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Experimental Dubbel 1.0

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 Mal…

Amped-Up 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 AleOriginal Gravity: 1.135 SG estimated (actual was 1.135…

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 bodyUse fruit-forward hop varietiesFew 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/ConanDry-hop during primary fermentation to allow yeast and hop qualities to bondStay 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 gravityAdd most of the hops at the end of the boi…

Oak Aged La Trappe Quad Clone 1.0

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 Bel…

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 on…

A Year with the PicoBrew Zymatic

During Black Friday 2017, I was offered the opportunity to purchase a PicoBrew Zymatic at a significant discount. Although I'd already had (and been generally happy with) iMake's The Grainfather, I didn't brew as often as I wanted to with it. Although The Grainfather can produce some great beer (and I've got medals to prove it), the time commitment is hard to take. I pretty much had to stay home and watch over it for 5-8 hours, and attend to it constantly. For me, the Zymatic represented the opportunity to brew at times when I couldn't necessarily be there to change mash temperatures, sparge the grain, or drop things into the brew kettle. It would also mean that I could experiment more. Recipes I'd thought looked interesting (but didn't want to give up a day to try) would suddenly mean a few minutes' work to put together and a few more to load into the machine. Needless to say, I took the deal.


Can you make good beer in the Zymatic?
In a word, yes. I hav…

Review: Tilt Hydrometer

What is the Tilt Hydrometer?
In a nutshell, the Tilt Hydrometer is a small plastic tube with electronics inside it for measuring the temperature and gravity of a fermenting beer. It can transmit those readings outside the fermenter (including stainless steel fermenters) via Bluetooth to an Android, iOS, or Raspberry Pi device.

The Tilt measures the gravity of your beer by the angle at which the device floats in the beer. The sensor inside the Tilt is a "military grade" sensor that is extremely sensitive.

The Tilt is powered by a replaceable (and inexpensive) battery that will last a few months, depending on the frequency of use.

If you want to use multiple Tilt devices, the manufacturer offers several different colored devices. Each color is registered differently by the iOS/Android/Pi application and tracked separately from the other colors. This allows you to place (for instance) a red Tilt inside an ESB, a blue Tilt inside an IPA, and a yellow Tilt inside a Belgian Dubbel…

Peach Cobbler Ale 1.0

Earlier this year, my wife and I tasted a Peach Cobbler Ale brewed by one of the Ohio breweries (I cannot recall which one, which is just as well). It was a nice enough beer, but for my taste it was a little dry and thin. The peach flavor took a back seat to malt and hops, making it seem more like a Pale Ale with peach notes than a Peach Cobbler. Still, it inspired me to think about how I might brew my own version of the beer.

For my version, I wanted a sweeter, more full-bodied base, reminiscent of a nice slab of baked peach cobbler. That means a higher mash temperature.

I also want the crackery/biscuity notes of the malt to come through, to help the drinker imagine tasting a bit of crust. I'll use Victory Malt to try to achieve that. Some Honey Malt should help drive home the sweet cobbler illusion as well.

Cinnamon and Nutmeg will be used as well, as these are common spice additions to a peach cobbler.

Last bit not least is the choice of hops. When added late in the boil, Amar…

La Trappe Quad Clone 1.0

I just acquired a Brewie+ automated brewing system. After I've gotten a few brews under my belt with it, I plan to do a compare-and-contrast post between iMake's The Grainfather, PicoBrew's Zymatic, and the Brewie+.

For now, I'm working out how to use it properly. I can tell you already that the Brewie+ has a number of advantages over the Zymatic: up to 5 gallon batch size, larger grain bills, direct connection to your water supply, ability to brew offline, ability to sparge the grain, and automated wort chilling. It's also much quieter.

On the other hand, recipe editing must be done on the device's touchscreen (until they provide you with access to their Android or iOS app, which isn't freely available online), and you need to do mash and sparge water calculations yourself.

I'd been thinking about brewing a purported clone recipe for La Trappe Quadrupel. This is a really delicious Belgian Trappist beer, and one that I enjoy drinking. I just don't …