Fearless John’s Order of the Hop Take Two

April 20th, 2013,  the day I brewed up this delicious American Pale Ale with Citra Hops. It was highly sought after. Unfortunately, there was only one gallon in the whole world.

Not enough for a yeast starter.

This has changed. I have now scaled it up to a full 5 gallon batch. I used Beersmith to scale it, and this is what it came up with.


6 lbs 6.6 oz of Extra Light DME

The grain is in there, you just can’t see it.

1 lb 1.8oz of Crystal 60L Malt

I don’t know if that Whirflock tablet actually does anything.

And most importantly, the Citra hops:

2.25 oz at 15 minutes
2.00 oz at 5 minutes
2.75 oz at flame out

Easiest way to sanitize the wort chiller.

What makes this beer so great is that the longest you need to boil hops is 15 minutes, with no traditional 60 minute bittering addition. This better preserves the flavor and aroma. It also makes the brew day shorter, since there is no reason to boil the wort longer than 15 minutes.

Brew Dog is never satisfied with the cooling operation.

One thing that you have to use more hops, and this does make the beer more expensive since you have to use more hops. On a commercial-scale, the extra price may put the beer out of reach of the craft brewer, but on the homebrew level a few extra bucks hardly matters. This is one of the reasons that the homebrewer has the very real potential of brewing better beer than a commercial craft brewer.

Ferment at 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

International Beer Day- Stone Ruination IPA

International Beer Day (first Friday in August) is a global celebration of beer, taking place in pubs, breweries, and back yards all over the world — It’s a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders, and rejoice in the greatness of beer!

I actually wasn’t going to drink any beer today, but since I learned that it was International Beer Day I decided that I had to drink one of my bombers I’ve kept around. Stone Brewery Ruination is. It’s a hop forward beer, and I probably shouldn’t have been kept around for as long as it has, but it takes a special occasion to break out a semi-high alcohol bomber all by myself, and international Beery day is just the time to do it.

It pours a pale golden straw color, with a nice off white head, and a cloudy, homebrew-like appearance.

The aroma comes off as a wonderful citrus and pine.  It seems subdued from what it could be, but that is probably what happens when you keep a hop forward beer around for a few months.

The taste follows right along from the aroma. Citrus, pine, wood right up front. Not as sweet/mango/fruit that you would get from something like Citra, but very traditional American hop. Toasty malt coming up behind. The bitterness is very assertive, but despite the name, and the long warning on the bottle, it is not harsh. In fact, I think the word smooth would be very appropriate. It is not too sweet, but definitely not dry. There is also a nice warming alcohol feel, without any hot burning.

It is a great, refreshing ale for hot summer days. It goes great with a spicy stir-fry and smashed Chipotle sweet potatoes. In fact, you really need  to pair this with food that has very strong flavors, otherwise this beer will ruin all other flavors for you and you will just taste beer.

 

Happy Beer Day

80 years ago today, alcohol prohibition ended in this country (USA). At the time, beer and wine under 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% ABV) became legal to drink. Alcohol by weight (ABW) became popular because the numbers are smaller than alcohol by volume (ABV) and it looked better to people who would control your life. If you look on a beer bottle, it more than likely has ABV, but ABW continued in this country until relatively recently.

To celebrate, I decided I should drink a beer that most definitely would have still been illegal 80 years ago. At 8% ABV it is still illegal in several states. Legunitas Hop Stoopid. A real celebration of what beer has become, despite the serious and long-term damage alcohol prohibition did to the country.

Take one sniff and there is no doubt that this is a seriously hoppy beer, not for the new beer fan or the faint of heart. You immediately get the grapefruit you are so used to from American hops. You also get the pine and grass of the American Northwest. You can almost smell the bitterness, but really that is just intense pine.

After a longer winter of stouts, porters, and milds, the hops assaulted my tastebuds. The taste rides right down from the aroma. Grapefruit, mango, pine, grass. It’s a little sweet, and not too terrible bitter.

It had a smooth mouthfeel and medium carbonation. The appearance is a clear dark golden color with a white head and good lacing.

This is a first-rate double IPA. I can already see myself drinking this on a hot afternoon in the dog days of summer.

