Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Gallagher's Smashed Watermelon Wheat

This weeks recipe is not a tried and true one, it is actually something I came up with yesterday and plan to brew this Sunday. I will give updates on the progress but it is a very very simple recipe and I think it's going to turn out pretty damn swell.

I am not huge on fruit beer but I do like it during the warm summer months. Some people will tell you they are girly drinks then you find them in the bathroom chugging down smirnoff ice...The key with fruit beer is to have a fruit presence but know that you are still drinking manly beer. I have never been able to produce a great fruit beer. I have made a few decent cherry wheat's but they usually end up too dry and can have some funky off flavors. I attribute it to the fact that I bottle condition all my beer, when you add fruit to the secondary the yeast eats through all that new sugar and really drys out the beer. If I kegged my beer then I could kill off the yeast with some sorbate or whatever, condition the beer with fruit, then transfer to a keg and introduce store bought CO2. If you people would like to support me so that I can afford a kegging system along with a home built kegorator CLICK ON THE ADS and browse around, you might just find something you like too! 

I haven't brewed for while so I knew I needed to get something goin on this long holiday weekend. I thought about what I wanted to make and nothing was appealing to me. Then as I was taking a leak I see this month's Zymurgy on my magazine pile and think a fruited wheat beer would be good for this warm weather that is upon us. They had some crazy recipes in there for passion fruit mango wheat beer but I decided I wanted to go real simple with this.

I have herd great things about 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and I love watermelon in the summer so I thought why not. Like I said though I wanted to make this real simple. I decided not even to bother with real fruit, I bought some watermelon extract from the homebrew store and will just add when I bottle...

I think this should be great for a quick turnaround and also good info to get on this blog. There isn't that much info out there about beers just using extract flavoring and I intend to at least let people know how the watermelon stuff works. One of the best fruit beer I have had was a raspberry wheat down in Tucson, Arizona. I contacted the brewer about it and he told me all they use is raspberry extract, so extract must be decent.

Ok on with the show:

5 gallons

Simple 60/40 (almost) grain bill

5.5 lbs Rahr Pale Malt
4.0 lbs Rahr White Wheat Malt

Mash around 153 for 60 minutes

.3 oz  GR Magnum 12AA @ 60 min

Wyeast 1007 German Ale fermented at 62 degrees

After fermenting skip 2ndary fermentation (wheat beer should be cloudy anyway) add priming sugar and 4 oz Watermelon extract to bottling bucket...mix, bottle, store, enjoy.

OG: 1.052 FG: 1.012 IBU: 16 SRM 3.6 Alc by vol: 5.27%

If you want to try an extract go with 5.5 lbs wheat DME...that is usually a mix of 60/40 towards the wheat direction but it won't make a huge difference.

Hopefully the end product will turn into a refreshing wheat beer with a presence of watermelon.

I will update as the progress goes along.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Brewpub Review: Vine St Pub &, Denver CO

The Vine St Pub is the third installment of a very successful brewpub the Mountain Sun. With two locations in Boulder and this one in Denver it is still hard to find a seat.

 The Vine St Pub & (check out the sign) is located at 17th and Vine St about a mile outside of downtown Denver. I am lucky enough to be within walking distance so I can enjoy a delicious pint any time I please. Currently their beers are produced at the two Boulder locations but construction (hopefully) has started in the backroom to make this location the main brewery. I am hoping to get this thing finished and also hoping I can get a job working there. Would be pretty pretty nice to be able to walk to work AND brew. 

If you want a seat right away I would probably advise to go during lunch (weekends only) or later at night. From about 4pm to 9pm the place is pretty packed and for larger groups you'll probably have about an hour wait. It's worth it though and they keep you happy with free fries and beer while you wait. Vine St, as well as their other two pubs, have weekly entertainment if that's your kind of thing. Local bands and musicians are invited in, as well as open bluegrass picks for anyone that wants to bring in their banjo. On the opposite side of the outdoor eating area above they have cornhole games set up so you can practice for the tailgating olympics. If physical activity is not really your thing then you can exercise your brain inside with board game offerings like scrabble, connect 4, boggle, yatzee, or you can even bring your own.

