Hefeweizen IV Tasting Notes

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Well looky here, if it isn’t a whole month and a tiddle since I brewed up this Wheat beer…bet you’re straining at the leash to find out how this one came out, aren’t you?

All I can say is: this beer puts me at least a couple more steps further up the mountain towards the pinnacle of the perfect wheat beer.

There’s no weird off-flavours in this batch (thank you, brew fridge) and there’s a nice balance of sweet, and a very gentle sour note that helps round it out a bit.  Any bitterness keeps itself to itself – meaning there’s no off-putting bitter twang.

In the phenolics, there’s an array of restrained banana and clovey undercurrents that swirl along merrily in both the nose and the taste.

So: the nose is good, the taste is good and the head retention is passable (not great, but you takes what you can these days…)

It’s very refreshing and – just off chilled – I can drink one down, all nice and right-down into my tum in hardly any time at all.

But…and there’s always a but.

It’s not very exciting.  And the body could do with being a little more full as well.

Maybe next time I’ll chuck in WLP300 instead.  The Mangrove Jack wheat yeast did a perfectly good job – it just doesn’t seem as expressive as the 300.

With all things remaining equal (and with either WLP300 or MJ’s), I reckon I need to rile up the yeast a bit more…you know, really provoke it by dialling the fermentation temperature up beyond 20c, so it can go mad and produce more flavour.

Maybe I’ll even do some more fancy mash rests to try and capitalize on the alpha and beta amylase phases:

Instead of the old 66c trade-off single infusion business, I’ll rest it for a while at 63C (or so) and then move on up to another rest at 70c (or so) which will give me a decent trade-off between wort fermentability (i.e. maltose production) from the 63c rest and a shovel-full of unfermentable dextrins for body from the 70c rest.

God, I almost sound like I know what I’m doing…

Home-Grown Cascade Hoppy Pale Ale

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Well.  Let’s hope it’s hoppy, anyway…

The taste I took when transferring to the fermenter was quite assertively bitter, in fact probably a bit more bitter than I really intended…

Here’s the recipe for starters:

home-grown-cascade-pale-ale

You’ll notice that I used two 50g bags of home grown cascade…and right about the twenty-minutes-left-to-go point was where things began to unravel a bit…

In hindsight, I probably should have done another centennial addition here instead of using the home-grown cascades (I bought the centennial from Rob at the Malt Miller, and I know that they were 11.2% AA, whereas I had no idea at all what the cascades were…)

Twenty minutes of boiling is plenty of time to extract additional unexpected bitterness, especially when you’re using hops with a completely unknown alpha acid content…and maybe 25g was quite a lot when you’re not sure what they will contribute.

I’ve felt for a while now that some of my beers were good in the aroma department but tended to lack a little in the taste…so that twenty-minute addition was meant to address that.

Mind you, the hops smelt good and resinous from the freezer, so who knows: a ferment, a couple of weeks conditioning and a potential 6.5% ABV may get it to come right…assuming the yeast can wrestle it down to 1010 or so…

All in all it was one of my best brew days; no mess and a quick clean-up meant that I had a solid 1060 OG wort into the carboy, all oxygenated and yeast pitched; everything cleaned and dried, and me drinking a cup of tea by 10.30pm.

I used S04, because I heard somewhere (probably via Mike Tonsmiere on his Mad Fermentationist blog) that some English-style yeasts help to accentuate hop character.

If all else fails and it’s not quite where I want after a week or so, I can dry hop with more centennials or add some grapefruit zest, or maybe even add both…mmm, a grapefruit IPA…

No-name HefeWeizen III – Tasting Notes

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Here’s a review of another Hefeweizen, brewed as part of my eternal quest to brew the perfect representation.

You might remember the brewday from here:

https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/11/05/no-name-hefeweizen-iii/

Well, I’ve been drinking this steadily since a bit before Christmas and can’t make my mind up whether it’s smack on the money or whether I’m just a hopelessly picky bugger.

(My money is on the latter)

So, looks-wise: it’s not as luminous as I’d like it to be. Maybe luminous is a bad word. Hold on, *consults thesaurus* It’s not as effulgent as I’d like. I’m not sure whether that helps or not?

