Fuck Off, 2016!

Happy 2017, the last year of human existence! We had a good run, folks, and I can’t think of a better way to wait out our inevitable nuclear holocaust than with many, many beers. With that in mind, it’s time for the Annual Half-Assed New Year’s Post!

2016, Smell Ya Later

A lot in the year of our Dog, 2016. Most of awful, some of it terrible. For starters, a totally unqualified man was elected President… of my homebrew club. That man was (is) me. Say hello to the new El Hefe of the Mash Holes. The people have spoken and they demand chaos. In other news that’s good for me and embarrassing for everyone else: I also tied for our club’s Brewer of the Year award. I’m not not proud of that accomplishment, especially since the man I tied – Andy – is probably one of the best homebrewers I’ve ever known.

As for the brewing goals I set way back in the carefree days on January-last, I fell a bit short… pretty much in all of them. I was initially pushing to brew 20 batches of homebrew last year, or roughly 100-120 gallons of beer. I ended up at 14 batches and roughly 75 gallons of beer. Not bad, but not quite the high marks I was aiming for. I also didn’t enter any BJCP competitions like I had planned; though I did win the club Pumpkin competition, and placed highly in our other club competitions and another local competition. And I never did get around to putting collars on my kegerator or fermentation chambers. But I did go to Homebrew Con, so that kind of makes up for it all, right?

2017, The Reign of Error

So with those shortcomings in the rear-view mirror, I’m looking forward to 2017. My first and primary goal is to not run my homebrew club into the ground. I’m one of only two returning Cabinet members from last year, so there’s a lot of fresh blood/ideas for the new year. Early recruitment efforts appear to be working out, so I’m hoping we can continue to grow despite what will likely be dubbed “poor leadership.”

On a more personal level, I’m revisiting my goal from 2016 and revising it based on last year’s performance. This year I’m shooting for 15 batches brewed and 75-100 gallons of beer. Given our club brews, a couple 10 gallon batches, and a some warmer-than-average weather I think I may be able to hit this goal. I will be somewhat hindered by vacations (one in February, one in May), a likely trip to Homebrew Con in June, various weddings throughout the summer, and good old fashioned Lack O’ Fucking Money.

I do want to try some lighter (read: cheaper) styles of beer this year as well. I’ve written a recipe for a – gasp – American Lager. My reason for brewing such a sacrilegious concoction? Frankly, I enjoy Miller High Life, and I enjoy a shower beer after a hockey game or a sparring session at the boxing gym. So intend of giving $8 to the sketchy liquor store down the street, I figured I should try to brew my own. I mean, that’s the point of homebrewing, right?

With all due apologies to the boys at Brulosophy, I’m also hoping to do some exBEERiments in 2017. I’m hoping to get the homebrew club involved in this, but I’ve got at least one or two members that are interested in doing some experiments related to New England IPA haze/character/clarity, etc. My hypothesis is that dry hopping during active fermentation is the key contributing factor to dat haze, so we’re planning to test that and other variables with split batches. I’ll probably end up hosting the beers since I have the fermentation chambers.

I’m also going to get off my ass and enter at least one damn BJCP competition. Well, more accurately my goal is to WIN one damn BJCP medal, but since I didn’t even get around to entering a competition last year, we’ll start small and work our way up.

Lastly, the beer-cations. Homebrew Con, Beans N Brew, and of course JAMBO are all on the to-do list for 2017.

Status Report

Well, it’s already 3 days into 2017 and I haven’t brewed a single beer yet. Better luck next year, I guess.

Where’s the Time Gone?

Well, damn.

Time flies when you’re an adult (in the legal sense, not the – ya know – maturity sense). A lot has happened since the Jambo update. So let’s go through the highlights.

The Return of Symphony of Decay

Last year I brewed two pumpkin beers, and entered a pumpkin milk stout into our club’s annual Pumpkin Beer Competition. Two things of note: I won the first year of this competition, and the trophy is named after me. When the pumpkin milk stout didn’t win, I had to hand over my beloved trophy.

