Friday, July 23, 2010

Introducing the 2010 Oil Spill Series

Been a while since I did some labels, but I had some fun whipping up these up on Photoshop for my summer beers...

Top Kill Triple
Blowout Blonde
Oil Sheen Saison
Everything's Peachy Keen
Barrels of Bullsh*t

Beer Updates

Don't have my detailed tasting notes with me right now, but I'm really happy with the Saison, Belgian Blonde and Berry Wheat. The Belgian Triple is very strong and not really to style, but tastes pretty good.

I've only opened one 12 oz. of the Peach/Mango Wheat and it was WAY over carbonated. Ended up with only 1/3 of the beer after all the foaming and quick pour into a glass. Flavor-wise it didn't taste infected or anything, but I think the problem stems from the filtering problems during siphoning/bottling and maybe too much residual sugar left in the fruit. The Berry Wheat on the other hand (bottled with same amount of sugar) has a really nice carbonation level. More reports to come as I open more bottles.

Here are photos of the Belgian Blonde and Saison - both very tasty!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eastern Oregon

A few photos from a 4th of July weekend road trip to Eastern Oregon....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dreams of kegging......

Just finished up a bottle marathon of four batches over 3 days......four batches, nearly 20 gallons of finished product - I will keg someday, I will keg someday, I will keg someday, I will keg someday :)

A few photos of the fruit beers pre-bottling and over the samples. Huge color difference obviously from the fruit treatments. All the pulp and fruit mush gave me some trouble during bottling/siphoning, esp. all the pulpy mango and peach. They both smell and taste great - in three weeks I'll know for sure!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fruit Treatments

June 15, 2010

Split my wheat beer into my 3-gallon carboys (gravity was 1.011 at transfer) and added two different fruit treatments. Both were a mix of fresh and store-bought frozen fruit. The fresh fruit was cleaned, frozen and then thawed for blending.

Mango/Peach Blend
  • passionfruit not in season, so went with peach and mango
  • 2 big, fresh mangos (green skin)
  • 4 small, fresh mangos (yellow skin)
  • 2 fresh peaches
  • 1 lb. frozen peaches
  • blend resulted in ~ 4.75 cups fruit puree

Berry Blend
  • 1 qt. fresh raspberries
  • 1 qt. fresh blueberries
  • 1 qt. fresh blackberries
  • 1 lb. frozen wild berry blend mix
  • blend resulted in ~ 4 cups of fruit puree

Friday, June 11, 2010

Batch No. 24 - American Wheat w/ Fruit

American Wheat Ale

Inspired by a recent issue of Zymurgy, the plan here is to brew an american wheat, split in half and treat each 2.5 gallons with a different fruits in the secondary. Current idea is to treat one half with a mixture of passionfruit and mangos, with the second half getting a mixture of berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries).

Brewed - June 6, 2010
Style - American Wheat
Source - Zymurgy / NHB

June 15, 2010 - Fruit Treatments

  • 6.0 lbs. Wheat LME
  • 1.0 lbs. Bavarian Wheat DME
  • 1.0 lbs. German Munich Malt (partial mash)
  • 0.7 lbs. Flaked Wheat (partial mash)
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood (60)
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood (30)
  • 1.0 tsp. Irish Moss (15)
  • 0.5 oz. Cascade (10)
  • 0.5 oz. Cascade (KO)
  • Wyeast #1056 American Ale (2 packs)

OG – 1.056
Primary - 8 days
Secondary - TBD

Bottled - TBD

Attenuation - TBD


  • Partial Mash 2 gals @ 150 for 60 mins; sparge 2 quarts 170 water
  • 750 ml starter
  • used two packs of old 1056 yeast (maybe in my fridge for ~ 11 months?)
  • net 2 gallons from sparge
  • will split this batch in half and treat each with different fruits
  • I was concerned about the yeast and slow start, but this was down to 1.011 at transfer
  • Fruit blends added 6/15/10

Starter made in a growler now since I smashed my big beaker

Batch No. 23 - Summer Saison

Summer Saison

I love saisons, so wanted to do a nice, light, sessionable version for the summer.

