Tampa Bay Beer Week 2016

I’ve been muttering to myself, wondering when I’d write another blog post.  It’s like that term paper with which you keep proscrastinating.  This week is Tampa Bay Beer Week and it started off as it always does, with a big ass beer festival, the Florida Brewer’s Guild Craft Beer Festival more specifically.  Over 55 breweries, over 250 beers and a beautiful March Saturday.  I tried about 32 different beers which is right about on par with last year.  Standouts were a vanilla cinnamon IPA from Wynwood Brewing ( I think),  Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov,  Southern Brewing’s Pointillist Sour IPA and Six Ten’s oud bruin (sour brown).  Marker 48 gets honorable mention for a barrel aged milk stout.  The wife couldn’t make it due to a conflicting extracurricular school activity, so my father-in-law stepped in.  It was his first beer festival and probably not his last.

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Next weekend, I decided to contribute to  beer week in my own little way by hosting a Pride Craft Brewery open house for family and friends.  We expect about 25 people.  Despite the lack of posts, I’ve been brewing twice a month and I’ve got four batches ready plus some older holdovers from late last year.  Three of the batches are first run recipes:

Number Six Pale Ale:  brewed with 20% rye, hopped with simcoe and amarillo.  This did not turn out very hoppy but I’m happy with the present but understated bitterness.    Has a really nice flavor and the rye comes through.  I think it will appeal to a broad audience.

Savanna Saison:  a semi-clone of Boulevard’s Tank 7.  Not as earthy and spicy as I’d hoped but it’s a zippy little saison that’s clean, citrusy with a little bit of pepper on the end.  By the way, Wyeast 3711 French Saison is a total beast.  Every beer I’ve used it on has tore through the sugars to make a dry FG of 1.001….every single time.  This one was no different.

Quantum Deep Milk Stout:  a semi-clone of Left Hand Milk Stout.  Sweetness is nice and the coffee aroma just from the roasted barley (no coffee added) is just heavenly.   Very pleased.

I also have Witty Kitty Witbier, Night’s King Bourbon Porter and a small amount of Left Nut Brown and the kriek that I brewed last year (for the adventurous).

So there it is, my first post of 2016.  See you in the fall 😉

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Beer and Burger Throwdown…..For the Win!!

About a month ago, I came across a post from an event planning company (Simply Events) on a Facebook beer forum asking for homebrewers to participate in their event in Safety Harbor, FL called the Beer and Burger Throwdown.  I’ve never served my beer to the general public.  Usually to enter competitions or festivals, you need to be a member of a homebrew club, of which I’m not.  I have 3 of my own kids and a future stepdaughter, so I have little time to attend meetings.  I’m lucky that I even have time to brew.  But in this case, there was no such requirement.  It didn’t cost me a thing and the registration was simple.  So I decided to take the plunge.  Attendees would be able to vote for their favorite homebrewer and the winner would get a little trophy and some bragging rights.  There were also four burger joints in attendance and they were vying for the title of Best Burger.  And there were numerous other vendors hawking their wares.  This took place at a marina park on the bay on a beautiful sunny day (you’ll see the water in the picture backgrounds).

Three homebrewers ended up attending, including myself.  There was another beer festival going on that same day elsewhere, so that may have limited the homebrewer turnout.  One of the homebrewers brought a honey kolsch and a brown ale.  The other had a strong scotch ale and a chocolate stout. All were solid beers.  Since I learned about this event late, I was just bringing what I happened to have:  about 11 bottles of 2B’s Bourbon Ale, 20 bottles of Regalic Saison and a full 5 gallon batch’s worth of Rye Tymes Ale, which had just finished bottle conditioning.

