Ruler of the Double IPA: @AveryBrewingCo – Maharaja IPA

Maharaja_badge200Hooray.  This is the first beer I’ve reviewed after my “I only review great beers, now” posting.

And me, oh my, this is one hell of a great beer.  Rated pretty-much consistently above 4.5 by the folks on beer advocate and achieving a ratings of “Outstanding” and “World-Class” you have to go a long way to find anything like it.

Now, there’ll be some that won’t like it:  It’s a double IPA, it’s 10.2% alcohol and it’s 102IBU – so it’s clearly not going to appeal to everyone.  But I like it.  I like it because it’s so over-the-top.

I had Maharaja on draught at Lock27 Brewing in Dayton, Ohio – where I also got to try their Sunfish Pale and Mouth Breather IPA, both of which were very good indeed.

Maharajah arrives a happily-hazy dark orange, with a little slick of off-white head that sticks around and leaves excellent lacing all down the glass.

The Aroma preceded the glass’s arrival at the table and was strongly citrus pithy with some highlights of tropical, there’s some pines, lots of dank resinous notes and a little honey, and malt.

The taste was not as bitter as I would have expected for 102 IBU and has some malty sweetness, but the show was well and truly stolen, wrestled to the ground, beaten senseless and mercilessly throttled by an absolute landslide of hops.  I mean, this is BIG hopping; nay, mighty hopping.

Yes, there’s some dark caramelly maltiness and a gorgeous solid body – but it’s the hops that form a crowd around you as you lay flailing about on the floor on a leary-esque lupulin trip: glorious bitter-burnt-orange and grapefruit pith varnish your teeth, tongue, trousers and just about anything else that gets Maharaja on it.

You don’t even notice the alcohol…until you’ve downed the first one and everything goes a bit carnival whirly.

I though the alcohol would have been more prominent in the taste, but it’s not…it just hides out in and amongst the greenery like a thuggee of old India – ready to literally strangle you of your sensibilities.

Holy cow, it’s good…

http://averybrewing.com/our-ales/maharaja/

http://www.lock27brewing.com/

Lactobacillus (and others!) Fermented Hot Sauce

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Time for another small departure from the norm…this time it’s a fermented hot sauce.  I had to do quite a bit of research on this one as there are so many sources (geddit?) of information and recipes on the web, that it all got a bit confusing.

Before you go “eurgh!” just remember that Tabasco sauce is a fermented chilli sauce and they ferment it for something like three years! (http://www.tabasco.com/tabasco-products/how-its-made/making-original-tabasco-sauce/)

So eventually I came up with the following list of ingredients.  As long as you have the salt, water and chillies you can forget the rest – I only include them because I want something that’ll  work – the other ingredients just being providing either sugar for the Lactobacillus (and friends) or additional flavouring.

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DO NOT WASH ANY OF THESE INGREDIENTS…
6x fat hot red chillies
2x Scotch Bonnet chillies
1x carrot
1/2 a sweet pepper
3x garlic cloves
1x 330cl of bottled water (don’t use tap water, it has chlorine in it)
1 and 1/2 table spoons of sea salt
1x outer cabbage leaf

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I took the bottled water and brought it to the boil and then dissolved the salt in it.  Don’t use iodised salt, use sea salt – it’ll work better (apparently)

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Then I roughly chopped the peppers and put them in the hand blender pot with the other veg (but not the cabbage leaf).  I poured just enough of the salted water in to allow me to blend the lot to a reasonably smooth consistency.

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I chopped the cabbage leaf finely and stirred that into sauce mix.

After sanitising my bottle, I transferred the lot into it and made sure that it was just covered with a bit more of the salted water and then put sanitised tin foil over the bottle top.

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Now I leave it and try not to faff about with it – before long the Lactobacillus should get going on it.  I’ve no idea when it’s finished, or even when it’ll start.  Talk about flying blind.  I took a quick taste and it’s quite nice as it and very hot indeed.  Lovely.

What’s going on in the background:

Apparently we have to provide a warm, dark and salty environment to allow the Lactobacillus to get to work – Lactobacillus is the prime fermenter in Sauerkraut, which is why I’ve included a cabbage leaf in this recipe – cabbage leaves tend to harbour Lactobacillus bacteria naturally (hence the “no washing” advice”!)

As the Lactobacillus gets going it’ll convert the natural sugars from the chillies and veg into lactic acid, which should work as a preservative – as the environment will be far too acidic to support spoilage bacteria, moulds or whatever.

We’ll see…

Further sources (ha, see what I did there?) of information:

https://matthumbard.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/food-fermentation-1-fermented-hot-sauces/

http://kitchenlib.com/basics/why-i-dont-use-whey-as-a-vegetable-fermentation-starter/

Cascade Hoppy Pale Ale with Pure Hop Aroma Extract

I’ve missed having a really powerfully hoppy beer in my kegs recently, so I decided to brew one right up.

As beers go this was a straight-down-the-line, no-pissing-about, sort of affair.  The only slight difference was that I included a bit of aromatic malt to the grist bill, hopefully with a view to giving the whole thing a bit of a solid, but not cloying, malt body.

The mash regime was a very simple dough-in at 38C, a saccharification rest at 67C (80 minutes) and mash-out at 76C (10 minutes) and a 60 minute boil.

For bittering I used up some Chinook and Herkules that I had in the freezer, the rest of the hops (all late hops, I might add) were 100g of Cascade pellets.  No dry-hopping for this beauty – I’m experimenting with some Cascade pure hop aroma oil that I got from Rob at The Malt Miller (http://www.themaltmiller.co.uk/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=244)

Trouble is, I’ve got no idea how much to add?  The instructions on the bottle say 1ml per 10l of beer – but that seems a bit miserly; have you tried it?  What your suggestion?  Maybe I’ll ask Rob, too…

Here’s the recipe, anyway.  Oh yes, I’m using US-05 to ferment this – as I want the yeast character right out of the way – this one’s all about the hops:

Cascade hoppy ale

I’ll let you know how it goes…we’re only a couple days into the fairly business-like US-05 fermentation.

PS: I hit the 1056 gravity smack on the head, but with 25L of wort, so I was quite a bit over.  I’m hoping the yeast will slay this wort to 1009 and that’ll get to almost 6%.  Sweet.