Brewed - May 29, 2010

Style - Saison
Source - NHB / NHB

  • 3.15 lbs. Pilsen LME
  • 1.0 lbs. Pilsen DME
  • 1.0 lbs. Bavarian Wheat DME
  • 0.3 lb. Flaked Wheat (partial mash)
  • 0.5 lbs. Belgian Caravienne (partial mash)
  • 1.0 oz. Kent Golding (60)
  • 1.0 tsp Irish Moss (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Styrian Goldings (10)
  • 0.25 oz. Saaz (10)
  • 0.75 oz. Saaz (KO)
  • Wyeast #3711 French Saison

OG – 1.046
Primary - TBD
Secondary - TBD

Bottled - TBD

Attenuation - TBD

  • Partial Mash 2 gals @ 150 for 60 mins; sparge w/ 2 quarts 170 water
  • 750 ml starter
  • Target fermentation temp in the low 80’s
  • Net from sparge ~ 2 gallons
  • 1.006 gravity at transfer

Batch No. 22 - Belgian Blonde

Belgian Blonde

Brewed - May 21, 2010

Style - Belgian Blonde
Source - various sites / NHB

  • 4.0 lbs. Pilsner Light DME
  • 1.0 lbs. German Munich (partial mash)
  • 0.5 lbs. Flaked Oats (partial mash)
  • 0.5 lbs. Caramel Pils (partial mash)
  • 1.0 lbs. Belgian Pils (partial mash)
  • 1.0 oz. German Hallertau (60)
  • 1.0 tsp Irish Moss (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Saaz (5)
  • Wyeast #3522 Belgian Ardennes

OG - 1.050
Primary – 8 days
Secondary - TBD

Bottled - TBD

Attenuation - TBD

  • Partial Mash 2 gals @ 150 for 60 mins; sparge w/ 3 quarts 170 water
  • Net from sparge ~ 2 gallons
  • 750 ml starter
  • Target fermentation temp in the mid-70’s
  • 1.013 gravity at transfer

Tasting Notes - Brett Beers

Tasting notes of both brett beers side by side with the regular versions on May 19, 2010:

1. Rêve de Wallonia
  • clear dark orange with good pop upon opening
  • steady carbonation and thin egg white head lingering
  • fizzy green apples with a sharp lemon peel and musky grains
  • pale malt, stale lemons
  • texture is thin and silky with a mild leathery or thin syrupy feel
  • stale lemons and malt; mild earthy tones and slightly “dirty”
  • anything but popping with freshness
  • stale fruits, caramel and light orange
  • very interesting side by side with the brett version
  • quite dry with stale fruits in the finish
  • husky and earthy with stale lemons

2. Rêve de Wallonia w/ Brett
  • quick carbonation that would have gushed over if I didn’t pour into a glass
  • same dark orange appearance with more spotty head that fades quickly once out of the bottle
  • slight yellowish hue to it
  • obvious pineapple brett, leather and zesty lemons
  • more fruity notes here and zesty spice as opposed to the more husky and musky notes of the regular version
  • lots more bitterness too which is kind of surprising
  • orange peels with slight sour zing and silky, leathery texture
  • really like the nose but quite bitter to me
  • texture is thin with sticky dry finish
  • much of the husky-ness is gone and certainly tastes a little cleaner and drier

3. Saison de Deux Médecine
  • mild gusher as expected
  • light gold with soapy white head fading slowly; steady bubbles
  • lemons, pepper, dried yarrow, a little ginger
  • fresh, floral nose
  • mildly medicinal flavors from the yarrow
  • light, lemony texture
  • light and dry with very clean mouthfeel
  • much crisper and cleaner than the Wallonia
  • much more of what I expected going in too
  • get the ginger with nice floral and dried flowers
  • quite nice overall and very happy with this except for that fact that as I only bottled ~ 2 gallons of finished product, it’s almost all gone!!
  • would like it to be a little more complex or yeasty though
  • aside from the carbonation, I’m very happy with this batch

