Batch #87 El “Hefe” – Andreas’ Christmas Saison (julsäsong)

A friend of mine is slowly transitioning from the Dark Side of industrial lager or the yellow fizzy stuff as Greg Koch calls it, into the Light, i.e. the world of real beer. You know, this world that we’re in. Good for him. Even though he has frequent relapses, he has actually discovered a new (for him) style that he really enjoys. And guess what: it’s not IPA!

No, it is saison. I’ve said it before: saison is a great gateway for lost souls, far more accessible and veratile than pale ales and IPAs. It is light enough in colour, it is not overly bitter, it has (I believe) an almost universally nice flavor and aroma, and it works in so many contexts for example as a refreshing drink, as a session beer and with food.

Saison is da shit.

So, he has asked me to make a batch of beer for the Holidays and he want’s a saison, not a porter or a winter warmer. How can I argue with that? So on Saturday I’m brewing a slightly tweaked version of Batch #77 and Batch #80, a mouthfilling farmhouse ale with lots of Chinook.

Tonight I’m making a starter from a vial of WLP566 Belgian Saison II.


Sunday the 29th. Brewday.

This beer comes from one of my largest lineages which started with Batch 49 which was my first saison, and then #77, and #80. The evolution has been a simplification of the malt bill and a concentration on Chinook hops.

 

 

 

 

 

Batch #86 – American Xmz Porter

I hate winter. And this year it came early, actually about the same time as a America got its first idiot-president. It’s been a terrible few weeks and I need something dark and rich to make it until spring.

I don’t really know whether this is a porter or a stout. I’ve composed the recipe based on a number of sources and some were porters and some were stouts. Then I  don’t really care. I want a nice base to add some spices to, like vanilla, cinnamon, dried orange peel and cocoa nibs. I also intend do roast some Brazilian coffee beans, cold steep them to make coffee and add that during packaging. Too much? Well, in the light of recent events its not.

Recipe:
Style: porter or stout
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,070/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 7,3 % ABV (est.).

4,95 kg (70,4 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,4 kg (x %) Choclate malt (Carafa I Spec)
0,3 kg (-%) Pale chocolate malt
0,35 kg (5 %) CaraPils
0,09 kg (1 %) Munich
0,17 (2,0 %) Flaked oats
0,21 kg (3 %) C 120
0,87 g (10 %) Rosted barley

Mash with 16 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using Kaminski’s London water) at 68 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 20 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 28 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,056.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
37 g of Centennial (9,3 %) @ 20 min
21 g of Pekko (15,5 %) @ 20 min
11 g Dried orange peel @ 10 min
21 g Cinnamon stick @ 10 min
34 g of Centennial (9,3 %) @ 5 min
21 g of Pekko (15,5 %) @ 5 min

Chill the wort to 19 degrees. Pitch a Cal Ale yeast (I’m using US-05). Place in fermenter.
After pitching the yeast, place 50 g of cocoa nibs and 2 chopped vanilla beans  in a jar and add enough Bourbon to cover.
Ferment the beer for a week at 19 degrees. Add the cocoa-vanilla-Bourbon mix to the carboy. Ferment for another week.

At packaging, add coffee to taste (for a description of how to this the hard way, go to the bottom of this post).

 

Preparing  your own coffee

Here’s how I prepared the coffee that I used to flavor the beer when I kegged it.

Roasting (courtesy of Humlegården, my main supplier)

  • Preheat the oven to 230-250 degrees C.
  • Place the raw coffee beans in one layer on a baking tray and place it in the middle of the oven.
  • Shake and stir the beans to facilitate an even roasting. After 6-9 minutes the beans will begin to crack and after 10-15 minutes they will have reached a good degree of roasting.
  • Take out the baking tray and place the beans in a colander and let them rapidly cool.

Steeping (courtesy of the American Homebrewers Association)

  • Sanitize your stuff.
  • Grind your beans coarsly and place them in an appropriate jar and add water to achieve a ration of between 12,5 and 25 g of coffee per deciliter of water. The trick here is to get maximum flavor and minimum volume so a strong coffee is preferable.
  • Give it a quick stir and put a lid on it. Let it sit in the fridge for 12-24 hours
  • Strain the coffee though a muslin bag or equivalent (be sure to stock up on muslin bags before Mr T bans them). Repeat as needed. The coffee can be stored for a couple of days.

