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On Tap at the Farmhouse

Tap 1: Belgian Pale Ale (with EKG and Mosaic)

Tap 2: American Pale Ale (with Mosaic, Nelson, and Columbus)

Tap 3: Oak-Smoked Rye Saison

Primary: American IPA, Singel

Upcoming: American Wild Ale, Gose

Events

 

Come thirsty! We are bringing four kegs and a CASK!

Public tasting & voting! Raleigh Brewing Company - Saturday, December 14 2013 at 5pm

 

Tuesday
Apr152014

Brew Day: Single

We should have thought of this years ago.

Lara and I both love homebrewing---meaning, it’s far more than my hobby and her burden to bear---so it makes sense for us to run simultaneous brew days. We mash a 10-gallon batch, then transfer into separate kettles. The malt bill remains the same, but each of us is free to experiment with boil length and vigor, hops, and yeast. It adds maybe half an hour to our brew day.

That’s what we did this past weekend: I brewed an IPA for some friends’ wedding next month, and Lara took the same wort and brewed a Belgian-style single.

The single, which began as a table beer for monastery consumption only, occasionally pops up in the market, but not nearly enough for our taste. Granted, it’s not the sexiest style. It lacks the brawn of triples, and the rich depth of doubles and quads. Look elsewhere for crisp, peppery vigor, too, because this is mellower than a saison. But that’s kind of the point. It’s all about subtle balance.

(Hardywood Park brews a great single. If you’re ever in Richmond, Virginia, grab a few bottles.)

For this batch, we kept IBUs in the very low 20s and hopped with Strisselspalt, a delicate, low-alpha hop that we really like to use in our saisons. Our ABV will probably be just above 5%, which is probably a little high for the style, but I didn’t want to push much lower for the IPA being brewed alongside this beer. As a standalone single, we’d probably aim for 4.5% ABV.

Fermentation took off within a few hours in the high 60s. It’s warming up quickly here in North Carolina, but hopefully we’ll manage to keep our fermentation temperature from climbing too far into the 70s. We don’t want to drink sessionable bubblegum solvent.

Target Numbers
Batch: 5 gallons
Grains: 11 lbs.
SRM: 5.7
IBU: 21
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.008
ABV: 5.3%

Grains
8.25 lbs. Two-row pale
1.75 lbs. Vienna
0.60 lbs. CaraFoam
0.50 lbs. Crystal 40

Hops
2.00 oz. Strisselspalt (2.3% AA)
0.50 oz. Glacier (5.6% AA)

Yeast
300 mL Wyeast 3522 (Ardennes)

Water
8.8 gallons Raleigh city water/Stone House well water blend

Extras
1 Whirlfloc tablet
0.5 tsp. yeast nutrient

Mash (75 minutes)
Saccharification rest: 153
°F
Mash out: 168
°F
Fly sparge: 168
°F

Boil (90 minutes)
60: 2.00 oz. Strisselspalt, 0.50 oz. Glacier

Fermentation
Pitch: 69
°F
Primary: 71
°F

Friday
Mar282014

Tasting: Oak-Smoked Saison 2

We brewed this beer last month in something of a pro-am situation: Lara and me huddling over our keggles while a couple of pros knocked out a test batch for their brewery on the other side of the room. It’s a fun brewing atmosphere. 

As mentioned in our brew day post, this is a darker saison featuring rye, oak-smoked wheat, Special B, and aromatic malt. The original batch (from 2012) was a little too light on smoked malt, and I felt it didn’t quite highlight the specialty malts enough, so we adjusted accordingly.

Let’s see how we did.

Aroma
For a beer featuring the word “smoked,” you might expect smoked malt to lead the aromatic charge, but it doesn’t. That’s largely due to our preference for the subtler, mellower character of oak-smoked wheat over the aggressive, throaty smoked malts like cherrywood-smoked and friends. The smoked wheat is in the aroma, but it’s a very mild note. The first thing that hits you is the yeast: a hint of peachy bubblegum sweetness backed by nice peppery phenols. Special B is there with its raisin and plum notes, making the beer smell almost like a dubbel.

