Recipe Formulation – IIPA

Posted in Hoppy, Jake, Recipe Formulation with tags , on April 4, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

While on the drive to Boston for EBF, Brez, Phil, and I discussed what we wanted our next brew to be. Phil suggested we try a Double IPA, and Brez agreed…who am I to object? Double/Imperial IPA is probably my favorite style of beer and as such I am very picky about the examples I enjoy. Two of the best, in my opinion, are Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Bell’s Hopslam.

The keys to the style are a massive hop aroma and flavor, aggressive bitterness, and almost no malt character. I believe that IIPAs that are on the sweeter side (Hopslam) can be done, but require extreme restraint. For my first attempt at the style I didn’t want to walk what I consider to be a very delicate line, and try for a beer with some residual sweetness. In order to dry the beer out, adding simple sugar is paramount. They are 100% fermentable by the yeast and when used to replace some of the base malt they can result in a lower final gravity beer.

In addition to the sugar, I decided to use Briess Light Golden extract. My initial iteration of the recipe included some Carapils malt, until I was reminded by a member of Beer Advocate that the extract already contained some. This was a good catch because all of the Crystal/Caramel type malts contribute mostly unfermentable sugar. The grain bill is very simple, with only extract and a small amount of Crystal 40 for some color and a tiny bit of underlying sweetness.

The real star of this beer is obviously the hops. I wanted to shoot for ~50% of my bitterness from the 60 minute hop addition and the rest from late hops. I chose to use Warrior for its clean bittering properties and high alpha acids. I wanted to hit almost all cylinders of the hop world. I immediately thought of Amarillo for its slight citrus and big peach/apricot character, Columbus for its light spiciness and herbal flavors, and Simcoe for some nice grapefruit and pine to round things out. Unfortunately when it came time to order the ingredients, Simcoe hops were sold out almost everywhere due to a shortage from the 2010 crop. Somewhat angered I decided on adding Citra in its place – not as a replacement but for its incredible fruity characteristics. A half ounce of each at 20, 10, 0 minutes, and dry hop seemed to be about right. Here is the final recipe that we brewed this weekend:

  • 6lbs. Briess Golden Light LME – 85.7%
  • 4oz Briess Crystal 40 – 3.6%
  • 12oz Corn Sugar – 10.7%
  • 1oz Warrior @ 60 min
  • 0.5oz Citra, 0.5oz Amarillo, 0.5oz Columbus @ 20 min
  • 0.5oz Citra, 0.5oz Amarillo, 0.5oz Columbus @ 10 min
  • 0.5oz Citra, 0.5oz Amarillo, 0.5oz Columbus @ 0 min
  • 0.5oz Citra, 0.5oz Amarillo, 0.5oz Columbus Dry Hop
  • OG – 1.084     FG – 1.012 (Hopefully)
  • IBU – 178.7
  • ABV – 9.5%

We came right in where we were supposed to at 1.083 OG. We bought an immersion chiller specifically for this beer (we were going to get one sooner or later anyway) which helped us cool the wort from boiling to 100F in less than 5 minutes to keep all of those delicious smelling hop oils in the beer rather than the air. We’ll know how this turns out in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

EBF: Extremely Belated Festival-Review

Posted in Festival, Jake, Travel on March 30, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

It’s been quite a while since I posted about Phil, Brez, and I going to the Extreme Beer Festival. It took a while to get the pictures after the fest, and I’m lazy so put the two together and you get one very belated post. The good thing is that we’ve been busy with many things beer related lately. I put together a schedule for the rest of the year, plotting out brew days and competitions. We’re looking to enter a beer in our first BJCP-sanctioned competition in May, and planning on going all grain in mid-July. More info about that will follow, so for now let’s get into the fest…

The drive up went smoothly and we got to our hotel a bit early. We had to wait about 45 minutes to get the room, so what better way to start out a weekend of beer drinking than by drinking beer? We headed to the hotel bar and ordered up a round of Sam Adams Noble Pils. By the time we were done our room was ready, so we dropped our stuff off and went to get dinner before the festival. We chose a beer bar that had good food called Bukowski’s. I ordered a Narragansett (New England’s go to cheap lager) to go with my meal, and it was surprisingly the least disappointing beer between the ones we each ordered.

After waiting roughly 30 minutes to get our checks, we headed to the Cyclorama for what was certainly going to be an outrageously long line for Night of the Barrels. We were fortunate to get there with only about 50 people in front of us so we had our pick of the litter right off of the bat. The first beer we tried was The Bruery’s Black Tuesday – an 18% ABV Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels. This beer had a huge blast of flavor with massive chocolate and bourbon notes – it was easily one of the best of the weekend. The venue quickly filled in and felt very crowded. Lines were virtually non-existant so that you had to essentially push yourself to the front of the line. Fortunately this calmed down a bit towards the end of the session.

