The Christmas songs are out in full force wherever you go, people are carrying those red cups from Starbucks, and suddenly people think it is appropriate to put strange looking reindeer decorations in their cubicles at work. The holidays always turn my thoughts to…beer. Big surprise.
Dry Irish Stout
The latest beer is done bottle condition and is ready to drink. It’s a Dry Irish Stout recipe:
The original recipe, as it came from Northern Brewer, called for a more bitter beer than I wanted. So, I reduced the boil time for the hops to reduce the bitterness down to approximately 40 IBU which is where a lot of people place the popular Guinness Draught stout.
Unlike Guinness Draught from a tap or can, my stout does not get the benefit of a nitrogen dispensing system or whatever that little widget is in the can that rattles around when empty. The result is that the homebrew version lacks some of the creaminess that I associate with stout. Not a deal breaker, per se, but it is a little bit disappointing in some ways.
However, the bitterness profile is spot on and this is a great beer for colder nights. One way to really take things up a notch would be to introduce some cold pressed coffee extract. Like, I don’t know, Surly’s Coffee Bender…
Innkeeper, Brickwarmer Red, and American Amber Ale
A batch of the Innkeeper extract ale kit from Northern Brewer is set to be bottled sometime on Sunday or Monday evening. I brewed this same recipe earlier in the year and was very pleased with the results. For some reason I felt compelled to return to the recipe. It revolves around my interest in brewing styles of beer that are harder to define than India Pale Ale or porter or whatever. It’s also about a search for finding beer styles that can have bold flavors, both in terms of malt and hops, without becoming hop bombs.
Next up after the Innkeeper are two recipe kits: Brickwarmer Red and American Amber Ale. The Brickwarmer seems like the perfect beer for January and February when the weather is the coldest and you just want to snuggle under a blanket. Not the right time of year for a light wheat beer or saison, but perfect for a heavier beer with spice. Maybe an ugly sweater will complement the beer perfectly.
The American Amber Ale kit is going to be a little bit of a departure from the recipe as specified by the good folks from Northern Brewer. Originally, the recipe called out Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast. Honestly, I am very bored with both strains of American Ale yeast (1056 and 1272). The yeasts produce fine beer, but like the description points out these are yeasts that are meant to produce a beer that takes a backseat to bold hop flavors.
I chose to take the recipe kit and combine with the Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale. My hope is that this yeast will produce a beer with a distinct flavor profile versus a somewhat blank canvas like 1056 and 1272. Only time in the carboy will tell.
How to Identify the Hops in Your Beer
The more I delve into the manufacturing of beer and the vast array of ingredients available the more I think the entire community is getting a little Sideways at time with the hops. I am half expecting to go into Benz Beverage Depot and see a couple of guys looking at a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon while wondering about the variety of hops it uses.
Nonetheless, some hops have very different flavors and aromas. If you are brewing your own beer or spending $12 a six pack for beer it is important to know what you like and what you do not. Here is a handy guide for starting to identify the hops in your beer.
Apparently, there is some truth to the oft told tale that the pilgrims ended up landing in present day Massachusetts because the supply of beer was running low. Huh, who would have thought?
There are some other interesting beer mythbusting going on in the same article.