Thursday, December 18, 2003

Scotch Ale

12/18/03 - Scotch Ale. This year's Scotch Ale is in stores and bars as I'm typing this (of course), but my delay on this round of notes (besides the rigorous QC regimen I maintain) is that the recipe from last year needed very little adjustment. The only thing we played with was the smoked malt percentage. We still used German Rauch Malt, from Durst, but upped the amount from 1% to 1.5%. It's still subtle, which I think it should be, as we're not looking to make a smoked beer per se. We've placed 50 gallons of this beer into the old Jack Daniels barrel we have out back which should add some amazing oak / whiskey notes to the beer.

As a side note, we will be bottle conditioning the Big Beers starting from the Barleywine due out soon! We've been considering different methods of achieving the best results and will probably keep thinking about it right up to the last moment. For me, it's an exciting step that will allow confident aging of these distinctive beers. I'll be sure to let ya'll know how we decide to proceed.

Pilsner Malt
10L Munich
35L Carastan
Chocolate Malt
Rauch Malt

SG 18°P
TG 3.6°P

IBU - 28
Willamette - Bittering

Friday, October 10, 2003


10/10/03 - Octoberfest. Well, the Octoberfest is now upon us and that means another chance to decoct. We've pretty much managed to dial in this procedure here (if Dan would only hit those conversion temps!) It's amazing how much color and character comes from even a single decoction, which is what we used this time. With a mixture of Belgian Aromatic and Munich malts making up 30% of the grist, I would expect a gold to copper color, but we ended up with deep orange to amber hues. Nice malty sweetness in the nose which carries over into the flavor quite well. At 28 IBU's there's a nice hop bite from the Northern Brewer's which is perhaps a tad out of style, but dern it, I love hop buds! The beer lingers with a nice blend of hops and malt which is smooth but not cloying.

On a separate note we've finally installed our liquid nitrogen dropper to purge the bottles before filling. This should give us much better shelf life on all our beers, and more confidence in laying down the Big Beers for aging. I'm not sure if the Octoberfest is really suited for this, but as things start cooling off here in New England we'll be rolling out the big boys soon! Cheers!

Pilsner Malt
Belgian Aromatic
20L Munich

IBU - 28
Northern Brewer Bittering
Northern Brewer - Flavoring

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Pumpkin Ale - The First Batch

9/16/03 - Pumpkin Ale. After many years of success of the Portsmouth Brewery's Pumpkin Ale, as well as Kevin Love's petulant insistance that we corner the market, we decided to capitalize and brew our own version of this squash beer. I know what you're thinking: squash!?, in a beer, are you kidding? But, alas, no, I am not kidding. In fact, it turns out the elder Americans would use pumpkin as a starch substitute when grain stores were low. The idea of brewing a traditional New England pompion beer intrigued me and I proposed buying the Champion Pumpkin of New Hampshire and brewing a single batch with this Mother of All Gourds. (Visualize the cover to Eat A Peach. Now imagine an 800 lbs pumpkin being trucked on over to the brewery. Brilliant.) However the limitations of being a production facility require certain practical restraints and so we went with pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkin.

The one characteristic I wanted clearly defined was that underneath the pumpkin and spice flavors was truly an interesting beer in its own right. I've had too many spiced and fruit beers that are overdone and enter the realm of soda pop, causing you to have one but not another, let alone several. And let's face it, I gotta sell beer here. So we started with a base beer that is orange in color and fairly hoppy. We knew the spices would need some sweetness for balance so we used a mixture of crystal and carastan malts. To this we added pumpkin pie spices at the end of the boil. We actually found that adding pumpkin into the fermentor at the end of primary gave us the most interesting pumpkin flavor, and so that's when we add the puree. We've gotten a great response to the beer which I think is well desreved. The nose is full of spice, mostly cinnamon, with hints of the Liberty hops. The flavor is full, with a nice bitterness, but definitely balanced by the malt. It lingers off into a nice dry spicy, hoppy finish that stays with you but is never overbearing.

Pilsner Malt
Light Carastan
Light Crystal 60 °L

OG 14°P
TG 3.0°P

IBU - 35
Cascade Bittering
Cascade Flavoring
Liberty Aroma


Monday, June 23, 2003

Big A IPA - 2003 Edition

6/23/03 - Big A IPA. The Killer Keilbasa has unleashed another fine IPA on us this summer. Nice job, Stash. This beer marks the first full cycle of Big Beers that I've overseen during my tenure here at Smuttynose. Luckily we were able to sample the whole lineup at The Barley Pub, in Dover, NH, thanks to Mr. Scott Mason and staff. I hope ya'll managed to head over there. For the most part I thought the beers have stood up fairly well. I definitely have some changes in mind, but nothing too drastic. As always we welcome your comments, critiques, encouragments, rants, raves, and inebriated babblings.

