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.

The Little Imp’s Pale Ale

Take a look at this picture. I’m really moving up in the world of brewing, at least in terms of equipment. Santa Claus and the birthday version of Santa Claus (every once in a while being a Christmas Baby pays off) got me a fancy smancy Blichman Propane Burner. CostCo gave me a propane tank (after I gave them money). And I became a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Illinois, and I used part of the company bonus to buy a Spike Brewing 15 gallon stainless steel brew kettle (the rest goes to the Wedding).

Last weekend I brewed my first full-scale partial mash batch. If I get a big enough mesh bag, next time I will brew my first BIAB all grain batch. One day I might even do the complete traditional all grain.

It has been a little while since my last brew, and I’ve been having the itch, so I hit the local homebrew shop on Saturday to get the ingredients for my first Belgian Pale Ale (so many firsts).

There are a few differences between Belgian Pale Ales and the English and American Versions. I used Pilsner Malt extract instead of extract made from regular 2-row. I used Czech Saaz for the aroma additions instead of a British or an American Hop. These differences are important, but the real star of the show is the Belgian yeast used. If you used your regular brew pub yeast, all you are making is an ale version of a Pilsner. The Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey Ale supposedly comes from the Chimay Brewery, monk makers of world glass Chimay line of Beers. It will produce cloves and other esters, and have a delicious spicy note.

7 lbs of Pilsner Based Extra Light DME
1/2 lb of Munich Malt
3/4 lb of CaraMunich Malt
0.8 oz East Kent Golding at 60 Minutes
0.5 oz Saaz at 40 Minutes
0.5 oz Saaz at 15 Minutes

I also used my electrical skills to wire up a my old college fridge to use as a temperature fermentation chamber. I bought an STC-1000 temperature controller. It is about 100 bucks cheaper than a Johnson Controls temperature controller. Of course, those 100 bucks do buy you a plug and play ability and a display in Fahrenheit. That is nothing that some wires, electrical tape, and Google’s ability to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius can’t fix. After the first test batch I’ll solder the connection and throw some heat shrink on it to make a more solid commercial.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.