Tales of Homebrewing

Since I’ve taken such a long break from blogging, I feel like I need to update a few readers on the status of my homebrewing adventures.  While perhaps not my most popular posts of all time, they also get some of the most thought provoking responses.  Anyway, right now I have three different brews I’ve created since my last homebrew posting, and I’m working on a brand new one right now.

Hoppy Groundhog Dark Shadow – Black IPA

This past birthday I hit a minor lifetime achievement by reaching the age of 30.  I say minor because everybody does it.  While ithoppy groundhog labels feels like a kinda big deal to the person involved, it’s probably not nearly as big as we all make it out to be.  Anyway, I had decided to brew this beer right around Christmas, and it was ready right around my birthday (Groundhogs Day), so I figured name it after the holiday that shares my birthday.  Overall it’s probably my favorite beer I’ve brewed thus far.  I like one of the ones a little further down on the list here, but I think this one is still an all around better beer.  I actually entered it in a homebrew competition, but I’m an idiot and just put it in the IPA category and not specialty beers.  I was basically disqualified. It’s a bit heavier and more roasted than your typical black IPA, but I think that’s what I like about it.  The hops don’t blow you away, but I think they are present enough to still have it hold strong as a black IPA.

Heisenberg Honey Wheat

This beer was an attempt to take a different direction.  I had been hanging out in the realm of dark beers for a while, and I wanted to make something lighter and easier drinking for the summer.  I saw this recipe online, so I tweaked it a little to make my own.  The beer has about a pound of orange blossom honey added rather late (last five minutes) to the boil.  It helps to make the beer a bit sweeter, but I did run into a slight issue on this one while brewing.  My parents had gotten me a wort chiller for Christmas, so I wanted to make use of it.  Unfortunately, since I was still brewing on my stove, I lost the boil when I put the chiller in to sanitize.  Therefore, the honey wasn’t really added during a boil.  I tried to compensate for the mistake, but it may have effected the outcome.  Lately the hops have really kicked up on this one, so it’s kind of like a hoppy honey wheat.  Ultimately I had to pay tribute to one of my favorite Vigilantes. However, I’m not sure you can still think of him as a vigilante.  Is Walter more of a villain now?

Pretentious Hopster – Red IPA

About a year ago I tried to make an imperial IPA that was probably my biggest disappointment as a homebrewer.  The bottles never managed to carbonate, and I ended up with 48 bottles of syrup.  Ultimately, other than the black IPA, it’s been my only Pretentious Heisenbergattempts at making a hoppy beer.  I love IPAs and hops, so I felt like I needed to have another go at it.  I decided to make it a red ale for the fun of it as well.  While this beer wasn’t problem free, I solved my issue with the chiller by purchasing a propane burner for use in the backyard.  This of course helped keep temperature up, but I instead had to handle a boil over or two.  I guess I need to learn how to control temperature a little better with my new toy.  The only other issue I had was with clarity.  There is a fine line of soot at the bottom of each bottle, but with a careful pour, it isn’t too much of a big deal.  This is probably my most aromatic beer to date, and it has some great hop flavor.  It’s only been drinkable for a week, but the malts are beginning to kick up to help balance it out.  Pretentious Hopster was the name of my failed double IPA, and I couldn’t let a great name like that go to waste.

Peppercorn Blonde (yet unnamed)

The next brew I’m aiming to create is for my late summer month consumption.  Within the span of a week or so I enjoyed a number of beers that feature peppercorns as the special ingredient.  Ultimately, that was all the inspiration I needed to look at giving my next beer a little spice.  One of the beers I had was a saison (which I have already brewed) and the other was a rye beer (which I hear doesn’t work well when you are doing extract brewing); therefore, I decided to choose a bit of a different summery type of style for my peppercorn usage.  A nice Belgian Blonde seemed like the right way to go. The recipe is still being finalized, but I would love to hear any suggestions for how to make this beer great.  I’m also a little unsure of when to add the peppercorns.  I thought I would add 2 ounces in the last five minutes of brewing and then add an ounce or two to secondary fermentation.  Has anyone worked with peppercorn before?  Is that overdoing it?  Just have to ask.

