Chocolate Hazelnut Porter

>> Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This is round 2 of the Brewing Classic Styles recipes. For this one I tried scaling down to a half batch (2.5 gallons finished beer rather than 5). This ended up being kind of a pain because I designed my system for 5 gallon batches (e.g. the thermometer in my brew kettle was barely touching the wort with the half batch). So in the future I'll be sticking with full batches.

For this batch the domestic pale two-row is from Rahr and the Munich, Crystal 40, Crystal 80, Chocolate, and Black Patent malts are all from Briess. Hops are East Kent Goldings and Williamette. Per Jamil's recommendation, I'm omitting the late addition hops. Yeast is Wyeast 1056 California ale. The hazelnut extract is from Sunflower Market and is Flavorganics brand Organic Hazlenut Extract.

Brewing Notes: I ended up modifying my pick-up tube manifold. The original design got clogged with hops particles on the first run. This time I've added stainless steel hose braid to filter out hop particles. I'm using tea infuser balls to help keep hop particles contained.
We had a major snow storm last Saturday night, and a blizzard moved through last night. I was going to brew inside but my wife is busy preparing our Thanksgiving meal so I thought it best to brew outside and de-clutter the kitchen as much as possible. So there's a good 12 inches plus of snow on the ground and the temperature is a balmy 17 degrees. It's cold enough that I actually had some ice build up on the temperature probe wires. On the bright side, I should be able to chill 3 gallons down to pitching temperature in no time.

Update 1/2/2011: I just realized I never got around to publishing this post. I'm just getting around to bottling this one today. I ended up missing my starting gravity on this . This will likely be lower ABV than what Jamil intended. I went with 6ml of hazelnut extract. The hazelnut is there but it's subtle; very balanced with the dark chocolate. One note, the pick-up tube still partially clogged. Next time I'll try a stainless or copper scrubby and/or maybe hop bags.

P.S. 17 degrees is freaking cold for brewing. By the time I was wrapping things up the sun had started to go down and I was in the "shade". I'm not sure how cold it was but it was colder than 17. Before my next brew session, I tapped into my electrical so now I have the ability to brew in my garage. It's still cold, but it's warmer than outside.

Brew Day pic:

A couple days before Brew Day:


Carbon Water Filter

>> Saturday, November 13, 2010

This is another upgrade I'd been planning for a while. A carbon water filter helps remove chlorine which can contribute to off-flavors in beer. There's seems to be some debate on whether or not carbon filters can remove chloramines. I contacted my local water provider and at this time none of the water providers for West Jordan, Utah are using chloramines to treat the water, so this is good news for me.

My filter setup is pretty basic. On the "in" side I have a 3/4" hose adapter connected to a 3/4" nipple. On the "out" side I'm using a 3/4" male copper fitting soldered to a length of 3/4" copper pipe, to a copper elbow and another section of pipe. The filter is connected to the water faucet with a hose rated for drinking water.

To use it, I connect everything and set the flow rate fairly low. I could probably run it a bit higher, but I want to make sure the water has plenty of contact time with the carbon so as to remove as much chlorine as possible.


No Short Measure - Ordinary Bitter

I recently bought the book Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. The reason I bought it was Jamil has a reputation for brewing some great beer and I wanted to get a bit more familiar with classic styles and what differentiates each style. My goal is to brew most of these recipes at some point. I don't know that I'll brew every style, such as Light Lager because these sound too close to beers like Coors, Bud, etc. and I prefer a bit more flavor in my beer. I won't be posting the recipes here because I'm pretty sure that would violate copyright this is a great book so if you don't have it go out an buy a copy.

The recipe I'm brewing today is titled No Short Measure and is an Ordinary Bitter.

Brewing Notes: I've added a carbon filter to my equipment list and this is the first brew I'm using it on. I also picked up a digital kitchen scale for my daughter's science fair project, but this will also come in handy for accurately measuring brewing ingredients. I'm in the middle of the mash right now, but if all goes well this will also be the first batch that I use the whirlpool chiller on. Malts used for this recipe are Briess Crystal 120, Briess Special Roast, and Maris Otter pale 2-row. Yeast is Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale Yeast.


