Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chatoe Rogue Wet Hop Ale

Rogue Ales of Newport, OR has a new line of beers which will be released under the Chatoe Rogue "Grow the Revolution" series. The Chatoe Rogue products will be using hops grown and harvested by Rogues own Micro Farm in Independence, OR.

The first in the series of Chatoe Rogue beers is their First Growth Wet Hop Ale using their Indepedent and Revolution hops. The raw hops were picked, thrown into burlap bags, driven 77 miles to the brewery and tossed into the brew kettle. The brewery has a summary of the process posted here. They brewed 200 barrels of the beer and used over 3,000 lbs of wet hops. The other Chatoe releases will include Pinot Envy Ale, Dirtoir Ale, Single Malt Ale and OREgasmic Ale.

Tasting Notes: 22 oz bottle purchased at Capones in Norristown PA. Pours a deep orange/amber with a smaller bubbly off white head that left some spotty lacing. Aroma of sweet citrusy hop notes, mostly getting orange, some light caramel and Munich malt notes, light grassy notes are still present although starting to fade away (this beer has probably been in the bottle for at least 3-4 months at this point. The flavor is fresh and hoppy. Getting mostly pine, grapefruit, lemon and grass out of the hop flavors. Bitterness is exactly where I like in for an IPA (aggresive yet not over the top). The malts to help to balance this beer with some caramel, nuts and cereal characeter. The classic Rogue Pacman yeast strain is present in both aroma and flavor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

21A Monk's Blood

For any of you who know me (which is probably everyone reading this blog) you probably already know that I'm quite the fan of great craft beer in cans. I won't go on about my reasoning in this post but I will mention that I was very happy when the San Francisco based, 21st Amendment Brewery started sending their Brew Free or Die IPA and Hell or High Watermelon Wheat to Pennsylvania this summer. Just this past week cases of their brand new offering Monk's Blood have started to hit Eastern PA bottle shop and distributors shelves.

Monk's Blood is an oak-aged Belgian-style Dark Ale (along the lines of a Belgian Quad) brewed with cinnamon sticks in the mash, dark candy sugar, vanilla beans and dried black mission figs in the boil. It's packed in a nifty looking 4 pack box and is part of their new line of beers they are referring to as The Insurrection Series. The box states the following… “Legend has it that in the evenings, the monks would retire to their chambers & settle in with a few passages from the Good Book. But Brothers Nicolas and O’Sullivan had other plans. Working in the brewhouse all day, they were forced to repeat the same old recipes the elder monks had invented years before. They needed a little diversion. And found it in the cellar of the monastery with a fresh twist they put on the beer and the way they enjoyed it. Brother Nicolas (or Nico to his close friend) brought some hand-rolled cigars. O’Sullivan, the outspoken one, broke the vow of silence by spinning a remix of some Gregorian chants. Together, they’d throw down a couple nice hands of Texas Hold’Em and savor the handcrafted brew they created in secrecy. Everyday was good. Or so it seemed. But deep in his heart, Nico knew they were driving into the dark side of beer. Next thing you know they’d be skipping Lent. Then on night they’d face the Judgment for their actions with a hard knock at the door. Outside, the Abbots and elders would be holding stone in the air. A threat the brothers were sure would lead to the spilling of Monk’s Blood.”

Tasting Notes - Pours a deep ruby chestnut/amber with a medium bubbly off white head that left some lacing. Aroma of various fruits, dark fruits, vanilla, light oak, maybe a touch of the cinnamon, some fresh hop notes and chestnuts. Flavor of dark fruits, vanilla, oak, light cinnamon, figs, light roasted malt and some fresh hops poking through. This was well done. Not overly sweet or sticky, ABV well hidden and it’s in a can!

Picture stole from Shaun O'Sullivans Facebook site (forgot to take my own picture of the cool four pack)

Double IPA Brew Session

This weekend the Philadelphia area got what was the 2nd worst December snow storm ever since they started tracking that stuff (something like a 100 year record). Since I ordered the ingredients for the Double IPA online and already had the yeast starter going I had no other choice but to brew. It actually turned out to be a really great brew session overall and the snow really only impacted some of my cleaning and sanitation activities (I ended up cleaning the brew kettle inside and the mash tun probably didn't get as good of a cleaning as I usually give it, but it should be fine).

