Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I originally was planning this as a coffee stout. Then I looked at how much roast malt is in here - this recipe maxes out the color calculators, since anything beyond about 40 SRM is just slightly darker black.

Batch #85
Extra stout

10 lbs Maris Otter
~1 lb Golden Promise (end of the sack)
1.5 lbs British black roasted barley
1 lb Flaked barley
1 lb Flaked oats
12 oz British chocolate malt
10 oz British crystal 70/80
4 oz British pale chocolate malt
1 oz Magnum/Apollo mix @ 15.1%AA, 60min
1 oz El Dorado @ 15.3%AA, 5min
4 oz Lactose, 5min
1 tab whirlfloc
11.5g dry yeast, US-05
OG: 1.075
IBU: ~55

Mash in with 5 gallons water to 148~150F, hold for 75 min. Fly sparge with 4 gallons water at 170F. Extracted 7 gallons at 16P (~1.064). Boil 1 hour, chill, ferment at 68F.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Episode II

Trying again. Expecting this one to turn out a little sweeter... and carbonated at the end.

Batch #84
Helldorado Clone Second Attempt, for 3 gallons

8lbs Golden Promise
1lb German Pilsner
4 oz American Crystal 15L
2 oz American Victory
1.5lbs Buckwheat Honey (sourced locally in CA Central Valley)
0.25 oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (60m)
0.25 oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (15m)
0.5 oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (1m)
Whirlfloc, 10m
1/4 tsp CaCl2, in mash
WLP090 - San Diego Super Yeast, 1.5L starter
OG: 1.085

Mashed in with 11qts spring water at 150F for 60min. Initial mash pH ~5.7 (thanks, Jay!). Batch sparge with 9qts to collect 4 gallons at ~14P. Boiled 90min, chill to 66F, oxygenate using compressed O2 for ~1min. Pitch yeast and ferment between 66 and 70F.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mead again

Update 6/27/14 - Spiked with metabisulfite, backsweetened with 3 oz of buckwheat honey (what I had,...wish it were orange here), added a tannin tincture (over-steeped Peet's Osmanthus Fancy), and bottled. Who wants some?

Made some more mead. Yaaaaay. I'm still kind of just playing when making mead. One of these days I'll have more time to plan it out and take it more seriously. There was talk of making a pyment (Sauv blanc juice and orange blossom honey? yum) today, but that was more thought than I wanted to put in just now.

Mead Batch #05
Pluot Melomel
-5lbs Orange Blossom honey
-10lbs Macerated Pluots
-Water to 3 gallons

-1tsp pectic enzyme
~3g BA-11 dry yeast, rehydrated with GoFerm
OG: 1.090ish (calculated from honey and estimated sugar content of pluots)
FG: 1.008
ABV: 10.7%

Macerated/pitted pluots, stuck them in the freezer for a month or two. Thawed yesterday. Mixed honey and water, poured pluots into mesh bag, stirred in with must and pectic enzyme. Mixed in rehydrated yeast.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Seasonal brewing

Bottled 10/12 - pretty tasty...

Saisons in summer, pumpkin in fall. Lagers in winter, we love them all.
This one is adapted from a pumpkin ale recipe in the Sept/Oct 2013 issue of Zymurgy. Pumpkin beers are pretty hit-or-miss, so when someone prints one they've used successfully for a decade or so, I'm willing to give it a try. I changed the adjunct sugar from a maple/honey mix to all maple, and upped the pumpkin a bit.

Batch #83
Autumnal Equinox

10 lbs Golden Promise
0.5 lb Victory
0.5 lb Crystal 60L (US)

10 oz Melanoidin
~3.75 lbs pumpkin (mix between canned and cooked fresh)

7 AAU, 60m, I used 1.2 oz 5.8% Cascade pellets

Whirlfloc, 1 tab, 10m

2 qts maple syrup (~1 3/4 lb sugars) at flame-out
1/2 Tbsp pie spice at flame-out

Safale US-05, 11.5g

OG: 1.065
FG: 1.012
ABV: 7%
IBU: ~30

Dough-in with 20qts water at room temp, direct heat with constant stirring to bring to 154F, about 1 hour ramp time. Hold there for about an hour. I batch sparged 14qts to save some time today.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What will I do with all of these hops?

Bottled 10/5
Update 9/22 - Dry hopped with ~1oz each Cascade and El Dorado.
I have a relatively large amount of hops in the freezer. Better use 'em.

