The Bitter Beast

July 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Not to much to say about this one other than I’ve been super busy lately with my move to Philadelphia and pulling together the remaining details of our upcoming wedding.  After brewing a few bigger beers I was looking to brew something low in alcohol and more malt forward.  I also decided to take the opportunity to use up the last of a few specialty grains I have been sitting on for a while.

I figured the low percentages of Special Roast Malt, Roasted Barley, and touch of Citra hops would spice up an otherwise pretty straightforward bitter recipe.  Ill be bottling these this weekend and hope to get back on a more regular posting schedule as things settle down a bit in the upcoming weeks.

The Bitter Beast

Batch Size: 11 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.045
Est. Final Gravity: 1.013
ABV: 4.2%
IBU: 38.3
Color: 12.6 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

89.3% Maris Otter
6% Crystal 60
2.6% Special Roast Malt
2.1% Roasted Barley (Unmalted)

1.5 Oz Magnum (10% AA) at 60 min
1.5 Oz Tettnang (4% AA) at 60 min
.25 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 20 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1.5 Oz East Kent Goldings (4.06% AA) at 5 min

1.7 L Starter White Labs 013 London Ale Yeast

Mash:

60 minutes at 1525F (Saccharification Rest)

photo (10)

Saison de l’amour

June 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Saison de l’amour or Season of Love is the second beer for my wedding this coming October.  This recipe is based heavily off of the Oaked EKG Single Hop Saison with a few subtle differences.  For this beer, I wanted to increase the overall complexity from the previous EKG Single Hop recipe. One way  I decided to do this was enhance the hop bill with additions of Citra and Hallertauer, two hops that I have used in the past with great results in saisons.  My intent with these selections was to introduce some citrus aromatics from the Citra, (which oddly enough is a cross between EKG, Hallertaur, US Tettnanger, and a few other unknown hops) and some spicy flavors from the Hallertauer to complement the spicy yeast phenols.

My second recipe tweak was to use the notorious Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saision yeast in favor of some of the White Lab Strains such as 566(Belgian Saison II) or 568(Belgian Style Saision Blend) that I have used in the past.  The 3724 has a reputation for stalling out leading to problematic fermentations, however in my opinion it produces some of the most prominent Belgian yeast characteristics out of any Saison strain available to homebrewers.  To me, this yeast produces flavors comprable to some proprietary commercial brewery yeast blends from Belgium or elsewhere.  I chose to focus on my mash, keeping a temperature ranging from 145 to 147 degrees instead of the addition of sugar to increase attenuation.  I also moved my fermentors into the garage  which should bring the temperatures well within the range of this yeast.

Lastly, I wanted to oak age the beer to incorporate another layer of complexity, however for this batch I switched from Hungarian Oak to French Oak Cubes.  I did this as in my past experience French Oak tends to be a bit smoother than both Hungarian and American Oak and due to the shorter than ideal time on the oak (3 months) I thought this would be the better choice.  Furthermore, French Oak is said to contribute notes of cinnamon and allspice, two flavors that I thought would complement the overall seasonality of our October wedding.

Saison de l’amour

Batch Size: 11 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.061
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.008
Estimated ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 35.5
Color: 6.1
Boil Time: 90 Min

71% French Pilsner Malt
18.2% French Wheat Malt
4.5% Munich II Malt
3.4% Vienna Malt
2.8% Caramunich Malt

2 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 60 min
.75 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 20 min
.75 Oz Hallertauer (4.0% AA) at 20 min
.5 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 20 min
2 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Hallertauer (4.0% AA) at 5 min
.5 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 5 min

4.2L Starter of Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison

Mash at 147 for 60 min
Mash out 168 for 10 min

Notes: Age on .5 oz of French Oak Cubes per Corny Keg for 3 months.

