Batch 200

After years of hard work, brewing professionally and at home I truly believe to become a master craftsman you have to not only understand the science behind the craft, but also demonstrate the science through rigorous practice. Whether a carpenter, mason, baker, butcher, farmer or any other craftsman you have to put in the time to develop rhythms while working. Similar to when learning to play an instrument and you develop muscle memory to move your fingers into chord shapes. Getting lost in your work is one of the greatest feelings here on earth. When you find yourself with care only to the task at hand. This can only be done once you've logged enough hours at the task until you're doing much of the work without thinking about it; allowing you to perfect the process. It's not just the brew day that is the craft either; racking, bottling, kegging, are all parts of the process that must be mastered. 

Craft is something you can feel and taste. Dinner at a great restaurant feels different than dinner at Denny's. Chefs aren't born with great knife skills, they have to earn it. Give three different level chefs the same recipe you will have noticeable differences in the final plate. I think the same is true in brewing. The hands that make something means something. The only way to improve is through repetition.

Now for some numbers. Over the last seven years I've brewed 202 batches at home. I started this blog in 2009 and have 158 posts. Few posts are about something other than a batch of beer, so about 75% of my brewing history is on this blog. 

American style Amber ale: Pale malt, Vienna malt, Crystal 120, Melanoidin Malt, Weyermann Carahell, VT grown flaked barley. Bramling Cross for bittering. Challenger for flavor. Cascade at end of boil and a small dry hop. Fermented with American Ale yeast Safale US-05. 

Honey Wheat India Pale Ale

Brewing an India style Pale Ale with honey and wheat malt for a summer twist on an IPA. The honey is from a friends residential hive in Hinesburgh, Vermont. A pound of whole leaf hops at the end of boil split fifty fifty between Comet and Belma hops from Hops Direct LLC. I really enjoyed the dank aroma and flavor from the Comet hops in the finished beer.

English pale malt, Wheat malt, Carahell, and Victory malt. Bravo hops for bittering. Comet and Belma at end of boil. Dry hopped with Cascade, Citra, and UK Pilgrim. Starting gravity of fourteen degrees plato. Fermented with American ale yeast Safale US-05. 

Peaches and Cream Ale

I've brewed a Strawberry and Cream Ale for a couple years. I'm making one change for this batch. Peaches. Same grist bill and hop bill with seven pounds of peaches in a six gallon batch. Check out a video of milling the grain and mashing in. The peaches were washed in a light star san solution. Then into plastic freezer bags and placed in the freezer last summer.

American two row, wheat malt, honey malt, and flaked maize. Sixty, twenty, and five minute hop addition of German Saphir. Fermented with American ale yeast Safale US-05. Starting gravity of twelve degrees plato.

India Pale Ale, cause the kids love it!

Comet hops are an heirloom hop variety that was first planted in 1980. Comet was the result of a wild male hop collected from Logan Canyon, Utah, and crossed with an English hop, Sunshine. While looking up information about Comet, and then UK Sunshine hops I came across a great article from BrewingTechniques' September/October 1995  discussing the role of genealogy in hop substitutions. The article is filled with great historical tidbits about hop origin and hop name stories. I won't look at hop substitutions the same way after reading the article. At one point the article states that "96% of the US hop crop was Cluster". I guess Cluster is the original "C" hop. Understanding hop origins can go a long way towards making hop choices for substitutions and recipes.

Anyway, onto a batch of IPA brewed with a whole bunch of "C" hops. Bravo hops for bittering addition at sixty minutes. Whole leaf Comet hops at five minutes. Whole leaf Belma, Simcoe, and Comet hops at end of boil. I added the Simcoe to play off the wild hop flavor of the Comet hops. Dry hopped with Cascade, Centennial, and CTZ (pellet) hops. Basic grain bill of English pale malt, flaked wheat, honey malt, and weyermann carafoam. Mashed warm at one fifty six. Mash off to one sixty eight. Collect fourteen gallons. Boil to twelve and a quarter gallons. Pitch dry American ale yeast. Ferment. Dry hop. Dry hop, again. IPA!

Maple Sap Amber Porter

Every spring, Vermont maple trees provide a bounty of maple sap that is boiled into maple syrup. In this case, beer.  Some friends had some extra sap and suggested I brew with it. Being as I have yet to use maple sap I was very excited to brew with the sap.

Instead of using sap for the strike water the sap was poured into the kettle and brought to a boil. The sap started at three degrees plato (1.012sg) fresh from the sugar maple tree. Friends Pete and Kimber supplied the sap and helped brew the beer. They we're thinking porter, I was thinking amber ale. We decided on brewing an amber porter. I really like using husk-less roast barley and roasted wheat for beers where you want a clean roasted malt flavor that doesn't overwhelm the rest of the recipe. I'm hoping to taste some maple flavors in this batch. Munton's pale malt for the base. Weyermann carahell and cara red for body and color. Chocolate Wheat and Carafa II for color and flavor. Bittered with Bramling Cross. Flavored with Czech Saaz.

While mashing in the amber porter I reduced the sap from five gallons to two gallons in the time it took for the collected wort to be combined with the boiling sap. The sap measured five and a half degrees plato (1.022sg). After pouring the wort in with the sap I started a ninety minute boil. Adding hops with sixty and ten minutes left in the boil. Fermented with US-05.

