Jeff Longland

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Archive for December 2012

MoreBeer Interview with Vinnie Cilurzo

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Vinnie Cilurzo is the brewmaster for Russian River Brewing Company – a brewery with cult status. Famous for IPAs like Pliny the ElderPliny the Younger, Blind Pig, and increasingly their sour and barrel-aged beers.  I came across this interview on YouTube yesterday and put it into a playlist.  It’s largely unedited and a bit rough around the edges – but it’s a detailed history of how Vinnie got into brewing and how they make their beers today.  As a home brewer, a really informative view into the professional brewing world.  Really great to see MoreBeer providing this type of content – would be nice if they did a series profiling California brewers.


Written by jlongland

December 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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Zythos and Golden Promise SMaSH

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Zythos and Golden Promise SMaSHI first read about SMaSH beers on HomeBrewTalk and Northern Brewer forums.  I was intrigued by using a single malt (SM) and single hop (SH), but didn’t give it too much thought.  It was Drew Beechum’s session at the National Homebrewers Conference (NHC) that really got me thinking about SMaSH opportunities.  A few weeks ago, I planned to take my gear to Bob’s house for a brew day… but I didn’t know what to brew.  As I was packing up, I assessed what was at hand: Golden Promise malt, some Wyeast 1469, and a bunch of hops.  I quickly decided to attempt another ‘American bitter’.

Last winter, I tried to brew an English bitter with citrusy American hops, but the bitterness was too overpowering for the style.  Even in small amounts, I found that any Falconer’s Flight bittering addition was too much.  Having previously read about hop bursting, I thought this might be a good opportunity to forgo the bittering addition in lieu of a big hop addition late in the boil.  To keep some consistency with my earlier attempts, Zythos seemed a good choice (and thanks to Bob for contributing his 28g sample from NHC).  My hope was to emphasize the hop flavours and minimize bitterness – a golden pale ale with subtle American hop citrus and light bitterness.

In many ways, this recipe was an experiment: single malt, single hop, and a single hop addition.  But it was also the first time I used yeast nutrient and oxygen.  As the boil came to an end, Bob brought out an oxygen tank and oxygenation system.  After 60 minutes of boiling, wort doesn’t have much oxygen left in it..  Injecting 1-2 minutes of oxygen prior to pitching the yeast helps to create the right environment for yeast reproduction.  Anecdotally, this batch had the most vigorous fermentation that I’ve observed in two years of homebrewing.  And given the results…  I’ve already purchased my own oxygen tank, oxygenation system, and a vial of yeast nutrient.

If you want to learn more about SMaSH, Drew was interviewed in a recent BeerSmith podcast. He also has an article ‘Brewing on the Ones’ in the November/December 2012 issue of Zymurgy (subscription required, unfortunately)

Appearance –  Straw. 1/2″ of foamy white head, diminishing to a ring of fine bubbles around the outside of the glass.  Minimal lacing. Quite clear!

Aroma – Not a whole lot of aroma.  Light malts and a very subtle pine note.  Maybe a little orange?

Taste – Sweet malts from start to finish, with stone fruit yeast esters.  Surprisingly earthy.  Is Zythos known for being earthy?  Mild orange and lemon hops arrive mid-taste and bitterness is on the finish.  The finish is a bit sweet – almost like honey – it nicely balances out the bitterness.  The after taste is dry, slightly bitter, with lingering fruitiness.  Slight spiciness throughout.

Mouthfeel – Carbonated exactly how I like my bitters.  Every sip brings a light layer of bubbles to the surface.  Just enough carbonation to offset the sweetness of the beer.  Wyeast 1469 is frequently said to create a ‘chewy beer’ and with a final gravity of 1.014, this has a nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability/Notes – Very, very drinkable.  I like the sweetness from the Golden Promise and the fruity esters from the West Yorkshire yeast – they’re well complimented by the restrained use of Zythos.  I’d prefer if this was about 4.5% ABV, but I won’t complain about a bit of extra alcohol.  I’ve read that Golden Promise can add a sweetness and I think that’s what I’m getting from this beer.  A wee bit of crystal or rye could take a beer like this in a very different, very good direction.  I’m really happy that I tried this experiment, especially the single hop addition at 15m.  It’s my first attempt at an American bitter that actually works.  Might mash slightly less, perhaps at 156F?  Otherwise, quite good.  As far as flaws, it may be the best beer that I’ve brewed.  A pleasant American Pale Ale, but I’m calling it Zythos Bitter for now.