Flavor
We’d be in trouble if we fermented this beer any warmer. As is, it has plenty of the same peachy bubblegum esters that stand out in the aroma, but they’re not cloying. They give way to a phenolic streak that’s no doubt enhanced by the smoked wheat. As in the aroma, smoked wheat isn’t boldly present, but it’s there, a spicy note behind the yeast and Special B’s dark fruits. It’s tasty and fairly complex. I do wonder what a slightly more aggressive smoked presence would do to the yeast’s flavors.

Appearance
Coppery with reddish tones. Definitely on the dark side for a saison, but that’s part of the plan for this particular beer. The color’s right about where I want it. Clarity is impressive, thanks largely to a fairly flocculent yeast (for a Belgian strain, at least) and a very effective cold break. On top of that is a big foamy white head that laces just a little as it reduces. After a few minutes, the head fades to a persistent ring.

Mouthfeel
The carbonation isn’t quite as tight and effervescent as I like in a saison, but it’s lively enough for the style. Bottle conditioning will provide that saison burst in future batches if we’re desperate to capture it. It’s a dry beer---dryer than you might first expect given the abundance of flavors. Our saisons are often slightly dryer than this one (closer to 1.004 than this beer’s 1.008), but this beer definitely doesn’t commit that typical American saison sin: heavy perceived sweetness.

Overall Impression
I like this beer. It’s a refreshing ale that we designed as an autumn evening sipper (hence the subtle smoke, dark fruit character, and coppery body), but it works well on a warm spring evening, too. I’d like to dry the next batch a few more gravity points, but it’s a minor note. This saison really isn’t cloying or heavy on the tongue.

The real question is the smoked malt. It’s going to be too subtle for some people. It might even be too subtle for me because I do want to try future variations with more oak-smoked wheat and possibly even a pinch of more traditional smoked malts---ideally landing somewhere between this beer and Stone Brewing’s Matt’s Burning Rosids. A smokier version likely won’t win out in our house though. Lara really doesn’t like smoked beer, and I know she likes where this particular one is right now: a subtle touch of smoke tucked between the yeast and darker specialty malts. If our terminus is no more than a couple knob turns from where we are now, I honestly can’t complain.

Sunday
Mar162014

Brew Day: Transatlantic Pale Ales

One mash, two boils...or how to cast a wide net in a homebrew contest. 

Our local club, Nash Street Homebrew Club, hosts its first competition this spring, a one-style contest focusing on pale ales. That leaves members open to brewing American, Belgian, and English versions and seeing how they fare in one big BJCP judgment stew.

Lara and I each plan to submit a beer, so we mashed an 11-gallon batch and split it in two---5.5 gallons for me to brew an appropriately stinky American IPA and 5.5 gallons so Lara could take a spicy, earthy Belgian turn.

Here’s to having multiple burners and propane tanks taking up space in your house.

Both beers will come from the same simple, light grist: an abundance of two-row pale malt kissed with Vienna, Crystal 40, and CaraPils. The base recipe for both is the Mosaic/Nelson Sauvin IPA we like to brew a couple times a year, but being that this is a BJCP-leaning competition, we upped the Crystal 40 to push closer to the color range of Belgian pale ale. If the judges strictly follow the beer guide, the Belgian pale will get dinged for its lighter color, but I’m okay with that in the interest of brewing something I prefer to drink. If there’s one thing that bums me out, it’s a pale ale that tastes like crystal malt.

Beyond the mash, though, we should have two very different end products. Lara and I have our own hop bills and kettle schedules, and clearly plan to pitch vastly different yeasts.

My American take will be a lot like the Mosaic/Nelson Sauvin IPA, relying on huge late hop additions and a clean, neutral American ale yeast.

Lara, meanwhile, used primarily Styrian Goldings in the boil plus restrained late additions of Mosaic. (Again, not exactly to style, but screw it.) Her yeast will be a blend of Wyeast’s Ardennes strain and Ommegang’s house strain.

On to the recipes.

