Despite my poor blogging efforts, I've been brewing like crazy. Here's some info on a few of the recent beers and how they turned out.
Vienna Rye Lager:
I wanted to do a slight variation on the classic Vienna Lager (one of my favorite styles), so I decided to replace some of the Vienna Malt with Rye (27.5% to be exact) and add a touch of Pale Chocolate (2.5%) for some nuttiness and color. The hopping, fermentation, and yeast scheduling was all untouched from the normal Vienna - as I adjusted proportions to fall right in line with the original. The result was outstanding. It retains a lot of the same characteristics as the original, but has spiciness/nuttiness from the Rye/Pale Chocolate malts. I originally intended this to be a one-off variation but it's so damn drinkable I think it will become a staple on tap. I've already re-brewed it for an upcoming event.
House Pale Ale (un-named at the moment):
This beer was sort of a test-batch for marrying up the Belma hop (from Hops Direct) with Cascade, but also trying a new technique on the whirlpool addition. After digging in to the Hops book and various online articles, I wanted to try a colder hop steep. I've noticed that I'm getting more perceived bitterness in some of my beers that have big whirlpool additions. Prior to this test, I would steep these additions around 180 degrees, for 20 or so minutes (then chill, so really it's about 40-50 minutes). With this new technique, I drop the temp after the boil is over to 145, then add my whirlpool additions. 147F is the temp at which Myrcene volatilizes, an oil that makes up greater than 50% of the oils found in both Cascade and Belma. In order to preserve that, I chose 145 as my steeping temperature. My bittering charge on this beer was just 21 calculated IBUs, then there are additions at 5/0/Whirlpool of equal parts Belmas/Cascade.
Going in to fermentation I was very happy with the flavor profile; it was intensely hoppy/juicy without having the usual bitterness I was getting out of big whirlpool additions. After 4 days, I dry-hopped with Belma/Cascade, then crashed/kegged it 7 days later. The resulting beer is vibrant, hoppy (grapefruit/tropical/citrus), and just enough bitterness to balance the hop/malt character. I think it could use a touch more hop flavor, so on the next go-round I'll be adding a 10 minute addition and decreasing my 60 minute bittering charge. Overall, I'm very pleased with the profile of Belma/Cascade, I think it's the best use of Belma for me yet. **(1/2 this batch had 3lbs of Apricot puree added to fermentation, I'll create a post on that once it's finished/carbed up)
I introduced my sister-in-law Caitlin to Modern Times Beer, since she is in the LA area, and she graciously shipped 3 of their beers to me on a recent snowboard trip to Schweitzer, ID (the place of my collar-bone injury last year). It's not often a beer or brewery can live up to the hype, but boy have they done a nice job! I won't go into too much detail, but Blazing World and Black House are just fantastic. They were perfect endings to some long snowboard days. Pictured above is Blazing World being enjoyed in front of a cozy fire.
And Spelt! I got interested in using it after reading up on its historical use in brewing and managed to track some down here. I am trying to hone a dry, peppery and rustic Saison but haven't been able to nail it just yet. I'm making a sessionable Saison (about 4% ABV) with 45% Spelt malt to see where it takes me. From there I'll have a better understanding of the characteristics of it for future beers, and possibly incorporate it into my Tilted Barn Ale.
That's all for now, I'll be back on here more regularly now that I've got more time. The next beers up for serving are a Colonial Porter (resurrected recipe from 2011) and the Belma/Cascade Pale with 3lbs of Apricot Puree (two wildly different beers).