Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Study of Tripels - And 2018 Tripel 1.0

Despite having had a Belgian Tripel take fourth place at the Ohio State Fair this year, I've still never really made one that I felt was "perfect" for my taste. I decided before brewing another that I'd study the style a bit, seeing what has worked for other brewers, and try to come up with my own recipe.

I located as many Tripel recipes on the web as I could.  If the recipe was for a commercial Tripel, a commercially sold kit, published in a magazine, or listed as a winner in a home brewing contest, then I included it in the study.  There are many (possibly very good) Tripel recipes listed on the web that don't have a "track record" (for lack of a better phrase) associated with them.  I did not include those.

The Style

The BJCP 2015 definition for the Belgian Tripel style suggests the following:
  • Overall Impression:  A pale, somewhat spicy, dry, strong Trappist ale with a pleasant rounded malt flavor and firm bitterness. Quite aromatic, with spicy, fruity, and light alcohol notes combining with the supportive clean malt character to produce a surprisingly drinkable beverage considering the high alcohol level.
  • Aroma: Complex bouquet with moderate to significant spiciness, moderate fruity esters and low alcohol and hop phenols. Esters are reminiscent of citrus fruits such as oranges, but may sometimes have a slight banana character. A low yet distinctive spicy, floral, and sometimes perfumy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy, and low in intensity. The malt character is light, with a soft, slightly grainy-sweet or slightly honey-like impression. The best examples have a seamless, harmonious interplay between the yeast character, hops, malt, and alcohol.
  • Appearance: Deep yellow to deep gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Long-lasting, creamy, rocky, white head resulting in characteristic Belgian lace on the glass as it fades.
  • Flavor: Marriage of spicy, fruity, and alcohol flavors supported by a soft, rounded grainy-sweet malt impression, occasionally with a very light honey note. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. Esters are reminiscent of citrus fruit such as orange or sometimes lemon, and are low to moderate. A low to moderate spicy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy, and low in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high from a combination of hop bitterness and yeast-produced phenolics. Substantial carbonation and bitterness lends a dry finish with a moderately bitter aftertaste with substantial spicy-fruity yeast character. The grainy-sweet malt flavor does not imply any residual sweetness.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, although lighter than the substantial gravity would suggest. Highly carbonated. The alcohol content is deceptive, and has little to no obvious warming sensation. Always effervescent.
  • Characteristic Ingredients: Pilsner malt, typically with pale sugar adjuncts. Saazer-type or Styrian Goldings are commonly used. Belgian yeast strains are used - those that produce fruity esters, spicy phenolics and higher alcohols - often aided by slightly warmer fermentation temperatures. Spice additions are generally not traditional, and if used, should be a background character only. Fairly soft water.
My personal favorite examples include:  Karmeliet Tripel, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, and Old Dominion's Candi Belgian Tripel.

What I want from my own Tripel is:
  • Appearance:  Anything in the yellow to gold color range, consistent with the BJCP style.  A thick white long-lasting head. This (for me) means including both Melanoidin and Carapils malts in grain bill, as that combo tends to produce the kind of head I'm looking for.
  • Aroma:  Spicy, fruity, and with a definite orange/lemon citrus note.  Optionally a hint of honey and malt sweetness.
  • Mouthfeel:  Medium body with lots of carbonation.
  • Flavor:  Mild peppery spiciness, citrus notes, spicy hop character that's allowing the balance to tilt just a little toward the malt sweetness (which goes against the dry/bitter nature of the style). A hint of honey. No warming note.  I don't want the spices to be obvious, nor do I want it so sweet that it feels like a soft drink.
Any Tripel I produce that doesn't meet those criteria will require changes.

Grains

The recipes I examined contained one or more of the following grains:
  • Acidulated Malt: Primarily used to lower pH in the wort when Pilsner malt is used.
  • Aromatic Malt: Said to provide sweet, toasted flavors and contribute light brown and orange color along with intensely malty flavor.
  • Belgian Cara 8:  A very pale caramel malt said to contribute a subtle caramel flavor. 
  • Belgian Pale Malt:  A fully modified pale ale malt, good as a base malt.
  • Biscuit Malt:  A lightly toasted malt that contributes warm, earthy malt flavors and aromas. Contributes light to medium garnet brown colors and a toasty finish. Some nutty flavors and a baking bread aroma.
  • Caramel 10L Malt:  This light caramel malt reportedly delivers a mellow candy-like sweetness and subtle toffee flavor, and increases foam stability.
  • Carapils/Dextrine Malt:  Contributes unfermentable sugars that add foam stability and fullness to a beer.
  • Caravienne Malt: Adds subtle toffee, caramel, and malty flavors to the beer.
  • Flaked Corn: Adds a mild neutral flavor when used in small amounts, and a moderate sweetness when used in larger amounts.
  • Flaked Wheat:  Increases head retention and body.
  • Melanoidin Malt:  Adds a red color and intensifies malt flavor and aroma.
  • (Belgian and Non-Belgian) Munich Malt:  A bready, sweet malt.
  • (Belgian and non-Belgian) Pilsner Malt:  A light colored base malt.
  • Torrified Wheat:  A whole kernel version of flaked wheat, which increases head retention and body.
  • Victory Malt:  A Biscuit-style malt that brings out nutty, toasty, biscuit-like flavors.  Adds a layer of dry toasted complexity and a russet brown color.
  • Wheat Malt: Improves head retention and mouth feel.
This is not to say that other grains cannot be used, only that these are common.  I'm also not suggesting that a Tripel recipe should have all, or even most, of these grains it... only that these are being used and are worth considering in a recipe because they've obviously worked in the past.

If we look at all the above malts and generalize them a bit, we come down to roughly the following:
  • Pale and/or Pilsner base malt provide most of the grist
  • Caramel, Carapils, and Caravienne add some caramel notes to the base, with Carapils perhaps adding a nice head as well
  • Aromatic, Biscuit, and Victory malts add some malt complexity and bready/toasty notes
  • Flaked Corn and Munich Malt add sweetness
  • Torrified Wheat, Wheat Malt, Carapils, and Melanoidin malt contribute a lasting head and some thickness to the mouthfeel
A good Tripel recipe probably mixes those five categories to some degree.