The bourbon ale lasted for a couple of hours and during that time, it was getting the most compliments out of the three.  But all three were being really well received.  Erika was there to help me serve and I’m sure her smile and friendly charm didn’t hurt our chances.  In general, women tended to like the Regalic and the Rye.  When I mentioned a wine/beer hybrid, their eyes tended to light up.  Most men and a few women really liked the bourbon.  By the way, the rye came out very nice, smooth and clean.  The rye was a little more  prominent this time around than in previous batches.

Erika’s dad stopped by for a little bit to lend support.  Our friends Rick and Amy also came by for the last few hours to check it out and spend some time manning the table and giving me a break.

Regalic lasted for about 4 hours and the Rye was kicked about 10 minutes before the close of voting.  In all, we were serving from 11am to just short of 5pm.  It was a long day but an incredible experience.  And to my astonishment, I won the award by 4 votes.  Talk about a positive affirmation!  All I can say is, “That’s pretty fucking cool!”  I personally didn’t think that the saison and the bourbon were close to my best beers, but it ended up that the mix of the three played well to this particular crowd.  The attendees had some beer geeks among them, but most were more casual beer drinkers, and I think that might have played to my advantage.  The down side……all my beer is gone.  Time to start another batch.

On a side note:  A couple of young men had come up to our table and tasted our beers.  They asked if there was any wheat in the 2B’s Bourbon Ale.  I said no and rattled off the grain bill to the best of my memory.  They were surprised.  Then one of them came back a little later and we chatted briefly.  He again brought up that he was surprised there was no wheat in the bourbon because of it’s smoothness.  After the event, I started second guessing my memory and looked up my recipe. Lo and behold, there was 6% malted light wheat in the grain bill.  I have about 15 recipes and I totally forgot there was wheat in this one.  So I feel bad for giving bad info to these guys and having them second guessing their palates.  But I’m totally blown away by how good their palates actually are.  I mean, how in the world could they pick that out, and be so confident, especially with the bourbon note possibly obscuring it?  That’s a complete gift that I wish I had.

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Beers of Summer (and Spring)

It’s been a hell of a winter….even down here in Florida. But I’m sure the springing of Spring is just around the corner. And when the warmer temps start settling in, it changes what I want to drink. Beach weather comes much quicker here in Florida than further up north, so I need to start planning on brewing what I want to have in my cooler. I’ve set up my brewing calendar to brew with the seasons for the most part. So starting in March I’ll be brewing 3 successive beers that are lighter, crisp and refreshing: Rye Tymes American Ale (light rye ale), Timmy Time Lime Cream Ale (exactly as it sounds) and Witty Kitty Witbier (belgian white). They are timed so that as we get into the full swing of spring and into the squelching heat of summer, these beers will be ready to be poured into my glass. Speaking of seasonal brewing, I’ve scheduled my hefeweizen and marzen for August so they are ready for Oktoberfest. And of course more of my dark and hearty beers will be brewed for fall/winter.

I posted previously that I was going to focus on my 12 recipes this year, one per month. Then I added my wine/saison hybrid and the marzen to the list. Somehow I can’t stay away from doing something new. So I got the idea of doing a session IPA with chinook and cascade (3.5%). But I won’t be doing that until December. By that time, I’m going to need to break up the monotony of the darker beers at that time of year and have something lighter but flavorful on hand.

I haven’t posted about it yet, but I brewed Regalic Saison two weeks ago (saison with muscat grape concentrate). I’m waiting until it’s time for tasting in about two weeks and I’ll do a full grain-to-glass summary. I’ll also include how the bourbon ale came out this time around.

Brewery Update:

Bloed Koning Kriek:  sitting undisturbed in secondary until August.

2B’s Bourbon Ale and Regalic Saison: being bottled tomorrow.

Next brew day:  Rye Tymes in about a week.

By the way, the Witty Kitty that I brewed the day after Christmas had a sulphur like aroma out of the bottle, which is a by-product of the yeast.  But luckily after a few more weeks, it’s corrected itself.  I’m attributing it to colder temps in the house which may have caused the refermentation and bottle conditioning process to be slower.  I’m going to post a tasting comparison between this and a commercial witbier soon.

