Brewing Kettle Sours with Goodbelly

Wow, I haven’t posted in a long time. Not that I haven’t been brewing, but I haven’t been brewing anything new or different and therefore worth writing about. I mean, how many times can you post about New England styles without becoming repetitive? But recently I brewed a 10 gallon kettle sour and split the wort into two iterations. I used some new (to me) ingredients and both batches actually turned out well. So this seemed like a good topic to write about again, finally.

I have had some trouble in the past with kettle sours. I’ve had trouble with getting starters from grain to acidify wort to a ph I was happy with. I’ve had trouble with probiotic capsules having a yeast contamination. I’ve also had pure Lacto starters “stall” despite my best efforts. So I decided to do a good deal of reading and research (again) before attempting another kettle sour.

Through my research I came across a Lacto source which I had read about previously but didn’t have access to here in Atlantic Canada. Goodbelly is a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus Plantarum. Luckily, I had an upcoming trip to Portland, Maine and decided to attempt to find some while I was there.

While reading Milk the Funk I found that some brewers had good results adding two shots (500ml) of Goodbelly drink directly to 5 gallons of wort. In Portland I managed to get a 1L container so I decided to brew 10 gallons and use the entire container. I would then split the batch into two carboys for two completely different iterations.

The first iteration would be fermented with Brett Classenii. Pineapple puree and toasted coconut would be added to secondary.

The second iteration would be fermented with Brett Amalgamation. Watermelon puree would be added to secondary, when the re-fermentation was complete it would be dry hopped with Huell Melon.

I have tried numerous yeast strains with kettle sours. US05 worked well but had stalled on me one time, despite pitching an active starter. Wyeast 3711 (French Saison) attenuated well, but unless your goal is a tart Saison, that strain has its own character you may not want in your end product. I had been interested in fermenting a kettle sour with Brett strains for a while. I know they are ph resistant and since I was going to add fruit to both versions, I felt they were a perfect choice to help accentuate those additions.

My method for kettle souring has been the same since my very first attempt two years ago. I start by going through the mash process as I would with any beer. I collect my wort and add an acid to drop the wort ph to approximately 4.4 and boil for 15 minutes to ensure I have a “clean” slate to work with. I then chill to the appropriate temperature (90F in this case for L.Plantarum) and pitch my culture. I cover the top of the kettle with sanitized plastic wrap and put the lid on. I start taking ph and gravity reading at 24 hours and then about every 12 hours after that until I reach my desired ph (~3.3). I the bring the acidified wort up to a boil for 15 minutes, add hops, chill to 62F and pitch my yeast, in this case Brett.

I have read that if you are using Goodbelly for a quick sour that you should use the mango flavour as it is the least impactful on flavour to the resultant beer. I could only find blueberry acai and I must admit that when I took a ph reading I could detect a berry character from the wort. Thankfully, through the boil and fermentation that character was completely lost.

Kettle sours have been the most fickle for me to brew. I’ve had numerous issues throughout all the attempts I’ve made over the last two years. But this time everything went according to plan. The 10 gallons was soured to a ph of 3.28 within 68 hours. The split batches both fermented and attenuated well, each finishing at 1.005. I am happy with both iterations but they do both suffer from being a little too mild in flavor with respect to the fruit additions I made.

I would highly recommend using Brett to ferment kettle sours, both varieties fermented quickly and attenuated really well despite the low ph. Both versions actually tasted really good prior to adding secondary ingredients. The Brett C versions had a nice citrus character to it. The Amalgamation version was even better with a tropical profile, I actually debated leaving that version plain as it tasted quite nice on its own. In the end I decided to go ahead as planned, after all if you have a good base, adding quality ingredients should only enhance the end product.

If you’re interested in Goodbelly as a Lacto source I highly recommend it! This was as simple as a kettle sour can be. No starter ahead of time, relatively fast souring with a clean profile. I’ll be using this as a source again, if I can get my hands on it.

