American Stout Brew Day

Posted in Brew Day, Jake with tags , on February 19, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

I was finally able to get the pictures off of the camera, so without further ado, here is a week old post.  Last Saturday was our longest brew day ever.  We started by bottling our Dumb Blonde (so named because of several small, stupid mistakes we made while brewing it) which went well, and barring any shoddy capping by Phil it should turn out quite tasty.  Bottling is basically an exercise in sanitation and cleanliness, so only time will tell if anything bad happened to this beer.

Extract into the boil

After bottling we cleaned up the equipment, and it was on to brewing the American Stout.  We typically like to do 2 gallon batches with extract because it allows us to do full boils of the wort which, in my opinion, is one of the biggest things an extract brewer can do to improve the quality of their beer.  Small batches like this allow us to brew more frequently and would result in smaller losses if something went wrong, since we are still nailing down our process.  Ideally you are supposed to steep your grains in water with a ratio of about 1.3 quarts per pound.  Unfortunately with such small batches, we typically don’t have enough specialty grains to use this ratio.  The recipe for our American Stout had 12oz of grain for the 2 gallon batch, so we tried steeping with a thicker consistency than normal.

Steeping the grains

After 45 minutes of steeping, we drained all of the liquid from the grain and rinsed them to try and extract the most color and sugars possible.  Something really cool happened during the boil that I hadn’t seen before – a near perfect ring of foam formed in the kettle:

Dark Halo

This is what led me to come up with the name for our beer – Dark Halo.  Once the boil was finished and the wort chilled, we checked the gravity.  It came in right at 1.070 which was predicted by Pro Mash.  The only thing that worries me about this beer is that it seemed a bit too light when it was in the hydrometer test flask, even for being in such a thin vessel.  Hopefully when it’s fully finished and in a pint glass it will be dark enough.

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Beer Festival – Zeno’s: Welcome to the Funk House

Posted in Festival, Jake, Sour with tags , on February 17, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

So I’ve been having some problems with trying to get the pictures from Saturday’s brew day off of the camera, but hopefully I’ll be able to get them up along with the article up this weekend.  I had planned to make this post after the one on Brew Day, but I figured I’d put it up now since the other post is being delayed.

In the most recent issue of Beer Advocate magazine, Zeno’s Pub of State College, PA was named #15 on the list of the top places in the world to have a pint.  Being the place where I learned to love craft beer, it will probably always be my favorite bar no matter where I go.  If you ever have the opportunity to go here, you should.  I’ve been going to Zeno’s since the first week I was 21 so I’ve been to many of their beer festivals, but this one is a little special.  I love sour and funky beers so I was really excited when they announced this fest.  This fest was $20 for dinner and 10 samples from this list:

Festival List

It was a little disappointing to see only a few traditional sours on the list, but given the cost of the beers it’s understandable.  I would have personally paid more to have more lambics and gueuzes on the list, but the point of the fests that they put on is to introduce people to new beers.  I decided to pass on the Avec les bon Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin, and Victory Helios because I had previously had them.  The only other beer on the list that I had had was the Drie Fontein Doesjel, but that beer was so fantastic that I had to have it again.  Most of the beers were good, some great, and others underwhelming.  Here are some of the ones I tried:

Drie Fontein Doesjel1. Drie Fontein Doesjel: This beer poured a beautiful hazy orange color with no head.  While technically not to style for a gueuze, this beer is not carbonated.  I prefer all of my beers at a lower carbonation level than most, and this is especially true for gueuzes.  Fortunately I have only come across one that is as highly carbed as the style guidelines suggest.  The nose is full of fantastic funk and sourness.  The flavor includes the funkiness from the nose with added barnyard and lemon characteristics.  There is a surprisingly high level of body that lends itself well to the rest of the beer.  Great gueuze.  4.5/5.0