Other highlights of the NotB included Lost Abbey Double Framboise de Amarosa, Sam Adams Utopias, and Firestone Walker 13/14. The biggest disappointment, which is now the worst beer I have ever drank, was the aptly named Sam Adams WTF. I don’t plan on detailing the flavors of any other of the beers we had, but this deserves special attention. It poured a bright red color in our tasting glasses and smelled of Pine-Sol. The taste was a mixture of Robitussin and some sort of cleaning product. After two small sips I had to pour it into a near by bucket. Later in the night, that area began reeking of pine…apparently no one else really liked it either.

Another great part of NotB was the free food. I had previously heard of what festival-goers call “crack waffles”, and I have to say they live up to their name. The waffles from The Waffle Cabin were the best Belgian waffles I had ever had in my life, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to eat any others without suffering a severe disappointment. There was also a stand that was making grilled cheese. Towards the end of the night they made grilled sandwiches that had Fluff, Nutella, and Reese’s Pieces which were amazing as well.

The Saturday sessions were a great time as well with a lot of great beer. Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merkin was a phenomenal Oatmeal Stout, Ithaca LeBleu was delicious, and nothing was very disappointing. I got a high five from Tomme Arthur (head brewer of Lost Abbey) when I told him that the Double Framboise we had had the previous night put a Belgian version of the beer to shame. Although there were more people, everything seemed more orderly and less crowded on Saturday.

Overall, this was a really fun festival and I would definitely go back. I wish they’d get a larger place to hold it, but once the first rush of people from the line settled down it wasn’t too bad to get beer. Perhaps we’ll make the trip to Boston again next year.

Extreme Beer Festival 2011

Posted in Festival, Jake, Travel on March 10, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

Excuse the backwards images, Phil uses a Mac

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Basically lately I’ve been spending too much time drinking beer, and not enough time writing about it.  However, that is going to change in the near future.  This weekend, Phil Harris, Mike Beresky, and I are driving up to Boston to attend the Extreme Beer Festival.

Friday night is one session called Night of the Barrels.  There are going to be over 60 beers that have been aged in various types of barrels – bourbon, tequila, wine, etc.  And on Saturday there are two sessions (we are going to both) this restriction is lifted and there will be over 100 different beers to try.  Some people have called us crazy for attempting to drink high alcohol beer for 7 hours, but I’m not too worried about it.

After the fest I’ll definitely be reviewing the event as a whole, in addition to probably 5 of the best beers from both Friday and Saturday.  Phil and Brez might stop in to review some of their favorites as well.  I really urge you to check out the list of beers, because this is going to be one of the best and biggest beer fests of the year: http://beeradvocate.com/ebf/   I’ll leave you all with this sexy picture of Phil with our tickets:

Definition of erotic

California: The End

Posted in Beer Review, Jake, Travel with tags on March 1, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

Friday night was rainy in Southern California, which apparently doesn’t happen too often (go figure).  After I was done at the conference I decided to check out a store I had heard a lot about before, Bevmo.  Without further ado, here are the last beers I enjoyed while in California, with some crappy pictures due to the lighting in my room:

Firestone Walker DBA

Firestone Walker was one of the breweries I really wanted to try when on the West Coast.  Their Double Barrel Ale pours a nice reddish amber color with a small bit of white head.  The smell is lightly hopped with East Kent Goldings and has a good amount of caramel malt aroma.  The taste is full of caramel malt, a touch of toffee, a slight hop character, and some toasty base malt flavor.  Like all fine English beers, there is just enough carbonation to feel it prickle on your tongue and it has a light body to round things out.  At first taste I wasn’t pleased, but as I drank more I really began to like it.  4.5/5.0Firestone Walker Union Jack

Firestone Walker Union Jack had a really great crystal clear, golden color.  The aroma was dominated by Centennial hop character with a touch of pineapple.  The flavor is also controlled by my favorite of the C-hops, with a small amount of malt character to balance.  Good body with a lower than normal carbonation which I enjoy.  This tastes a lot like a drier version of Bell’s Two Hearted, one of my favorite American IPAs.  4.5/5.0Alesmith IPA

Despite what the picture shows, this beer looks almost identical to Union Jack.  The aroma is similar as well, but with a dash of Amarillo hops added in to the mix.  The beer is lightly carbonated on the palate, with very little malt and remaining dry…not too bitter.  4.0/5.0Gordon Biersch Pilsner

I had some time to kill when I got to the airport on Saturday at 9am, and there was a bar right when I exited the security area.  Gordon Biersch is primarily a successful chain of brewpubs, similar to Iron Hill in Pennsylvania and Delaware.  This beer was described to me simply as “Pilsner” even though GB brews both German and Bohemian interpretations of the style.