Vine St has a great selection of beer and you'll probably be able to find something that you like. They will always have their mainstays Kind, Illusion Dweller IPA, Java Porter, Quinns Golden, Annapurna Amber, and blackberry wheat. They also have a rotating stock of other seasonal creations as well as "Guest" brews on tap. A pint is normally $4.20 but they have happy hour 4-6pm & 10pm to close everyday where a beer is $3. Also if you wear a branded shirt you can have happy hour all day on Tuesdays. On the occasion that you have one of those assholes that will only drink wine because they sit on a throne of entitlement they also have a few bottles they would be willing to serve.

Along with great beer they serve very tasty food at a very reasonable price. I guess you could call it standard bar fare but the quality is up there in the ranks. They have daily specials that I always tend to try and superb burgers that you must have the first time you go in. If you are on a budget you can grab a recession burger for 4 bucks with fries included. My one gripe is that they serve tortilla chips as the standard side rather than fries and charge a buck if you want to upgrade to fries...That's all well and good but come on, if you serve tortilla chips you gotta give a little thing of salsa for them. I usually end up dousing them in malt vinegar. In regards to the fries though, they are some of the best I have ever had so they are worth the upgrade if you are feeling frivolous. If you were me you would probably end up getting the gooney bird sandwich, chicken sandwich,  the special, or a burger on each visit, it's possible that you don't have the refined palate that I do so you can take a look at everything they have right here.

There is a reason that I average at least one time a week at this place and it is not because it is two blocks away. Great atmosphere, great beer, great food, usually a great staff, and it just feels like you are welcome there. This is a classic example of the American version of a British pub. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beer Review: Dixie Brewing Company - Dixie Beer

Dixie brewing company was devastated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They have yet to reopen their doors in New Orleans and there product line is currently being brewed by Minhas Craft Brewery.

*via Photobucket Jamesssavik

The brewery was under 9 feet of water and much of the equipment was looted during the aftermath. Owners Joe and Kendra Bruno would love to reopen but the future is uncertain. If you see Dixie beer in the store pick up a 6 pack and help support regrowth in New Orleans. The Dixie brands are now available in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

Appearance: Pours golden, crystal clear with a tall white head that quickly dissipates to almost nothing.

Aroma: Smells slightly fruity with a strong presence of sweet corn. Ends with noble hops and grainy maltiness. 

Flavor: Strong noble hop flavor throughout taste very pilsner like. Sweet corn is pretty strong along with some grainy malt. Beer is quite balanced with the sweetness of the corn and the hop bitterness. Does not linger very long on the tongue and ends very crisp and dry. Seems like a fruity lager yeast is used. Can tell this is an adjunct beer mostly corn but maybe some hints of rice. 

Mouthfeel: Very thin, but a refreshing thin. Carbonation is low to medium  

Overall: This is a pretty good lawnmower beer. I would describe it as somewhere between a pilsner and a cream ale. It is a very unique tasting beer and I have never really come across anything like it. This would be perfect for a BBQ on a warm day, maybe enjoyed with some BBQ chicken.  For an easy drinking beer at 4.5% ABV this has a lot of flavor. I would recommend going out and trying it for yourself...this would probably appeal to a wide variety of drinkers including BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) drinkers.   

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hop of the Week: Hop Breakdown

Hops are one of the main ingredients in beer, and according to the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Purity Law) it is one of four ingredients allowable when producing beer. 

But what are hops? I am going to attempt to give a breakdown of that little green bud that does so much for our drink of choice.

History: Before the introduction of hops to beer, ancient brewers used all kinds of different herbs to balance out the sweetness of the malt in beer. Some of these herbs would include types of evergreen like juniper and heather, or other bitter herbs like dandelion, licorice, anise, mandrake, and horehound. Hops began being bred in Europe during the 8th century. During this time they were used for different types of medicines because of the antiseptic quality they were believed to possess. It is debatable, so I will just say that hops were first used in the process of beer production somewhere between the 10th and 11th centuries. After the first introduction of hops it was noticed that they had a somewhat antibiotic effect and contributed to a better stability of beer, warding off any organisms that were undesirable in the finished product. Since then hops have been used in beer for flavor, aroma, and stability.

