This fall I decided to brew a chocolate porter. The recipe was very similar to my already established porter recipe. The original Porter, was on the roasty and chocolate side and included a healthy helping of hops. The next step, for me, was to increase the chocolate taste profile. Being the nerd that I am, I wanted to change one variable and understand how it impacted a tried and true recipe. I fought over weather to increase the chocolate malt addition or to use a chocolate additive. After doing some homework I learned that everyone had pros and cons to each approach. Now, take those pros and cons and multiple them by 10 and that is the number of opinions on what chocolate additive to add. Finally the decision was made to use a chocolate additive. This was based on not wanting to try and brew with more chocolate malt in a partial extract brew in fear of losing valuable fermentable sugars in my small brew set up. Mainly due to the equipment I use to brew. So which chocolate additive to use? Imagine standing at Giant Eagle staring at the chocolate baking supplies and trying to decide on which to use. I swore a long time ago against coca powder because I believed it added a chalky texture to the beer and an unnatural dry mouth feel. So what do I do, I decide to use coca powder. Why?Well some high respected blogs swore by it over other approaches. From my limited understanding using milk chocolate or baking chocolate can introduce a fatty substance that could potential surround yeast cells not allowing them to eat sugars and poop ethanol and CO2. I value fermentation above a dry aftertaste. To combat my fears with using coca powder I decided to use less than all the blogs said to use and to limit the time the beer is in contact with the powder to a minimal.
- Roasted Malt
- Chocolate Malt
- Crystal Malt
- Dry and Liquid Extract Malt
OG = 1.060
FG = 1.020
%Alc by Vol = 6%
The fun part was taking a growler sized sample of the chocolate porter and transforming it into the Bourbon Barrel Chocolate Porter. This was all done without harming any bourbon barrels. I used oak chips that had been soaked in bourbon for several weeks. The bourbon soaked oak chips were added to the growler of chocolate porter and maybe a little extra bourbon made it’s way into the growler, but not much. The growler was then left in the basement at about 35-45F for 2 months.
After 2 months it’s time to tap into the growler and test it. The taste test was done in parallel with the chocolate porter.
Appearance: Both brews were very dark with little to no transparency. The bourbon porter had little to no head with no lacing. The porter had a dark brown head and slight lacing.
Aroma: The porter had significant more aroma. It’s aroma was full of chocolate and roasty malt. The bourbon porter was dull to the nose. Thinking this is related to the poor head retention and carbonation.
Taste: The porter again was much more flavorful. The bourbon porter was a let down. It was a dull, muted, chocolate taste with a very very very fine hint of bourbon booze.
Mouthfeel: Both brews went down easy and had a nice feel. The bourbon porter had little carbonation and could stand to use more for a better feel and taste and aroma.
Overall: The chocolate porter turned out ok, still not a fan of coca powder and plan to change that in the new brew. The bourbon porter will also under go some updates. One of which will be the conditioning of the oak chips and the aging process in the ‘bourbon barrel’. I hope to use a different container where the beer and can have better surface contact with the oak chips and the bourbon. Thinking of using a keg and laying on its side or stealing a bourbon barrel. Know where I can find a bourbon barrel in Pittsburgh? Another change will be to do more homework and reference the Radical Brewing book.
This was a disappointment, but still fun and enjoyable. I’m excited to try out the new ideas and see how it impacts the final brew.
This brew is near and dear to me. Back in the fall of 2006 I broke out and brewed to an original recipe. The Joy of Homebrewing and Designing Great Beers were two books that inspired me greatly. Fall 2006 also found me as a recent grad living and working in Portland, OR…aka Portlandia. The beer culture was amazing and greatly influenced my palate and home brewing passion. Let’s recap…2006 highlights:
- Cost of gasoline $2.62/gal
- Borat, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead man’s chest, The Da Vinci Code, Casino Royale, Ice Age, Night at the Museum and Cars all hit the big screen
- Steelers win Superbowl, Ben makes tackle against Colts
- Italy defeats France to win the World Cup
- Malkin defected from Russia; Pens may leave town. Still playing in the Igloo
- Fall Out Boy, Nelly, Jamie Fox, Eminem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LL Cool J, Shakira, Luda, etc were all on the radio
- Sleater-Kinney and The Suicide Machines debanded while Alice in Chains, Genesis (w/ Phil Collins), Buckcherry, Blind Mellon and Bone Thugs N Harmony Reformed.
- 1,389 Craft, Micro-breweries in operation (~1,927 in operation in 2011)
Now that I have reminisced and realize how much I pay for gas today, I’m ready to brew St Arnou again this weekend. St Arnou Hefe is my version of a German Hefe; think of Paulaner’s hefeweizen. No orange peel, no coriander, no added spices; just malt, hops and yeast. Below is the blueprint for the hefe.