Me, crying over lost trophies

Me, crying over lost trophies

So for this year’s competition, there was no fucking around. I rebrewed and slightly retooled Symphony of Decay for this year’s competition and well… the trophy is back where it belongs. Below is the updated recipe for Symphony of Decay:

Fermentables

Amount Fermentable Maltster Use PPG Color
11.5 lb

Maris Otter Pale (UK)

Any Mash 38 3 °L
1.0 lb

Maple Syrup

Any Boil 30 35 °L
14.0 oz

Crystal 20L

Any Mash 34 20 °L
0.5 lb

Rice Hulls

Any Mash 0 0 °L
0.25 lb

2-Row Chocolate Malt

Briess Mash 34 350 °L

Hops

Amount Hop Time Use Form AA
0.75 oz Northern Brewer (US) 60 min Boil Pellet 9.0%

Yeasts

Name Lab/Product Attenuation
San Diego SuperYeast White Labs WLP090 79.5%

Extras

Amount Name Time Use
30.0 oz Pumpkin 0.0 min Mash
1.0 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice 5.0 min Boil
30.0 oz Pumpkin 60.0 min Boil

Notes:

  • Mash at 154*F for 60 minutes
  • The pumpkin is Libby’s Organic Pumpkin Puree. This is available at most grocery stores in 30oz cans
  • I spread the pumpkin across a cookie sheet and roast it at 350*F for 60 minutes
  • The first 30oz goes in with mash water before the grains. I have no scientific reason for this (or anything I do) but my thinking on it is that adds more orange color to the wort and makes it less likely to create a stuck sparge. Again, I base this on absolutely zero facts.
  • The second 30oz of pumpkin is added at 15 minutes left in the boil
  • The maple syrup goes in at 5 minutes
  • Boil time is 90 minutes

2016 Changes

  • The pumpkin pie spice addition is always more art than science. This year I used 2tbsp of McCormick’s Pumpkin Pie Spice with 5 minutes left in the boil.
  • Along with the pumpkin pie spice, I added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice. This was all based on feel (or rather, smell). If I had to estimate I’d say I added a tsp of cinnamon and 1/4tsp each of nutmeg and all-spice.
  • I also added a tbsp of vanilla extract with 5 minutes left. I can’t say that this was noticeable in the finished product and might be something I adjust for next year’s batch.

Presidential Election

The United States will soon be run by a fascist Cheeto, and in similar fashion my homebrew club will be trading down from a competent leader to an inexperienced buffoon. In the case of the Mash Holes, that buffoon might end up being me. Our long-term president has decided to step down. As the Vice President that will make me the de facto leader if no one else decides to step up. Club elections are in two weeks so we’ll see how that all shakes out.

The December meeting is also our Wee Heavy competition. It’s the last of our four club competitions that will ultimately decide our Brewer of the Year for 2016. I still need to brew an entry this week, which is going to be difficult with the weather, but I’m shooting for Thursday as a brew day. It doesn’t give me a lot of time for fermentation and aging, so my entry will be a bit young, but we’ll see how it turns out.

Non-Controversial Pipeline

As far as other brews in the pipeline, I have Obie’s Oatmeal Stout about to go into the keg. It’s another “classic” recipe that I’ve updated as I’ve gotten more experienced at brewing. The club just brewed a Russian Imperial Stout to into a Woodford Reserve barrel two weeks ago. That’ll probably spend 6 months in the barrel. We’re also working on pulling out a barleywine in the next few weeks and replacing it with a golden sour ale.

Back here at Anti-Hero Brewing, I plan to do something really crazy: science. Brulosophy recently did an ExBEERiment on flaked oats in New England Style IPAs. The purpose was “[t]o evaluate the differences between a NE-Style IPA made with flaked oats and the same beer made without flaked oats but an otherwise similar recipe.” The idea being that flaked oats impart some of the smooth mouthfeel and haziness typical of NE IPAs. I’ve written about NE IPAs before, and one of my theories is that it’s the dry-hopping timing has the biggest impact on haze. So I’m planning on doing my own *gasp* exBEERiment to test this theory.

Closing Up

So 2016 is winding down to a close, and I intend to do a year-end recap next month, so be on the look-out for that. It looks like I’ll miss my goals in some areas and hit them in others. As of now I’ve brewed about 70-75 gallons of beer this year, which is easily a personal record. I’d like to shoot for 100 gallons next year.

Until then.