4. Saison de Deux Médecine w/ Brett
  • slight hiss upon opening with slight white head fading quickly
  • more vibrant gold in color with next to no bubbles
  • pineapple brett, lemons and ginger on the nose
  • very clean again with little to none of the bitterness found in the Wallonia w/ brett
  • crisp, light fruits and most of the medicinal qualities gone away
  • less of a leathery texture than expected
  • beer is very clean to begin with, so I think that helps the brett shine more and pop with freshness and fruity flavors
  • dried flowers, oranges and ginger – yummy!!!

Batch No. 21 - Belgian Tripel

Belgian Tripel

Brewed - April 25, 2010

Style - Belgian Tripel
Source - various sites / NHB

  • 4.0 lbs. Golden Light DME
  • 3.0 lbs. Wheat DME
  • 2.0 lbs. Pilsner DME
  • 1.0 lbs. Pale Malt (partial mash)
  • 1.0 lbs. Belgian Biscuit (partial mash)
  • 1.0 lbs. Belgian Aromatic (partial mash)
  • 0.5 lbs. Belgian Caramel Pils (partial mash)
  • 0.5 lbs. Flaked Oats (partial mash)
  • 1.0 lbs. Belgian Pils (partial mash)
  • 1.0 oz. German Hallertau (60)
  • 1.0 lbs. Candi sugar (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Sterling (15)
  • 1.0 tsp. Irish Moss (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Saaz (5)
  • 1.0 oz. Saaz (KO)
  • 1 Valencia Orange peel zest (KO)
  • Wyeast #3522 Belgian Ardennes

OG – 1.102
Primary – 14 days
Secondary - TBD

Bottled - TBD

Attenuation - TBD

  • Partial mash in 2 gallons of 155 water; sparge with 3 quarts of 170 water
  • Candi sugar was clear, rock chunks
  • 5 min. Saaz addition was a package of old hops unopened in the freezer
  • 750 ml stater used (now a normal procedure for regardless of target OG)
  • Target OG was more in the 1.090 range but I never took into account all the grains and 2 gals. Net from the partial mash, which obviously has a significant OG of its own before the batch is topped off to 5.5 gals for the main boil
  • Need to start using software at some point to really understand the partial mash impact on a recipe
  • 1.024 gravity at transfer

Bottling of brett beers

Date - April 4, 2010

Bottled both brett beers today in part b/c I was thinking of entering them into the Puget Sound Pro-Am and needed some carbonation if I wanted to do so. Because the brett takes hold of anything plastic or porous, I used old equipment here and it will be set aside for future brett beers only. It was kind of time to replace some stuff anyways, so I purchased new hoses, siphons, bottling wand, etc. for all regular beers.

Nothing else really different here compared to other bottlings, but I was concerned about carbonation and possible bottle bombs w/ the brett. For a few weeks, I put the bottles in a big plastic bin and then left in my shower during the day to contain any possible mess.

1. Saison de Deux Médecine w/ Brett
  • 1.006 at bottling ~ 6.55% ABV and 89.3% attenuation
  • the brett took it from 1.014 to 1.006 FG and 75% to 89.3% attenuation
  • last time I used ~ ½ cup of sugar for just over 2 gallons of end product and it turned out quite over-carbonated; so ¼ cup per gallon is a little high
  • so this time I used closer ~ 1/5 cup of sugar per gallon (slightly under ½ cup total) and the end product (based on bottle filling) was 2.25 gallons
  • carbonation still seems like kind of a crap shoot to me though and is something I need to try to understand better in terms of volume of CO2, etc. that you want for certain styles and how to achieve that based on sugar and OG/FG

