Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 German Pilsner 1.0

The only lager I've ever  brewed was a Ttopical Stout. Despite my best efforts with that one, it didn't do that well in competition. Judges noted yeasty notes they did not like, despite the beer never getting above the yeast's optimum temperature range. I suspect that was due to pitching only a single packet of dry lager yeast and not a large starter.

I decided to start 2019 by brewing another lager, a traditional German style Pilsner. This time I'll be pitching both a 1 liter starter and some dry yeast, plus plenty of yeast nutrient to ensure a healthy yeast population. I'll also be using a good quality temperature control system to ensure a consistent temperature,

Ingredients

10 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt (the closest I had to German Pilsner)
1 pound Briess Pilsner Malt
4 ounces Cara-pils/Dextrine Malt
0.5 ounces Magnum hops @ 12.6% AA (60 min.)
0,5 ounces Hallertau hops @ 4.5% AA (10 min.)
1.0 ounces Hallertau hops @ 2.5% AA (4 min.)
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 packet White Labs Pilsner yeast raised in 1 Liter starter
2 packets Saflager S-23 dry yeast pitched onto wort directly
1/4 tsp. Gypsum
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
4.2 gallons mash water (3/4 gallon distilled plus tap water)
2.9 gallons sparge water
Approximately 1 gallon of distilled water after brewing.

According to BeerSmith, the beer should have the following qualities:

  • BJCP Style: 5.D German Pils
  • Batch Size: 5 gallons (actual was 5.3 gallons after dilution)
  • Original Gravity: 1.053 SG (est. and actual)
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.044 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
  • SRM: 4.7
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.516
  • Brew House Efficiency: 60% est. (67.2% actual)
The goal here is to brew a German Style Pilsner "to style" rather than anything fancy or unusual.

Mash Schedule

This one has a fairly simple mash schedule. Since I wasn't sure how well modified the Swaen malt would be (that's not a criticism of them, just some question on my part), I decided to include a 120F rest to break down beta glucan and ensure good conversion.
  • Mash in at 120F for 25 minutes
  • Mash at 144F for 30 minutes
  • Mash at 158F for 30 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 5 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water for 10 minutes
Boil Schedule

Pilsner malt is known for high levels of DMS, so I'm employing a 90-minute boil to ensure that all DMS is boiled off. There was definitely a cooked corn smell during the early part of the boil.  Magnum hops will provide clean bittering, with Hallertau in the flavor and aroma roles. 
  • 90 minutes: No hops added
  • 60 minutes: Magnum
  • 10 minutes: Hallertau, yeast nutrient
  • 4 minutes: Hallertau
Post-boil, the wort will be chilled to 70F and pumped into a sanitized fermenter. I'll use my temperature control system to further lower that to 53F overnight before pitching the yeast.

Fermentation Schedule

The yeasts being used in this batch prefer temperatures in the 48-55F range, with a good middle ground temperature being 53F. My fermentation plan, therefore, is this:
  • 1-5 weeks, until final gravity: 53F
  • 1-2 days: Diacetyl rest at room temperature
  • 4-8 weeks: Lager in mini fridge
After the lagering phase, we'll bottle with low to medium carbonation.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

1/1/2019: The combination of mash and sparge water led to a brew kettle being nearly full. I actually added less than the amount I calculated that would have been needed to end up with five gallons. In the end, this left me with about 4.75 gallons of wort at a higher gravity (around 1.069 SG). I diluted this down to 1.053 SG and increased the volume to 5.3 gallons (20 Liters accord to fermenter markings). Adding the distilled water dropped the temperature down from 73F to 70F. I configured the temperature control system to drop the wort to 53F. I will pitch the yeast when the temp reaches that level.

Unfortunately, the Brewie computer system hung during the boil, during the last hour. I had to power the machine off and on, at which point it picked up from where it left off. I have no idea how this will affect the finished beer. 

The longer boil did appear to be necessary, as there was a definite aroma of cooked corn during the majority of the boil.

1/3/2019: The temperature of the beer is down to 54F, so I've added two packets of Saflager yeast and the starter made with WLP800, to ensure that there is plenty of yeast available for fermentation.

1/4/2019: Gravity registered at 1.055 SG at the time I added the yeast. It's now showing 1.053 SG, so I'm hopeful that fermentation is starting.

1/6/2019: Gravity has dropped to 1.050 SG. That's 9% attenuation in three days, a much slower start than most ales, but not uncommon for lagers.

1/7/2019: Gravity is now 1.042 SG. That's 23% attenuation and 1.80% ABV.

1/8/2019: Gravity is now 1.038 SG. That's 30% attenuation and 2.35% ABV.

1/9/2019: Gravity is down to 1.032 SG, 41% attenuation, 3.16% ABV.

1/10/2019: Gravity is down to 1.027 SG, 50% attenuation, 3.68% ABV.

1/11/2019: Gravity is down to 1.024 SG, 54% attenuation, 3.94% ABV.

1/14/2019: Gravity is now 1.016 SG, 70.9% attenuation, 5.27% ABV, and only 5 points away from the expected FG of 1.011.  I swirled the fermenter a bit this afternoon to help ensure that the yeast remain in suspension for a while.

2018 - The Year in Beer

Last year, I took the time at the start of the year to review my homebrewing experiences for the prior year and reflect on what I'd like to accomplish in 2018.

What Did I Accomplish in 2018?

I brewed almost 50 batches of beer in 2017 (48 to be precise). That's up from 36 batches in 2017, 17 batches in 2016, and 15 batches in 2015. That's well above the supposed average of 8.3 batches per year of the hypothetical "average" homebrewer according to the AHA.

I brewed approximately 25 different BJCP styles during the year, including the Tropical Stout, Belgian Single/Dubbel/Tripel/Quad, Saison, Pale Ale, IPA, Scottish 80 Shilling, ESB, Blonde Ale, Australian Sparkling, Irish Red, Cream Ale, English Brown, Dark Mild, Pumpkin Ale, and others.

