Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cromwell's IPA

Named in honor of John P Cromwell a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. During WW2 Captain Cromwell, serving aboard the USS Sculpin, was under Japanese depth charge attack. Sustaining heavy damage Cromwell brought the ship to the surface to engage the enemy in surface combat. This gave the crew a chance to abandon the heavily damage submarine while he stayed on board. Possessing secret knowledge of US naval submarine tactics and movements he went down with the ship as she sunk to her grave preserving the vital intel the Japanese surely would have tortured out of him.
This is the second beer in a series I am making in honor of the men who served above and beyond the call of duty while under the waves.

Another first with this beer. It's officially my 1st all grain India Pale Ale (IPA) and once again I am very happy with the results. Up front and very hopped with a citrus flavor it mellows after the first drink to a smooth malt finish. Decently strong, this comes close to 7% ABV. I've made stronger but this has the alcohol burn - or hotness - hidden better than most. This is the first time I've used simcoe hops. I've always wanted to try them ever since I had Great Lakes Barley Wine. Simcoe has a clean pine-like aroma with hints of citrus. It's mainly used for bittering but has a less astringent attribute so it can be added later on instead of early in the boil. I only used 4oz of hops in this recipe and I think using the simcoe makes one believe I used more.

- Grain Bill - 
13 lbs 2 row
12 oz Munich
1 oz Crystal 20
4 oz Crystal 40

- Hops - 
1oz Horizon (60min)
1oz Centennial (10min)
1oz Simcoe (5min)
1oz Amarillo (0min)

- Yeast - 
Wyeast American Ale 1056

This was a tricky one. I needed the infusion temperature to be 150 and some bad calculations gave me 143 degrees which is very low for the 2 row I was using. I tried recirculating a gallon at 160, then 177, then finally I through caution out the window and sparged 1.5 gallons of 177 degree fresh water into the mash tun. This broght my temperature to the desired 150. I collected 6.5 gallons of wort from the infusion and began to boil.
During the infusion I usually get some time to relax, read, and maybe enjoy a stogie. Not this time. Running back and forth to the kitchen trying to heat the water/wort kept me busy for about the hour it's supposed to "soak". Just for the helluvit I let the mash go for another 30 minutes thiking I'd get a little more bang for my buck. I did. My attenuation turned out to be 81% - the highest I've ever had. Attenuation (use of the grains sugars for extracting wort).
Afterwards I boiled with no problems, added the hops when scheduled and my numbers turned out exactly the way I wanted them. OG = 1/065 and after 1 week at 68 degrees FG turned out to be 1.012.

It's sitting on tap right now and very very tasty! Sweet pine aroma from the simcoe hops, a citrusy stomping on the palette blends smoothly with a sweet yet dry malty finish.


The Eric Stout

The Eric Stout

My 1st Oatmeal Stout and I couldn't be happier! "Chocolaty" with a roasty slight coffee finish. Smooth and light, easy to drink, too easy, I had 3 last night without noticing. Unfortunately this may be a one time brew and I'll explain why later. See red lettering. What's with the name? A friend of mine had me and another friend out to Oregon last year and after a few rounds he forced me to make a beer in his namesake. Nah I volunteered. It's an ode to the absolute blast the 3 of us had in Oregon. Drinking and hiking, hiking and drinking. Eric is a great friend to have and I'm more than happy I could make this for him. I can't wait to get back out there, I love Portland. I recommend going if you have the opportunity.

I think the brewing and friendship spirits where present when I made this. Even though there were multiple undesirable events it still came out great. I may even enter it into the National Homebrewers Competition in April.  

 - Grain Bill - 
10 lbs 2 Row 
8 oz Roasted Barley
1 lb Crystal 120
12 oz Quaker Oats (not the minute oats, I used the original)
12 oz American Chocolate Malt
4 oz American Black Malt

 - Hops - 
.5 oz Cascade (90min)
.5 oz Willamette (90min)
.5 oz Cascade (30min)
.5 oz Willamette (15min) 
Wyeast 1056 American Ale 

My strike water was 165 and once the grain was added it brought it down to 149. Panic ensued - not really but I was concerned about the temp. I needed 153 (yes it makes a difference, I found out with last years Christmas Ale) so I drained off about a gallon and brought it to 177 degrees then sparged back into the grain bed. Miraculously it did the trick and the grain bed was brought up to 153. This is one of the problems I encounter with not having a recirculated mashing system but I'm slowly getting there. If the mash isn't exposed to a heating source then the possibility of low temperature exists. 
After an hour of sitting at 153 degrees I "mashed out" with 170 degree water and extracted 6.5 gallons of wort.
Added the hops and brought the wort to a hard boil which boiled over once but was under control after that. In doing that I know I must've lost a bunch of the Cascade and Willamette in the beginning stages. Life goes on.
After a 90 minute boil and 2 hop additions I got ready for the cooling. I inserted my chiller and the damn thing ruptured inside the wort releasing a little hose water into the wort. After pulling the chiller out of the wort I threw the pot into a vat of ice water and salt. Salt? It was a whim. I read an article where it's possible to chill a can of soda in about 3 minutes submerging it in. ice water and salt. So I thought the same principle should apply here. It did. The wort cooled from 180 degrees to 70 degrees in about 15 minutes. Outstanding. 
I took an initial gravity reading (1.056) and pitched the yeast starter at 64 degrees. Then placed it into the fermenter chiller where it sat at around 68 degrees for a couple hours until the unit chilled it to 62 degrees. Fermentation started in about 12 hours (ALWAYS MAKE A STARTER! It really helps.).
After fermentation was complete (FG 1.016) I took it out of the chiller unit and placed it in a vat of water and ice bottles for about two weeks. It sat at around 46 degrees (yeah I know it's lagering temperature folks) for the duration. This is called crashing the yeast I think but I'm not sure. 
I kegged it and set the the psi to 30 for about 48 hours then dropped it to 5 psi. I'm not quite sure on the numbers but it feels great to me. The resulting brew is pictured above.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day - Rogue Kells Irish Style Lager

Been a while since I reviewed a beer. Since it's St. Patties I thought I might give it whirl.
I picked this up at Kroger tonight. It cost $4.99 which isn't a bad price considering the brewery. I went all out as (note: sarcasm) I was able to with my favorite keep sake from Las Vegas. I look back on the days of swilling at least one green beer, several pints of Guiness, and shots of Irish Mist with a quiet solitude knowing those days are behind me - what I remember anyway.
It's easy to see the hazy orange color and great foamy head but it's the taste that really stands out. This is a great bottle of beer, even for non-craft drinkers(!). The haziness is due to small amounts of wheat which probably adds to the smoothness of this lager. There's a slight biscuit aroma and mild fruity "notes". Taste isn't overwhelming but there's some apple flavor - green apples - and an orange lemony zest at the end which makes this an all aound good session brew. I think I may try to reproduce this some time. It may make for a popular addition to the kegerator.
Was it worth the $5? Yes, indeed, pick one of these up and enjoy it on a nice spring evening.