Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Posts tagged “Ale

Indian Pale Ale

I had some colleagues from India visit on a work trip in early September. Of course, when they asked what I would like them to bring from India, I requested spices… for brewing. This presents the perfect opportunity to make an IndiaN pale ale! How could I pass it up? I must admit, I’m not very knowledgeable regarding Indian cuisine so I had my brew club help draft a list of requests based on their culinary experience. Here is everything I received:

Since the hop harvest/brew day timing didn’t quite work out this year, I ended up drying all the hops I picked. In effect, I’m sort of combining my hop harvest pale ale into this Indian-spiced concoction of a brew day this year. However, I am still playing it safe. No spices will be added until secondary fermentation and I think I will buy smaller secondary fermenters to split the batch in half, dry-hopping both but only spicing one. This way I’ll still have some unadulterated homegrown hopped IPA and not too much spiced beer (incase it turns out over-spiced). Haven’t quite decided what spice I will add yet, but I’m leaning towards just the amchoor powder (dried mango). I’m thinking it could add a complimentary citrus/fruity note.

Here’s the base recipe (grain bill from Brewing Classic Styles, hops dictated by my homegrown supply, save for the magnum bittering addition I had lying around) and pics from the 10/7/12 brew day: (more…)


Alba Dog

I took last Friday 11/18 off work to burn through another vacation day and brew a beer. This was the first time in a while that I’ve brewed without… purpose. In July, I did two batches of pumpkin ale for Halloween/Thanksgiving, in early October I did a hop harvest beer to try out the hops I grew this past summer, and in early November I did a Belgian honey ale for release after the birth of my daughter in February. The only purpose I had in brewing this Scotch ale was that I FREAKING LOVE SCOTCH ALE. It’s probably my favorite style if I were forced to choose.

I’ve decided to call this batch Alba Dog, not in homage to Jessica Alba so much as that Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. Combine that with “alpha dog” and you get “Alba Dog.”

Using my nifty new iPhone and Brew Pal app., I was able to export the recipe and paste it in here: (more…)

Cherry bomb the stout!

Back on 10/23 (16 days after brew day), I took Snot Snout, my imperial chocolate stout, and transferred it to another primary fermenter. Awaiting in that second vessel were six full pounds of pasteurized, pitted and thawed cherries. Just like with my raspberry wheat batch from last spring, I just used the frozen fruit bags you can easily find at the grocery store. Even if cherries were in season and I would have had to freeze and thaw them before adding to the beer. Buying frozen saves me a step in the process.

One issue I had with the raspberries earlier this year was that they got mushed into a sludge when I heated them up to 170* for 15 min. to pasteurize them. In order to prevent that from happening to the cherries, I took the advice of my buddy Dave who said I should put the cherries into a kettle and then drop that kettle into a larger kettle of water, then boil that water. The cherries were able to heat to the proper temperature while generally maintaining their structural integrity. Good suggestion Dave!

To promote further complexity with Snot Snout, a week after dropping the batch on the cherries I took about 1/3rd cup of french oak chips and soaked them in a cup of California Zinfandel for an hour. Then I poured the Zin/oak mix into another fermenter and transferred the batch over to that vessel. As of this posting, the batch has been aging on the oak chips for a week. I’ll probably let it sit there for another two weeks before bottling. That’ll give it five weeks in the bottle prior to the Christmas release date.


Baby girl Belgian honey ale

I took this past Friday off from work to brew a celebratory beer for my daughter’s impending birth (due Valentine’s Day). Doesn’t get much better than outdoor brewing on a fall Friday afternoon.

I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the Belgian golden honey ale I brewed last February, in competition as well as from friends, so I figured I’d stick with a tasty recipe for this important batch – with one important tweak: it needed to be red for Valentine’s Day so I switched up the specialty malt bill to make it more like the red lager I brewed in 2010.

Here’s the recipe: (more…)

Pitching on an active yeast cake

I planned my wet hop and imperial chocolate cherry stout brew days six days apart and used a relatively versatile yeast strain (WLP051 California V ale) so I could take advantage of the big yeast cake produced by the first when pitching the second batch. The OG of Wet Dog, a wet-hopped pale ale, was 1.057 with 12.5 lbs. of fermentables. The OG of Snot, the imperial chocolate cherry stout I’m brewing for the holidays, was 1.081 with nearly 19 lbs. of fermentable material (prior to the addition of the cherries, which will be added to the secondary fermenter at a later date).