Let’s just say it’s not as prettily glowy, when back­lit, as I’d like it to be…

The colour isn’t as glowily orange as I’d like it to be, either. It’s nice enough ­ but I’d like it to be more pretty.

The head, however, is much better than the last effort, but still doesn’t hang around like it should. Mind you, it’s meringue-­white, so that’s something to be happy with.

In the nose I got a sweetly ­clean malt-breadiness with some spicy clove and banana notes. It’s not at all “banana bomb” like the last one…but it’s certainly fruit forward and I like that in a Weizen.

The carbonation is much better this time around and it stays sparkly-­prickly right to the end of the glass.

As with all my wheats so far; it’s mouth-­filling, immensely drinkable with enjoyable spice and clove/banana flavours.

This particular beer feels way more complex and in balance than the other Hefeweizens that I’ve made…there’s even some excellent creaminess that floods in at the end…

BUT! There’s a faintly annoying bitterness that creeps in at the end of the creaminess and ever so slightly mars the whole thing.

My trusty tasting panel are split 50/50: some love it because they usually drink bitters, so a twang on the end is what they want to keep the consumption going. The other half think any bitterness in a Hefeweizen is out of place and slightly jarring.

I quite like it, but in my heart of hearts I know that it’s not to style and not what I intended…and that annoys the piss out of me.  15 IBUs of bitterness does seem a touch too much…

Next time it’ll be the same recipe with 11 IBUs of bittering hops…and maybe swap some pils malt out to make it into a dunkleweizen.

Maybe the next one will get a name.?

Summer Summit Pale Ale

20150721_104209After an exciting birthday haul of brewing bits and pieces* my latest brew gave me the ideal opportunity to give them all a bit of a try-out

(*PH Strips, iodine, lactic acid and wort aeration bits and bobs, if you must know…)

I thought I deserved a pale ale style with a ton of exciting hops – and why not have those exciting hops delivered by way of an entire 100g pack of Summit pellets…for use as late additions only.?

Mmmm, it’s going to be hop-tastic.

Here’s the recipe, which you might notice looks a bit light in the way of pale malt, and that’s because I’m a bloody idiot and didn’t weigh it out properly – ending up with 2.5Kg of Maris Otter in the grist, when I should actually have had 3.5Kg.

Summer Summit Pale Ale

But I did have a spare pack of Thai palm sugar, and 400g of that brought the gravity back into line…and as a bonus, it should dry the body out a little to make the finished beer even more hop-forward.

The mash was a typical Braumeister sort of affair: 38C dough-in, 66C maltose rest and a 76C mash-out: for 0 Mins, 80 Mins and 10 Mins respectively.

But remember: for this brew I had toys, so here’s some additional fun information:

  • Filtered mash and sparge water: circa 6.2 PH
  • The mash at 0 Mins (Dough-in): circa 6.1 PH with an iodine test that turned blue – indicating unconverted starch in the mash…unsurprisingly.
  • The mash at 10 Mins: (Start of maltose rest) 5.9-6.0 PH with an iodine test that still showed blue
  • The mash at 45 Mins: 5.4/5.5 ph and a clear light-brownish iodine test – showing starch conversion was complete, but the refractometer only showed a gravity of 1038, which is the point where I did the maths and realised that I’d cocked up my weighing out of the grain…and that’s when I started weighing out the palm sugar.

But all the starch converted within 45 minutes?  Really?  There was still a solid 35 minutes left of the 66C mash rest.  I double-checked and it really had all converted.

In theory I could have bailed out of the 66C mash rest there and then – and gone straight to mash out at 76C, but the wort was still cloudy, so I just left it to re-circulate and do it’s thing.

Maybe next time, if the wort is clear and all the starch is converted, I’ll bail out early and save myself over half-an-hour and a good old chunk of electricity.

The PH testing also goes to show that I can make pale beers without any additional water treatment: if a piddly bit of Munich malt and some wheat malt are sufficient to drop the mash PH to anywhere between 5.8 and 5.4, I’m a happy man.

