Saturday, May 23, 2015

ESB Brew Time!

I've never done an ESB (Extra Special/Strong Bitter) before, but people keep telling me I need to.

Well, I was going to brew a Kolsch today. But then I got to the brew shop and they didn't have the yeast I wanted. They had alternatives and I was considering it, but I've also wanted to do an ESB for a while. So here we go.

7lbs Maris Otter
.5lbs of C75, C120 and Biscuit Malt

1.5oz EKG @ 60 (28 IBU)
.5oz EKG @ 10 (3.4 IBU)
1oz Fuggle @ 10 (6 IBU)

Wyeast 1968 London ESB

The first runnings look nice, but a tad dark. Meh. Normal enough, let's see the second.

That should lighten it up a tad. Excellent. Second runnings never ran below 1.015. I got a little worried with how much lighter it wound up, but in the end nothing to worry about.

So in Beersmith my pre-boil gravity was estimated to be 1.041. Nailed it. According to refrac and hydrometer, hit exactly 1.041 pre-boil. First time I've ever hit dead on like that, usually off +/- 2-3 points. No big deal, but still a good feeling. And then the gravity into the bucket: 1.048. Exactly as predicted by Beersmith, 80% brewhouse efficiency.

I'm going to ferment this bad boy at 65F for 3 days, allow to rise to 70F over the next 3 days to finish up. I'll decide if it needs to sit higher for a diacetyl rest or not at that point. Apparently wyeast recommends it? But at those temps, I'd need to use a heater to get it up any higher so hopefully those temps get the job done just fine. I can heat if need be (heating pad + STC-1000) but would rather not.

According to homebrewtalk, really shouldn't be necessary. Hope they're right!

Oh my. That is pretty.

I tossed in whirlfloc with the 10min hop additions, and I'm going to gelatin this beer as well. This yeast strain is known for dropping out really nicely, but why not help clear things up faster?

Now for the hardest part: Waiting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mango Madness & Citra Explosion

So back on 4/11 I had a buncha people over and brewed a Citra Pale Ale and a Mango IPA. At least, that was the intent. It appears I've made a Citra IPA (drunken hop additions may have played a role but it's a good thing) and a Mango IPA, which I'm happy with so that's great.

10lbs 2row.
1lbs Munich.
.5lb C60.
.5lb Carapils.

The hopping schedule for the Mango IPA:
1oz Palisade @ 60
1oz Galaxy @ 10
1oz Citra @ 8
1oz Galaxy @ 5
1oz Citra @ 2

I did have a dry hop planned originally, but I opted to skip the dry hop because once I smelled the Mango aroma coming off it while it was fermenting that out I decided I wanted to go with that instead. OG 1.068, FG 1.009 for ~7.75% ABV. The mango nectar was added 3 days after fermentation started, as it was beginning to taper off at that point. I left it alone for about a week and a half after that before racking into the keg to carbonate before bottling.

Aroma: Citrus and tropical fruitiness rides along the awesome that is the mango nectar addition. I can definitely tell the aromas apart, the mango is very distinctive in the aroma. Not finding any malt aroma here, but given the hops and the mango nectar addition I can't say I'm surprised.


Well, as you can see. It is hazy as all hell. The only fining I did was whirlfloc in the boil. I could have done a gelatin and cold crash, but I kinda like it this way. I also feel like the way it looks now really lends itself to the overall character of the beer, especially the mouth feel. If it were crystal clear it'd throw people off I think.

Flavor: I get citrus and tropical fruitiness from the hops, and then a very distinct and lovely mango flavor. If you like mango, you'll like this beer. There is a slight bitterness to it, which I feel could be higher, but I'm very glad it isn't lower. Lower and I feel like this beer might be cloyingly sweet. If I had done my usual no 60min addition and only late hops, I don't think I'd like this beer much despite how much I love mango. The malt is (to my palate) damn near lost in this beer. It's there, but only if you really try to taste it around the mango and hoppiness.

