Monday, August 15, 2011

Recipe Recap: #16 - #20

Today's Recipe Recap will cover brews #16 through #20. My brewing is definitely getting better. I improved my process, lowered my efficiency, corrected my pH, cleared my beer more, carbonated properly and controlled my fermentation better.

#16, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA Clone
First, the bad news. This didn't really taste like Union Jack at all. I bittered with Columbus hops for 60 minutes instead of Warrior for 90, giving it a much harsher bitterness. My OG was off, and it attenuated more than it should have. My high efficiency led to a lack of strong malt character, so it was hop dominated (more like my pliny clone). My lack of pH control led to a little bit of phenolic off flavor and astringency, but very very little.

Finally, the carbonation was higher than I'd like, making the beer seem harsh. Oddly enough, I have to carb around 2 - 2.2 volumes, using BeerSmith's calculator, to reach a level of carbonation that is close to what you'd get from a commercial bottle or draught. This beer was carbed to around 2.6-2.7 volumes.

Also, I tried to dry hop without a hop bag. That was a huge mistake, and I lost almost a gallon of beer to hops before all was done.

The good news is that it was a pretty good beer. It just wasn't a clone, and it wasn't perfect.

#17, Janet's Brown Ale
Holy cow, this stuff was good out of the gate. I had one after only being in the bottle less than two weeks and it was fantastic. I carbed it properly, to around 2.3 volumes. The head was thick and creamy and lasted a long time. The hop aroma was strong and pleasant. The hop flavor and subtle roastiness of the chocolate malt went hand in hand. The mouth feel was nice and thick but never sweet, and very drinkable. My best beer so far!

If there was any complaint, it might be that the specialty malt flavor wasn't as pronounced as I expected and there was a hint of phenolics in the background. I only noticed it when I compared mine to a commercial Black IPA that had a similar flavor.

I'd love to try the real thing and compare! I've also rebrewed this one with some improvements to my process. I carbed to 2.3 volumes, and will probably reduce that to 2.0 - 2.1 next time I bottle.

#18, Stone Levitation Clone
Light, dry and orange-y. Drinkable and full of flavor, though more and more I prefer beers with a very thick body. I can't detect any off flavors, though.

Carbonation is a little high at 2.5, and I would reduce that to 2.3 next time. I had to sub Mt. Hood for the Crystal, which may have had significant impact on the flavor. Aroma and flavor are definitely dominated by the orange citrus of the Amarillo. Over time, the flavors have 'melded' together into a more cohesive single flavor, where before it felt like a combination of different flavors competing for my attention. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's the only way I can describe it.

This will probably taste closer to the original if I lower my efficiency and adjust my specialty malt percentages. Of course, I haven't compared it to the original. I'll come back and update this post when I do, or create an entirely new post.

#19, JZ's American Pale Ale
Well, I'm not the biggest fan of Pale Ales in general. They're usually pretty dry and boring. For me, a glass of beer is an event, not something I drink pints and pints of. It tastes decent, though a little young, and the carbonation feels higher than it should. I think the flavors need time to merge. It currently tastes like hops and malt, instead of a single combined 'pale ale' flavor, if that makes sense.

This is my first beer made with a lower efficiency, 5.2 pH stabilizer and gelatin finings. I can definitely tell. The beer is clearer and cleaner than any before it. I detected no off flavors. Very clean and very drinkable. The flavor is similar to Levitation, probably due to using the same base malt (Great Western American Pale Ale malt, a US version of British pale malt).

#20, Triple-X Sweet Stout
Heaven in a glass. This will be gone in no time, even though I'm only drinking on weekends on my diet. Thick but drinkable. Slight milk-like aftertaste. Creamy espresso and chocolate flavor, with a hint of alcohol. Not hot alcohols or off flavors that I can detect. This one has been in the bottles only two weeks and yet is nicely carbed, creamy and delicious. Proof that if you need to age your (lighter) beer more than a few weeks, you probably did something wrong.

I carbed to 2 volumes, and will probably reduce that to 1.8 or 1.9 next time. There *will* be a next time.

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