Hops

The following hops appear in the Tripel recipes I looked at:
  • Crystal:  An aroma hop, said to impart woody, fruity, and "green" aromas.
  • Czech Saaz:  An aroma hop, said to import mild earthy, herbal, and floral overtones.
  • East Kent Goldings: A dual-purpose hop said to include floral, lavender, spice, honey, earthy, lemony, orange, grapefruit, and thyme overtones.
  • Fuggle: An aroma hop said to include delicate and pleasant mint, grass, and floral tones.
  • Hallertau Mittelfruh: An aroma hop said to impart noble, earthy, and herbal tones.
  • Horizon: A dual-purpose hop said to provide smooth bitterness and impart floral bouquet and spicy aromas to a beer.
  • Liberty: An aroma hop said to impart noble, delicate, floral bouquet, and spice aromas.
  • Nugget: A bittering hop said to have mild herbal aromas.
  • Sterling:  An aroma hop said to produce noble and spicy aromas.
  • Styrian Goldings:  Said to impart a spicy aroma with a sweet/earthy edge, resinous with hints of white pepper.
  • Target:  A dual purpose hop said to impart aromas of fresh green sage, spicy/peppery notes, and hints of citrus marmalade.
  • Tettnanger:  An aroma hop said to display noble characteristics and a slight spiciness, with aromas of black tea, pepper, and spice.
  • Tradition: An aroma hop said to impart a harmonic bitterness, with aroma descriptor of floral, herbal, grassy, and fruity.
I've used Saaz, East Kent Goldings, Styrian Goldings, and Tettnanger in the past. A mix of Czech Saaz and Styrian Goldings is my go-to combination for Belgian beers.

There is something about East Kent Goldings I just don't like. I can't quite explain it, but beers containing very much of that hop variety just don't appeal to me. I can tolerate it in English styles, but generally dislike it elsewhere. More recently, I've found that blending a little East Kent Goldings with something else, like Styrian Goldings or Saaz, makes the East Kent Goldings bite more subtle and tolerable to me.

If we paint the hops in broad strokes, there are some definite patterns going on:
  • Fruity, spicy, earthy, herbal, citrus, and floral notes appear in most of the hops varieties used
  • Most of the hops varieties used are aroma-type hops, though a few dual-purpose and bittering hops do appear in the list
When I think about my own recipe, I'm wanting both spicy and citrus notes in the aroma.  I want a softer bitterness that doesn't take away from the malt, so my initial thinking is that I might do this:
  • 60 minute bittering addition:  Target hops - for the peppery/citrus notes
  • 15 minute flavor addition: Styrian Goldings - for the spicy, earthy, peppery notes
  • 5 minute aroma/flavor addition: Mandarina Bavaria - for its fruity, citrus, tangerine flavor and aromas, perhaps mixed with some Saaz and/or Target 
Although I know Mandarina Bavaria isn't a common Tripel hop, but I think the fruitiness it imparts might work really well with the style.

Adjuncts

The Tripel style is, like many Belgian monastery ales, known for containing some percentage of sugar in the grist.  Here are the various sugars I saw in the Tripel recipes I examined:
  • Blanc Soft Candi Sugar:  No flavor addition to the beer.
  • Clear Candi Sugar:  No flavor addition to the beer.
  • Corn Sugar:  No flavor addition to the beer.
  • Demerara Sugar:  A type of cane sugar with a pale amber color. Has a toffee flavor and can be used in place of brown sugar.
  • Golden Candi Syrup:  Adds pronounced caramel and light fruit to Belgian styles.
  • Honey (often Orange Blossom or Clover):  Can knock the bitter edge off hops and add floral notes and aroma. Early in the boil contributes mostly fermentable sugar. Late in the boil or in the fermenter will contribute flavor and aroma.
  • Light Brown Sugar: Lends subtle caramel notes to beer.
  • White Table Sugar: There is a rumor that adding this to beer will lead to cider-like flavors, and there is also evidence to suggest that this is not the case. When I've used it, I've detected no off flavors.
All of these will boost the alcohol content of a beer, lighten its body, and dry out some of the sweetness.

I've used most of these in Tripels, as well as Turbinado sugar in a recent one.  The clear candi sugars and corn sugar don't contribute anything I can detect to the flavor.  The same for white table sugar as best I can tell.

Because I'm wanting my Tripel to come out with less dryness than many of the examples of the style, I think I'll reduce the adjunct amount used. It's common in Belgian style recipes for sugars to make up 15% of the fermentables. I'm going to aim for a much lower percentage, and try to stick with a fermentable that will contribute something to the flavor.  That means probably Golden Candi Syrup, Demerara Sugar, or Orange Blossom Honey... but not very much of any of them.

Spices and Flavorings

I didn't see too many spices or flavorings in Tripel recipes, but I did see:
  • Bitter Orange Beel
  • Fresh Pink Grapefruit (in primary)
  • Coriander
  • Pepper
  • Sweet Orange Peel
I can imagine orange peel helping with the flavor profile I'm looking for, and probably coriander. I am less sure about pepper or grapefruit.  I won't rule them out, though.

I'm thinking a mix of bitter and sweet orange peel would be good, with a very small amount of coriander and perhaps some grains of paradise (which impart peppery flavors).

Yeasts

Where a yeast strain could be identified in the recipes I examined, it was usually one of the following:
  • Wyeast 3522 Ardennes (said to add a citrus/pepper flavor)
  • Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity
  • Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey
  • White Labs WLP500 Belgian Abbey
  • Fermentis Safbrew T-58
I've not used the Ardennes strain in a Tripel. The author of that particular recipe claims that it delivers an ideal flavor complement to the beer, so I'll have to check it out.