2B’s Bourbon Ale and Kriek Secondary

I brewed batch #2 of 2015 this past Friday.  It’s a repeat of 2B’s bourbon ale that I brewed last July.  When I went shopping for ingredients, my LHBS was out of a couple things I needed.  The recipe calls for 4 hop additions (2 with EKG, 2 with Fuggles), and US-04 yeast.  They were out of US-04 and Fuggles.  So I went with US-05 and all EKG.  The %AA for Fuggles and EKG are about the same and both are English hops.  So I don’t anticipate much of a difference from them.  By not using an english ale yeast though, I may lose some of the esters in the final beer, but with this being a bourbon beer, the absence may not be significant.  The brew day went very smooth with no issues at all and I hit my OG of 1.063 on the nose.  If you recall, I had mash over-temp issues the last time I brewed this and the final product was hazy though tasty.  I’m expecting this time around that this beer will be clearer.  This is also the first time that I adjusted my recipe amounts of hops based on the alpha acid percentage of the actual hops I purchased.  My recipe had a default AA of 5% but the ones in store were 7.2%.  The difference was large enough that I decided to reduce my hop weights accordingly to hit my target IBUs.

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My kriek has been in primary for 4 weeks.  I did a taste test.  There is a bit of tartness coming through, but the beer is clear and no off flavors.  I made the decision to rack to secondary with the cherry puree because I didn’t want my first try to be completely over the top.  Essentially, I want it to still be accessible for my family and friends.  If I’m the only one that can stand to drink it, that’s not that much fun.  But I do plan to let it sit in secondary for 6 months.

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Up next Friday is an extra brew day that I’m fitting in.  It’s a wine/beer hybrid that I’m calling Regalic.  It will be a saison with muscat grape concentrate added at the end of the boil.  I just drank a saison brewed by Saint Somewhere Brewing located in Tarpon Springs, FL which incorporates Norton grapes.  It’s called Cynthiana.  It had a nice earthy yet fruity taste without it being sweet.  Very nice and dry.  I’m hoping that regalic comes out somewhere in that ballpark.

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Trouble in Porter Paradise

The Rollin’ Barrel Bourbon Porter had been in bottle conditioning for two weeks and I decided to refrigerate one and have a taste.  I had previously posted that the taste test on bottling day revealed a strong alcohol heat.  Too much and I thought that carbonation and refrigeration would moderate it.  Well it didn’t.  And as I was drinking the beer, I started second guessing whether what I was tasting was indeed an overbearing bourbon alcohol heat or if it was an astringency.  But I wasn’t sure.  I had tasted the batch prior to racking to secondary and  adding the bourbon and oak chips and didn’t taste anything similar to that.  So I’m a bit stumped because I added the same amount of bourbon, concentration wise, as the first time I brewed it years ago.  That first batch came out beautifully.  However there are some differences between the two batches.

Bourbon:  Then-  used Jim Beam Black label,    now-  used Jim Beam white label   (I find it hard to believe that would make a difference)

Oak chips:  Then-  used 2 oz of untoasted chips that I toasted myself in the oven,  now- used 4oz  heavy toasted chips, already toasted when bought.  (So I used twice the amount this time and it was a different product, but I used the same amount and same chip product in my 2B’s bourbon ale recently and the beer came out great)

Chips in bourbon soak time:  Then – 4 days,  now- 7 days

Time in secondary:  Then-  4 days,  now- 7 days

I wouldn’t think that any of these differences alone would make such a jarring difference or maybe there’s a cumulative effect going on.  However, I’m stumped and a bit disappointed.  If any of you out there have any suggestions or thoughts, I’d love to hear it.