Wedding Saison

Bier De Garde

June 10, 2013 at 8:55 am

For many of us, when we hear the words Farmhouse Ale our minds immediately think of the Saision, (with or without Brett), as this style has been romanticized not only in the U.S but also in Europe.  Saisions are not the only farmhouse ales, the often overlooked Bier De Garde is the other.  Bier De Garde is the saision’s maltier big brother, it is also the French contribution to the craftbeer universe.

Bier De Garde’s (BDG) are described by the BJCP guidelines as being “A fairly strong, malt-accentuated, lagered artisanal farmhouse beer.” Traditionally there are three types of BDG’s including the blond, brown, and amber with the darker having more pronounced malt characteristics.  My BDG would fall in the brown category as I focused on making a malty ale that would be serve as a contrast to the saisions I usually brew.  The BJCP guidelines describe the differences between the two styles perfectly stating “Bière de Garde is rounder, richer, sweeter, malt-focused, often has a “cellar” character, and lacks the spicing and tartness of a Saison.”

When doing some recipe research I came across several blog posts for BDG recipes, and noticed many of them cited the book Farmhouse Ales, by Phil Markowski when discussing the style.  It had been a while since I read the book so I dusted it off and read the chapter on the BDG, it served as the primary source for my recipe formulation.  The main take away for me was that traditionally there were two main types of BDG recipes, the simple and the complex or the big and small brewery versions.  Due to production considerations the large brewery version has a simple grist consisting of mostly pilsner or pale malts while the smaller breweries developed BDG’s with more complex grain bills often consisting of 6-8 different malts.

Another tidbit from the book that caught my attention and influenced my recipe was the thought that the single malt BDG’s would work better for an extended aging (6 months or more) than the multi grain small brewery types.  This as Markowski explains is because as the beer ages it begins to slowly react to oxygen, intensifying the malt characteritics bringing it into its sweet spot between 6-12 months.The multi-malt grist small brewery example, already malty, may become to malty over this same period of time.  Since I operate an extremely small brewery and have several beers already in my long term aging pipeline, I opted for the small brewery multi-malt BDG.

One final point that I considered was the length of the boil.  BDG traditionally undergo extensive boil times to bring develop the deep orange, amber, and brown colors that define the style.  Boil times of 3 hours or more are not uncommon for this style.  I on the other-hand had no intention of an eight hour brewday, so I decided to use the technique of kettle caramelization to achieve similar effects in much less time.  I have performed kettle caramelizations in the past, specifically for my Wee Heavy 2.0. and had great results.  This technique calls for drawing the first runnings from the tun and boiling them down in the kettle, until the majority of the water is boiled off, leaving a thick caramel behind in the kettle.  This process causes the wort to undergo a series of Malliard reactions, adding to the overall malty character of the beer.

My recipe consists of Pilsner malt complimented by a series of specialty malts and two German hops, Tettnang and Halertauer.  Since I do not have lagering capabilities I opted for White Labs 011 European Ale which is said to produce fuller bodied malt accented beers, fitting for the BDG style.  I mashed at 147 degrees to produce a highly fermentable wort that should hopefully put this beer in the FG range of 1.015-1.017. Lastly, I pulled an estimated 1 gallon of the first runnings and reduced it to roughly a pint before adding the rest of the wort from the mash and continuing the boil.  I am really looking forward to trying this one, as I love malty beers and think that this has all the makings of a solid homebrewed version of the classic farmhouse style.

Bier De Garde

Batch Size: 11 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.075
Est. Final Gravity: 1.017
ABV: 7.6%
IBU: 23.7
Color: 8.9 SRM
Boil Time: 90 Min

71.6% Belgian Pilsner
16.3% Munich 10L
6.5% Wheat Malt
3.3% Caravienne Malt
1.3% Caraamber Malt
.6% Amber Malt

3.5 Oz Tettnang (4% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
.75 Oz Halertauer Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 5 min

4.2 L Starter of White Labs 011 European Ale

Mash:

60 minutes at 147F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165 F (Mash Out)

Ferment at ambient air temperature of 65 F

Notes:

Upon completion of mash pull the first gallon of wort and perform a kettle caramelization, cooking down to roughly one pint of liquid.