Adding (courtesy of myself)

    • Adding coffee, or any other flavor ingredient at packaging, is a matter of figuring out the ration using a small sample of beer and flavor ingredient and the scale it to the bottling or kegging volume.
    • Draw a deciliter or two of beer from the secondary. Divide it into equal amounts in small glasses, for example 2 cl per glass.

Then try different ratios by adding different amounts of coffee to the beer and taste it, for example 1 ml of coffee to one cl of beer, evaluate and redo.

Batches 84 & 85 -Transatlantic split-batch Irish Red Ale

I just solved a difficult dilemma. On the one side I wanted to brew an Irish red ale within style. That desire came from reading the special edition of the Swedish Homebrewers Associations  magazine Hembryggaren ( The Homebrewer) where the style and a recipe was presented by a gold medal winner of the Swedish home brewing championship. namnlosAnd as always I read up on the style in Palmer & Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles.I really like the simplicity of the recipes and was also curious about Irish ale yeast and whether it adds different character than Cal Ale or English strains do. But, since I’ve been on a quest for the perfect American Amber Ale since the beginning of my brewing, I also saw this as an opportunity to try a new approach, i.e. to take an Irish red ale and Americanize it. The Irish style does not allow for any significant hop character, but I’m a home brewer and I can do whatever I want. So, my solution to the problem of choosing which style to brew is to brew a 5 gallon batch of an Irish red ale, chill one half of it and put it into one carboy and then whirlpool large amounts of American hops in the rest of the batch before I chill and transfer that to a second fermenter. I’m a genie.img_4974

The tentative recipe says: 92 % Extra Pale Maris Otter, 6,5 % Crystal 150, 1,3 % Roasted Barley. Mash at 75 degrees, boil for 90 minutes and add EKG at 60 minutes för 21 IBUs and at 15 minutes for 1,4 IBUs. Chill half and pitch WLP004. Meanwhile, whirlpool the second half with Citra for an additional 27 IBUs. Chill and pitch with US-05 or similar Cal Ale yeast. Ferment both at 19 degrees. Dry hop the Citra batch with more Citra. The numbers are: 2 x 11,5 liters, OG 1,055, Est FG 1,015/1,012. ABV 5,2/5,6 %. IBU 23/40.

Brew session.

Heated the water and crushed the malt. Mashed in at 66,5 degrees (0,5 blow target). I’ve pretty much given up on treating my water with minerals since its just fine for most styles, and I know that the pH is going to be quite acceptable so I don’t even measure that unless I brew something very dark or very light. I understand the implications of pH and I know how to deal with it but the tiny, tiny adjustments I make actually doesn’t make any detectable difference in the end, so… Also, I don’t bother with the thickness of the mash so I just do it the Tasty McDole way and split the total amount of brewing water (35 liters) into two equal halves and mash with one and batch sparge with the other.

I’m using the Blichmann HopBlocker for the first time today, hoping to be able to use my pump and plate chiller again.

Worked like a charm!

The boil resulted in an original gravity of 1,065, far higher than expected, reasonably due to the vigorous boil. I still have to learn the boil off on the BoilerMaker.

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So I chilled 9 liters and ran it into the first fermentor, added 1 liter of whater and the yeast slurry which resulted in 10,3 liters @ 1,056. Then I whirpooled the rest with Citra, chilled it and got 8,5 liters (spot on), added 1 liter of water to that plus the rehydrated dry yeast (0,2 liters) and ended up with 9,7 liters @ 1,057. As you can see above, I have taken precautionary measures to avoid a yeast rupture in the fermentation chamber with air locks AND blow off hoses.

Very anxious to taste the results of this split-batch brew.

BTW, Saison is a great beer for the final and boring stages of the brew session.

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Batches #82 and #83 – Double Dubbel (again)

Finally, I am on route with the Double Dubbel project. The idea is to explore Belgian styles, which is more or less unchartered territory for me. However, since I doubt that I will need 5 gallons of Belgian Dubbel I will split the batch into two and ferment them with Belgian Ale (WLP550) and London Ale (WLP013). If I’m lucky the latter will be a nice Christmas beer.

Recipe:
Style: Belgian Dubbel, BJCP category 19C.
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,070/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 7,3 % ABV (est.).