System Mods

>> Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I work in the HR industry, so I'm extremely busy in the Fall configuring open enrollment systems for my company's clients. After several weeks of what feels like 'round the clock work, I was starting to feel a little burned out. To help remedy this, I set aside a couple hours here and there to work on some system mods. I won't get too detailed here because these mods are well documented all over the web. The mods include:

  1. Weldless ball valve with pickup tube on brew kettle
  2. Weldless thermometer on brew kettle
  3. Improved immersion chiller connections
  4. Immersion chiller whirlpool capability
The ball valve and thermometer both involved drilling holes in by brew kettle. To drill stainless steel, use cutting fluid or some other type of lubricant (I used 3-in-1) and take it slow. Start off with a small drill bit and work your way up to a step drill bit that will allow you to drill out a 7/8" hole. Keep the RPM's low, use plenty of cutting fluid and use firm even pressure. Give it a rest every once in a while so that the heat can dissipate and your drill motor can cool off.

The valve has two benefits. First, I'll be able to put my pump to good use and whirlpool while I'm chilling my wort to pitching temperatures. Second, when it's chilled I'll be able to transfer the cooled wort directly to my fermenter. No more lifting to pour five+ gallons of wort. The pickup tube is based on the design featured in the BYO September 2009 issue.

The weldless thermometer will be used to monitor wort temps, both during the boil and while chilling.

The immersion chiller's connections originally consisted of plastic high-temp tubing slid over the copper tubing and secured with hose clamps. The problem was this didn't result in a snug fit. A couple times I had the pressure too high and chilling water was able to seep past the hose clamps and the drips almost fell into the wort. I added a second set of hose clamps and this seemed to help, but it still wasn't very secure. I tried compression fittings but they also tended to leak. This time I flared the copper tubing and used flare fittings. To flare the tubing I used the cheapest flaring kit available from Harbor Freight Tools. I think it ran me about $8. It's not the best tool available, but it works pretty good. Even with the garden hose going at full blast there are no leaks.

Lastly I added whirlpool capability to the chiller. It's based on Jamil Z's design as seen on The basic concept is wort flows from the ball valve on the kettle to the pump then is returned back to the boil kettle across the coils of the immersion chiller resulting in a whirlpool action in the boil kettle. This should cool the wort more quickly and prevent most break material from entering the fermenter. Now I just need to find some time to brew!


Smoke Jumper Rauchbier

>> Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I love smoked foods...ribs, pork shoulder, fish, brisket, cheeeeeeeese. Basically I've never had a smoke food that I didn't like. The first smoked beer I tried was Rauchbier from Eisenbahn Brewery located in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil. With the cooler months approaching it's time to brew up a batch of this flavorful beer.

I made this recipe for the first time last year and it turned out great. Last year I used Weyermann Rauch malt. I don't know if the grain was on the old side, but I couldn't detect any smokey aroma when I got it so just to be safe I ended up smoking it over hickory for about 45 minutes. This resulted in a nice smooth smoky flavor in the finished beer. This time I'm using Briess' Smoked Malt. It's smoked over cherry wood and Briess says it contributes a smooth sweet smokiness.

This is a lager and as such it's best to pitch a good sized starter. I started my yeast starter a few days ahead of brew day following John Palmer's instructions for a lager yeast starter. I believe there are a few commercial beers named Smoke Jumper. This is not intended to be a clone of any of the commercial offerings.

6.00 lb Smoked Malt (Briess)
4.00 lb Munich Type II (Weyermann)
1.00 lb Carared (Weyermann)
0.50 lb Caramunich II (Weyermann)
1.00 oz Tettnanger [4.50 %] (60 min) Hops
1 Pkgs Bavarian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2206) Yeast-Lager

The first time I made this I used a single infusion mash @153 for 75 minutes. I've been wanting to try a step mash so this time I mashed at 122 for 20 min, 149 for 30 min, 158 for 30 min and mashout at 170 for 10 min.

Pitch at 58 F and lower temp to 48 F over two days. Hold at 48 F for two weeks. Rack to secondary and lager at 35 F for 6 weeks.

Updated 11/13/2010 - I kegged this one this week. Sad to say but I'm very disappointed. I'm picking up some off-flavors in the form of band-aid like flavors. II think I made a critical error in the step mash by not first boiling the hot liquor water. As a result, I believe there was chlorine in the mash which resulted in unwanted phenols. On the upside, I've added a carbon water filter to my equipment list so hopefully I'll be able to avoid this in the future. I'm going to let this age a bit more and cross my fingers and hope for the best. First taste impressions give it an F grade.

Updated 12/12/2010 - I took some of this with me to the 2nd Annual Big Ass Holiday Beer Tasting last night. I'm pleased to say that the band-aid-like phenol has subsided, so this beer has definitely improved over the last month. This is an intensely smokey beer. It's not harsh like a peat smoked malt would be, but it is unmistakeably smokey for sure. The next time I make it, I'm thinking about a blend of traditional rauchmalt with the cherry-wood smoked malt, or perhaps increasing the Munich to try to give it a little more malt/smoke balance. At this point I'd give it a B-.