2. Rêve de Wallonia w/ Brett
  • 1.008 FG at bottling ~ 8.7% ABV and 89.2% attenuation
  • the brett to it from 1.010 to 1.008 FG and 86.5% to 89.2% attenuation
  • less impact of the brett (in terms of numbers) in this beer
  • same approximate sugar amounts used here

First sample - Saison de Deux Médecine w/ Brett

February 17, 2010 - After 143 in the secondary, I pulled my first sample the Saison de Deux Médecine w/ Brett and did a side by side with the a bottle of the regular version. Honestly, I was just excited that it wasn't disgusting!! The surface of the beer in the carboy has a spotty light white, almost puss looking foam on top, but tasted great. Still a way off from bottling though.

1. Saison de Deux Médecine w/ Brett
  • Pulled sample, so no carbonation
  • Clear light gold w/ fruity brett and zing on the nose
  • Yarrow seems covered up a bit
  • Dry with mild sweetness and sticky mouthfeel
  • Zing with leathery brett and mild fruit

2. Saison de Deux Médecine
  • Over-carbonated like the other bottles
  • Slight haze and dull yellow
  • Lemony yarrow with ginger and citrus flavors
  • Chalky and smooth
  • Lots of ginger in this bottle

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Batch No. 20 - All-Grain Smoked Baltic Porter

Smoked Baltic Porter

Brewed - February 6, 2010

Style - Baltic Porter

For quite a long while, I’ve wanted to brew a really big (~ 10%), possibly smokey, baltic porter. Traditionally, a baltic porter is brewed with lager yeast and accordingly lagered (cold fermented) for a period of time. I don't really have the means to brew and condition a lager, so this was an obvious choice to brew on Colin's all-grain system.

While I've always loved porters and more recently baltic versions (Smuttynose Baltic Porter is one of my favs), I'm more of a newcomer to smoked beers. And true be told though that I'm not quite there yet in terms of enjoying the traditional and extremely smoky examples like Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen. But I do enjoy smoked lagers and the wide variety of porters/stouts that use wither smoked or peat malt to add a layer of complexity.

For this beer, my inspiration came from Thisted Limfjords Porter/Double Brown Stout, which has a nice, subtle smokey character.

I found some recipes online and after some back and forth with Colin's help, we came up with a good looking recipe. I don't have exact notes from the brewday, but here's a rough recipe:

  • 50% - Pale Malt / 2 row
  • 30% - Cherrywood Smoked Malt
  • 15% - Munich Malt
  • 2.5% - Carafa II
  • 2.5% - Special B
  • 2.5% - British Chocolate
  • Hops: Hallertauer ~ 30 IBU's
  • Yeast: Wyeast #2206 Bavarian Lager
  • Mash @ 150° for 60 mins
  • Pitch @ 48°
  • Lager/Ferment @ 50° in Colin's fridge

One of the exciting things about this beer was that the Cherrywood Smoked Malt was a relatively new malt available to homebrewers. Since there wasn't much info to go on in terms of intensity and flavor, one thought we had prior to brewing was to brew two beers - a strong baltic porter and a rauchbeer - and then blend together accordingly. But in the end we bailed on that idea with concerns of the the depth of the smoke flavor and thinning of the body.

Anywho, it was a successful brewday and great learning experience going through the whole process of grinding up the grains, mashing, etc. We had some much grain (maybe 28 lbs. or so if I remember right?) that the mash tun was basically filled to the brim! Original gravity was in the neighborhood of 1.150.

Post brewday updates........

Primary fermentation went pretty much according to plan and samples has a big does of sweet smoke, texture was thinner than expected and color was also a little light (dark, cola brown). For the extended lagering, the beer was transferred into corny kegs for storage in the fridge. This where we ran into some trouble. Somewhere along the line (probably in the transfer or the corny kegs themselves), the beer picked up a little infection. Over a few weeks, the infection bugs took over effectively ruining the beer!!

