Monday, January 30, 2012

Split Batch Series: English Dark Mild

This is the second beer in my Split English Ale Yeast Experiment. In the Best Bitter Batch, the Fuller's strain was much preferred to the West Yorkshire strain. But it will be tested again, and with a much different beer, Dark Mild.

English Dark Mild is a style I have been working on over the years and I think it is really progressing. It originally started out as Jamil's recipe and has been tweaked every year. The major change from last year's batch was to substitute Chocolate Malt for Brown Malt. And I was a big fan of this change, not only did it make the beer a bit more historically accurate, but it gave the beer a more toasty flavor. This year I made a few slight adjustments again.
  • Upped the Crystal Malt from 10% to 14%, but kept the same proportion of light to dark. I wanted a bit more residual sweetness to balance the dryness of the roast and toast of the dark malts
  • Added 1 lb of wheat malt to build head retention and seems to be in most historical recipes
  • Decided to go with a more balanced dark malt addition, so I used equal parts Brown Malt and Pale Chocolate Malt
Recipe: English Dark Mild 2011
O.G.-1.039               F.G.-1.012                IBU-15
SRM-21                  ABV-43.5%             Batch -10 gal

Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
10 lb Maris Otter (69%) 
1 lb Carastan Dark - 135L (7%)
1 lb UK Crystal ~77L (7%)
1 lb Wheat Malt (7%)
12 oz Brown Malt (5%) 
12 oz Pale Chocolate Malt (5%)  

.85 oz Horizon, 9.1%, pellet, 60 min 14.6 IBU

150 mL of White Labs 002 - no starter 
150 mLl of  Wyeast 1469-PC West Yorkshire Ale Yeast - no starter 

Brew Day:
Brewed: 11/27/11

San Diego (Alvarado) Tap Water
1 campden tablet per 5 gal.

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 3.5 gal 
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 154F @ 60min

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 11 gal
Boil Time: 60min
Post Boil Volume: 10 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.038
Ferment Temp: Around 68

A side by side taste test will be performed like it was for the Best Bitter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Homebrew Tasting: Best Bitter West Yorkshire Vs. Fullers

This was one of my first 10 gal batches where I split it into 2 - 5 gal batches and it won't be the last because there is a lot to learn from doing this.

Brew Session detailed here

The differences are quite amazing and I greatly preferred the Fuller's batch over the West Yorkshire yeast (at least for this malt bill). See below for my tasting notes on each.

Fuller's (WLP002)

West Yorkshire (WY1469)

I think the main difference is that the Fuller's yeast kept more residual sweetness. That alone helped to make the malt flavors stand out more. I still need to work on the hop flavor and aroma for these beers, because these were both malt forward beers. I think my big process change for them next year will be to use whole flower hops for my flavor and aroma additions. And I'll keep the Fuller's yeast and compare another English strain in next year's split batch.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dreg Series: Hoilday Party Oud Bruin 2011

In keeping with tradition, Ashley and I hosted our yearly Holiday Party. Which for me is a great excuse to bring out beers that I have been saving. Plus my friends' interest in craft beer has grown and they are always excited to bring a special beer to share.
And this year we had a full house and a great selection of beer. It was a good thing that I made a triple batch of my soft pretzels (they have become my specialty, along with homemade mustard (post to come)). Ashley also made sure to bake plenty of sweets to soak up the booze we drank.
This year I reserved the wort a little differently than last year's batch and it seemed to work very well. I racked off a gallon of my 2011 Oud Bruin wort just after I turned the flame off into a pre-heated/sanitized glass gallon growler. I put the lid on loosly and cooled the wort in a water bath in the sink. Once the wort was down to room temperature, I tightened the screw cap. Then the growler was kept in the fridge until the party. Right before the party I poured the wort from the growler into a 1 gal jug and aerated. Throughout the party we dumped the dregs from different commercial beers.
And it looks like we are going to have a good collection of different organisms:

  • Belgian Sacc yeast strain

  • Adds Lacto, Pedio and Brett
  • Adds Sake Yeast

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sour Beer: Oud Bruin 2011

I made a good amount of changes to the recipe this year because I really wasn't happy with last year's Oud Bruin. (It needs some blending; I bottled half as is and the other half will be blended with an upcoming Oatmeal Stout). Here are the main changes I made from last year:
  • Pump up the Malt Profile - I swapped out all the Pilsner Malt for Munich Malt (When doing my research for these beers I found it backwards that historically Flanders Reds use Munich/Vienna Base Malt and Oud Bruins use Pilsner Base Malt. Because when I read the guidelines and compare commercial styles the Malt Backbone is supposed to be more dominant in Oud Bruins. If anyone has some insight here, I'd like to hear it.)
  • Substitute the Flaked Corn for Flaked Wheat (unfortunately brew shop only had Wheat Malt). My idea was to still keep the extra starch (a food source during the long aging period) from the flaked grain, but have a bit higher protein content to help with mouthfeel.
  • Increased the Brown Malt - I am really enjoying the flavor from this malt, think perfectly toasted bread. (Go chew on some at the brew store)
  • Raised the Mash temp up to 158. I really want this beer to finish with a touch of sweetness. We'll see if this happens.
  • Adjusted my water to be much softer (San Diego has pretty hard water)

I made quite a few changes so I imagine this beer will be considerably different than last years. I pitched the wort right on the yeast cake from last batch. I did add some fresh English Ale yeast to help fermentation get started. I would have preferred a Belgian yeast strain, but I had the West Yorkshire yeast fresh. Next year, I'll make sure to get a starter going of some Belgian yeast because the extra spicy phenols I think really help the finished beer. If this beer turns out like I expect, I think I may blend some with my annual Dubbel to help boost the Belgian phenolics.

Recipe: Oud Bruin 2011
O.G.-1.063  F.G.-TBD   IBU-17
SRM-22   ABV-6.5-7.5%%   Batch - 6 gal

Grain Bill (70% Efficiency):
10 lb Munich  Malt (68%)
2 lb  Flaked Wheat (14%)
1 lb Aromatic Malt (7%)
1 lb Brown Malt (7%) 
12 oz Special B (5%) 

.5 oz Horizon 9.1%, pellet, 90 min 17 IBU
2nd year yeast cake of White Labs WLP655 Sour Mix I

Brew Day:
Brewed: 11/27/11

50/50 San Diego Alvarado Tap Water / Distilled Water

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 3.5 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 158F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 178F
Sparge Volume: 8 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 7.5 gal
Boil Time: 90min
Post Boil Volume: 6 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.063
Ferment Temp: 68-70F (Iced Water Bath)

01.05.12 Update
1.012 - This is actually much lower than I was expecting. I may need to mash even higher, I may not be measuring my mash temperature very well. And the color is still too light. I will need to go even darker next year.
Aroma - very fruity - pineapple and pears with some sourness
Taste - pretty bland - a touch of fruit, some astringency, and mild alcohol flavors
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