Saturday, June 21, 2014

American to German to Cascadian in 6 Weeks

Beer production has been steady these past few weeks, blogging has been slow.  Here's what's been going on:

Handsome Grandson Double Rye IPA (Version 2)

At the beginning of May I did a rebrew of one of my favorite homebrews:  Handsome Grandson Double Rye IPA.  I don't rebrew beers too often but this particular beer went over so well last time that I decided to make it again with minor changes.  The recipe is a riff off of Tasty McDole's Pliny Clone, but with a rye element to make the final taste a little spicier.  It's basically the same as before but without the crystal rye malt and some small hop changes to mix it up a bit; I wanted to use feature Simcoe.  This version came out at 9.3% ABV but tasted like it was 7%.  It's been on tap for almost a month but is almost gone thanks to a couple of growler fills for friends and a few good nights with fellow homebrewers.  If (when) I brew it again, I'll try and dry it out even more.

Excelsior Altbier

I bought a recipe from Midwest Supplies for my brother on his birthday.  He brews when he has time and doesn't have any temperature control so Midwest's saison kit seemed like a good fit for warm summer brewing.  I picked up their Excelsior Altbier in the process (and got free shipping) so it got brewed at the end of May.  It's a Dusseldorf-style recipe so it should be both bitter and malty at the same time with plenty of prominent hop character.  Basically an assertive, flavorful, clean German ale.  Some cold conditioning after primary fermentation and lower than normal ale temperatures should clean it up a bit.  I did a small diacetyl rest just in case, and should have it on tap in another 10 days or so.  I wonder how different a Northern German Altbier would be when tasted side-by-side?  Last time I was in Germany I didn't have the knowledge or palette to explore all that the German beer scene has to offer and I've been regretful since my eyes were opened by homebrew.   I've had mixed results with beer kits but this is my first time sampling the wares from Midwest and I'm optimistic.

Doug Flag Cascadian Dark Ale

Fellow homebrewer and aspiring randonneur, Eric (of Parallel 32 Brewing), took it upon himself to generously host a Summer Homebrew Competition this August.  This is a "friendly" with the main goals being to learn something in the process, drink some interesting beer and fun. We've focused on different styles, colors, and the use of particular ingredients for previous competitions.  The only stipulation this time is the use of WLP 041 Pacific Ale Yeast, a type that's relatively unfamiliar to all participants.

Saving a WLP 041 sample for next time.
Yesterday I brewed a Cascadian Dark Ale for the competition.  While the BJCP has moved to make Black IPA a style variant in the upcoming 2014 revision of the Style Guidelines (Gordon Strong's .ppt presentation here), I tend to think of Cascadian Dark Ale as a better descriptor.  There may even be room for both Black IPA and CDA in the style guidelines, but I don't know if it's necessary.  Cascadian Dark Ales should showcase hops from the Pacific Northwest, include some roasted character but not nearly to the point of a porter or stout, and should feature Sinamar or Carafa or some comparable specialty grain to add color without bitterness.  The final product should be dark brown to black (30 - 40 SRM), smooth and lacking in major astringency, and hoppy in a way that is unusual.  The darker roasted malts should bring out hop flavors that are harder to find in a paler counterpart (like mint, rosemary, or other herbal flavors) using the traditional American IPA hops.  You can really geek out on the semantics discussion by watching the Brewing TV video below.  They do a really nice job of characterizing the style and looking at the naming debate from multiple perspectives.

I wanted to keep my grain bill simple, end up on the low side for SRM, and showcase Mosaic hops (a Simcoe progeny).  My final recipe looks like this, though I wanted to use CaraAroma instead of the Crystal 120 but couldn't get my hands on any.  The Doug Flag in the beer's name refers to the flag of Cascadia, which contains a Douglas fir tree and colors representing the landscape and sensibilities of the Pacific Northwest and its residents.

Doug Flag Cascadian Dark Ale

Malts and Grains
11.50 pounds 87.5% of grist
0.60 pounds 4.6% of grist
0.30 pounds 2.3% of grist
0.75 pounds 5.7% of grist
13.15 pounds
Total Grain Weight (Water Amounts)
100% of grist
1.00 ounces 12.8% Pellets 
Type: Bittering and Aroma
Use: First Wort
12.8 AAUs
1.50 ounces 15% Pellets @ 60 minutes 
Type: Bittering
Use: Boil
22.5 AAUs
0.50 ounces 11.5% Pellets @ 15 minutes 
Type: Flavor
Use: Boil
5.8 AAUs
0.50 ounces 12.8% Pellets @ 15 minutes 
Type: Flavor
Use: Boil
6.4 AAUs
0.50 ounces 11.5% Pellets @ 0 minutes 
Type: Aroma
Use: Aroma
5.8 AAUs
0.50 ounces 12% Pellets @ 0 minutes 
Type: Aroma
Use: Aroma
5.8 AAUs
1.50 ounces 11.5% Pellets 
Type: Bittering and Aroma
Use: Dry Hop
17.3 AAUs
6.00 ouncesTotal Hop Weight76.5 AAUs
Total Boil Time:60 minutes
Name:Pacific Ale
Manufacturer:White Labs
Product ID:WLP041
Temperature Range:65–68°F
Amount:500 ml

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