Recipe Formulation

Putting all this together, I think my first Tripel recipe for 2018 will be something like this:
  • 7 pounds Belgian Pilsen Malt (a good light base)
  • 8 ounces Munich Light Malt (a little sweetness)
  • 4 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt (head retention)
  • 2.5 ounces Melanoidin Malt (head retention)
  • 2 ounces Aromatic Malt (malty flavor and aroma)
  • 2 ounces Biscuit Malt (bready, malty flavor)
  • 8 ounces Golden Candi Syrup, dissolved in the wort post-boil
  • 0.25 ounces Target hops @ 11.5% AA (60 min.)
  • 0.25 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 5.5% AA (15 min.)
  • 0.50 ounces Mandarina Bavaria @ 8.5% AA (5 min.)
  • 0.10 ounces Czech Saaz @ 5% AA (5 min.)
  • 0.10 ounces Target @ 11.5% AA (5 min.)
  • 0.50 ounces Sweet Orange Peel (3 min.)
  • 0.50 ounces Bitter Orange Peel (3 min.)
  • 0.15 ounces crushed Coriander (3 min.)
  • 0.25 tsp. Super Irish Moss
  • 0.25 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
  • Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast
This is for a Picobrew Zymatic 2.5 gallon batch.  The Zymatic web site says that this should produce a beer with the following characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.083 SG (actual was 1.071 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.022 SG
  • IBUs: 22
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.265 (actual is 0.310)
  • SRM: 7
  • ABV: 8%
  • Starting Water Needed: 3.3 gallons
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was 2.25 gallons)
I used a modified version of the Zymatic high-efficiency mash schedule, which ran as follows:
  • Dough in at 102F for 15 minutes
  • Mash step 1 at 113F for 10 minutes
  • Mash step 2 at 122F for 15 minutes
  • Mash step 3 at 145F for 20 minutes
  • Mash step 4 at 155F for 45 minutes
  • Mash out at 175F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule was set to:
  • 60 minutes: Target hops
  • 15 minutes: Styrian Goldings hops
  • 10 minutes: Sweet Orange Peel, Bitter Orange Peel, Coriander, Yeast Nutrient, Super Irish Moss
  • 5 minutes: Target, Mandarina Bavaria, Czech Saaz
  • Candi Syrup was added after the boil, prior to chilling
Post-Brew Notes

06/16/2018: The Zymatic appeared to get clogged at some point during the mash. The grain bed didn't flood during mash out, and when it switched from "mash out" to "heat to boil" it halted with Error Code 1. When I tried to restart it, it got the same error. After that, I powered the Zymatic off and unplugged it briefly. After plugging it back in and powering it on, I was able to get it to begin the "heat to boil" stage. The Zymatic seemed to have trouble getting the wort up to boiling temperature. When it finally reached boiling, the temperature fluctuated for quite a while before stabilizing. I assume it must have cleared the blockage at that point as the rest of the brew finished without error.

The gravity of the finished wort was low (1.071 versus the expected 1.083), as was the volume. I suspect that this was related to the possible blockage in the system, as it may have prevented full conversion of the wort. A few hours after pitching the yeast, I began seeing the gravity drop. Since the Ardennes strain is rated for temperatures between 65F and 76F, I'll be keeping an eye on it for the next few days. Since pitching, the wort has dropped from 73F to 70F. Gravity has dropped from 1.071 to 1.068 SG. This seems to indicate that the yeast is happy in its new home.

06/17/2018: The yeast has been an impressive worker. Gravity has dropped from 1.071 SG to 1.038 in a little over 24 hours. That's 45% attenuation and 4.2% ABV in about 24 hours. Temperature dropped to a low of 70F overnight and is currently at 77F, just above the recommended top-end temperature for the yeast. I've read that it does fine in temperatures as high as 82F, so I'm going to let it free-ferment as long as it stays below that temperature.

06/18/2018: The yeast has continued to work its way through the fermentables. Gravity is down to 1.021 SG today and the temperature has dropped down to 71F. That is the final gravity I expected it to reach, so it's on target to finish as expected. A sample removed from the fermenter had a nice gold color, a fruity and slighly clove-like aroma, and a dry, fruity flavor to it. It could turn out quite well.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Tripel Karmeliet Clone Attempt v3.0

My last attempt at a Tripel Karmeliet clone used what was purportedly the actual recipe from the 1600's. The beer came out darker, heavier-bodied, and far less lemony than the actual Bosteels product. This time around, I reduced the amount of wheat and oat in the mash, and included some Simplicity candi sugar to further lighten the body. To amp up the lemony flavor, I've used a mix of Hallertau Mittelfruh and Lemondrop hops, added lemon peel, and a small amount of coriander.

The last time around, the Zymatic had trouble dealing with the grain bill for the beer (which was a full 9 pounds - the device's upper limit). Dropping a half pound of oats and a pound of wheat got the grain bill down a bit. The gravity should come out about the same, since I've added the candi syrup to the mash water (to give it a chance to caramelize during the boil).

I edited the mash schedule to dough in at 113F, which hopefully will provide several benefits. At this temperature, Ferulic Acid will be created, which can help some yeasts express their full flavor profile. This temperature is also helpful for increasing the extraction from the wheat (and possibly also the oat), and for releasing free amino nitrogen to aid in fermentation. I also adjusted the rest of the mash schedule to mimic that used by Orval, using a first step at 142F for 15 minutes, followed by a step at 154F for 25 minutes, then a step at 162F for 30 minutes, followed by mash out at the Zymatic's default 175F.  I even added a quarter teaspoon of amylase enzyme to the mash to help improve conversion. I'm hoping to do much better than the previous 54% brew house efficiency last time around.

I also added yeast nutrient to help the yeast survive and thrive in its new home once pitched. Combined with the rest at 113F and other changes, I'm hoping it's a very well-converted and fermentable malt.

