Some new homebrew adventures!
Sup ya’ll. I’ve been busy over the last few weeks prepping my homebrew stash for several events including Halloween, UMass Homecoming Weekend, and other private beer events that I’m holding by myself. Plenty to update yous guyses on!
I am Vermont Strong Amber Maple Ale: This came out of the secondary fermenter last week, and will be unveiled tonight. The initial tastings from primary came out nice and clean, a crisp and balanced amber ale that left the canvas open for the maple infusion. The “house” re-cultivated WLP002 strain worked awesomely. I hit the secondary with 0.5 gallons of Grade B Vermont Maple Syrup ($30 a 0.5 gallon, I wasn’t about to spring for another). This started a second fermentation stage due to the added sugar, so I had to wait an extra week before bottling it. I primed with a boiled mixture of gyle (unfermented wort siphoned from the initial boil), more maple syrup, and some (1/3 cup) brown sugar since I was feeling frisky. The flavor coming out of the secondary wasn’t maple-y enough for my liking, so I hit it with the brown sugar and the maple syrup to hopefully get some of those nice unfermentables in there (maple character from the syrup, molasses character from the brown sugar). I’ll let you know how it goes tonight!
UPDATE: Although I didn’t taste the beer last night, I threw some in the fridge for this afternoon. I also realized I never linked my recipe, which in lieu of being posted on the recipes page, you should check out the link to my Brewprint profile – where I outline some recipes and try to receive feedback from other homebrewers.
Oompah! Oktoberfest Ale: I learned a lot from this batch. For one, brewing in the summer is tough – my setup is enslaved to the outdoor temperature since I don’t possess AC, and the English Ale yeast fermented at around 75-78F for 2 weeks. The attenuation left something to be desired (1019 after the primary), and the primary fermenter tasting came out estery and a little phenolic. I did some dry hopping with 2 oz of low-alpha Liberty to try to fix what would’ve been a really bad mistake, and succeeded to some degree – the phenolic tastes are gone but you can definitely taste booze in this beer, which is a poor showing at 5.2%. I guess they were right… session beers are tough! But it just goes to show you that fermentation is the most important step in any brewing process. Controlling temperature, sanitation, and time schedule is crucial to bringing out the best in any recipe. This being said, the end product has a bit of fruit to it (pineapple, grapefruit, and orange) that finishes clean and leaves a bit of lingering bitterness on the back of the palate – not too shabby! So even though I didn’t hit my target of a malty, balanced ale, the beer is still pretty delish and is half gone already.
Bombers of both of these brews will be aged as well (for considerably less time than my Decadance stout, which is coming up on 11 months this week) to see how bottle aging treats them.
Up next, I ordered a Pumpkin Beer kit online and it’s arrived! If I can finally get some time to myself next week, I’ll be putting it in for a late addition to an already-chock full market of pumpkin beer competition. The catch is, ManofSteele will be brewing with pumpkin puree a la Harpoon Pumpkin UFO, and I’ll be brewing with fresh-cut, roasted pumpkin. Consider this an attest to our love for experimentation and difference in tastes – or you could just call us crazy.
On a separate note, my absence can be attributed to my recent employment at the Sunset Cantina in Brookline, MA. They pour 38 rotating taps of craft beer there, a.k.a. I’m in bartending heaven. It will expose me to brews that I’ve never before heard of and let me yak about my obsession to people who will actually *PAY* to listen to me. Unlike you cheapskates, who just read my rants for free. (donations can be sent to…) Come visit me! Make sure you ask for Mark O… otherwise you won’t hear my ramblings. But everyone else is cool too.