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On Tap at the Farmhouse

Tap 1: El Dorado IPA

Tap 2: American IPA

Tap 3: 100% Brett IPA

Primary: Robust Porter, Hoppy Amber

Lagering: Pilsner, Hoppy Lager

Aging: Brux Farmhouse, Barrel-Aged Golden Strong Ale, Strong Dark Sour, American Wild Ale (Blonde)

Upcoming: Saison, Dank Rye DIPA

Events

Join us at Big Boss Brewing to raise money for ALS research!

Tuesday
May192015

Tasting: Experimental Hops

The kegs may be long since emptied, cleaned and filled with new beer, but we can still talk about this.

After crafting pale ales with two generous sacks of experimental hops a tour guide at Sierra Nevada gave us, we had a solid month to savor the beers and experience how the hops changed as they aged a bit. It's a fun experiment I'm excited to try again soon.

To recap, each pale ale was bittered with Centennial because we didn't know the bittering qualities of the experimental hops, but all other hop editions---flavor, aroma, dry hop---were exclusively either Idaho #7 or #5256.

Idaho #7 is supposed to brim with bright, fleshy fruit like apricot with herbal underpinnings, and #5256 is supposed to be dank. That means pine, herbs, dark fruit, and mint.

Idaho #7 Pale Ale

Appearance

Golden, strawlike. We kept the specialty malts to a minimum to keep anything from overpowering the hops.

Aroma

Definitely fruit forward. I can sense a little peach, definitely some lemon, and a thyme-like quality hiding deep in there.

Flavor

Similar to the aroma, but the herbal quality skews a touch toward basil for me as opposed to thyme, especially as the beer aged and the brighter fruit flavors mellowed. The beer came out a bit bitter for a pale ale, so I think we’re getting a slightly muted flavor.

Mouthfeel

Dry and crisp. The bitterness makes it a touch sharp, so the hops don’t have much of a chance to hang out on your tongue, unfortunately. Just needed to dial the IBUs down a bit.

Overall

When this beer and its companion were young, I enjoyed this a good bit more than #5256, to be honest. As it aged aged and took on a more muted, herbal quality, I found #5256 to be the better pint. We’ve had a couple pints of Sierra Nevada’s Idaho #7 IPA, and that one was powerfully lemon forward, more so than ours, but the hop’s flavor was unmistakeable.

#5256 Pale Ale

Appearance

We brewed a double batch, so this is golden and strawlike, too.

Aroma

Pine, earth, touches of fruit. It’s dank...not nearly as powerfully so as the hop sack was when we first opened it, but there’s no confusing this beer for Idaho #7.

Flavor

Really herbal and earthy with touches of resin and possibly plum. Idaho #7 dominated as a young beer, but #5256 aged better and continued to be a pleasant drink until the keg kicked. That may be because the hop doesn’t have a big fruity bottom that’ll drop out as soon as the hops show some age.

Mouthfeel

Identical to the other beer---dry, crisp, and a touch too bitter---but #5256 managed to hang better with the higher bitterness.

Overall

Save for the bitterness, we enjoyed this keg all the way through as it aged. I’d happily brew with this hop again, although in the future, I’d like to pair it with another hop or two to see what sort of depth we can conjure (#5256 vs. Galaxy sounds fun, as does Idaho #7 vs. Simcoe). These two beers were enjoyable if predictably one-note being single-hop beers, but now that we have an idea how they behave, they’ll be fun to use in future batches when we get our hands on a few ounces.

Monday
Feb162015

Brew Day: Experimental Hops

I married a smart, friendly homebrewer. This pays off all the time but perhaps never more than when we took a trip to Asheville at the start of the year.

We toured the new Sierra Nevada brewery in Mills River, NC, while we were there, and the final stop of the tour features an expansive, generous flight of beers poured by one of the tour guides. Lara, being a self-described f’ing sweetheart, struck up a conversation with the guide---about homebrewing, naturally.

People began peeling away from the tour, so we slowly joined suit, but that guide, who’d been called away to the phone, shouted for us to wait for just a minute. He wrapped up his call, leaned over the counter to us and said, “You guys want some experimental hops?”

Yes. Yes, we do.