I entered three competitions: Rhinegeist, the Ohio State Fair, and Barley's Ale House. I didn't place at Rhinegeist. At the State Fair, I took home a fourth place ribbon for a Belgian Tripel. At Barley's Ale House, I won the entire competition.

Late in 2018, I joined the Scioto Olentangy Darby Zymurgists (SODZ) home brewing association and continued my membership in the American Homebrewing Association.

I brewed beer using three different setups during the year: the PicoBrew Zymatic, the Brewie+, and a system I've used before, an induction cooktop and steel kettle.  My Grainfather setup did not see any use in 2018.

Last year, I said that I hoped to accomplish the following in 2018:
  • Tune my BeerSmith settings to scale between Zymatic, Grainfather, and other systems more easily. While I did get better at this, I found the Zymatic nearly impossible to predict. It seemed that no matter what I did, it rarely came close to the gravity and volume I calculated.
  • Continue to fine-tune the wort correction factor for my refractometer. As it turns out, the factor I had was fairly accurate. When comparing wort using a glass hydrometer or the electronic Tilt Hydrometer, I was fairly accurate with the factor I was using.
  • Set up a permanent home for the Zymatic in the basement. I achieved this, but also "semi-retired" the Zymatic in November when I received the Brewie+.
  • Get rid of older accumulated brewing grains.  I found a home for some of these, and have not had to throw much out this year. 
  • Use the Zymatic to produce a number of self-teaching beers to learn the differences between different specialty grains, yeast strains, etc.  I did not make any real progress toward this goal.
  • Nail down my "house" recipe for the following styles:
    • Belgian Single - I only made one of these during 2018 and I didn't care for it.
    • Belgian Tripel - I've got two recipes that are approaching this goal.
    • Gulden Draak Clone - Although I've tried a few times on this, I've yet to come anywhere in the ballpark... though one attempt produced a really nice Dark Strong Ale.
    • ESB - I made three variations on this in 2018. Each one got me a bit closer to my goal, but I still can't say I have my "definitive" recipe yet.
    • Cascade Pale Ale - I "detoured" from this to try to produce a clone of Manny's Pale Ale, so I'm no closer to having this recipe done.
    • Trappistes Rochefort 10 Clone - The recipe which won for me at Barley's was one of my attempts to clone this beer. While I feel like I got a good beer, it's not by any means the equal of the true Rochefort 10 beer.
  • Accumulate notes and ideas for a book on brewing. I've yet to feel like I've got something worthwhile to write and share yet. Maybe in 2019.

I managed to accomplish the first four of these goals. I made some progress on the other three, but can't claim to have really accomplished them.

What Did I Learn in 2018?

Some of the highlights among the things I learned this year:
  • In the past I've bottled some beers before they were finished fermenting. This led to some of these brews foaming over when opened weeks or months later. Since then, I've been using the Tilt Hydrometer to better gauge when fermentation has finished. This has not totally eliminated the problem, but has reduced it considerably.
  • I've been able to create several of my own recipes "from the ground" up and turn out a good beer. Some of those have gone on to place in their categories in competition. I don't believe I've really mastered the art of recipe creation, though.
  • Often, a beer that I really like doesn't do as well in competition. I don't know if that's because I'm "over-scoring" myself when I review my beers or because the judges are looking for things (or finding flaws) that I can't detect.
  • Despite what you might hear in forums online or at your local homebrew club, it is possible to win competitions with beers brewed in automated systems like the PicoBrew Zymatic. In fact, one of the first two beers I brewed in that system is the Tripel that took fourth place at the fair.
  • Making a good Christmas Ale or Pumpkin Ale with your own recipe is harder than it seems. I made both this year and neither was especially good to me, though others seemed to like them.
  • Probably my second-proudest accomplishment (apart from winning at Barley's this year) was learning how to brew a beer that exceeded 20.5% alcohol by volume. The experience inspired me to try brewing a 16% English Old Ale a few weeks later.
  • I also learned to extend the life of a package of liquid yeast by making a starter, splitting it between a batch of beer and a "jar for later use". I got 3-4 batches from a single yeast package toward the end of the year with no negative impact on the beer (that I can see).

Those are the top-of-mind things I learned this year.

Did I Improve This Year?

It's difficult to answer this objectively.

On the one hand, I went from third place at Barley's last year to first place this year. That would appear to be improvement over 2017.  

On the other hand, although I went from having no Trappist Ales place at the Ohio State Fair last year to having one make fourth place this year, last year I took home two silver medals at the fair (versus a fourth-place ribbon). You could argue that this was a step backward. On the other hand, I'd placed two Trappist ales into the fair in the hopes of placing in that category "period"... so in that sense I did better than in 2017.

What Did I Contribute to the Hobby?

I've shared the things I've learned over the past year in this blog, which is available to any home brewer who has an interest in reading it. 

I've also helped fellow home brewers at work and elsewhere, who had questions or problems with their beers. 

What's Next?

For 2019, here are the things I hope to accomplish:
  • Attend most of the meetings of the SODZ group, with allowances for the fact that in 2019 I've got a wedding (my step-son's) to attend, a graduation party (my nephew's), a different graduation party (my step-son's and his fiancee's), and other events to attend which may take me out of town when the SODZ meetings happen.
  • Brew an IPA for my step-son's wedding, to share with guests.  This assumes we're able to get a recipe that works for my step-son and his fiancee before the end of March.
  • Get at least one medal at the Ohio State Fair's Homebrewing Competition.  I don't care which style or even whether it's a gold/silver/bronze.
  • Compete in at least two homebrew competitions.  This can include the fair, Barley's, Rhinegeist, or others.
  • Brew at least three lager style beers. Probably a Pilsner, a Doppelbock, and a Malt Liquor recipe I've been mulling over.
  • Brew my Belgian Dark Strong Ale at Barley's.  This is sort-of a given, unless you look at al the events going on this year that fall during the April to June timeframe when the Barley's competition takes place.
  • Nail down my "house recipes" for the following styles:
    • Trappist Dubbel
    • Trappist Tripel
    • ESB
    • Doppelbock
  • Brew at least 10 styles of beer I've never brewed before.  I've managed something like 35 of the approximately 118 recognized BJCP styles. I'd like to increase that number in 2019.
  • Brew at least one beer at 16% ABV or higher that (to me at least) tastes good.

