Cherry Chocolate Stout Collaboration

The Cherry Chocolate Stout collaboration brew by Stone/Jason Fields and Kevin Sheppard/Troegs is an interesting beer to say the least. The aroma is reminiscent of black forest cake, with dark roast, vanilla, and cherry notes. The mouthfeel is smooth and full making it easy to drink. The taste is full of dark roast, light tart cherry, and not surprisingly… chocolate. The 7.3% ABV is well hidden behind the thick smooth character of the beer. I truly want to love this beer but sadly there is moderate metallic almost medicinal flavor that comes through on the finish in both samples I tried. This could be do to the use of cherry extract (don’t know if that is what they use) or poor handling after it left the brewery. I hope to try this beer again purchased from another shop so I can compare.

Deschutes Obisdian Stout Clone

This is another Deschutes clone attempt. Obsidian is a dark, rich, American style stout. I got the recipe from The Brewing Network’s (thebrewingnetwork.com) show Can You Brew It. They were able to clone it so I hope my brew attempt on this will get me close.

My brew day went pretty well. I hit almost all my numbers and was just a hair high on my starting gravity, 1.069 vs 1.067. I think my local brew shop is once again messing with their crappy ass grain miss, because my efficiency (which is usually 65%) dropped to 55%. I didn’t make any changes to my process so I am assuming that was the reason. I have started doing gravity checks pre-boil so I was able to compensate with a little DME.

Had fermentation in less than 8 hours. The yeast went crazy on this one. When I checked on it a few day after pitching so much had blown off it had over flowed the blow off jug. The smell was amazing and reminiscent of the actual beer. That in its self is a good sign. Hopefully I will be transferring this to a keg sometime next week.

Taste test and such to come soon. The partial mash recipe is below.

5.5 gallons, 4 gallon boil, 65% efficiency

OG: 1.069 (1.067 est)

FG: 1.022 (est)

IBU’s: 70

Color: 48

ABV: 6.1% (est)

Mash at 150 degrees, 75 minutes

90 minute boil

4.25 lbs Pale Malt (2-row)

1 lb 6 oz Black Barley

15 oz Crystal 80L

9 oz Cara-Pils

9 oz White Wheat Malt

2 oz Roasted Barley

5.5 Pale Liquid Extract

1.25 oz of Chinook (11.8%) 90 min

1.00 oz of Willamette (4.7%) 30 min

1 Whirlfloc Tablet 15 min

5 g Yeast Nutrient 15 min

1.00 oz Northern Brewer (8.5%) 5 min

WLP002 English Ale Yeast (with starter on stir plate)

Pitch at 65 and ferment at 67/68

Deschutes- Jubelale

Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon has long been one of my favorite brew houses. With an amazing line of standards such as Black Butte Porter, Obsidian Stout, and Mirror Pond and classic seasonals such as Hop Trip, Hop in the Dark, and Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, it is not surprising they have a delicious holiday ale. While there on a tour in April I noticed the outstanding art work in their offices, as it turns out they were labels from prior Jubelale releases. Each year Deschutes solicits art work for the label that highlights the holidays. This years label was created by Cara Thayer and Louse Van Patten.

At 6.7% ABV Jubelale shows restraint compared to other holiday ales, making it a great deal more drinkable. The malt bill is simple, 2-row, Crystal Malt, Roasted Barley, and Carapils, but a verity of hops such as Cascade, Galena, East Kent Goldings, and Willamette help led to a complex and rich beer. The aroma is plentiful with coffee, molasses, earth, and spice that remind one of winter in the woods. The pallet is clean with a good balanced between malt and earthy spiciness from the hops. It has a light citusy-piney finish that as you craving another sip. I think my only complaint about this beer is that it seems slightly over carbonated which diminishes the mouth feel, making it less smooth and more sharp then I would like.

I highly recommend this beer. The price is right, it is holiday ale you can have more than one of, and it plain just taste great.

The Cruse of the Red Chair Clone Continues….

For the love of god and everything holy! Why can’t this beer come out right!?!? Everything seemed to be going right. Hit my mash temp. etc. But when I tested the beer after the boil the gravity was 1.040. Really?? Really?? Don’t know why. I also forgot to put in the 5 minute hops… totally my fault on that one. Anyway, added my water and such, checked the gravity, and realized what was going on. I cranked up the heat again. There was no way I was getting 5.5 gallons of water to boil, so I poured off about 2 gallons and brought that up to a boil separately then added it back once it was boiling. Put in a enough DME and water to get me back to 5.5 gallons and close to my gravity. Ended up at about 1.057. Close enough!!! Also, added my 5 minute hops. In the end I don’t know how this will turn out.