BDG Kettle Caramelization

Timber Ridge Double IPA

May 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’ll preface this post by saying I’m not the biggest hophead out there, in fact I tend to migrate more towards big malty beers when I’m looking for a high alcohol punch.  However, this year I was able to get my hands on several pounds of the popular citrusy/pine hops, namely Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra, that are mainstays in many of the big commercial IPA’s and double IPA’s.  Additionally, as I continue down my “beers to brew” checklist, I decided that now was as good a time as any to give a double IPA a shot.

When brewing a double IPA there are several things to consider in the recipe formulation, the first and most obvious is the hop schedule and varieties.  For this recipe I went with three hops, specifically Belma, Simcoe, and Amarillo.  Belma is a new hop this year offered exclusively from HopsDirect.  On the site it is described as “a clean hop, imparting flavors of orange, grapefruit, tropical, pineapple, strawberry and melon.” However, after reading reviews of fellow brewers it seems like the hop falls somewhat short in the aroma intensity department, described by many as a “mild aroma” and another as a “cheaper Magnum”.

For that reason, coupled with the extremely low price of $5 a lb I decided to use the Belma for my main bittering additions.  I used a First Wort Hop to produce a smoother bitterness as well as additions at 20 and 15 to hopefully catch some of the flavors described previously.  I finished out the hop bill with additions of Amarillo and Simcoe at 10 and 5 minutes respectively as well as a huge 6 oz hop addition during my whirlpool.  These additions should contribute the classic citrus/pine aromatics that define American double IPA’s.  It is important to note that I added the hops to the wort upon chilling to 165 degrees, as at this temperature a greater percentage of the hop compounds are transfered to the wort, delivering an aromatic hop punch to the final beer.

Another important aspect of the recipe is the corn sugar addition.  This will dry out the beer somewhat while contributing to the overall alcohol strength that defines the style.  A double IPA shouldn’t be a malt monster, the dextrose provides the extra fuel for the yeast to get you to the sweet spot of around 1.016-1.104 FG. Lastly, one needs to consider the amount of wort that will be lost to the hops during the brewing process.  I calculated a loss of roughly a tenth of a gallon per oz of hops added during the brew.  In the recipe below I calculated my numbers for a 7 gallon batch with 10 oz of hops, and wound up with just over 6 gallons into my carboy on completion of the brew day.

Timber Ridge Double IPA

Batch Size: 7 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.084
Est. Final Gravity: 1.016
ABV: 9.1%
IBU: 106.3
Color: 8.7 SRM
Boil Time: 90 Min

84% American 2-Row
7.6% Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
4.7% Carapils
3.5% Crystal 40 Malt
.9% Crystal 120 Malt

2 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) First Wort Hop
1.25 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at 20 min
1 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at 15 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 10 min
1 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 5 min
2 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at Whirlpool (165 deg)
2 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at Whirlpool (165 deg)
2 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at Whirlpool (165 deg)
1.5 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop
1.5 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop
1.5 Oz Chinook (13.1% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop
1.5 Oz CTZ (8.26% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop

Pitched onto a washed yeast WLP 023 Burton Ale Yeast Cake

Mash:

60 minutes at 152 F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165 F (Mash Out)

Collected 6 gallons of wort in carboy.

Timber Ridge IIPA ingredients

German Hefeweizen Yeast Experiment

April 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

My fiance and I will be getting married this October at the German Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  I will be brewing all the beer for our wedding, so needless to some of my brewing this year is going to focus on fine tuning the beers for our big day.  The plan is to brew four 10 gallon batches of moderate alcohol beers and serve a 2.5 gal keg of either the Cognac or Bourbon Lets Grow Old Together Ale, depending on which tastes better, throughout the evening.  While neither my fiance nor I are particularly German, we have fully embraced the venue and are planning an Oktoberfest themed wedding with Brats, Spatzel, and of course a good ol’ German style Hefeweizen.

