Tag Archives: Hops

Beer Review II

I am reviewing two beers today, New Belgium’s Hoptober Golden Ale and Schlafy’s Dry Hopped APA.

New Belgium Brewing Co’s Hoptober Golden Ale

Another recent release, New Belgium’s Hoptober Golden Ale provides everything that the name promises. The hops are incredibly floral in nose and in taste while providing a delicious bitterness that first struck the sides of my tongue before traveling back and down my throat. Further drinking produced the expected sweet aftertaste of malt as the hops exited. As for looks the name again tells you everything you want to know. I will note that I detected a bit of a redish hue when first poured into my glass. The carbonation was perfectly balanced proving not too heavy or too light of a mouthfeel. Only the thinnest of heads covered the top giving me quick and ready access to the delicious beer underneath.

My verdict: If you like IPAs and the other beers of New Belgium, then you should try this one out. It’s not too heavy and not too light, happily celebrating a middle ground of wonderfully complex flavors.

Schlafly Dry Hopped APA

A nearly local brew its origins lie across the state in St Louis, home to friends and family. Not as hoppy as the New Belgium there is still a strong presence of the good stuff. However this beer has one thing the HGA did not. A strong malt presence. In fact, if I were to name a single defining characteristic of this beer, that would be the malt. The hop is strong in the aftertaste as the beer is going down my throat but it is not what meets my pallet at the beginning. The beer is slightly cloudy but has a strong golden amber color. It is incredibly effervescent making it very light in taste. The head is thick and it took several minutes to go down before I started drinking. There was not much nose to the brew and I was hoping for something which would announce the amount of hops in there. But again, I found it lacking.

Verdict: Not great, but not bad either. Strong fruity notes from the malt covers up the hops. Overall, I would say that it was not as good as the New Belgium reviewed above but still very drinkable.

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Beer is Ready!

So, The other night, H3llDr0p came over, and we had a little beer tasting.

My Oatmeal Stout was ready, as was his small batch test.

H3llDr0p’s small batch was a very effervescent ale. Indeed, apparently it popped the cap off the bottle at one point.

It had a very fruity flavor, very appley with distinct citrus notes. The Citrus flavor became more pronounced as the beer warmed up. Very nice. It was interesting, because he’d been going for a very hoppy flavor, using five times the hops that would normally go into that much beer, but the hop flavor was no where near as strong as he expected.

My Oatmeal stout had a strong Coffee flavor. VERY strong coffee flavor. This was followed by a distinct almond cream after taste, and just a bit of hops at the tail end. It had no head, but upon review, that’s apparently normal for stouts. Guiness only has a head because of the force mixed nitrogen. I am thinking that next time I do a stout however, I will try one of the things that Guiness does, which is adding soured beer to the new batch before fermenting to add complexity to the flavor.

I tried to make a Black & Tan out of them, but they mixed instead of floating. Still very good.

The Experiment: 1 Gallon Batch

This is a follow up to my post last week, Doing Math…for Beer, where I did some calculations for how much of what I needed to get a 1 gallon of homebrew going. Those calculations turned out needed some tweaking. Thus far, however, the experiment of doing just a single gallon has been successful. I have a burping (sometimes, very, very loudly) bottle sitting on my kitchen counter. It is filled the kitchen with the wonderful scent of wort on the march to becoming a tasty, tasty homebrew.

The primary gear used in this experiment
The primary gear used in this experiment

Starting out yesterday afternoon, I gathered up my tools and the ingredients, sanitized my starter bottle, the gallon jug, and one of my five gallon fermenters. While the bottles were resting, I got a half-pint of water and a couple of tablespoons of honey on a burner and brought it to a quick boil. I poured the starter into the smaller pint bottle and  then placed it in a bowl filled with salted ice water.

This is my first time of using this sort of chilling process. It took longer than I was expecting because in part I started out with just ice in the bowl and not ice water. After a half hour chill, the starter liquid was ready and I put the Muntons yeast in, placing a balloon over the top to catch the CO2. I then stepped away for two and a half hours to let the starter get going.