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Homebrew Con 2016 Recap

Alternate Title: A Bunch of Pictures of Me, Hugging Dudes

Mash Holes - President JD, President of Vice Vinny, and Scotty No Nickname

Mash Holes – President JD, President of Vice Vinny (me), and Scotty No Nickname

Intro

What follows is what I did what I remember of the 2016 Homebrew Con in Baltimore. I’ve bolded some key words and phrases to make this easier to skim through and read the stuff that interests you. Or if you’re like me reading these things: searching for your name. You vain sonuvabitch.

Day 1 – Which I Believe Was a Wednesday

My flight landed in Baltimore around noon, while my Mash Hole cohorts were en route via car from Boston. I took the train straight down to the Convention Center, and since I had plenty of time, wandered the whole 100ft to Pratt Street Ale House. I had roughly one taster-sized glass of Oliver beer for every 10 of those feet I walked (and a pretty good chicken sammich) before heading over to the Convention Center to sign in and pick up my swag-bag.

As members of our Club started trickling into the city, we made our way to the Brewing Network’s 11th anniversary party at Peabody Heights Brewery. We took a (surprising long) school bus there, and I met up with three of my local friends and two of their lady-friends that I’d talked into hanging out. The best beer of the bunch was Peabody Height’s Bourbon Obscura. After a few poor showings of cornhole and a lot of beers, I bid adieu to my friends and hopped on the not-short bus back into town.

The Mash Holes had set up camp at Heavy Seas’ tap house, and I was determined to go join them. So I walked through a part of town I’m pretty sure was part of The Wire for a beer, before heading back and finally crashing for the night. Not a bad start, but the main event was to come.

Day 2 – Thursday. All Day Special: Thursday, All Day

Oh baby. Things got off on the right foot with a shot of bourbon, and a trip to Miss Shirley’s for breakfast. This place doesn’t fuck around (and the prices show it). While most of the boys and gal opted for Bloody Marys, I went straight for a can of Union’s Duckpin Pale Ale with my coffee and chocolate chip pancakes. This was one of the best beers and easily the best meal I had all week.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

I skipped the morning sessions and opted to check out the Homebrew Expo, and holy shit am I glad I did. I was handed more free stuff than I knew what to do with. Over the course of the Con I filled up two bags worth of swag, including:

  • Roughly a pound of free hops (Zythos, Cascade, Equinox among them)
  • Enough dry yeast for about 10 batches of beer
  • A metric buttload of stickers which now adorn my keezer
  • Five pairs of sunglasses
  • Bottle openers, pens, pins, a bandana
  • And a trucker hat I won from correctly identifying raw hops

I also got to try beers from Bell’sDevil’s Backbone, Sam Adams (who brought so sour stuff), and a myriad of homebrewers. Free stuff and free beer? Win-win. I also got to meet brewing legends like John Palmer and John Blichmann

Frodo and Gandalf, I mean, me and John Palmer

Frodo and Gandalf, I mean, me and John Palmer

Me with John Blichmann (with two N's)

Me with John Blichmann (with two N’s)

Thursday closed with the Key Note address from Sam Calgione of Dogfish Head. Sam’s a relatively engaging speaker, but I’d been on my feet all day drinking free beer and at about the 20 minute mark of his address, I took a little snooze.

Thursday night was Kick-Off Party featuring Maryland brewers and homebrewers. This was basically the pre-game to Friday night. Speaking of which

Friday – Late to Bed, Early to Rise

The first seminars start at 9am which is a borderline war crime. For those of you who have never been to Homebrew Con, the main attraction are the various seminars on topics related to brewing. Here’s a list of the seminars that I remember attending (a lot of them serve beer, so this list is incomplete):

  • The Chemistry of Mashing – this was a 9am college chemistry class
  • Unlocking the Genetic Code of Brewing Strains – this was a 10:15am college biology class
  • How to Fail at Starting a Brewery
  • Going Pro a Pint at a Time
  • High Gravity Brewing: Hitting a Target Gravity with Precision and Quality
  • Homebrew Bloggers Roundtable – where I learned I’m a shitty blogger
  • Modern Perspectives on Traditional Methods
  • Successful Strategies fro Raising Financial Resources for Your Homebrew Club
  • Growing Up: Building a Lasting Homebrew Club
  • More Than a Hobby: Developing Club Leadership for Long-Term Success
Pipe Dreaming

Pipe Dreaming

As you can tell from the titles, homebrewers are a verbose bunch. Most of the seminars were great and super-informative; some weren’t for me and I’ll have a better idea next year of which ones I should attend. It’s weird to think that you go on vacation to sit in a conference room and listen to a lecture, but if you add beer to your next work conference, I guarantee people will be more interested in attending.