Thankfully fermentation finished out well. Transferred to a secondary and added the dry hops. So far it tastes ok, a little bitter due to the extra boil. It’s not prefect but hopefully it will be ok. Like I said, I will get this one right at some point. I am fairly sure it’s not a problem with my recipe but my brewing :0).

Once I know this recipe works out right I will post it. Planning to re brew in the early part of next year when I can get some Deschutes Red Chair to compare.

What’s Brewing for Novemeber

I am looking forward to a fun filled brew month in November. Before I jump into Novembers brews I am going to go through my changes for October. First, I am currently brewing a Negra Medelo clone. Beyond my fermentation issues I outlined in my last post, the recipe for this was a bit of challenge. I am not at a place in my brewing that I can taste a beer and then brew something close, so I have to rely on information gathered from the internet sources. The fact that this beer is a mainstream lager that is highly available nationwide and brewed by a large company means there is not a whole lot of information. After several searches I settled on a all-grain recipe that I converted to a partial mash. Negra Medelo is basically a Vienna lager brewed with Mexican Ale Yeast. Unfortunately, Mexican Ale yeast is only available from White Labs as a limited platinum strain. I ended up using Bavarian Lager from Wyeast mostly because I would like to repitch in to a Munich Dunkel and Dopplebock in the coming months. I also added about 2 oz of Chocolate Malt to the recipe to boost the color. Actually made it too dark but ah well. Also, I couldn’t get Styrian Golding hops, so I substituted with Vanguard. Lastly, the dark malts were ground and added to the mash in the last 15 minutes to get the color but little flavor extraction. Here is the recipe:

5.5 gallon batch, 4 gallon boil, 65% efficiency

OG: 1.051

FG: 1.012 (est)

IBUs: 26

Color: 14

ABV: 5.1% (est)

Mash at 152 degrees for 60 min.

90 minute boil

5 lbs Vienna Malt

3 lbs Munich Malt

2 oz Carafa II (ground added to mash last 15 min)

2 oz Chocolate Malt (ground added to mash last 15 min)

2.5 lbs Pilsner Liquid Extract

1.50 oz Vanguard (5.5%)- 60 min

.50 oz Vanguard (5.5%)- 10 min

2 pkg Bavaria Lager (Wyeast 2206) in a 2L starter on stir plate

Ferment at 50 degrees for 2 to 3 weeks. Lager at 35 to 40 degrees for 4 to 6 weeks.

The second brew is a clone of Russian River’s Temptation. I got the recipe from BYO (Brew Your Own) magazine. According to the magazine the recipe comes from Vinnie himself. This will be a year long process. Started by making a 3 L starter (brewed in two 1.5 L steps). Then pitching into a Belgian Blond Ale, which then gets fermented out. Then I will rack to a bucket and add Lacto and Brett. This is then allowed to ferment for 3 months. Three weeks before it’s done I will be soaking 2 oz of medium toast french oak cubes in unoaked chardonnay. Before soaking the cubes will be steamed for 15 minutes, this is to extract some of the oak flavor (Russian River uses neutral oak) and allows the cubes to more easily absorb the chardonnay. Lastly, I will rack to a glass carboy, add the cubes and allow to age for 9 to 12 months. Here is the recipe converted for partial mash:

Temptation of Ben:

5.5 gallon batch, 4 gallon boil

OG: 1.066

FG: 1.012 (est pre bugs), ??? (post bugs)

IBUs: 27

Color: 7.3

ABV: 7.2% (est)

Mash at 154 for 60 min, 65% efficiency

90 min boil

7 lbs Belgian Pilsner Malt

12 oz Wheat Malt

5 lbs Pale Liquid Extract (in the future I would use Pilsner extract)

1.50 oz Willamette (4.6%)- 90 min

1.75 oz Saaz (3 %)- 30 min

1.25 oz Saaz (0 min)

Whirlfloc Tablet (15 min)

Yeast Nutrient (15 min)

1 pkg Belgian Ale (WLP 550), with starter on stir plate

1 pkg Brettanomyces (WLP 650)

1 pkg Lactobacillus (WLP 677)

2 oz oak cubes soaked in unoaked chardonnay (for 3 weeks added to conditioning vessel)

Now for the November brews! I will be doing 3 brews this month. First a rebrew of Red Door (Red Chair Clone). As I have stated in prior posts this will be my fourth attempt at this one. Keep your fingers crossed! The second will be a Dunkel based on JZ’s recipe in Brewing Classic Styles. I will be repitching the yeast from the Negra Medelo clone. Lastly, I will be doing a Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale clone. The recipe for this one comes from the Jamil Show: Can You Brew It! The recipes for each will come as I go along.