The recipe is fairly straight forward for a German Hefeweizen with a 3:2 wheat to barley grist ratio.  I added a small amount of Vienna Malt for color and some added complexity to the overall mouthfeel.  I selected traditional German hops in Hallertauer Mittelfrueh for its mild bitterness and herbal flavor contributions.  A great Hefeweizen is made by the yeast and the mash schedule as they contribute to the production of the classic banana and clove flavors.  I wound up using WLP351 Bavarian Weizen described as imparting “moderately high, spicy, phenolic overtones reminiscent of cloves.”  and a traditional Hefeweizen step mash schedule of 111, 126, 151, and 168 degrees.

The Experiment

My original thought was to experiment with several different Hefe yeast strains, however I had to change my plans when a trip to my LHBS turned up only one Hefe strain.  After a bit of research I discovered that the yeast pitch rate can directly influence ester production that gives the classic clove/banana flavors of a hefeweizen.  Although this is somewhat of a contested thought (many people believe the risks of under-pitching outweigh any potential rewards) I decided to give it a try.  Generally speaking there are three ways to create a more banana flavored hefeweizen.  The first is yeast strain selection, the second is temperature, and the third is pitch rates.  The hotter a hefeweizen ferments (66-68 Deg plus) the more banana flavors will be produced, similarly if the yeast is under-pitched and thus stressed during the ramp up phase of fermentation it will also produce these flavors.

Since I ferment my beers in a fairly stable cool basement (ambient temperature 62 Deg.) and WLP351 is described as producing clove forward hefeweizens one would assume with a proper pitch of yeast I would finish with a clove forward hefeweizen with little to no banana flavors.  Since I wanted to brew two unique beers from one batch I decided to pitch one carboy with the proper yeast rates and the second with 40% less yeast in an effort to create a more banana forward less clove flavored beer.  However, like many things in life, the best laid plans often go awry.  After spending a week diligently growing the proper amount of yeast required for my experiment I wound up with a much more efficient mash than usual (79% vs the usual 72%) and in turn a much stronger OG than I had planed for.  After some debate I decided to add sanitized water to my final volume so that I would still be at my planned OG of 1.048, albeit with 12 gallons instead of 11.

While usually I would be thrilled with a more efficient brew-day, my carefully planned yeast pitch experiment went by the wayside.  Since I didn’t have time to grow additional yeast I wound up under-pitching both 6 gallon batches.  The first carboy was under-pitched by 25% and the second carboy was under-pitched by 55%.  While the increased efficiency caused my experiment to lose its control I’m still looking forward to the results.  By some accounts under-pitching 25% will have little to no overall impact on the final flavor profile of the beer so I am still hopeful I will finish with two distinct hefeweizens, one clove forward and one banana forward.  Check back for the results in a few weeks.

German Hefeweizen

Batch Size: 12 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.048
Est. Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 12.6
Color: 4.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

66.7% Wheat Malt
27.3% Belgian Pilsner
6.1% Vienna Malt
1 lb Rice Hulls

1 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 45 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1.25 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 20 min

4.11 L Starter of White Labs 351 Bavarian Weizen Yeast

Step Mash:
15 minutes at 111.2 F (Feurilic Acid Rest)
10 minutes at 126 F (Protein Rest)
45 minutes at 150.8 F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 168 F (Mash Out)

Carboy #1 25% Under Pitch: 2.75 L
Carboy #2 55% Under Pitch: 1.135 L

Ferment at ambient air temperature of 62 F

Update: So after sampling both batches I could not tell a significant difference between the two different pitched batches.  With that being said I did feel that the underpitched batch tasted a bit thinner and had some extremely slight off flavors (potentially from extreme yeast stress, but i’m not sure), there is also a chance this is just my mind trying to rationalize that they should taste different.  