Friday night we hit Max’s Taphouse for dinner. Max’s is one of the best beer bars I’ve ever been to, period. Great atmosphere, great beer list, great service (assuming you don’t lollygag at the bar). Can’t say enough good things, but we’ll return to Max’s later, because the main event is up next…

Friday Night – Club Night

So big and bad, Friday night gets its own header. Yes, Club Night. Where homebrewers from all over the country set up shop to foist their beer upon your unsuspecting liver. If you’ve ever been to a beer festival, it is very similar to that, but with amateur brewers who go all out. What’s all out look like?

El Prez, getting sideways in front of Barely Legal

El Prez, getting sideways in front of Barely Legal

Chris, Chip from Chop & Brew, me, and JD with some photobombers

Chris, Chip from Chop & Brew, me, and JD with some photobombers

Jim from my LHBS, dressed to the nines

Jim from my LHBS, dressed to the nines

Chris, JD, Scott, and me with the well-dressed gents of love2brew

Chris, JD, Scott, and me with the well-dressed gents of love2brew

No caption can do this photo justice

No caption can do this photo justice

That’s not including the pirate ship/mobile tap setup; getting served a beer by former Homebrewer of the Year Annie Johnson; so many of the other awesome costumes and booths; and – oh yeah – the beer. Homebrewed beer is a wonderful thing, because you’re never 100% sure what you’re going to get. It could be the best tasting beer in the world or the worst. But you don’t know until you try and try I did.

Saturday – Holy Shit, I’m Still Alive

Ahh, Saturday. The bitter sweet end of Homebrew Con. Despite the end being imminent, this was probably my favorite day of the whole convention. I started off with my only day struggling to get out of bed and ended up at the Homebrew Bloggers Roundtable, featuring Derek Springer, Ed Coffey, Marshall Schottand Matt Humbard and hosted by Chip Walton. I got to find out what a shit-ass blogger I am, which was fun. I also snapped this great photo of Marshall having a bit of a struggle:

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It was an informative panel for a guy who blogs (hey! that’s me!), and a chance to learn from some dudes who do it better than most. What’s better is I didn’t even have to leave the room for Marshall and Malcolm Frazer’s talk on Modern Perspectives on Traditional Methods, aka the Brulosophy seminar. The boys gave a great talk about the methods they use for their experiments exBEERiments, and served the room a 20-minute mash, 20-minute boil hoppy Helles lager that was pretty damn solid, and had none of the flaws you’d expect for fucking around with the beer as they do. I introduced myself to the guys afterwards, because I’m a huge fanboy of their blog but more about that later.

The rest of the day I spent largely with the President of our club, JD, bouncing around to different seminars on how to improve your homebrew club. We picked up a lot of great ideas that I’m anxious to start implementing with the Mash Holes. 2017 is going to be a big year for us, I can already tell. If you’re in the Boston/South Shore area and looking for a homebrew club, hit us up at: metrosouthhomebrewleague at gmail dot com

The day closed with the Awards Banquet, which we were lucky enough to sneak pay to get into. But that’s about where the luck ran out. I cook for myself, so I’ve choked down a lot of bad meals in my time, but this was painful. If the pork chops were any drier you could’ve used them as a wallet. The beers were from Flying Dog, Weyerbacher, and some other local breweries (not Heavy Seas) and they were atrocious. The dessert was stale Cracker Jack and pretzels. I was pretty bullshit about the whole thing.

I think the dinner finally did in the rest of the Mash Hole tribe, but as President of Vice it is my sworn duty to keep the party going (usually well past reason). So when I got a text from Marshall that there was a group at Max’s, I dragged my ass out of the hotel bed and off to meet for “a few beers.”

