Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Session Beer Series: 2012 Scottish 80/-

I'm continuing the brewing quest for my perfect Scottish Ale. I usually will brew both a 60 Schilling and then later brew a 70 or 80 Schilling each year. Well, this year I don't have quite as much time to brew, so that means larger batch sizes. I had several thoughts about what to do with this 10 gal batch:

  1. Make both a 60/- and 80/- by just diluting the 60/- in the fermentor
  2. Try another yeast experiment - I was thinking of testing WLP001 (as Jamil suggests) Vs. WLP028 (actual Scottish yeast)
  3. All 10 gals the same and then age with different wood types

Well, I selected option #3. I was inspired by Lewy over at Lewy Brewing about his new found Oak Honey Comb sticks from BlackSwan Barrels. I was looking through their online catalog and I found that they supply more than just Oak. I have been wanting to try alternative wood types for aging, so I'll post more about the wood experiment in a future post.

I have made a few small changes to my Scottish Ale recipe since last year:

  • Water: Last year I messed with my water chemistry for the first time and I over did it a bit. The numbers looked good on paper, but there was a definite salty taste. This year I decided to use Calcium Chloride instead on Sodium Chloride. And the numbers seem to be better balanced this time (see below)
  • I went back to WLP001 as I didn't notice much difference with WLP028 and I wanted to build up the yeast for a Barleywine.
  • I switched all the crystal malt over to English varieties. I am preferring the taste of the English varieties right now and I thought it made it more authentic.

2012 Scottish 80/- (9C)

Batch Size
10.000 gal
Boil Size
11.750 gal
Boil Time
90.000 min
16.3 IBU (Rager)
14.8 srm (Morey)
Calories (per 12 oz.)

Simpsons - Maris Otter
13.000 lb
3.0 srm
Barley, Flaked
1.500 lb
2.0 srm
Brown Malt (British Chocolate)
16.000 oz
65.0 srm
Honey Malt
16.000 oz
25.0 srm
Simpsons - Crystal Medium - 55L
16.000 oz
55.0 srm
Briess - Extra Special Malt
12.000 oz
130.0 srm

0.750 oz
90.000 min

WLP001 - California Ale Yeast

Strike Temp
Target Temp
4.821 gal
176.955 F
158.000 F
8.876 gal
173.443 F
165.200 F

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homebrew Tasting - Russian River Golden Sour

It took me a little while to get this tasting done, but I think this beer could use even more age. Here is a link to the brewing and periodic updates of the beer. It started from Belgian Golden Strong wort that was inoculated with dregs from Russian River's Consecration. Overall, I'm happy with how the beer turned out. Currently, the beer is nothing fantastic, but I'm excited where it could go. And I think it makes a great base beer to add fruit to. My attempt with adding a pound of fresh frozen Persimmons didn't have much of an effect on the final beer other than adding some acid (tastes like citric acid). If you want to add persimmons to a beer I would suggest adding more than 1 lb per gallon and make sure it is a beer that can take some acidity. I actually think it would be great in brighting up a light sour beer like Berliner Weiss.
Going forward using Russian River dregs, I will make sure that the wort is complex. I guess it makes sense if you look at how most Russian River beers are designed. They have a good mix of ingredients and don't rely solely on the yeast to add flavor. For example, Russian River's Supplication is a brown ale base with cherries and even more flavor complexity added from used Pinot Noir barrels that contribute oak and strong wine flavors.

Friday, March 9, 2012

San Diego County Brewery Tour + Board Game

My wife knows me pretty well. For my Christmas present she got together with a good friend's wife to plan a full brewery tour for the both of us. And together they picked out some of the best breweries in San Diego, but not necessarily the most convenient driving route. To me the breweries mattered more than the time spent between breweries. The wives even figured out a way to make the driving fun. They rented a 12 passenger van and invited some of our close friends. And to help time pass as we drove, they created a beer board game.

Here are the basic rules of the game:
  • You are read a description of a beer from one of the breweries we visited and you must correctly identify the beer (you are given a cheat sheet to narrow down the choices).
  • A correct answer advances your piece on the game board (they used a cork board and the pieces were decorated push pins - genius). For every consecutive correct answer you get to move an extra space.
  • Follow directions of whatever space you land on (see picture for examples)
  • If you get "Slammered", you must finish your drink to get out.
  • Winner gets a growler from the last brewery
Results: The board game needs some work with the details (Impossible to win due to the move back a space squares (the girls were drinking as they invented the game)) - so we'll try again next year.

Start: @ 11:00 am at Alpine Brewing 
They make fantastic beer and the big hoppy beers they are know for are very good. Make sure to get here early as the place feels up quickly. And the back patio is really the place to be, especially with our great San Diego weather.

This place is huge including their tasting room. We ordered one of everything, we enjoyed 13 samples. They have a very nice spread of beers, so it is easy for everyone in the group to find something they like. Also on the weekends, they have food trucks right by the patio. The hot french fries paired nicely with the "Brisk" San Diego winter weather and a Green Flash Double Stout (my favorite).

By now we needed some food to soak up the copious amounts of beer we "sampled". And what better place than one that has won Brewpub of the Year several times. And their pizza is pretty darn good, big on the toppings to really fill you up. A couple glasses later of their Bourbon 15th Anniversary Blend  and it was time to go.

Fourth Stop: Iron Fist Brewery
They might be somewhat new in the San Diego beer scene, but they make the style of beer I really enjoy. Their selection is mostly Belgian styles and a few American classics. They make a great Belgian Dubbel and thanks to their Velvet Glove (Stout), Ben has a new nickname. This is a great family run company that is producing great beer.

Probably my favorite brewery from a sour and Belgian beer standpoint and their tasting room is great. They have all their barrels out and you can see what is aging in each. And for some of the barrels they just put a sack of grain on top to make a seat. The beer speaks for itself and I happily took home a growler of Red Barn (and a bottle of Cuvee de Tomme) - I won the beer game!

It was a very enjoyable time and can't wait to keep up the tradition. We have another 35 breweries to still visit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homebrew Tasting - 2010 Flanders Red

Just recently I was reminded that I did not do a formal tasting on my 2010 Flanders Red.  And the beer is over 22 months old (Brewed 4/25/10). I was recently trading some hop rhizomes with a local homebrewer and he knows that I have brewed sours. He wanted to taste a few and learn more about my process. I also thought it was a good opportunity to open a few that I have been meaning to taste again. I brought the Flanders Red because I know it is a crowd favorite and I wanted him to like at least one beer I brought over.

I also took this opportunity to make some formal tasting notes. It was a good chance to taste this beer before I enter it into NHC (which I finally entered beers into, San Diego sold out in 1 day). Well, I think the beer is ready for competition and I'm excited to receive the judge's feedback. As of now, I have only had good reviews from people that are just starting their journey into sour beers.

2010 Flanders Red - My Tasting Notes

So I am pretty darn happy with the beer. As you can see in the 2011 Flanders Red post, I made a few changes to my recipe.

NHC 2012 Results

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