Catching Up


It’s been a while since I last updated this blog. It would be a lie if I were to say it was intentional. Rest assured, I am alive and brewing (perhaps now more than ever). Truth be told between grad school, a part time job and homebrewing, I’ve found a dearth of free time in which to keep this blog updated. I’ve got some really big projects on the way and I can’t divulge too much, but I’m going to use this post as a way to play catch up for all the content I’ve missed. I promise I’ll be better. We can call it a belated new year’s resolution if you’d like.

Moving forward, this blog is going to change shape somewhat. Brew logs and tasting notes will no longer be fragmented, and instead I will post both once I have tasted a given beer sufficiently so as to provide as complete a record of the beer as possible.

So here we go. Several months worth of content.


Tasting Notes – COSMOS: A Black IPA (4 gallons)

Recipe and Brew Log

Brewed on: 2014/09/21
Kegged on: 2014/11/02
Tasted on: 2014/11/28

OG: 1.082
FG: 1.017
ABV: 8.6%
IBU: ~70

Lesson learned here: kegging is a much better way to package and serve hoppy beers at home brew scale.

Appearance: Pours deep black with a structural, whipped-cream like head.

Aroma: Even though this was kegged nearly a month ago, the aroma has not faded at all, and in fact I find it more balanced now than as soon as it was carbed. There is a nice balance between dank, piney, citrusy and fruity hop character, with the fruit dominating. The aggressive pine-citrus of the Simcoe has slightly faded and allowed the fruity and more complex Galaxy to show through. There isn’t a ton of yeast or malt character. I wouldn’t mind having a little bit of roast come through in the next iteration, and a higher-character yeast could prove interesting as well (London Ale III comes to mind).

Taste: Hoppy chocolate milk. Some sweetness up front, leading into a firm hoppy bitterness, with a relatively thick body lending some dark chocolate notes from the midnight wheat and hops in the finish. Not boozy at all. Could use some higher carbonation (I’m still learning this whole kegging thing).

Overall: The best hoppy beer I’ve made, and hopefully a sign of things to come. I think next time around I’ll omit the Simcoe from the dry hop and let the Galaxy and Apollo shine through a bit more, as the Simcoe dominated the others early on.

Scarborough Fair – a parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme brett gruit (1 gallon)

Quite possibly the dumbest beer idea I’ve ever had. Brewed in October, fermented by four Brett strains. It ended up tasting pretty nice so I bottled it.

2 lb Pilsner malt
4.7 oz flaked wheat
3 oz Caramunich I

Mashed at 154F for 45 min

A few handfuls of herbs from my garden @ 10 min

Pitched with a Brett blend I’ve dubbed “Four Horsemen”.

OG 1.058
FG 1.012
ABV 6%

Balanced Brett character (fruity, funky), subdued herbs, light acidity. I pitched the dregs from this into 4 gallons of Saison wort (1.040), which fermented down to 1.010 after 7 days, with funk already emerging. Neat!


Baltic Honey Porter (4 gallons)

I’ve been goddamn terrified of using lager yeast for too long, so the time arose to give it a shot. I chose what I presume is the most forgiving one possible (San Francisco Lager/Anchor) and fermented at around 15C. I brewed this beer with my beekeeper roommate, who also happens to like malty beers that aren’t too roasty. So I figured a baltic porter supplemented with a bit of his honey would do the trick. Since the yeast is such a low attenuator, the entirely fermentable honey should help to balance what would otherwise be a very sweet beer indeed.

OG: 1.073
FG: 1.022
Attenuation: 70%
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 39

7 lb / 65% Maris Otter
2 lb / 18% Wildflower Honey
0.75 lb / 6% Honey Malt
0.5 lb / 4% Carafoam
0.3 lb / 2% Midnight Wheat
0.15 lb / 1% Chocolate Malt
+4mL lactic acid to adjust pH

0.75 oz Columbus @ 60 min

Big starter (450b cells) WLP810 San Francisco Lager

Oxygenated with 60s pure oxygen. Fermented at 15C – lots of activity at first, mostly done after 7 days. Began lagering in keg fridge after 2.5 weeks. Lagered for 1 month then kegged and served.

