Thursday, February 09, 2017

State of the Homebrewery Address, Early 2017

 Belgian-style Tripel
It's February, and, as usual, several of my beers are in various stages of fermenting or conditioning. Here's what's currently in progress:
  • Primary: Rye pale ale w/Centennial and Chinook hops
  • Cold secondary: altbier
  • Newly bottled: Belgian pale (v2) for MS Brew Movement
  • Bottled but sitting for additional conditioning: Brett B Saison (probably 23 flip-top bottles)
  • Bottled and ready to drink: Schwarzbier (20ish bottles)
I also have an assortment of bottles still on hand from previous brews:
  • Festbier (probably 2-4 bottles)
  • Kolsch (probably 4-6 big bottles and a small one)
  • Belgian pale v1 (probably 3-5 bottles)
  • Belgian tripel (4 or 5 bottles)

2016 Successes
  • Festbier (really, really tasty...maybe the best thing I've brewed)
  • Science of Beer pale (good clean, hoppy pale ale)
  • Belgian pale v1 (really improved with age)
  • Kolsch (I'm almost always happy with that style)
  • Whole hop pale ale (one of the better hoppy beers I've brewed)
  • Zwickelbier (first go at decoction)
  • Hefeweizen (decoction mashout)
  • ESB v1 (solid)
  • ESB v2 (different yeast, slightly more flavor hops...smooth and refreshing - and won the DeNeuville contest!)
  • Quick German pils (kind of threw it together for 4th race, but pretty refreshing)
2016 Failures
  • Hoppy wheat ale w/citrus zest (ugh)
  • Hefeweizen w/raspberry and blueberry (some bottles didn't carb, others were bombs; the OK ones were actually kind of boring)
2016 TBD
  • Schwarzbier (though I think it's going to be good)
  • Brett saison (super Brett-y...not much saison flavor. Interesting, not sure I hit what I intended)
  • Belgian tripel (not bad, but just never really mellowed out the way I wanted...a little harsh to my taste)
  • Belgian pale v2 (used 3522 to ferment...very nice at bottling time)
  • Altbier (way too early! really a 2017 beer anyway) 

2016 Miscellany
  • I kegged a beer (pale for Sci of Beer) for the first time in a couple of years. It tasted good and I liked having beer on tap, but a spigot mishap led to several quarts of beer spilling onto my rug and wood floor, so I'm not too motivated to keg again anytime soon!
  • Relatedly, I acquired and then discarded a used dorm fridge--leaked condensation. I'll miss the extra lagering space, but the leaking was a bad deal.
  • Quick lager fermenting (ie, fermenting cold till just over 50% of attenuation has taken place and then letting temp rise) has served me well, as has the ice-pack method of temp control.
  • I continue to be inpatient with bottled beer--let those bottles condition, son!
  • Brewing with friends (eg, Joel, Donnie) is fun, and so is brewing alone. I need to mix in a few more social brew days in with my solo outings.
  • As usual, I ended up with more beer in the fridge than I could drink. I need to give more away and buy less commercial beer!
  • The sump pump/ice bath technique (thanks Jeff K!) really helps me get wort temp down to lager fermentation range.
  • I still struggle with constructive criticism of my beers--I'm way too defensive and am my own greatest hindrance in becoming a better brewer!
So...what do I want to brew this year?
  • ESB/bitter (w/seasonal yeast - split batch between 2 yeast strains)
  • Small saison (no brett...maybe use base recipe from brett one, and really ramp up finishing temp...dry is good)
  • More lagers! I'd love to give a triple-decoction Czech-style pils a go, and I wouldn't mind brewing a German-style pils around the same time for side-by-side comparison. I think another festbier or a Maibock would also be great. A couple of nice lagers would be suitable for Italian Fest.
  • Another fruit this time!
  • Another witbier (for Cortney's wedding, but maybe also a trial run beforehand)
  • A traditional bock