Session Rye ESB and Porter

My name is James, my favorite color is green, and my quest is to create tasty, satisfying, low gravity beers using rye as a base ingredient. The latest stops on my quest included the British styles of Extra Special Bitter (ESB) and Porter.

Brew in a Bag is a must for recipes heavy in rye.

Brew in a Bag is a must for recipes heavy in rye.

Let me start with this disclaimer: If you are offended by deviating from traditional style guidelines, read no further. However, if you enjoy hacking recipes and charting undiscovered territory, clop your coconut shells and come along. (No more Monty Python references.  I promise.)

As I have discussed in previous recipes, such as my “Rye Wit” and “100% Rye Pale Ale,” we can take advantage of the gloppiness of rye wort to create tasty low gravity beers that maintain substantial mouthfeel. Too much rye can give you a beer with the consistency of Vick’s Formula 44D, but if you pull back on the reins (notice my restraint in not adding a “Patsy” reference here) and add half as much, you get a more “normal” tasting beer with half the alcohol. [Read more…]

Rockville Gordon Biersch Collaborative Flemish Red

Mike Tonsmeire, The Mad Fermentationist, is collaborating with the Gordon Biersch Rockville, Maryland, location to produce a blended, barrel-aged Flemish Red, and we got the chance to get a preview sampling.

Mike Tonsmeire and Christian Layke with their barrels

Mike Tonsmeire and Christian Layke with their barrels

One of the best parts of being the producer of Basic Brewing Radio is attending the National Homebrew Conference (Homebrew Con) every year. We typically arrive a day early to take in some of the local beer culture wherever the conference takes us. This year, the get-together landed in Baltimore, and we were thrilled to have Mike show us around his neck of the woods, as he lives in the D.C. area.

Our first stop was a visit to the Gordon Biersch Rockville restaurant and its head brewer, Christian Layke. Christian is a former homebrewer and has been with Gordon Biersch for around eight years. He left a job with a non-profit environmental think tank to work with stainless steel tanks instead. [Read more…]

Do We Really Need Six New Styles of IPA?

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Click to read the snarkier entries in smaller print.

During his war with the Roman Empire, the King of ancient Armenia — Tigranes the Great — received a message from a runner. The messenger informed him that the Roman commander Lucullus was on his way. This so enraged Tigranes that he had the messenger beheaded. As the war continued, no messenger dared bring the king bad news. So, from that point on, he only heard from messengers telling him what he wanted to hear.

This week, the BJCP released their new 2015 guidelines. They also updated their mobile app. Included in the guidelines is a new IPA subcategory called Specialty IPA that includes six new (or new-ish) varieties of IPA — Belgian IPA, Black IPA, White IPA, Red IPA, Rye IPA, and Brown IPA. (English IPA and Double IPA were moved to categories called Pale Commonwealth Beer and Strong American Ale, respectively.) Among some brewers, the response was (figuratively) similar to Tigranes. “Do we really need umpteen @$%&ing new IPAs in the guidelines?,” many said. [Read more…]

Tripel (III: Wort Production)

DSCN2183The recipe for a tripel is simple, it’s almost the equivalent of the “recipe” for scrambled eggs. However, as with preparing eggs, success lies in the freshness of the ingredients and in the details of the preparation. When brewing a tripel, your main task on brewday is to make a highly fermentable wort. [Read more…]

My One Good Fred Story

Fred_EckhardtHomebrewers today live in a world full of information. There are homebrewing books, magazines, websites, and internet forums. In addition, there are homebrewing clubs to join and contests to enter. But it wasn’t always that way.

In the United States, in the late 1970s, there was nothing. In 1979, Jimmy Carter signed a bill making the homebrewing of beer legal in the US. Home winemaking was already legal, and there was a small community of home winemakers. But home beer brewing was clandestine and not widely practiced, although most people probably “knew a guy who knew a guy.”  [Read more…]

Tripel (II: Recipe)

DSCN2183The recipe for a tripel is simple. You’ll need enough Pilsner malt, and roughly 20% sucrose (table sugar), to reach your target original gravity. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) gives this range as OG 1.075–1.085. Plus, noble hops — all added near the beginning of the boil — to reach your target level of IBUs. The BJCP gives this as 20–40 IBUs. And finally, an attenuative yeast, with a moderately  “spicy” Belgian character, to yield a low final gravity (FG). The BJCP gives this as 1.008–1.014 for a corresponding alcohol content of 7.5–9.5%. And that’s it.

