Friday, December 29, 2006

Wheat Wine

12/29/06 - Wheat Wine - The word for this year's Wheat Wine is smooth. Smoother than butter on a baby. Smoother than Reagan in a scandal. Smoother than Charlie in a camel hair coat in Jimmy LaPanza's Lounge. Well, maybe not that smooth.

Of course, last year's Wheat Wine certainly received much attention and seemed to be well regarded. Perhaps it was the 4 month delay in release which built up expectation? After it took a gold medal in Denver it's a bit presumptuous to say we're going to improve upon the recipe, so my focus switched to the process and trying to smooth out some of the heat and other rough edges from last year. We did this by backing off the cane sugar a bit and controlling fermentation temperatures better. At this point it seems like our efforts have paid off. The beer is certainly recognizable from last year, but will hopefully be more approachable in its pre-aged form. Enjoy.

Golden Promise
Wheat Malt
Cane Sugar

OG - 23° p
TG - 4.0° p; ABV - 11%

IBU 70
Bittering - Warrior
Flavoring & Aroma - Liberty
Dry hops - Horizon (as well as medium toast oak chips)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Big A IPA - 2006 Edition

7/18/06 - Big A IPA - It's the Return of the Son of the Killer Kielbasa. That's right, Stash Wojciechowski is back from winter training and ready to compete in the Alpha King Challenge. After working with our Lucha Libre friends in Oaxaca he meandered north to sample the great west coast hop offerings. Ever alert, looking for the edge, that minute detail that'll set him apart. How will he fare? We'll see in September.

Stash's judicious study has led him to feel it's all in the late hop additions, the dank aromas. We've been playing with our dry hop technique all winter and now feel we're close. By adding pellets into the fermentor after primary and then transferring onto whole flowers in the bright tank I think we've achieve the quality of aroma we've been searching for. The rest of the beer hasn't changed since last year. Still a very simple grist bill of Pilsner and Pale Ale malt. Bittering hops are the same with Warrior and Cascade. The flavoring and aroma hops are making all the difference. Centennial, Crystal, Amarillo and Ahtanum, can't ask and any better than that. Hopefully you'll enjoy this beer as much as we do. Cheers.

Pale ale malt
Pilsner malt

OG - 21° p
TG - 4.2° p

IBU 120
Bittering - Warrior, Cascade
Flavoring - Horizon, Centennial
Aroma - Crystal
Dry hops - Amarillo, Crystal, Ahtanum

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Farmhouse Ale - First Edition

4/1/06 - Farmhouse Ale - Like almost every other brewer who read Phil Markowski's book "Farmhouse Ales" last year I decided that it was time for Smuttynose to try its hand at a saison. An interesting style considering that in reality the guidelines are so broad. There are some classic examples, as well as some interpretations that are becoming so. We began, as all good brewing should, with tasting. Luckily for us our good friend Lindsey Altshul, who runs a beautiful café in South Berwick (SoBo to those in the know) called "Pepperland," has a cellar full of Belgian beers the likes of which would make a grown brewer cry. He brought a dozen or so varieties of saisons including a vertical tasting of Saison De Pipaix, from La Brasserie a Vapeur of which we tried 3, 9 and an 18 year old examples (if my foggy memory serves). If you have the chance to try an 18 year old Pipaix please do, fantastic.

We decided that it was all about the yeast so we had White Labs send us a pitch of their saison yeast, which I believe is in the Dupont vein. Dr. White suggested that we ferment the beer without cooling and let the temperature rise to wherever it wants to go. Easier said than done, believe me.

The grain bill was very straightforward with a bit of Wheat and Aromatic malts for some subtle character and 6% sugar to lighten the body. We used Sterling throughout the hopping. Once fermentation commenced the temperature went up to 92° F or so. The beer itself fermented very quickly but finished around 4° P. I was really hoping for a dryer finish, and will be looking to correct this for next year. We actually brewed this beer in August of 2005, but are releasing it now because we were unsure if the yeast would continue to drop the gravity and cause gushing. No worries, but it ended up a tad sweeter with a fuller body than I was hoping. There's a gorgeous nose from the yeast. No spices added and yet there's a real nice complexity in the aroma.