The rest of the brew went off OK.  I added the dissolved palm sugar during the boil and got a gravity reading of 1048 – which is good enough for me, with a bit of luck we’ll be looking at a finished ABV of 4.5 – 4.8%

Just before pitching the US-05 yeast, I aerated the wort for a minute at what looked like a slow simmer.

The beer is busily tanking away in a carboy in the shower-room that’s stood in a bucket of water to keep it to around 20C

…a bucket of water that leaked last night all over the spare bedroom carpet , which was enormously welcome when we were all trying to get out of the door this morning…this beer had better be good.

PS: It’ll be getting a dose of 30g of Summit pellets for dry-hop on Monday (at 6 days), and I might even keg-hop it with some whole-leaf summit in a hop sock as I need that sort of hoppiness in my life.!

Home-Brewed Fresh Hop Cascade Pale Ale (Braumeister Version)

20141001_121644My Cascade hop bine just before harvest

Oh my god.  I can still smell hops…even though I brewed well over 14 hours ago, I’ve had a shower and all of the clothes I brewed in are in the wash (even my socks reeked of hops).  How could this be?

Well.  Yesterday evening I cut down my bine and harvested 360g of fresh Cascade hops.

It’d be a shame not to use them now, wouldn’t it?

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360g of fresh hop goodness.  I could have just poured milk on them and had them for breakfast

Now how to use those in a recipe?  I’d no idea what the Alpha Acid content of those fresh hops were, so I just blind guessed at 7%.

Cascade in a packet (2013 harvest) are 9.1% – and Beer Engine reminded me the last lot I used were somewhere around 6%, so 7% seemed a good enough punt for me.

According to Jason King on a recently viewed episode of Chop and Brew (http://chopandbrew.com/episodes/chop-brew-episode-14-brewing-with-freshwet-hops/) the human tongue can’t really discern a change in International Bittering Units of +/-10, so as I was also going to really only use them for very late boil additions and not bittering I guessed I’d probably be OK.

I picked up all of my ingredients from Archie at Hops and Vines in Witney (http://www.hopsandvineshomebrew.co.uk/).  Archie has only just bought the business from Mike – who has decided to retire.

If you’re up Witney way you can’t go far wrong than drop in and stock up on some bits and bobs.  Archie also stocks hops and malt from Rob at The Malt Miller, so you know it’s all quality gear.  I’ll do a more thorough write-up in future.

The recipe, just below, was fairly easy to put together and was really just a user-upper of things I had left over (bar the Maris Otter and Cascade dry hops from Archie).

I included the Palm Sugar as I wanted to try and up the ABV on the smaller malt bill and was also looking to dry out the body – which, combined with the US-05 yeast should do the job admirably.

 

FreshHopCascade

I fiddled about with the hop quantities to make the recipe work.  Bear with me here…  In theory you need 5x the weight of fresh hops for the equivalent dry, so I took my 360g and divided it by 5 – giving me the figure of 72 (rounded up to 70, dead) So in dry hop terms I had 70g to play with (no, I got lost too…), so I split that between the ten and five minute additions 30g/40g(ish) – again, in dry hop terms.  In wet that turned out to be 150g/210g.  My maths is probably all shot to shit there, but it worked out after a fashion, so I’m happy.

I did also have to steep the palm sugar blocks (which look like something out of Amsterdam) in warmish water until they dissolved before adding the resulting gorgeous liquor straight to the boil…

 

20141001_132152It’s just sugar, officer, honestly…

 

So once the Braumeister had finished it’s new mash schedule of:

38C  Dough-in
67C  Maltose Rest
78C Mash-out

We got the usual magnificent-looking wort:

20141001_152728Look at it, just look at it. That’s a seriously clear wort…

 I then sparged the now-lifted malt-pipe with 3.5Litres of water, giving me a pre-boil volume of 27L, the sugar solution was then added and the Braumeister set to “boil”.

Once the boil was on, I added the dry Cascade hops for the bittering charge – 40 or so IBU means that it should be smooth enough but with a touch bitter on the back-end.  The last ten minutes meant the adding of Irish Moss and the immersion chiller – plus a dose of flavour hops, again Cascade.

