Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tasting: Dubbel de Figs

Dubbel de Figs was my second collaboration with friend, long time homebrewer, Julian Heal. Julian and his brother, Tom, have been brewing for well over a decade and since 2010 have been making batch after batch on their Brew Magic system. For me, getting out of the basement or patio and working on a piece of equipment like this is a nice change of pace.

It is all in a name, and Dubbel de Figs is just that. A nice Belgian-Style Dubbel with figs added at every stage of brewing (1st Wort, Mash, Boil and Fermented). The end result was a cloudy, dark amber concoction pleasing to the nose and palate as a Belgian should. It starts off nice and sweet, a bit nutty with a bit of dark fruit (raisiny and or figgy), and of course yeasty. The head dissapated quite quickly. Jules kegged his 5 gallons and we bottled mine. We bottle from a conincal fermentor, so the priming sugar was probably a bit uneven bottle to bottle. There is a subtle spiciness to it from the star anise and cloves, but it is probably all in the yeast. (Belgian Abbey).

We started our first collab. of the year with a Double IPA. You can read about that in the Spring.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Tasting: Rum Raisin Oatmeal Stout

I was stoked to make this beer from start to finish. I read about a clone of Lost Abbey's Judgement Day where the raisins were added for the entire boil. Judgment Day is a sweet beer to begin with so I wasn't sure how this one was going to work. I now feel like the silkiness that the oats tend to add are insignificant.

Of all the stouts that I made for the winter (Chocolate Stout, Chocolate Cherrywood Stout, and the Rum Raisin Stout, and even the Date and Molasses Porter), I tweaked each ingredient list here and there; Maris Otter base malts, 2 Row, Roasted Barley or Flaked Barley, Oats and Carafa 2 and 3, just to get a better understanding of the grains themselves. I used a half pound of raisins in the boil and then racked onto another half pound of raisins the were in a dark rum for 14 days. It has been great playing with different alcohols, woods and fruits this year. Peaches and Rum, Cherrywood/ Bourbon, Oak/ Bourbon Raisins and Dates even Plums and Bourbon. This year I hope to get into a few others.

I give this beer a solid B+. It is very sweet, but the rum added to that and I would rather see it come through on the heavy side rather than always wonder how much is enough. I can now start to scale back. The head on this dissipated very quickly, but from the picture above you wouldn't guess. I am thinking that the raisins are the culprit. I was away for a few weeks during all of these dark beers while they were racked so they all had plenty of time to be undisturbed or bottled too early. I am learning to be patient.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yeast Starter Anatomy

Smack your pack or take you vile out of the fridge to room temp.

I only got into the fun and importance of making yeast starters in the fall last year. I made half batches for so long that one packet of yeast was plenty for 3 gallon high gravity beers. Last night while enjoying the last beer made last year, a Single Hop (Palisade) Pale Ale, a friend found something off about it. Out of no where he asked if I made a starter and I actually didn't. It was the first time I didn't out of 8 or so recipes. So here is my usual set up for making one. Yeast Nutrient optional.

For a 5 gallon batch with a 1,000 ml starter use 3.5 ozs of DME. Consult Mr. Malty though for correct number of yeasties that you need for your recipe.

15 Min boil of your DME in one pint of water.

Chill baby Chill. 15-20 Mins is usually enough time.

Keep it Clean!

Keep it really clean!

Wait 18-24 hours. Give it some swirls if you are not using a stir plate. Use an airlock, tinfoil, or foam stopper. Consult other books, blogs, and forums. Everyone does it different.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Tasting: Batch #20

Molasses and Date Porter
This batch was a fun colaborations with Mi Esposa for the holidays. We decided that there is no greater gift than something handmade. In this case we wanted to be handmade, fermented and around 7% ABV. All gifts need an alcohol content.

I am lying when I said this was a first tasting. I sampled it a few times before I knew that it was significantly carbonated. At room temperature the sugars from the molasses and dates came through great. The aroma was pretty sweet, but the dark fruit had a way of making a bit of funk with the molasses.

After another week, chilled and ready to drink I was pretty pleased with it. Nice, warming alcohol notes smacked your lips leaving them a bit sticky. It is a jet black porter. I that we held back enough on that the black patent malt and it wasn't too bitter, but worked well with the fruit. Giving these up as gifts was a bit difficult. We labeled a few and waxed the caps for a presentable present for the "Feasts for the Dead." The wooden 4 pack holder was a fun gift to make as well. The idea was picked up from BYO magazine.

Cheers and Happy New Year