**Note: Temps, times and weights are the challenge. Happy Brewing!
- Wheat Malt
- Flaked Wheat
- Light Dry malt powder
- Wheat Beer Extract
OG = 1.055
FG = 1.015
% Alc by Vol = 4%
This batch was bottled and some were conditioned at room temp while others in the fridge while other split time between the closet and the fridge. Imagine a huge nerdy science experiment with control groups and spreadsheets. The final product was what some call one of my finest brew all time. I was not 100% pleased, but did enjoy it and could draw parallels to other German hefes.
Enjoy and if you brew it, let me know how it turned out. I’ll give an update on my batch this weekend and see how kegging changes the flavor profile.
This is a pretty cool article that our friends at onlinecollegecourses.com told us aboout. It breaks down a cost effective way to try brewing in college, while on a college kid’s budget.
I remember my good friend brewing on a hot plate, next door to the RA when we weren’t quite 21 yet. We also used plastic pop bottles to age the beer in. Ahhh those were the days.
If you are a college student who is interested in home brewing, give this a read and let us know what you decide to make. If you have any questions on how to get started or you want to know more, shoot us an email and we will be glad to help out. We have already succesfully helped one college kid brew a sorgum batch out of a 5 gallon water cooler jug.
Welcome to the third and final part to our series on Mead. After about 10 months sitting in secondary fermentation, the Angel’s Share Mead and Erik the Red Cherry Mead were finally ready to be bottled. The bottling process for mead is actually a bit easier than for your normal homebrews. No need to add sugar for carbonation.
Here’s the final alcohol tally, the alcohol content in the cherry mead is likely higher as the O.G. reading was taken after the initial cherry steeping. Additional sugars likely were added to mead from the cherries left in the fermenter.
Angel’s Breath Mead – 12.73 % ABV Erik the Red Cherry Mead – 11.65 % ABV
Additionally, the main difference between the two initially seems to be only in color. The cherries have tinted the mead to a beautiful dark red color. The taste of the regular and cherry mead is remarkably similar although the cherry mead is just a touch sweeter. We’ll see if the bottle aging process serves to distinguish the two batches.
Overall, I was very happy with my first mead makeing experience. The mead turned out a bit lighter in alcohol but I think that this actually makes it somewhat easier to drink. We are planning on having a mead release party sometime in the near future so look for that.
Last summer, I got a few requests to brew up some batches of mead. I’d never really considered making mead. My aversion was partly due to the need for long term storage as fermentation can take several months to complete. I also had perceived mead as a lack of challenge to my homebrewing skills. It’s just mead and honey. Where’s the challenge in that?
Much like when starting down other divergent paths of homebrewing, I started with Charlie Papazian’s Joy of Homebrwing. His introduction to mead is a great place to get started and he gives several variations on the basic mead recipe. My Angel’s Breath Honey mead is based on the Antipodal Mead recipe. I then split the 5 gallon batch of regular mead for the addition of cherries. I only used 12 lbs. of honey rather than the recommended 15 lbs so my original gravity was a bit lower than the traditional recipe.
Boil the honey in about 2 gallons of water for 15 minutes with a pinch of Irish moss. The original recipe also calls for gypsum and an acid blend but I left these out of the recipe. As the mead begins to boil, stir the honey into solution and skim off the thick white foam on the surface (harmful protein). After boiling, cool the mead down and dilute to 5 gallons with fresh, clean water. I split the recipe and steeped about 2.5 lbs of dark sweet cherries to remaining mead in the brew kettle. I steeped the cherries at about 150F for about 30 minutes. Then the whole thing goes into fermentation. I also added 3 tsp of Super Ferment yeast nutrient to each batch. The addition of the yeast nutrient advances the fermentation so that full fermentation of the mead takes place in about 6 weeks to 2 months instead of 10-12 months.
The mead making process was so easy that I made it at the same time I was also brewing up a Belgian Trippel recipe. There’s really not too much to making homemade mead.
One year ago today we published our first live post where TDY Tim walks us through brewing his cherry stout. Since Tim’s article we’ve been through 126 posts, hundreds of beers and countless good times. We may sometimes disagree about beer, but we all agree that we’ve most definitely enjoyed the last year creating and growing TDY. The blog has allowed us to meet so many great Pittsburgher’s who share an appreciation for quality beer and help make this blog possible. Our sincerest thanks for reading.
Jake, Tim and Mark
The Drunk Yinzer
This cool video/live streaming feed was sent to us by our friends at Cork and Kegs. From what we gathered this is a cool start up tech company that makes things. “They got a ton of really cool videos that nerdy engineers like ourselves would enjoy”, Craig. So tonight they are doing a live episode on making beer and coffee. Below are the details and link. Let us know what you think.
When: TONIGHT, Wed May 11 at 9PM et………yeah sorry technical difficulties, but it is still up
In exchange for shooting up this link Cork and Kegs promised us to let the Steelers beat the Browns one of the 2 games / would buy us a round next time we are together. … but NOT a round of $21 dollar Macallan scotch. What they don’t know is that the Steelers are good for 2 wins and we will get the $21 Macallan.