Conclusion – After the Show, It’s the After-Party

Max’s was fucking hopping when I got there. Among the guest list were:

I got to talk and drink with all these great dudes and a few others whose names escape me due to the copious amount of alcohol I’d been consuming since noon on Wednesday. I literally sat down one-on-one with John Palmer – the man whose book How to Brew literally taught me how to brew – and talk beer and brewing with him. That’s like talking writing with George RR Martin or some equivalent analogy. I talked the ears off the JaDed boys, to the point where I’m now an affiliate of theirs, probably so they’d get me to shut up. I got so drunk I gave what I thought was $5 to a homeless guy, but was actually $20 and then had some street hot dogs before taking one of the most epic homebrew photos of all time:

Fucking Epic

What a fucking trip.

Next year’s Homebrew Con is set for Minneapolis, aka the Windy Apple, and I’m already making plans. My liver and body are still recovering from the onslaught of this year, but I’m hoping that next year will be bigger and better. Maybe there will even be a Mash Holes table for club night? We’ll see…

Cheers!


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Peak Brew Season

ce9b2b09-1ec0-4e13-a49e-0aaa9f5cb987

Spring has sprung, and Prince is dead. The two aren’t related at all, and only one has anything to do with homebrewing but I’m a whore for web traffic.

I managed to squeeze in another brew day this past weekend, and after a few consecutive successful brews I was due for a number of screw ups. I brewed a new IPA recipes, Eighty-Sixed (recipe below and here) and managed to knock out the diptube while stirring my wort. Instead of emptying the keggle and trying to re-attach it, I went with the “fuck it” approach, realizing I’d lose some volume. Not a huge deal… until screw up numero B.

I use these spice infuser balls to keep my hop crud from clogging up my equipment or getting too much trub in my fermenter, and being this is an IPA I put a lot of balls (hehe) into this beer. Unfortunately, two of the balls popped open so that may have also contributed to my lackluster pull from this batch… only about 4 gallons.

So we’ll see how this IPA turns out. As you can see in the recipe below, this IPA contains oats and not a particularly flocculent yeast so I expect it to be cloudy; so I’m not too worried about the extra trub/hop crud in the keggle and fermenter. As we speak it is fermenting away in one of the fermentation freezers in my basement.

Also fermenting/conditioning are the rebrew of Uncommon Wrath which received 2 oz of Cascade dry hops a couple days ago. Wrath will be kegged tomorrow and bottled for competition on Sunday (and turned in for competition on Monday!). In addition to Wrath, the second 5 gallons of Carcosa are conditioning on chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon and have been for a couple months now and I’ll probably allow it to stay that way through the rest of the Spring and Summer (unless, of course, the first 5 gallons get kicked and I’m hankering for some stoutly goodness). The first 5 gallons conditioned for only about a month, so it’ll be interesting to see what the longer conditioning period will do for the stout’s flavor.

And lastly, my homebrew club – you know, the Mash Holes – brewed a barleywine to put into one of our club barrels. I brewed my 5 gallons worth of that barleywine the same weekend as Wrath, and that is still fermenting in advance of it going into the barrel next weekend (or the weekend after. I forget. I’m a bad VP).

Looking forward, I’m getting a special yeast from White Labs – Hansen Ale Blend – which I tend to build up and start harvesting and using for IPAs across the Spring and Summer. With any luck (and if it’s any good), I’ll using it for my hoppy beers for a while. The description is below:

This is a blend of many IPA strain favorites. If you’re tired of only using WLP001, this strain is for you. It has the attenuation of WLP090 and the character of WLP007.

Used in the White Labs Tasting Room. Visit here – http://tastingroom.yeastman.com – and search under the appropriate “strain #” for more details.

In the Tasting Room, the strain produced dry attenuation, was hop-forward, with minor ester production, and was a great flocculator, according to White Labs Brewer Joe Kurowski.

Phew! Lots of doings here at Anti-Hero Brewing. Until next time!