5,99 kg (69 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,87 kg (10 %) Caramünch
0,43 kg (5 %) Crystal 150
0,26 kg (3 %) Choclate malt (Carafa I Spec)
0,17 (2,0 %) Special B
0,09 kg (1 %) Melanoiden
0,87 g (10 %) Belgian Candy Syrup

Mash with 16 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using Stockholm water) at 67 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 22 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 29 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,060.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
80 g of Saaz (3,2 %) @ 60 min
0,87 g Belgian Candy Syrup @ 60 min
Protofloc @ 15 min
Yeast nutrient @ 15 min

Chill the wort to 20 degrees. Split it into two fermenters and pitch each yeast. Ferment  at  18 degrees C and let it slowly rise to 21 degrees during the primary.

I will bottle condition the Belgian batch to 3 volumes and keg condition and force carbonate the English batch to 2 volumes.

Brew session/mashing and lautering:

Boiling:

Fermentation act one: What could possibly go wrong?

Interlude:

ferment-12

With so little head space, air locks are clearly not the appropriate way to go. So I did what I should have done at the beginning and mounted blow off tubes on both carboys:

Packaging:
After two weeks I cold crashed both carboys (together with a keg of Anna’s Brown Ale before bottling)  for three days. I then bottled each beer accordingly:

#82 Belgian Dubbel:
Primed with 53 grams of sugar for 3 volumes of CO2 at 5 degrees C. Achieved 8 liters in bottles. Terminal gravity: 1,008 = 7,9 % ABV.

#83 English Double:
Primed with 30 grams of sugar for 2,2 volumes of CO2 at 7 degrees C. Achieved 7,6 liters in bottles. Terminal gravity: 1,006 = 8,2 % ABV.

Batch #81 – Under the radar Pale Ale

For reasons I cannot yet disclose I got a sudden urge to brew an extremely sessional beer. The trading with beer and other beverages that have an ABV over 3.5 % is strictly regulated in this post-socialist country. So there are two categories of beer with lower ABV that can be sold in regular retail stores. Beer of Class I has an ABV of 2.25 or less and beer of Class II has an ABV of more than that but not more than 3.5. In this light, the current US trend with session beers becomes almost ridiculous. Well, no, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, I’ve tried this once before with terrifying result, but I have now found new courage and am a better informed home brewer. This is a small test batch that I make in the kitchen.

Style: I don’t know but in Sweden we call this lättöl which translates to light beer which is something completely different. OG 1025/FG 1008,  2.4 % ABV, 22 IBU, 25 EBC, 6 liters. BUt actually the ABV

0.31 kg Extra pale malt
0.31 kg Munich
0,08 kg Crystal C80L
0.08 kg Caramünch I
0.03 kg Crystal 120L

Mash with 5 liters of water in a bag in pot in the oven at 74 degrees C for 45 minutes. Batch sparge with 6 liters of water at 73 degrees for 10 minutes. Collect 8.75 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1.020. Boil for 60 minutes.

3.06 g Simcoe @ 60 min (18 BU)
2.46 g Cluster @ 15 min (2.5 BU)
2.36 g Cluster @ 1 min (1.5 BU)

Chill and pitch with with Lallemand Windsor yeast. Ferment at 18 degrees C for 2 weeks. Package and carbonate according to your preferences.

This was great fun! I love that I could do it on a whim. A 3 or a 5 gallon batch requires so much preparation and takes an entire day. But this I could do after getting an idea in the afternoon and be done after dinner. Its just a small experiment with low alcohol beer and it doesn’t affect my more serious ongoing projects. I simply let this ferment side-by-side with the previous batch.

My current brewhouse

My first brewhouse was a clone of the 10 liter/2,5 gallon setup that Henok Fentie (of Omnipollo) presented in his book Brygg öl (or Brew beer in English) when I started this journey in 2013:

355124_980Photo by Carl Kleiner

Since then I have upgraded in small increments.

As some of you may know, Humlegården has had a generation 1, 10 gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker on display and for sale for a while in their physical store in Sollentuna. The other day I took a chance and asked if they’d consider cutting the price a bit and finally get it sold. And they did. So my current brewhouse is suddenly a three vessel 10 gallon system:

IMG_6244ed

Well, it essentially was a 10 gallon system before I introduced the BoilerMaker, but the HLT was a plain 5 gallon pot (my BK from the 2,5 gallon system) without thermometer or ball valve which made brewing unnecessary complicated.

