Sunday, October 22, 2006

Who me? Bitter?

My second-latest homebrew was enjoyed far more than I'd have guessed yesterday at our annual local homebrew competition, bringing me a win for the third year running.  The surprise comes from it being a very hoppy beer.  This crowd has traditionally seemed to enjoy lighter styles, though with my Porter winning last year and now this aggressive pale this year, perhaps there is a change in tastes going on.

This beer marked another change - I have always brewed in the kitchen, which is convenient but slow, and frequently unpopular with other family members (ahem).  For this beer I hauled out my big camp stove, which turned out to be very nice for bringing large batches to boil quickly.  I liked this so much I think I'll brew them all this way in future.

Anyway, here's the brew:

Who me? Bitter?
  • 2 lbs 2-row malt
  • 1 lb flaked wheat
  • 1 lb crystal 75L
  • 1/2 lb rye
  • 1/2 lb munich
Mash in at 170 F with 1.5 gallons. Insulate (I used a cooler and a couple of sleeping bags) for about 50 minutes. Sparged carefully with 2 gallons or so at about 175 F. Brought to a boil, turned off heat
  • add 7 lb light liquid malt extract
brought to a boil. Added
  • 1 oz Magnum hops for 60 minutes
  • Whirfloc for 20 minutes
  • 2 oz Centennial hops for 5 minutes
removed from heat, let cool, splashed into primary fermeter and added water to make up 5.5 gallons.
  • Pitched White labs California Ale yeast (WLP001) at 68 F
Fermentation started in about 18 hours (at 68 F), proceeded for approx 1 week. When bubbling had decreased enough to suggest secondary fermentation was underway, I added directly to primary fermenter:
  • dry hopped with 2 oz Columbus
  • 1 oz french oak chips (steamed for 15 minutes)
After another couple of days, the rate of bubbles dropped to roughly zero.  after 1 more day I racked to a 5 gal carboy, then crash cooled to 36 F in a cold freezer (took perhaps 12 hours).  Let stand for 5 days for yeast and other debris to settle out, then kegged and carbonated.

After aging for 10 days in the keg, this beer is medium bodied and a pale amber color, with strong hop characteristic and huge floral nose from the dry-hops. And yet it isn't so bitter as to rip the back of your throat off.

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