I'll be back in about a year (hopefully) to tell you how all this turned out.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Experimental Dubbel 1.0

The finished beer - look at the carbonation!
A few months ago, I placed an online order for two batches of grain. One was for an English Dark Mild Ale, the other for a Bohemian Pilsner. As it turned out, I screwed up the order and ended up with a bag of mixed German and Belgian grains. After pondering what to do about this, I decided to try turning the mix into a Trappist Dubbel. The color and malt combination wasn't too far off.

I added Munich malt to sweeten it a bit, Special B to add raisin/prune/plum flavors, plus Melany (Melanoidin) and Cara-Pils for head retention. Since I had some dark candi sugar rocks I wanted to use up, I included those. I also included some chopped golden raisins and prunes to (I hoped) help punch up the dark fruit flavor - something that's been sorely lacking in my previous Dubbels.

I'm not sure this will be a true Dubbel in terms of its specifications, but I'm hopeful it will still turn out to be a tasty brew.

Ingredients

4.75 pounds German Pilsen Malt
2 pounds Weyermann Munich I Malt
4 ounces Special B Malt
4 ounces Swaen Melany Malt
4 ounces Dark Candi Sugar Rocks
2 ounces Pale Chocolate Malt
2 ounces Cara-Pils/Dextrine Malt
1 ounce Carafa III Special Malt
0.25 ounces Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) 7.1% AA hops pellets (60 min.)
0.25 ounces US Saaz 5.4% AA hops pellets (15 min.)
4 ounces chopped Golden Raisins (10 min.)
6 seedless prunes, chopped into thin slices (10 min.)
0.25 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm (for gluten reduction)
1 packet Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity (or equivalent)
2.9 gallons mash water
2.1 gallons sparge water

Why Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) hops?  I happened to have them on-hand and my Styrian Goldings hops were very low alpha (1.3% if you can believe that).

Why US Saaz hops and not Czech Saaz? When I opened my Czech Saaz hops package, I couldn't get past the fact that the aroma reminded me of cheese or soap, meaning they had gone bad. I tossed them and opened a fresh package of US Saaz I'd bought more recently. Those smelled fine.

Why Wyeast 3787 and not another yeast?  Honestly, I happened to have a batch of the yeast leftover from a previous starter and knew it could make a good Belgian style ale. I split half of what I had (eyeballing it) into a fresh starter to grow more, and retained half to pitch into this wort. If the wort doesn't take off, I've got a starter I can use to try again.

According to BeerSmith, the finished beer is expected to have the following qualities:
  • BJCP Style: 26.B Trappist Dubbel
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was between 2.25 and 2.5 gallons, topped off with steam-distilled water to reach a little over 2.5 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.070 SG (1.074 SG before dilution, 1.070 after dilution)
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.055 SG (1.055 actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
  • IBUs: 23 (22.3 actual, estimated)
  • ABV: 7.7%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.32
  • Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.5%
  • SRM: 31.4 (see below)
If you've looked at the BJCP style guidelines, they'll tell you a Dubbel should not exceed 17 SRM. Most of my favorite (genuine Belgian) Dubbels have been much darker than 17 SRM. It's my belief that the BJCP guidelines are far too restrictive in terms of color for this style, so I'm choosing to ignore them.  A few genuine Belgian Dubbels are very dark brown, with a reddish hue to them. I'm aiming for a color somewhere between those very dark examples and the BJCP guidelines, as I'm hoping this will achieve the flavor I'm looking for. When I've tried brewing to the lighter color in the BJCP guidelines in the past, the beers always come out more like a bland, mild brown ale than a solid Dubbel. One of my favorite Dubbels is about 32 SRM, so this one is coming in a hair lighter at 31.4.

Mash Schedule

The following mash schedule was configured in the Brewie:
  • Mash in at 113F for 10 minutes (Ferulic Acid rest, to aid yeast in producing flavor/aroma)
  • Mash at 120F for 25 minutes (Protein and Beta Glucan rest, to ensure good clarity and conversion of the grain)
  • Mash at 157F for 60 minutes (aiming for body and residual sugar)
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes, then sparge for 10 minutes with 168F water
The pH 5.2 Stabilizer and a half-teaspoon of Brewtan B were added into the grain bag at mash time.

Boil Schedule

Since the mash contains a fair amount of European Pilsner malt, I decided to boil slightly longer than usual to drive off any DMS we might get from that malt. The boil schedule was therefore:
  • 75 minutes: No hops
  • 60 minutes: Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) hops
  • ~15 minutes: Candi Sugar, Raisins, Prunes, and Yeast Nutrient (manual additions)
  • 10 minutes: Saaz hops
  • 0 minutes: Chill
The Brewie was configured to automatically chill the wort to 68F after the boil was complete. (In practice, it came in around somewhere around 74F in the fermenter.

Fermentation Schedule

Having used Wyeast 3787 a lot lately, I'm very familiar with its need for a blow-off tube, so I'm starting on the assumption it's needed here as well.

My plan will be to ferment the beer in the middle of the yeast's optimum range (64-78F), then once fermentation starts to slow down significantly, I'll raise the temperature up to the top of the yeast's range to maximize its flavor and aroma contributions - as well as helping it reach final gravity.

I'll treat the beer with Gelatin Finings and cold-crash it for a few days before bottling.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/31/2018 1:30am: The beer came in closer to 2.5 gallons in volume than any previous batch. I'd have to say it was in the vicinity of 2.4 gallons. Gravity originally read as 1.074 SG using the Tilt Hydrometer. I diluted the wort to 2.5 gallons, at which point the gravity read somewhere in the 1.072-1.073 range. With a bit more water, I got it to hit my 1.070 SG target and come in a little over 2.5 gallons in volume. I need to tweak my spreadsheet a bit more, probably adding another tenth of a gallon or so. Then again, I did run most of the boil on this batch with the Brewie's lid open to encourage boil-off, as it looked like I might have had too much wort after the sparge. It's possible the calculations are on-target now.