Thus, the new 10 gallon boiler maker will serve as a dedicated hot liqour tank (HLT), the 10 gallon cooler is (of course) the mash/lauter tun (MLT), and the 50 liter/13 gallon pot serves as boil kettle (BK). With this setup I can produce beer that ferments in one 16 gallon fermentation bucket or two 6 gallon BetterBottles to fill two 5 gallon Cornelius  kegs.

But I can also, and probably will most of the time, brew 5 gallon batches by using the Blichmann both as HLT and BK. That way I will heat the strike and sparge water separately while I batch sparge (I always do) in the MLT and then use the Blichmann as boil kettle. Perfect.

My boil method today is to use hop cones during the boil, drain them with a Bazooka screen in the BK to be able to chill with a Chugger pump a plate chiller without getting stuck. When using the BoilerMaker as a BK I’m thinking about getting a Blichmann HopBlocker to be able to utilize the nice dip tube.

I think the Blichmann BoilerMaker is more suitable as HLT than BK since it has the thermometer and the level indicator. I don’t really see the use of a thermometer on a boil kettle. However, it would be useful in the MLT, so my next project is to install one.

Batch #80 – Kalle’s Chinook Saison

I’ve gotten my first order. The wife of one of the local craft beer enthusiasts I’ve been sticking bottles to (I’m on a craft beer mission from God and it never hurts to build your brand) wants me to brew a beer for her husband’s 50th birthday. How can you say no to that? But since it is illegal to sell craft beer as a private citizen I will give it to him as a present.

She said that he likes… wait for it…. IPAs! So I gave her some bottles to try together with him, an amber ale, a farmhouse ale and a very fresh IPA, and guess what – he preferred the saison. Actually I think that many of the contemporary IPA drinkers (the new mainstream) would appreciate the saison style. Well.

So I’m rebrewing batch 77 but since there are no more Cascade in all of Sweden (we’ll have to wait for the 2016 harvest that is under way) I will substitute it with Chinook which should work well in an Americanized saison. Brew day is tomorrow so today I’ve made a starter with two vials of WLP566 Belgian Saison II.


Images from brewing Batch #80:

The Blichmann BoilerMaker is nice. However, the thermometer does not work properly. It is possibly the mechanics of the hand that’s stuck or jammed after sitting in the same temperature for a long time. Perhaps. Nevertheless, despite calibrating at various levels it did not display the right temp at all (it boiled at 80 degrees C). And the level gague is only partly useful since it cannot be read during the boil. Because the liquid in it boils. Duh. But it’s still much better than my old pot. I just need to get a HopBlocker so that I can chill the wort in my plate chiller. This time I chilled it with my copper immersion chiller, shich is a bit small for this size, and siphoned it from the kettle to the carboys (Again, I ended up with too much wort so I prepared two vessels).

Here’s the final recipe.

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale. 5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,050/ FG 1,004, 29,5 IBU, 8,8 EBC, 6,0 % ABV.

4,20 kg (73,3 %) Extra Pale Malt
0,30 kg (5,2 %) Wheat
0,29 kg (5 %) CaraPils
0,29 kg (5 %) Munich
0,09 kg (1,5%) Caramünch I
0,57 kg (10 %) Table sugar (add to fermenter)

Mash with 15 liters of the brewing water of your choice at 65 degrees C for 60-90 minutes or full conversion. Sparge with 73 degree water (approx. 21 liters)  to collect 30 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,036 (that’s without the sugar).

Boil for 90 minutes: Add:
Protofloc @ 15 min before flame out
50 g Chinook pellets (12,7 %) @ 12 minutes
30 g Chinook pellets (12,7 %) @ 5 minutes
20 g Chinook pellets (12,7 %) @ 0 minutes

Chill to pitching temperature, transfer to fermenter, add the sugar and pitch the yeast,  WLP566 or similar. Let the temperature rise to 25 degrees during primary fermentation.

After about a week, when you’ve reached final gravity, dry hop with
50 g Chinook pellets
50 g Amarillo pellets (I couldn’t help myself)
for 5 days.

Cold crash if you wish (I did the last time and got a really clear beer which is out of style but rather pretty), keg and carbonate to 2,7 volumes at your preferred serving temperature.