AMERICAN PALE ALE (PAUL)

Target Numbers
Batch: 5.5 gallons
Grains: 10.8 lbs.
SRM: 6.8
IBU: 39
OG: 1.051
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.3%

Grains
7.40 lbs. Two-row pale
2.00 lbs. Vienna
0.90 lbs. Crystal 40
0.50 lbs. CaraPils

Hops
3.25 oz. Mosaic (12.0% AA)
3.25 oz. Nelson Sauvin (12.0% AA)
1.25 oz. Columbus (14.0% AA)
0.40 oz. Simcoe (13.0% AA)

Water
12 gallons Durham city water/well water blend

Yeast
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

Extras
1 Whirlfloc tablet
0.5 tsp. Yeast nutrient

Mash (90 minutes)
Saccharification: 4.4 gallons @ 150°F
Mash out: 168°F
Fly sparge: 7.6 gallons @ 168°F

Boil (90 minutes)
60: 0.50 oz. Columbus
05: 0.75 oz. Mosaic, 0.75 oz. Nelson Sauvin, 0.40 oz. Simcoe
00: 1.00 oz. Mosaic, 1.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin, 0.50 oz. Simcoe

Fermentation
Pitch: 63
°F
Primary: 68
°F
Secondary: 68
°F (1.50 oz. Mosaic, 1.50 oz. Nelson Sauvin, 0.75 oz. Columbus for 8 days)

BELGIAN PALE ALE (LARA)

Target Numbers
Batch: 5.5 gallons
Grains: 10.8 lbs.
SRM: 6.8
IBU: 27
OG: 1.051
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.3%

Grains
7.40 lbs. Two-row pale
2.00 lbs. Vienna
0.90 lbs. Crystal 40
0.50 lbs. CaraPils

Hops
1.75 oz. Styrian Goldings (5.4% AA)
2.00 oz. Mosaic (12.0% AA)

Water
12 gallons Durham city water/well water blend

Yeast
Wyeast 3522 (Ardennes)
Ommegang house yeast

Extras
1 Whirlfloc tablet
0.5 tsp. Yeast nutrient

Mash (90 minutes)
Saccharification: 4.4 gallons @ 150°F
Mash out: 168°F
Fly sparge: 7.6 gallons @ 168°F

Boil (90 minutes)
90: 0.75 oz. Styrian Goldings
20: 0.50 oz. Styrian Goldings
10: 0.50 oz. Mosaic
00: 1.00 oz. Mosaic

Fermentation
Pitch: 63
°F
Primary: 68
°F
Secondary: 68
°F (0.5 oz. Mosaic, 0.5 oz. Styrian Goldings for 6 days)

Monday
Feb102014

Brew Day: Oak-Smoked Saison 2

We last brewed a smoked saison in 2012. The results were good, but we simply never revisited it despite the fact that every fourth beer or so we make is some form of saison.

The tasting notes were positive but did mention potential changes, specifically an increase in oak-smoked wheat and dark specialty malts. I let that be my guide in crafting this revised recipe. This time, we used 10% oak-smoked wheat (up from 7.5%) and 5.6% Special B (up from 4.5%). We increased the amount of aromatic malt, as well, but only very, very marginally to keep the percentage roughly the same as before as we scaled the recipe.

I know you’re generally supposed to change only one factor at a time as you hone recipes, but...yeah, I didn’t care.

Bonus fact: We hauled our system over to our friend Andrew’s house so we could brew in the shadow of a pilot batch being crafted for Mystery Brewing. Another bonus fact: A seef bier mash tastes like marshmallows.

This saison is a little bigger than we prefer our saisons to be. Ours usually stay south of 6% ABV. Oddly enough, we missed our starting gravity by quite a bit. We expected 1.067 but ended up pitching the yeast into 1.052 wort. The grains weren’t remotely sweet after we sparged, so we didn’t leave much sugar behind. We also boiled for 90 minutes. Our evaporation rate is a little lower in the keggles we brew with now than it was in our old stainless kettle, but the statistical difference doesn’t add up anywhere near 15 missing gravity points. My guess? Something was measured incorrectly for us at the homebrew store. It’s not a big deal and has never happened before, so let’s just roll with this beer and see what happens.