 

Eighty-Sixed

Stats

 OG: 1.073
FG: 1.021
IBU: 86
SRM: 5
ABV:6.8%

Batch & Boil

  • Batch Size: 6.0 gal
  • Boil Time: 90 min

Fermentables

Amount Fermentable Maltster Use PPG Color
7.5 lb

Pilsner (DE)

Any Mash 38 1 °L
7.5 lb

Golden Promise (UK)

Any Mash 37 3 °L
1.25 lb

Flaked Oats

Any Boil 33 2 °L
0.75 lb

Turbinado

Any Boil 44 10 °L
0.63 lb

Carapils (Dextrine Malt) (US)

Any Boil 33 1 °L

Hops

Amount Hop Time Use Form AA
1.25 oz Nugget (US) 60 min Boil Pellet 14.3%
1.0 oz Chinook (US) 30 min Boil Pellet 12.0%
1.1 oz Centennial (US) 15 min Boil Pellet 10.5%
2.0 oz Citra (US) 0 min Boil Pellet 13.7%
3.0 oz Citra (US) 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 13.7%

Yeasts

Name Lab/Product Attenuation
London Ale Yeast White Labs WLP013 71.0%

Extras

Amount Name Time Use
1.5 g Calcium Chloride 90.0 min Boil
1.5 g Calcium Chloride 1.0 hr Mash

Uncommonly Frequent Posts

I’m going to keep doing “uncommon” puns until I either run out or get sick of them. Luckily for you, I’m already sick of them.

So I promised an update on Uncommon Wrath when it had achieved it’s final form. It’s still not quite there yet, but a few interesting things happened today that are worth blogging about.

My homebrew club – whose webpage I’m working on, so stay tuned for that – had our monthly meeting tonight; instead of our usual stomping grounds, we posted up at the future home of Barrel House Z. Russ, Pat, and Pat were gracious enough to host the MASH HOLES and talk about their plans for the new brewing venture that’s setting up shop in our backyard. BHZ is hosting a homebrew competition so a good portion of our meeting focused on that on BHZ’s plans for the future and their commitment to the local brewing community.

I decided to bring some of my new German Alt/Amber – Uncommon Wrath – to the meeting to get some feedback from my club-mates, and was lucky enough to have Russ ask to try some. Russ is kind of a big deal; he was the first brewmaster a little place you might have heard of (Harpoon Brewery), and he gave me some really great and really specific feedback. Some of it I had heard before from my dude Marshall, the Brulosopher, about treating my water (he gave really similar advice given the softness of the local water), and some recommendations for the yeast strain I’d used. Other than those helpful tidbits I received a lot of positive feedback for the beer (one of the other BHZ guys, Pat “the Elder,” said he really enjoyed it), so it was all-in-all very encouraging.

For me, I can’t look past any flaws in my beers once they’re pointed out to me, but I’d rather force-feed myself 5 gallons of an imperfect beer I have an idea of how to improve than be blissfully ignorant of my mistakes and foist it onto other people. Which isn’t to say the beer is bad; it’s actually quite easy to drink, pretty smooth, and has some interesting character to it. But I’m already planning the next brew day of it.

Uncommon Wrath 2.16.16

Here’s a glamour shot of the beer in question in the new MASH HOLES tasting glasses.

Appearance: Amber (duh) with a fluffy white head. The clarity doesn’t come through in this shot, a side effect of it still carbonating and not having had any time to settle out, but it is very clear through the tubing.

Aroma: Toffee and caramel with a bit of nuttiness, with faint hints of sulfur and almost a soapiness. Those flaws are fairly subdued but evident to me now every time (sigh). There’s also just a touch of floral notes from the late addition Centennial hops.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body with a little bit of bite from the carbonation. This could stand to be a little rounder and fuller, but not off for the style.

Flavor: Caramel and toffee with a bit of fruitiness, very light biscuity notes; relatively balanced with the bitterness. For a generally more malt-forward style, I’d like a little more punch from grains. This is smooth but relatively unremarkable.

Overall: The best thing this beer has going for it is that it is really, really easy to drink. At only 4.8% ABV it’s sessionable. At only 44 IBUs it isn’t too bitter or palate wrecking. None of the malts are overbearing or too sweet. It’s by no means “bad,” and actually I like it, but with so little to hide behind the flaws remain evident for me. I’m officially dying to rebrew this.

