Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dry Wolf IPA

After running out of IPA right after our new years eve party, I knew I had to get another round brewing soon since it is one of my favorite styles of beer. It's one of the few styles and recipes that I have brewed several times already, even brewing up a batch for our wedding last June. So, I think I can actually say I have some experience with this single style and the recipe.

The recipe I use was originally based on a clone recipe for Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, although I don't think that I've ever really brewed it exactly to the details of the recipe and got by with whatever ingredients I had available to me.

This beer uses 100% Dry Wolf Spring Water, which is perfect for this style of beer since moderate hardness in the water works well to accentuate the hoppiness of the beer. I've been trying to get better at understanding water chemistry and beer and I did add some Gypsum(Calcium Sulfate) and Calcium Carbonate to the mash water. The Calcium addition is to get the mash into the proper PH range for the lighter colored grains that are used. The sulfate will create a sharper bitterness from the hops which is also important in this style.

The grain bill for the recipe is pretty simple. About 90% American 2-row barley malt with about a pound of Crystal malt for color and a half pound of CaraPils for body.

Hops are a big player in this style and there are plenty in this recipe. Chinook hops are used for the main bittering hop at the start of the boil and I actually tried first wort hopping with the Chinooks to get some extra aroma/flavor out of them as well. We'll see how that turns out. Some folk don't like the aroma/flavor of Chinook and use it mainly for bittering but other folks, including myself, like the aroma and flavor which can be almost pine-like at times. Cascade hops are used with 30 minutes left in the boil to add some bittering but also the citrusy flavor that cascade hops are so well known for. With 5 minutes left in the boil I added a blend of my remaining homegrown hops which included Chinook, Cascade and Centennial. This 5 minute addition is for hop flavor and aroma with little or no bitterness derived from these hops. This is a good place for homegrown hops since the actual bitterness or alpha acid level they have is not known and they will have a fresher flavor and aroma than store bought hops. Finally an addition of Centennial hops is added right as the flame is turned off at the end of the boil and allowed to steep in the wort through the cooling process, which mainly imparts hop aroma to the beer. Cascade, Centennial and Chinook are sometimes referred to as the C-hops because they are all fairly similar with differences in how much bitterness they impart on the beer. They are all known for a citrusy or almost grapefruit like aroma with Chinook almost tasting pine-like at times.

Here's a picture of the sparging process followed by the original gravity reading and the recipe data from Beer Tools Pro.

Dry Wolf IPA

14-B American IPA

Author: Bob Hoenisch

Date: 2/21/2009

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

style="font-size:12px;">Size: 5.26 gal
Efficiency: 76.4%
Attenuation: 77.0%
Calories: 233.33 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.070 (1.056 - 1.075)
Terminal Gravity: 1.016 (1.010 - 1.018)
Color: 11.16 (6.0 - 15.0)
Alcohol: 7.1% (5.5% - 7.5%)
Bitterness: 68.2 (40.0 - 70.0)

12.0 lb Standard 2-Row
12.0 oz 2-Row Caramel Malt 10L
4.0 oz 2-Row Caramel Malt 120L
.5 lb 2-Row Carapils® Malt
2.0 ea Fermentis US-05 Safale US-05
1.0 oz Chinook (11.1%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
2.0 oz Cascade (6.3%) - added during boil, boiled 30.0 min
0.75 oz Homegrown C-Blend (8.0%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 min
1.0 oz Centennial (8.0%) - steeped after boil


Ambient Air: 35.0 °F
Source Water: 55.0 °F
Elevation: 3500.0 ft
00:03:00 Mash in - Liquor: 4.49 gal; Strike: 165.15 °F; Target: 152.0 °F
01:03:00 Saccrification Rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 150.0 °F
02:03:00 Sparge - Sparge Volume: 5.5 gal; Sparge Temperature: 190.0 °F; Runoff: 6.8 gal
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.2

Monday, February 16, 2009

American 2-row Barley

I was happy to receive the 50lb sack of American 2-row barley that I ordered today so that I can use it to brew an IPA when I got off midnight shifts this weekend. It's been about a year now since I upgraded to all-grain homebrewing and I really like getting to use the basic ingredients and knowing where it all comes from. Now that I have a grain mill I've been trying to buy my base malts in bulk to save money, have the freshest ingredients on hand and to have more control over the brewing process. Using authentic ingredients are as important in brewing as they are in cooking and winemaking and the malting process and 2-row barley varieties differ somewhat in other countries. So in order to make a authentic German beer it's not necessary but if possible I would like to use German malted barley, of which I have been using on my recent lager beers from a 55lb sack of Weyermann Pilsner malt from Bamberg Germany. Now you would think that since I live in one of the premier barley growing regions of the country (this portion of north central MT is also known as the "Golden Triangle" for its production of barley and wheat) that it would be easy to get some locally produced American 2-row barley malt, but that is not the case. Most of the barley grown around here is under contract to the big breweries like Anheuser-Busch (now in-bev) and Coors. There is a huge malting facility just outside of Great Falls that has a 200,000 ton capacity, but still there is no local barley malt to be found for me because all of this again is under contract to go to the big guys. So, I had to order my American malt from an online store in California to ship me 2-row barley that was malted in Vancouver Washington, which may or may not contain some Montana grown barley. Actually the Great Western Malting company claims to use malt from all over the Pacific NW including MT, so it is possible that some of the malt is locally grown, but I think the bulk of it is from Idaho. Anyway, I finally have my American 2-Row barley and will be formulating an IPA recipe over the next few days. but I will always be on the lookout for some way to get locally grown/malted barley.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Banner

