02 December, 2010

Homebrew Notes

I always like to try a bottle of homebrew at the two-week point, after bottling, just to see how it's coming. As luck would have it, I bottled both my Christmas Ale and my Irish Red two weeks ago.

My efforts to pay more attention to my recipes using the Qbrew software I downloaded is paying off. Everything I have brewed since I started using it have turned out very good. I haven't had any bad beers, but my Double Batch IPA was pretty meh, and my Cran Wheat wasn't very cranny. Having run both recipes through the Qbrew, I can understand why.

So with a better process implemented, I'll jump into my Christmas Ale, which used a Mr. Beer Cowboy Lager as a base. I used cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and some orange zest. I also added a 1/4 pound of honey, and Willamette hops for 20 minutes. What turned out is a very nice surprise. Not one of the spice adders jumps out at you, everything seems very well balanced. It also has a nice crisp bite, with just a hint of hop bitterness. The only thing I'm curious about is how dry it tastes. Might still be too young, or might be a result of the recipe.

The Irish Red was a bit more basic, starting off with a Mr. Beer Bewitched Red Ale. I added a 1/2 pound of molasses, and used a long boil of Magnum hops and then dry hopped with the last of my Willamette hops. So not a great deal of modification, which results in a very good red. Just enough hops and bite. I should add, this was my first time using irish moss as a fining, and it worked. This is by far the clearest beer I've brewed. I've since used irish moss in subsequent brews, mostly for a better look in the glass. It takes as little as 1/4 tsp to be effective it seems, and a small bottle of it cost like $2.

I need to get my oatmeal stout bottled this weekend, and I need to come up with a new recipe to brew. Any ideas Sean?

Chris H.


sean said...

I've been enjoying the "Imperial Brown Ale" I made about a month ago. Basically do 1.5 times the malt and double the hops of this recipe (you can probably use your software to convert the all-grain recipe to extract):


And throw in two pounds of dark brown sugar too. Not sure what size your boil pot is, but if you're not doing a full volume boil (7+ gallons) it'd be a bit sticky, so don't burn it :)

Ended up about 7.3% alcohol, and ridiculously drinkable.

Irish moss is awesome, I use it in every batch.

Chris said...

I brew in 2.25 to 2.5 gallon batches. So I usually cut a typical 5 gal batch in half.

I actually have a strong brown bottled, but it will need some time to get good. A bit too much alcohol notes on it currently.

sean said...

No wonder you have so many beers, 2.5 gallons doesn't last. I've been doing 10 gallon batches, so it takes a while to get through that.

How about an English Old Ale? They're good for winter time, kind of like Deschutes Jubel ale. Here's a 5 gallon all-grain recipe:

12lbs pale malt
2 lbs Munich malt
1 lb 55l crystal malt
0.5 lb 120l crystal malt
0.5 lb chocolate malt
1 oz chinook hops (bittering)
2 oz goldings (flavor)
1 oz fuggles (aroma)

I used a 90 minute boil to help caramelize the malt a bit.