, I love the concept, as I love a good IPA, but want something I can drink on a weeknight. Those 9% DIPAs take their toll. So I set out to create a really tasty low-gravity IPA, although I didn't realize quite how hard this style would be to get right.

My first attempt was last May, and while it was a decent start at the style, it was far from great. The beer was dry, lacked any form of body, had no malt character, and came across way too bitter. The aroma was great, but that was about the only thing I got right with that beer. I quickly realized that I really needed to crank up the specialty malts in efforts to give this beer some much needed body.

Roughly 5-6 months later I brewed my second stab at this style. I added an entire pound of C20 and 8oz of Carapils, but kept the mash temp around the same range, thinking 1.5lbs of dextrinous malts would be plenty. It wasn't. The beer still finished way too low (1.008), and lacked the body I was looking for. So against everything I know about brewing IPAs, I threw more specialty malts at this beer, and mashed it higher yet.

That brings us pretty close to the current batch. This summer I got back to work on this recipe, and finally found something that worked. I decided to bump up the gravity some, throw more dextrine at the beer, add some rye, and bring the mash temp up to 160. I figured I might over do it, but after two tries, I'd rather be on the high-side than the low-side this time. As it were, this batch turned out fantastic. So much so, that I rebrewed nearly the same recipe here, with just a couple hop tweaks.

For this batch I decided to play around with Equinox some, and peppered it in where I could. I've bought about a half pound of it over the past year, and I really like the hop so far. Other than that, the hop schedule is pretty similar to the recipe from earlier this summer. The grain bill is also the same, as it's pretty close to where it needs to be.

The brew days are starting to become really nice here in AZ. This one was a bit more involved, as a storm decided to roll in. I brew under a covered patio, but wind and rain always make things interesting. Despite that, things went reasonably well, especially compared to my recent batch of Pumpkin Porter (stuck sparge). I mashed for 60 minutes, boiled for 60, and whirlpooled the flameout hops for 15 minutes before I began to chill the wort. The gravity came in a couple points high, but nothing I was going to lose any sleep over. I oxygenated the wort, and pitched a small starter of WLP090 before buttoning everything up in the fermentation fridge. I fermented this at 64F for the first few days before ramping it up to 68 when fermentation slowed down.

I dry hopped this directly in the primary while there was still some yeast activity. I'm starting to find that minimizing oxidation outweighs hop/yeast contact. This is pretty much the reverse from what my mindset was a couple years ago. For my IPAs and DIPAs, I still rack the beer into a keg to dry hop, but for low gravity IPAs and Pale Ales, I'm dry hopping in the primary to take advantage of the oxygen-scavenging properties of active yeast. Anyway, the dry hops went in day 6, and I chilled the primary and kegged the beer on day 13.

Brewed: 10-19-14
Kegged: 11-01-14
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.014
ABV: 4.1%
IBU: 40
6 Gallons

6.5lbs 2-row
1lb Munich

1lb Carastan
1lb Carapils
10oz Rye 
Mash @ 160*
14g Apollo @ 60

1oz Centennial @ 15
1oz ea Citra/Mosaic + 0.5oz Equinox @ 0
WLP090 - Super San Diego Yeast
Dry Hop: 0.5oz ea Citra/Mosaic/Centennial/Equinox + 0.25oz CTZ

I dropped this beer in my spare keezer, and allowed it to carb up while I waited for space to open up in my main kegerator. I want to say it was in there untouched for about two weeks before I finally cracked into it.

I'll lead off by saying I'm really happy with how this beer turned out. The malt bill could still use a little bit of tweaking, but it's leaps and bounds better than the others I've brewed before. The appearance is a sparkling clear yellowy-orange; there's no avoiding a bit of the orange color with a pound of carastan in a 1.045 beer. The fluffy white head lasts for days and days, which I attribute to the rye. The aroma is super fruity with some citrus mixed in as well. The Citra and Mosaic clearly lead the way, but it's a pretty complex hop nose. There's no malt to speak of in the aroma.

The flavor is sweet, fruity hops, with some bready malt character. The malt profile of this beer is night and day different from the last beer; it's amazing what some dextrines will do. Lots of fruity and citrus hops in the finish, with a nice bitterness that doesn't linger long. The mouthfeel is probably the biggest difference maker in this beer. It ranks about medium, and is perfectly in line with what you'd expect from a standard gravity IPA.