I used a relatively low AA bittering addition at 60mins, was just what I had around. This beer could certainly stand up to a higher AA bittering addition, but what I ended up with here is a beer that isn't overly bitter and probably more appealing for it. It really lets the mango shine through, which was the idea anyway.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full in my opinion. I'm no BJCP judge, but I've got enough beer drinkin under my belt to know this is no medium or lower bodied beer. I'm not getting any astringency, and maybe just a slight bit of alcohol warmth, probably because of the late mango nectar addition. Not unpleasant to me at all.

Overall: I really like this beer. I doubt it's going to last long in my house, and I know a lot of people will want some to try as well which will make it disappear even faster. The good news is mango nectar is readily available at Costco near me and the grist is really simple. Morebeer has always had the hops I used if (when) I want more, so that's lovely too. Will be easy to do again.

I need to get this sent off to competitions in the near future. I understand I'll need to submit it as a 20 because of the Mango Nectar addition and how pronounced it is. I also understand that the mouth feel will probably get it knocked down a bit submitting it as a (Mango) IPA, but since I have to list the underlying style that's gonna have to be it.

Now for the Citra IPA!

10lbs 2row.
1lbs Munich.
.5lb C60.
.5lb Carapils.

Notice a similarity? Same grist. In fact, it was done in one mash and two boils with different hop schedules. Add the two grists together and that was the total in the mash.

The intended hop schedule:
Citra 1.25oz @ 15
Citra 1.25oz @ 10
Citra 1.25oz @ 5
Citra 1.25oz @ 1
Dry hop 3oz Citra 4 days.

The actual hop schedule as far as I can recall from the drunkenness of that day:
Citra 1.25oz @ 30 (oops, ~40 IBU there)
Citra 1.25oz @ 10 ~20 IBU
Citra 1.25oz @ 5 ~10 IBU

Citra 1.25oz @ 0 Probably a few more IBU here, but nothing big.
Dry hop 3oz Citra 4 days.

Wound up around 75 IBU rather than the originally planned ~55-60. I suppose I could still call it an American Pale Ale, but it just feels weird to me. It's far too bitter for that. Not unpleasantly bitter, but still too bitter.

OG 1.068 FG 1.012, ABV ~7.35%. In retrospect I probably should have paid more attention to the hop timings (one of the pitfalls of having an awesome time while brewing, I'll take it!) and the preboil gravity. But I'm not unhappy with this beer at all, it's quite nice.

Aroma: Did I mention I used Citra? Citrusy, tropical, passion fruit on the nose. Get a tiny bit of malt if I really try to find it, but that was the idea anyway so I'm happy with that.

So much clearer than the Mango IPA, that's for sure. This beer was poured after a rapid cooling in the freezer. It'll clear up with more time in the bottles and a longer chilling time, but I'm pretty happy with it as it is in the picture. I used GY054 from Gigayeast (Vermont IPA Yeast) and it's supposed to be a medium/low floccing yeast, so this amount of clarity right now I'm pretty thrilled with actually.

Flavor: Very hop forward (to the surprise of none) with the amount of Citra used. I'm getting some guava, passion fruitiness from the hop flavor. My palate for hop flavors is lacking a lot, but that's what I get so far. The bitterness comes in pretty strong, but the malt character is enough to balance it out a bit. This beer is certainly balanced towards the hops, but still balanced rather than tilting the scale and throwing the malt out the window, if that makes any sense to anyone but me. When I taste it I get hop flavor, bitterness, maltiness, and then finishing with a bit more bitterness and lingering hop flavor which is nice.

My intent was a more balanced beer, but rather than throwing the balance out the window it feels like just shifted it which is just fine with me.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium bodied beer. I think the bitterness gives it a perception of being lighter bodied than it is, but when I really sit back and feel the beer, can't say it's medium-light, it's a medium bodied beer. No astringency or alcohol warmth that I can detect.

Overall: I thoroughly enjoy this beer. However, unlike the Mango IPA it isn't going to be winning over any "I don't like hoppy beer" people. This is a hoppy beer and there is no mango in it to mask/blend in with that. I doubt this'll last much longer though, as I do know several hop heads and have grown to appreciate them more and more myself as I learn more about the flavors and what certain hops can bring to certain styles.

I'm not sure if I'll send this one out to be judged. I probably will when I send the Mango IPA simply because I'll already be sending out so why not? Plus, feedback. I really need more feedback from people I don't know at all.