Ingredients

6 pounds Belgian Pilsen Malt
1 pound Briess White Wheat Malt
8 ounces Quaker Flaked Oats
1 pound Simplicity Clear Candi Syrup (added to starting water)
0.50 ounces Lemon Drop hops @ 5.2% AA (20 min.)
0.50 ounces Lemon Drop hops @ 5.2% AA (10 min.)
0.50 ounces Lemon Peel (10 min.)
0.25 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient (6 min.)
0.75 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 3.8% AA (6 min.)
0.15 ounces Crushed Indian Coriander (6 min.)
0.25 teaspoon Amylase Enzyme (in grain section of step filter)
3 gallons plus 48 ounces of starting water in keg
1 packet White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast WLP720

Mash Schedule (modified PicoBrew "High-Efficiency Mash Profile":
  • Mash In at 113F for 20 minutes
  • Mash Step 1 at 142F for 20 minutes
  • Mash Step 2 at 154F for 25 minutes
  • Mash Step 3 at 162F for 30 minutes
  • Mash Out at 175F for 20 minutes
Boil Schedule
  • 60 minutes: No additions
  • 20 minutes: 0.5 ounces Lemon Drop hops
  • 10 minutes: 0.5 ounces Lemon Drop hops, plus lemon peel
  • 6 minutes: 0.15 ounces Coriander plus 0.75 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh
  • 5 minutes: Lemon Peel
According to the PicoBrew recipe crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.085 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.020 SG
  • IBUs: 15
  • SRM: 4
  • ABV: 8.5%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
After brewing, the following measurements were recorded:
  • Original Gravity: 1.086 SG (20.1 Brix)
  • Volume: 2.4 gallons
  • Brew House Efficiency: 62.7%
The choice of the Sweet Mead Yeast rather than a Belgian ale yeast was driven by the Candi Syrup Inc. recipe for a Karmeliet clone, as well as some forum postings suggesting that this yeast produced a flavor profile similar to the real beer. Other yeast strains suggested were Wyeast Forbidden Fruit and White Labs WLP500. I may try those if this recipe doesn't come out as intended.

Post-Brewing Notes

When I last brewed this recipe, the step filter overflowed and wasted a fair amount of the wort. I suspected that part of that was due to the fact that the grist includes both wheat and oats, which can cause a stuck mash. Normally, adding rice hulls is a good way to prevent that, but I wondered if a simpler solution would do the trick. I took a kettle trub filter, covered one end of it with muslin cloth to make it essentially a filtering tube. I placed it so that it provided a channel all the way through the grain bed, as you can somewhat see in the image below (the dark spot near the front of the tray, sitting at an angle, is the tube):


The tube may have helped, as there was no foam-over or spillage on this batch, but that could also have been due to the smaller grist.  

I also added some amylase to the grist to help the starches convert during the mash. I don't know if it helped, but the previous batch had a brew house efficiency of 54.2% while this batch managed 62.7% efficiency. Those are not great numbers, but 9 pounds of grain down to 7.5 was probably a big factor as well, as the Zymatic seems to do better with smaller grain bills.

06/10/2018: By midnight, I heard signs of airlock activity, which was earlier than I expected to hear any. Then again, the mash schedule, yeast nutrient, and good aeration all make for very good yeast growth conditions - so perhaps the yeast are just happy in their new home. A taste of the wort when the original gravity reading was taken yielded a clear but pleasant lemon character. If this carries through to the finished beer, we may have a winner.

06/11/2018: The Tilt is reporting that the beer's gravity has dropped from 1.086 SG to 1.059 SG. The temperature has dropped from 74F at pitching to a low of 71F and back up to 75F at this writing, which is the top end of the yeast's ideal range.

06/12/2018: Last night, the beer briefly reached 76F. At the time, I wrapped a damp towel around the stainless fermenter. Soon it dropped back down to 75F and later 74F. Today, the gravity is down to 1.046 SG and the temperature is 68F now. Since the yeast works best between 70F and 75F, I attached a fermwrap heater to keep it at 71F for the next three days, then raise it to 75F.

06/13/2018: The heat wrap and temperature controller have kept the beer at a near-constant 71F since I attached it yesterday. The gravity has dropped from 1.046 SG yesterday to 1.034 SG as of this writing. That represents 59.6% attenuation and a current ABV of 6.7%. The gravity began leveling off around 4pm yesterday, but is continuing to drop. The expected final gravity for this batch is 1.020 SG, which is just 14 points away from its current gravity. If the last 24 hours are any indicator, gravity should drop to around 1.029 SG tomorrow, and reach 1.020 SG some time on Friday. We'll need about three days to ensure that this is the terminal gravity, which means bottling probably won't happen before Monday unless the yeast is finished sooner.

06/14/2018: The gravity is down to 1.030 SG as of this writing, sometimes dipping down to the 1.029 SG I expected to see tonight. I've adjusted the fermentation temperature controller to raise the temperature up to 74F for the rest of fermentation, to give the yeast a chance to finish out. A sample pulled from the fermenter was a very pale cloudy straw color, reminiscent of the real Tripel Karmeliet. The aroma was slightly fruity, and vaguely citrus-like. The flavor at this point is pleasant, with only the vaguest hint of lemon. Since the yeast is still active, there was a bit of sulfur as well. While it's definitely thinner-bodied than the last version, it isn't light-bodied by any means.

06/15/2018: The gravity is down to 1.029 and has been holding at this figure since earlier today despite the temperature being increased into the yeast's upper range. The Raspberry Pi doing the monitoring apparently crashed early this morning and stopped monitoring around 8 am. Despite that, the gravity hasn't changed for several hours. Fermentation might be nearly finished.

06/16/2018: The gravity has held steady at 1.029 SG now since 11pm Thursday (6/14). The temperature has varied between 74F and 77F, which is near or above the top end of the yeast's recommended fermentation range. I'm hoping this will allow it to ferment out any remaining sugars before cold-crashing and bottling.

06/17/2018: Today, after seeing no change in gravity or airlock activity for three days, I bottled the beer using five small carbonation tablets ("high carbonation") per bottle. Yield was 26 bottles. Somewhere around 6/24 we should have some idea how this recipe is shaping up.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Cream Ale 1.1

Last year, one of my favorite (and shortest-lived) beers was my cream ale. It began as the Kari's Cream Ale recipe on the American Hombrewers Association web site, which had won a gold medal at the national level in 2008. I made some minor changes to it, to bring it more in line with my own tastes. Specifically, I switched from 2-row Pale Malt to 6-row Pale Malt (supplemented with about 6 ounces of 2-row Pale since I didn't have enough 6-row), from WLP001 California Ale Yeast to Safale US-05, from whole Hallertau hops to Hallertau Mittelfruh pellet hops, and added a second mash step at 154F to possibly add some sweetness and body. Bitterness was also decreased slightly to 17 IBUs.