Production: Hops are produced all over the world and thrive best around the 48° latitude. They are however produced in many different areas of the globe each growing climate being a factor in yield and oil compositions which have an effect on flavor and aroma. Hops are a bine plant, which use different means of climbing then vine plants. Hops use their big stem and hairs to aid themselves in climbing upward. Hop fields are planted with high overhead stands that have a wire that allows each hop plant to grow tall.

After harvest, hops are for the most part dried (some craft breweries use fresh hops for certain beers) and stored as three different types:

Whole: Nothing is done to the hops after drying. These are the quickest to degrade.
 Pellet: Hop material is ground and highly compressed into pellet form. These will last the longest but are harder to separate from the wort. 

 Plug: Hop material is also compressed but into a larger form, mostly 1 oz plugs, which make it easy for the homebrewer for measurement. After re-hydrating in the wort they will return mostly to their original form.

Results from all three are basically the same. Craft breweries will usually use the first two examples. 

Composition: Hops have two main resins, alpha acids and beta acids, that contribute to the end product in beer. Alpha acids impart the bitter flavor in beer that balance out the sweetness of the malt. To achieve this the alpha acids must isomerize during the boil, which is why the bittering addition is usually added at or near the beginning of the boiling process. Beta acids do not contribute much to the flavor of a beer, they do not isomerize in the boil and have a bigger factor in the ending aroma of a beer. Hops with high amounts of beta acids are usually saved for end additions so the compounds are not completely boiled off. However some beta acids can oxidize into non desirable compounds in beer.

Along with the acids hops have essential oils that contribute to the aroma and flavor that is produced in the ending product. The hop varieties that have desirable flavor and aroma traits are usually reserved for later boil additions so that the essential hop oils are not evaporated out. Flavor additions are usually not boiled more than 30 minutes, mostly added between 10 and 20 minutes left in the boil. Aroma additions are usually added very close if not at the end of the boil. Dry hopping is also a technique used in today's craft breweries. This is the act of adding hops after fermentation has completed. This allows the hop oils to penetrate the beer without being able to evaporate with a violent boil or fermentation. Dry hopping has a great affect on the aroma of a beer. The four main essential oils are Myrcene, Humulene, Caryophyllene, and Farnesene.

All of these compounds are produced in the lupulin glands,if holding onto a whole hop you will notice a yellow sticky substance referred to as lupulin.

Key facts: If you are a dog owner be sure to keep your dogs away from hops. They are highly toxic and will kill a dog in small amounts. Hops are a homeopathic medicine used for sleeplessness, restlessness, and insomnia. Hops degrade quickly when in the presence of light and air, store in a dark cool place preferably under a vacuum.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brewpub Review: Great Divide Taproom Denver, CO

Well ironically the first brewpub review is not really a brewpub but just Great Divide's tap room that is connected to the brewery...But ya know what this is my blog so I do what I want. Plus it's just a generalized title alright?

Located in downtown Denver at 22nd and Arapahoe the Great Divide tap room is a perfect place to hit up happy hour after a long boring day at work. With 3 dollar pints (4 at normal time) you can't really go wrong. Be ready to get a little buzzed though because there is nothing being served from the taps under %5.1 alc by volume.

Right behind the tap wall lies the brewery. You can almost imagine that the beer flowing from the taps is coming straight out of the gigantic conical fermenters.  Going at the right time you can look through the windows and see the brewers tasting the latest creations. The jealousy may make you a little stabby though.

The space is pretty limited, so in the colder months you better get in early because the inside has room for maybe 20 people around the bar. Luckily spring has finally sprung here in Denver and the outside tables are open again increasing the capacity by about 30-40 people. If you do need a little somethin in your gut to soak up some of the beer they have chips and nuts available for purchase at the bar.

