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Showing posts from April, 2019

In Search of... Malt Complexity

I've placed a lot of malt-forward styles into competition in the last two years. These are styles that tend to appeal to me, such as the Dark Mild, Scottish Export, Extra Strong Bitter, and Dry Irish Stout. To be fair, I had brewed many of these styles for the very first time, and from recipes found on the Internet (which probably had good pedigrees, but who's to say). The fact that they did not do well may have boiled down to them being mediocre recipes to start with, or a lack of experience on my part brewing the styles, or the fact that I've changed brewing systems twice in the last two years. Regardless, a common comment from judges over the last three years of my brewing competition experience has been that some of my beers (not all, or even most) lacked malt complexity.

The first time I got that comment, I assumed that the judge meant that I hadn't used a good balance of specialty malts. When I tweaked the grist on one of those recipes and entered the next compet…

Belgian Dubbel 5.0

I've been able to brew Trappist Single, Tripel, and Quad (Dark Strong) ales that I'm happy with. One of my Tripels placed at the Ohio State Fair. Two of my Dark Strong Ales finished in the top three at Barley's Ale House. The one Trappist style I've brewed repeatedly but never been happy with is the Dubbel.

It's not that I don't know what I want from a Dubbel. I want a nice deep ruby red color with a decent head and clarity. I want a noticeable aroma of dark fruit (prune/plum) and noble hops (preferably Saaz). I want a touch of sweetness, but not to a cloying degree, to bring out that dark fruit. A mild phenolic quality, manifesting as peppery or clove-like notes would be ideal. The body should lean toward medium. The beer should finish dry and clean.

I found a recipe on Beer and Brewing that is attributed to Andy Mitchell, a brewer at New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado. I'm swapping out the East Kent Goldings hops (which I've never liked in a Belgi…

Irish Red Ale 4.0

I am starting to feel cursed that I am unable to brew an Irish Red Ale, a style that I really enjoy drinking.  My first attempt brewed fine but didn't taste like I thought it should (and it wasn't my recipe). The second attempt had a volume and gravity issue that watered it down. It was drinkable but hardly memorable. The third attempt stalled during fermentation at too high a gravity. I tried to fix that with glucoamylase and ended up with a "Brut Irish Red Ale" that was drinkable but not what I wanted, either.  This time I am hoping to nail it.

I'm creating my own recipe this time around, loosely based on those I've seen online. I'm using Maris Otter for an authentic base, layering on some Caramel 40L for a caramel flavor, 120L for some color and dark fruit, roasted barley for more color and a touch of flavor, and Melanoidin malt for body, red coloring, and foam stability.  I'm using a single dose of East Kent Goldings for authentic bittering, Brewt…

Azacca Belma Pale Ale 1.0

While browsing of the online homebrew supply shop web sites, I discovered that they had both Belma and Azacca hops on sale. Having never used either, I decided to order some and craft a Pale Ale recipe around them.  I'd also wanted to try the relatively new Omega Yeast OYL-091 Hornindal Kveik yeast.  This recipe is the culmnation of that recipe design.  The flavor and aroma contributions from this combination should harmonize pretty well:
Azacca hops: Citrus and mango notes with a little orchard fruit.Belma hops: Clean with a very orange, slight grapefruit, tropical pineapple, strawberry, and melon aroma.Hornindal Kveik yeast: Complements fruit-forward hops with its aromas of fresh pineapple, mango, and tangerine. Fermenting at high temperatures (up to 95F) will intensify the aromas and speed up fermentation. Blend all that and we should get lots of nice citrus, mango, pineapple, and grapfruit aromas and flavors. I plan to intensify that by using only later-addition hops and whirlp…

MadTree PsycHOPathy Clone 1.0

MadTree PsycHOPathy is an American IPA brewed in Cincinnati by MadTree Brewing.  They post the recipes for all of their beers on their web site. These recipes list the ingredients and most of the vial information for the beer, but omit some of the details you might need to precisely replicate their beer. However, if you ask nicely, I've found that they will fill in the blanks.  For example, they told me the mash temperature they use is 149.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  I'll use 149F myself, knowing that the temp in the Brewie+ varies a little during mashing, so it will hover around 149.5.

I took MadTree's published recipe and reproduced the grain bill for the Brewie+ and ran that through my mill.  I then took the alpha acid values for all the hops and reworked the amounts so that I am getting approximately the same number of IBUs from all my hop additions that MadTree gets from theirs (according to the published recipe).  This should mimic their hop flavor profile as best I can …