I tried making my own fruit purees for the first time for these beer. I really liked how it incorporated into the beer much better compared to adding whole fruit. I simply sanitized a large blender, added the fruit and blended until it reached a smooth and even consistency.

 

Recipe Targets: 10 Gallons, OG 1.039, FG 1.005, IBU 4.4, ABV 4.7%, SRM 3.1

Grain:

4.50kg     Pilsner                                      66.6%

1.75kg     Maris Otter                                25.9%

0.51kg     Malted Wheat                             7.5%

 

Hops:

7g     Waimea (17.5%) – Boil 15 mins

 

Yeast & Extras:

1L Goodbelly (Lacto Plantarum)

Version 1: – Fermented with Brett Claussenii, Toasted coconut (260g) and pineapple puree (750ml) added to secondary for two weeks.

Version 2: – Fermented with Brett Amalgamation, Watermelon puree (3L) added to secondary for two weeks, dry hopped with Huell Melon (112g) for 4 days.

 

Version 1:

Appearance: Pours with a thin ring of white head that fades completely within seconds. Pale straw in color.

Aroma: Very mild Brett funk followed by slight pineapple.

Flavour: Light lactic sourness followed by slight pineapple and mild coconut. Possibly some slight over ripe fruit from the Brett as well.

Mouthfeel: Light-moderate mouth feel with medium carbonation.

Overall: I’ve listened to many episodes of the Sour Hour and the point I keep hearing Jay Goodwin talking about is creating a balanced sour beer with nuanced aromas and flavors. That’s what I was attempting to accomplish with this iteration. However I think this could use more pineapple to help round everything out. I would like it to be more sour as well. I felt a ph of 3.28 would be plenty sour, but this beer could also stand to have more acidity. Perhaps my ph meter is simply unreliable despite being calibrated prior to each use. This beer also suffers from poor head retention, which is not that uncommon in sour beer but something to try to correct by dropping the ph further prior to pitching Lacto next time. Otherwise, this is enjoyable and the process went smoother than any other kettle sour I’ve brewed.

 

Version 2:

Appearance: Pour with a frothy white head (1/2″) that fades to a thin ring that persists. Pale straw in color.

Aroma: Minimal watermelon followed by light grain. No hop aroma whatsoever.

Flavor: Mild/moderate watermelon followed by a light supportive malt backbone. Finishes clean.

Mouthfeel: Light lactic acidity. Light/medium body, moderate carbonation.

Overall: This could use more watermelon despite the 3L of puree added. I would like more acidity, it is lightly sour considering the 3.28 ph. There is no hint of the dry hop addition whatsoever. I’m not experienced with Huell Melon, this was my first time using the variety. However, I would have expected there to be some contribution for 4oz in a 5 gallon batch. I’m always surprised how difficult it is to get dry hop character in a sour. Otherwise this is very enjoyable, I like the watermelon flavor despite it lacking slightly compared to what I was going for. I would certainly attempt this iteration again.

 

 

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Brewing a Milkshake NEIPA

A few months ago I heard about a new “style”, a Milkshake IPA which had been brewed by Tired Hands. It seemed to be getting great reviews but some of the aspects of brewing one didn’t appeal to me a great deal. Namely the lactose used to add mouth feel and some residual sweetness. I have no issues with lactose in a beer but generally I like my IPA’s fairly dry so the thought of adding something that would leave the beer on the sweet side was a little unappealing. The other aspect that I wasn’t sure about was the vanilla addition, I just wasn’t sure how it would play with the hops overall. The idea of adding fruit to a NE style IPA made sense, I mean it seemed like a natural progression for super hoppy “juicy” IPA’s in some respects.

The obvious thing to do would be to simply purchase a commercial example of the style to test drive it, take some notes and attempt something similar if interested. The issue here is that I live in Atlantic Canada and although the beer scene has improved drastically in the last few years, there isn’t any local availability of this particular style.

