Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wintergreen Chocolate Stout Tasting Notes (Batch 2)

Batch #2 Wintergreen Chocolate Stout
American Stout

The recipe

It has been roughly a week and a half since I carbonated my Wintergreen Chocolate Stout, but I have been drinking them like a madman, so I figured I better get the notes written about it before I wind up drinking them all. The concept I was going for with this batch was for a minty, chocolate stout. But my concept of wintergreen comes from artificial flavors contained in gum and chewing tobacco, a long time habit of mine that I had quit for roughly 3 years, and then had the bright idea of starting up again about 9 months ago.

Anyways, the wintergreen wasn't as minty as I had envisioned, but it definitely does impart a unique taste to the beer that I will attempt to describe below in the tasting notes. The other main aspect of this beer was the cacao nibs, which I hoped would give even more chocolaty flavors to the black and chocolate malts. I also included a bit of smoked malt, which (I'm writing this introduction pre-pour, so I'm not at the moment describing the taste, but going on memory) in my mind subliminally show up, but they aren't as prominent as I had hoped.

It pours out an opaque black color, with a small brown head that lasts for a minute or two before fading into a foam. Minimal lacing.

Malts form the majority of the scent, with some base malt supporting the black and chocolate malt. The wintergreen adds a bit of a unique scent as well.

The wintergreen does stand out a bit in the taste, not in an overpowering way, but just because its a new taste that isn't normally found in beer. The nibs also a bit of a woody taste. Other than that it is all malts. The mouth is full and pretty smooth.

My impression of this beer is that I do like it, and I do want to come back and play around with it at least a couple more times.

I believe that the nibs I used were Ghana variety, and there were two varieties to try out, so I would like to see what the other one does. These didn't seem to impart as much chocolate as I was envisioning, but I do like their contribution.

And the wintergreen didn't wind up being as minty as I had thought, but I do like how it works with a stout. Maybe if I try and shoot for the original idea again, I will try spearmint, but I also think I will come back to wintergreen again.

After I brewed this beer, I read some website that said smoked malts don't really work unless you're doing an all grain mash, and this beer definitely isn't as smokey as I had hoped. I feel like there are some subliminal smoke notes, but that could just be my mind searching for them.

The beer isn't majorly chocolaty, so I might bump up those malts next time as well.

So overall, it didn't really turn out how I was envisioning, but I do enjoy it and have been drinking them up.

This beer has convinced me to try and get the "dry hopped" ingredients in muslin bags in the future when possible, as I had a bit of a breakdown during bottling when the nibs got into the bottling wand and clogged it up. Luckily I contacted my Sensei and he told me to scrap the bottling wand and stick with bottling straight out of the spigot on the bottling bucket. That's a much easier way to go about it.

(EDIT) I'm going to update this. Last weekend my friends who know how to brew were razing me for drinking my beer too quickly. Alright, so I laid off this beer for another 4-5 days, and now the wintergreen is popping. I still think the malt profile could use some tweaking, but the wintergreen is performing as I hoped it would. Another lesson learned.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

American IPA Tasting Notes (Batch 1)

Batch #1 Trial Brew
American IPA

The Recipe

So the format I am envisioning for this is for an initial post (contained in the above link under "the recipe") detailing each beer's recipe and brewing process, and then a follow up post under the "tasting notes" heading. This will hopefully provide enough information on what worked with each batch, and what needs work.

Now with this 1st batch, I was mainly working with my friend who is an experienced brewer to review the brewing process, and I didn't keep very detailed notes on the ingredients. But it was basically an American IPA with a simple malt profile and a fairly complex hop profile.

It pours out a brown colored beer, which glows a deep amber when held to a light. The body has a mild haze, with lots of particulate matter suspended throughout. A large, cream colored head tops it off, and a thick sheet of lacing coats the glass.

The nose has some pale malts, but is primarily focused on the hop profile, which has citrus, grapefruit, a bit of resin and a touch of pine.

Sweet pale malts open up the taste, just a touch of honey, before being washed over by the hops. A faint grassy note starts them off, moving into grapefruit and finishing fairly bitter with a resinous variety. The mouth is a touch fuller than medium bodied, and fairly smooth.

Overall, I am pretty happy with my first effort, and it turned out pretty close to what I was shooting for. The malt profile definitely needs to be fleshed out a bit with more complexity. And the Safale US-05 really seems to be a pretty neutral yeast in terms of taste, but some fruity esters would have worked well in this beer.