The picture below was taken during the transfer of Wet Dog from primary to secondary onto an ounce of dried cascades picked from my own hop yard on 9/11/11, packaged air-tight and frozen shortly after they were dried. (more…)

CUJO vs. CUJO, a dog fight!

During a recent wet hopped pale ale brew day, buddy Dave and I cracked open the very first bottle of CUJO SPICE pumpkin rye ale v2.1 as well as a bottle of v2.0 for comparison (checkout all my pumpkin ale-related posts here). Hey, if Michael Vick had been there, he might have insisted we place bets on the winner and then smash one of the bottles after it was empty. Asshole.

Each of the pumpkin rye beers I made for fall has their positives and negatives, but currently I think we decided v2.1 was slightly better than 2.0. This was also consistent with feedback received when my band taste tested 2.0 and 2.1 at practice earlier this week. (more…)

Wet Dog Pale Ale

Season 1 of my hop crop harvest culminated this past weekend with – what else – a wet hop brew day! October 1st seemed an appropriate a day as any to pick the last of my hops and dump ’em into a boiling batch of pale ale. Fortunately I had some much needed help from my buddy Dave to get all those wet hops picked while the grains were still mashing.

In addition to the roughly 10 oz. of hops I’d picked and dried (which was roughly 60 oz. wet) in the three separate harvest days prior to this, Dave and I managed to pick about 18 oz. (wet) on brew day which, if dried, would have been roughly 3 oz.

As you may have noticed, I’ve generally shied away from brewing standard or classic styles since I started nearly two years ago. I’ve sought out more adventurous recipes because 1) I can get bored of the basic styles and if I have 5 gallons of the stuff on hand, that can be a problem, and 2) it’s a lot easier to know that I messed up slightly if I I’m brewing a standard recipe, and knowing that reduces my enjoyment of the batch. BUT… I decided a basic pale ale recipe would be a great choice to show off my very own hops grown in the back yard. No complex malt profile or yeast characteristics to hide behind. The hop profile will be right up front and the batch will live or die by it. (more…)

CUJO SPICE v. 2.1 – pumpkin rye beer

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CUJO SPICE v. 2.0 – pumpkin rye beer

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In the name of doG

Had a nice little brew session this past Presidents’ Day. Great use of a day off work especially because Minneapolis got hit with a big snow storm (13 inches) the day before. Fortunately I’d purchased all my supplies to get my yeast starter going the day before the storm.

Boil additions, in order

Holed-up in the house and brewing on my day off? Sounds good to me.  I did a Belgian honey ale, calling it “In the Name of doG” as a play on the common religious phrase and the fact that many strong Belgian beers like this one are often brewed by monks.

After discussing sparging methods with another brewer at the recent Nordeast Homebrewers Alliance meeting I attended, I decided to move things along a bit quicker during this brew day, so I only fly-sparged for about an hour as opposed to 2+ hr. sparges I’d done on previous all-grain brew days. I also researched a little during the boil on how to calculate efficiency in sugar extraction, and… bah, that’s too complicated for me to care about yet.

Here’s the recipe:

Base: 7lbs Rahr domestic 2 row, 4 lbs. wheat malt
Specialty: 8 oz. Cara II (was supposed to be Caravienne but Midwest was out of that malt), 8 oz. Carapils
Hops: 1 oz. Liberty (60″), 1 oz. Liberty (50″), 1 oz. Styrian Goldings (2″)
Adjuncts: 1 lb. Clover honey (25″), 2 or 3 cups light DME (20″), 1 lb. Clover honey (10″), 1-2 tsp Wyeast yeast nutrient (8″), 1 lb. Belgian Candi sugar (8″), .5 oz bitter orange (5″), .5 oz. coriander (5″), 1-2 tsp Wyeast yeast nutrient (8″)
Yeast: White Labs Belgian Ale WLP550 (2000 ml yeast starter with 1 cup light DME  at 1.038, 36 hrs. prior to pitch)