Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Belgian/American Blonde


During the winter months in Vermont and New England we all seem to look forward to citrus season. The weather is cold and the flu and colds are rampant. We all want a little bit of something that reminds us that there's warm weather somewhere in the world. Tangerines, Oranges, Clementines, Lemons and Limes abound in our stores and help us fight the winter doldrums. What better season than this to brew some concoctions that are vitamin C forward. I have recently been inspired by a rotating series of American blonde ales brewed by Hill Farmstead called "Life Without Principle". The citrus in the beers changes and the hoping is higher than your standard blonde ale. This past week with a whole Monday off I decided to brew a double batch of beer that I could combine the runnings and make two separate 5 gallon batches of beer from. One, a spiced Belgian single, the other an Imperial Hoppy American blonde ale with citrus.


The grain bill is loosely based off a a combination of a cream ale and a wit-bier. American two row malt is making up 83% of the beer with flaked oats and wheat adding body. The addition of carapils should add foam stability and extra dextrins that the honey addition might dry out. An addition of honey malt should add a sweetness and lightness to work well with the actually honey in the hoppy blonde beer. Lastly a small amount of refined sugar will dry the beer and accent the hop and spice character in both of these batches. It's a good solid Belgian/American grain bill that will be easy to mash and should give me some a great base to work with.


For hops in these two beers I decided to tone down the bitterness in the spiced beer and go the traditional route of Czech Saaz and German Tettnang, aiming for around 31 IBUs. For the happier blonde ale I went with a shot of HopShot and 1 ounce of Columbus. The HopShot bitters cleanly with 40 IBUs and the Columbus adds a certain dankness that I always look for in a strong hoppy beer. After the bittering is out of the way I hit the beer with over 8 ounces of Citra, Simcoe, Columbus, Galaxy, Zythos and Centennial. These are some of my favorite hops and in combination they provide a very citrus forward feel that the oranges should work well with.


Spicing in this beer is different in each batch. The Belgian single/pale ale received 2 tsp. of dried chamomile flowers and 2 tsp. of crushed coriander. These spices are pretty traditional in Belgian brewing. They add subtleness that seems to round out the beer while working with the yeast. The single also received 6 ounces of crystalized ginger. I wanted to get a good spicy character from the ginger and in the past I have always used less. In one of my saisons this past summer I only used 3 ounces and it was barley noticeable. Hopefully with 6 ounces it should be stronger. In the hoppy blonde ale I added the zest of 4 pounds of oranges. I also juiced all the oranges and added that as well. When reading an interview of Shaun Hill from Hill Farmstead on Embrace The Funk, he stated that even with adding the juice of the citrus the addition a citric acid was not that notable to affect the beer dramatically. I hope the fact that I used 4 pounds in 5 gallons will be enough. We shall see.

Base Beer Specs:

20 pounds American Two Row
2 pound Flaked Wheat
1 pound Flaked Oats
8 ounces Carapils Malt
8 ounces Honey Malt
2 Handfulls Rice Hulls Hulls

American Citrus Blonde Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.088 (after honey addition)
Anticipated IBUs 109
Anticipated SRM 5


1 Shot Hop Shot @ 60 mins. = 40 IBUs
1 ounce Columbus 13.9% aau @ 60 mins. = 43. 87 IBUs
8 ounce mixed bag of hops @ 10 mins. and though the whirlpool.

1 pound Honey Gardens Raw Orange Blossom Honey

4 pounds of Zested Navel Oranges
Juice of Zested Navel Oranges

Wyeast 1272 American Ale Yeast II

Spiced Belgian Blonde Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.055 (after sugar addition)
Anticipated IBUs 31.55
Anticipated SRM 6


1 ounce Tettnang
1 ounce Saaz

4 ounces Belgian Dark Candi Sugar

2 Tsp. Coriander
2 Tsp. Chamomile
6 ounces Crystalized Ginger

Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity

1/14/13 mashed in with 7.5 gallons of 165 degree filtered water. Held mash at 150 degrees for 90 mins and collected 7 gallons of 1.084 S.G. wort pre-boil and 7 gallons of 1.051 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 90 mins, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

"American Citrus Blonde" OG 1.089 109 IBUs 5 SRM

"Spiced Belgian Blonde" OG 1.055 31.55 IBUs 6 SRM

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Five Grain Farmer" Belgian Style IPA


Every year around the beginning of the new year I do a thorough cleaning and inventory of my "brewery". I usually find random grain and hops that I haven't used yet and that are getting close to being past there prime. I do keep my grain sealed in bags and my hops frozen and sealed but I always try and use my ingredients as fresh as possible. This past week I went through my stuff and released a lot of my hops should be used soon. I don't usually brew many hop forward beers in the winter but after contemplating a black IPA, a hoppy stout, or some sort of variation on this I settled on something new and experimental. A multigrain IPA.


