Sunday, December 16, 2012

Notes from the free ingredient adventure...

Notes so far from the eight beers in progress:

  • Of the ones already drinkable, they are all pretty tasty:
    • The Winter Dark Ale, with the addition of a grain steep and some DME, is a nice winter warmer.  Roasty, malty, and a bit of raisin.  Pretty happy with this.  In the bottle since mid-October.
    • The Northwestern Pale Ale is a fine APA.  Used WY1056 with this instead of the Coopers yeast.  Head retention is a bit lacking, and I maybe should have dry-hopped it a bit, but it's a perfectly drinkable pale.
    • The ESB is the only one with slight problems.  I was working oldest to newest on the liquid yeasts, and this one did not expand much at all.  I should have done a starter, but I decided that for a 2 gallon batch, even the non-expanded quantity would be enough.  It actually did fine from a FG standpoint, but I'm getting a slight banana ester that likely is from the yeast being stressed a bit (I've read a few other cases on Homebrewtalk where people reported this ester with WY1968). The beer tastes fine, but that flavor just doesn't mesh from an ESB perspective.  Maybe it will fade, or maybe I just shouldn't call this an ESB.  Regardless, it's still a tasty brew, but I will likely let it sit for another month before trying another.
    • The Abbey Dubbel had problems from the get-go.  Another yeast pack that didn't expand, an addition of an additional T-58 pack to get things going when the old WY3944 stalled, and finally a broken spigot causing half of the brew to be lost and the other half to be likely aerated.  After all of that, this may be my favorite of the bunch.  The taste is spot-on for a young belgian, and though the original plan was to age this a bit, I'll likely drink this young just because of the aeration concern.  
    • The IPA was converted into a 5-gallon batch via a mini-mash and DME addition, as well as an additional hop boil.  The result is quite a nice IPA.  I've just dropped this into the drinking rotation.
  • The current ferments are as follows:
    • The Oktoberfest Lager HME was supplemented with a bunch of Munich LME and a flameout Tettang addition.  Instead of this being a misnamed ale, I used the WY2206 lager yeast for a true lager.  Looking at bottling mid-January and taking the first drink sometime in the spring/summer.
    • The Weizen is pretty much a straight-up deluxe Bavarian Weissbier kit, with the yeast replaced with WY3068.  I also added small amounts of orange peel and coriander to a short boil with the LME.  Looking to bottle around New Years, and drink first in February.
    • The Light beer is also a lager, using the Budweiser yeast (WY2007).  Pretty much just the deluxe American Light kit with a flameout addition of Mt. Hood.  Bottling mid-January, and first taste in the spring.
What's left - HME:
So, I still have about 10 brews from these contest winnings, with a bunch of yeast and hops to spare.  The fruit has thus far gone into pies and will likely continue to be used for that (not a fruit beer fan).   I'll need to (at least) find additional uses for the three wheat yeasts, as well as the Trappist.  I'll likely make a cider with the Champagne yeast.  That will leave about 8 Coopers ale yeasts (unless I double up on these 5g packs on some brews, which is a possibility).  Lager yeasts will likely be paired with the Pilsner, the Patriot Lager, or the Mexican Cerveza.  S-04 maybe with the stout, US-05 with one of the ales.  Not sure on the S-33 (maybe the Winter Dark Ale).  The rest will get the Coopers ale yeast. Decisions...


Here's a few possibilities (one for each extract):

Kolsch Ale:  Canadian Blonde HME, Pale DME, Perle hops, German Ale yeast - Complete 12/17
Liberty Lager:  Patriot Lager HME, [Pale LME], Liberty hops, S-23 lager yeast.
Dortmunder:  Pilsner HME, Smooth LME, Mt. Hood hops, S-23 lager yeast.
Sutter's Gold Steam beer:  American Ale LME, [Pale LME], Northern Brewer hops, 34/70 yeast.
Oval Office Honey Amber:  Northwestern Pale HME, Smooth LME, Fuggle hops, honey, S-04 yeast.
POTUS Honey Porter:  Porter HME,  Smooth LME, Perle hops, honey, S-04 yeast
Ole Mole Stout:  Stout HME, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, cocoa, Coopers Ale yeast
Christmas Ale:  Winter Dark Ale, Robust LME, mulling spices, almond extract, [Tettang hops], Coopers Ale yeast
Mexican Cerveza:  Mexican Cerveza HME, [Pale LME], [hops?], [yeast?  lager or Coopers Ale] - Gifted on 12/25
IPA:  IPA HME, [pale LME], Centennial hops, Columbus hops, Coopers Ale yeast
Cider:  Apple juice, EC-1118 yeast - Complete 12/28

Will be glad to get back to AG brewing, but I must admit that these are easy and have made good beer thus far...

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