UPDATE:  I had told my girlfriend Erika about the issue with my porter over the past few days, but she hadn’t tasted it yet.  So when she came home last night, I had a glass poured.  I told her that this was the troubled porter.  I said, “Give this a taste and just tell me your first thought about it.”  She took a sip and said,  “Wood.”   So the verdict:  The oak chips  (too many, maybe too heavily toasted, soaked for too long).  Next time I’m just going to mimic to a T what I did during the first batch I made that I loved so much.

Brewing, racking, bottling

The brewery has been very active this past weekend.   Three beers, three different stages.  I brewed and racked on Friday and bottled on Sunday.

Brew Day-  The Sleeper Imperial Stout

This is essentially my second crack at an imperial stout.  My first was a few months ago with Quantum Deep.  But that was before I really discovered my actual brewhouse efficiency (about 60%), fell woefully short of my target ABV and essentially ruined it by adding coffee beans to my secondary.  It was a mess all around but I learned some important stuff from that fiasco.  So I’ve modified some things, renamed it and and I was ready to go again.

The Sleeper Imperial Stout (2.5 gallon BIAB)

Fermentables:

7.5 lbs Briess Pale Ale Malt

0.25 lbs Roasted Barley

0.25 lbs Briess Black Malt

0.25 lbs Crisp Pale Chocolate

0.25 lbs Crisp Crystal 60

1.0 lbs Light DME (added after boil start)

0.5 lbs Light Brown Sugar (added 12 min left in boil)

0.5 lbs Lactose (added 12 min left in boil)

Mash:  90 min @ 151 F

Sparge: 1 gallon @ 170F

Boil: 60 min

Hops:

0.75 oz Summit (60 min)

0.25 oz Summit (10 min)

0.5 oz Cascade (flameout)

Yeast:  Wyeast London ESB 1968

Because I’m using some DME, this isn’t technically “all grain”.  But it is the only way that I can boost my OG to the level I need with my current equipment.  The brown sugar is there to help also.  I usually prefer to use dry yeast whenever possible because it’s easier to use, it’s much cheaper and I’ve made very good beers with them.  I was originally going to use US-04 for this but my LHBS was inexplicably out.  They’ve been having some inventory issues lately.  So the Wyeast 1968 was the best substitute.   But I’m a little concerned that it won’t get the batch as dry as I need it to be.  So I plan on seeing where my gravity is after two weeks and if needed (which I assume it will be needed), I’ll rack it to secondary and pitch another pack of yeast to keep it moving.  This is also my first time using a blow off tube because I expect this to be a very active fermentation.  I got through the initial couple days of bubbling fury and everything was contained thankfully.

Stats:

OG:  1.108 (target), 1.096 (actual) I’ll need another 1 lb of DME next time, but I’m still within imperial range.

IBU:  92.46

SRM: 40

Estimated Target ABV 9%.

Imperial Ingredients  Imperial Mash  Imperial Wort

Imperial Primary

Rollin’ Barrel Racking

I racked the bourbon porter onto the oak chips and bourbon.  Gravity reading before the bourbon was 1.022 which makes it about 5.7%.  The bourbon is calculated to add another 1% to that.  The porter will sit in secondary for 7 days before being bottled.

Barrel Primary  Barrel Secondary  Barrel FG

Witty Kitty Witbier

Erika’s witbier has been in primary for 14 days.  Taste test was excellent and FG was 1.003!!!  That’s dry.  Brewer’s Friend calculated it going down to only 1.012.  So the yeast, for whatever reason, went hog wild and we are looking at an ABV of  6.6% instead of the anticipated  4.5%     The yeast has definitely hazed up the beer, which is desirable and it does have that unique belgian flavor imparted by the yeast and the spiciness due to the coriander.  Bottling yielded 18 12 oz bottles and one 16 oz PET.  Erika looks pretty happy.

Witty Racking  Witty Bottling  Witty Taste Test  Witty batch

Next Friday I’m making a small batch of cream ale for Amy, co-proprietor of 2B’s, and bottling the bourbon porter.  It’ll be another busy day.  But I love it.