The starter is ready to be used
The starter is ready to be used

Coming back to the kitchen, I poured half of the gallon of water in the pot and turned the heat on. I then took the DME and put it in a large pitcher. Adding the other half gallon to that, I stirred it around until I got it mostly mixed, resulting in a dark brown fluid with a few chunks of DME still waiting to absorb the water around it. Once the pot was up to a rolling boil, I poured my home-made LME into the pot and watched as it came back up to a boil. It didn’t take too long and once there, I backed the heat down to enough to keep it going at a simmer.

Home made LME
Home made LME

I gave it thirty minutes before adding the first half of the hops. I let this go for ten minutes before adding the other half. Then I removed the wort from the heat and let it stand for ten minutes. At which point I put it in one of my primary fermenters and with a hose filled up the gallon bottle that is sitting below in an ice bath. That did not heave nearly enough ice in it. Leave it to my luck, I found that the icemaker decided to pile the ice all on one side, giving it a false reading of being nearly full when the opposite is true.

LME added and brought back up to a boil
LME added and brought back up to a boil
The setup for the icebath
The setup for the icebath

Being careful as I filled it up, I found out that there was more wort than expected. There were several more ounces still in the bucket when I closed the spout and screwed on the lid. The lid was there to keep the beer “clean” as it cooled down. A process that took over an hour and a half despite the ice bath. I ended up scorching my finger tips a few times checking on the bottle to see if it had cooled off enough to add the yeast to it. But before I did that, I took a moment and shook the bottle with the lid on. I wanted to make sure that the wort got plenty of oxygen dissolved in it for the yeast.

Chilling the wort
Chilling the wort

This left a head on the wort that subsequently came up the neck of the bottle as I poured in the half-pint of starter. Again, I found that there was not nearly enough room to allow for all of it. I think I got about half of the half-pint in before I stopped. This brought the bubbles all the way to the lip of the lid. Not sure how long to wait, I set the first airlock in the bung and waited to watch for signs of burping. The wait was not a long one. I estimate that it was about twenty minutes before I saw the first burp occur. It was not a good sign.

Finished in spirit but not actually done
Finished in spirit but not actually done

There were some of the head that came up the plastic tube as the CO2 but I ignored these. At the time, I thought the foam would go down, dissolve back into the beer before it would be a problem. I was wrong. Within a half hour of the picture taken above, the beer was coming up the stem of the airlock and getting into the vodka I was using in it. After another half hour, the vodka was getting close to being pushed out of the airlock completely. Seeing this, I opened up the bottle and poured out some, replacing S-shaped airlock with one of the hat-types. This seemed to resolve the issue as the burping continued without pause but no foam was coming up the neck.

But this morning, I found the lid to the airlock popped off and the hat on the kitchen floor. The airlock was filled with beer and very foamy. It looked very much like a miniature mug of beer. I have yet to find the lid but it still is burping away, over a day later, much against my initial guesses as to what it would be doing at this point. A week from now, I will be giving it a bit more sugar and slapping the lid on.

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Beer Update 1

So, the beer is boiling. Lets go quickly over what has been done up to now.

First, I put the Light Malted Barley and the Flaked Oats into the Mash Tun. Then I poured a little under three gallons of hot water in over them and mixed it together. I adjusted the temperature to 152 Degrees Fahrenheit, and let it sit for a little over an hour. Then I added the Chocolate Malt (Dark malted) Barley, and the Roasted Barley. I added about a gallon of boiling water to bring the temperature back up, and let it sit for another 20 minutes.

Next, I drained the liquid out and did what’s called “Sparging”. In this process, you add more hot water (175 F) to the mash as you drain it. I ended up adding around 5-6 gallons of water to the mash during sparging. Also, following some advice I got online, I poured the first half gallon I got out of the tun back in on top as part of the sparge.

