Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brewing for NCHF

Corrine and I are going to NCHF this year, and I plan on making a big showing. The trouble is, this means I have to brew a lot of beer between now and September. The good news is that I have a reason to brew a ton of beer and no limitations on what I have to brew. I have decided to brew a Kölsch, a Black IPA, and a Rye Red Ale (I will also be brewing a Sticke, but that will not be ready in time for the festival).

So now that it's just in the planning phase, I will say this about these beers:

My Kölsch will be primarily Canadian Pilsner Malt, with a pinch of German Melanoidin Malt, and a small amount of German Saurmalt (Acidulated Malt), to balance pH. I will also be using 100% American hops, but the yeast strain will be authentically from Cologne.

My Black IPA will be brewed in the tradition ofd my first black IPA - with tons of new school domestic hops, balanced by some classic C hops and a substantial dose of Canadian 2-row, a touch of Munich malt, and a nice bit of British Crystal. The difference is that this one will be brewed to about 1.066 and 80 IBUs. This will me more of an, "I'm not fucking around" kind of in-your-face hop assault with that creamy-smooth malty backbone. I will be using a shitload of WLP001 slurry for this guy - leftover from the fresh hop amber ale below.

My Red Rye Ale will basically be a nugget-and-cascade 50 IBU 1.055ish beer that will be 25% rye malt, dry-hopped in the keg with cascade and summit, and very heavily late-hopped. I will bitter with Nugget, which will also be used late in the boil beside some Cascade and Summit. Basically, this one will be a 10 gal batch brewed with close to a pound of hops, but kept down to 50-55 IBU's - a monster of a sessionable beer and exactly what Northern California beer culture is all about.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brewing with Homegrown Wet Hops

I'm hating myself for forgetting to take a picture of this one! I had about 8.7 ounces of whole wet cascade hops grown out of my hop plants in my mom's backyard. Supposedly wet hops are 4/5 excess water and thus equivalent to one fifth as much dry hops - which left me with the equivalent of 1.75-2 ounces of hops. That's really just enough for a single hop addition in a hoppy beer, so I decided to use them all for aroma, and to do a 5 gal batch so as to get the greatest impact from these hops. Boy oh boy was it fun to brew with them, though. The color was different from regular hops - much more vibrant. And the aroma, while mild, was great.

I decided to go with a hoppy amber ale, so that the beer would be hop-forward, but wouldn't totally rely on the hops for flavor, since I wanted to keep the non-wet additions as neutral as possible, while still producing a hoppy beer. I overshot my efficiency a bit, as I was trying to reduce my efficiency (since I heard lower efficiencies lead to a soother malt profile and want to test this). But it is still within the style guidelines, and since I overhopped it intentionally, I think the increased gravity will likely lead to more balance.

I used Pilsner malt just because I had that available and didn't feel like tearing into an unopened sack of regular 2-row. And I used magnum and glacier hops because they are both smooth bitterers and they have a fairly neutral aroma/flavor. I think the glacier addition will "back up" the cascades, rather than compete - much like Willamette and Goldings tend to do. I also added a small addition of pelletized cascades at 30 min just to pump up the bitterness a bit and give the beer a slight "cascadey" quality in its bittering profile, so as to maximize the percepted impact of the fresh hops.

I used a pint of dense, hoppy, 10-day-old WLP001 yeast slurry I got from Triple Rock, and that's fermenting at a cool 60F right now. Since I am not dry hopping this beer, as soon as it is finished in 2-3 weeks, I will crash cool it, fine it, and keg it. Hopefully that way I will get as much fresh hoppy aroma from it as I can.

Here's the recipe:

Recipe: Wet Hop American Summer
Style: 10B-American Ale-American Amber Ale

Wort Volume Before Boil: 8.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.00 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.25 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG
Expected OG: 1.059 SG
Expected FG: 1.013 SG
Expected ABV: 6.1 %
Expected ABW: 4.8 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 43.9
Expected Color: 13.0 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 77.7 %
Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 60 degF

Canadian Pils Malt 8lb 0oz (66.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
Canadian Munich Malt 10L 3lb 0oz (24.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal (120EBC/65L) 1lb 0oz (8.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Carafa Special III 1.00 oz (0.5 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Magnum (17.0 % alpha) 14 g Loose Whole Hops used 90 Min From End
US Cascade (5.3 % alpha) 20 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 30 Min From End
US Glacier (5.6 % alpha) 30 g Loose Whole Hops used 10 Min From End
US Cascade (5.0 % alpha) 55 g Loose Whole Hops used At turn off

Other Ingredients

Yeast: White Labs WLP001-California Ale

Mash at 150 degF for 60 mins

Recipe Notes
Flameout Cascades in this recipe were an early August harvest from my own hop vines. Alpha acid % is merely a guess. Name courtesy of Corn Dog