You can't really go wrong with anything they are serving up here. "Belgica" the Belgian IPA that we started out with was fantastic and the staple DPA (Denver Pale Ale) pictured behind is a fine example of the style. There is something that every beer drinker will enjoy unless you only like flavorless piss water then you're out of luck. The taps will change from time to time with the seasonal rotation and also sometimes you'll be lucky enough to come in when they have a special offering at the tap room only. If you like a good india pale ale definitely start out with the Titan IPA, it is one of the best that I have ever had. 

The Dunkelweiss is terrific and would be perfect to accompany a warm day. The correct type glassware for the offerings is a nice touch too.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about what they are serving and you are not going to break the bank for some high quality stuff. So if you're in downtown Denver I would recommending stopping by this place for a pint or two.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Beer Review: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IIPA

I am going to admit I love hoppy beers, it's an aquired taste, well I would say it is actually a learned taste. That's not to say that I don't enjoy a good bock when it is called for or something else on the malty side of the spectrum. But as the days get longer and warmer there is really nothing better to enjoy on the back deck then something full of hoppy bitterness/aroma/flavor.

Today's review is Dogfish Head 90 minute Imperial (strong) India Pale Ale. Dogfish head puts out three in this series a 60 min, 90 min, and 120 min. The time refers to how long these beers are continuously hopped. Oh, I should probably explain further, Dogfish Head has developed some sort of hopper (no pun intended) that basically continuously adds hops to the boiling wort. The normal process is adding bittering and flavor/aroma additions at different times during the boil. The explanation for what this actually does is included with the brewery's beer description below.

90 Minute IPA

Availability: Year Round
Esquire Magazine calls our 90 Minute IPA., "perhaps the best I.P.A. in America." An Imperial I.P.A. brewed to be savored from a snifter. A big beer with a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate.
90 Minute IPA was our first continually-hopped beer, which is a method of hopping that allows for a pungent, but not crushing hop flavor. Since introducing the world to the continual-hopping method with our 90 Minute IPA, we've since released a continually-hopped 60 Minute IPA, 120 Minute IPA and even a 75 Minute IPA (a cask-conditioned blend of 60 & 90 Minute IPAs).
In addition to the continual-hopping 90 Minute IPA recieves during the boil, we also utilize our 'Me So Hoppy' device to dry-hop the beer during conditioning

Original Release Date: 04/2001
Food Pairing Recommendations: Pork chops, beef, grilled fish, frites, focaccia, split pea soup, Stilton cheese & escargot
Glassware Recommendation: Snifter
Tasting Notes: Brandied fruitcake, raisiney, citrusy

Appearance: Pours a fluffly white head with good lacing. Orange to light amber in color. Head sticks at one finger. Beer was slightly cloudy probably because of the massive amount of hop oils in there.

Aroma: Malty Vienna like aroma up front running into an array of hop types...earthy, floral, and citrus hops evident. Alcohol is also present, the aroma ends with dark orange peel. 

Flavor: Hops pretty much dominate the flavor profile although you can tell the biscuity malt balances the amount of hops out well and is evident in the beginning of the sip. Somewhat astringent, hop flavor goes from earthy to floral to citrus ending with an orange type citrus flavor. Some dark fruit and alcohol is evident. The bitterness is rather smooth for the amount of hop flavor. Very complex, there is a lot going on there.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied beer with a low to medium carbonation.

Overall: I may be the first person who doesn't go ape shit over this beer. There is a lot of hype behind it and just like beer judges others are easily persuaded. This is not to say I didn't enjoy it, I just think there is way too much going on...They probably use at least 5 different hop types and I think this doesn't exactly let them shine like IPAs do per say. Looking at the brewery's tasting notes It does remind me somewhat of brandied fruit cake and I am really not a big fan of fruit cake. All in all I think why I am being hard on it is that it shouldn't be called an Imperial IPA, this is a Barley wine, leave IIPAs to Oskar Blues' Gubna and Russian River's Pliny the Elder. Also, I think DFH overcharges (at least the distributor does) for their beer, I can get hundreds of other craft brew 6 packs for 2-4 dollars less then the $10 dollar price tag per DFH sixer or in this case a four pack. I'll let the price gap slide for the 90 min though as there are a lot of ingredients that go into making a 9% alc beer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hop of the Week: Centennial

This week we will be reviewing another one of the "C" hops. Centennials are another strain that has been widely used by the American craft brewing world.