I have come to conclude that while underpitching hefeweizen yeast maybe able to directly effect the clove/banana ratio in the final beer there is a temperature or temperature range that if fermented below, no matter what amount of yeast pitched will directly limit the banana flavor profile of a hefeweizen.  I’m assuming that the ambient air in my basement (65 deg) must be below this threshold as I was unable to successfully alter the two beer flavor profiles in a significant way.  In the end the risks outweigh the reward in my opinion, and the best bet would be to pitch the proper amount of yeast and work on altering the fermentation temperatures to achieve the desired banana/clove ratios.

IMG_0227

Midnight Wit

February 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

As the doldrums of winter press on in the Northeast and I start to dream of the days when it will be warm enough to brew again, I thought I would crack into my recipe vault in search of some spring time seasonals for those of you lucky enough to either brew inside or live somewhere nice and warm.  Over the past two years or so dark versions of the popular beer styles have gained increased popularity especially the Black or Cascadian IPA and more recently the Black Lager.  Midnight Wit is my take on this concept, with the key to the recipe being the use of Weyermann’s Dehusked Carafa II during the last 10 minutes of the mash to get you the dark black color without any roasty astringent flavors.  Such flavors would clash with the fresh citrus and Belgian yeast aromatics that come to define the style.

As my memory serves this beer was extremely enjoyable and very close in flavor profile to a Hoegaarden minus the color of course.  It was while drinking this beer that I for the first time realized the effect color can have on perceived notion of taste and mouthfeel.  The light bodied wit beer appeared to taste heavy on the first sip, only after taking a few additional sips did I realize that it was in fact light and dry, and that the dark color had left my mind expecting a heavier fuller beer.  Nonetheless for those of you lucky enough to be brewing in preparation for spring I would encourage you to consider this recipe for a unique twist on a classic seasonal favorite.

Midnight Wit

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 16.1
Color: 19.3 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

30.6% American 2-Row
30.6% Belgian Pilsner
28.5% Wheat Malt
5.1% Carafa II (Added during the last 10 minutes of mash)
2.6% Flaked Oats
2.6% Flaked Wheat

2 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
2 Oz Styrian Goldings (2.6% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Orange Peel, Bitter at 5 min
2 Oz Coriander Seed at 5 min

3 L Starter of Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier

Mash at 150 for 60 minutes raise to 168 for a 10 minute mashout.

Midnight Wit

All Grain Recipe Creation Primer

January 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm

My favorite thing about homebrewing besides drinking the delicious, fresh beer I brew is the ability the hobby provides for continual creative evolution. While brewing beer at its core is fairly simple, at a homebrew level there are a nearly unlimited number of variables that come into play in the brewing process. Successful navigation and integration of these variables and techniques, defines the craft of brewing beer for me. Over the past several years I have expanded my brewing knowledge base as it relates to technique, equipment, and recipe formulation, all in the quest of brewing the best beer possible.

One area that really defines a brewer is their approach to recipe formulation. While I don’t profess to be a brewmaster by any means my approach to recipe formulation has worked for me, and led me to brew many really enjoyable beers over the years. Below I will outline my general approach to all grain recipe formulation as well as some general things to consider during the process. It is worth noting that I use BeerSmith to assist with the calculations and the fine tuning of my recipes to my specific system. If you haven’t already I would highly encourage you to find the right beer software for you and fine tune it to your current brew equipment. This makes the world of difference and saves a whole bunch of time doing the basic calculations required of all grain brewing.

1. Style selection

The first thing I consider when developing my recipes is the style of beer I want to brew. I generally brew beers to season, for example wits and wheat in the summer, porters and stouts in the winter, but not exclusively. Next I consider the amount of time a particulart beer style requires to come into balance. For example I might brew an imperial stout sometime in the spring in preparation for consumption in the winter, so that it has the proper amount of time to age and come into balance. One thing I hate is drinking strong beers that haven’t been given the proper time to age and are riddled with over the top alcohol heat.