Fortunately a friend of mine (the one who told me about this style) decided to go ahead and brew a Milkshake IPA recently. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed his beer, the hops and orange zest he used worked really well together. The lactose did bump up the mouth feel and although it had some residual sweetness it wasn’t too much. The vanilla was present but light, something we discussed could be increased without being overbearing.

Now I was interested to brew one of my own and I happened to just get a fresh order of Citra and El Dorado hops. Both seemed like perfect varieties for this style. I hadn’t brewed with El Dorado before but I knew it had tropical fruit and orange character and who doesn’t love Citra? More tropical fruit and citrus character made Citra a natural choice as well.

I happened to have a new bag of clementines so I decided to use that as my fruit choice. Otherwise I kept everything else pretty consistent with how I would brew a NE style. A grain bill mostly consisting of base and flaked oats along with some carafoam and acid malt. Ferment with LAIII and dry hop on day 3 (which is when I added the clementine zest) and day 7. Plan to keg on day 11-12 and add the vanilla tincture at that time.

Brew day went as expected and this turned out even better than I had hoped. It had tons of orange, citrusy hop and vanilla aroma and that followed through in the flavor. The bitterness could have been dialed back slightly but otherwise I was really happy with this beer. It received mostly great feedback from fellow beer geeks and it made me want to brew something similar again soon. The biggest issue I had was that is kicked far too quickly, faster than any beer I’ve ever kegged.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 Gallons, OG 1.065, FG 1.016, ABV 6.4%, IBU 55, SRM 3.8

Grain:

4.00 kg 2 Row US            71.3 %
1.00 kg Oats, Flaked        17.8 %
0.21 kg Acid Malt              3.7 %
0.20 kg Carapils                3.6 %

Hops:

35.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Boil 5 min                     9.9 IBUs
35.00 g El Dorado [15.00 %] – Boil 5 min            12.4 IBUs
42.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Steep 15 mins              14.8 IBUs
42.00 g El Dorado [15.00 %] – Steep 15 mins      18.5 IBUs
35.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 7 Days
35.00 g El Dorado [15.00 %] – Dry Hop 7 Days
28.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 4 Days
28.00 g El Dorado [15.00 %] – Dry Hop 4 Days
28.00 g Equinox (HBC 366) [15.00 %] – Dry Hop 4

Extras:

1 tsp Yeast Nutrient – Boil 10 mins

1 Whirlfloc tablet – Boil 10 mins

200g Lactose – Boil 10 mins

10g Clementine zest added on day 3 along with dry hop addition

1 vanilla bean scraped and chopped 2oz of vodka, added at kegging.

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

 

OG 1.064

FG 1.015

ABV 6.5%

 

Appearance: Pours with a white head, 1/2″ which fades to 1/4″ and persists. Light golden in color, good lacing.

Aroma: Strong citrus hop aroma, mainly orange, followed by some tropical notes and then vanilla.

Flavor: Follows from the aroma. Lots of orange flavor, some mild tropical notes and then moderate vanilla. Think orange creamsicle. Some light residual sweetness finishing with light/moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium/full, creamy mouthfeel. Medium/light carbonation.

Overall: This was one of the rare times I poured a beer and loved it right away. Usually I can pick apart my beer and easily find things to change and improve next time. But not this time, I loved this beer and it kicked faster than any other beer I’ve ever brewed (I did give quite a bit away because I wanted fellow beer geeks to try this new “style”). The only slight change I would make would be to dial back the IBUs very slightly, I think a noticeable amount of bitterness can slightly detract from this type of beer.

Brewing a Blazing World Clone…ish

I should start by saying this is not an exact clone. I tend to make tweaks to any recipe I find or want to try in some attempt of making the beer my own. Not to say that my changes are improvements over the original. I can’t imagine that being the case, especially for this recipe since Modern Times make such amazing beer.  They are also cool enough to put their recipes out there on a BeerSmith page free to anyone who wants to try to brew them.