The new version of BeerSmith has a new tab called Session. It has a nice added feature where you can record a string of fermentation readings (temperature and specific gravity) and have them presented in a simple but illustrative graph that allows you not only to track your fermentation progress but to compare it against your chosen fermentation profile. Nifty, Brad!

session-in-beersmith

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After complete fermentation, dry hopping and cold crashing (mainly to settle the hops) and with 6 days to go until the party, I racked the beer to a Corny keg and began carbonating it. I keep it at 8 degrees C so I should set the regulator to 1.2 or 1.3 bars for 2,6 to 2.8 volumes of CO2, but because I have a feeling that my system underachieves in that department, and because I cannot afford to have an under-carbonated saison on the following Saturday, I set it to about 1.7.

And on Friday night I let my wife try it to see if its servable (cause I’m so friggin’ nervous that could never make that call) and she approves. And it is a good saison, at least according to my taste. It’s not a perfect style-fit but more of a refreshing American/Belgian pale ale. I believe it is something that will appeal both to industry-lager-drinkers  and to those who think that they suddenly like IPAs but clearly doesn’t know what an IPA is. This is a crowdpleaser.

So on Saturday I load up the keg and the CO2 stuff and me and the wife take the bus to the party.

And even though the rise in temperature creates excessive amounts of foam (next time I will arrive with a much colder beer with some sort of isolation around the keg), it is a total success. 5 gallons is about gone by the time the birthday boy arrives (its a surprise party) because people are lining up for refills, but I manage to save the last pint for him. I should have brewed 2 kegs. And what an enormously rewarding feeling to have a large group of people really enjoy something that you have brewed!

A spent but happy keg waiting to go home:

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Batches 82 & 83 – Two Dubbels

A week later, my brewing plan lays in ruins. I think I’ve got the Belgian bug.

20130111-236653-brewing-belgian-dubbel
Photograph: Chris Cuzme

During my first two years of brewing I have mainly focused on American styles and mainly explored the American craft beer scene. I have brewed many batches of American styles like pale ales, IPAs, double IPAs, ambers, browns, California commons, Kentucky common, American farmhouse ale, pre-prohibition American lager, American stout, classic, American pilsner, and American barley wine. Damn! I have also tried every American beer sold regularly at the Systembolaget (Swedish commie-fascist monopoly for alcohol), bought almost every American special release they have made (about every second week), and even imported beers from several breweries in southern California.

I would say that I have a fairly good understanding of American beer styles and craft brewing by now, and I feel like moving on.

Lately, my interest in American brewing has pointed me towards Belgian styles. This is thanks to a number of American breweries that have made American-Belgian crossover beers, either American, often hoppy versions of Belgian styles like the Belgian IPA style. Or that have made American styles with Belgian twists, like pale ales or IPAs or ambers with Belgian yeast. I have really enjoyed such efforts, especially since I have never liked Belgian beers much. So, quite paradoxically, American brewers have pushed me closer to Belgian styles.

Today I even joined Belgoklubben, or the Belgo Club, a club or a company that composes and distributes a 12 pack of Belgian beers every three months for a fee. According to people I have talked to it is a great and convenient way to build a Belgian section of your beer cellar, but I believe it is also a great way to get aquainted with Belgian styles.

In the midst of this sudden awakening, I feel compelled to alter my brew plan. So, the next brew day will be used to make two beers from one mash, one Belgian dubbel (a recipe from Serious Eats) and one more old ale, or actually a Belgian dubbel with London ale yeast.

Recipe:

Style: A: Belgian Dubbel, BJCP category 19C.
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,062/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 6,2 % ABV (est.).

5,3 kg (69 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,77 kg (10 %) CaraPils
0,76 kg (10 %) Crystal 100
0,61 kg (8 %) Wheat malt
0,19 kg (2,5 %) Choclate malt
0,04 kg (0,5 %) Black malt

Mash with 18,5 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using London water) at 67 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 19 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 29 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,055.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
55 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 60 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 20 min
Protofloc @ 15 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 5 min

Chill the wort to 20 degrees and pitch with dry English yeast. I’ll be using the very reliable Nottingham dry yeast today so I have not done a starter. Ferment  at  19 degrees C.

After 9 days, dry hop with
100 g Amarillo
100 g Chinook
for 5 days.

Cold crash, add gelatin, keg and carbonate to 2,5 volumes.


There’s been a delay. I received my first “order”: a keg of beer for a 50th birthday at the end of September. So batch 80 is an American, Chinook single hop, farmhouse ale,  and the doubles will be batches 81 and 82.

More to come.