I’m slowly working my way away from extract brewing and into all-grain, but I have quite a few expenses coming my way, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep it moving just yet.  I’ll get there eventually.  For now I’m just having a good time.

peppercorns

Brasserie Artisinale et Didactique du Flo – Cuvee du Flo Blonde

The title of this beer is a serious mouthful.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking a beer that is titled something so long.  This is actually the final beer from my Rare Beer Club birthday present I got from my wife in February.  Evidently this beer is the definition of rare.   Brasserie Artisinale is a very small brewery out of eastern Wallonia, apparently about an hour from Brussels, that displays the owners love for both beer and teaching.  It seems like a rare beer a teacher like myself can get behind.  The owner, Didier Cornet, opens his brewery up to people who want to be taught about beer, and also, have the opportunity to brew their own under the supervision of a pro.  He will take them from the mashing all the way to the bottling.  I wish I could actually get to this brewery.

Interestingly any of the brews coming out of this brewery with the title “du Flo” on them are brewed specially by the creator of this unique brewery.  Surprisingly, based on the literature I received with the bottle, it sounds like some of the other bottles sold from this brewery are actually creations of the students.  Beer coming out of this brewery is typically only available in the local town and in a few place in Brussels.  They apparently only produce 125 barrels, or around 4,000 gallons, a year.  I know one homebrewer who might be trying to catch them.  Therefore, this is a pretty rare beer, and it makes me once again wonder if I should really re-up on my membership to this club.

This particular style of beer is a Blonde.  I have actually had very few Belgian blondes over the course of my beer research; however, I know I’ve had a few.  Looking into the style a little bit, it seems like it is essentially a beer that is known as a pale, fruity, clear, and crisp beer.  I can’t say I’ve never really jumped at the style.  There are many Belgian styles I’m a big fan of.  I like a good dubble, trippel, wit, or saison, but I can’t say I’ve sought out a lot of blonde ales.  I guess the name has been a slight turn off for me.  It’s probably why I’ve waited on this one.  Even though I’m not a huge fan of the style, I was still interested in trying this one after reading up on the brewery a little.

This one pours out a super golden yellow color, which I am typically quite scared of.  There is a ton of big white fluffy head that develops on top of the beer.  Thankfully while the color of the beer gets me nervous, it is the ample amount of head that makes me think it’ll all be okay in the end.  There is some light lacing, but you really don’t get any sticky leftover residue at all.  The beer is a little bit hazier than I was expecting, but you can see a lot of carbonation in the glass for sure.

The biggest smell I pull out of the aroma is the big hit of yeast.  The citrus is definitely there as well; however, it is isn’t powerful enough to outshine the ample yeast.  The yeast has some pretty big spicy clove to it.  The citrus is a lot of orange, but I am also getting some very pleasant lemony scents as well.  The beer has a very bready feel, and it seems to come across very earthy as well.

The beer intros with some light sweet malts.  This is met with a lot of light lemony citrus tastes.  The light and pleasant flavors are short lived because the big bold yeast comes in quickly.  The yeast has even more spice to it than I’m accustomed to.  There is some of that big spicy bold clove, but the spice seems to extend past the normal realms of what is normally brought on by clove solely.  It has a heavy bite to it.  The ample orangey citrus comes in following the yeast and transitions the beer towards its completion.  There is a lot of spice on the ending with some residual citrus and some very light hops.

The mouthfeel consists of carbonation throughout the entirety of the flavor development.  There is an ample amount of yeast and spice to interact with the carbonation to create a lot of activity on the mouth.  It has a very crisp and refreshing feel, but it is almost slightly thrown off by the inclusion of the ample spice.  I actually like how the spice manages to give it a little more complexity.

While I can almost guarantee you can’t find this beer, I would definitely encourage anyone to purchase it.  I thought it was a great beer that build a little more confidence for me in the style.  I would be interested to know if anyone else has had anything from this brewery.  I want to know if they are known for creating some pretty amazing beers.  I was pretty impressed with this first one for sure.

Teacher Grade: B+

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