Last year I attempted to brew a couple of different Red IPA’s and I wasn’t happy how either of them turned out. I found them to be too sweet and that masked some of the hop presence. They both had some amount of crystal malt in them, something I’ve eliminated almost entirely in brewing hop forward styles. They weren’t terrible by any means, I simply wanted a more hop forward, malt restrained version of a Red IPA.

Not long before brewing this I came across the BeerSmith page linked above when I was trying to decide what to add to my list of beers to brew. A hoppy amber/red IPA seemed like a good choice for the winter.

So with a year more experience and knowledge under my belt I decided to tackle this style again and apply some brewing techniques I use for NE styles. That means using flaked oats in the grist, fermenting with LAIII and dry hopping on day 3 and 7. Otherwise I tried to follow the basic outline of the Blazing World recipe. I did decided to swap out the Simcoe for Equinox, I felt it would play well with the Nelson and Mosaic and I turned out to be right.

I was a little concerned prior to brewing this that the haze from a NE technique may take this beer murky with the relatively high SRM. Luckily that didn’t turn out to be the case. Although I would make a couple of small changes to this beer it turned out well, it’s certainly the best Red IPA / hoppy amber I’ve made thus far.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 Gallson, OG 1.062, FG 1.013, ABV 6.4%, IBU 75, SRM 13.2

Grain:

3.75 kg       2 Row                    69.2 %
0.75 kg       Munich                 13.8 %
0.63 kg      Oats, Flaked          11.5 %
0.20 kg      Acid Malt               3.7 %
0.06 kg     Midnight Wheat     1.1 %
0.04 kg     Carafa Special II    0.7 %

Hops:

7 g      Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min                17.8 IBUs
21 g    Equinox [15.00 %] – Boil 25 min              26.5 IBUs
64 g   Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Steep 15 min  23.1 IBUs
21 g    Mosaic [12.25 %] – Steep 15 min                   7.7 IBUs
28 g   Equinox CHILLER [15.00 %]                         0.0 IBUs
42 g   Mosaic CHILLER [12.25 %]                           0.0 IBUs
56 g   Equinox [15.00 %] – Dry Hop
56 g   Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Dry Hop
28 g   Mosaic [12.25 %] – Dry Hop

Extras:

1 Whirlfloc tablet          – Boil 10 min

1 tsp Yeast nutrient      – Boil 10 min

Yeast:

Wyeast London Ale III 1319

 

Brew day went as expected, hit my pre boil and OG which is always nice. 60 minute boil. Dry hopped on day 3 and 7, kegged on day 11.

OG 1.062

FG 1.011

ABV 6.7%

 

Appearance: Pours with a white head, 1/2″, which fades to a thin ring. Dark amber in colour.

Aroma: Moderate hop intensity, dank and tropical with some slight fruity notes.

Taste: Moderate to high intensity hops, as in the aroma, dank and tropical mostly with some fruit as well. Finishes clean with a firm bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Moderate mouth feel, light/medium carbonation.

Overall: I am still enjoying this beer, when I brew a red IPA again I would use a very similar recipe. I would likely just drop the Carafa entirely as I would like this to be a little lighter in colour. I would also drop the IBUs to around 55-60 to temper the firm bitterness this has. Otherwise I’m happy with how this turned out and I can recommend trying it yourself.

 

NEIPA with one of my favorite hops – Azacca

I think it’s pretty easy to tell I’m on a NE style kick lately based on my recent posts. I’m still determined to have some version on tap at all times. After my double IPA I wanted to bring things back to the IPA range and limit the hops to a couple of varieties. I really like being able to pick out specific hops in a hop forward style.

One of my absolute favorite hops is Azacca, it’s normally very punchy and known for its tropical character like mango and pineapple as well as some citrus notes with tangerine. Spice and pine is also mentioned in the descriptors but I tend not to get the latter when I’ve used Azacca in the past. Based on all this and the fact that I’ve never used this particular variety in an IPA I thought it was the perfect choice for the majority of the recipe.