Now I've never had on infected beer, so I can clearly dump this all on Colin!! LOL, just kidding. Crap happens and while definitely a bummer that 10 gallons went down the drain, there is still some cherrywood smoke malt left and we will give it another go

Turns out too that this was the last batch I worked on at Beacon Hill Brewing, but looking forward to brewing a few times with Colin this summer at his new set up in Brier.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Old Tasting Notes #4

Old tastings notes from January 9, 2010 - look, I just made it to 2010!!

Rêve de Wallonia
  • clear light copper with huge 3” eggy white head
  • musky, floral nose with fruit, lemons and a yeasty bite to it
  • drinks smooth with a raw earthy, lemony tone to it
  • creamy mouthfeel with nice, dry spice in the finish
  • lots of yeasty texture this time and husky flavors and very dry finish
  • raw lemons and sugary
  • much drier than I remember and more fruity too

Heavy Things
  • clear light brown with thin white head
  • plenty of carbonation
  • caramel, apples dry malts and brown sugar
  • seems like slight oxidation to me even though quite young
  • green apples too that seem a little off to me (old malt?)
  • dates and nuts with a very slight fruity twang
  • texture is thin with raw malts, sugar and caramel
  • will have to revisit soon as it seems slightly off
  • brewed with old malts that sat in my apartment for 4+ months

Old Tasting Notes #3

Old tasting notes from November 30, 2009:

Saison de Deux Médecine
  • slightly over-carbonated with slow gush if not poured quickly
  • muddy yellow with fizzt white head
  • mainly yarrow with some sweetness of honey, dry malt and a touch of ginger/orange peel; really nice nose overall
  • not overly earthy, but plenty of yarrow
  • more sweetness could help here I think against the yarrow
  • not much spice, but get some ginger
  • yeast flavors are not present, which is a disappointment
  • maybe a less “neutral” Belgian yeast next time?
  • maybe the yarrow trumps the yeast?
  • not exactly what I was going for, but far from the disaster I had feared at times

The Curtain Wit
  • clear, light orange with bubbly white head to the edges
  • ginger, coriander, oranges and a husky sweetness
  • thin texture and fruity mouthfeel
  • very balanced and drinkable
  • a little bready too with lemons and grass
  • nice, sticky fruity texture

Rêve de Wallonia
  • light orange with slight haze; pale gold against the light; white head to the edges
  • husky nose with lemons and faint spice
  • drinks quite dry and a little flavorless at first
  • mild yeasty texture with dry spice, some sweet malt and sugar
  • lots of body and sweetness
  • certainly not the typical saison that I was going for (Dupont)
  • yeast notes are mild and finish is not as dry
  • husky is an overall characteristic that I think is from the fermentation struggles and some of the specialty malts
  • I want more grassy notes
  • Two Medicine is a much more cohesive and rounded beer to me

Heavy Things
  • nicely carbonated with thin tan head and ruby red color
  • nutty caramel, fruity sweet aromas
  • not as rich or meaty or sweet as I’d like
  • thin body with sweet, dry malt; some candy flavors with dried fruit and brown sugar
  • need more body for sure (as with all my beers)
  • maybe too fruity and would like some slight smoke
  • has a “cheap” candy sweetness to it

Bottle Time - Heavy Things & Wallonia

Heavy Things - bottled on October 24, 2009
  • 1.028 ~ 7.6% ABV with 67.5% attenuation
  • clear, light brown
  • candy rich, malty with a sticky woody note to it
  • sweet caramel with dark fruits and quite nice overall

Rêve de Wallonia - bottled on October 25, 2009
  • 1.010 ~ 8.4% ABV with 86.5% attenuation
  • in the end the attenuation is quite good, but had hoped for lower (and drier)
  • dense dark orange
  • fruity and quite sweet
  • thicker texture and mouthfeel than anticipated
  • nose has a husky zing to it with tropical fruits and lots of dry spice