Batch #82

12 lbs Golden Promise
0.5 lb Victory
0.5 lb White Wheat malt

2oz Cascade, 5.8%AA (60m)
2oz Cascade, 5.8%AA (20m)
1oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (5m)
1oz Cascade, 5.8%AA (5m)
1oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (1m)
1oz Cascade, 5.8%AA (1m)

Whirlfloc, 1 tab, 10m
WLP090, San Diego Super Yeast, 1.5L starter

OG: 1.068
FG: 1.014
ABV: 7%
IBU: ~75

Single-infusion mash at 152F, 17 qts, hold for an hour. Added 1/4 tsp gypsum in mash to boost bring up calcium and sulfate levels. Fly sparge to collect 7 gallons, no mash-out. Boil for one hour, chill, pitch yeast, and ferment at 68F.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Go team!

Update 9/13 - Bottled. FG a little high. Less roast and a little lighter color than original recipe called for. Would probably do better in competition as a porter.

Mrs picked up the B3 Honey Stout kit sometime last year, and never brewed it. So after replacing the LME and pre-crushed malt (with some minor changes based on inventory at the Los Altos showroom), we're having a family brew day!

Batch #81
Honey Stout (extract)

6lbs Ultralight LME

1lb Ultralight DME
4 oz Maltodextrin
6 oz Black Roasted (UK?)
4 oz Crystal 15L (US)
4 oz Munich (Ger)
2 oz Chocolate (UK)
1.5lbs Wildflower Honey, flameout
1 oz Centennial, 10.4%AA (60m)
1 oz Cascade, 6.4%AA (5m)
1 oz Cascade, 6.7%AA (1m)
Whirlfloc, 10m
WLP004 - Irish Ale Yeast, 1 L starter
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.018
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: ~45

Steep grains in 6.5 gal for ~30m at ~155F. All sugars added except for honey. Boil 60m. Honey added at flameout (previously diluted with a little hot water to reconstitute the crystals and make mixing easier). Chill, pitch yeast, and ferment at 65F.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Helldorado - First Attempt

Update 8/25 - Bottled, and a wee bit smoky, but very nice bourbon and brandy. Just waiting waiting waiting now.
Update 8/4 - SG at 1.011! Either the honey fermented or didn't get mixed in well and sank. A little boozy at the current ~12%. Racked to secondary, bourbon/brandy-soaked oak cubes tossed in. Fridge temp reduced to 55F. 
Update 7/21 - Added the buckwheat honey with a little warm water to make for easier mixing, and stirred gently in the carboy to rouse the yeast. The sample I pulled was still a bit sweet (SG~1.020 before adding honey), but had a nice base malt character and a little tropical fruit and citrus from the El Dorado. Esters aren't too strong from the yeast, but are definitely there. Nice rosy alcohol (~8%abv right now). The oak cubes are still soaking. I'll check back in on the yeast in about a week to see how the honey's fermenting out. If the yeast have done their job, I'll rack to secondary and add the oak.

This is the beginning of a possibly years-long brewing project. It started about a month ago, at the Firestone-Walker Invitational Beer Fest, where I had my very first (second, and third,...) taste of Helldorado. It was delicious. It is not available except in the Anniversary blends, and occasionally in the brewery in Paso Robles. No growlers, no bottles. But I wanted more. The tasting notes at the brewery gave some hints: 10.8%abv, 24IBU, 8 SRM ("deep gold") - Brewed with buckwheat honey and 100% El Dorado hops [my source], aged in bourbon and brandy barrels. After finding the honey and the hops, I played around with some recipe calculations to work out a grist that should give a complex malt character, the right color, and just a bit of caramel sweetness. To be honest, I really just made something up. For the second run, I'll dive deeper into various tasting notes and try to pry a few hints out of the brewers - but I have heard that FW uses cheap CA-grown malt and some light crystal/cara to add complexity. I may not end up with a perfect match to the original, but it has certainly inspired me and given me something to shoot for. In separate containers, begin soaking oak cubes (American medium+ toast): 1/2 oz oak in bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace) and 1/2 oz in brandy (E&J XO). 

Batch #80
Helldorado Clone First Attempt, for 3 gallons

8lbs Golden Promise
1lb German Pilsner
4 oz American Crystal 15L
2 oz American Victory
1.5lbs Buckwheat Honey* (sourced locally in CA Central Valley)
0.25 oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (60m)
0.25 oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (15m)
0.5 oz El Dorado, 15.3%AA (1m)
Whirlfloc, 10m
1/4 tsp CaCl2, in mash
WLP007 - Dry English Ale Yeast, 1.5L starter
OG: 1.082

*Add at end of boil or after fermentation begins. I "chose" to do the latter, since I forgot to bring the honey from Merced this weekend.