Another variety I had on hand was Kohatu, it also has some tropical character and pine as well. This sounded like a perfect match for a juicy NEIPA with lots of tropical fruit flavors. The only downside to Kohatu is that in my experience it is a little mild compared to some of the really punchy hops out there. But I wasn’t planning on using a lot of it, it was merely being used to compliment but certainly not compete with the Azacca.

Unfortunately this was one of those brew days where I learned something from making a mistake. I think providing you learn from your mistakes, that brew day is not entirely a failure. When I opened the bag of Azacca (from a high quality source) I was surprised that the hop aroma wasn’t that punchy. Sure it smelled good but it was much more mild than what I remembered from this variety. I should have subbed in another hop at this point, I should have trusted my nose. Especially since the Kohatu is also known for being mild. But I really wanted to make a NEIPA with these varieties so I stubbornly moved on as planned.

As you can guess this turned out quite mild. There was nothing wrong with it per se, aside from how mild the aroma and flavor was compared to how much hops I used in the recipe. It was simply just ok. I let it go for a couple of weeks after kegging but I wasn’t really pouring it often because I wasn’t really enjoying it. This is where I decided to incorporate keg hops to breathe some life back into this NEIPA.

I had used keg hop additions on a regular basis for quite a while. But when I started brewing NE styles I found I no longer needed to use keg hop additions to get punchy hop character. The dry hop addition early on in primary allows for biotransformation of the hop oil compounds and the addition I use on day 7 also helps to really make those hop aromas and flavors more pronounced. This time however I decided to throw in three ounces into the keg as a last ditch effort to bring this NEIPA back from mediocrity.

I would have to say I was pleased with the results, within a few days the aroma and flavor had certainly become more intense. I’m not going to pretend this simple addition brought the beer from being mediocre to great. But it is more enjoyable now and I find myself pouring it more often so I think it was worth the easy fix.

Still the fact that this batch didn’t turn out as planned has me itching to brew something similar again soon to get my juicy hop fix. Otherwise I think with a good batch of Azacca or another great hop variety this recipe is solid.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.061, FG 1.014, ABV 6.2%, IBUs 48, SRM 3.8

Grain:

3.80 kg Pale Malt (2 Row)                71.2 %
1.30  kg Oats, Flaked                         24.3 %
0.24 kg Acid Malt                                4.5 %

Hops:

7.00 g Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min                   17.9 IBUs
42.00 g Azacca [8.40 %] – Boil 10 min                   15.5 IBUs
14.00 g Kohatu [6.40 %] – Boil 10 min                    3.9 IBUs
35.00 g Azacca [8.40 %] – Steep 15 min                  8.9 IBUs
28.00 g Azacca CHILLER [8.40 %]                           0.0 IBUs
14.00 g Kohatu [6.40 %] – Steep 15 min                  2.7 IBUs
14.00 g Kohatu CHILLER [6.40 %]                           0.0 IBUs
42.00 g Azacca [8.24 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
28.00 g Kohatu [6.50 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
49.00 g Azacca [8.24 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
14.00 g Kohatu [6.50 %] – Dry Hop Day 7

28 g   Azacca                  Keg Hop

28 g   Amarillo               Keg Hop

28 g   Southern Cross    Keg Hop

Extras:

1 tsp yeast nutrient Boil 10 min

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

Brew day went as expected hit mash temp of 150F, pre boil gravity was slightly high at 1.051, 60 minute boil. Chilled to 60F, pitched LAIII, max temp of 72F reached during course of fermentation. Dry hops added on Day 3 and 7, kegged on day 11.

OG 1.059

FG 1.012

ABV 6.2%

img_5470

Appearance: Pours with a white head, 1/4″ which fades to a thin ring within a few minutes. Light golden in color.

Aroma: Slight hop aroma, tropical, citrus.