2. Background research

Once I’ve selected the style of beer I want to brew the next thing I do is a combination of Internet research and browse through the books in my beer library. I’ll usually start with the recipe database on homebrewtalk.com, depending on the style I might also check out books such as Stan Hieronymus’ “Brew Like a Monk” or Ray Daniel’s “Desiging Great Beers.” I use these resources to get a general idea of common ingredients used for both the grist and hop varieties.

3. Recipe formulation

Once I have a basic idea of the types of grain required for a particular style the next thing I do is take a look at my ingredient inventory. I try to keep a mix of the essential grains on hand at all times the big three basemalts (American 2-Row, Pilsen,and Wheat) and a mix of some of specialty malts. When possible I try to avoid making trips to my LHBS for a specific grain, but in some instances styles are defined by a particular ingredient or combination of ingredients and there really is no way around it. I will substitute as much as I can with what I have on hand, as for the most part I think the differences are negligible.

Generally speaking I tend to brew beers within the style guidelines, but on occasion I do hybrids such as Unconventional Wit, a wit recipe brewed to an “imperial” style. For most beers I tend to use between 80-95% base malt with the rest being specialty or other adjuncts. I like to keep my grists fairly simple usually using an additional 3-4 grains in addition to the basemalt. For my hop additions I usually use a 60 minute addition with a higher alpha hop (I really like Magnum) followed by several late addition hops (20 min or less). Obviously these are highly generalized rules of thumb and depending on the style they might change dramatically.

Proper yeast selection as well as pitch rates are one of, if not the most important part of a successful recipe formulation. I like to use liquid yeast. I prefer Wyeast, but have used White Labs extensively as well. A stir plate is a small investment that makes a huge difference. Mr. Malty is a great resource to ensure the proper yeast pitching rates for your recipe. Pitching the proper amount of yeast can greatly reduce the chances of off flavors as a result of stressed yeast due to under pitching.

4. Things to consider

  • Sometimes less is more. Recipes with to many grains, hops, or spices can become convoluted and flavors become muddled. The more ingredients you introduce the more precise you will need to be.
  • Use restraint with specialty malts. These malts are powerful! A little goes a long way. While its might not seem like a few ounces will be noticed in the final beer they will. One the most common problems I see when looking at other people’s recipes online is the extremely high percentages of specialty malts, especially crystal and roast malts.
  • In vogue hops like Citra and Simcoe are awesome and they taste great, however there are tons of great hops out there that are often overlooked by homebrewers. I think its crazy to spend 2 to 3 times as much on the sexy citrus hops when proper use of some of the older less popular varieties (CTZ, Summit, Cascade) can contribute similar flavors to your beer.
  • IBU:FG Ratios: Good beers are balanced. The proper balance of bitterness to sweetness is essential. Charts such as this and this can serve as a starting point. Obviously they aren’t gospel and therefore shouldn’t be treated as such.
  • Flavor combinations that don’t work: Citrus and dark malts, Sour and Bitterness, Bitterness and Alcohol, Spices and Coffee. These flavor profiles tend to clash and can throw your beer out of balance, avoid these combinations if possible.
  • It’s rare that you will nail a recipe on the first try, not to say it will be bad but it might not be perfect. Don’t get discouraged! I have two recipes that I’ve been working on for several years that if I ever were to open a brewery would be my flagship recipes. Subtle changes to the recipe can make a big difference to the final beer but they are hard to pin down without multiple revisions to the original recipe.

Obviously this is an oversimplification of recipe formulation. Other factors that should be considered include water chemistry, mash temperature and duration, and cold side wort handling. In the future I plan on discussing some of these more advanced topics in further detail, but for the sake of this post I wanted to highlight a few topics that I feel can dramatically improve the quality of an all grain beer recipe.