Because it was my first shot at brewing on my own equipment, I stuck to the beaten path and went with an IPA, but the next beers that I'm planning on brewing should be a little more goofy. I was originally going to throw some peppers into this IPA to shake things up, but I was talked out of it by my friend who was teaching me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wintergreen Chocolate Stout Recipe

Batch #2 - Wintergreen Chocolate Stout

First off, I will say that I am still in the "getting a hang of it" phase of brewing, and shooting for a certain style is a goal, and not something that I am sure about yet. But I consulted with one of my friends who has been brewing for years, and it sounds like this beer should fall into the Porter/Stout range, which is what I am hoping for.

Brew Date: November 21
Rack Date: December 5
Bottle Date: December 28

OG 1.068
FG 1.022

Here is the recipe:

5.75 Gallons Water
9.3 pounds Golden LME
1 pound Chocolate Malt (Briess)
1 pound Black Malt (Briess)
1 pound Smoked Malt (Briess)
2 ounce Williamette Hops (60 minutes)
1 ounce Cascade Hops (5 minutes)
4 ounces Cacao Nibs dry hopped for 2 weeks
2 ounces Wintergreen Leaves dry hopped for 1 week.
1 packs Safale US-05 dry yeast

So my goal with this beer will be to have a nice and chocolately beer, nicely complemented with a minty wintergreen and hopefully a subtle smokiness.

Potential problems during process:
1) Kept the steeping grains in over 170 degrees, which was the recommended temp i take them out at. Not sure exactly how hot it was, because, again, no thermometer....

Well this beer is in the primary, so my plan now is to keep it in there for about a week, then transfer to the secondary. A week after that I will add the nibs, and a week after that, the wintergreen.

Edit: Some notes: First off, I left the wintergreen in there about 1 week longer than I wanted to. I don't think it's a big deal, as I don't think they are going to impart the flavor I was imagining.

Second, transfering this beer into bottles was extremely frustrating, and I almost swore off the sport while doing so. I think the cacoa nibs were clogging the bottling hose which made it stay in the "on" position, which resulted in a lot of chocolate flavored beer coating the majority of my kitchen. Finally I texted my Sensei, and he said when he used to bottle he never used the wand, but rather bottled straight from the spigot on the bottling bucket. Wise words indeed; saved my soul from certain madness.

From what I tasted, it seems like a fairly solid beer, so hopefully after carbonation it will turn out roughly how I wanted it. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Introduction & Batch 1

I assume that most of the people who will find this blog will do so based on their familiarity with my Beer Review Blog, called Beer Reviews by Prof Sudz. Both blogs essentially serve the same purpose, which is to give myself a place to keep notes about my beer related experiences (I find that the more I drink, the less I remember about it).

There is one essential difference though: I have been reviewing beers and drinking beers for about 10 years now, and have tried between two and three thousand different beers over the years. So, in my opinion at least, what I have to say about someone else's commercial beers is potentially interesting for other people.

However, while I have helped other people brew at home numerous times over the years, I just recently purchased my own equipment. So I am a beginner brewer, and am far more in need of the help of others than I am in a position to offer any advice. So this blog is more of a personal journal, and a record of my mishaps and any successes that may occur.

I would love for others to read it and offer advice or their own stories, but I am predicting, at least until I get to be any good, that it will not have as wide of an appeal as my other blog does.

I intend to keep better records of my future recipes, but my first batch was put together by a friend of mine who is very experienced in homebrewing. I also cooked it under his supervision, and was more concerned about absorbing the steps than I was of taking detailed notes about the recipe.

Batch #1 - American IPA

But here are the rough parameters of the beer:

I believe there were 6 oz of hops, 2 of them dry hopped. Columbus was the predominant strain, although there were 3 varieties overall.

I believe there was 9 pounds of pale malt and one pound of honey, but I'm guessing. The point is, it wasn't a complex malt bill.

Two packs of dry yeast Safale US-05.

Today, as I write this, I am about to go to the store and get the remaining things I need to bottle the beer, and then hopefully in a couple of weeks it will be ready to go. How I will work this blog is to describe the ingredients and process originally, and then when the beer is ready to be consumed, I will update the post and write a review much like my normally reviews, so that I can get a good sense of how it turned out