Taste: Light hop flavor, some pineapple/mango as well as apricot. I believe the yeast vs hop flavors were close to being balanced which lead to more of a mix of flavors rather than the LAIII simply accentuating the character and making the Azacca more punchy.

Mouthfeel: Light to moderate, medium carbonation, finishing slightly dry.

Overall: I would say this turned out as mediocre. As mentioned earlier the hops just didn’t have the punch expected. My approach to brewing a NEIPA didn’t change so I have to believe it was the quality of the hops that made this difference. There wasn’t anything wrong with the flavor or aroma it simply lacked the punch I’m used to.

As a result I added 3oz of dry hops to the keg after a couple of weeks. This noticeably increased the hop aroma and even flavor. It had much more citrus, fruit and tropical character after this addition. This brought the beer from mediocre to good. Not great but I enjoyed it more after this hop addition. While I don’t plan to go back to keg hopping on a regular basis it is nice to know I can “save” a batch I’m not overly happy with using this method.

 

Update: Midnight Brett Clone

Last year I wrote about my attempt of brewing a clone of Allagash’s Midnight Brett. Read about it here if interested. It’s a dark ale fermented with their house strain of Brettanomyces.  At the time I was looking to turn the batch around quickly so I packaged mine in about a month after brewing. However Allagash’s technical lead recommended a 7-8 month fermentation prior to bottling. So I brewed a 10 gallon batch and left the additional 5 gallons in primary to ferment for a year. I had planned on bottling at the 7-8 month mark as recommended but things got busy and I thought the extra time couldn’t really hurt so I let it go.

Soon after bottling this beer I did a side by side with one of the few remaining bottles I had of the original batch I had bottled after about a month. I couldn’t believe how different they were. Both versions were enjoyable but the first batch had a much more mild Brett character, still displaying some roast character and over ripe fruit. The second version was very funky, lots of barn yard and leather notes. I do enjoy this batch but I think I prefer the first, if I brew this again I would likely split the difference and bottle after approximately 6 months. Tasting notes for version 2 below.

img_5399

Appearance: Pours with a light tan head, 1/4″ that recedes to a thin layer that persists. Very dark, essentially black in color.

Aroma: Lots of Brett barn yard funk with some leather notes. Mild roast and dark fruit.

Taste: Follows from the aroma, very funky with mostly barn yard and pronounced leather. Followed by slight roast and possibly some over ripe dark fruit. Not bitterness to speak of.

Mouthfeel: Hard to describe, silky, moderate to full. Moderate carbonation but seems to have micro bubbles.

Overall: Enjoyable and I’ll be interested to see how this ages and changes over the next couple of years. As I mentioned earlier, I would likely package at the 6 month point if I was to brew this again.

Brewing my annual Coffee Stout

A coffee stout is something I brew once a year in the winter, it’s a style I tend to crave when the weather gets cold. The version I brewed last year turned out well, you can read about it here if you’re interested. Last year I used some Starbucks coffee which worked fine but I made notes to use more this time around to really get a good punch of coffee character from the beer.

I’m lucky to live close to a very talented roaster, Jonnie Java and I’ve been spoiled to consistently grab great beans roasted within a couple of days. Being a coffee geek I really wanted to use freshly roasted beans this time around to see if it would make an impact on the beer. I can tell you it had a much larger influence on the beer than I expected. I used beans that had only been roasted for a day prior to using them in a cold brew and dry “bean” addition.

I had initially planned to ferment this with a German yeast strain, even though I don’t have much experience with them. The idea was to brew something along the lines of Ursa Minor by Rising Tide with a coffee twist to it. I was hoping that the German yeast strain would help accentuate some fruit character in the beer. But my LHBS couldn’t get the strain I wanted in a reasonable amount of time so I decided to go with my dependable LAIII. It exudes fruit character and esters so I was hoping this would get me in the ball park of what I was aiming for.

