Monday 20 November 2017

Achill’s Island Stout 2017

Boiling Achill's Island Stout
Achill’s Island Stout is back. Bottled a few weeks ago, but already drinkable. Tan head, smooth and creamy, even if not persistent yes.
According to tradition, 10% flaked barley to make it soft and velvet, and three black malts: Roasted, Chocolate and Brown Malt. 2017 version had Brown malt added, to increase complexity in the roasty aromas, adding to coffee and cocoa notes, a pleasant taste of burnt pizza crust. I still have to realize if I like it or not. Maybe Brown malt is perfect for Porter style beers, as it donate a raw roasted profile and a little sourness. But Stouts are better as simple as possible (just Roasted and Chocolate).

As usual, this is not a dry stout, having a FG a bit too high, and S-04 fruity tones merge and balance the harshness of roastiness, with a sweet sensation.
As usual, I kept a total control of ph during mash and sparge to avoid tannin extraction, just a little bit of harshness from dark malts.
And, as usual, a pint lasts a couple of minutes.

Achill's Island Stout, 25,0 liters (preboil: 27,0l)
80% efficiency, 60 min. boiling
OG 1,043; IBU: 32,3; EBC: 49;
  3500 gr Pale Malt, Maris Otter, 1,038;
  160 gr Roasted Barley, 1,025;
  160 gr Chocolate Malt, 1,034;
  160 gr Brown Malt, 1,032;
  400 gr Flaked Barley, 1,032;
  14 gr challenger, 6,0 %a.a., 60 min;
  14 gr Columbus, 15,0 %a.a., 60 min;
  S-04 11g.

Thursday 27 April 2017

The Baby Sitter Ale

I spent last weekend alone with Clara (8 months old), while my wife was taking care of her bigger twin-sister (Sofia is one minute older). My wife decided I had to brew a beer for the baptize party of the girls, so she texted me 'why dont you brew tomorrow, as you JUST HAVE ONE GIRL TO CARE?' So, after putting my daughter in bed, I grinded the malt and prepared pots and water.
It was an easy batch, a 1038 OG bitter with pale and 7% crystal, hopped at 27 IBU with Styrian Cardinal. I did a late hopping, hoping this hop is good and fruity enough.
Here the brewday story:

5:30 - Clara wakes up. I feed her with milk, she fell asleep. I went to the kitchen and turned the gas on.
5:45 - Clara wakes up again. I turn off the gas and go to try to let her sleep in the sleeping pillow, shaking her.
6:00 - I fail, so I bring her in the kitchen and start the mash while she plays and watches me.
7:15 - mash finished, sparge water ready, iodine test is red. I start the mash out. Clara still awake and playing.
8:00 - Clara feels sleepy, i put her in the sleeping pillow while sparging is going on.
8:15 - I decide to boil 3 liter less, do a concentrate brew and then dilute in fermenting tank. I measure pre boil OG to adjust the batch.
8:30 - hot break, the boiling starrs officially. The batch goes on smoothly, as Clara goes on sleeping. I wash and clean all mash equipment.
10:00 - end of 90 minutes boiling (a low OG needs more maillard reactions to enhance malty notes). Start cooling. Finish cleaning. I check from time to time if the girl still breathes.
11:00 - beer in the tank, oxigenated, and mangrove M36 yeast inoculated.

Don't try this at home, I was lucky my girl slept the great part of the batch. I will wait a couple of years at least to repeat a babysitting batch...

Monday 27 March 2017

Grapefruit infused APA

The idea came to me while drinking an Elvis Juice by Brewdog, IPA infused with grapefruit in dry hoppong. It has tons of american hops (the good and fruity ones, not the harsh smelly hops you find in punk ipa) and a taste that strongly reminds grapefruit. Much much more intense than Cascade notes.
So I decided to brew an APA (with OG lower than style, to have it more drinkable and less alcoholic) adding 4 grams/litrer of grapefruit peel at the end of boiling. Easy grist, just pale malt (not exactly my decision, but I was finishing supply) and Chinook hop for bittering, 20 minutes and end boil. I spent all the boiling time peeling grapefruits, paying attention to avoid white spongy part of the peel: liquor producers (limoncello) say that art in cutrus fruits gives bad tastes... 4 grapefruits yeld 80 grams peel. I washed fruits very well, but I wasn't convinced for a dry hoppin, so, afraid of potential infections, I put peels at the end of boil.
After three weeks fermentation and several more in bottle,here is the result:
Aroma is more on piney resiny side, low fruity notes, and especially mature fruits (oxidation?). Probably the total of 100g of Chinook overwelmed grapefruit, or maybe fruity notes are not in peel, but you need to add grapefruit juice; then, probably there was a sensible oxidation of the batch. I feel tipical grapefruit notes especially in taste and aftertaste.

I prepared a very nice label (on the left), but in the end I didn't like it so much:

first label draft, then I decided for the one on the right. Sooner I'll brew a beer dedicated to Sofia too!

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Welcome Clara and Sofia!

Today my two princess were born: Clara and Sofia. The two wonderful twins already have a dedicated beer (guess the style!). Girls and mom are OK.
I will slow down production, probably till the girls are able to change their diapers each other: Backdoor Brewery is closed till further notice.