Pilsner Malt
Aromatic Malt
Wheat Malt
Cane Sugar

OG - 17° P
TG - 3.5° P, ABV - 7.4%

IBU 25
Sterling - Bittering
Sterling - Flavoring
Sterling - Aroma

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Imperial Stout Returns

3/15/06 - Imperial Stout - After a one year hiatus the Imperial Stout is back in action. We figured that after catching a bit of flack for its absence we'd have it return with a bang. We bumped up the starting gravity from 20° P to 24° P. This allowed the beer to finish just over 10% ABV. Like this year's Barleywine, we've decided to play with the hop character, specifically the dry hop presence. Trying to avoid the fiasco of my previous attempt at adding pellets to the fermentor, I did what any good manager would do: I made Charlie add them. He had the advantage of being able to add the hops directly through a top manway and so his besting me in this challenge is not necessarily a sign of his superior brewing skills but more a reflection of my adventurous, try anything spirit (or at least that's the story I'm stickin' to). The Charles added 44 lbs of Cascade, split evenly between two batches, or about half a pound per barrel. We then transferred the beer onto seventy-eight pounds of an even mixture of Centennial and Columbus whole flowers, about one pound per barrel. The beer is a little top heavy in terms of the hopping but it seems to be smoothing out a bit as it's aging. I'd give it six months or so, if you can wait that long. If not, hey, enjoy it anyway.

Pilsner Malt
Munich Malt
Crystal 120L
Carastan 35L
Chocolate Malt
Roasted Barley
Cane Sugar

OG - 24° P
TG - 6.3° P

IBU 90
Magnum - Bittering
Cascade & Crystal - Flavoring
Cascade - Aroma
Cascade - Dry Hop in Fermentor
Centennial & Columbus - Dry Hop in Bright Tank

Wednesday, February 1, 2006


2/1/06 - Barleywine - Ye Olde Barleywine. Once again we were interested in playing with the hop profile of this beer. Last year we ended up dropping the IBU's to 80, which we found to be just about right. The aspect we decided to play around with this year was late-addition hops. I've always loved having that bouquet of fresh hops, especially in a beer of this size whose malt profile adds so much character in its own right. The thought (or lack thereof) was to add some pelletized hops into the fermentor after primary before we transferred into a bright tank on top of whole flower hops. My tragic flaw was to try and back flow beer into a keg full of pellets. Once the beer hit the hops the mixture expanded into a slightly damp compact mass of green vegetable matter. Smelled great, but there was no way those hops were heading back into the fermentor. Nothing left to do but empty the sucker. Remember when you were a juvenile delinquent and you lit off snakes behind the elementary school? How the little disc erupted into a cylindrical mess? Imagine the disc being a half barrel and the cylindrical mess being forty-four pounds of Cascades shooting out of the 2 inch opening at the top. Opps, guess I'm still a bit of a JD. We still managed to get some nice hop aroma with seventy-eight pounds of Columbus whole flowers in the bright tank. That came out to be about 1 lb./ bbl of beer. When we first tried the beer there was a definite note of over-ripe peaches (en regalia, as it were).

Pilsner Malt
Pale Ale Malt
Special B.
Brown Sugar

IBU 80
Simcoe - Bittering
Santiam & Cascade - Flavoring
Santiam - Aroma
Columbus - Dry Hopping

OG - 23° P
TG - 3.3° P

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

S'Muttonator Doppelbock

1/10/06 - S'Muttonator Doppelbock - S'Muttonator is once again back on the shelves and perhaps a bit is in the old belly, eh? It's been interesting trying to be creative brewing a style that has a fairly narrow interpretation in terms of historic examples and modern guidelines. My first real knowledge of this style was drinking Optimator. I love that beer. I used to drink three or four while cooking dinner for my housemates at Compound I in Oakland (OakTown Get Down, yeah!) I was working at Golden Pacific (the cellars of hell) and living in a collective warehouse that was in the old Jelly Belly factory. What great karma (or would that be plump karma?) I'd head down to the (original) Berkely Bowl, get my veggies and load up on the Spaten goodness, crank some Ween and proceed to drink my way through making a meal for ten. A drinking cook is a happy cook Mama J used to say. It's such a great sipping beer and a fine complement to food. So with those memories on my mind and palate, I think last years version was really close to what I like in a double bock, big and malty. The main thing I changed this year was to drop the starting gravity from 21 plato to 20. I thought the alcohol presence was just a bit much. I really like the balance now, though I'll probably add some dextrin malts next year to bulk up the body. My biggest issue was with our filter. It just flat out failed us. Not entirely it's own fault, I mean we have abused that sucker for years. And let's face it, it is kind of ugly and sad looking, especially next to our new(er) 8 square meter Velo we procured from Goose Island. Ah, to have real live brewing equipment at my disposal. What a treat. It's like we're becoming a real brewery. Upwards and onwards I guess, eh?

Munich Malt
CaraFa II

OG - 20° P
TG - 4.5° P

IBU 42
Bittering and aroma - Hersbrucker Hallertau

ABV - 8.5%