Into the wort, I pitched about half of my reserved Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast from a previous 1L starter (used for the Barrel Aged La Trappe Quad Clone earlier). The other half was pitched into a new starter wort to grow into more yeast for future use. If this beer doesn't start showing signs of fermentation in about 18 hours, I'll pull some of that starter to "perk things up" in the fermentation.

The beer was 73F at the time I pitched the yeast slurry into it, which is just above the midpoint of the yeast's optimum range (71F is the approximate midpoint). With the ambient basement temperature this time of year in the 63-65F range and a stainless fermenter being used, I'm expecting the temperature to decline quite a bit before the yeast really kicks into high gear in 12-24 hours. If that proves to be wrong, I'll use my temperature control setup to cool things down as needed.

1/3/2019: The gravity now reads 1.024 SG, which makes the beer 6.4% ABV, right in range for a Belgian Dubbel. If it holds at this gravity for another day or two, it will be ready to bottle.

1/4/2019: Gravity is down to 1.022 SG today. which represents an ABV of 6.7%.

1/6/2019: Gravity is down to 1.021 SG today, which represents 69% attenuation and an ABV of 6.8%. I decided to go ahead and bottle it. A taste test at bottling showed a nearly cloying sweetness and a rather interesting flavor. We'll see where things are in a week or so.

1/12/2019: I opened a bottle of the beer tonight (photo at top of post). It was so carbonated that it pretty much foamed over the top before I poured it. It pours a nearly opaque reddish brown with huge head that lasts quite a while (thanks to the Cara-Pils and Melanoidin). Aroma is noble hops and malt. The flavor is intense and complex, far more than I expected. It starts intensely malty and sweet, maybe even a bit too sweet. Right behind the malt, we get the prune and raisin, and a nice hit of dark chocolate, with a touch of roasty malt slipping in. It's good, but next time I'd let it ferment out more before bottling so that it would dry out some and not be quite so carbonated. I would also dial back the Munich, maybe by half.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Big Old Ale 1.0

Having seen the success of my high-gravity ale experiment, I decided to take the process to another level. This time around, the goal is to produce a relatively authentic British Old Ale in terms of its grist, but dial the alcohol content up considerably. The goal here is a 16% ABV and retention of the basic flavors of an Old Ale.
Ingredients

6.6 pounds Maris Otter Liquid Malt Extract
4.0 pounds Briess 2-row Pale Ale Malt
1 ounce Black Patent Malt
1 ounce Extra Special Malt
1.5 ounces English Medium Crystal Malt
8 ounces Treacle
0.72 ounces Magnum hops @ 12.3% AA (60 min.)
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash water
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil
1/2 (approx.) of a 1-liter starter of White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity Yeast
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1.9 gallons mash water
1.9 gallons sparge water

According to BeerSmith, the beer should have the following qualities:
  • BJCP 2015 Style: 17.B Old Ale
  • Original Gravity: 1.135 SG estimated (actual was 1.135 SG)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.108 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.018 SG
  • IBUs: 40
  • Color: 22.3 SRM
  • ABV: 16.0%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was approximately 2.38 gallons)
  • Brewhouse Efficiency: 60% (actual is estimated to be 49.4%)
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.294
I'm well aware that an ABV over 9% puts this beer way outside the upper end of the Old Ale qualities in the BJCP criteria. My goal wasn't to produce a beer for competition but to try to produce a very high gravity version of an Old Ale for personal enjoyment and learning.

Mash Schedule

The Brewie+ was configured to provide 1.9 gallons of water for mashing and 1.9 for sparging. Half the malt extract was dissolved in the mash water, and half in the sparge water while the water heated. The treacle was also dissolved into the mash water for simplicity's sake. From there, the mash schedule was:
  • Mash in at 120F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 150F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 168F for 10 minutes
The boil would begin immediately following the sparge.

Boil Schedule

A 60-minute boil was scheduled, as described below:
  • 60 minutes: Add Magnum hops
  • 15 minutes: Add yeast nutrient, Irish Moss, and Brewtan B
After the boil, the Brewie was instructed to chill the wort to 68F before pumping it into the fermenter.

Fermentation Schedule

Based on my past experience with the 20% experimental beer, I planned to follow a similar schedule with this beer. That means holding the beer at 65F until it's finished or seems to be stalled, then increasing to 69F until it finishes out.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/28/2018: I decided to raise a nice starter of WLP099 before pitching into the beer. After brewing, it registered 1.135 SG (exactly on target) but the volume came in a bit below the intended 2.5 gallons. Since the gravity target was hit, I decided not to dilute the beer but to leave it as-is for fermentation. Although the yeast starter (begun around the same time as the beer) already shows activity, I'm not willing to pitch it into the wort yet. I'll do that in the morning when the wort has cooled down from its current 73F to something in the yeast's 65-69F range.

12/29/2018 11am: Added half the yeast slurry from the starter into the beer. I was in a bit of a hurry at the time and did not let the yeast settle out.  This was a mistake, as it dropped the gravity from 1.136 down to 1.113. That will knock the ABV down to perhaps 12.9%. I'll probably make that up with some honey when the gravity has dropped far enough.

12/30/2018: Added some yeast nutrient and glucoamylase to the beer to help encourage the yeast to finish out the beer. For a while, and as I've seen in other big beers, gravity showed a big increase on the Tilt Hydrometer for a while, then started to drop back down. For a time, it went from 1.095 up to 1.109 and began going back down. It's currently reading 1.100.

(Between 12/30/2018 and 1/3/2019 I added a quarter teaspoon of yeast nutrient and some glucoamylase enzyme to keep fermentation going, also periodically rocking or swirling the fermenter to keep the yeast in suspension and active.)