Ingredients

1 pound, 14 ounces 6-row Pale Malt
6 ounces 2-row Pale Malt
2.25 pounds Briess Pilsner Malt
4 ounces Flaked Corn
4 ounces Corn Sugar
0.60 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 3.8% AA (30 min.)
0.75 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 3.8% AA (5 min.)
1.5 tsp pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/4 tsp. Amylase Enzyme
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
3 gallons plus 16 ounces of starting water

The Picobrew recipe crafter estimates the finished beer will have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.053 SG (12.7 Brix on my refractometer)
  • Final Gravity: 1.007 SG
  • IBU: 14 (BeerSmith estimates 17 IBUs)
  • SRM: 3
  • ABV: 5.9%
I used the High-Efficiency Mash Profile, but modified it to match how the previous batch was brewed and to reduce the total brew time. I configured the first mash step to 149F for 30 minutes, and a second at 154F for 15 minutes. The boil time was shortened to 30 minutes, with a Hallertau addition at each end. This should be long enough to sanitize the wort, extract the bitterness and flavor from the hops, and result in a tasty brew.  The original recipe called for a 60 minute mash and 60 minute boil.

After brewing, the following measurements were recorded:
  • Batch Size: 2.6 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 13.0 Brix (approximately 1.054 SG)
The beer was chilled to a yeast-safe temperature, and transferred to a sanitized fermenter. The yeast was added, along with the Clarity Ferm. Based on my recent experience with the Tilt Hydrometer in a batch in my basement, I don't think temperature control will be needed. The previous batch also used US-05 yeast, with a similar gravity, and stayed between 69F and 71F throughout primary fermentation without any temperature control. This batch will be in a stainless fermenter in the same ambient environment, so I suspect it will remain within the same temperature range.

Shortening the Brew Session

One of my goals for this batch was to see if I could reduce the brewing time without reducing brew house efficiency or impacting the flavor/appearance of the finished brew.

I shaved the mash time from 90 minutes in the Picobrew High-Efficiency Mash Profile to 45 minutes. Despite that, I still hit (and in fact overshot) my target gravity and volume. I suspect the Dough-In step could be reduced to 15 minutes, and the mash time further reduced from 45 minutes. This is something I'll try with a future brew. Though I don't know that it was necessary, I added some Amylase enzyme to the mash to help accelerate and complete the conversion. This may be a cause of the higher-than-expected gravity.

I reduced boil time to 30 minutes for this batch, with a hop addition at the 30-minute and 5-minute marks. Again, I still hit my gravity and volume targets.  Although I've read that boil times shorter than 30 minutes could introduce DMS, off-flavors, or other issues, I'm not sure that's true either. I recently had a batch accidentally run with a 15-minute boil time. The judges who tasted it did not report any DMS or other off-flavors. This makes me think that reducing boil times to 15-20 minutes might work for at least some beer styles.

Reducing the mash time and boil times for this batch reduced the total brewing time from "go" to "in the fermenter" to about three hours. A typical batch runs for about four hours, with some running much longer. I suspect that additional adjustments could reduce the brewing time by another 20-30 minutes.

Post-Brew Notes

05/28/2018:  There were no foaming problems with this batch. After brewing, the wort registered 13.5 to 14.0 Brix on the refractometer and 2.4 gallons in volume. I added distilled water to lower the gravity down to the target value of 13.0 Brix, ending with a volume estimated at 2.6 gallons.

This batch was brewed from 7:10pm to 10:11pm, approximately 3 hours end to end. Despite the shortened brew time, the original gravity and volume targets were exceeded slightly. This tells me that it should be possible to reduce brewing time with other batches in the future without compromising quality. In this case, a 5-pound grain bill had no problem converting well with a 45-minute step mash. I suspect that might not have been the case if we were talking about a larger grain bill like 8-9 pounds. A grain bill that large might benefit from an extended mash time (2+ hours).

05/29/2018:  A visual check of the airlock showed that an active fermentation is underway. The bubbles coming through the airlock were fairly steady, each "burp" a few seconds from the previous one, so I am confident the yeast are happy in their Cream Ale environment.

06/10/2018: The beer was bottled, using three small carbonation tablets per bottle (low carbonation). The beer was an extremely light color with a great deal of cloudiness. My suspicion is that it will not be as good as the last batch, which means that shortening the brew session on this beer might not have been a good move. That makes sense based on a book I've been reading recently.

06/14/2018: My impatience got the better of me and I placed a bottle of this in the freezer to chill, so that I can gauge flavor and carbonation. The beer is very cloudy at this point, and I suspect it's unlikely to clear up any time soon.

06/17/2018: A bottle of this placed in the fridge last night resulted in a very lightly colored, cloudy beer with a decent head. The aroma spoke of the noble hops in it. The flavor was light, slightly lemony, and very easy to drink. While not the equivalent of the original version of this cream ale recipe, for a beer produced from grain in about three hours, it's pretty good. I'll produce the next version with the usual mash and boil schedules and compare them.

Christine's Australian Sparkling Ale 1.1

Last year, one of the beers I earned a silver medal for at the Ohio State Fair was an Australian Sparkling Ale. Although I did not enter that beer this year, I did decide to re-brew it. The beer was a hit with friends and family.

This re-brew attempts to reproduce the award-winning beer in the Zymatic instead of The Grainfather. I've attempted to adjust grain volume and hops amounts down to a level that should be equivalent.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds Pilsner Malt
1.5 pounds Pale Ale Malt
4 ounces Caravienne Malt
4 ounces Carapils Malt
1 ounce Roasted Barley
1 pound Corn Sugar
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/4 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
1 packet Coopers Ale Yeast
0.35 ounces Pride of Ringwood hops pellets @ 10% AA (60 min.)
0.15 ounces Pride of Ringwood hops pellets @ 10% AA (5 min.)
3 gallons plus 8 ounces starting water

I added Carapils to this iteration to help maintain a head. The Roasted Barley was added to increase the malt complexity. I'd wanted to add Carafa III Special as I did in the original version, but didn't have any on-hand. Roasted Barley seemed like a good alternative and is often used in British brewing, which in some respects is the spiritual birthplace of Australian brewing. We'll see if this negatively impacts the beer.