First off, congratulations to all the home brewers who entered brews into the competition and to the winners. Thanks to everyone involved at TRASH for hosting and making this a great event. Unfortunately we were un-able to attend in person, but heard great things about it.
As I covered in posts leading up to the contest, here are the brief recipes and results for each of the beers TDY entered.
The Pale Ale finished in the cellar of the Pale Ale division. I guess all my Pirates jokes finally caught up with me, touche karma. Or maybe it was the stale hops or the new malt bill. Either way this was a poor beer. The story on brew day was to create an IPA, but in the end finished as a pale ale. There was little to no hoppy characteristics. Malt/hop balance…don’t even ask. To improve I plan to go back to the Hopalopogous malt mill and increase the hops.
Brown Porter Ale
The Brown Porter was another new recipe. This beer was a spin off of my Porter where the black patent malt was eliminated and the chocolate malt was increased. It also included some aromatic malt. The hops and yeast were the same as in the Porter. The hope was to make something similar in color to Voodoo’s Brown Ale with some hop. The reality was an overly malty dark brown ale with a small hop bite. I think I will try whiskey soaked oak chips in this to see if it brings this beer around.
Troubled Soul 2011
This beer was fun to make. Tim and I took all of our left over ingredients and made up a Frankenbrew. There was a little of everything in this one; orange peel, cinnamon and pine tree. Chocolate malt was primarily used with some pilsner and aromatic malts. The hop amount and variety of hops used really highlighted the piney aroma/taste. At first this beer was close to being undrinkable. It mellowed nicely in the keg and turned out to be a pleasant winter seasonal. Who knows what Troubled Soul 2012 will bring.
In reflection, I probably should have entered more tried and true recipes. The results, other then Troubled Soul, were rather disappointing. This experience is valuable and has not tarnished my passion for brewing in the least. If anything, it has motivated me to become a better home brewer. I look forward to brewing through the spring and summer in preparation for the next TRASH Home Brew Contest. Again, thanks to TRASH and congrats to all the winners! We look forward to trying the East End Brew and Rock Bottom Brew.
Infographics are wonderful. They take a bunch of scattered information and, if executed properly, collect it all into one easy to read and share image. Exhibit 1: this simple overview graphic on brewing beer. So go ahead, send it to that person thinking about starting to home brew.
Credit to OC Weekly.
Last time we met, the Porter/Brown and IPA were brewing. As of today both have finished fermenting and are currently maturing in the keg under about 16psi of CO2. Both brews were close to their targeted finished gravity. The Porter/Brown was a little high, but close enough. Finished gravity for the IPA was dead on.
A few small observations: Porter/Brown Ale
- First off, the color. Not as dark as had hoped. I did remove a lot of black patent and roasted malts, but increased the chocolate malt thinking color wouldn’t change much. As of now it appears very transparent, much like the Pirates attempt to build a contender.
- The aroma is very hoppy. This was surprising, since not many hops were used. See how it finishes after kegging.
- The taste is a little more malty than expected. But has a nice tongue.
- This beer fermented hard for a lot longer then past IPAs. The air lock was bubbling like crazy!
- The aroma is all hops, I couldn’t be more excited. With the promise of warmer weather around the corner this is exactly what I’m looking forward to.
- The first taste before kegging wasn’t extremely hoppy, but was smooth and not too malty.
Overall, I’m not exactly crazy excited about the beer at this stage. Hopefully sitting in the keg will bring the beers around. All I know is there is a lot of hype and anticpation for the tapping.
What these beers are getting ready for is the TRASH Home Brew Competition. This is for all the marbles. Follow the link to the TRASH site and read all about the competition details. Below is a break down of the prizes.
- East End Sessionable Award: This is the big big prize. This prize is awarded to the top-rated beer under 5% ABV(*). The winner of this award will have their winning beer brewed on a commercial system at East End Brewing and will available for a limited time at growler hours and at Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe.
- The Rock Bottom Award: This prize is also HUGE! For the first time ever, Rock Bottom Pittsburgh offered to brew one of the winning brews. This beer can use one of Rock Bottom’s house yeast strains will be brewed and served at Rock Bottom in Homewood. Available yeast strains include a scottish ale strain, a kölsch strain, and a wit strain. The only other requirement is less than 3 weeks in the fermenter.
- The Turtle Creek Award: This award is to honor TRASH’s roots (as the Turtle Creek Homebrew Club) and is a TRASH tradition. This year, points will be awarded in each flight as follows: 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd, and 1 point for 3rd place. The Turtle Creek Award will be presented to the homebrewer with the highest number of accumulated points.
- Then there will be prizes for the top beers in each category. There will also be medals for first, second and third place. The prize sponsors so far include: East End Brewing, Sharp Edge, Rock Bottom, South Hills Brewing Supply, OTB, Piper’s, Carson Street Deli, Patrick’s, Bocktown, Harris Grill and Tavern 245.
Just writing this got me fired up! The entry/drop off dead line is next week (March 26th), so don’t forget! Good luck to all the brewers and remember ‘Relax, have a home brew’.