1/3/2019: The gravity has since dropped to 1.039 SG (around 65% attenuated from the original 1.113 SG). I added enough honey to raise the gravity back up to 1.061 SG, adding approximately 22 SG points' worth (about 1.3 pounds). This makes the original gravity "effectively" 1.135 SG (my intended original gravity) for the purpose of calculating ABV after fermentation. In addition to the honey, I also added 30 seconds of pure oxygen and some yeast nutrient, stirring the wort hard to mix in the new sugar. The temperature has been increased to 67F to help encourage the yeast to finish up. There was a nice thick krausen on the wort when I sealed the fermenter back up, so I'm hopeful it will finish up fine. If it hits the estimated 1.018 SG final gravity, I'll have the 16% ABV beer I was aiming for.

1/4/2019: The gravity has dropped from 1.061 SG yesterday to 1.052 SG today. That works out to a current ABV of 13.07% on the Brewer's Friend ABV calculator, with the alternate formula.

1/5/2019: Gravity is now showing as 1.046 SG. I've added yeast nutrient and some glucoamylase enzyme, then swirled the fermenter to rouse the yeast. The blow-off tube is still "burping" regularly so the yeast are still happy and healthy. ABV now calculates as 13.94%. I raised the temp up to 68F to help keep the yeast going.

1/6/2019: Gravity has dropped to 1.043 SG today. That's 66% attenuation and 14.51% ABV. The temperature is holding at 68F. I learned with my previous high gravity batch that adding a second yeast strain late in fermentation helped the beer finish fermenting. Today I rehydrated some Montrachet wine yeast, added yeast nutrient to that, and added it to the fermenter.

1/8/2019: Gravity has dropped to 1.036 SG today. That's 71% attenuation and 15.36% ABV. I added some yeast nutrient dissolved in a tiny amount of distilled water and swirled the fermenter to keep the yeast suspended in the beer until (hopefully) the final gravity of 1.018 SG is reached. 

1/9/2019: Gravity is now 1.032 SG, which is 15.91% ABV (just shy of my original goal of 16%) and represents an attenuation of 74%. The beer is now 14 SG points short of the expected final gravity. If it reaches that, we'll have 17.83% ABV. If it reaches 1.022 SG and still seems to be fermenting, I may bottle it to see if it will finish out and naturally carbonate in the bottle.

1/10/2019: Gravity is now 1.029 SG, which is 16.33% ABV and 77% attenuation.

1/11/2019: Gravity is now 1.027 SG, which is 16.6% ABV and 78% attenuation.

1/12/2019: Gravity is now 1.026 SG, which is 16.74% ABV and 80% attenuation. According to White Labs, WLP099 can attenuate 80-100%, so the yeast is likely to start slowing down soon. Attenuation isn't available for the Montrachet yeast, so it's hard to know how it might affect attenuation. I do have some concern that Montrachet is known to produce a lot of sulfur (something I didn't know when I pitched it). Hopefully this will dissipate and not end up in the bottle.

1/14/2019: Gravity is down to 1.024 SG, which is 17.02% ABV and 81% attenuation. This is only 6 points from the expected final gravity of 1.018.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hoppily Ever After 1.0

My step-son and his fiancee love big, citrusy IPAs. They would like me to brew one that could be given away as a favor to guests at the wedding. Not being a fan of IPAs in general, I don't have a recipe ready. Even if I did, I'd want to put a twist on it so that it's unique to them.

Reviewing the information I could find on NEIPAs, I learned the following:
  • Include high-protein malts (wheat, oats) in the grist to add body
  • Use fruit-forward hop varieties
  • Few kettle hop additions, more whirlpool hops (a challenge in automated systems)
  • Ferment with low-attenuating, low-flocculating, ester-forward yeast, like London Ale, Dry English Ale, or Vermont/Conan
  • Dry-hop during primary fermentation to allow yeast and hop qualities to bond
  • Stay below 65 IBUs (generally)
  • 1-3:1 chloride to sulfate ratio in the water (150-175 ppm chloride, 75-100 ppm sulfate)
  • Dry hop with 0.5 to 1.3 oz. per gallon, added within 2-3 Plato (8-12 SG points) from final gravity
  • Add most of the hops at the end of the boil or in whirlpool to avoid harsh bitterness and get more flavor/aroma
  • Mash in the 150-152F range
My plan is to mix barley, wheat, and oat malts to get a nice body in the finished beer. They've asked me for a citrusy IPA, so I'm going to use a blend of Amarillo, Mandarina Bavaria, and Cascade (which all have citrus flavors in them) late in the boil. Although there's not really a whirlpool stage in the Brewie's process, I'm planning to drop the hop cages into the kettle during chilling to simulate that effect. I'll use an English Ale strain for the esters.

Ingredients

6.5 pounds of 2-row Pale Malt
0.5 pounds of Wheat Malt
0.5 pounds of Flaked Oats
0.5 pounds of Rice Hulls
6 ounces of Carapils/Dextrine Malt
1.4 ounces of Cascade hops @ 6.9% AA (6 min.)
1.4 ounces of Mandarina Bavaria hops @ 9.2% AA (5 min.)
2.8 ounces of Amarillo hops @ 8.6% AA (1.4 at 4 min., 1.4 at 3 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 packet Lallemand ESB yeast
1 tsp. Calcium Chloride added to mash water
3.0 gallons of mash water
1.7 gallons of sparge water
1 ounce each of Cascade, Mandarina, and Amarillo in primary as dry hops

BeerSmith reports that the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP 2015 Style: 21.B Specialty IPA (New England IPA)
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Total Grain: 8.38 pounds
  • Total Hops: 8.6 ounces
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.055 estimated (1.066 actual)
  • Original Gravity: 1.069 SG estimated
  • Final Gravity: 1.016 SG estimated
  • Brewhouse Efficiency: 60% estimated
  • IBUs: 60
  • ABV: 7.0%
  • SRM: 5.2
  • Mash pH: 5.59 estimated
This all fits within the NEIPA style.

Mash Schedule

The mash schedule will be:
  • Mash in at 120F for 25 minutes (beta glucan rest for wheat and oat)
  • Mash at 152F for 60 minutes (mash for fermentability)
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
Periodically during the mash, I would move the bag around a bit and poke it gently with a plastic grain scoop to help ensure the mash water was flowing through and around it. I hoped this might help with starch conversion.