I kept my grain bill pretty consistent with my previous recipe. I did up the flaked oats hoping to add some mouth feel that I felt was lacking last time. I also added a 10 minute addition of Amarillo to try to help add some fruity hop flavor to compliment the LAIII.

I’ve always found a really good coffee bean can display many complexities like a really good beer. One of my favorite beans from Jonnie is Ethiopian Yergacheffe, it has some berry character, mild chocolate, slight citrus yet is still quite dark. But I was worried the roast from the stout would over shadow much of that delicious bean. So I decided to go with a Colombian bean which was full of dark chocolate character plus an Ethiopian Mokamba bean which has some milk chocolate and blueberry notes.

For my last coffee stout I added beans to the mash and then a cold bean and dry “bean” addition. But I wondered if the mash addition had much, if any, influence on the beer at all. Not to mention using beans in the mash can potentially lead to some harsh bitterness, though I haven’t had that experience so far. So as mentioned earlier I went with a cold brew coffee and dry bean addition.

This turned out fairly well, but I seriously underestimated the impact of using very fresh beans. The initial pulls from the tap were all coffee. Like cold brewed carbonated coffee. Now this may sound great to any of you that love coffee as much as I do. But the coffee flavor completely overshadowed any of the actual beer character. The fruit character I was hoping LAIII would help add? Completely unrecognizable in this coffee bomb. Not to say the flavor isn’t good, I do enjoy it, and still am. But this is far too much coffee character even for a coffee stout lover like myself. I would cut my coffee additions by 50% next time around but I would still use freshly roasted beans.

Brew day went as expected. Mashed in with 15L of 166F water to hit mash temp of 154F, mashed out with 9L of 196F water. Drained the mash tun completely and then batch sparged with 8.4L of 165F water. Pre boil gravity 1.051, a few points low. 60 minute boil, chilled to 60F and pitched LAIII.

 

OG 1.063

FG 1.024

ABV 5.1%

 

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.067, FG 1.019, ABV 5.8%, IBUs 45, SRM 56

Grain:

4.00 kg Maris Otter                                        68.1 %
0.40 kg Chocolate Wheat Malt                       6.8 %
0.40 kg Roasted Barley                                    6.8 %
0.30 kg Crystal Malt-120L                              5.1 %
0.30 kg Oats, Flaked                                         5.1 %
0.20 kg Midnight Wheat Malt                        3.4 %
0.15 kg Carafa Special II                                  2.6 %
0.12 kg Acid Malt                                              2.0 %

Hops:

14 g Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min       34.2 IBUs

28 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 10 min     10.9 IBUs

Extras:

1 tsp Yeast nutrient

1 Whirlfloc tablet

5 oz cold brew coffee @ kegging Day 21

1.5 oz dry bean @ kegging Day 21

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

jts-2

Appearance: Pours with a light brown head, 1″ which fades to a thin layer within minutes. Pitch black in color.

Aroma: Intense coffee, dark chocolate, some slight roast and dark fruit (I’m reaching here to get past that bracing coffee aroma).

Taste: Intense coffee. It actually tastes like carbed cold brewed coffee. Some dark chocolate notes, slight roast and possibly dark caramel.

Mouthfeel: Moderate, light to medium carbonation.

Overall: This does taste pretty good and I am a huge dark roast coffee lover. The darker the better usually. I love making a cup of intensely flavored coffee using my Bialetti or Aeropress. So you would think I would love the extremely high level of coffee character in this beer. Here’s the problem, a good coffee stout should have a balance of coffee to roasted grain character. This beer is all coffee, two months later and it has finally faded enough to be able to pick up on slight flavors from the grain bill. The hope I had of adding some fruit character from the Amarillo addition and use of LAIII were dashed overwhelmingly by excessive coffee additions. When I brew this again next year I will be cutting the coffee additions by half and increasing the ABV to ~7% in hopes I will get a more “balanced” coffee stout. I’m sure I could use a neutral yeast like US05 as well.