Batch #79 – Anna’s Brown Ale

IMG_3270

Tasty McDole named his famous American brown ale after his wife Janet who helped him with continuous evaluation and feedback. Since I’m gonna brew a tweaked version of it I though it would be proper to rename it but with a name that still pays homage to Tasty. Also, I plan on using my own wife to help me evaluate the recipe. Hence, Anna’s Brown Ale.
The tweeking consists of three things. First, I use dry English yeast intstead of California ale. Second,  I dry hop with Amarillo and Chinook instead of Centennial. Third, instead of 4 % chocolate malt I use 2,5 % plus 0,5 % black malt. This idea comes from BN‘s first episode of Can you brew it where they tried to clone Moose Drool back in 2009.

Recipe:

Style: American Brown Ale, BJCP category 19C.
5 gallons/19 liters. OG 1,062/ (est.) FG 1,015, 67 IBU, 46 EBC, 6,2 % ABV (est.).

5,3 kg (69 %) Extra Pale Maris Otter
0,77 kg (10 %) CaraPils
0,76 kg (10 %) Crystal 100
0,61 kg (8 %) Wheat malt
0,19 kg (2,5 %) Choclate malt
0,04 kg (0,5 %) Black malt

Mash with 18,5 liters of brewing liqueur (I’m using London water) at 67 degrees C for 60 minutes.

Sparge with 19 liters of water at 73 degrees to collect 29 liters of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1,055.

Boil for 90 minutes and add:
55 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 60 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 20 min
Protofloc @ 15 min
27 g of Northern Brewer (8,8 %) @ 5 min

Chill the wort to 20 degrees and pitch with dry English yeast. I’ll be using the very reliable Nottingham dry yeast today so I have not done a starter. Ferment  at  19 degrees C.

After 9 days, dry hop with
100 g Amarillo
100 g Chinook
for 5 days.

Cold crash, add gelatin, keg and carbonate to 2,5 volumes.

Here we go.

Before the boil I had a surplus of vort which I saved to brew a smaller beer on the side. I’m thinking it could be something of a hybrid between a mild and a porter so I added dark syrup to the boil and pitched a small amount of the yeast.

Batch 79, 80, 81 and so forth… (updated)

What is the eternal question?

It is NOT the question of “life, the universe and everything” as Douglas Adams argued, and to which the answer was, according to the dedicated computer Deep Thought (below), 42.

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The eternal question is:

What to brew next?

I have a bunch of candidate beers and I’ve been trying to structure them into something of a plan for this fall.

First, I want to re-brew Tasty McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale. This time I’m gonna tweak it a bit by substituting the Crystal 40 for an English Caramel 100, and replacing the Cascade with a Centennial/Amarillo combo. Obviously I need to rename the beer, from Tasty’s (late) wife to my own.

Second, I want to brew a Weizenbock with an American twist. I really like Transatlantic crossovers in the craft beer world, and I’m really curious about Weizenbock. I participated in brewing one last spring but am still waiting to taste it (it will be served at Monks‘ 25 anniversary this fall)

Third, I want to brew a session beer (< 3.5%) for a fall festivity at our kids’ school. Every year the school holds an outdoor money raiser at the end of September with games and stuff, and there’s always a barbeque stand that sells burgers. I thought that a well crafted home brew could be sold at a prize that could raise some money. A pale ale or an Amber ale to not scare away the customers, perhaps?

And forth, I want a nice porter for the fall and winter. The last one I brewed came out rather lame, and I have not really figured out why. This time I’m thinking about brewing something along the lines of Anchor Brewing’s classic porter (first brewed in 1972). I ordered a six pack of that last year and it was friggin’ delicious. There is a clone recipe in the November 2014 issue of Brew Your Own magazine and I’m thinking about bumping it up a bit to get more into the Baltic porter category.

And then, of course, I need to keep the harvest-ale-brewing-tradition alive by repeating the semi-successful event that my family and our neighbors executed last year when we tried to brew a pale ale with wet cones from their unidentified giant hop plant. It turned out that the hops didn’t do anything for the beer, but the event was nice and this year we might just use commercial hops.

Then there’s all that other stuff that needs to get done, like a winter warmer, an American barley wine, a good stout, maybe another Triple Red. And when all that is done, perhaps it is time to start planning for spring and summer. That’s how home brewers survive the Dark Season on the Northern hemisphere.

First up is Anna’s Brown Ale though. On Sunday. Time to finalize the recipe.