The color is dark straw/light gold with a nice white cap of foam.  The aroma has a distinctively lager characteristic with a sweet, grainy Pilsner malt smell.  There might just be a hint of spicy hops in the nose as well.  From the taste I determined one thing – this is either a terrible example of a German Pils, or a decent Czech Pils.  I am inclined to go with the latter.  Rich maltiness with a light bitterness and no hop character in the taste.  Finishes clean with a good level of carbonation.  Good morning beer.  3.5/5.0

Overall, my time in California was great and I tried several awesome beers.  I’d like to go back some time and hit up a few of the breweries and brewpubs.

California: 38 Degrees and More Beer Reviews

Posted in Beer Review, Jake, Travel with tags on February 25, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

I had the afternoon off yesterday, so I took it as an opportunity to check out a bar in a neighboring town.  When I asked for bar suggestions on Beer Advocate, one that came up was 38 Degrees in Alhambra, about 5 miles south of Pasadena.  I called them prior to driving down there to find out about the parking situation and the girl who answered the phone was very friendly and helpful. Outside the bar

The place was mostly empty when I went in (it was about 3pm) so I easily got a seat at the bar.  I was greeted by the bar tender and immediately handed a beer menu.  After perusing the list I selected Big Sky Brewing’s Moose Drool American Brown Ale and ordered myself a Cobb salad for lunch.  I learned that 3-7pm was their happy hour, and non-limited micro drafts were $2 off so this would be the most reasonably priced beer I’d purchase this whole week.Big Sky Moose Drool

Big Sky is not a California Brewery, but as far as I know they aren’t available in PA.  Moose Drool is one of the top examples of American Brown Ale, so I definitely wanted to give it a shot.  The pint had a beautiful dark mahogany color with a thick off-white head.  It smelled very malty, with a definite chocolate malt presence and just a touch of hops (not enough for me to discern variety).  The flavor had a smack of hop character with a very light bitterness to keep things balanced and a rich, full malt flavor with a lot of breadiness and toastiness from Munich malt.  There were also some roasty chocolate flavors for good measure, as well.  It finished dry and made me want another sip, but with just a bit too much carbonation in my opinion.  I can see why this is considered one of the finest examples of a less hop forward version of the style.  4.5/5.0 Alesmith My Bloody Valentine

Alesmith beers sometimes find their way into PA but they are certainly not common, especially their seasonals.  I ordered a 4.5oz sampler of their My Bloody Valentine, a hoppy American red ale (which is also released for Halloween as Evil Dead Red).  This turned out to be quite a tasty beer and the bartender didn’t charge me for it, which makes it taste that much better.  Red color is pretty hard to get in to a beer, but Alesmith did a pretty good job with this one.  There is a light tan head which sits atop a nice brown and ruby body.  The aroma is predominantly of fruity Centennial hops, with a bit of peach from some Amarillo.  The malt underlying the hops is apparent…even with this much hop character, this is still going to be a malty beer.  The Amarillo is lost in the flavor with the Centennials taking center stage.  There is a caramel malt sweetness with a restrained bitterness that allows it to shine through.  4.0/5.0 Deschutes Abyss

One of the biggest West Coast breweries is Deschutes and it’s unfortunate that their beers can’t be found too far East.  I was incredibly happy to see Abyss on tap, because it was supposed to be an exceptional beer.

This beer is jet black with a thin cap of dark brown foam on top which leaves some of the best lacing I’ve ever seen.  When it was first served to me it was a bit too cold, and the smell was a bit subdued – it actually smelled a lot like Oskar Blues Ten Fidy.  Once it warmed up, however, there was an obscene amount of roast character with some oak in the background with some dark chocolate and coffee.  The flavor is a neck and neck battle between sweet and bitter.  The bitterness is both in part from hops as well as from the ridiculous amount of roasted grains and the sweetness is just from the residual sugars left from fermentation – I don’t get any caramel character.  There is an oaky astringency that plays well with the tannins from the roasted malts and the finish tastes entirely of dark cocoa powder.  A beer that is simply a tribute to the glory of dark malts…amazing.  5.0/5.0

Overall, this bar was awesome and can stand up to some of the best that I’ve been to.  The staff was really friendly, the food was good, and the beer selection top notch.  I’m glad I took the short drive to get here, because it resulted in the best venue of my trip in addition to what will probably be one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

California: First Impressions and Beer/Venue Review

Posted in Beer Review, Jake, Travel with tags on February 24, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

My flight to California was hot, but uneventful.  I was fortunate enough to arrive right at the start of rush hour, so it took me 90 minutes to go 25 miles to my motel, not as bad as I was expecting but still annoying.  Something I had to look forward to, however, was the fact that where I’m staying is only 2 blocks from one of the beer bars I wanted to check out while here – Lucky Baldwin’s Trappist Cafe.