Then we got five minutes from the end.  Boom – 150g of fresh hop goodness with a backup of 5g of dried:

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Anyone for Brussels Sprouts?

These soon soaked up the wort and got to work spreading the Humulone joys:

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Five minutes later it was time for flame-out.  The boil was stopped, the next 20og(ish) of fresh hops went in and the the chiller went on until we hit 80C.  Chilling was then stopped and I left the whole thing covered for a nice half-hour hop-stand.  That should really extract the aromas.

 

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After the hop stand I ran the lot out into the fermenter.  See how the hops have soaked up the wort, realeased their goodness and sunk to the bottom of the boiler.  They look a bit like ghosts now:

 

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I ended up with nearly 22L of 1051 wort that should ferment out to 1009 with a bit of luck, giving me something like 5.5% ABV.  I’ll let you know how it goes…  I’ve still got 20g of Dry cascade for dry-hopping…as if it’ll need it!

Summer Storm Ale (A Hop Back Summer Lightning Clone) in a Braumeister – Tasting Notes

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If you remember, a few weeks back I put this Hop Back Summer Lightning clone together (https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/06/05/summer-storm-ale-a-hop-back-summer-lightning-clone-in-a-braumeister/) as I knew we’d be having a couple of parties (the boys’ first and third birthdays and my fortieth – yes, I do look and feel that old)

Well, this beer appears to have been a minor hit…in fact the Hob Goblin and London Pride bottles that I’d bought as back-up for both events were UNTOUCHED; Yes, that’s right, they all preferred to drink my Summer Storm beer – which might have been purely out of politeness – but everyone had seconds (and thirds and some of them, fourths) so it must have been OK…

Summer Storm arrives in a glass a pleasant light-brass colour and sports a jolly head that sits around for a bit and never really retires.  It has a mineral and malty aroma with a hint of East Kent Golding Hops – but not nearly as much as I’d imagined there’d be after stuffing a WHOLE PACKET into it, either way it’s an enticing aroma and is clean and not the faintest bit “home-brewey”

The mouth feel is pretty good, being neither too heavy or too light and the taste is of a nice light malt character with a residual sweetness that fades to a satisfying bitterness.  The after-taste is surprisingly enduring and is of solid English hops.

I’m very happy with how this one turned out, but I think it could probably do with a more discernible ale-y yeast character…something like Windsor or Nottingham; but other than that minor quibble, it worked a treat.  I’d definitely brew this one again, people liked it and so do I…

Summer Storm Ale (A Hop Back Summer Lightning Clone) in a Braumeister

We’ve got a party coming up in a few weeks, there’s going to be a few people there who like their beer and I intend to serve them up something that’s befitting of the season…if not the weather.

As Hop Back Summer Lightning is THE summer beer that all others aspire to, I decided to work up a clone recipe.

Looking at other clones of HBSL, they all seem to be a bit light-handed with the East Kent Goldings hops and fairly hefty on the alcohol.  Because I don’t want a party full of slavering maniacs, I’ve dialled the gravity back a bit to 4.5% from the 5% of the original, and I’ve pumped the hops right up to make up for it. A WHOLE PACK in fact. God, it makes me feel alive to write that…

I used Chinook for bittering because I happened to have an opened pack in the freezer.  Normally I would have used some of a fresh pack of Target or Challenger, but I’m too tight-fisted for that.

Here’s the recipe:

Summer Storm Ale

I’m using US-05 yeast again because I love it a bit too much and it’ll rip through this wort like a chainsaw through a turd – probably finishing up at around 1009 or so and giving me those extra few points to 4.5%.

Of course US-05 is such a clean-living beast that it won’t over-power the whole thing with farty esters – meaning that even the rubbish-lager-loving dimbos* can enjoy it too.

(*not that we’ve invited any…)

I’ll let you all know how it turns out.  I must write up the notes about the HxPA too, mustn’t I?  Bad Jon.

(PS: I used whole hops too and managed not to bung the Braumeister up.  A simple sheet of fine-ish stainless steel mesh between the element and the tap hole saved me a ton of grief.  I’ll post some pictures when I remember.)