In the mean time thanks for reading….

Its Been too Long….

Wow, keeping up with this thing is pretty difficult when life is crazy. It’s been over a month since my last post. For course, I am pretty much the only one reading this so it’s not like I have a bunch of adoring fans to disappoint. Actually, made a great deal of changes to my October line up. I did brew up my Red Chair clone (or tried to anyway). Regretfully was once again infected! That is three times now! I just don’t know what is up with me and this beer. I think the beer gods are out to get me on this one. This time I know where the problem came from, my starter. After getting advice from several different forums, the general consensus was to go ahead and pitch. Boy, that was bad choice. Anyway, re-brewing this on Monday. I will not stop until I get this one down! Have not had a single pint of yet and it’s already my most brewed beer!

On a more positive note my Dry Stout (Luck O’ the Irish) came out great and is currently on tap. Changes for the future on this one… I am going to switch up the yeast and go with WLP 007 (Irish Ale). The London Ale has a favor that…well… let’s just say I would like to taste the beer without it just to see. Not that it’s bad, the London Ale does add to the complexity but I would like to try it with a yeast that is a little cleaner. I think the most important part of this beer is drinking it a little warmer… about 48 degrees and limit the carbonation. I was amazed at how much the flavor changed from serving at 40 degrees to 48 degrees.

Also on a positive note my Vanilla Bourbon Porter is amazing! The vanilla is a little overpowering at the moment so I am giving it a little more time. Adding the Bourbon (Maker’s Mark) helped mello the vanilla out (added about 350 mL). I am going to let it sit another month to let everything settle. I think I will sampling regularly… just to make sure… ha!

Currently, I have a Negra Medelo clone fermenting away. Had some trouble getting this one to ferment. Started with a swap cooler… the problem was the beer in the water was at 40 degrees and the beer above the water was at 55. I moved it to my kegerator but unfortunately the temperature controller wouldn’t go above 46 degrees. Went to Moorbeer and picked up an external temperate controller. Set it at 50 degrees and had fermentation with in 6 hours. It is now happily fermenting away. My second beer is “Temptation of Ben,” my clone of Russian River’s Temptation (my favorite sour beer). This one had it’s own challenges. Like my Red Chair clone the starter had a slight sour smell to it, which told me the stir bar (which I used in my Red Chair starter) was causing infections. I was doing a step starter so I went ahead with the second step. The fermentation was so vigorous that I had yeast spewing all over my closet. Thankfully the sour smell was all but gone after this (I replaced the stir bar for the second step). I still think it maybe slightly infected but since I am adding a crap load of bugs to it next week don’t care all that much:

I have a good line up for November… I will post that in another separate article a little later.

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Stout

Like Stone? Check…. Like Imperial Stout? Oh yeah love the stuff… Like black licorice in your beer? Hummm not really, wait what? For Stone’s “Odd Year” 2011 they have put together an Imperial Stout brewed with anise, oak chips, and Belgian yeast. Despite hating black licorice, with a passion, I loved this beer. I really do hate black licorice. I don’t even like it a little, not in beer not in anything. Yet, I find there are some small but important differences between black licorice and anise. They share a lot of flavor similarities but I find that anise is a little less sharp and biting. I am still not a big fan of anise either but the brewers at Stone did a great job in finding a really nice balance. Yes, the anise flavor of this beer is pronounce but it is balanced with the coffee and chocolate flavors of imperial stout, the slight but present esters of the Belgian yeast (banana and clove), and the subtle vanilla oak completes the beer. At 10.5% ABV the beer is balanced with very little “heat” on the finish. Hopped with Warrior to achieve it’s 56 IBUs, the hops are just enough to cut through the sweetness of the malt without imposing itself on the other flavors. This is a great beer to lay down and see how it develops over the next few years. At about $7.00 a bottle (22 oz) that will be easy to do, if you can keep your hands off it that long.