I’ve fallen way behind in my label making and posting, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking in the brewing department! Several beers have come and gone that haven’t gotten their own individual write ups. Here’s the short list:
Amandrew’s Holiday Saison – Amanda and I came up with the recipe together for this one. Saisons are one of Amanda’s favorite beer styles and when we sat down to write the recipe for this one we decided right away that it should be a saison. It was a spicy, warming ale and brewed with rye and made you feel as cozy as sitting next to the fireplace looking out the window watching the snow fall.
Boo’s Porter – A very straightforward Robust Porter that had a rich chocolate, roasted body and turned out very delicious!
Black Bohemian Kolsch (BBK) – I wanted a beer that looked like a stout or porter but drank like a pilsner. A beer to usher in spring. This beer recently received an Honorable Mention in the specialty beer category at the 17th anual Amber Waves of Grain Homebrew Competition in New York! One of the judges comments in the overall impression section said it was, “strangely delicious.” That is the perfect way to describe this beer! It looks dark, but held up to the light is brilliantly clear. Has a soft malty nose, prickles the tongue and tastes like what you’d imagine a black pilsner would taste like. I’m definitely going to re-brew this one again soon. It was drunk way too fast and was the beer most people gravitated towards when they came over.
Snow Day IPA – A revisit to my Rainy Day IPA idea. This time around I wanted something simpler, hoppier and more citrusy. The grain bill was 2-row just a little bit of chocolate malt. It has an intensely rocky head that I haven’t seen before. Almost cone-shaped. I used Citra and Galaxy hops and the final product was pretty close to what I was going for. A sessionable IPA that was super easy and enjoyable to drink. The only change I would make would cut back on the bittering additions and increase some of the later additions to bring out the hop flavor a little bit more.
Red Velvet – This is on tap right now. What I really wanted for this one was to brew something that better represented the name, something that was red and had a full body and fluffy head. In order to accomplish that, I brewed this one with oats, wheat and rye. These add a graininess to the beer that is delicious and the mouthfeel is very full and pleasant.
Hop Monster IIPA – This is the biggest/craziest beer I’ve ever brewed. It has a pound of hops in it (6oz in the dry hop) and Beersmith’s estimated IBUs were 250!!! It’s conditioning right now, and the ABV is 8.5%. More to come.
Love Potion – I rebrewed this on Saturday and will keep brewing it until I have enough to host Amanda and my bachelor/bachelorette party at the end of June! So much Saison!!!
That pretty much brings us up to date.
This shout out is long overdue. Better late than never I guess. This shout out goes to Amanda, the love of my life! It’s a custom made neon sign she had made and gave me for Christmas!!! The plastic and laser-cut pieces were designed and made by our good friend Marcela and the neon sign part was made by a friend of hers. It’s proudly hanging above the bar and is the crown jewel of our apartment. It’s so bright it’s pretty hard to take a picture of. It looks amazing and brightens the whole apartment! Thanks Amanda and Marcela! It was worth all of the hard work and headaches
ABV: 5.2% IBU: 70 SRM: 30
This beer was based on the Shakespeare Stout recipe from The Brewing Network’s re-brew episode. However, when I brewed it I wanted it to be hoppier, which in the end was perhaps a misguided decision. Their recipe calls for 2 oz of Cascade at 60 mins and 1 oz at flameout. I added an additional ounce to each addition and it turned out a little on the hoppy side. Almost, but not quite, a black pale ale. There was still enough roasted notes to keep it balanced. Next time I brew it I’ll definitely scale back on the hops and increase the body to let the stoutiness of it really come through and be the focus of this beer. As for the beer itself, it came out as a medium bodied sessionable beer and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was super dark with a tan head, citrus aroma and flavor but finished relatively dry and somewhat roasty.
ABV: 3.7% IBU: 76 SRM: 15
I brewed this beer as part of the NYC Homebrewers Guild’s club only session ale competition. It could be any style of beer, as long as it was less than 4.5% ABV. I brewed this the day before hurricane Sandy made landfall. I was nervous the power or water would go out before it was finished, but thankfully everything went smoothly. (We did end up losing power and water the next day however.) The beer came out great! And, has inspired me to work on a session IPA line up. What I love most about session ales, and session IPAs in particular, is that they’re ready to drink very quickly. This beer went from grain to glass in three weeks, and not much changed over the course of finishing the keg. The other thing that I love about this session IPA concept is that typically, IPAs are better when they’re fresh. I used to stray away from session beers and tended to gravitate towards the bigger ABV stuff, but recently I’ve been much more drawn to session beers, mostly for their drinkability. The drinkability aspect (and Sandy) inspired the name. I wanted a beer that you could drink all day without being completely exhausted by, what you’d drink on a rainy day, at home, with nothing better to do. I love the challenge of brewing this type of beer. The real trick is having enough body and flavor so it doesn’t feel like you’re drinking a session ale, and making something that’s hop-forward helps get that point across. This one came out with a really nice dark amber/reddish hue with a subtle floral aroma. The caramel flavors definitely came through and added to the body of it. It was pretty chewy for being 3.7%. But, the most prominent flavor was the citrus – mainly lime and a little bit of orange as well. Overall, I think I accomplished what I set out to do with this one. In fact I have my second session IPA conditioning right now (Snow Day IPA). Looking forward to that one!