He headed deep into the shiny, copper-plated bowels of the brewery and returned with two half-pound vacuum packs, each with a hop code hastily scrawled on it. We left the brewery that day with half a pound each of Idaho #7 and #5256, hops we knew absolutely nothing about except that they were destined to star in their own pale ales.

This guy is also an f’ing sweetheart.

So here we are. I had to do a good bit of searching to find flavor and aroma profiles for these hops given that they’re not widely in use. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Idaho #7: orange, apricot, and black tea with an herbal underpinning
  • #5256: grapefruit, pine, mint, and citrus with a touch of dark fruit and herbs (bred from Apollo and Merkur)

We mashed a double batch of the recipe that follows and split the runnings into two boils so we could focus each on one of the hops. We bittered with Centennial because we didn’t have reliable alpha acid numbers for Idaho #7 and #5256 and because we wanted to focus our experimental additions at flameout, in the hopback, and in dry hopping.

This was a particularly exciting brew day because I honestly can’t say I know how these beers will develop. Going in, I noted that Idaho #7 had a pleasantly tropical, floral aroma and that #5256 smelled like a bulging sack of fresh weed.

Tasting results will follow as soon as these beers finish dry hopping and carbonate.

Just a pinch of Citra hanging out in Sierra Nevada's hop freezerTarget Numbers
Batch: 5 gallons
IBU: 40
SRM: 4.6
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.0%

Grains
15.3 lb. 2-row pale
0.78 lb. Flaked oats
0.62 lb. Vienna
0.41 lb. Crystal 40

Hops
8.00 oz. Idaho #7 or #5256
2.00 oz. Centennial (9.9% AA)

Yeast
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

Water Profile
Bicarbonate: 104 ppm
Calcium: 84 ppm
Chloride: 102 ppm
Magnesium: 15 ppm
Sodium: 64 ppm
Sulfate: 178 ppm

Mash (60 minutes)
Saccharification: 153°F
Mash out: 168°F
Sparge: 168°F

Boil (60 minutes)
60: 2.00 oz. Centennial
00: 2.00 oz. Idaho #7 or #5256
Hopback: 2.00 oz. Idaho #7 or #5256

Fermentation
Primary (14 days): 67°F
Secondary (6 days): 67°F

Dry Hop
4.00 oz. Idaho #7 or #5256 

Sunday
Feb082015

Tasting: Rye Pale Ale

Belated tasting notes for a rye pale ale we brewed with some members of our homebrew club. This beer is long gone, sadly, which is a testament to it being pretty darn tasty.

Appearance
Golden in color with deeper honey tones. Slight hop haze, which is no surprise given the dry-hopping rate. The carbonation looks lively.

Aroma
Ripe. Full of melon, grapefruit and pine. After a few misses in the latter half of 2014, we’ve finally pulled together a hop-forward beer that’s aggressively aromatic. I’m sure there’s some rye in there, but it’s utterly blanketed in Citra and Centennial, so it doesn’t make an aromatic impact to me.

Flavor
Rye makes itself apparent here. There’s a nicely rounded graininess, that slightly rough-around-the-edges spice that rye gives off, hovering just below the hops. Still, Citra, Centennial, and Chinook are the stars here. Citrus and melon dominate, and Chinook gives off just enough resin to deepen the hop punch.

It’s not perfect, though. For a pale ale, this is a bitter brew, with apparent bitterness that would lose it some points in a competition. I also taste minerals beneath the hops and rye...something not unlike calcium and sodium...suggesting I may have overdone the brewing salt additions slightly. That’ll also kick up the perceived bitterness.

Mouthfeel
Again, a slight mineral tinge, but otherwise it’s nicely carbonated and dry without feeling thin.

Overall
A very strong step forward overall. While we need to dial back our gypsum, calcium chloride, and salt additions in future batches, we finally managed to clear up the muddied hop character of our last few tries and had no trouble destroying this entire keg within a couple weeks. We’ll definitely make it again with slight adjustments.

 

Tuesday
Jan132015

Brew Day: Rye Pale Ale

Two things came together on this December brewday: a deep dive into water chemistry and a collaboration with two of the amazing homebrewers in our club.