Dogfish Head Firefly Ale

I happened to be in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday for work purposes when I came upon a beer  I had never heard of before. While having dinner in the Washington Street Ale house I saw a beer by Dogfish Head called Firefly. I am always intrigued by beers I have never heard of, and especially by breweries that I know are as good as Dogfish Head. Nevertheless, I actually was more intrigued by a lager that was specially brewed  for the restaurant by Sam Adams (whose name escapes me). Alas, that was not to be, as they were out of the beer. Fate wanted me to have Firefly.

The menu claimed it was an English Style Pale Ale, which I thought would have been a great break from the hop heavy beers I have had lately. It was mighty delicious. I later found out that Dogfish Head brewed the beer for the Firefly Music Festival. They used Maris Otter Malt and English Heritage Hops because the Sex Pistols invented punk rock.  Marris Otter is almost an heirloom Barley that has a nutty depth of flavor which many consider one of the best malts you can use (although usually too pricey for even craft breweries). There is also a late addition of American Calypso hops because the Ramones invented punk rock.

It was a thoroughly delicious beer, with a bread and fruit forward taste. I kind wish it was a more regular offering, but I believe it is a one time beer, and once they run out, it is out. I’m just glad I tasted it before it is gone.

Two Hearted Ale

In my search for a wedding beer I came across Two Hearted Ale several times. I think people like it for weddings because of the name, even though I believe the name refers to a fish. It did fit my criteria of being a relatively local beer, but it is way too hop forward for the sole good beer that my wedding budget allows me. Maybe I can have a few for the bridal party.

Aroma

Straight up hop right off the bat. Not really as hop forward as I had come to expect from reading about the beer. The aromas does not last very long, but I am kind of sick so my smelling ability is fishy at best.

Color

Golden yellow.  I took the picture at night, so the golden color doesn’t really come through. It has good lacing, and a small white head.

Taste

Hops are definitely the first thing you taste. They aren’t very grapefruity like a cascade or a simcoe, but there is still a hint of orange (which made sense when I looked up the beer and found it uses only Centennial hops). There is a noticeable amount of sweetness. It is crisp, but not a beer I would consider particularly refreshing. It is very bitter on the tip of the tongue which is an indicator of just how bitter it is, as most of the bitter taste buds are on the back of the tongue. I really think the overwhelming taste of this whole beer is bitter. Not warheads bitter of course, but decently bitter for an IPA. As it warms up, I strangely feel that it gets slightly less bitter, and slightly more orange flavored. And really, the bitterness does not have that aftertaste that many IPAs have.  I think this beer is growing on me the more I drink.

Mouthfeel

 It has a medium mouthfeel, with a moderate amount of carbonation. The bitterness fatigues the palette quickly.

Overall Impression.

It is very bitter, but because of that, I wouldn’t really call it refreshing. Although as the beer warms up,  the orange flavor comes out, and the 7.0% ABV kicks in. It is starting to become a very nice beer to drink while I sit in the back yard on this breezy night, with my dog chewing a stick next to me, writing blog posts. It is definitely a good beer to have one of.

Fullers ESB

Now that I have my laptop back from the shop its time to get back to this blogging business. I’ll start with a classic. Fullers ESB, or Extra Special Bitter. Throughout the years you will find that breweries tended to differentiate their brews by alcohol with the general flavor profile the same. This happened for two reasons. Usually the beer style depended on ingredients available and the mineral content in the water. You couldn’t brew a Burton-On-Trent style pale ale in a place like Pilsen with the decided lack of minerals in water. Another reason was that governments always wanted their cut, and with generally one style of beer in the area, one of the best ways to figure out a good tax system was to tax by the amount of alcohol in the beer. The extra special bitter is at one end of the alcohol (and original gravity) spectrum with ordinary bitter on the other end and special bitter in the middle.

Aroma

Big malt up front with no appreciable hop aroma. Real sweet, almost citric.

Appearance

Golden color, slightly darker than straw. Clear white head with good lacing.

Taste

Surprisingly bitter. Would not have thought this with the lack of hop aroma. There is a big wallop of malt flavor. It makes me want some Whoppers.

Mouthfeel

Light to medium mouthfeel with light carbonation. Nice and smooth. A warming alcohol feel follows each sip.

Overall Impression

It is a great beer that would go perfectly with some good vanilla ice cream, maybe topped with some homemade caramel sauce.

