The number one thing you will learn as a brewer is that there is always room to improve. Even the most professional people in the business know this. The very first beer I ever brewed was an amber ale that somehow surpassed all expectation by getting infected and tasting like sour lemons. There’s no shame in admitting it because everyone has gone through a similar, baffling situation in their first year of brewing.
Thanks to criticism from professional judges, I’ve found out what has been the bane of my brewing existence since I moved to a new apartment. Three of my beers were found to have medicinal off-flavors, resulting in band-aid/astringent tasting bottles. This type of problem can occur due to over-crushing grains or yeast contamination, but I was convinced it was a problem with the water. These reasons are why I constantly advise brewers to learn about the chemicals in your water source (using a system like Ward Lab) or by talking out the issue with other local homebrewers. Using the Brewer’s Friend Water Chemistry Calculator is a good way to figure out what needs to be added to accommodate your beer recipe.
The adventurous spirit of the brewer gives life to the craft beer industry. From humble beginnings creating experimental homebrews to large scale operations, the way styles and ingredients revolutionize our palates is nothing short of incredible. That’s what gave me a real appreciation for Scratch Brewing Company whose philosophy of forage-to-keg brewing really tests what beer is capable of. I had to own their book “The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Making Your Own Beer From Scratch” after our fellow PorchDrinking writer David Nilsen covered it in loving detail.
Homebrewers are driven by the desire to make new recipes. Usually when we recreate an old recipe, we try to improve on past mistakes or change ingredients to make a better product. This is the one beer recipe I’ve made more than once thanks to it’s quality. I present to you my award-winning Top of the Morning Cream Ale!
ABV: 6.1 | IBU: 28 | OG: 1.057
When I was a greenhorn to the craft beer scene; I became the guy at beer shares who would bring accouterments in the form of fancy cheeses and cucumber/lime water. The flavored water ultimately served as the ultimate palate cleanser for event guests seeking to brush their weary tongues after too many barleywines and imperial stouts. Some people would even tell me they would come to a beer share or my homebrew club hearing cucumber/lime water would be there. Emerald Splash Cucumber Lime Saison is the result of people asking me to elevate that beverage to the next level.
Everybody needs a smooth, quenchable beer for any occasion no matter what time of year. Winter is a time for heavy, sweet bombs but not everyone can sit down next to the fireplace with a chalice every day of the week. Yet the temperature outside never slows down the innovation of the homebrewer. So as we trade in our lawnmower beers for snow-shoveling stouts, here’s drinkable porter that will warm you up in no time.
I know right now you’ve read the title and instantly assumed I am counter to everything that is right in the world. You are all chanting your fall mantras, “the spice expands consciousness, the spice is life and who controls the spice controls fall.” But I for one cannot take any more overly sweet, acrid, or overly spiced pumpkin beers. I think the problem is the gourd itself. Pumpkin, at least to the brewing process, primarily bring nothing but starches and very minor sweetness to the party. This inherently pushes the spices to the front and leaves nothing but the harsh wash of cinnamon on the palette. Enter the contender! Apple brings much more than pumpkin in the way of sweetness aroma, fall character, and a lasting drinkability that fits not just for early fall but all the way through Thanksgiving and into early December. A balanced apple pie presence to amplify an amber caramel and malt forward beer style is a match made in heaven.
Welcome back to the delicious world of beer and food. It’s been a nice day outdoors, we started the day with fresh fruit and sweet cream followed by Lobster salad to keep the food light while the workload is heavy. Now that the sun has gone down and we have finished dinner, the air is feeling crisp and it’s time for dessert.
As late August and early September hit, I begin to dream about Wet/Fresh Hop ales. Over 2 years ago I decided that I would take this passion for wet/fresh hop ales into my own hands. I planted my own hops and in turn would brew my own wet/fresh hop ale. The first year the hops grew rapidly and produced a good amount of Chinook, Cascade, and a small amount of Nugget. My girlfriend Lynn and I brewed a fresh hopped pale ale that was a hit at our Halloween party. The second year did not fare so well for our hops as they were attacked by some killer aphids. Our dreams were crushed as we were unable to harvest any hops. Going into 2013 I was very excited once again as the prospect of having fresh hops was on my mind.
Since I started homebrewing I have been looking for ways to push flavors and try new things with brewing. Lately, I have been really intrigued by the use of brettanomyces as the primary fermenting yeast strain in beer. I have done a few experimental small 1 gallon 100% brett batches and I have been happy but I really wanted to take it to the next level. As soon as my local home brew store, High County Hombrew, got some fresh Mosaic hops I knew it was time. I felt that the mango, lemon, citrus, earthy pine, tropical fruit, herbal and stone fruit notes that the Mosaic hops produced were made to go with a fruitiness of some strains of brettanomyces. Below outlines the recipe and thoughts behind Passing Afternoon – 100% Brett Mosaic Pale Ale.
As the weather has gotten warmer I have been craving a light tart saison. Currently I have brewed three of them that are aging away. Recently, I bottled one that was exclusively hopped with Green Bullet hops. I wanted to sit down and post a tasting of this beer.
This beer was brewed back in early January. Here you can see my recipe and brew day notes. The beer is a straightforward take on saison with a base of pilsner malt and some Vienna and wheat to add a bit of complexity. I chose the Green Bullet hops as they are a dual purpose hop that provide ample bittering and aroma. This beer was the first beer that I have gotten a chance to use my new floor corker. Overall I was impressed with the look and the feel of the caged and corked bottles. I do think I added a little too much sugar at bottling as the bottle gushed a bit as I opened it.
According to Punxsutawney Phil, spring is right around the corner. As the days start to grow longer and the temperatures rise, I have started to search for a beer that will inspire hope for warmer temperatures. Saison has filled the void that a winter warmer or a stout was unable to fill. Inspired by finally finishing a book, Farmhouse Ales book by Phil Markowski, I decided that I would take a stab at brewing one myself.