I got the brew day started around 10am. My winter brew house setup, while maybe not the "safest" certainly keeps me somewhat warm. I do take some safety precautions though, yes I make sure the garage doors are cracked and I also set up a carbon monoxide detector in the garage and ask Steph or Elliott to come check on my every so often. That system seems to work well so far. With using an outdoor burner in a garage and a propane heater as well, just want to make sure I don’t burn up all the O2.

This recipe called for a total of 9 ounces in the boil so I decided to use hop bags for the first time ever and they seemed to work out well. The boil really kept the bags bouncing around in the brew kettle so hopefully I was able to get the same amount or close to the same amount of extraction out of them. The only snag I had was when I added the final 3 ounces at flameout. That hop bag opened up so I still ended up with a little bit of a mess in the kettle. As long as the beer turns out and I get the right hop aroma and flavor out of the beer I will probably start using hop bags for any of my beers which call for a heavy dose of hops. Thanks for letting me borrow the hop bags Vince, they worked well!

My target OG (at least based on the BrewPal iPhone app software) was 1.090. I ended up around 1.079 though, which put me at about 60% efficiency. I think I may have had a little bit too much water in the mash/sparge which turned out to be a good thing and left me with about 8 gallons of wort pre-boil. The recipe in Jamil's book actually calls for an OG of 1.080 so this beer should be just about right as far as the gravity and ABV goes (ABV should come in around 8.5%). The extra liquid in the kettle helped out since this was a 90 minute boil and there was a good bit of hop batter and break material in the bottom of the kettle after I chilled the work down.

So the aroma and bitterness from this beer after the boil was complete was pretty amazing. The hop bitterness is very aggressive and will only be complimented by the alcohol and carbonation. Fermentation has begun and the blow off tube is aggressively bubbling. I currently have the fermentor set at 67 degrees and plan to slowly bring it up to 70 degrees to finish out the beer. I'm hoping to dry hop at about 7 days in and let the dry hops sit in there for about 7-10 days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Double IPA Recipe

For my next batch of beer I plan to brew a big Double IPA. The beer is based on Russian Rivers Pliny the Elder clone recipes that have been floating around online in addition to the Double IPA recipe in Jamil Zainesheff's Brewing Classic Styles book. Actually the only real change up is some additional malt (resulting in higher ABV) and the use of the Amarillo in the dry hop.

For this batch I decided to order my supplies online through Northern Brewer. I have ordered from them in the past (mostly equipment and liquid malt extract) and have always been pleased with their service. They also have great catalogs and just seem like a really cool, well run company. Unfortunately when I received the order and crack into the box I noticed grain all over the inside of the box. This was certainly alarming and my original thought was that I would not be able to save enough of the grain to brew with. I had also ordered a ball valve and they didn't do so great of a job at securing it in the box resulting in the valve punching a huge whole in the bag that held 17 lbs of base malt. Luckily I was able to save most of the grain, I threw it on a scale and confirmed that I still had about 17 pounds of base malt. I did call Northern Brewer to let them know what happened. They appreciated the feedback, although I was hoping they would throw a gift certificate my way or something like that. Basically they just said thanks and that they were happy I was able to salvage the grain. It did make quite the mess all over our kitchen floor though…

Here is the recipe and brew day plan for the Double IPA. I plan to brew on Sunday December 20th so if anyone is around and wants go hang out in the garage/give a helping hand/drink some homebrews let me know. Would like to get things going around 9am.