Fullers London Pride

Bitter. Why would anybody want to drink something called a Bitter? Bitter is the flavor of poison in the wild.

Fullers London Pride

It’s the reason kids don’t eat their vegetables. It’s generally seen to our American palate as unpleasant, but this isn’t always the case. What would marmalade be without the use of bitter oranges? What about Tea? What about Coffee? Oh wait, coffee without the bitterness would be something like the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha with whipped cream. So many foods have so much artificial sweetener that most people don’t even know what sweet is.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Why bitter? It’s the balance. Balance is important in everything in life, and this is especially true for your gastronomic experiences.

Without bitterness, beer would taste like malt syrup, and though you might drink a spoonful of this, you certainly wouldn’t be drinking it by the pint. Since about the 15th century, bitterness in beer has come mainly from hops. In darker beers, you also get some bitterness from the highly roasted malt (just like how the darker roasts of coffee are bitterer than lighter roasts). Before this, at least in Europe, you generally had a mixture of spices called gruit. Gruit is usually made up of herbs like sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, wild rosemary, cloves etc. It varied from region to region and the recipe was usually kept secret. Gruit usually came only from the church or nobility, and acted as a tax on the beer since you had the get your Gruit from them. If you do want to make your own Gruit beer, you may want to omit the yarrow and wild rosemary, as these are questionable at best for human consumption.

Hops eventually came along, and over the period of several centuries and almost completely overtook other spices. This is probably due to its better antibiotic properties that favor beer yeast, and the reason that regions that resisted hops the longest and still to this day prefer other spices, still will include a small amount of hops in their beers.

Fuller’s London Pride is an English Style Bitter. It has a lot of overlap with a pale ale, and some would claim that the only difference is a bitter comes from a barrel and a pale ale comes from a bottle. Others like Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery would claim that Pale Ales are drier and have a very clean sharp hope flavor. This generally is a result of using water with a high level of gypsum in it (very hard water), most famously from Burton-upon-Trent, and adding gypsum to your brew water to make it harder is generally called “Burtonizing,” but that’s another post.

This beer is not exactly the same London Pride that you would get if you went to a Fuller’s pub in England and ordered a Bitter. The we get comes in a bottle and theoretically in England the bitter would come from a “real ale” system. Which means that it is naturally carbonated in the cask, and uses gravity or a hand pump to pour from a cask instead of compressed C02.This method almost died out in England until the Campaign for Real Ale came along and basically saved beer in England. I say you would theoretically get it from a “real ale” system because although these systems are on the rise, using a real ale system is kind of a pain, and since there is no C02, the beers need to be consumed within a few days. It also requires a skilled cellarman. When the cask is ready to be used, the cask is breached and carbonation is let out of the cask until the preferred level of carbonation is reached. This varies depending on the region of the country. Less carbonation in the south and more carbonation in the north.

Now to the beer of the moment.

Fuller’s London Pride

Fuller’s along with Youngs are probably the most famous of the London Breweries and what you think of when you think of beer in London. You could even divide London into the Fullers side and the Young’s side. just like you divide Chicago into the Cubs side and the Sox side. Beer has been brewed on the site of the Chiswick Brewery for the last 350 years, although the current company Fuller, Smith, and Turner only dates to 1845.

Aroma
The aroma is very fruity with some hints of breadiness. The most prominent fruit is orange. This actually confused me a little because you generally expect citrus flavors from an American Pale Ale due to the variety of hops used. I went to the BJCP style guides, and low and behold, there was no mention of orange in the British Bitter/Pale Ale aroma or taste. I didn’t think it was a bad batch because I smelled and tasted orange in more than one bottle. I went to the beeradvocate.com site and a few people mentioned orange in the aroma and taste. Now in looking at my copy of “The Brewmaster’s Table” by Garret Oliver and he does claim the nose contains notes of homemade orange marmalade, so I guess I’m not too far off.

Color
Golden brown and very clear. A short white head that laces nicely as you drink it.

Taste
I still taste orange first with some caramel tastes in the middle. The bitterness is prominent, but there is no real aroma or taste from the hops.

Mouthfeel
Low mouthfeel with a relatively light carbonation.

Overall Impression
This is a great crisp bitter beer that will go as easily with Fish and Chips as with some Chinese takeout. It’s a good session beer to drink all night.