I've sat down to write a BYO blog a bunch of times over the past few months but there's been so much going on that everything feels outdated before I can make it to the end! There's nothing more tired than a blogger who makes excuses for slacking off - but here I am...making excuses, passing the buck, pointing the finger at the popularity of craft beer and homebrewing. I can't help it — it's true!
What's better than drinking an amazing beer? Well, how about cloning one? In my opinion the only thing better than drinking a great beer is researching, formulating your own clone recipe and brewing it. As I'll explain there can be some drawbacks though.
Since moving to South Carolina my new favorite brewery is Westbrook Brewing Company in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The brewery was started in December 2010 by Edward and Morgan Westbrook (this is also one of the temporary homes of the nomadic brewer Evil Twin — another new favorite of mine). In 4 short years, Westbrook's beers have been consistent and extremely well received. Their year-round lineup of beers includes a Belgian white ale brewed with ginger and lemongrass called White Thai, a tasty IPA, and my personal favorite, a rye pale ale called One Claw. Equally as impressive are their seasonal releases like one of their most sought-after beers called Mexican Cake, a habanero spiced stout that I recently had the pleasure of drinking for the first time...it was amazing. As an avid IPA drinker though, I was intrigued when I heard about Westbrook's seasonal Citrus Ninja double IPA. Brewed using 50 pounds of grapefruit, this beer clocks in at 90 IBUs, is dry hopped 4 times, has notes of grapefruit, honey, and tropical fruit all at a very drinkable 9% ABV.
Late last spring I had a hankering for Citrus Ninja IPA (during its off season) so I decided to brew my own using a double IPA recipe I had already had success with. The only wild card would be adding in the grapefruit. The questions I asked myself were, how much do I add, when do I add it, and in what form should I add it to my beer?...
I made my first ever yeast starter last week in anticipation of my saison brew over the weekend. It was Chris's suggestion that I create a starter for his yeast strain and I was curious to try one.
It was far simpler to do than I imagined. In fact all it involved, really, was dumping the contents of the yeast vial into a jug full of wort.
In practice, it was a touch more involved than that. But not much.
With a little help from a friend, I was directed to a website with a yeast calculator....
Just a quick word to say that the brew day for the collaborative saison with Christopher Wood's yeast, slated for October 10, was pushed back by two weeks due to my crazy schedule and time off to attend a wedding last weekend.
Yeast is resting comfortably in cold storage and I'll be getting a yeast starter (my first ever!) going this week to 'wake it up'. Scheduled brew date is this Friday ... we'll see if it happens.
I'll be posting about all of that in the near future.
Charlie and I were antsy to get our Old Ale off the oak and into bottles. (And Charlie's wife was eager to get our sixtel out of their bedroom). We considered aging the beer for longer but having tasted it recently, we'd noticed that the harsh, tannic, woodiness, apparent after a month or so, had receded. The beer was far more palatable. The malt notes were fairly rich and the depth of flavor was coming into its own.
Time to bottle.
This was the first time I'd ever bottled with someone who wasn't my daughter. So it was somewhat alarming to learn that there's another way of adding priming sugar to a batch than the one I've been using for more than a decade.
Let me explain. When I started brewing, I used an old racking cane, fed through one of those orange two-holed nipple thingys secured to the top of the carboy....