All the fermentable ingredients, including the corn sugar and pH 5.2 Stabilizer, were added to the Zymatic's step filter. I programmed a delayed start for the next morning around 7:30am.  I figured it would be humming along by the time I finally woke up. Sure enough, it was.

The Zymatic's high-efficiency mash profile was used.

According to the Picobrew recipe crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Estimated Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Estimated Original Gravity: 1.051 SG (11.2 Brix)
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
  • SRM: 8
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • IBU: 23 (BeerSmith estimates 31 IBUs)
After brewing, these measurements were noted:
  • Actual Batch Size: less than 2.5 gallons before diluting, more than 2.5 after
  • Actual Original Gravity: 13.0 Brix before dilution, 11.2 Brix after
As with other beers made in the Zymatic, I've adjusted the hop additions based on BeerSmith's calculation of bitterness. That's because, in this case, I'm trying to reproduce a beer that BeerSmith calculated as having about 31 IBUs. Apparently, Picobrew calculates the same beer as 23 IBUs. Either way, I will hopefully get the same bitterness level as the award-winning beer.

A 60-minute boil was scheduled, with a hops addition at 60 minutes and again at 5 minutes.  

Post-Brew Notes

05/27/2018:  I wanted to test the Delayed Start feature of the Zymatic, so I loaded the ingredients into the Zymatic and selected the Delayed Start option. I calculated the number of hours and minutes between the current time and 7:30am, then told the Zymatic to wait that long before brewing the recipe. It seemed to be working, so I went on to bed.

05/28/2018:  The Zymatic kicked off the brew as expected, at 7:33am.  The brew finished around 11:45am (roughly four hours later).  Owing to the small all-barley grain bill, there was not too much foaming and no overflow from the step filter. That makes this an ideal recipe for a delayed start and an unattended brew, as there is little risk of a mess.

The beer finished brewing and was removed the keg, chilled, then poured into a sanitized fermenter. The yeast and Clarity Ferm were added. It will be allowed to ferment at ambient temperatures without temperature control, just as the medal-winning batch was. That 5-gallon batch experienced a fermentation that was so vigorous that it sent yeast out the blow-off tube, overflowing the blow-off water container (a gallon jug), and spilling several feet across the basement floor. Given that past experience, I put this 2.5-3.0 gallon batch inside a 7.5 gallon fermenter, to ensure that it had plenty of head space for a vigorous fermentation. I'm hoping that's enough...

05/29/2018: While I suspect that fermentation is underway, there was no activity visible in the airlock. Given that the beer has about 4 gallons' worth of head space, this doesn't surprise me. It is more likely that airlock activity will begin tomorrow.

06/10/2018:  Fermentation appears to be finished now.  Gelatin was added, and the beer was moved into the mini-fridge to brighten before bottling.

06/16/2018: Bottling day has arrived. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dark Abbey Ale 1.1

Earlier this year, I won the 23rd Annual Homebrewing Competition at Barley's Ale House across from the Columbus Convention Center. The beer I won it with was a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, a favorite style of mine. There are only a few bottles left of the winning batch, and I have several friends and family who would love to try the beer. That means it's time to re-brew.

I brewed the winning batch in November on The Grainfather. While I could fire up the device and brew a new batch following the old recipe, I'd rather work out how to brew it on the PicoBrew Zymatic, as that would be a much easier and more repeatable way to make it in the future.

I used the Zymatic Recipe Crafter to scale the original recipe to the 2.5 gallon size and match the original beer's gravity. Then, because I've come to believe the Zymatic's recipe crafter drastically underestimates the bitterness of a beer relative to what I see in BeerSmith (where the original recipe was created), I used BeerSmith to help me dial in the bitterness. I'm hoping the result is a beer that closely matches the original flavor and bitterness of the winning batch.

Ingredients

6.5 pounds Belgian Pilsen Malt
1.0 pounds Caramunich Malt
0.5 pounds Melanodin Malt
0.5 pounds Special B Malt
0.25 pounds Carapils/Dextrine Malt
2 ounces Belgian Chocolate Malt
8 ounces D-180 Candi Syrup
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 packet White Labs WLP540 Belgian Abbey Ale IV yeast
0.55 ounces Styrian Goldings hops @ 6.2% AA (60 min.)
0.55 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 3.8% (20 min.)
0.30 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 3.8% (5 min.)
3 gallons 48 ounces starting water

According to the Zymatic Recipe Crafter, the beer's characteristics should be:
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.090 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.020 SG
  • IBUs: 22
  • SRM: 28
  • ABV: 9.1%
I used a modified version of the High-Efficiency mash schedule:
  • 20 minutes of Dough In at 102F
  • 30 minutes mash at 154F
  • 35 minutes mash at 160F
  • 10 minutes Mash Out at 175F
This was followed by a 60-minute boil with Styrian Goldings added at the 60-minute mark, and Hallertau Mittelfruh added at the 20-minute and 5-minute marks.

After the boil, the wort was pumped to a sanitized kettle and the D-180 syrup stirred into it. With the D-180 dissolved, a gravity reading was taken.  It registered 21.2 Brix.  Sterile distilled water was added to try to dilute the beer down to the 20.7 Brix the recipe called for. Unfortunately, I added too much and dropped the gravity down to 19.2, despite not hitting the 2.5 gallon volume.  The wort was then chilled to 71F. Clarity Ferm and the yeast were added.

Post-Brew Notes

05/27/2018:  The grain bill pretty much thoroughly filled the step filter of the Zymatic. There was a minimal amount of foaming during the Dough In stage. More foaming occurred during the first mash step, though not enough to spill over the edge of the lid.

When the brew was finished, I found enough in the drip tray that it almost (but not quite) dripped over the edge onto the table. The beer was apparently "big enough" that it overflowed slightly out of the step filter and into the drip tray.