Well, hope you like the new banner for the blog. I came up with the idea after seeing some other sites that referenced the 4 main ingredients in beer so I decided to create a banner using my own photos. Of course, the ingredients are Malted Barley, Water, Hops and Yeast and the pics are of a field here in Central Montana, Dry Wolf creek just downstream of the spring where I get my brewing water, Homegrown Hop Cones and the Yeast Krausen on top of a fermenting beer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Maibock update

Well, I racked the Maibock from the primary fermenter(6.5 gal carboy) to the secondary (5.5 gal carboy)today. It has been been fermenting strongly for the past 10 days at around 48 degrees and has showed signs of slowing down in the last 24 hrs, so I thought this would be a good time to rack it off and warm it up to 59 degrees(the ambient temperature in my basement) for a 2-3 day Diacetyl rest before putting it away to lager.

Diacetyl is a natural chemical by-product of fermentation. The problem is that it produces an off flavor that is said to taste buttery or like butterscotch even in small amounts. Diacetyl is actually what they use to make butter flavored things that don't actually use butter. While this flavor might be OK in small amounts in some styles it is not acceptable in most. Yeast will usually absorb this chemical when fermented at warm temps so this not a problem with ales, however since lagers are fermented cold a Diacetyl rest is usually used at the end of the fermentation to "clean up" the Diatetyl. So, the Maibock will sit at 59 degrees in the basement for a few days to finish up fermenting and then I'll cool it back down and lager it. While transferring, I took a sample to see how far along it is and as you can see in the pic below it is down to around 1.021. This is good news as it started at around 1.070. The finishing gravity for this style is from 1.012-1.020 so its right on target.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Brewed a Maibock Lager today with expectations of it being ready by late April or May to bring in the spring season. Maibock(Mai=May) is the palest of the Bock beer family and is historically brewed in the winter to be ready for springtime celebrations in May. This is meant to be a strong but light beer with alot of malt character. There can be some hop character in aroma and bitterness(more than in other bock styles), but it is fairly subdued. The recipe below is my own which I came up with after reading several books on the subject. It uses about 60% Pilsner malt with 20% each of Vienna malt and Munich Malt.

Here's the stats from Beer Tools Pro:

Maibock5-A Maibock/Helles Bock Author: Bob Hoenisch
Date: 2/2/2009
Size: 5.54 gal
Efficiency: 78.84%
Expected Attenuation: 75.0%
Original Gravity(Measured): 1.070 (1.064 - 1.072)
Terminal Gravity(Expected): 1.017 (1.011 - 1.018)
Color(expected): 10.62 (6.0 - 11.0)

Alcohol(expected): 6.92% (6.3% - 7.4%)
Bitterness: 33.7 (23.0 - 35.0)
8.5 lb Pilsner Malt
3.0 lb Munich 10L Malt
3 lb Vienna Malt
1 oz Mt. Hood (5.2%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
1.0 oz Mt. Hood (5.2%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
1 oz Mt. Hood (5.2%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 min
WYeast 2206 Bavarian Lager
Water: 50% Dry Wolf Spring Water/50% RO filtered soft water

Here I am milling the grain. I think the fact that I mill the grain right before I mash it has has really increased my efficiency which has caused me to make an adjustment to the amount of malt I use.

I've been reading about decoction mash techniques and decide to make small attempt to try one on this batch. The main mash was single infusion at about 150F for 90 minutes, however in order to mash out at around 170F I pulled 2.5 Gallons of the mash and boiled as a decoction to reach the mashout temp. I didn't actually reach the target temp when this was added back to the main mash, but hopefully this added some flavor to the end product. Decoction mashes are supposed to help the malty flavor in some beers. Here's a pic of the decoction.
And here's the original gravity reading before adding the yeast. Pretty close to what I was shooting for at about 1.070. Color is also on target at about 10-11 SRM, which matches surprisingly close to the sample image from beer tools pro(above)
The yeast used for this fermentation is actually the yeast cake generated by the pilsner fermentation which is the Bavarian Lager Strain from Wyeast. This is the first time I've tried re-using yeast in this way, which is exactly how most larger breweries do it, and it is necessary to use this larger amount of yeast for such a strong beer.

Pilsner Lagering

Here's a picture of the gravity sample I took today while racking the Pilsner into the secondary fermenter for lagering. The gravity reading is down to 1.010 which is lower that I would have expected considering how high the original gravity reading was(1.062). These 2 gravity measurements are used to calculate the percent of alcohol in a beer. The formula is (Original Gravity-Final Gravity)/7.5=Alcohol by Volume(ABV). So in this case(1.062-1.010)/7.5=.52/7.5=6.9%ABV. That's more like a Bock beer than a Pilsner! So this beer will definitely end up out of range for the style. I was hoping that this would be a nice, crisp easy to drink beer. The final gravity of 1.010 is low enough that the beer will be light in body, but an ABV of 6.9% is hard to hide and will be detectable so It might not be a mass consumer like I was hoping, but will hopefully still be tasty. The color, as you can see in the sample, is right on the mark at about 4-5 SRM. The lighter the beer the more difficult it is to brew and Pilsner is considered one of the most difficult styles. I definitely leaned alot brewing this one and since Pilsner is one of my favorite styles, I'll put it to good use next time and hopefully get a better beer with each batch. Right now this beer will Lager or be stored cold at around 34 degrees for a few weeks to mellow out some of the flavors and become clearer. I can't wait to tap into it then!