Tasting notes: Pours a clear, deep brown with red highlights. Tan head with fine foam that leaves ample lacing. Subtle fruit aroma, combined with a bit of toast and roasty character. I think the toast is overdone and might be a result of yeast autolysis rather than any malt character. The beer did sit on the yeast while lagering which is probably a mistake with this technique. There’s a slight sulfur edge which reminds me that it is indeed a lager. The flavour is quite malty up front as intended, mingling with the roasty flavours to produce something almost like sweetened black coffee. Finishes pretty light and crisp despite the up front sweetness. Seems about right for the style. Subtle honey mouthfeel is either present or I’m imagining it. Hard call. Overall this beer was good and as intended, but could certainly use some refinement. If I brew it again, I’ll get the beer off the yeast for lagering and think about switching up the yeast strain.

Bretty Bopper (4 gallons)

I brewed this beer in November, intending it to be a lower ABV Heady Topperish IPA fermented with WLP644 Brett Trois in addition to Conan. I was aiming for an IPA with the same dank citrus aroma and silky mouthfeel, but with the tropical funk of WLP644 as well. I didn’t have any Amarillo, so I subbed in some Cascade instead. Around the time I was kegging/drinking this beer all hell broke loose in the yeast geek community. Long story short, WLP644 isn’t Brett and this beer is a clean one after all. It’s still a very useful and unique yeast.

4 gallon batch

FG: 1.015
Attenuation: 76%
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 54

8 lb / 86% Pearl (UK)
0.5 lb / 5% Carafoam
0.5 lb / 5% White Wheat Malt
0.3 lb / 3% Turbinado Sugar
5mL lactic acid, 7g gypsum added for pH adjustment

0.7 oz Apollo 60 min
1.8 oz Simcoe flameout
0.6 oz Columbus flameout
0.3 oz Apollo flameout
1.7oz Simcoe hopstand 30 min @ 180F
0.7 oz Cascade hopstand 30 min @ 180F
0.6 oz Columbus hopstand 30 min @ 180F
0.3 oz Apollo hopstand 30 min @ 180F
0.3 oz Centennial hopstand 30 min @ 180F
1.6 oz Columbus dry hop 5 days
0.8 oz Apollo dry hop 5 days
0.8 oz Simcoe dry hop 5 days
0.8 oz Centennial dry hop 5 days
0.8 oz Cascade dry hop 5 days

Pitched with 240b cells of WLP644 and Conan. Oxygenated with 30s pure oxygen. Fermentation finished within 7 days. Dry hopped warm, then chilled in keg fridge overnight before kegging.

Pours hazy gold with a frothy white head that lasts and leaves sticky lacing. Huge aroma of grapefruit, pineapple, general dankness. Taste is dry and crisp despite the 1.015 FG, with tons of grapefruit. Not super bitter but not wimpy either. By far the most moreish hoppy beer I’ve made – I found myself practically slamming any glasses I poured myself, and a group of friends – many of which are not heavy IPA consumers – helped finish the keg off in record speed. A definite rebrew despite the complicated hop bill.

Blizzard Ale (4 gallons)

I brewed this last year for Christmas, and I brewed it again this year with slight modifications. It’s designed to be an approachable winter warmer with subtle notes of ginger and spice.

OG: 1.073
FG: 1.016
Attenuation: 75%
ABV: 7.5%
IBU: 28

10 lb / 79% 2-Row base malt
12 oz / 5% white wheat malt
12 oz / 5% wildflower honey
12 oz / 5% Caramunich I
4 oz / 5% crystal 40
2 oz / 5% roasted barley
5mL lactic acid for pH adjustment

1.6 oz Hallertau 60 min
0.5 oz Cascade 10 min
0.5 oz Cascade 0 min

Whirlfloc 15 min

Star anise (two stars), ginger (2 oz, grated) @ 60 min

Mash at 154F.

Pitched 300b cells WLP013 London Ale at 65F.

Bottled, priming with dextrose to 2.3 vol.

This beer turned out nice, but not terribly exciting. Certainly, it was devoid of off-flavours. The ginger is there in a subtle manner, as is lots of bread and raisin character from the malts. The flavour is decidedly malty, but not cloyingly so.


So, there we have it. I’m caught up, with more beers to talk about in the pipeline.


– Richard

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