Obviously this could screw with the recipe’s balance because, if anything’s missing, it’s base grain. I’m still perfectly optimistic about this batch, though. Even if by accident, I’m happy to drink a 5.9% ABV saison.

Mash Face means businessTarget Numbers
Batch: 6 gallons
Grains: 14.25 lbs.
SRM: 14
IBU: 30
OG: 1.067
FG: 1.007
ABV: 7.2%

Grains
10.8 lbs. Belgian pilsner
2.25 lbs. Rye
1.40 lbs. Oak-smoked wheat
0.80 lbs. Special B
0.20 lbs. Aromatic

Hops
1.10 oz. East Kent Goldings (7.2% AA)
2.25 oz. Saaz (4.0% AA)

Yeast
600 mL slurry Wyeast 3711 (French saison)

Water
13.2 gallons Durham city water

Mash (75 minutes)
Saccharification rest: 5.9 gallons at 149
°F
Mash out: 168
°F
Fly sparge: 7.3 gallons at 168
°F

Boil (90 minutes)
60: 1.10 oz. East Kent Goldings
20: 0.75 oz. Saaz
10: 0.75 oz. Saaz, 1 tsp. yeast nutrient, 1 Whirlfoc tablet

Fermentation
Pitch: 62
°F
Primary: 69
°F
Secondary: 69
°F (0.75 oz. Saaz for 5 days)

Saturday
Feb082014

Tasting: Citra Pale Ale

This Citra pale ale is meant to be an aromatic beast. It’s 6-gallon batch that’s very light in specialty malts and contains nearly a full pound of hops. 

As with most hop-forward beers we brew, it’s meant to be dry so we can focus on hop flavor, but we used a yeast strain (Denny’s Favorite 50) known for a slightly fuller mouthfeel despite the fact that the beer would finish near 1.010. In other words, this should be juicy, tropical, smooth, and sessionable.

Aroma

A burst of Citra hops: fleshy tropical fruit and a pleasant mustiness. Some of Pacific Jade’s pepper and citrus poke, through, as well, which is expected since we used the hop as a background note in this otherwise Citra-dominated beer. The aroma is very pleasant but not as pungent as I’d like. The hop charge was definitely adequate to give us a bigger aroma, so I suspect we may have simply overloaded the hop bags to the point that we couldn’t fully sink them into the beer with the aquarium stones we usually use for the job. This might also mean we didn’t quite have ideal surface area exposure.

Flavor

Bitterness. Just bitterness. For all the big doses of late-boil hops, I taste surprisingly little of them. Instead, bitterness dominates. The perceived bitterness is too high for an American pale ale, and it definitely distracts from the delicate, deep flavors you’d expect from Citra and Jade.

A friend who tasted it said that the bitterness felt disconnected from the rest of the beer, as if it’s from another ale and makes it difficult to taste the good beer behind it. I think this is exactly right. I carefully measured our bittering dose of HopShots, expecting about 45 clean IBUs, but I have to think something went wrong here. The bitterness may be clean, but it absolutely feels disconnected from everything else. It’s certainly not a bad flavor, but I’m disappointed.

Appearance

Caramel-gold. A slight haze that’s likely due to dry hopping. It’s a pretty beer with a white, foamy head that lingers.

Mouthfeel

The carbonation is pleasant. It’s just enough to lift the beer along your tongue. The body’s nice, as well. We mashed a touch higher than we tend to mash hoppy beers and fermented with Denny’s Favorite 50, so we have a beer with a respectable sense of fullness despite a low finishing gravity and minimal sweetness.

Overall Impression

We can do better. I’m certainly not turned off the idea of using HopShots for bittering, but I do wonder whether it’s the culprit of our disconnected bitterness. If nothing else, I likely used a little too much. I’ll also pay more attention to how heavily I pack my hop bags when I dry hop so that they both sink fully into the beer and achieve maximum surface area.

For now, we’ll enjoy one step on a journey toward a great beer and try again soon.