Sunday, April 19, 2009

Accidental, now official IPA

The pale ale I was making until recently is named Nate's Unorthodox Ale due to it's inability to conform to parameters of either American Pale Ale or IPA. But a couple tweaks later, and lo and behold, it's an IPA. The Accidental IPA. And it turned out well. So, I'm trying it again, but making it an IPA on purpose. The yeast (Wyeast 1056) went like gangbusters on the last one (QIX), so I brewed a new batch to throw right into the same carboy. Sure enough, bubbles bubbles within hours. This second one, QX Accidental IPA Revisited, uses more extract and less grain. I'm assuming that reusing the yeast will make a dryer than normal beer, so I made sure to get lots of Amarillos in there at the end for aroma. I also made it simpler because I felt lazy after bottling QIX. Nice to bottle again after kegging the last couple. I used an assortment of 6 oz, 12 oz, and 22 oz bottles, which will make for fun gifting.

So, to compare...

QIX, Accidental IPA
6 lbs Briess Golden Light Malt Extract
15 oz crystal 60
12 oz dextrine malt

60 min 1 oz Zeus
40 min 1 oz Zeus
20 min 1 oz Amarillo
5 min 1 oz Amarillo

OG 1.062, final 1.020, calculated 68 IBU and 6.1% ABV

QX, Double T Matrimony Ale
7 lbs Briess Golden Light Malt Extract
8 oz Crystal 60
8 oz Dextrine Malt

40 min 2 oz Zeus
20 min 1 oz Chinook
5 min 1 oz Amarillo
1 min 1 oz Amarillo (added during chilling)

OG 1.068, calculated 67.5 IBU and 6.8% ABV

Might be a good candidate for dry hopping, but I'm probably too lazy for that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've always known that re-pitching yeast from prior batches can produce truly great beers, but I never bothered with it.  Now I'm bothering, and here's what  I'll do.  

1.  After fermentation and when the beer is racked off (to whatever vessel), swirl the yeast cake at the bottom of fermenter and pour into a graduated sterile container and set in cold fridge for next brew day.  I'll use a $5 polypropylene bottle and sterilize by putting a little bit of water in the bottom, lightly capping, and microwaving for a couple minutes while the water inside boils and steam heats the container.

2. Figure out how much yeast I'll need for my next batch of beer (should brew within 2 weeks of your last batch, as yeast viability greatly decreases after this time without making a starter) by going to Jamil Zainasheff's Yeast Pitching Rate Calculator at  Use the "Repitching from Slurry" tab, and enter the fermentation type, original gravity and volume of your next brew, and enter when you harvested your yeast from Step 1 above.  Read the "# of ml of yeast needed" value on Jamil's calculator.  Don't touch the "yeast concentration" and "non-yeast percentage" default values.

3.  When its time to pitch for a new batch of beer, take the bottle out of the fridge, open it up and decant the beer that sits on top of the yeast at the bottom.  Read the volume of what remains in the bottle after decanting.  Divide the value that Jamil says I need (from Step 2 above) by this value to get a percentage.  

4.  Pour some sterile brewing water (I always have this handy, sitting in a growler in the fridge) into the bottle on top of the yeast, cap and shake vigorously to clean the yeast.  Let settle for about 10 minutes, and the trub and dead yeast cells will fall to the bottom.  The healthy yeast remains in suspension in the liquid layer on top.  Read the new volume, and multiply this by the percentage calculated in Step 3 above.  This is the volume I need to remove from the container and pitch to the new batch of beer.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

IPA No. 1

I've decided that I want to make four (4) solid IPAs, and make them often.  Anything else I brew will be rare or seasonal.  

No. 1 - Light and Clean - Maltiness is subdued, color is light, citrusy hop  flavor takes spotlight.

No. 2 - Malty/Fruity - bigger malt presence, fruity/floral hop flavor and aroma.

No. 3 - Spicy - rye and darker caramel malts dominate.  Amber in color.  Big hop profile.

No. 4 - Black - An IPA posing as a stout.  

The following is a batch of No. 1 that I brewed today.  Still probably needing to tweak a few things in future batches, but this may be a winner...

Malt Bill (O.G. = 1.065)
85% 2-row pale
2% crystal 40 lovibond
6% carapils
7% corn sugar (added to boil)

Hop Bill (IBUs = 95)
Zeus (16.4 aa%) and Chinook (13.0 aa%) at start
Chinook 15 minutes in
Zeus 30 minutes in
Amarillo (8.5 aa%) and Chinook at finish
Amarillo dry hop for 2 weeks

1 oz gypsum added to 12.5 gallons of brewing liquor.  Final volume = 7.5 gallons.

California ale