For this years Big A, Stash ventured away from the European hopping regime of last year and went with a definite West Coast style Imperial IPA. The decission was based on finding a hop combination to use for our upcoming 12-ounce release IPA, due out next spring! The first batch used Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo, in that order, for bittering, flavor, and aroma. Another difference from last year is we decided to add the flavoring additions is equal amounts every 5 minutes over the last 30 minutes of the boil. And, let's face it friends, it warms a brewer's heart to see that many hops disappear into the kettle. We kept the rest of the beer the same as last year in terms of malt bill, starting gravity, mash temperature, et al. After fermentation we transferred the beer onto about 10 lbs of Amarillo for a dry hop addition. Definitely not enough, but that's as much as we could stuff into our hop bag. The beer has a nice orangy color with a slight haze. The aroma is citrusy with a hint of grapefruit. The flavor is all hops, resinous and dry with just a touch of malt sweetness holding it all together.

2 Row Pale Malt
60° L Caramel

OG 18°P
TG 3.5°P

IBU - 80
Cascade Bittering
Centennial Flavoring
Amarillo Aroma & dry-hop

Thursday, May 8, 2003


5/8/03 - Maibock. Ah, May (or mid-May), time for the Maibock, or as I like to refer to it, The Decoction Redemption. If you peer back into the foggy mists of last fall, you may or may not remember our last attempt at mashing in the Teutonic method: the Octoberfest. We couldn't get a good temperature mix after the first decoction, made some bad choices to compensate, and, dern it, the whole thing ended up goin' awry.

The Maibock went a whole lot smoother, in fact we were able to do a double decoction (man, that's cool). We mashed in around 125°F, with the first decoction raising it up into the mid-140's and the second bringing the whole thing to the high 150's. It's always interesting to hear people talk about highly modified malts and that decoctions are unneccesary, but, considering our malt bill was a mixture of Pale and Munich, the huge malt nose and nice color we ended up with will really have to make me think otherwise.

Overall I'm really pleased with this product. Nice orangy color, malty nose, sweet without being cloyingly so, and a nice bitterness that's perhaps a tad too much, but certainly not unpleasant. I look forward to perfecting our lager techniques with the Octoberfest next fall, but for now, enjoy. (back to top of page)

2 Row Pale Malt
Crisp Pale Ale Malt
Munich Malt

OG 17.8°P
TG 3.8°P

IBU - 35
Liberty Bittering
Liberty Whirlpool

Tuesday, February 18, 2003


2/18/03 - Barleywine. Ya gotta love brewing at a time and place in beer history when you can say, "Man, those 80 IBU's just weren't enough!" I'll take all the blame - on the first batch of the Barleywine I wimped out. However, for the second batch we did bump the hopping up to a respectable Big Beer level of 100 IBU's. The grain bill (except for the 2-row pale malt) was all done with Belgian specialty malts. We recently switched to Dingeman's for our Belgian malts and they really seemed to shine in this beer.

Wanting to hit a starting gravity of 25°P or higher we took steps to ensure the beer would finish dry enough to avoid being over satiating. This was achieved both by mash temperature profile and adding 200 lbs of brown sugar into the boil. We mashed in at 148 °F and rested for 20 minutes and then raised the temp to 158 °F and again rested for 20 minutes. The other things we changed from a regular brew were a quick sparge of only 100 gallons and extending the boil to 2.5 hours.

Both batches began around 26°P (our more accurate hydrometers only go up to 25.) and finished around 5 °P. At over 10% alcohol this beer is a pleasure to drink on the cold snowy days of winter. The nose is ripe with alcohol, raisins, and a hint of port. The dry hop character doesn't come through as well as we'd like, but dern it, we're working on solutions. The body is sweet as you'd expect but the hopping does add a nice citrusy touch to the flavor profile. The tail is where the hopping comes through the best with a nice dry finish. This beer is certainly young right now but in a few months should start to reveal itself as a fine product. (back to top of page)

2-Row Pale Malt
Pale Ale Malt
Special B.
Brown Sugar

OG 26° P
TG 5.0° P

Magnum Bittering
Magnum Flavoring
Cascade Flavoring
Amarillo Dryhop