Thursday 4 August 2016

Stout: Dry vs. Foreign

Achill's Island Stout
Achill's Island Stout is my well establishes stout, based on Pale malt, with 8-10% flaked barley, 10-12% of roasted grains (Chocolate and Roasted). I use a high mash (67ºC), and ferment with S-04 to get a high body (higher than style requirements) and a pleasant fruitiness, to smoothen roastiness of black malts.
Again I brewed a good stout, I don't like Guinness draught as I feel it too watery, so I exagerate with body and flaked rains to have a creamy beer. Roastiness, burnt, coffe and chocolate are presents, but it's very pleasant to drink.
Judges don't like all this body, so I scored just 35,5 (on 50) because my Dry Stout was 'not enough dry'. Well, not bad. I'll drink it and enjoy anyway

I hate astringency in beer (as a noob, I had bad results on black beer, due to inexperience), so there are several points were I operate differently from pale/amber beers, to prevent tannin extraction:
Mash: ph goes down to 5,5 thanks to black malts, I adjusted water/grains ratio to 3l/1kg
Sparge: 70ºC, it means less efficiency, but temperature far from the risk of tannin extraction. Sparge ph is acidified under 6. Less water than usual, I prefer add water later, then wort with low density but tannins inside.

based on Mr. Guinness idea
I used a similar procedure for the Foreign Stout, slightly different, with 24% Munich, 3% Crystal, 3% flaked barley and 8% Roasted plus Chocolate. I boiled 90 minutes, half an hour more than the Dry, then I fermented it with US-05, for a bigger attenuation.
After a month in the bottle, it's nothing special: coffe, chocolate, liquorice but also toffe and caramel, not well combined togheter. Roastiness is too harsh, with a kind of charcoal aftertaste and a bit of spicyness and astringency. 40 IBU, but the only detected bitterness comes from burnt grains.
It's a deep dark black beer, a cappuccino head, creamy, medium body and a bit of alcohol warming. But very burnt, and caramel like flavors are non well combined with roastiness.
Next time I'll get rid of crystal and munich, and use some brown malt.

Friday 8 July 2016

Fermentation chamber

After the bad results of las summer fermentation, it was time to build a proper fermentation chamber. Nothing complex, just a closed box to help the fermentor stay 4-5 degrees below the cellar temperature, thanks to iced water bottles to be changed periodically.

5 polystirene panels 50x100x2 cm wide
1 sealing silicon tube

4 panels cut at 70cm (70x50)
Base (48x48 cm) and upper cover from the 5th panel.
Seal the first vertical wall with base, 2cm of the vall are out from the side. Put silicone on this over border and on the base, then seal the second wall. So for wall number 3 and 4.

This box can easily accomodate a standard 25 liters fermentor, with space in the corners for the iced bottles. Then I added an upper cover.

Temperatures during first fermentation days

17 liters + 1 pack S-33. 2 iced bottles 1,5 liters:
Chamber Tº -4ºC (21ºC cellar, 17ºC chamber). Tº max wort: 21ºC

18 liters + S-33 slurry. 3 iced bottles 1,5 liters:
Chamber Tº -6ºC (22ºC cellar, 16ºC chamber). Tº max wort: 22ºC

20 liters + starter from recycled US-05. 5 iced bottles 1,5 liters:
Chamber Tº -15ºC (24ºC cellar, 11ºC chamber). Tº max wort: 18ºC

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Bocknut: last chestnut beer

Many homebrewers tried to brew a beer with chestnut once. Chestnut are full of starch, malt will do the conversion, have good flavor and aroma, in fall you can find tons of chestnut and have a starch source for free...
I brewed a lot of chestnut beers, never had unforgettable beers, sometimes had trouble; anyway I give it a try almost every fall. I don't like chestnut in ales, high fermentation always gives an unpleasant sweet-like aftertaste, but I had better and cleaner results in lager. However, no beer to be remembered. Last winter I had something like 20kg of chestnut found in the trees, so I decided to give it another try.

19,0 liters (preboil 22,0)
efficiency  75%, boiling 90 min.
OG 1,060; IBU: 16,0; EBC: 30;
  4400 gr Munich Malt, 1,037;
  100 gr Crystal Malt 120, 1,033;
  750 gr Chestnuts, 1,012;
  24 gr Styrian Goldings, 5,7 %a.a., 90 min;
  2 gr Simcoe, 11,4 %a.a., 90 min;
  20 gr Saaz, 4,0 %a.a., 5 min;

A kilogram of chestnuts needs an hour or more to be roasted and peeled, and you have to add this to the total brewing time. Sparge was lower. Not stuck but slower than in a normal bock.
What is potential SG of chestnuts? I found 1020-1025 online. But if I consider stable my system efficiency (75%, and i keep it low) 1012 is the real calculated potential, using 750g of chestnuts (after peeling). If I considef correct SG 1025 as chestnut potential, this would mean a 70% efficiency, that would be very strange: I used the same pocedure as usual with no errors.
So, in my opinion chestnuts yelds very low sugars.

Another bad point is the flavor and aroma contribution: even in a clean low fermentation, with few weeks lagering, I can't find any clear note reminding chestnuts. Just a little sweety flavor, overwhelmed by malty and melanoidin notes from decocted munich and crystal.
So, no OG points, no flavor, no aroma contribution. Maybe I need more than 15 or 20% to sense chestnuts in beer, but it's crazy to spend all this time peeling 2 kg or more for 20 liters of beer...

Now that is all written here, I hope I'll remember to avoid chestnuts next fall. I will just roast and eat togheter with a pint of ale.