Low Gravity IPA

Isn't that just a pale ale? Short answer, no. Long answer, in the 1970's a craft beer revolution was started by home brewers in their garages, kitchens, and backyards. The generation of Charlie Papazian brewers (home brewer's between 1970's and today who grew up brewing with Charlie Papazian books) paved a way for better beer across the country. As home brewers started opening brewery's new styles were created. Most famously, Sierra Nevada, creating the American style Pale Ale. Today's brewer's are pushing style "guidelines", brewing fermented versions of musical mash ups (Belgian IPA, phenolic yeast with American hop varieties). American brewers brew without the history and dogma of traditional brewing regions. In Germany, the rich scientific brewing tradition is at odds with an ageing population and a youth culture moving towards spirits and alcopop. In a recent article it stated, "Today's youth do not think of beer as fashionable. The trend is moving toward alco-pops, or alcoholic mixed drinks." According to Koenig, Germans spend more on wine than beer. Alco-pops are popular in the states as well, but the home brew movement in the states gave way to a new beer culture with over two thousand breweries open and tens of thousands more home brewer's. Just like discovering a new band, food, or finding a new beer style that you like, it can be exciting. With this next generation of drinkers and brewers we're able to digest the extreme beer aught years and keep moving forward. Where a session IPA is becoming the "new pale ale". 

Lew Bryson has been pushing the low alcohol beer movement for years, and more and more it seems like it's finally taking hold. A cool thing is happening. The opposite of the extreme years. Where, instead of taking traditional styles and making them bigger and bolder (higher abv and more hops) brewers are lowering the abv but challenging ourselves to not lose flavor. The rise of table, session, "everyday" beer styles is exciting. Thus today's batch of beer, a Low Gravity IPA. Target is a four point three percent pale ale with the hop rate and character of an IPA. It's more challenging to make a flavorful beer that's lower than five percent and still be malty and flavorful than brewing seven percent pale ale brewed with double ipa hop rates. IPA is the most popular style by sales across the county. It's been an obvious style candidate to shrink. Examples such as Lagunitas Fractional IPA, Otter Creek Hop Session, and Founder's All Day IPA. With brewery's like Notch Brewing whose only focus is on producing beer lower than five percent Lew Bryson should be happy to know that the full flavor session beer tipping point has taken hold. Let's just hope it lasts. What style do you think will be the next style that we'll be making munchkin versions of?

The challenge to lower gravity beers is to prevent them from being thin and watery. First off mash in warmer than one hundred and fifty two up to one hundred and sixty. Mash temperature is very important to the sugar profile of the wort. Just a few degree mash difference will change the final gravity a few points. Another way to add malt flavor and character is to use base malts that provide more flavor than boring old pale two row. Use heirloom English malts such as Maris Otter and Golden Promise. A good go to is German malts such as Vienna and Munich that provide a more bread-y flavor from being toasted longer than most base malts. I also like to use a larger percent of dextrin malt when brewing low gravity ales and lagers. For example for this beer today I'm using twenty percent cara-pils malt. Seventy percent Vienna malt and ten percent flaked wheat. I also mashed in very warm at one hundred and fifty seven degrees. This low gravity IPA today needs a malt backbone to handle all the hops. Depending on your water you may also want to add brewing salt to your water to provide more mouth feel for your low gravity style mash ups.

Super Galena hops for bittering to forty international bittering units. CTZ hops for flavor addition at thirty minutes. With a late kettle addition of Centennial and whole leaf Citra. I've dry hopped the beer on day two of fermentation with Nelson Sauvin. I'll be dry hopping the heck out of this even more with yet to be determined hops. Fermented with Safale US-05.

Salt and Pepper Gose

Finally brewed a batch at our new house. The last batch I brewed was back in October. Seems like a very long time ago.  My focus has been on starting Burlington Beer Co. Trying to find a location has been frustrating to say the least. My wife and I bought a house built in 1931 with many recent updates over the last five years by the previous owners. We have an acre of land and we are very excited to have space for a garden again. I'll be building quite a few raised beds this spring. Back to the details of this latest batch.

It's my first time brewing a Gose style beer. A traditional sour German wheat beer. This recipe idea is my wife's. She enjoys commercial examples of Gose style beers and wanted me to brew one. For the salt we used a pink Himalayan salt. The pepper was pink peppercorns. For the six gallon batch I used thirty grams of salt. Based off the Mad Fermentationist's Gose where he used fifteen grams for five gallons and said he would double the quantity for the next batch. 

Fairly simple grist bill. Over fifty percent wheat malt. Barley malt, flaked wheat, and acidulated malt round out the grist bill. The acidulated malt will add some tartness. I'd like to inoculate this beer with some lactobacillus, but I need this batch ready in a month so I'll probably be adding a couple ounces of lactic acid to the keg. I feel like it's cheating, but using lactic acid is a quick, sanitary method to sour a beer. I've used plenty of food grade lactic acid in my professional brewing career. Pumping fifty five gallon drums of lactic acid into the whirlopool for Festina Peche when I brewed at Dogfish Head.. All the sourness for that beer comes from food grade lactic acid. For my Gose today I added ten international bittering units of hops at the beginning of boil. This batch is being fermented with Wyeast 1010 American Wheat. The strain should produce a slightly tart, crisp, low ester ale. 

The starting gravity is eleven degrees plato (1.044 SG). This should produce a low alcohol ale that's crisp, but have a fuller mouth feel from all the salt added at the end of boil. Another cool part about this batch is that we have well water at our house. This is my first time brewing with well water. I decided not to filter the water and just brew as is. It will be hard to tell what impact the well water has on this batch because I added so much salt. I'll be brewing a low gravity IPA Tuesday and that batch should be a better indicator of the impact of the well water. I may send out the water for lab samples, but my focus is still on building Burlington Beer Co. It's an uphill battle, but it's a battle worth fighting for.