*Data from Hopunion Variety Databook

Pedigree: Selected from a cross between Brewer’s Gold and a
selected USDA male.

Maturity: Mid-season

Disease/Pest Susceptibility: No visible reaction to infection with Prunus necrotic
ring-spot virus. Moderately resistant to downy
mildew and Verticillium wilt.

Aroma: Medium intensity with floral and citrus tones
Alpha Acids: 9.5 – 11.5% w/w
Beta Acids: 3.5 – 4.5% w/w
Co-Humulone: 29 – 30% of alpha acids
Storageability: 60 – 65% alpha acids remaining after 6 months
storage at 20ยบ C
Total Oil: 1.5 – 2.3 mls/100 grams
Myrcene: 45 – 55% of whole oil 

Humulene: 10 – 18% of whole oil
Caryophyllene: 5 – 8% of whole oil
Farnesene: <1% of whole oil
General Trade Perception: Very balanced hop, sometimes called a super
Possible Substitutions: Cascade, possibly Columbus or Chinook.
Analytically a blend of 70% Cascade and 30%
Columbus will give similar profile.
Typical Beer Styles: All US Ale styles, has been used with US Wheat
Additional Information: Named from the Washington State Centennial
Celebration. At one time this variety was going to
be destroyed for lack of interest by the world’s
major breweries. Today has found a very favorable
following by craft-brewers.

As always I will include some commercial examples so you can really get the feeling of this hop.

 Two Hearted Ale
brewed by Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI
India Pale Ale style well suited for adventurous trips to the Upper Peninsula. American malts and enormous hop additions give this beer a crisp finish and incredible floral hop aroma.

brewed by Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
Get ready to bask in the glory of the frothy head’s floral bouquet. Relish the citrus accents from the abundance of dry-hopping. This one’s sweet, yet balanced. Malty undertones shake hands with the hop character for a finish that never turns too bitter.

Typical use: This is another dual purpose hop. It is high enough in alpha acids that it could be used just for bittering, but why would you want to do that with the great floral/citrusy aroma that this hop will impart in a beer.  

Style use: All American style ales, if you use this in a bitter with a nice malt profile its an American ESB, if you use this in a wheat, its an American wheat, etc. Basically this is the prototypical hop that just screams AMERICA! F*** YEAH!

Flavor/aroma: I get a highly floral aroma with a tinge of citrus. It is a really enjoyable combination. In the taste you will get a little more citrus in the form of grapefruit coming through. If using a lot up front for a bittering addition it will leave a drying bitterness at the end of the sip, so brew accordingly. 

Substitutions: Cascade would be the closest possible substitute. As I said in the first submission that for me cascade seems a little more citrusy whereas centennial is a little more floral. As noted above from the Hopunion data a mix of 70% Cascade and 30% Columbus will get you the closest. I have never tried this but in theory I have to say that sounds like a great way to substitute. Columbus alone as well would be a decent decision. The data above states Chinook which to me has a very sweet floral aroma/flavor so you'll make a good beer but be careful bittering with Chinook it is very harsh on the palate so adjust accordingly. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Denny Conn's Rye IPA

For our third submission I am going with an award winning recipe from a legend in the homebrewing world. Denny is apart of the American Homebrewers Association's Governing Committee, has a Wyeast yeast strain named after him, judges multiple competitions a year, and probably one of the humblest guys around. If you can't get a hold of Denny you are probably doing something wrong, he must be posting on every homebrew forum known to man.