Boil Schedule

Mixing the typical whirlpool hopping style of a NEIPA with the way automated brewing systems work, we end up with hopping during the last 5-10 minutes of the boil. My plan will also be to remove the hop cages from their slots and drop them into the beer during the chill process to add more flavor and aromatics. That means our schedule will be:
  • 60 minutes: No hop additions
  • 15 minutes: Yeast nutrient
  • 6 minutes: Cascade
  • 5 minutes: Mandarina Bavaria
  • 4 minutes: Amarillo
  • 0 minutes: Move hop baskets into kettle to simulate whirlpool hopping
The Brewie+ will chill the wort down to 65F in preparation for fermentation.

Fermentation Schedule

The plan is to keep this toward the lower end of the yeast's optimum temperature range (65-72F) to minimize the production of esters. Lallemand ESB yeast is a medium attenuation strain with low flocculation, which should make it a good fit for the style.

When the gravity is down into the 1.028 to 1.020 range, I'll add dry hops (one ounce of each of the hops used in brewing) to add aroma. When the final gravity is reached, I'll bottle with 1 large carbonation drop (medium carbonation) per bottle and hold it at ambient basement temps until carbonation completes.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/27/2018: I began the brew day by re-calibrating the Brewie+ weight sensors to ensure that it loads the correct amount of water into the mash and sparge processes. This took longer than I remembered, but it's recommended to do this occasionally. I think I've made four batches in it since the original calibration, so it seemed like a good time to re-calibrate.

This recipe uses a bit more hops than I think are recommended for the Brewie+, but since I plan to drop them into the wort after boiling to simulate whirlpool hopping, I'm hoping that will be OK.  I'll plan to be with the machine at the end of the boil to be sure.

10pm: The beer came out high on gravity and low on volume. I added steam-distilled water to it, which brought the volume up to 2.5 gallons and dropped the gravity to 1.069 SG, which is exactly where I wanted it to be. The temperature was 71F at that point, within the yeast's range of 65-72F. I sprinkled the dry yeast on top and sealed up the fermenter, without temperature control for now. With the basement in the 63F ambient range, the beer's temp should get quite a bit lower before the yeast kicks in. I'm hoping it can free-ferment, but we'll see.

The kettle had a nice grapefruit/citrus aroma during chilling. Unfortunately, this was a lot of hops for the Brewie+ to handle. There was quite a lot of hop residue in the bottom of the kettle at the end of the boil, enough that I actually scooped a lot out before running the cleaning cycle. I ran both a Sanitizing and a Full Clean cycle after this batch to do my best to get the Brewie clean for its next run.

12/29/2018: The beer is now reading 1.030 SG and 66F. Gravity is dropping much more slowly now, so I may need to increase the temp to encourage the yeast to finish out the last 14 points or so.

12/30/2018: I added a packet of US-05 yeast to try to encourage the last few points of gravity to ferment away. Gravity is reading 1.027 SG. I also added a half-ounce of Amarillo and Mandarina Bavaria hops to dry-hop the brew.

1/3/2019: The US-05 was apparently overkill for this beer. It has fermented down to 1.003 SG, making the beer 8.5% ABV instead of the intended 7.0%. If the gravity holds until Saturday, I'll bottle it.

1/6/2019: Gravity is reading 1.002 SG now, and has been holding at that figure for about two days. I've decided to go ahead and bottle it, as I doubt it can get much lower. I bottled it with 4 small carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation) and placed it in a 69F "hot box".

Monday, December 17, 2018

Oak Aged La Trappe Quad Clone 1.0

Early sample of the finished beer
A couple of years ago, I received a bottle of Oak Aged La Trappe Quadrupel as a gift from a very thoughtful relative. At $15 for a 12-ounce bottle, the beer was both hard to find and hard to justify buying. It turned out to be absolutely delicious, and I've never seen a bottle since. (The Andersons near Sawmill Road carried it at the time, but they are long out of business.)

When I bottled my (non-oak-aged) La Trappe Quadrupel clone on Friday, I decided that I was pleased enough with it to try using the recipe to make a clone of the oak aged version, too. Tonight, I put the Brewie to work on it. My plan is to soak oak chips in Everclear for a few days, then add those late in the primary fermentation. When the desired oak flavor is achieved, I'll bottle the beer and give it some time to age before sharing.

This recipe is a slight change from the previous version, intended to raise the alcohol content but otherwise maintain the flavor of the original.

Ingredients

6 pounds of Belgian Pilsner Malt
3 pounds, 2 ounces of Rahr 2-row Pale Malt
8 ounces British Medium Crystal (55-60L) Malt
2 ounces Belgian Aromatic Malt
2 ounces Victory Malt (substitute for Biscuit Malt)
8 ounces of Rice Hulls
1 pound of Corn Sugar
1 Tablespoon of pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/2 tsp. Bitter Orange Peel (20 min.)
1/2 tsp. Bitter Orange Peel (5 min.)
1/4 tsp. Coriander, crushed (20 min.)
1 packet (equivalent) Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast (from a starter)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm (for gluten removal)
0.80 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (60 min.)
0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (20 min.)
0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (5 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (20 min.)
4.3 gallons mash water (untreated Dublin Road tap water)
1.4 gallons sparge water (untreated Dublin Road tap water)

According to BeerSmith, the beer should have the following characteristics:

BeerSmith estimated the qualities of this beer as:
  • BJCP Style: 26.D Belgian Dark Strong Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.55 gallons (actual volume was well over 3.25 gallons, with 2.75 gallons in the fermenter and 0.50 gallons stored for future use)
  • Original Gravity: 1.105 SG estimated (actual 1.085 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.012 estimated
  • IBUs: 29.6
  • ABV: 10.9% (adjusted estimate 10.6%)
  • SRM: 13.7
Mash Schedule

I decided to run a long mash to see if I could coax a really high efficiency out of the machine. The mash schedule used was:
  • Mash in and Ferulic Acid Rest at 113F for 10 minutes
  • Mash Step 1 at 148F for 30 minutes
  • Mash Step 2 at 158F for 50 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water
Brewie estimated that the entire brewing process would take 6.25 hours to complete. Given that I was starting it at about 5pm, that meant it would be after 11pm before it finished.