Lost Abbery Red Barn2. Lost Abbey Red Barn: Probably the best looking beer of the fest.  Pours a pale gold with a nice cap of white foam.  The aroma is yeasty with fruity and phenolic notes that are typical for a saison.  The taste is a blend of sweet and sour which isn’t very normal for the style and it finishes somewhat dry, but not as dry as I’d like.  The carbonation level is spot on and helps to keep the mouthfeel from being too thin.  Probably my favorite of the saisons that I had at the fest, even though it wasn’t the best stylistic example.  4.0/5.0

Duchesse Kriek3. Duchesse Kriek: This beer pours a very pretty light ruby red with a small layer of head.  There is a light hint of pie cherry sourness in the nose with a little barnyard funk.  The flavor is the same as the nose minus the cherry, plus a little vinegar, and a lot of sweetness.  The level of sweetness in this beer is probably more acceptable for an Oud Bruin than a Flanders Red and it’s a little off-putting.  There isn’t nearly enough cherry character for this to have Kriek in the name, and to be honest it reminds me a lot of the normal Duchesse de Bourgogne.  Not a bad beer, but this missed the mark for me a bit.  3.5/5.0

Overall, this was a very interesting festival.  I know that a lot of the people there had never tasted a beer with brett or sourness before, so I hope it served to open some eyes.  As a side note, we have a lot of interesting things coming up in the near future.  Stay tuned.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Posted in Jake, New to Craft with tags , on February 9, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

In light of my most recent post and what we will be brewing this weekend, I wanted to talk about stouts and dark beer in general.  A lot of people who are new to craft shy away from anything on the brown to black side of the beer color spectrum.  That’s pretty understandable, considering that the vast majority of the country views Bud, Miller, and Coors as the definition of beer.  I really wanted to clear up some of the misconceptions about dark beer, and to urge those who are trying better beers to not be afraid of the dark.

Guinness is probably the world’s most recognizable stout and it is definitely the source of many misunderstandings.  I’m sure that most of you have heard “Guinness is so thick”, “Guinness must be really high in alcohol”, and my favorite, “Guinness probably has about 500 calories in it.”  Since Guinness is the most known dark beer, most people take these (erroneous) statements as general comments about any beer that they perceive similar to it.  Compared to the majority of American craft beers, Guinness has a very low alcohol content of about 4.2% with only around 120 calories for a 12oz portion.  The thickness of the beer is definitely enhanced by the fact that it is nearly always served on nitrogen, but I can’t believe that anyone who has drunk this beer can claim it to be “thick.”  I can only think that they took only a small sip and got mostly head which is, in truth, rather creamy and dense.

Sam Smith Taddy Porter

I am in no way trying to knock Guinness itself, but it just seems to be the most common target for incorrect assumptions.  A lot of the darker beers you may encounter can definitely be very viscous, rich, and alcoholic, but don’t always judge a book by it’s cover.  Many darker beers can actually be very light on body and flavor.  The two that I would recommend for someone wanting to try some beers on the darker side, would be Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter and Yards Brawler.  Both have some very pleasing malty, roasty characteristics, but remain light bodied enough to be quite drinkable.

Yards Brawler

I hope that I’ve been able to dispel some of the myths for you, regarding dark beer.  I could go a lot more in depth about what makes a beer thicker or higher in alcohol, but that’s not the purpose of this post and should be reserved for a future one.  I’m sure that once you ease yourself into the darker side of things, you’ll be drinking Russian Imperial Stouts with the best of them.  If you don’t like the styles at first, that’s okay…I only ask you to come back to dark beers from time to time to see if your palate has changed.  Cheers.

Recipe Formulation – American Stout

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

All of the beers that we’ve brewed in the past have been on the lighter side (color wise) – Special Bitter, American IPA, Belgian Pale Ale, India Brown Ale, and currently Blonde Ale.  The only one to use roasted grains of any type was our Hop Feast IBA, and that was with a very delicate hand.  I love stouts, so it’s kind of odd that we haven’t brewed anything close to one yet.  It is now time to remedy that situation.

