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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Busy weekend- Saison and Imperial Stout

I had two brew days this past weekend.  I brewed the wedding saison on Saturday afternoon and my imperial stout on Sunday morning.  I had the house all to myself, so I took full advantage of the opportunity.  When these beers are done, I’ll do full grain-to-glass summaries.  The stout’s OG was 1.105, my highest ever.  Both brew days went as smoothly as they could possibly go.  Another piece of good news is that my kriek is carbonating nicely.  I was worried that with it being in secondary for so long, that the yeast would be extremely sluggish or just inactive.  I’ll crack one open at the end of August and do a full report.  Honestly, I’m expecting it to taste shitty because this style is so difficult to do right and this was my first try at it.  Hey, if I go in with low expectations, it’s hard to be disappointed, right?

Imperial OG Imperial Wort

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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Dark Saison

Since my last post (I have neglected the blog), I’ve brewed and drank a second batch of the American Rye Ale.   No marked improvement over the first batch that I could notice due to the finer crush of the rye grain.  But still a very good brew.  Next up was a Dark Saison.  Recipe is from my LHBS.

Dark Saison- 2.5 gallon BIAB

5.75 lb Castle Pilsen

4oz. Castle Special B

2oz. Castle Aromatic Malt

2oz. Briess Caramel 120

2oz. Castle Caramel Munich

Fermentable-  4oz Cane Sugar (10min)

Hops:

0.5oz Perle (60min)

0.5oz Styrian Goldings (20min)

0.5oz Cz. Saaz (10min)

Yeast:  Wyeast 3724 French Saison

Mash:  149 for 60min

Brewed on Feb. 10 and bottled on Feb 24.  Taste test before bottling was impressive.  Very unique.  Solid alcohol punch.  It may end up being one of the best I’ve brewed yet.  They’ll go in the fridge on March 10.