Boil Schedule

Since the recipe included Pilsner malt, it seemed worthwhile to have a longer boil to drive off any DMS the malt produced. In addition, this would help concentrate the wort if gravity came up low. I could always dilute with distilled water if it came out high.

The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: 0.80 ounces Styrian Celeia
  • 20 minutes: 0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia, plus yeast nutrient, 1/4 tsp. coriander, and 1/2 tsp. bitter orange peel
  • 5 minutes: 0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia, plus 1/2 tsp. bitter orange peel
At the end of the brewing process, I asked Brewie to chill the beer to 70F after the boil. It should have no problem with that, given past experience.

Fermentation Schedule

Given the success of the last batch, I've decided to replicate that batch's (actual, vs. planned) fermentation schedule, which is:

  • Days 1-2 (Dec. 16-17): 65F
  • Day 3 (Dec. 18): 67F
  • Day 4 (Dec. 19): 71F
  • Day 5 (Dec. 20): 75F
  • Day 6 (Dec. 21) through end of Primary (est. Dec. 27-28): 76F (oak chips will be added when attenuation is around 80%)

I'll start pulling small daily samples starting around 12/21 to check the oak flavor level. When it appears to be optimal, I'll bottle the beer with 5 carbonation tablets per bottle (high carbonation).

Post-Brewing Notes and Observations

12/16/2018: At 9 pounds and 14 ounces of grain (plus 8 ounces of rice hulls), this is the largest grain bill I've used in the Brewie, and larger than anything I could have done in the Zymatic.

When I brewed the original clone batch, I split the fresh package of Wyeast 3787 between the batch of beer and a Fast Pitch Starter Wort. After 24 hours on a stir plate, I chilled the flask in the fridge, decanted off most of the clear liquid and kept the rest in a sealed jar. Tonight I split off half the contents of the jar to use for this batch, and put the other half in a fresh starter to keep myself supplied with it. If the amount I pitch into the beer turns out not to be enough, I'll use some of the fresh starter to get the beer going.

I've modified my mash and sparge water calculation sheet for the Brewie based on my recent brewing experiences with it. As with the Zymatic, I always seem to come up about a quart short when the brew is over. After adjusting the sheet, I entered the numbers for the last two batches I did and got back a result that was very close to the actual "wort in fermenter" amount.

Sadly, I've had to adjust the efficiency setting in BeerSmith down to about 50% to account for the low efficiency of the Brewie system. Adding rice hulls and adjusting to a smaller crush last time seemed to improve efficiency some, and I'm hoping this batch will get closer to my gravity and volume targets. Hitting those targets is key to repeating your results and gauging the effect of recipe changes.

11:30pm: The Brewie delivered on its promise to be finished brewing at 11:15pm. At that point it had mashed the grain, boiled the wort, and chilled it down to 70F. I had quite a surprise when I pumped the wort into the fermenter, though. Instead of 2.5 gallons, I ended up with a considerable amount more. I filled the fermenter almost to the top and pumped an unmeasured amount down the drain. I sanitized two quart jars and filled those with wort. That left 2.75 gallons in the fermenter. The gravity of this wort was 1.085 SG, considerably lowed than expected. The question now is whether this was a problem with the calibration of the machine's weight sensors, or a miscalculation in my updated spreadsheet.

I pitched the yeast into the wort and connected the temperature control system, setting it to 65F. I'll have it hold that temperature until Tuesday night (assuming the fermentation is well underway by then).

12/17/2018: The Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast has a reputation for slow starts and explosive fermentation. There was no change in gravity for about 10 hours after pitching some of my reserved and re-grown yeast from the original package. As of this writing, gravity has dropped from 1.085 SG down to 1.078. There is a thick krausen on the beer and the blow-off tube is constantly bubbling in the water bucket. The temperature control system is keeping a consistent 65F as planned. Tomorrow night I'll bump that up to 67F.

12/18/2018: The yeast is going nuts at this point. It's blown enough into the blow-off tube that large sections of it are tan (yeast) colored and the water in the blow-off jar is milky white. Gravity is down to 1.051 SG. I raised the temperature to 67F to help coax the yeast along. Tomorrow night, I'll bump it up to 71F.

12/19/2018: Gravity is registering 1.050 SG today. The temperature has been increased to 68F to keep nudging the yeast along.

12/21/2018: Gravity is down to 1.028 SG today. To help encourage the yeast to keep going, I've raised the temp to 75F.

12/22/2018: Gravity is reading 1.030 SG now.

12/23/2018: Gravity is now down to 1.026 SG.

12/28/2018: Gravity had dropped to 1.019 SG and held there for a while. I transferred the beer to a sanitized secondary fermenter into which I placed a quarter ounce of plain oak chips and a quarter ounce of brandy barrel chips (inside a sanitized stainless steel dry-hop container) to begin the "barrel aging" phase.

12/30/2018: A sample extracted from the fermenter had a decent blend of oak and brandy flavors combined with the Quadrupel itself. I'm hopeful that with another day or two of aging we'll hit a good flavor profile and be able to bottle it.

12/31/2018: Gravity is reading 1.024 SG, which is up from its low of 1.1019 on 12/28/2018 when I transferred it to secondary with the oak chips.

1/4/2019: Gravity has held at 1.024 SG. I've been tasting the beer daily, to see how the flavor is coming along. It's good today, but it seems like it might be starting to pick up some tannins, so it it may be time to bottle soon.

1/6/2019: I rehydrated some CBC-1 bottle conditioning yeast and added some leftover wort to it along with a pinch of yeast nutrient. When it began to krausen, I added five small carbonation tablets to each bottle and a pipette full of the yeast slurry, then capped the bottle. After it was capped, I turned it up and down a couple of times before placing it in a 76F "hot box" to carbonate.