My favorite example of the style would have to be Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout.  The beer is pitch black with a beautiful light brown head.  I personally don’t get any of the brewer’s licorice that they add, but what I do get is a rich, chocolate and coffee flavor/aroma with plenty of American hop character to back it up.  Although it’s not included in the list of examples in the BJCP style guidelines, it hits all of the characteristics that a good American Stout should have.  As a final note before we get into the recipe, I like to think of this style as a ‘mini Russian Imperial Stout.’  Much like a RIS, the malt bill is almost entirely balanced with hop bitterness, with a bitterness to gravity ratio of about 1 (also called BU:GU, it is the ratio of the IBUs in a beer to the original gravity points of a beer).In my opinion, one of the key differences between this style and a Russian Imperial Stout is hop flavor and aroma, in addition to a large disparity in original gravity/IBUs.  While an RIS has a high amount of bitterness, most examples that I’ve come across haven’t had nearly the same level of American hop characteristics.  Additionally, Russian Imperial Stouts can have a lot of dark fruit flavors which may come from the use of darker crystal malts, but are not typically present in an American Stout.  Overall this beer should have a rather intense dark chocolate, coffee, roasted character balanced by a sweetness contributed by the use of medium crystal malts and finished off with a bitter, aromatic punch of American hops.

When I design a recipe, I like to first lay out my desired parameters for the beer, such as original gravity, bitterness, and a rough final gravity.  For this beer I decided to split the difference in OG for the style and shoot for 1.070, with about 70 IBUs to keep the BU:GU right where I want it.  To make this beer in the style, it needs a pretty big proportion of roasted grain – for our beer around 12%.  Splitting the roasted grain into 9% roasted barley and 3% chocolate would add the coffee and dark chocolate flavors that are so characteristic of the style.  To give the beer a bit of sweetness, we use two types of Crystal malt – 40L and 80L.  I had never used Pacific Gem hops before, but they were described as having blackberry and oak flavors which I thought would work awesomely with the beer.  In addition to the Pacific Gem, we are going to use some Cascade to keep it a bit traditional.  Fermenting it with WLP001 Cal. Ale should get it down to about 1.017, which would result in an ABV of ~7%…perfect.  The recipe:

  • 82% Briess Light LME
  • 9% Roasted Barley
  • 3% Chocolate Malt
  • 3% Crystal 40
  • 3% Crystal 80
  • 1/4 oz Cascade at 60, 15, and 0 minutes
  • 1/4 oz Pacific Gem at 60, 15, and 0 minutes
  • OG – 1.070 Estimated FG – 1.017
  • IBU 73.5
  • Est. ABV – 7.0%

We will report back after brewday and with a recipe review when it is finished.

Gluttony Brewing presents: Incipience

Posted in Jake on January 28, 2011 by gluttonybrewing

It has been said the beer is the ultimate social lubricant, and I couldn’t agree more.  Throughout the past 2 years, beer has brought my friends and I closer together, through drinking, brewing, critiquing, etc.  I was the first of my peer group to get really into beer and I have been lucky enough to spread my love for it to my friends.  Even though 2 years isn’t an incredibly long time, each of our palate’s has matured and gone through transformations to where we are today.  I can honestly say that I have yet to find a style of beer that I do not enjoy.

There’s something about our love for beer that makes us want to share it with others.  We are not beer ‘snobs’ – we want to educate, enrich, and enlighten.  I personally try to never look down on someone for what they drink, and I’d never turn down an opportunity to try to help them further their knowledge of beer.  We thought that we could use this blog as a means to reach a wider audience and to share our love for our favorite beverage.

This blog, as a whole, is not intended for a specific audience within the beer community.  Whether you’re just starting to venture into craft beer, looking for homebrewing information, or opinions on the world of craft beer…stay tuned.  We have many things in store for all of you: beer reviews, live updates from beer festivals, thoughts for people new to craft beer, and the harrowing transition from extract to all grain.  We hope that you choose to follow us on our journey through the beer world and allow us to help you along yours.  Cheers.