In the past when I have brewed with multiple adjuncts it has usually been with a Belgian style ale, something dry like a Saison or a Witbier. I have never thought of brewing an IPA with anything other than a simple grain bill of two or three types of barley. The use of adjuncts in beer is usually to increase body, head retention, or flavor and I suppose that's what I hope happens here. Basic American 2-row malt will make up the bulk of the grain bill with the addition of specialty adjuncts to add a little something more. Rye malt will add a dry spicy note that should complement the hops in this beer. Flaked Wheat and Flaked Barley will increase body and head retention even with a low mash temperature of 150. Lastly Flaked Spelt should add some unique flavor that I haven't really tasted in a hop forward beer before. This should be interesting to say the least.


When hopping my IPAs I have finally seemed to figure out what works best to achieve the flavors I crave in juicy, citrus forward pale ales. I usually add a clean bittering hop like Magnum or Pearle at the 60 mark to get most of my bittering out of the way early. I then add most of my aroma and flavor hops in the last 15 minutes of the boil and in the whilrpool while chilling. this usually gives me the citrus punch and fresh hop flavor I am looking for. For this one I am adding 1 ounce of Magnum and 1 ounce of Columbus to get 84 IBUs right at the 60 minute mark. The Cohumulone levels of US Magnum are low and bitter cleanly while the levels on Columbus are quite high and add a harsher, some say danker bitter. I am then using a mixture of Simcoe, Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo, Palisade, Citra and HBC 342 experimental hops all at the 5 minute mark through the chilling process. Just for good measure I am also using my hop-back filled with whole leaf Amarillo, Centennial and Cascade to aid in filtering the beer as well as adding some late aromatics before going into the fermenter. All in all the 5 gallons of beer should have 1 pound of hops in it before I dry hop in secondary and in the serving keg. Crazy!


In order to accentuate the hoppiness of an IPA a level of dryness is desired. Most American yeast strains including Wyeast 1056/US S-05 The Chico strain and Wyeast 1272 American Ale II will ferment out fairly dry. I usually use one of these strains when I am brewing this style. For this batch however I am going to use the Allagash Yeast strain. A couple months ago I started to culture this yeast out of 6 Allagash white bottles. I read that Allagash uses its house strain to bottle condition Allagash white and that it was fairly easy to culture. I stepped it up 3 times and have been using it as my house Belgian strain since. This yeast also seems to ferment out fairly dry, but also provides the Belgian characteristics that I am looking for in this beer.


Recipe Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.058
Anticipated IBUs 100.17
Anticipated SRM 4.8


9 pounds American Two Row
1 pound Flaked Wheat
1 pound Flaked Barley
1 pound Flaked Spelt
1 pound Rye Malt
2 Handfulls Rice Hulls
1/2 pound Corn Sugar


1 ounce US Magnum 13.1% aau @ 60 mins. = 41.35 IBUs
1 ounce Columbus 13.9% aau @ 60 mins. = 43. 87 IBUs

3 ounces Palisade 7.8% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 6.25 IBUs
2 ounces Simcoe 13.0% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 6.94 IBUs
2 ounces Amarillo 9.2% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 4.91 IBUs
2 ounces HBC 342 Experimental Hops 11.4% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 6.09 IBUs
1 ounce Whole Leaf Centennial 10.1% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 2.70 IBUs
1 ounce Whole Leaf Citra 15.6% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 4.16 IBUs
1 ounce Whole Leaf Cascade 9.1% aau @ 5-0 mins. = 2.43 IBUs

1 ounce Whole Leaf Centennial 10.1% aau in the hop-back
1 ounce Whole Leaf Cascade 9.1% aau in the hop-back
1 ounce Whole Leaf Amarillo 11.5% aau in the hop-back

Allagash White yeast 3rd generation


11/12/12 mashed in with 4.25 gallons of 168 degree filtered water cut with 1 tsp. of Gypsum. Held mash at 150 degrees for 90 mins and collected 8 gallons of 1.055 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 90 mins, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

"Five Grain Farmer" OG 1.061 114 IBUs 5 SRM Brewhouse Efficiency 75%