Feb 04 2009

SF Beer Week is upon us

Published by under Events

There are a lot of events all around the Bay Area this coming week. Plenty of information on all them are available at the SF Beer Week website. I log many of the beer events around the area on a google calendar. I’ve pulled a lot of the event information from the SF Beer Week site and added it to my calendar. The calendar can be viewed by clicking the link on the mast head. Or if you utilize online calendaring software, events can be added by following these links: [HTML] [ICAL] [XML]

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May 26 2008

California Common – Batch 3

Published by under Amber Hybrid Beer,Homebrew

Note: It has been some time since I have logged a brew session. Have been able to brew approximately once a month, however have not been able to organize a post out of them. I’m going to back date these entries to when I brewed them.

California Common Beer or also known as the trademarked Steam Beer, is a semi-historic semi-native beer style to the West Coast and particularly San Francisco. Way back when I was in school I remember reading the novel McTeague, where in the first chapter the protagonist is described drinking a pitch of “Steam Beer”. McTeague was first published in 1899. California Common ale is somewhat related to a German style of beer called altbier or “old” beer, that utilizes a special strain of lager yeast that can tolerate high temperatures, without producing sulfury off-flavors. California Common is also distinctive in the use of a particular hop variety, Northern Brewer that has a somewhat woody character.

Follows is our recipe for 10 gallons of finished beer:

whirlpooling california common brew16.00 lb. American Two-row Pale Malt
2.00 lb. American Crystal 40L Malt
1.00 lb. American Victory Malt
0.25 lb. Special B Malt
0.25 lb. CaraFoam Malt
(SRM ~ 11, target gravity 1.053)

1.50 oz. Mt. Hood 5.1% AA, 60 min.
2.00 oz. Northern Brewer 8.1% AA, 15 min.
2.00 oz. Northern Brewer 8.1% AA, 5 min.
(IBU ~ 36.5)

2 vile WLP810 San Francisco Lager yeast, 2000 ml. starter 48 hours on the stir plate, in the keg-o-rator at around 50° F

Mash and Boil:

alpha rest, target 153° F / recorded 153° F, 60 min.

The Mt. Hood hops here I think were rather old, and should impart only a light bitterness. I wanted the emphasis to be mainly on the Northern Brewers as flavor hops. Which turned out to be the case, yet still with a pleasant bitterness. A bit strong and to really be to style, one might want to reduce the hop additions a bit.

Fermentation:

The brew session went fairly smooth up until the cold crash. This is where the wort is dropped to the appropriate fermentation temperature (as quickly as possible) before pitching (adding) the yeast. I use a counter-flow wort chiller, that circulates cold tap water around a copper tube that the hot wort travel through to the fermentor. Was only able to bring the wort down to 77° F, and so had to let the wort sit for several hours (refrigerated) till it dropped down to 66° F, then pitch.

calif common brew fermenting

Let primary fermentation go for 13 days at around 55° F. I used my keg-o-rator which has a dial setting for temperature. Not the most accurate, but seemed relatively constant. Then racked the beer into kegs and lagered the beer for 27 days at around 34° F, the coldest setting.

Unfortunately, this batch suffered from some diacetyl, a not so pleasant butterscotch flavor. This may have something to do with the pour performance of the wort chiller. I have read that some people preform a diacetyl rest, in which they raise the fermentation temperature up to room temp. before lagering. The diacetyl dissipated eventually.

Orig. Specific Gravity 1.052
Final Specific Gravity 1.012
Alcohol by Volume ~5.2 %

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Apr 11 2008

American Amber Ale – Batch 2

Published by under American Ale,Homebrew

American Amber or Red Ale is definitely a West Coast classic, yet has a very wide interpretation. There are many commercial examples. Some that I think are similar to an ESB (or even called such), some with very complex malt profiles, and yet others that are closer to a somewhat darker interpretation of an IPA. Here is an attempt at not too complex of a grain bill, with perhaps a somewhat unique hop schedule. Will also attempt to reduce the attenuation (as compared to the Pale Ale) to balance out the slightly higher IBUs and accentuate the malt a bit more.

Follows is our recipe for 13.5 gallons of finished beer:

22.00 lb. American Two-row Pale Malt
2.50 lb. American Crystal 60L Malt
1.00 lb. American Victory Malt
0.50 lb. American Crystal 120L Malt
0.25 lb. American Chocolate Malt
(SRM ~ 14, target gravity 1.055)

1.00 oz. Newport 11.1% AA, 60 min.
2.00 oz. Amarillo 8.2% AA, 10 min.
2.00 oz. Columbus 12.0% AA, 5 min.
1.00 oz. Nugget (whole/leaf) 12.0% AA, Hop-back
1.00 oz. Amarillo (whole/leaf) 8.4% AA, Hop-back
1.00 oz. Nugget (whole/leaf) 12.0% AA, Dry hopped
1.00 oz. Amarillo (whole/leaf) 8.4% AA, Dry hopped
(IBU ~ 31)

2 vile WLP001 California ale yeast, 2000 ml. starter 24 hours on the stir plate

Straight forward single infusion mash:

alpha rest, target 155° F / recorded 156° F, 75 min.

The mash temperature is intentionally higher then Max Spargethe Pale Ale, to increase body and leave a little more residual (unfermented) sugar. The sweater finished beer should balance out the more aggressive hop schedule.

Do to the larger batch size and target gravity, batch sparging kind of pushed the limits of the mash tun. However, was able to collect about 15 gallons of sweat wort at around 1.053 Specific Gravity. This boiled down some during the 65 min. boil, and some lose in the hop back / crash cycle, was left with (again roughly) 13.5 gallons at an Original Specific Gravity of 1.058

Fermentation:

Crashed the wort down to 72° F and pitched. There were some temperature control issues with this batch. The 10 day primary fermentation (reportedly) peaked out at 78° F, which may result in stronger (maybe fruity, or alcohol) flavors. Ready to RackThe two weeks of secondary conditioning were at a much more suitable 68° F. The dry hops being added in the last week / week and half. Final gravity coming down to 1.0145 Specific Gravity.

Racking beer off of free floating hops can be tricky, and has giving me a lot of trouble in the past. I need to post a picture, but I’ve found that one can slip the mesh lint traps found at your local home improvement stores (super cheap) over the business end of the racking cane. This strains the wort really great, with a very minimal amount of hop matter getting through to the keg.

Orig. Specific Gravity 1.058
Final Specific Gravity 1.015
Alcohol by Volume ~5.5 %

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Mar 19 2008

Happy NOT to be a Czech Ornithologist

Published by under Beer

Spotted on /. a NYT article on a Czech study of beer drinking versus scientific productivity. The results were surprisingly negative, especially for the Czech Republic (which reportedly has the highest per capita beer consumption in the world). This is all very hard to swallow (ha, no pun intended). For I personally find social beer drinking a great opportunity for formulating new ideas. Granted in my experience, never in the realm of Ornithology. link

update: Relax, an opposing interpretation of the aforementioned study. link also via /.

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