1/12/2019: Today I chilled and poured a sample of the finished beer (see photo at the top of the post). Although the carbonation was a bit lackluster for a Belgian style beer, it was at least carbonated. I suspect the beer needs a bit longer to age and finish conditioning. Regardless, here are my initial thoughts on it:
  • Appearance:  Cloudy, orangey gold color with thin beige head that doesn't stick around long.
  • Aroma: Slightly fruity Belgian yeast "bubble gum" flavor mixed with oak and brandy.
  • Flavor:  Sweet brandy comes through initially, then oak, ending with nicely balanced fruity/malty finish that lingers pleasantly and melds with the oak.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium and honestly a little flat, but a little creamy also. Hopefully with more time in the bottle we'll get more carbonation and a better mouthfeel.
I think in a future version I would add an ounce or two of Special B malt to darken it a little, and maybe add a little complexity on the malt side. I might also consider using gelatin finings to clear it up and bottling with a fresh yeast like CBC-1 to help it carbonate.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Tripel Karmeliet Clone 4.0

Back in June, I brewed my third attempt to clone the famous Tripel Karmeliet. While that version didn't taste like the bottled version of Karmeliet I'd always had, I happened to taste a draft version of the beer and it was a dead ringer for that. The difference between the two is that the draft version I tried did not have the fresh lemon notes I picked up in the bottled version. This time around, I'm trying to better replicate the bottled version.

All the recipes I've seen used Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, which are described as mellow, spicy, and citrusy. I decided to use those in this version of the beer and add some lemon peel to see if that will help punch up the citrus flavors a little. 

As strange as it may seem, the White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast produced a very good clone of Karmeliet on draft, so I'm planning to continue using it in this version.

My last version also felt a bit more full-bodied than I wanted, so I'm adding a pound of corn sugar to this one to lighten the body and dry out the sweetness a little. I've also dropped the mash temperature a few degrees below what it was last time.

Ingredients

6 pounds of Belgian Pilsner Malt
1 pound of White Wheat Malt
8 ounces of Flaked Oats
8 ounces of Rice Hulls
1 pound of Corn Sugar (added to the grain bag)
0.50 ounces of Lemon Peel (10 min.)
0.35 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (60 min.)
0.45 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (10 min.)
0.80 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (5 min.)
1.5 teaspoons of pH 5.2 Stabilizer
2.8 gallons of Mash Water
1.4 gallons of Sparge Water

BeerSmith estimates that the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 26.C Belgian Tripel
  • Batch Size: 2.25 gallons 
  • Original Gravity: 1.089 SG 
  • Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
  • IBUs: 19
  • SRM: 4
Mash Schedule:
  • Mash in at 113F for 15 minutes (Ferulic Acid rest)
  • Mash at 120F for 15 minutes (Beta Glucan rest for the wheat and oats)
  • Mash at 142F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 158F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 168F for 10 minutes
Boil Schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions (this is to help drive off DMS from the Pilsner malt)
  • 60 minutes: Add Hallertau for bittering
  • 10 minutes: Add Hallertau for flavor and aroma, plus lemon peel
  • 5 minutes: Add Hallertau for aroma
Fermentation Schedule:
  • This yeast likes a fermentation temperature in the 70-75F range. This time of year, my basement tends to stay around 64-64F, this will help offset any heat gains from the yeast (at least to some degree) but temperature control might be required at the height of fermentation. Last time around, the temperature got as high as 77F briefly, but stayed within 71-75F the rest of the time.
  • My plan for this batch is to keep the yeast within the 70-75F range for the first 3 days of fermentation. After that, I'll hold it at 70F until it finishes fermentation.
My plan after fermentation will be to bottle the beer using 5 carbonation tablets per 12-ounce bottle (high carbonation) and allow the beer to bottle condition for at least 2 weeks before serving.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/14/2018:  This was my third brew in the new Brewie+ system. My sparge and mash water calculation spreadsheet still needs work, as this beer came out at approximately 2.25 gallons (instead of the planned 2.5 gallons) and at a gravity of 1.089 SG. This works out to a Brewhouse Efficiency of approximately 59% for this batch, which is not great. Next time around, the Sparge water should be set to 1.6 gallons to get closer to 2.5 gallons in final volume.

Interestingly, the Brewie application on Android estimated the gravity of this batch at 1.075 without the sugar and claims that its efficiency is 80%. I'm calculating that 2.25 gallons at 1.089 gravity is 59% efficiency.

12/17/2018:  Gravity is down to 1.048 SG and the temperature is 65F. That's 39% apparent attenuation in 3 days, which seems fairly slow. On the other hand, the amount of yeast pitched was probably low and WLP720 works best in the 70-75F temperature range. It's well below that now. I may need to warm it up a bit.

12/18/2018: Gravity is down to 1.045 SG today. Since it looks like the yeast has slowed down considerably (probably due to the temp being 64-65F), I've added a heat wrap and some insulation, with a temperature controller configured to keep the beer at 70F, which is the low-end of the yeast's optimum fermentation temperature range. I'm hoping that will help the yeast get going.

12/19/2018: Gravity is down to 1.041 SG today. The temp has been raised to 73F, which is in the middle of the yeast's range. Fermentation continues to be fairly slow.

12/21/2018: Gravity is now 1.029 SG, so the temperature increase seems to have benefited the yeast. I raised it to 75F today to ensure that the yeast is able to complete the fermentation.

12/22/2018: Gravity is down to 1.018 SG.

12/23/2018: Gravity has dropped to 1.017 SG.

12/28/2018: Bottled the beer with 5 carbonation tablets (high carbonation) today. A warm, flat sample from the fermenter had a distinct lemony note to it like the real Karmeliet Tripel does, so I'm hopeful this will turn out to be a decent approximation.

1/4/2019: I tested a bottle of the beer today. The flavor was good, but there was no carbonation, or almost none.

1/12/2019: Today I opened another sample of the beer. It had light carbonation, but not where it should be for a Belgian Tripel. Ignoring that for a moment, it's a mildly hazy gold color with minimal white head. The aroma is lemony and sweet. Flavor is malty, mildly sweet, lemony, with a balanced bitterness. If it ever carbonates it should be a good beer.