Mash in with 11qts at 145F, soak for 75min. Raise to 160F by direct heat on mash over ~10-15min. Batch sparge with 8qt at 160F to collect 3.5 gallons at ~16P. Boil 60min, chill to 66F, oxygenate using compressed O2 for ~1min. Pitch yeast and ferment between 66 and 70F.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Brew to the weather.

Update 6/9 - Kegged with 3.5oz table sugar, should give effervescent carbonation to balance the final gravity of 1.004. Will condition in keg 20L keg and probably split into bottles and 10L keg.

I want something dry, summery, and ready fast.

Batch #79
4.5lbs Golden Promise
4.25lbs White wheat malt
4 oz Belgian Biscuit malt
1 oz N Brewer, 8.6%AA (60m)
0.5 oz Cascade (5m)
Whirlfloc 10m
Wyeast 3711, French Saison yeast
OG: ~1.040
FG: ~1.004
ABV: ~4.7%
IBU: ~35

Mash-in at 148-150F, hold for 1 hour. Batch sparge to 7 gallons wort at ~1.032. Boil down to 5.5 gallons. Fermenting 5 gal around 70F.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rollin' in green

Update 6/2 - Bottled. Estery, but tasty.
Update 5/25 - Dropped a couple ounces of dry hops in. Instead of clogging up my racking cane with hops floating in the carboy, I made a hop sausage with steel mesh casing. Fits through the carboy mouth and hopefully comes back out later.

Home again, home again :)

I am not good at reading things. That is why I bought Apollo instead of Amarillo. LHBS was out of MO *and* my oats *and* the yeast I wanted to use. And mashed higher than intended...let's blame it on jet-lag. So slight modification from the last three times, but the same basic idea: amber/red, hoppy as a hopped-up hop...thing.

c.f. Batches 64, 67, 71...trying to be scientific about homing in on perfecting this one. Things like out-of-stock items on brew day, laziness, living 130 miles from my fermentation space, etc, cause some hiccoughs. I do have plans, but plans need money and space and time.

Batch #78
Lost Harvest
10.5 lbs Maris Otter 11 lbs Golden Promise
1 lb British 70-80L
1 lb White wheat malt
8 oz Golden naked oats
8 oz Victory
1 oz Magnum, 12.3%AA (60m)
0.5 oz Magnum, 12.3%AA (30m)
1 oz Centennial, 10.4%AA (20m)
0.5 oz Apollo, 18.0%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Simcoe, 13.7%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Citra, 13.5%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Cascade, 6.7%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Apollo, 18.0%AA (5m)
0.5 oz Simcoe, 13.7%AA (5m)
0.5 oz Citra, 13.5%AA (5m)
0.5 oz Cascade, 6.7%AA (5m)
1 oz each Sim/Cit (dry)
Whirlfloc 10m
1/4 tsp epsom and gypsum in mash
Safale US-05 US-04, 11.5g dry
OG: 1.067
FG: 1.017
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 100+

Mashed in 17qts at 154F (overshot target of 150 a bit). Sparged 17qts to collect 6.5gal@15P. Boiled 60m, collected about 5.5gal. Pitched yeast at 74F (hot, I know...was in a hurry...bad form.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sayonara Shiinamachi

2/11 - Bottled.
1/31 - Dry hops added.

It is cold outside. And inside. But I don't have the patience or time for a lager brew in Japan. This will probably be my last batch here. Let's try this one again. Keeping the fermentation warm enough will be a challenge. Lucky I have an insulated picnic bag that my fermentation vessel fits in, and a shelf up by the ceiling, where the warm air lives. 

I didn't grab enough Hallertau to do an exact clone of the previous batch, so there will be slightly less going on in the nose. I'm not broken-hearted, though, since this should be a good showcase for both the yeast and the Zythos hops.

Batch #77
Zythos White
-1.25 kg Dry Wheat Malt Extract
-1 oz Hallertau, 4.1%AA (60min)
-1 oz Zythos, 10.0%AA (10min)
-0.5 oz Zythos (2min)
-0.5 oz Zythos (dry)
-WLP400 Belgian Wit yeast, 1L starter*
OG: 1.055
FG: ~1.012
ABV: ~5.6%
IBU: 75-ish

Boiled 12L, added extract. Small hot break boilover. Hopped as above. Pitched yeast starter for total volume of 10L in the tank. I'm anticipating a mess.

*starter blew out the top a couple times... lots of yeast on the outside of the flask.