Raspberry Porter and Jalapeno Ale update

About 1.5 lbs of Raspberries washed and thawed

About 1.5 lbs of Raspberries washed and thawed

This summer hasn’t really been the most optimal time for brewing for me.  I think I’ve made a few good brews, one competition brew, and at least one beer I wasn’t completely satisfied with.  The jury’s still out on the competition beer since I haven’t taken a taste yet, but the others are all either in the rear-view mirror or only have a couple bottles left.  Now, as Labor day is almost upon us (the unofficial end of summer in the US), is as good as any time to look back and talk about the results of some of the more interesting batches.

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Jalapeno Ale Mini Batch

Late boil addition of hops and sliced jalapeno peppers

Late boil addition of hops and sliced jalapeno peppers

Recently I’ve been trying to experiment with a few new ideas and keep the brew days fresh and interesting.  Although I readily admit that I have an immense amount of learning to do to become a solid brewer, switching things up and doing something new is a good way to not get bored or stuck in a rut.  After the idea for the bacon beer was formed in my mind, other somewhat weird brewing possibilities started popping up.  The jalapeno ale was one of them.  After doing a little poking around, I found some recipes and tried my best to see if there was a consensus as to how to make the pepper flavor come through.  Should the peppers be roasted?  Added to the boil?  De-seeded? Added in the secondary? How many? etc.  The problem I found was that it seemed that everyone had their own way of doing things and had results they enjoyed. Continue reading

On Bottling… And the Unintended Consequences of Experimental Batches

Bottling line @Clipper City

Too bad you can’t fit one of these machines in an apartment (Photo credit: cizauskas)

I’ve been unable to post much the last couple weeks because of non beer related things in my life, but at least I have a bunch of topics queued up for posts now.

Whenever the topic of bottling comes up whether in conversation or while reading there is one thing everyone seems to feel:  Bottling day is a pain in the butt.  Maybe I just read books that hate the process, I’m not quite sure but usually people seem to say the faster you move on to kegging, the happy your brewing life will be.  I happened to disagree with this overall idea… although my recent bottling day has made me at least reevaluate that. Continue reading

Bacon Maple Early Tasting

For the most part my curiosity is hard to keep in check.  Once my beer gets bottled, it is hard for me not to think about what the final product is going to be like.  From my first extract batch until now, I find it quite hard to wait even two weeks for the beers to get even a decent amount of bottle conditioning.  The Bacon Maple Ale, now dubbed “The Balanced Breakfast Brew” was no different.  Seven days.  That’s as long as I could hold out.  Boy, I must have a weak will.

The good thing happens to be that this beer – which I was sure was going to be a total train wreck – actually is tasting pretty darn good at this stage in its life.   Continue reading

Maple Bacon Breakfast Ale

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Time to experiment!

I think once in a while it is good to go off the deep end and experiment with something completely different even if you know it will probably fail.  This beer is going to be one of those times.  While enjoying a few beers with a bunch of my friends, we started talking about different beer flavors that may work well.  The idea of a breakfast themed beer caught my attention and curiosity.  At the time I had no idea that Rogue makes a version of bacon maple ale.  When I found this out, I was disheartened but my resolve was unwavering.  When I looked at the reviews of the Rogue beer on BeerAdvocate.com, that’s when I wavered… but only for a second.  How much harm could one tiny, one-gallon batch of beer do?  Forget the fact that as I’m writing this I’m still not completely sure how I’m going to prepare the bacon, or the fact that I’ve read that getting maple flavor to stay in the beer and not be fermented out can be tricky.  Those can easily be overcome with a little research and common sense.  What can’t be overcome is the fact that I’m almost positive I added too much carafa II to the mash.  This could turn into a roasty mess. Continue reading

Galaxy White IPA

Anchorage Brewing Company's Galaxy White IPA

This 750ml bottle was given to me as a gift recently and it was some very interesting stuff.  I haven’t had many White IPAs so I can’t say that I’m an expert in this rather interesting style.  From what I am led to believe, the White IPA is somewhat like a cross between a Belgian Witbier and a good old India Pale Ale.  Sounds just about perfect to me as the weather is starting to get hot and humid.  A nice wheat crispness is always a solid contribution to summertime brews.  Then I saw the kicker on the front of the bottle… “Bottled with Brett”.  This got me very interested.  Bottle conditioned using wild yeast, this, I thought, was going to be different.  The bottle also mentioned that it had wine yeast added and that it was aged in oak wine tanks.  At this point I honestly didn’t know what I was in for.  This beer was bottled in August 2012, so it has been bottle conditioning for almost a whole year.  I had a feeling that this was going to have a lot of Brettanomyces characteristics and maybe not quite the hop bite that it would’ve had at an earlier date.

I popped this baby open and started to pour.  I poured as slowly as I could, and yet I still got a full pint glass of head.  This beer was extremely fizzy and that’s not a bad thing for a summer thirst quencher.  I took a whiff and I was surprised at what I smelled.  I can’t say I’ve had much of an introduction to Brett beers up to this point but it was unmistakable.  An extremely funky, horse, barnyard, smell was overpowering the other aromas and I was already a bit scared to take a taste.  As I gave it a little more of a whiff I could tell that there were some fruity notes under that heavy blanket of Brett aroma but it was hard for me to get past it.  The taste was also extremely funky, much like the aroma but with a distinct wine note to it on the end.  There’s definitely some fruity stuff going on as well, but once again the wild yeast is definitely front and center and it is hard to separate it from the other layers.

This beer is complex, and not very approachable.  The other person that was tasting this with didn’t like it at all.  I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t too sure I liked it much myself since I was unaccustomed to the funky aroma/taste that this beer had in spades, but as I drank it, it started to grow on me.  I don’t think this would be a beer I’d drink all the time, but I would certainly love to taste a young batch and an older batch of this at the same time.  I think not only would it be fun to see how much the overall flavor changed in that time, but also to see if it would be easier to pick out the other notes in the younger beer in order to have a better sense of those flavors underneath the Brettanomyces flavor in the older one.