Friday, February 14, 2014

State of the Homebrew Pipeline Address

Four different homebrewed beers are now making their way through my pipleline, the most I've had going at any one time. Here is the roster, from most recently to least recently brewed:

Racked to secondary this week: Pale Ale with Rye
I hesitate to call this beer a "Rye Pale Ale" or a  "Rye IPA"; I used rye more as an accent than as a main part of the grist, and though I aimed for malt balance, I'm not sure this one quite qualifies as an IPA of any sort. That said, I really wanted to see how the rye combined with Maris Otter malt, which calls more attention to itself with its bready, almost nutty flavor than either 2-row or Pilsner malt, and the piney and slightly spicy flavor of Chinook hops (which I combined with the citrusy Cascade for flavor and aroma). On my first taste at transfer time, I definitely caught a little (though not a ton of) rye flavor and could really taste the Maris Otter in the finish; the hops hit first and were sufficiently prominent to make me consider scaling back the amount of dry hops I plan to add in a week or so--I'd like the finished beer to be fairly balanced, with no one flavor masking the others. This one should be about 6.5% ABV and should be ready to keg by next weekend.

Racked to secondary last week and currently cold conditioning: California Common
I love this style. I made only minor tweaks to a recipe I've been working on for awhile, adding a little carapils for better mouthfeel and dry hopping with a small amount of Cascade hops (which I'll add in a week or two) to add a citrus roundness to the more earthy Northern Brewer hops that help define the style; pre-Cascade, it was already in good shape, with a good smoothness from the cooler fermentation. I'll let this one condition for a total of 3 or 4 weeks (so another 2 weeks at least) before kegging it; it should be about 5% ABV--a good session beer.

Kegged this week: Oatmeal Sweet Stout
I came up with my first oatmeal stout recipe last fall for my friend Billy to brew for a party; the flavor was good, but the finished beer was a little thin in the mouthfeel for my preference (I like the creaminess of stouts on nitro tap and from the cans with the "widget"--again, just a personal preference). I thus added lactose (milk sugar) to the boil to give it a fuller, creamier mouthfeel. I just kegged it Tuesday and tried a sip yesterday: it's not fully carbonated yet, but WOOOOO I'm really happy with the mouthfeel and flavor. My goal is to let this one sit till Pascha (ie, late April) and then bring it out for Bright Week. It'll be an easy drinker at about 4.5% ABV.

Kegged and ready to serve: Belgian Blonde with Mosaic Hops
This one, which I brewed for the MS Brew Movement Event (next Thursday), is the oddball of the group. My original intention was to simply add American citrusy hops to my basic Belgian Blonde recipe; I started it that way, keeping the overall bitterness low and then dry-hopping with a little Cascade, but since the Cascade did not cut through the way I'd hoped it would and because I had a bunch of Mosaic hops left over from a previous brew, I just chunked them into the carboy to see what they'd taste like. The result? Now the imbalance is on the hop side, with the Mosaic hops (which are fruity but also kind of dank) dominating the flavor, pushing the spicy, delicate Belgian yeast flavors way into the background--they're still there, but the hops are mainly what I taste first, second, and last. Fortunately, I like Mosaic hops, and I think it's a pretty tasty beer and should go over well at the event--but it's not exactly the beer I'd planned to brew.

Next Up: Sticke Alt (stronger version of an Altbier) for the AutoZone Brew Fest and maybe a Maibock for my own enjoyment.

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