Uncommon Wrath

Basics

  • Mash at 152*F for 60 minutes
  • Boil for 90 minutes
  • 5.5 gallon batch size
  • OG: 1.051
    FG: 1.013
    IBU: 44
    SRM: 14
    ABV: 5.0%

Fermentables

Amount Fermentable Maltster Use PPG Color
11.0 lb

Maris Otter Pale (UK)

Any Mash 38 3 °L
0.75 lb

Caramel/Crystal 60L (US)

Any Mash 34 60 °L
0.75 lb

Special B (BE)

Any Mash 34 115 °L

Hops

Amount Hop Time Use Form AA
1.2 oz Chinook (US) 60 min Boil Pellet 12.0%
2.0 oz Centennial (US) 0 min Boil Pellet 10.5%

Yeasts

Name Lab/Product Attenuation
German Ale Wyeast 1007 75.0%

Mash steps

Step Heat Source Target Temp Time
Saccharification Rest Infusion 152.0 °F 60 min

 Adjustments

  • Add 100 ppm of Calcium Chloride to the mash and another 100 ppm to the boil kettle
  • Ferment at 65*F for two weeks

Clear Wort, Full Kegs, Can’t Lose

Right now I’m in the midst of a beer-centric couple of months. This upcoming Thursday is the New England Homebrew Jamboree, which I may have mentioned before, and as such, I have a bunch of full kegs and fermenters at the “brewery.” I figured since I have the long weekend, and no plans/space to brew for a while, it would be a good time to drop an update.

What’s Kegged

Right now I have about a keg and a quarter of the homebrew club’s Barrel-Aged Robust Porter w/Maker’s Mark. One keg I’ve been slowly drinking down myself, and the other is full and heading to the Jamboree on Thurday. The BARP is a really interesting beer. It looks like a standard porter – opaque black with a dark tan/brown head – but the smell and taste let you know something is different. The Maker’s Mark doesn’t come through very much, but there is a distinct sour note that melds well with robust porter’s natural roastiness and sweetness. It’s also deceptively drinkable at over 9% ABV. This was definitely a winner.

Ah, my pride and joy: Symphony of Decay, maple pumpkin ale. Truth be told, this year’s version is different from the previous iterations due largely to missed targets on brew day. I’m still getting used to my new-ish equipment, and brewing on a day with 100% humidity probably through off the boil-off calculations. This is all to say I missed my target gravity by 0.015 (which is a lot for the uninitiated). Some of that has to do with the extra wort leftover, and some from mashing in about 4*F higher than target. Thankfully the wonderful San Diego Superyeast attenuated the beer below my target final gravity, ending with a 5% ABV beer. Much more sessionable than the standard 7.2%. So how did it turn out? Well, it’s not the champion it was last year. There’s a strong aroma of pumpkin spice (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon) and just a hint of biscuit as well. It looks a little… dirtier than I was amazing for, but the amount of pumpkin that goes into this beer is probably to blame for that despite a Whirlfloc addition and some cold crashing with gelatin. It is a nice dark orange color, though. My big qualm is in the flavor. It tastes unripened for lack of a better descriptor. There’s a kind of green apple sweetness to it that seems out of place. It’s not too strong, but it does take away from the pumpkin flavor and base amber style. It’s not cloyingly sweet, so maybe this is something that will gradually age out of it. It becomes less noticeable as the beer warms, but something definitely went off the mark here. Not a drain pour or even a bad beer,  but SoD has a reputation to uphold and I don’t think this beer is a contender for the crown this year.

Lastly, there’s my  latest pet project: The Hustler, New England style IPA. The last batch I brought to a homebrew event – Beans and Brew – and it was well-received. It was close to what I had set out to brew, but didn’t quite have the bitter punch I was hoping for. It was suggested that I start screwing around with my water treatment, but I wasn’t quite ready to take that on for this batch. This beer finished under my target gravity, but part of that was due to my forgetfulness (I neglected to add Turbinado sugar until after the boil/cooling). It doesn’t account for the entirety of the difference, but it makes up for a lot of it (again this was another humid brew day, I’m not good at calculating my losses, etc.). Again, my yeast worked overtime and attenuated the beer past target resulting in a 6.2% beer (target: 7.3%). Anyways, it came out GREAT. You could snort cocaine, and the smell of this beer would still be the best thing going up your nose. Mango, papaya, fruit juice, oranges, fucking probably a ton of those tropical fruits that I’ve never heard of before, too. The flavor follows along the same notes as well with a very mellow bitterness. I’m starting to really believe that the Conan yeast strain eats away at perceived bitterness. I increased the IBUs to a (theoretical) 148 from 86, and it still doesn’t taste quite bitter enough to me. But it’s still a pretty wonderful IPA nonetheless.