6 Gallon Batch (going with a 6 gallons batch to help make up for the loss of liquid to all those hops)

17 lbs of American 2 Row
1 lb of Wheat Malt
½ lb of Crystal 40
1.5 lbs of Corn Sugar

2 oz of Warrior (15.8% AA) – 90 Minutes
2 oz of Chinook (11.4% AA) – 90 Minutes
1 oz of Simcoe (12.3% AA) – 45 Minutes
1 oz of Columbus (14.2% AA) – 30 Minutes
2 oz of Centennial (9.1% AA) – KO
1 oz of Simcoe (12.3% AA) – KO

3 oz of Amarillo (Dry Hop) – 10 days
1.75 oz of Centennial (Dry Hop) – 10 days
1.75 oz of Simcoe (Dry Hop) – 10 days

WLP 001 – American Ale Yeast (2 vials with starter)

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.066
OG = 1.090
FG = 1.018
ABV = 9.5%
IBU = 161


6 gallons of water to mash – try to hold around 150 degrees for 1 hour.

Fly sparge with 6 gallons of 200 degree water for close to one hour.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Home Coffee Roasting

So my other liquid love is coffee. After a long and hard search for quality/fresh locally roasted coffee I finally gave up (at least for the most part). I have a few friends who have tried out home coffee roasting and I was impressed with the quality of coffee they were roasting so I finally decided to give home roasting a try. I spent some time researching various roasters and finally ended up purchasing the Nesco Professional Coffee Roaster (still not sure why they call it a professional roaster considering it only roasts about 6-9 oz of coffee beans at a time). The machine which was formally called Zach and Dani's retails for about $150 to $200. I ended up purchasing the machine through Williams Brewing for $155. Since they threw in 2 lbs of Sumatra and Columbian green coffee beans it seemed to be the best online deal I could find on the machine.

One of the main issues I read about when research coffee roasters was the excessive smoke which is generate. Considering I would be roasting in my kitchen and figuring that my wife and 6 year old wouldn't be a big fan of the whole smoking coffee bean aroma the Nesco certainly caught my eye since it's the only roaster on the market with a patented catalytic converter. While it does seem to cut down on the excessive smoke that could be generated, I still end up activating the kitchen smoke alarm about 50% of the time that I roast.

Overall the machine is very easy to use. It consists of removable lid (makes cleaning much easier), a roasting chamber with built in auger, chaff cup, screen and two rubber seals (one goes around the roasting chamber the other around the catalytic converter). All removable parts can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.

Roasting times are roughly 20 to 25 minutes depending on the roast you are going for. There is also a 5 minute cool down period after the roast is complete. Typically when
roasting coffee you are listening for the "cracks" but with the Nesco roaster you are more or less keep an eye on the color of the roast. There is a bit of a science or art to roasting using the machine but after a few roasts you will figure it out and overall it becomes a pretty easy machine to use.

The photos I have included kind of outline the process. First the lid of the machine are opened and the green coffee beans are loaded into the machine. The beans I
used during this roasting session were Hawaii Kona XF beans from Greenfield Farms purchased online through Sweet Marias. The roasting chamber is marked with a full line in addition to a dark roast fill line. A digital display allows you to set the roasting time (for this roast I used a 23 minute roasting time).

Once done roasting the lid is opened and the roast chamber screen chaff cup can be removed (warming it will be hot) chaff can be disposed of. The machine does a decent job at collecting the chaff although some typically still remains
in the beans. The instructions state to allow the roaster to cool for about 5 to 15 minutes but after doing some research online I had read that it is best to transfer the beans out of the roaster chamber sooner since the chamber does retain some heat and the beans would continue to roast. As with brewing the quicker you cool the better!

I typically let my beans sit for one to two days with the lid loosely in place to allow for proper off gassing. As I roast more and learn more about the process I will be sure to share via this blog. I just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the concept and let you know the a little bit about the home roasting machine I have been using for about the past two months. There are certainly plenty of topics to explore when it comes to home roasting and brewing. Also if anyone would like to offer any suggestions for quality/fresh locally roasted coffee please feel free to share. I just haven't really had any luck over the past year or so. Sweet Marias and Roast Masters have done a much better job at summarizing how to use the machine in addition to providing detailed feedback so make sure you check out both of those links if you plan to explore the use of this roaster a bit more. Oh and in case you noticed the Coffee-Mate in the first I don't use that, it's strictly for guests who cannot yet handle their coffee black.