I’ve complained in recent posts that our last handful of hop-forward beers lacked aromatic depth and the big, clean hop punch I love in some of my favorite commercial brews. The goal here was to take a bright beer full of American hops and dial in a water profile that roughly matches San Diego (a profile I basically cribbed from Mad Fermentationist). Given our well’s soft, bicarbonate-rich water, that means cutting our strike and sparge water with reverse-osmosis water and adding plenty of gypsum, calcium carbonate, and table salt.

We also don’t collaborate with fellow brewers often enough, and Antonia and Travis from our club are a great brewing duo we'd never brewed with one on one. Antonia mentioned wanting to brew a rye pale ale, and this seemed like the perfect pairing to the water profile experiment.

Antonia and Travis joined us on our front porch, and each pair brewed 5 gallons of the same recipe. We then racked into a single fermenter, a 15.9-gallon Speidel.

The recipe, including the water profile, follow. These kegs are already long gone because we really liked the beer, so tasting notes will follow quickly.

Target Numbers
Batch: 5 gallons
IBU: 55
SRM: 4
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.8%

Grains
8.25 lbs. Two-row pale
2.30 lbs. Rye malt
1.00 lbs. Flaked rye
0.35 lbs. CaraPils

Yeast
Wyeast 1056

Water Profile (San Diego)
Bicarbonate: 104 ppm
Calcium: 84 ppm
Chloride: 102 ppm
Magnesium: 15 ppm
Sodium: 64 ppm
Sulfate: 178 ppm

Hops
5.30 oz. Citra
4.45 oz. Centennial
3.05 oz. Chinook

Mash (60 minutes)
Saccharification: 152°F
Mash Out: 168°F
Sparge: 168°F

Boil (60 minutes)
60: 1.1 oz. Centennial
05: 1.1 oz. Centennial, 1.1 oz. Citra, 0.8 oz. Chinook
00: 1.5 oz. Citra, 0.75 oz. Chinook
Hopback: 1.0 oz. Citra, 1.0 oz. Centennial, 0.75 oz. Chinook

Fermentation
Primary (12 days): 68°F
Secondary (5 days): 68°F

Dry Hop
2.0 oz. Citra, 1.25 oz. Centennial, 0.75 oz. Chinook for 5 days

Tuesday
Dec162014

Tasting: Tropical DIPA

I’ll tip my hand right away: this is the beer that convinced us to be more aggressive when treating our brewing water.

The goal was to brew a brassy, tropical double IPA that was pale straw in color and jammed with fruit-forward hops---the kind of beer that basically screams summer. We got a good bit of the way there but fell clearly short aromatically. The recipe was appropriate, as were the brewing techniques, so we were left to wonder if something as simple and vital as water chemistry was holding us back.

Our standard brewing water is split evenly between the house’s bicarbonate-heavy well water and reverse-osmosis water that we buy at the store, and our water adjustments skew conservative. For some styles, this works perfectly well, but our hoppy beers have missed the mark the last few times, so clearly it’s time for a change.

Appearance

Pale straw with some hop haze. A white, two-finger head that lingers in large part because of the wheat in the grain bill.

Aroma

Pleasing notes of Simcoe and Citra with that fruity, grassy, rounded Mosaic character in the background. It’s the right aroma, but there’s not nearly enough of it for a double IPA. The aroma is muted, as it’s been in some of the straight-ahead IPAs we’ve brewed this year. This is the sort of beer you should be able to smell across a room. Clearly our hops aren’t bursting, even after double dry hopping, so work is needed.

Flavor

And yet the flavor’s there. It’s a juicy fruit bomb full of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit with a pleasing but not overwhelming bitterness. No notable flaws aside from a possible chlorinic hint deep in there. Adding a proper aroma to this will enhance the flavor even more.

Mouthfeel

Rounded and fleshed out by wheat, and yet still dry. Carbonation is about right.

Overall

A tasty beer for sure, but I can’t help but be disappointed because of the flaccid aromatics. We’re absolutely using appropriate hop quantities, so it’s likely a matter of water chemistry holding us back. For future hop-forward beers, we’re going to more aggressively treat our water with gypsum, CaCl, and salt to see if they give the hops the extra snap they’re missing. Once we dial in the water additions, we’ll give this beer another shot.