I'm extremely happy with how this recipe is progressing, and how this beer turned out. It drinks just like an IPA despite the 4.1% ABV. I'd also wager that it can stand toe-to-toe with any of the best commercial session IPAs I've had. With that said, there's still some tweaking to do, so where do we go from here? First, with the extra carapils, I can probably back off on the carastan just a touch now. I'm thinking 12-14oz might be just about perfect. The hop profile is good, but I'm not thrilled with the Citra/Mosaic combo. I'm going to replace Mosaic with Amarillo across the board, as I like what the pair of Citra and Amarillo have tasted like in the past. Finally, I think I'll bump the 2-row up a touch to account for my mistake of gravity. I intended this beer to be a 1.042-1.043 beer, and while I overshot that a bit, it was a happy accident. I'll likely bump the base malt up just enough so that I can consistently hit 1.045 or so with this beer. As much as I want to make a super-low alcohol beer, sometimes there's just no replacement for the ethanol.

I'll likely brew this again sometime shortly after the new year, so stay tuned for the next iteration of the recipe.


PS: Yes, that is a hop mistletoe. My wife found it on Etsy. Pretty cool, huh?

Two dark beers in a row!?! I know, this isn't my usual M.O., but tis the season for dark beers. Quite a few months ago I remember reading that Stone was going to release a Coffee Milk Stout, and thought, hrm that sounds pretty tasty. Since I couldn't get my hands on a 6 pack of this, I just decided to brew something similar myself.

I didn't particularly set out to clone Stone's beer, but it definitely served as in inspiration of sorts. From a recipe standpoint, I borrowed pretty heavily from the Milk Chocolate Stout I brewed roughly a year ago. I'm using the same malts in this recipe, only tweaking the amounts since this is a much lower gravity beer. I'm amping up the amounts of crystal malt, and dropping the amount of roasted malt to account for that. Based on my recent experience with session IPAs and WLP090, I'm also cranking the mash temp up to 158* to retain as much mouthfeel as possible.

Another part of the motivation for brewing this beer was to get a pitch of yeast ready for a 10 gallon batch of Pumpkin Porter I planned to brew the following week. Whenever possible these days I've been trying to avoid making big starters, and rather make a smaller gravity batch of beer. With that said, despite the high FG of this beer, the OG is still into the territory where I'd feel more comfortable making a starter than not. A few days prior to brewing this I made a small 1L starter, which was then crashed and decanted before pitching.

This brew day went well despite the fact it was still blazing hot outside; it was 110+* pretty late into the summer this year. I try to wake up pretty early for summer brew-days, but sometimes I just can't quite drag myself out of bed. Nonetheless, the mash went smooth, hitting all my numbers, and I counted down a 60 minute boil. The lactose went into the kettle with about 10 minutes left. Chilling the wort with ground water temp in the 90s isn't super fun, but I'm sure the local 'water and ice' stores love me. 40lbs of ice later, and I was down to pitching temps in a pretty reasonable amount of time.

Brewed: 08-30-14
Kegged: 09-06-14
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.024
ABV: 4.0%
IBU: 25
6 Gallons

7lbs 2-row
1lb English Medium Crystal
12oz Chocolate
10oz Munich

6oz Roasted Barley
6oz Carafa III Special
1lb Lactose 
Mash @ 158*
16g Apollo @ 60
WLP090 - Super San Diego Yeast
2oz Cold-Steeped Sumatra coffee in primary

Fermentation started a within 18 hours, and this was completely fermented out by around day 5. Two days before, I started cold-steeping two ounces of coffee in roughly 12 ounces of water. I let that sit in the fridge for a full 48 hours before pressing out the grounds, and adding the coffee into the primary. Everything stayed like that for another two days before I went ahead and racked this beer to keg.

So enough of the details, let's get down to how the beer turned out. Overall, really quite well. I might look into different methods of dosing the coffee, but we'll get to that in a minute. The beer is a rich, pitch black hue, with a nice dark head that doesn't hold quite as long as I wish it did. I guess I attribute that to the coffee oils. The aroma is definitely dominated by rich coffee notes, with some malty things going on behind that. The lactose is completely lost in the aroma, but that's not to say it's ever all that dominate in milk stouts. The beer does tastes more like a milk stout though. There's a strong chocolate malty flavor with some lactose sweetness mixed in. The coffee hits hard in the finish, and while not unpleasant, it has a quality to it I don't love. The mouthfeel is quite full thanks to the lactose and the high final gravity. Despite the coffee character I'm not in love with, this beer still turned out pretty great, and everyone who has tried it thus far has loved it.

While I don't brew coffee-flavored beers all that often, this one definitely left me thinking about the best way to infuse coffee-flavor into a stout. I'm starting to think that cold-steeped coffee might not be the best approach. There's a slightly sharp, maybe harsh, quality to the coffee flavor that became more apparent after the first couple weeks on tap. I think it has something to do with the carbonic acid and the coffee, although that's pure speculation. I've heard some people have good success simply using whole coffee beans in the fermenter, so I might take that approach next time. Judging the amount of beans to use might be a little tricky, but I think it's worth experimenting with. There's always something to tinker with, right?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Powered by Blogger.