Old Tasting Notes #2

Old tasting notes from September 27, 2009

Saison de Deux Médecine
  • slight gusher upon opening…doh!! First time I’ve had that problem
  • hopefully an over-carbonation issue and not an infection of some kind
  • this was different in terms of bottling b/c I estimated sugar based on 5 gallons and then adjusted to 2.5 gallons, but the finished product here was just over 2 gallons, so too much sugar seems like an issue here
  • but wonder if dried wildflowers have strange impact on carbonation?
  • anyway, back to the beer!
  • dark gold, mostly clear with trace white head once in a glass
  • floral, kind of dirty with ginger, obvious yarrow aromas
  • lots of roots, yarrow stems, earthy
  • very smooth and almost silky mouthfeel; vegetal finish and aftertaste
  • not much Belgian yeast flavor or influence is one of my first impressions
  • lots of yarrow and comes off a little “dirty” or dusty to me

The Curtain Wit
  • clear light orange with trace white head
  • aromas of honey, mild orange peel, ginger and coriander
  • coriander comes out most on first sip
  • light texture, smooth drinking with minor ginger zing
  • not cloudy as I expected and maybe a tad darker as well
  • dry, fruity finish yet not quite as flavorful as I had hoped
  • some orange and light ginger; soft mouthfeel
  • clean, tasty and super drinkable

Wallonia Update / Brettanomyces

Updates on the Wallonia saison and finally time for Brettanomyces......

September 17, 2009

Pulled a sample of Wallonia....
  • gravity down to 1.012
  • getting clearer w/ fruity lemons and orange on the nose
  • sample has a sharpness to it with dry, husky, sweet malt and dried fruit
  • very dry on the finish but overall still on the sweet side
  • at this point it has been in the primary for over 50 days!!!

September 27, 2009

Finally transferred the Wallonia today. All in all in spent 64 days in the primary!! To me that is crazy and scary on many levels, but this sucker just would not ferment. The sample at transfer is just a hair over 1.010. I had hoped it would be more like 1.006, but I still got over 86% attenuation.

And now that it is finally transferred into the secondary, it is finally time to break out the big, bad brett!! I'm splitting the package of brettanomyces claussenii, so the 2.5 gallons of Two Medicine has been patiently waiting for this day.

I split open the package and split the yeast evenly ~ 100 ml each. Wow, brett smelled amazing with sour pineapples and thick fruity nose; color is muddy dark yellow.

Now the waiting game begins for the brett to do its thing and I’ll bottle in maybe 5 months?

Old Tasting Notes #1

Old Tasting Notes from August 16, 2009

Russian Lullaby
  • 1” foamy white head
  • clear, light orange against the light; kind of dark to me
  • apples, yeast, sweet grassy lemons
  • definitely seems a little sweet to me and quite dry in the finish
  • medium body and texture, which is better than most of my brews
  • maybe not as sharp or yeasty as I’d like
  • has a fruity, granny smith apple thing going on
  • dry, stale fruit as it warms, sticky sweet mouthfeel; bone dry finish
  • carbonation is thick and creamy
  • one of my best beers yet and one I need to brew again for sure

Liquid Karma
  • clear cola brown with thin off-white head
  • cookies and sweet coffee with creamy chocolate, nuts
  • very little roast character to me even though this recipe was ramped up a bit
  • not really what I was expecting or hoping for compared to what I viewed as a very successful first attempt
  • needs more body, roast, dark chocolate and coffee – basically more of everything
  • will have to revisit this style sometime and try to improve

Monday, June 7, 2010


A few words of wisdom from Dennis Hopper (RIP)

I've got lots of updates on the way this week - a boatload of tasting notes from various beers plus I just finished a spurt of spring brewing with 4 new beers fermenting away.