It’s important when sparging to put the water in gently so as not to create channels in the mash. If you do it wrong, the water runs through the channels and doesn’t pick up as much flavor, sugar, or enzymes from the mash. I achieved this by simply floating a plastic potato salad container lid on top of the mash, and pouring the water onto it.

When all is said and done, you should end up with 7 gallons of liquid out of the Mash.

I put this in my big pot (it just BARELY fit), and set it to boil. From 160+ degrees, it still took nearly 45 minutes to come up to a boil again.

While it’s heating, and first boiling, nasty foam forms on top. Skim this off with a ladle or something, as it will make the beer really cloudy otherwise.

So, I let it BOIL for 15 minutes, then add the first set of Hops.

And that’s where I am now. It has to boil for ANOTHER 40 minutes before I add the finishing hops. So, a little more time to kill.

At first it smelled like cooking oatmeal cookies mixed with hot cereal, like cream of wheat. But within seconds of adding the hops, it smells like beer.

Anyway, when the 40 minutes is up, I’ll add the second set of hops, and a little Irish Moss, which is supposed to help clarify the beer. Then it will boil for 20 more minutes, then sit for half an hour to cool and settle, THEN once it’s cool enough (80 F) I’ll add the yeast and seal it up.

More as it happens.

Homebrewed Beer Log #1


Started this brew way back in September of last year. Due to a restriction in the number of bottles I had at the time, I could not get this bottled as quickly as I would have liked. The restriction was because I had and continue to have a number of my bottles holding the raspberry mead I started back in 2007.

The recipe I used is one of my own invention. It was not as cheap as it could have been due to using half grains and half malt extract instead of all malt. At the time the 2-row was going for about $3.50/lb., making it one of the cheaper grains I could get. Unfortunately for us brewers the price of grain has continued to rise making our once economically efficient hobby less so these days.

Here is my recipe:

2 lbs Rolled Wheat
4 lbs Bohemian Pilsen (2 row)
4 lbs Light Malt Extract
2 lbs Honey

1 oz Saaz
1 oz Kent Golding

The rolled wheat came in single pound plastic bags, I am guessing left overs from earlier shipments. I’m not sure how much these cost, but they could not have been all that much. I was doing my best to be as cheap as I could, retaining as much quality as I could. The Saaz were strong registering an AA of 7.5 that season. I hope that my supplier, Bacchus and Barleycorn, continue to get their hops that powerful.

I won’t get into detailing out the cooking experience except to say that it was one of the best, easiest times I have spent cooking a beer that I have ever had. Everything came together very nicely and I was able to hit and keep my target temperatures without any real trouble. I hope to be able to repeat it in the future.

On to a few pictures then.

The first is the anticipation shot of opening the bottle. I prefer the flip tops for their easy reuse and the ability to send some with friends when they want to try my brew out. The “C” you see on top of the cap is from an older, much older, attempt to add some cherry flavoring to a batch.

Getting ready to open and pour
Getting ready to open and pour

And this is everything freshly poured. I want to note here that I continue to have problems with over-carbonating in the bottle and that if I do not act quickly enough when opening the bottle, I will have a beer fountain on my hands. In fact, this last time around I lost one of my liter bottles to a minor beer explosion. I am not sure if this is because I am not getting enough of the sugars converted in primary fermentation due to a lack of oxygen or if I am using too much sugar when bottling. This past time I made sure to include extra head-space in the bottles to eliminate that as one of the factors which could be causing the fountains to happen. The upside is that it takes a long time for my beer to go flat.

A good pour
A good pour

This final shot is a close up to show just how nice and clear the brew is. I used some Irish Moss and made sure to strain my beer and capture as much of the particulates before primary fermentation. I personally like using a grain bag during the cooking and then straining the wart through that into one of my fermentation vessels a couple of times to get all of the flavor I can. The results is a crystal clear beautifully golden beer.

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