Punk’n Ale ABV: 5.1% IBU: 35 SRM: 12
My second pie beer for Thanksgiving was my Punk’n Ale. This year I experimented with some different ingredients and set out to improve last year’s recipe. This year I decided to use 6 lbs of roasted-candied yams in the mash. (I saved the syrup for the end of the boil. This sugar would be used to dry out the beer and prevent it from being too syrupy). It proved to be a pretty sticky addition to the mash. Even with 1 lbs of rice hulls, the sparge stuck twice. In addition to the yams, I also made this version hoppier and adjusted my spice additions at the end. This year’s Punk’n Ale turned out great! I wanted this beer to be a good beer first and have the yams and spices be a pronounced yet subtle undertone. My biggest problem with most pumpkin ales is that they’re too sweet and thick and the spice additions are usually too heavy handed. You can’t drink a lot of them. I wanted this one to be lighter and easy to drink. The color of this beer looked like a shiny new penny, bright copper color with a foamy white head. It smelled like most other pumpkin beers with the pumpkin spice, nutmeg and cinnamon being at the forefront. It was a full-bodied beer with several layers that became apparent as you swallowed. Overall, I really like what the yams brought to the beer, something that made it unique. And, the balance between the spices, sweetness and bitterness overall was spot on. Until next year.
ABV: 7% IBU: 26.9 SRM: 28
For Thanksgiving this year, I brewed two “pie” beers, Pumpkin and Pecan. The idea was to have a sessionable Punk’n Ale to drink while we made food, hung out and ate, and this beer would serve more as a dessert beer, heavier and sweeter. I made this one first since it needed to age a bit longer because of the higher alcohol content and to give the pecan/bourbon tincture time to mellow out. The beer is a straightforward brown ale and even without the bourbon addition is one of my new favorites! I toasted a pound of pecans @350F, tossing them every ten minutes or so to avoid burning them, and took them out after about 30mins and let them dry out in a paper bag overnight. I read somewhere that doing this would help remove some of the oil from nuts. I was concerned about the oils hurting the head retention. To compensate for that I also added some wheat to the recipe. After the pecans dried out I put them in the food processor and made a sort of meal out of them to increase the surface area. Then, I soaked them for two weeks in a liter of Makers Mark and shook the growler every time I walked past it. At kegging, I strained the pecans and added the bourbon tincture. The pecans absorbed about half of the total amount of bourbon, which was more than I expected. We candied the pecans as a snack and they were delicious! You definitely get the pecans and a little bit of bourbon in the aroma (more as it warms up). I was expecting a little bit more bourbon, but the pecans are at the forefront. It’s a deep brown ale with a tan head, and I’m pleased to report that the head retention is just fine:) It’s rich, sweet, nutty, a little roasty, full-bodied, and very clean. It tastes like a pecan pie, and that’s exactly what I was going for. I still have half a keg of this one. I took it out of rotation to give it some more time to age and to really savor it. With the bourbon and pecans it’s easily my most expensive/elaborate batch to date, but the final product is was well worth it!
ABV: 5.8% IBU: 44 SRM: 16
I’ve been wanting to experiment with doing a tea-infused beer for a long time now, and I chose Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice to be the tea added to this pretty basic amber ale. I wanted to brew something that would make a nice fall beer, and this tea fit the bill perfectly. The list of ingredients include orange peel, hibiscus, roasted chicory, rosehips, blackberry leaves, chamomile, hawthorn, cinnamon, cloves and coriander. I added ten tea bags at flameout and steeped them for 4 mins. The result was a well balanced, hop forward amber ale that invoked the spirit of the fall with every sip. The appearance was amber with a slight orange tint with an off-white head. The aroma was fruity and slightly citrusy. If I brew this again, I’d probably dry hop it a little bit, but the aroma was definitely a good indicator of what to expect upon tasting. As you tasted this beer, it started off fairly bitter with a medium body, full mouth feel and finished sweet, fruity and fairly dry. The tea came through on the back end but was perfectly balanced with the flavors of beer itself. When I tasted the first couple of pints, I was worried that it you’d be able to taste the beer and tea separately, but over the course of a few days even, the flavors melded together to the point where the two were indistinguishable. Overall this was the perfect beer to usher in the fall. It was earthy, fruity, citrusy, inviting and warm. It gave you the feeling like you were watching the leaves turn. As an experiment it was a huge success and I look forward to playing around with different tea flavors in the future. I believe adding tea to beer makes a lot of sense! Tea bags are a pre-measured amount of spices that make an unique and interesting addition and there are an infinite number of different flavors to experiment with.