[Read more…]

Tripel (I:Water)

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Two tripels, one brewed in the US (Texas) and the other in Belgium.

Tripel is a strong, golden ale that originated in Belgium. It’s very similar, in fact, to Belgian strong golden ales, like Duvel or Delirium Tremens. Westmalle Tripel, Tripel Karmeliet, and Chimay Cinq Cents (Chimay White) are three well-known tripels that are available in the US. Examples of tripels brewed in the US include New Belgium Trippel, Allagash Tripel Reserve, and Victory Golden Monkey. Notice that the spelling isn’t entirely standardized. New Belgium spells their version “trippel,” while some Belgian breweries label theirs as “triples.”

The Westmalle Trappist Brewery made tripels popular and the designation sets their 9.5% ABV Tripel apart from their 7% ABV Dubbel (double) and their 4.8% “single” beer (called Extra, and not generally commercially available). In addition to being an indication of strength, by convention, tripel always designates a pale beer while dubbels are always dark beers.

There are several challenges to brewing a tripel, and this makes it a great brewing experience for homebrewers used to brewing English-style ales who are looking for something new to try. [Read more…]

Maibock (IV: Yeast and Fermentation)

DSCN0062Brewing a Maibock is fairly straightforward. The recipe can be simple and wort production does not have to be complicated. The part of brewing as Maibock that separates the best homebrewed examples from the rest is the fermentation.

 

Yeast Strains

Maibock is a lager, and most lager yeast strains will work well for this type of beer. The best strains, as recommended by their manufacturers, are Wyeast 2124 (Bohemian Lager), Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian Lager), Wyeast 2308 (Munich Lager), White Labs WLP820 (Octoberfest/Märzen Lager), White Labs WLP833 (German Bock Lager), White Labs WLP838 (Southern German Lager), and White Labs WLP920 (Old Bavarian Lager Yeast).

[Read more…]

Maibock (III: Boiling and Hops)

IMG_2091Wort production — mashing and running off the wort — for a Maibock is unlikely to cause most homebrewers any problems. For a 5.0-gallon (19-L) batch, you’ll need 11–16 lbs. (5.0–7.3 kg) of grain — assuming you get an extract efficiency between 65 and 80% — to hit your target original gravity (OG 1.064–1.072). If you have a 10-gallon (38-L) or larger mash tun, you’ll have plenty of room.

For some homebrewers, however, kettle size may be limiting. Fully-sparged, 11–16 lb. of grain should yield 7 to 10 gallons (26 to 38 L) of pre-boil wort at around 11 °Plato (SG 1.044). If your extract efficiency is on the low end, and you’re shooting for a Maibock on the high end of the OG range, a 10-gallon (38-L) kettle will not be large enough.

To calculate how much pre-boil wort your grain bed will yield, assuming it is fully sparged, multiply your weight of your grain bed (in pounds) times 0.65 gallons per pound — this will give you a rough approximation (in gallons) of the volume of pre-boil wort. If this is more than you can comfortably boil in 90 minutes, you can add more grain to your recipe, but collect less wort. (Estimating how much grain to add can be tricky, though.) You could also supplement your all-grain wort with malt extract. You could also reformulate the recipe for a lower starting gravity.

[Read more…]

Maibock (II: Malts and Mashing)

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Adding 5–25% Munich malt to your grist gives a nice malt character that is appropriate in a bockbier.

Most Maibock recipes are very simple. The beer should be pale and better attenuated than other bockbiers, so the grist is usually 100% base malts. Crystal malts are not needed because caramel flavor and the extra body that crystal malts add are not desired. In the same vein, there is no call to add CaraPils (or CaraAnything) to your grist. A simple mix of Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malt is ideal.

[Read more…]