 

Brewing a NEBIPA

For the last couple of years in early December I’ve brewed a black IPA, it’s a style I like to have on tap around Christmas. So, not wanting to break from tradition that’s what I did again this year.

Yes I know. NEBIPA isn’t a “thing”. But I felt it was at least some what appropriate considering how I decided to brew this. Lately I’ve been brewing NE styles almost exclusively. So I thought I’d try something different and apply some of those techniques towards a black IPA.

Even though this is my third “annual” Black IPA, I have brewed a few of them prior as well. Usually I try to have a present but restrained roast profile with citrusy hops and light to moderate bitterness. But I rarely brew the same beer twice, I always want to modify a recipe in some way. Last year I kept nearly everything identical from the year before, but I fermented the beer with a Brett strain and it turned out pretty well. I have no comparison for a Brett Black IPA but I enjoyed it.

As I already mentioned I have been brewing mainly NE styles lately so I wondered how a Black IPA would turn out if I applied some of those techniques. I decided to keep my previous grist fairly consistent except I substituted some of the base malt for flaked oats. I used my go to LAIII and kept my dry hopping schedule of approximately day 3 and day 7.

I was a little concerned prior to brewing that this would look like black mud in a glass due to the haze from a NE style. This did turn out hazy but it was surprisingly not murky which I’ve read can easily happen when your SRM gets too high using the techniques listed above.

I have found that a Black IPA can be a little fickle to brew, or at least for it turn out as you want it to. I like a little more bitterness than my usual hop forward styles and trying to balance the right amount of roast to hop character can be an issue. This beer did turn out pretty well, it was a bit more fruity than citrusy but still quite tasty. This could be in part from the choice of LAIII.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.060, FG 1.014, ABV 6.1%, IBUs 72, SRM 31

Grain:

3.50 kg Pale Malt                                    69.8 %
0.80 kg Oats, Flaked                               15.9 %
0.26 kg Carafa II                                       5.2 %
0.16 kg Wheat Malt, Midnight               3.1 %
0.10 kg Crystal Malt -120L                     2.1 %
0.10 kg Acidulated                                   2.0 %
0.10 kg Carafoam                                     2.0 %

Hops:

10.00 g Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min                      25.7 IBUs
35.00 g Chinook [12.40 %] – Boil 10 min                    19.3 IBUs
28.00 g (CTZ) [10.90 %] – Steep 15 min                       9.3 IBUs                   28.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Steep 15 min                7.7 IBUs
28.00 g Chinook [12.40 %] – Steep 15 min                 10.6 IBUs
28.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Chiller                          0.0 IBUs
28.00 g (CTZ) [10.9%] – Chiller                                     0.0 IBUs
28.00 g Chinook [12.40 %] – Chiller                              0.0 IBUs
56.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop *
56.00 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Dry Hop  *
56.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop *

* Dry hop additions were split. Half on day 3, the other half on day 7

Extras:

1 tsp yeast nutrient

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

 

Brew day went as expected. Mashed in with 13L of 162F water to hit mash temp of 150F for 50 minutes. Mashed out with 7L of 204F water. Drained mash tun and batch sparged with 11L of 165F water. Pre boil gravity a little high at 1.055. 60 minute boil.

OG 1.062

FG 1.012

ABV 6.6%

img_5319

Appearance: Pours with a tan head, 1/2″ which fades to a thin layer. Deep black in color.

Aroma: Hop aroma in light to moderate intensity, fruit and citrus. Followed by slight roast.

Taste: Moderate amount of fruity hops, slight citrus as well. Followed by light roast and some very slight coffee and chocolate notes. Light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Moderate mouth feel, medium carbonation. Finishes quite dry.

Overall: I’m quite happy with how this turned out. I ended up with more fruit character than I expected and less citrus which I prefer in a Black IPA. This could be partially due to the choice of LAIII. I like the level of roast, its present without being overbearing. I’ll likely tweak this again next year when I brew it prior to Christmas but I feel like this is getting dialed in to my preferences.