After brewing and adding the D-180 candi syrup, the beer registered 21.2 Brix. Diluting it with distilled water dropped it lower than intended - down to 19.2 Brix, without reaching the 2.5 gallon volume. I suspect the lost wort from the drip tray might have made a difference.

05/28/2018: The airlock is showing regular activity, so the yeast is clearly doing its job.

05/29/2018: Airlock activity is slowing down, so I decided to sneak a taste of the beer out of the spigot to see if the flavor and bitterness profile match up to the contest-winning version. Although the beer is still young and a little sweet, the flavor profile and bitterness level seem spot on. I'm hopeful that the finished beer will be a good reproduction of the winning batch

06/02/2018: The beer was bottled today with 4 small carbonation tablets ("medium carbonation") per bottle. Yield was 27 bottles. All were placed in the 76F "hot box" to carbonate for a week or two before taste testing. The refractometer reported final gravity of 12.5 Brix before adjustment and conversion to SG. After adjustment, that's a final gravity of 1.030 SG and an ABV in the 7% range.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Mandarina Honey Blonde Ale 1.1

Last year, I created a blonde ale recipe intended to showcase Mandarina Bavaria hops and Orange Blossom Honey. To my surprise, the finished beer took second place (silver medal) at the 2017 Ohio State Fair's homebrewing competition.  When I tried to re-brew that beer using the Picobrew Zymatic, despite their software claiming it would have a fairly low bitterness level, it actually came out so bitter that I entered it this year as a Pale Ale rather than a Blonde Ale. I decided to try again today, scaling the bitterness back to what I hope will match the original 1.0 brew, but using the Zymatic instead of The Grainfather.

Ingredients

3 pounds 2-row Pale Ale Malt
1.25 pounds Munich Malt
3 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt
1 ounce Caramel 60L Malt
0.10 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops @ 9.2% AA (60 min.)
0.20 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops @ 9.2% AA (15 min.)
0.50 ounces Sweet Orange Peel (10 min.)
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. White Labs Yeast Nutrient (10 min.)
0.35 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops @ 9.2% AA (5 min.)
0.50 ounces Tangerine Peel (5 min.)
12 ounces Orange Blossom Honey (added prior to chilling)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 packet Safale US-05 Yeast
3 gallons, 16 ounces starting water
Distilled water to increase volume to 2.5 gallons

The mash process follows the Zymatic High-Efficiency mash profile, with times and temperatures altered slightly. The first mash step was set to 30 minutes at 152F. The second mash step was set to 156F for 35 minutes. A step was added to the boil to include the 10-minute orange peel, Irish Moss, and yeast nutrient additions.

According to the Zymatic Recipe Crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (estimated and actual after dilution with distilled water)
  • Original Gravity (estimated): 1.055 SG (13.5 Brix)
  • Original Gravity (measured): 13.5 Brix (1.056 SG)
  • Final Gravity (estimated): 1.008 SG
  • IBUs: 16 (see below)
  • SRM: 6.5
  • ABV: 6.1% (actual was 6.0%)
  • Attenuation: 81.3% (actual)
While Picobrew's recipe crafter reports that the finished beer should have 16 IBUs, the same recipe entered into BeerSmith predicts a 20.5 IBU value. The last brew showed 24 IBUs in the Picobrew recipe crafter, but tasted considerably more bitter than that. For that reason, I decided to go with hop addition amounts calculated by BeerSmith to see if the finished beer comes out at the right bitterness level this time around.

Another change in this version is the swapping of Bitter Orange Peel (which I was out of) with Tangerine Peel (which I had on hand). I'm hopeful that will improve the orange flavor, but we'll see.

Post-brewing, the wort is pumped to a kettle and the Orange Blossom Honey dissolved into it. Sterile steam-distilled water is added to achieve the volume and gravity targets.  The wort is then chilled to yeast-pitching temperatures and transferred to a sanitized fermenter, where Clarity Ferm and US-05 yeast are added.  The fermenter was then sealed and allowed to ferment at ambient temperatures without any temperature control.

Notes and Observations

05/26/2018:  The Dough-In Process showed a little foaming, but not enough to cause a problem. The mash process showed little foaming, too, so I was able to comfortably leave the machine to finish the brew.

Original gravity after the addition of the honey registered as 15.1 Brix on the refractometer. Volume registered approximately 2.3 gallons. After stirring in distilled water to get the volume up to 2.5 gallons, the gravity registered as 13.5 Brix, as expected.

If the BeerSmith calculation is correct and the beer ends up at 20.5 IBUs (as opposed to the Picobrew crafter calculation that says 16 IBUs), this re-brew should come out very close to the original brew in The Grainfather last year.

I had ordered and received a Tilt Hydrometer earlier in the week. It arrived on the day I brewed the beer. I unpacked it and calibrated it with a glass of water and good thermometer. After this beer was brewed, I sanitized the Tilt Hydrometer and dropped it into the wort before fermentation began. It registered 1.056 SG, the same original gravity I had estimated with the refractometer and BeerSmith earlier, which confirmed that it was reading correctly.

05/27/2018:  I assembled a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ and loaded the Tilt Pi software onto it. The system began recording the gravity and temperature. The data is being logged to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. I'll capture that data and report it here when the fermentation is finished. I'm looking forward to using the Tilt to help determine when fermentation is complete and to identify in near-real-time when a fermentation is exceeding the intended temperature range.

05/28/2018:  According to the Tilt Hydrometer, the gravity of the beer has dropped from 1.056 SG on Saturday night to 1.020 SG today. Wort temperature has been only gradually increasing, going from 69F at the start of fermentation to 71F now. Given the expected final gravity of 1.008 SG, it seems unlikely that the beer will exceed the yeast's ideal upper limit of 77F, so temperature control (as I suspected) appears to be unnecessary.

Additional note: a small sample drawn from the spigot on the fermenter had a pleasing orange aroma and flavor. Unlike the previous batch, it appears to be well-balanced and not bitter. The tangerine note came through very clearly, too. I hope these qualities remain in the finished beer.

