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The Dark Fruit Project 1.0 (Belgian Dark Strong)

I've made several Belgian Dark Strong Ale recipes over the 8 or so years I've been home brewing. That's because the style is by far one of my favorites.  I enjoy its malt-forward, complex, and dark fruit flavors and the warming note from the high alcohol content. However, I've been disappointed with most of my brews to date (despite some competition-winning versions) because the dark fruit flavor just doesn't "pop" to the front of my palate.  This, for me, is one of the most enjoyable flavor elements of both the Dark Strong Ale and the Dubbel.
During a live chat with a far more knowledgeable and experienced brewer, he suggested that I try experimenting with increased amounts of Special B Malt (up to 15% of the grist) and Dark Candi Sugar.  Today, I've decided to brew a fairly traditional Dark Strong style recipe but to include an extremely generous proportion (around 10%) of Special B malt.  I'll also be using D-90 Candi Syrup and Wyeast 1762, whic…
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German Style Weizenbock 1.0

Having just made a Hefeweizen last week, I decided to follow up with a Weizenbock this week.  The BCJP guidelines describe the style as strong, malty, and fruity... something akin to a marriage between the Hefeweizen and the Doppelbock styles.
I did some reading and finally decided to brew a batch based on an AHA recipe by fellow Ohioan Jim Rupert of Germantown.

4 pounds Dark Wheat malt 1 pound plus 11 ounces of Weyermann Pilsner malt 12 ounces Avangard Munich malt 6 ounces of Rice Hulls 3 ounces British Medium Crystal malt (65-75L) 3 ounces Dingeman's Special B malt 3 ounces Pale Chocolate malt 3.50 gallons of mash water, reverse osmosis 1.15 gallons of sparge wate, reverse osmosis Water treated with 2.3g Gypsum, 2.7g Calcium Chloride, 2.3g Epsom Salt 0.9 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops (60 min.) 1/2 package Wyeast 3068 Hefeweizen yeast 1/2 tsp. Irish Moss 1/8 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash 1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil 1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
According to Brewfather, the beer is expected…

German Style Hefeweizen 1.0

It's been quite a while since I tasted a true Hefeweizen.  The incredible popularity of IPAs, Pale Ales, Sours, and Stouts has been gradually squeezing dozens of other tasty styles off store shelves.  This is very unfortunate, especially for those of us who grow tired of the lack of variety.

In any case, I decided today to try my hand at brewing a decent German style Hefeweizen.  I began by reading an article on about the style and tweaking an award-winning recipe from the AHA's web site.  This version features the traditional German Pilsner malt base, combined with both red and white wheat malts, and some Carapils for body and head retention.  I'll be using German hops for the bittering and a true Hefeweizen yeast for fermentation.
Some things I've done in this recipe that you might wonder about, and why I did them: I wanted to source German wheat, but couldn't, so I went with Briess and Swaen, which were the best I could find at the time.According to the B…

Chateau Jiahu Too

Quite a few years ago, Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione worked with Dr. Patrick (Pat) McGovern to re-create an ancient brew based on a chemical analysis of residue found in 9000-year-old pottery from the Jiahu region of China.  The analysis of that pottery showed a combination of residues from barley, honey, and rice, along with grape and/or hawthorn berry.  Using this information, Dogfish Head and "Dr. Pat" (as he's known to many people) created a beer they called Chateau Jiahu.

This was a beer I was very fond of from the first sip.  It has a flavor that immediately invokes a combination of sake (rice wine), beer, and mead, with a mild sweetness from the hawthorn berry.  It's incredibly easy to drink despite the higher ABV.
Dr. Pat's book Ancient Brews - Rediscovered and Recreatedcontains a malt-extract-based recipe to recreate the beer.
I brewed a batch of this a while back, and it turned out quite well.  For this batch, I'm swapping out the (4 pounds of) …

Tut Henket Too

Years ago, working with Dr. Pat McGovern, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione produced a line of ancient ales, including one based on information found in Egyptian heiroglyphics and (I think) some pottery shards.  The resulting beer, which Dogfish Head labeled "Ta Henket" seemed to do well in the market initially, then vanished, reportedly due to low sales.  I was always a fan of that beer, and bought it whenever I found it.  With it off the market, my only hope is to brew my own version.  Fortunately, Dr. Pat's book contains an extract-based homebrew recipe for Ta Henket.

My first attempt at brewing the beer met with some success.  It was a bit darker than the Dogfish Head beer, but nonetheless pretty tasty after it aged for several months.  One of my friends took a particular liking to it, and I only have about three bottles of it left.

I've decided for this batch to shift away from malt extract to a Pilsner malt base. This should lighten the color of the beer and redu…

Belgian Witbier 1.0

Early on in my exploration of (drinking) craft beer, I came across a few examples of the Belgian Witbier style such as Hoegaarden.  These were light, flavorful beers that could be really enjoyable in warm weather.  Until now, though, I've never brewed one.  I'm not sure why.  It is time to change that...

For those not familiar with the Witbier style the BJCP judging criteria describe it as "a refreshing, elegant, tasty, moderate strength wheat-based ale" with a malty sweet grain flavor, zesty orange fruitiness, and often a crisp, dry, slightly tart finish.  It's not a style for hop-heads, though, as it is described as having a hop bitterness of "low to none" in the judging criteria.
My goals, based on judging criteria and personal preference, for this beer are: Aroma:  Orange and coriander up front, with some malty and herbal elementsColor:  Pale gold to yellow, cloudy from the yeast and wheat, with good head retentionFlavor:  Malty sweet, prominent oran…

Saison 2020 1.0

I've made only a few Saisons in the past.  In competition, they've not done all that well, I suppose because my taste in Saisons leans away from the overly dry, overly bitter end of the style toward something milder and more complex.  Today, I decided to review a bunch of winning Saison recipes and analyze what I thought made them winners... then build my own.

I liked the mix of Pilsner, Wheat, and Vienna I found in a BYO Magazine recipe.  I'd gotten complaints that one of my Saison recipes lacked malt complexity.  Another recipe referenced using cane sugar and a high mash temp to balance out the dryness from the cane sugar with some unfermentable sugars.  I wanted to mix Saaz, Citra, and Mandarina, but didn't have any Saaz on hand.  Last, but not least, I wanted a hint of spice and fruit.  That's where the coriander and grains of paradise come in.  Hopefully this will all play well with the Saison yeast.

4 pounds Briess Pilsner Malt
8 ounces Whiteswaen…