Cali Trip

>> Monday, August 23, 2010

We just got back from a family vacation to Southern California. While we were there we had a BBQ at my in-laws and my brother-in-law was nice enough to bring a couple growlers from TAPS Brewhouse in Brea, CA. Brewmaster Victor Novak makes some great beer so if you're in the area, I highly recommend checking them out. They'll also be at the GABF, so check them out.

I also made a trip to BevMo and picked up a few beers. Whenever I'm in Cali (or anywhere else) I always try to find some beers that aren't distributed in Utah.

  1. Allagash Curieux - A Tripel Ale aged in Jim Beam oak bourbon barrels for 8 weeks - 11% abv
  2. Dogfish Head Red & White - Malt beverage brewed with coriander & orange peel with Pinot noir juice concentrate added with 11% aged in Pinot noir barrels and 89% aged on oak barrel staves - 10% abv
  3. Rodenbach Classic Ale - Flanders Red-Brown Ale composed of three-quarters young beer and one-quarter beer matured for two years in oak - 5.2% ABV
  4. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer) Urbock - A full bodied smoked bock beer for Bamberg's strong beer season (October through December) in fall. Brewed already in the summer time, it is matured for months in the ancient Schlenkerla rock-cellars underneath Bamberg. - 6.5% ABV
  5. Stone Cali-Belgique IPA - A California style IPA brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. Not your typical IPA - 6.9% ABV
  6. Stone Smoked Porter - As the name implies, a Smoked Porter. I love smoked foods and not to toot my own horn, but I have a smoker and I make some pretty mean smoked ribs and a real nice porkvshoulder. I definitely likes the smoked beers as much as I likes a good smoked pig.


Great American Beer Festival 2010

>> Sunday, August 08, 2010

My wife and I just ordered tickets to the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. 2008 was the first year we went and the plan is to go every other year. When we went in 2008 my wife was fresh out of knee surgery so she was still on crutches. We rented a Rascal-type scooter for her to ride around the festival (I'm surprised she didn't get a DUI). It was a blast but it would have been more fun if she was more mobile. I got to try Sam Adams' Utopia which was awesome. Other notables were Maui Brewing Company's Coconut Porter, and orange blossom ales from several different breweries.

This year she's totally healthy so we're really looking forward to it. Some of our friends are joining us so that's an added bonus. In 2008 we did the Saturday Member Session. This year we're doing the Thursday night session. I've heard people say that sometimes the Friday and Saturday night sessions can turn into drunken frat parties, so since the Member Session was sold out, we opted for the Thursday night session. If you've never been the the GABF, I highly recommend it. It's a great time for serious beer enthusiasts and a great way to introduce newbies to the world of craft beer.


New Domain!!...and Turbodog update

>> Monday, August 02, 2010

So I finally bit the bullet and sank a whole whopping $10 to register the domain. .com was taken, but maybe it'll be available at some point.

Turbodog Update: The Turbodog turned out really well. My friend from Louisiana said flavor-wise it was indiscernible from the commercial version. The only real difference was he said the body/mouthfeel was slightly lighter than the commercial version. That can be tweaked fairly easily, so I'd call this a success.

I really liked this brew. I was a little concerned about tannins since the sparge was a few degrees higher than other recipes I've made. There are definitely some chocolate notes here, but it's not overpowering. The hops are there as well, but in a very complimentary way and not overpowering either. There are some really balanced flavors going on here. I'd give this brew a B+


Turbodog Clone

>> Saturday, June 12, 2010

A friend of mine at work is from the New Orleans area and raved about Abita Brewing Company's Turbodog Brown Ale. I tried some of their brews at the 2008 GABF but to be honest it was at the end of the session when things were a bit hazy and I can't really remember exactly which ones I tried.

Abita describes it as:
Turbodog is a dark brown ale brewed with Willamette hops and a combination of pale, crystal and chocolate malts. This combination gives Turbodog its rich body and color and a sweet chocolate toffee-like flavor. Turbodog began as a specialty ale but has gained a huge loyal following and has become one of our flagship brews.