05/29/2018:  The Tilt Hydrometer is now registering 1.012 SG as the beer's gravity and 67F as the temperature, essentially the same as the basement's ambient temperature. As noted above, PicoBrew's recipe crafter estimates that this beer will get down to 1.008 SG as a final gravity. Throughout the day today, the gravity has ranged from 1.013 to as low as 1.008 - though it has fluctuated often. (I'm not surprised by that. Any device attempting to turn an analog reading, like the degree of tilt, into a digital numeric reading like SG, is bound to fluctuate a bit due to variations in the wort surface, yeast activity, etc. I have little doubt that in a few days the readings will level out even more and settle in somewhere in the 1.008 SG vicinity. The current readings work out to 83.3% attenuation and 6.1% ABV. Airlock activity has slowed considerably at this point but is still visible.

05/30/2018: The gravity is holding fairly consistently around 1.010 SG and the temperature has held at 67F, the ambient basement temperature. I think it's safe to say fermentation is pretty well finished.

06/01/2018: The gravity has been very steady at 1.010 SG and 67F since May 30, so it's safe to say primary fermentation is over. Now it's time to do a gelatin finings treatment.

06/02/2018: As you can see in the graph below, the beer has held at a gravity of 1.010 SG for approximately 3 days, and the temperature has been a fairly consistent 67F or 68F.


Given that fermentation is now complete, I'm ready to cold-crash and fine the beer using gelatin. I poured a half-cup of distilled water in a container and sprinkled a half-teaspoon of gelatin across the top of it. I allowed the gelatin to bloom for 20 minutes before heating the mixture to the 155F-158F range and adding it to the beer. I then moved the beer to my mini-fridge for chilling. I'll leave it there for a few days until it looks clear.

06/10/2018:  The beer was bottled today, using four small carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation). At the time it was bottled, the Tilt Hydrometer registered 38F as its temperature and 1.009 SG to 1.010 SG as its gravity. This means it reached 6.0% ABV and attenuation was 81.3%.

06/14/2018: Being the impatient sort when it comes to my beer, I've placed a bottle of this in the freezer to chill before doing a taste and carbonation test. The beer was extremely clear in the bottle, which gives me hope that it will pour clear later in the glass. (UPDATE) While the flavor is good and matches that of a natural orange, the beer was still almost totally flat at this point. It will take more time, and possibly some inversion of the bottles, to get the beer carbonated.

06/19/2018:  The beer pours a very slightly hazy gold with thin white head. The flavor starts with a hoppy bitterness, followed by a brief hit of orange, then a mild maltiness. The finish is mildly bitter and lingering. It leaves behind a thin lacing in the glass. It's a bit more bitter than last year's version, but very easy to drink.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dragon Stout Clone v2.0

My first attempt at brewing a Dragon Stout clone resulted in a beer that initially tasted pretty good, but began to dry out and lose some of its subtle flavors and nearly all of its sweetness. When entered into competition, it scored extremely low. I might be upset about that if it wasn't for the fact that it was a published recipe, not something I'd come up with on my own.  This version is no different. It's a recipe that did not originate from me, but looked like a closer match to the real beer than the previous one.

Ingredients

5 pounds 6-row Malt
1 pound, 2 ounces Flaked Corn
8 ounces Crystal 120L
4 ounces Chocolate Malt
3 ounces Blackprinz Malt (the recipe called for Black Patent, but it wasn't available)
1 ounce Roasted Barley
4 ounces Turbinado Sugar (the recipe called for brown sugar, but I used this instead)
4 ounces Corn Sugar
0.31 ounces Magnum hops @ 12.2% AA (60 min.)
3.2 gallons of starting water, mixed with the two sugars above
1 package of Lallemand ESB Ale Yeast

Some readers may be wondering why I chose an ale yeast for this batch instead of the lager yeast I used last time.  Although the BJCP says that the style is typically made with warm-fermented lager yeast, I decided that a relatively cool fermentation with ale yeast might achieve the same flavor profile. The ESB strain often produces some fruity notes (typically apple and/or tropical fruit) for which the Tropical Stout style is known.  It may prove a poor choice in the end, but I wanted to try it out.

According to the Zymatic Recipe Crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.075 SG (17.8 Brix actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.021 SG (10.2 Brix or 1.019 actual)
  • IBUs: 19
  • ABV: 7.1%
  • SRM: 41
The Zymatic High Efficiency Mash Schedule was used.

The wort did foam out of the top of the step filter starting around the end of the Dough In step of the mash.  During the first step of the mash, it foamed quite a bit more, but didn't seem to flow over the lid or into the drip tray.  Foaming seemed to reduce during the second step of the mash, but never completely quit.  This seems to be just "normal operation" for the Zymatic.

After brewing, there was approximately 2.25 gallons of wort produced.  Adding sterile distilled water to this dropped the gravity down to the expected 17.8 Brix and brought the volume back up to the planned 2.5 gallon amount.

05/12/2018:  The chilled wort was poured into a sanitized fermenter into which the ESB yeast had already been added.  No temperature control will be utilized in this case, as the beer is being kept in an environment with an ambient temperature in the mid-60's Fahrenheit, and the Lallemand ESB yeast is said to work optimally in the 68-72F temperature range.

05/21/2018:  The beer was bottled with a Cooper's carbonation drop in each bottle and placed in my 76F "hot box" to carbonate.

06/02/2018: The beer is now out of the hot box and appears to be fully carbonated. Yield was 24 bottles. A bottle chilled and opened last night was good. I didn't take full tasting notes or a photo yet, but will do so in the near future.

06/14/2018: The beer pours a pitch black color with thin beige/tan head that lasts a little while before reincorporating into the beer. The aroma is chocolate with dark malt, and sweet. The flavor starts sweet and malty, becoming more roasty and chocolatey toward the middle, finish is malty and has a somewhat lactose or artificial sweetener note to it that I'm not crazy about. That might be something from the molasses in the turbinado sugar, or perhaps some combination of residual malt sugars combined with the ESB yeast flavors. Regardless, it's a nice beer but not one I'd enter into competition. I also don't view it as tasting that much like a real Jamaican Dragon Stout.