ABV: 4.8% IBU: 21 SRM: 25
The original idea for this beer was to have a very German beer to be ready for Octoberfest. It was a fun one to brew and really interesting style to try. I don’t know how it compares to any commercial examples, because for the life of me I couldn’t find any commercial examples to compare it to. The recipe I used was from Jamil’s “Brewing Classic Styles” and I think it turned out pretty good. Brewday went pretty smoothly. I was really worried about getting a stuck mash because 50% of the grain bill was rye, but everything went according to plan. Fermentation, however, was the messiest one I’ve ever had. I pitched the Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen strain and for three days straight it overflowed the jug of water the blowoff hose sits in, which has never happened before. But, it was my own fault for leaving enough head space. (Wyeast suggests at least 33% head space) The final product was a viscous, opaque, rye ale that tasted like banana bread with an off white head that lasted for days and laced all the way down the glass.
The aroma was slightly banana-y but not overwhelming. I’m not a huge fan of banana flavor or aroma in beer, but it was mild enough in this to be quite enjoyable, and it balanced really well with the rye. The viscous quality gave it an interesting mouth feel, somewhat sticky and VERY full but finished surprisingly dry. I decided to over-carb it just a bit to lighten it up a little and the outcome gave it an almost nitrous quality. I might brew this again down the road. If I do, my main focus will be to thin out the body. It’s a unique style that not very many people have tried, and I’m glad I was able to share it with several people who were eager to try it.
ABV: 7.7% IBU: 120 SRM: 33.6
I came across the grain bill for this recipe while listening to an episode of The Jamil Show. They were talking with the President of Unita Brewing, Will Hamill, about their Dubhe Imperial Black IPA. That previous weekend I had the Dubhe for the first time at Googa Mooga, which was an awesome food and beverage festival in Park Slope. I’d been wanting to brew a big black IPA, and as soon as I tasted that one, which was the best example I’d come across, I knew that that’s what I wanted to shoot for, and then I found that podcast. Due to ingredient availability at my LHBS I had to stray from Unita’s hop schedule quite substantially, but tasting the two side by side I wouldn’t call mine a clone, but it’s pretty darn close. The brew day went pretty smooth except I oversparged which hurt my efficiency, but it still came out pretty potent at 7.7%. It pours super dark with a dark brown head. The aroma is strong tropical fruit, citrus, and grapefruit notes. (I dry-hopped it with 3oz of Falconers Flight!) I really love the aroma of this beer! The flavor is very full with citrus and grapefruit notes from the hops that balance nicely with the strong roasted notes that last into the aftertaste. Overall, this is one of my favorite beers I’ve ever made. I love big hoppy beers, and this one certainly fits that bill.
About a month and a half ago, my friend Teddi asked if I would be interested in serving some of my beer at her upcoming art show. I told her I would be honored and donated a 5 gallon batch to the cause. I wanted to brew something with mass appeal, but also something new and different, and something that I would want to drink. I ended up brewing a Red RyePA called Hoppy Longstocking, and I was thrilled with how it came out! It was a really nice clear copper color, with a off-white, fluffy head. You could definitely smell the rye as well as the Galaxy hops. Full mouth feel. Strong malt/rye character upfront, but pretty bitter (95.6 IBUs) on the way down and into the aftertaste. It was well rounded, balanced, super smooth and easy to drink. The event started at 7PM and the beer lasted until about 9PM, which was perfect considering the beer and wine lasted about the same amount of time and we made it to the end of the show. There were probably over 200 people at the event and everyone who tried it seemed to enjoy the beer. This was my first experience serving my beer to “the public” and it went better than I could have possibly imagined. In general, everyone was very excited to learn it was homebrew and I had several great conversations about it. It was so much fun! On top of it all, yesterday was National IPA Day so it was a perfect occasion to serve this particular beer. I only wished the beer would have lasted longer I handed out a few cards and told people that I was interested in doing more events and things like this in the future. We’ll see if anything happens with that. It was a huge success, not only for me, but for Teddi and Raquel, the artists, as well. I overheard a couple of art deals go down, which was also super exciting! Congrats to Teddi and Raquel, and thanks for letting me be a part of this event!