This ale pairs well with most meats and is great served with hamburgers or sausages. It is a good match with smoked fish and can even stand up to wild game dishes. Turbodog is also great for marinating and braising meats and cooking such things as cabbage and greens. Colby, Gloucester, Cheddar and Blue cheeses go nicely with Turbodog. It’s perfect with spicy Louisiana jambalaya or Spanish paella. Some even like it paired with chocolate!
I cracked open BYO's 150 Classic Clone Recipes and since I haven't brewed a brown ale for a long time I figured it'd be a great time to try this brew. The recipe as I'm brewing it is as follows:

9.75 lbs Munton's Pale 2 row
1.25 lbs Briess Crystal 80 (BYO's calls for Crystal 100 but my LHBS doesn't carry it so I went with 80)
.5 lbs Briess Chocolate Malt
.6 oz Chinook hops (90 minutes)
1.25 oz Williamette hops (5 mins)
1.5 oz Williamette hops (0 mins)
White Labs WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast

Mash with 17.25 quarts of water at 152 F for 45 minutes then raise the temp to 172 F for five minutes, then sparge at 172 F.

Follow the above hop schedule letting the wort rest for 15 minutes before chilling after the last hop addition.

Ferment at 65 F for 5-6 days. Cool to 45 F for 7 days then keg/bottle.

Rating: B+


Berliner Weisse

I got to try a Berliner Weisse inspired brew at the 2008 GABF. The tartness reminded me of a lambic which is another style that I really enjoy and plan on brewing sometime in the next year (I have a couple bags of homegrown hops "aging" in the garage). I brewed the following recipe back in late April. I bottled it about a month ago but I suspect it will need to age at least three months to get the amount of sourness I'm looking for.

3 lbs pilsner malt
2.5 pounds pale wheat malt
.5 oz Kent Goldings for 15 min
White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kolsch yeast
White Labs WLP677 Lactobacillus Bacteria

I mashed at 149 F for 90 minutes then collected approx 3 gallons of wort. I added water for about 5.3 gallons boil volume and performed a 15 minute boil. I pitched the lacto after chilling to about 80 F then pitched the yeast a day later. I'll post a follow-up in July or August after this has had some time to age and hopefully get nice and sour.

Update 8/2/2010: I tried some of this on 7/4/2010 and again on 8/1/2010. It's still not quite as tart as I'd like, but it was noticeably more tart on 8/1/2010 than 7/4/2010. I like this but it's different than the Berliner Weisse inspired brew that I had at the 2008 GABF. It definitely has some funk going on, but in a good way. In one sense, it has some similarities to some of the Belgian styles. I think this will improve with age and I'd make it again but will probably do a little tweaking. As of 8/1/2010, I'd rate this a C+/B-


Blanche De Chambly Clone

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

The basement project is finally wrapping up which hopefully means I'll have time to brew more. Yesterday I brewed a clone of Blanche De Chambly from Unibroue. My wife and I had the opportunity to try this beer last summer at Uva Bar located in Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA. The brewer describes this beer as:

"Blanche de Chambly has an alluring pale golden color, effervescent foam and a subtle bouquet of spice and citrus notes. It is a mildly malty, sightly sweet and refreshingly thirst-quenching."

I searched the net for a clone recipe and ended up combining a couple.

  • 5 lbs Pilsen (Dingemans) (1.6 SRM)
  • 4 lbs 8.0 oz White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)
  • 1.00 oz Hersbrucker [4.25 %] (60 min) Hops 14.5 IBU (my LHBS was out of Hersbrucker so I substituted Strisselspalt)
  • 0.13 oz Ginger, Grated (Boil 10.0 min)
  • 0.25 oz Coriander Seed, crushed (Boil 10.0 min)
  • 0.25 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 10.0 min)
  • 8.0 oz Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM)
  • 1 Pkgs Belgian Wit Ale (White Labs #WLP400)
I mashed in 3 gallons of water at 152 for 70 minutes. I sparged with 5 gallons at 169. In hindsight I think I should have increased my water to grain ratio because I was barely able to collect enough wort.

The brew showed active signs of fermentation this morning and by the time I got home from work today it was going like crazy. The fermentation was so active that I ended up swapping the airlock for a blow-off tube.

Update: I didn't do a side by side tasting, but I'd say this is very very close in appearance and flavor to Blanche De Chambly. This will be one that I will brew again for sure, so I highly recommend it. We've had it on tap for a few weeks now and my wife commented that it's like "summer in a glass". We also had some friends over for a beer tasting party and everyone raved about it. I'd rate this an A

Update 8/9/2010: I brewed this one again today. The LHBS was out of Hersbrucker and Strisselspalt this time, so I went with Mt. Hood.