What’s Fermenting

The (infamous) Matt Brown Marzen(/Oktoberfest)  is into its second week of lagering. I expect it to be ready when I return from the Great American Beer Fest at the end of this month. My initial taste of it, prior to fermenting had it more bitter than I remember, but I’m hoping the long lagering period (31-32 days) will let that mellow out a bit.

My latest (and possibly craziest) recipe went into the fermenter on Friday: the Headless Horseman, pumpkin milk stout. There’s a few pumpkin milk stout recipes out there, but I wan’t to try something a little different. I removed the traditional highly-kilned grains from the malt bill to keep the beer’s orange color, and replaced the base 2-row malt with Maris Otter to balance out the sweetness with a little biscuity breadiness. I have no idea what to expect from this beer, but I may try to put it on nitro. If it’s a winner, it’ll be my likely entry into the Mash Holes Pumpkin Beer Competition in October. If not, well I’ve still got the Pumpkin Pie Porter up my sleeve.

 

So that’s it for updates for now, I’ll see you on the other side of the Jamboree, survival permitting.

It’s JAMBO Season

Holy fucking shit. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, kids. That’s right, it’s JAMBO season!

WTF is JAMBO Season?

So, my homebrew club – Metro South Homebrew League a.k.a. MASH HOLES – has officially been in existence for a little over two years. Our biggest participatory event of our inaugural year was the New England Homebrew Jamboree in Tamworth, NH. In the grand scheme of things, the NE Jamboree (or “Jambo”) is pretty small potatoes; it is a gathering of homebrew clubs from around New England for a weekend of camping/debauchery. It is also a shit-ton of fun. The MASH HOLES made a bit of a name for ourselves last year – as MASH HOLES are wont to do – and this year we’re rolling twice as deep, with plans to drink twice as much and party twice as hard (sanity permitting).

Cool story, bro. Why should I care?

A fine question, assuming I cared about you, part of my psyche asking these questions. This – like 99.9% of this blog – is about me. I am ungodly excited for this year’s Jambo, and have been brewing up a storm in antici…pation.

anticipation

Today, I started kegging the only three time (three time, three time) brewed beer here at Anti-Hero Brewing: Symphony of Decay. And while I have my reservations about the 2015 vintage after an initial tasting, only time will tell how it stands up against its predecessors. SoD will be making the trip up to the Jambo, along with its personal tap handle, created from the club’s annual Pumpkin trophy:

IMG_0859

Symphony will be joining the well-received Hustler (NE-style IPA) at Jambo, as well as the club barrel-aged robust porter with Maker’s Mark. So I’ll be rolling three kegs deep. If you’re in the New Hampshire/New England area, and are interested in attending here’s the Jambo website. I’ll be the guy with the douchey undercut at the MASH HOLES tent, making fun of people and (if history serves) accidentally cutting myself with a Leatherman and taking 11am naps.

Beyond Thunderdome Jambo

But the hits just keep on coming, Internet friends. This week and next, I’m planning to fit in two more brew sessions. Odds are both of them will be pumpkin-based beers. Right now I’m debating the styles; my Pumpkin Pie Porter (P3) is most likely going to one of them and the other will either be my planned Pumpkin Saison or a recipe I just came up with yesterday: a Pumpkin Milk Stout. I’m leaning towards the milk stout at the moment because I think there’s a lot of potential for something unique there. I’m also debating adding vanilla bean to it to round out the flavor, but we’ll see.

The next brew day is scheduled for Thursday or Friday of this week, so I’ll probably be making up my mind shortly.

Other News

I almost forgot to mention that I purchased another chest freezer/fermentation chamber this week. I’ll soon be able to have four simultaneous fermentations, which will let me continuously churn out new brews. I’m excited.

 

Anywho, that’s my updates for this week. If you’ve got an opinion of pumpkin saison vs. pumpkin milk stout, feel free to leave a comment. Also – as always – if there’s something you’d like me write about, feel free to mention that as well.

Later.