(this is where i learned how to build a mashtun)
Next time somebody says "I want to brew a chick beer, with fruit and low hops", tell 'em the Rye IPA was developed specifically to my wife's tastes! Unless a beer has over 70 IBU, she wants nothing to do with it!
Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (GAL): 5.00
Total Grain (LBS): 16.25
Anticipated OG (starting sugars): 1.073
Anticipated SRM (color): 12.2
Anticipated IBU (bitterness): 75.1
Brewhouse Efficiency (mash efficiency): 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 70 Minutes

11.00 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row) America
3.00 lbs. Rye Malt America
1.25 lbs. Crystal 60L America
0.50 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
0.50 lbs. Wheat Malt America

1.00 oz. Mt. Hood    4.90AA        First Wort Hop
1.00 oz. Columbus  17.80AA       60 min.
0.50 oz. Mt. Hood    4.90AA        30 min.
1.50 oz. Mt. Hood    4.90AA        Flameout
1.00 oz. Columbus  15.00AA       Dry Hop

1.00 Tsp Irish Moss(rehydrate first)  15 Min.(boil)
1.00 Tsp Gypsum                              60 Min.(boil) (boil, not mash)


Wyeast 1450 - Denny's favorite (now available all year)
         *If you cannot find 1450 use Wyeast 1272 or WLP-051
          if you cannot find any of those Wyeast 1056 or WLP-001 work
          ***NO BRITISH YEAST  

Single Infusion Mash @ 153 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes

OG: 1.073 FG: 1.013 IBU: 75.1 SRM: 12.2 Alc by Vol: 7.95%

Rye adds a certain spicey/earth quality to beers, it is not often seen in the commercial beer world but it is gaining popularity. The rye in this recipe works very well with the Mt. Hood and Columbus hops. Take note that Denny has experimented with the recipe to a full extent and this is the final draft. You can make substitutes for the grain/hops/yeast but you are not going to turn out the same will be good, but trust me...not AS good.

This recipe has been posted multiple times on the internet but some that I have seen are not exactly the same (ex: Brew365)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brew Gear: Fermtech Auto siphon

So do I dare talk about an auto-siphon? The views on auto-siphons are like watching a day in congress. No matter what level of brewer you are you are going to have to move large volumes of liquid and you hope to do it in a sanitized way.

Thankfully to Oxford English Dictionary's screwup we now all know that a siphon works by gravity, well probably a mix of things but whatever I am not a scientist I just know that I need this liquid in this thing moved into this other thing.

I did not start using an auto siphon until about a year ago. I used to do all my fermenting in a ported 5 gallon better bottle and control my krausen with fermcap-s (review forthcoming). I could attach some hosing to the spout and let basically a gravity induced siphon do the work. I never purchased a glass carboy because of the horror stories of people breaking them and cutting up their flesh real good. I purchased a few more non-ported 6 gallon better bottles for more fermentation room and my 5 gallon better bottles are now used for secondary.

I use the Fermtech auto siphon when racking (transferring) from my primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter. It is a pretty simple process, sanitize the thing with star san stick it in the better bottle, pump the racking cane once or twice, watch your beer start moving through the tubing. The thing has a little tip on the end that allows the suction to start above the yeast/trub line.

So seems pretty simple huh? I know a lot of people that hate them, mostly for the fact that they see them as disposable tools that will only work for a few uses. The problems I see most are the the outer tube has been cracked and its harder to hold a seal, and the gasket on the inner racking tube is garbage and loses its shape after a few uses. After about a year of use I have not seen these problems with mine. I would ask the haters if they are storing it properly, the best way would be to let them air dry and store in three separate pieces.

I think it is one of those tools that every brewer should have. It beats having to risk infection from anyone of the thousands of bacteria that live in your mouth. If you need to transfer this is probably the easiest and simplest way (unless you have a ported carboy). I would probably recommend this over the ported better bottles for the mere fact that those things are quite pricey, the carboy is probably around $25 and the actual spout somewhere around $40, the auto siphon will usually run around $10 at your local homebrew store with another extra buck for the tubing.

If mine ever starts to fail I will come back and post that, but at a year of use for 10 bucks I would go and buy another one.

Here's is a great post over at Mike's Brew Review discussing the 3 different ways to siphon beer.