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Beer of the Year 2012: Unconventional Wit

December 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

While Lionheart Brewing is still in its relative infancy, I plan on sticking around for a while.  With that being said I thought it would be fun to have some annual posts highlighting some of the best blog related material of that particular year.   The first thing that came to my mind was beer recipe of the year. This year it will be my favorite recipe nominated by me. Hopefully over the years as the site continues to grow this can evolve into a nomination and vote by the site’s readers.

With that being said my favorite beer of 2012 was Unconventional Wit, my take on a Belgian Wit with an American twist.  I would describe this beer as an imperial Wit brewed with traditional Belgian spices and a strong dose of American hops.  This beer is best when consumed fresh, pronounced wheat and citrus flavors are balanced nicely by the subtle Belgian yeast aromatics.  To read the full tasting notes for Unconventional Wit click here.

Unconventional Wit

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.065
Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 18.7
Color: 7.4 SRM
Boil Time: 75 Min

54.8% Pilsner Malt
37.6% Wheat Malt
3.6% Biscuit Malt
2.7% Caravienna Malt
1.3% Crystal 15

.25 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 60 min
2 tsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1.25 Oz Chinook (11.8% AA) at 5 min
1.58 Oz Citra (13.4% AA) at 5 min
1 Oz Crushed Coriander at 5 min
.66 Oz Orange Peel, Bitter at 5 min
2 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 1 min
.5 Oz Chinook (11.8% AA) at 0 min
.5 Oz Citra (13.4% AA) at 0 min
8 grams crushed black pepper whirlpool
2 Lemon Grass stalks finely chopped whirlpool

3 Liter starter of Belgian Abbey II (1726)

Mashed at 149 for 60 min raised to 165 for a 10 minute mash out.

Keg and serve fresh after a one week primary fermentation for the optimum taste.

3.4 L Starter of Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey Ale II

Unconventional Wit Spices

Great Lakes Christmas Ale Clone

October 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

One of the things I enjoy most about homebrewing is the exchange of ideas and information between fellow brewers, both in person and on online forums dedicated to the hobby.  I personally have taken advantage of fellow brewers willingness to help out on several occasions, whether it be troubleshooting problems, facilitating group buys, or sharing tried and true recipes.  This willingness to share doesn’t always stop at with the amateurs, in fact often times the pros offer advice and more importantly their recipes to some of our favorite beers commercial beers.

This was the case when Luke Purcell, brewer and field quality specialist for Great Lakes Brewing Company, confirmed the recipe for their highly touted Christmas Ale.  I made a few slight alterations to the original recipe which can be found here, based upon what I had at hand.  I added the Golden Promise to round out the 2-Row and used Styrian Goldings as a substitute for Hallertauer and Columbus for the Cascades called for in the orignial recipe.

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.077
Est. Final Gravity: 1.015
Est. ABV: 8.3%
IBU: 37.1
Color: 12.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

66.6% 2-Row
11.3% Golden Promise
7.5% Crystal 45
7.5% Wheat Malt
1.9% Special Roast
.1% Roasted Barley

3 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 60 min
1 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 10 min
1 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 15 min
6 Cinnamon Sticks at 5 min
2 Oz Fresh Ginger (peeled, cubed, and crushed) at 5 min
2 lbs 12 Oz Clover Honey at 5 min

3.94 L Starter of Wyeast 1028 London Ale Yeast

Mash at 154 for 60 minutes raise to 165 for 10 min mashout.

Saison #5

September 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

Batch Size: 10 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.060
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 6.6%
IBU: 49.9
Color: 10.3 SRM
Boil Time: 75 Min

68.2% Pilsner Malt
18.2% Wheat Malt
10.3% Vienna Malt
2.9% Special B Malt
.5% Caramunich II Malt

1 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 60 min
1 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 20 min
.25 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 20 min
1 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 10 min
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 10 min
1 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 5 min
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 5 min
.5 Oz Cita (13.4% AA) at 5 min

2.56L Starter of White Labs 568 Belgian Style Saison Blend

Mash at 147 for 60 minutes raise to 165 for 10 min mashout.