Zythos and Golden Promise SMaSH Recipe

Wort Volume Before Boil: 5.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 4.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 4.50 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 4.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 4.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.040 SG
Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG
Expected OG: 1.046 SG
Actual OG: 1.053 SG
Expected FG: 1.014 SG
Actual FG: 1.014 SG
Expected Efficiency: 60.0%
Actual Efficiency: 69.5%
Expected ABV: 4.2%
Actual ABV: 5.2%
Expected IBU: 34
Expected Color: 5.2 SRM
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins

UK Golden Promise Malt 12.50 lb – 100 %

Zythos (11 % alpha) 56 g – 15 Min From End

Other Ingredients
Yeast: Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire
Mash started at 158F and dropped to 152F after 60 mins. (target was 154F)

Written by jlongland

December 19, 2012 at 9:06 pm

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Sept 15th IPA

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Sept 15th IPAAs I’ve journeyed through my homebrew hobby, I’ve taken more interest in cloning commercial beers.  It’s a challenge undertaken by many homebrewers and for some people, I suspect, the inspiration to get into homebrewing.  The Can You Brew It? series on The Jamil Show is just one indicator of the immense interest in replicating commercial beers.  One of the first beers that I tried to clone was Phillips Amnesiac Double IPA.  Unfortunately, the first batch fell well short of the mark.  So on Sept 15th, I thought I’d try again.  Alas, it was another failed attempt – but it yielded what I’m (creatively) calling Sept 15th IPA .  Why did it fail?  Aside from some tweaks like using Magnum, Zeus and an absence of Citra – what really killed it was poor mash efficiency.  I bought a Monster Mill 2 and I couldn’t set the gap to crush the grains enough.  I’ve since figured it out and have seen a return to 60+% efficiency, but this was failure #2 for an Amnesiac clone.  Luckily, the failure tastes pretty decent.  The result was a very bitter IPA, rather than a double IPA.

Appearance – Pours medium amber colour with inch of initial head that diminishes to a fine layer, but leaves lacing from top to bottom. Light hop haze.

Aroma – Aroma isn’t as fragrant as I would like.  Spicy hop aroma prominent.  Subtle grapefruit smell in the background.

Taste – Strong, clean bitterness with mild tropical and grapefruit flavours.  Slightly sweet finish balances the strong bitterness.  But I’d like if the tropical and grapefruit flavours were stronger.

Mouthfeel – Carbonation is medium-low and the beer is smooth.  Goes down easy.  Bitterness leaves a lingering dryness.

Drinkability/Notes – No technical flaws that I can identify in this final bottle of the batch – but some bottles had a bit of a cardboard flavour, indicating oxidation.  Definitely a bitter IPA, but I’d prefer if it had fruitier notes.  The early bottles that I drank were fruitier, but the bitterness was overpowering.  Time has mellowed the bitterness, but the fruity hop flavours were considerably diminished.  Overall, for a beer that was a failed clone attempt – it’s something that I’ll base a recipe upon in the future – but I’d prefer not to deplete my precious supply of Maris Otter to learn these lessons.

Sept 15th IPA Recipe

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.10 US gals
Volume Transferred: 6.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 6.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.062 SG
Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.040 SG
Expected OG: 1.079 SG
Actual OG: 1.055 SG
Expected FG: 1.015 SG
Actual FG: 1.013 SG
Expected Efficiency: 60.0%
Actual Efficiency: 38.7%
Expected ABV: 8.5%
Actual ABV: 5.6%
Expected IBU: 85.9
Expected Color: 12.4 SRM
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins

UK Marris Otter Malt 18.00 lb – 87.5 %
UK Carastan Malt 0.50 lb – 2.4 %
US White Wheat Malt 0.50 lb – 2.4 %
UK Dark Crystal 0.50 lb – 2.4 %
US Chocolate Malt 0.06 lb – 0.3 %
Corn Sugar/Dextrose 1.00 lb – 4.9 % (Start Of Boil)

Magnum (14.2 % alpha) 56 g – First Wort Hopped
Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 28 g – 5 Min From End
Cascade (9.1 % alpha) 28 g – 5 Min From End
Chinook (5.5 % alpha) 28 g – 5 Min From End
Zeus (16.4 % alpha) 28 g – 5 Min From End
Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 28 g – At turn off
Cascade (9.1 % alpha) 28 g – At turn off
Chinook (5.5 % alpha) 28 g – At turn off
Zeus (16.9 % alpha) 28 g – At turn off
Cascade (7.5 % alpha) 28 g – Dry-Hopped
Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 28 g – Dry-Hopped
Chinook (11.8 % alpha) 28 g – Dry-Hopped

Other Ingredients
Yeast: Wyeast 1450 Denny’s Fav 50
Mashed at 148F (target was 152F)

Written by jlongland

December 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm

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