After dinner at In-n-Out (semi-overrated), I was full and didn’t feel like going to drink beer.  I decided that I’d call them to find out what they had on tap, before committing myself to going there.  The first beer that the bartender listed was Russian River Pliny the Elder, I stopped her right there and put my shoes on. Outside Lucky Baldwin's

I walked up to Lucky Baldwins and I really liked the look of the place.  The doors were wide open to let in the cool night air (it was in the low 50’s, Californians apparently deem this cold enough to wear coats and scarves).  From what I had read online, this place didn’t have many taps so I was surprised when I saw a big line of handles when I came in. Tap Handles

There are actually two bars in Pasadena with the name Lucky Baldwin’s, however the one I visited is more focused toward Belgian beers (as witnessed by the word Trappist in the name).  I was a little disappointed to only see a few Californian beers on the lineup, most of which I can easily obtain back home.  The place had very few bar seats, which is really the only thing I can fault the place for.

One of the great things about living in Pennsylvania, one of the best beer states in the country, is that we’re a bit spoiled when it comes to the beers we can get.  I didn’t look twice at any of the Belgians on the menu, even though some of them are fairly rare in the grand scheme of things.  To add on top of that, PA is the only state on the East Coast that can get Russian River beers so I’ve had the pleasure of trying Pliny before, but never nearly as fresh as here: Pliny the Elder

The pour from the bartender was pretty shoddy, with no head as you can see by the picture.  Even without the head to bring out the aromatics of the beer, the nose had a huge punch of hop character full of apricot, pine, and grapefruit.  The flavor had all of the above in full force with almost no malt to speak of.  It finished dry with an appropriate carbonation and a slight bit of onion character from the Simcoe hops.  5.0/5.0 RR Blind Pig IPA

I then saw on the list that they had something listed as Russian River IPA.  As it turned out, much to my disappointment, it was not actually RR IPA but Blind Pig.  When fresh, I might actually like Blind Pig a bit better than Pliny, but I couldn’t say 100% as I haven’t had it in a  while.  I ordered one anyway and I was further upset to find out that it was a bit old.  I think next to Pliny, this probably gets ordered far less, and thus has a slower turnover rate.

There’s a bit of citrus and apricot in the aroma, but the hoppiness is marginal at best with a dash of malt.  The taste is mostly malt dominated with a light amount of hop flavor and bitterness.  It finishes somewhat dry, with a medium body that is probably my favorite part of the beer.  3.0/5.0Old RasputinTo finish things off I ordered an Old Rasputin from North Coast.  I’ve had it before and would not have normally ordered it, but it was being served on nitro.  I’m kind of a sucker for beers served this way, with one of my favorite beers being a nitro pumpkin ale.  The beer comes to me looking as beautiful as only a cascading nitro pour can be.  Pitch black with a light brown creamy head that is very inviting.  I have to be a little lenient on the aroma because some is lost when a beer is served via nitrogen.  All I can discern is roasted malts with a slight licorice edge.  The flavor is somewhat muted with burnt malt, chocolate, and a slight metallic flavor.  The nitrogen thins out what would normally be a substantial body.  I usually feel that what is lost in putting a beer on nitro is made up for with the creaminess that is imparted.  In the case of Old Rasputin, I really would stick to drinking it with normal CO2.  While tasty, not as good as the original.  3.5/5.0

Going to California

Posted in Jake, Travel on February 21, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

Tomorrow I will be making my way to the Golden State, for a conference at Caltech in Pasadena.  Depending on who’s asking, I couldn’t tell you if I’m more excited to go the conference or the chance to try some California brews that rarely make their way out here to PA.

I’ve already scoped out some beer bars in Pasadena and the surrounding area that look really awesome.  Over the next few days I’ll be posting about the beers I drink, and the venues I do it in.  One night I will probably visit one of the local beer stores to pick up some Firestone Walker.  Thursday I will most likely be visiting 38° in Alhambra – I’ll have to drive there, so it will probably only be for 2 or 3 beers.  I should have Friday night completely free so I’ll be taking a cab to Old Town Pasadena to visit Lucky Baldwin’s, another interesting looking bar.

If there are any beers that you would like me to try and find to review, just post a comment and I’ll do my best.  I look forward to sharing my experience in a different beer scene here.