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SteveG
10/25/06 11:54 AM  
What I learned last night about home brew
Last night I had a great experience, it brought me back to a tasting I did a few years ago and turned around a perspective I have held.

It was session II of the barley wine swap. Aside from session I, the last barley wine swap I did was in 2004 but it was not a homebrew event. Many folks from the BBB had sent me beer in 2003 resulting in a collection of barley wines that were pretty regional athuse not available for purchase in NJ. Specifically 9. Wow, 9 I had never had and mostly never even heard of. At that tasting there was one real stand out for me, Leviathan by fish brewing. Big and woody, I loved it cause I love the taste of oak in beer plus it was the most different. O'Dells was also a stand out, it wasn't an outstanding beer but it did not really resemble the rest of the pack. The other 7 seemed all pretty similar, you could discern differences but not huge ones. Shortly there after I was telling Stephen Beaumont of this and asked for his take. His answer seemed very on target to me, he said everyone is trying to be bigfoot. I could see that, those seven had the same basic profile. Hummm.

Session I of the barley wine swap was very good, but session II really blew me away. We opened a real odd ball from me first, mostly to get it out of the way. It was a blend of 3 brews, the oldest being from '97. The blend sat on dried sour cherries and wood, its a strange and experimental brew. I figured we'd do that then move on to more predictable beers. Think again! Sebastian's was next, what a beauty! Hit or miss with CO2, a couple had very little a couple were fine, I had a flatter one. But what a taste, the best description I came up with was a dried apricot dipped in very dark bitter chocolate. Really desserty, fantastic union of chocolately character and bitter.

Then was N8, 15% rye for some spiciness and 5 hops all that start with "C" (no Cascade or Columbus!). We've all had hop monsters, I personally find them tiresome. Had an "Imperial IPA" at a party Saturday that I didn't really enjoy, I felt like the brewer was hitting me over the head with a hammer and saying "hops, get it?", bang. "Hops, get it?", bang. N8 had a huge hop profile but it had become so much more. It was spicy and the hoping was expressing itself (IMO and Sebastians) as pineapple. Spicely pinapple on a subtile structure of malt. Malt did not break though, but supported this wonderful beer. Really, I had never had anything remotely like it.

That left a nervoous JimK, after these 2 fantastic beers he was up last. Oh my, not a huge or surprising aroma but again, a totally new flavor experience. It had a fruity, tabacco-ish (unburned!) character and the fruitiness stuck me (one or two agreed) as strawberry candy. Made with Magnum and Zues hops, it was another beer the likes of which I has never encountered. The wonderful character of an beautiful unlit cigar and strawberry confection, turns out of the batch my crazy experimental brew was the boring one!!

Imagine that, 2+ years ago a pro barley wine tasting, 9 beers, 2 standout, 7 very closely related. Then last night, 4 homebrewed barley wines, 4 totally different experiences 3 of which were unlike anything I had ever tried. Pro brewers are great, courageous people. It can be a tough way to make a living and I think you have to really respect someone who has made that commitment. So this is not meant in any way as a dig on the pro crowd. But I am starting to think if you want really super creative beers, wonderful in ways you've never imagined then maybe you don't want to hit a store. Maybe the place where those beers collect is right here. I bet we would mostly all go out of our way to hang with a skilled pro brewer given the chance, it can be neat to be around greatness. But I wish we had had some hard hitting pros with us last night. I think that tables would have turned. Great job you guys.

Cisco
10/25/06 12:54 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
I agree Steve that homebrewers can out brew the pro's. But that's because the pro's usually don't have the funding and time to produce the unique qualities that homebrewers can. Very few can except like Russian River an Pizz Port.
SteveG
10/25/06 01:06 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
I should stress, I don't mean that pros are "lesser" brewers than we at home. No doubt they are in most cases superior brewers but they can't afford to do what we do. I wonder though if after a while of performing under the constraints of sales requirements a brewer's instinct to achieve what Sebastian, Jim and N8 did starts to deteriorate? I don't lump myself in there cause I cheated. I wanted the flavors of wood and dried cherry so I added wood and dried cherry. Those guys got big, melded flavors - pineapple, strawberry, etc - with just hops and grain.
N8
10/25/06 01:50 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
I agree, last nights tasting was a great one. Very good brews across the board.

Just for the record, there are Cascade hops in mine.

MarkM
10/25/06 01:53 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
I don't thihnk they lose their passion for making great beer, I'm somewhat aquainted with one of the local brewpub brewers. He loves talking about his seasonals and what he wants to try next. His problem is that some of his seasonals are sooo good that he gets complaints if he skips them to try something new.

He spends half his time brewing their light rice beer, but he brews 30 different beers. He clearly loves doing the new stuff and has great ideas. Just doesn't have the flexibility to do it as often as he likes. He's more constrained by some stupid laws than by the cost factors - he did a chocolate porter that used 39kg of chocolate nibs in a 15bbl batch and he makes his maibock with german malt to get the right flavor profile.

Iowa is still in the dark ages and defines beer as having an alcohol content of 5% abw (6.25% abv). Bust the limit and it is classified as liquor and has to be covered by all of those taxes and rules.

The pros are great and have the passion, but it's a job -- not a hobby. They always have to ask the question, how long will it take me to sell 15bbls of this brew?

Dave I
10/25/06 04:18 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
"But what a taste, the best description I came up with was a dried apricot dipped in very dark bitter chocolate. Really desserty, fantastic union of chocolately character and bitter."

Sebastian, any idea what gave it these tastes?

"It had a fruity, tabacco-ish (unburned!) character and the fruitiness stuck me (one or two agreed) as strawberry candy."

JimK, same question, particularly about the tobacco character. I got something tobaccoy, from vanilla beans I believe, in my stout that I am aging. It did not seem like a flavor I would associate with vanilla but was interesting. I will be curious to see if it carried through to the finished beer. If there is a way to get a tobaccoesque character on purpose I would love to hear about it.

Any chance you guys would want to share your recipes? I am curious from a research perspective. That and to try and figure out what might give your beers some of the flavors and balance SteveG describes, whether it's one or a mixture of malts, the yeast, fermentation regiment, or something else.

-Cheers

N8
10/25/06 04:30 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
Sure, I'll get the recipe on here. I'll have to do that at home, though.

One thing I forgot to mention last night. We used 2 different yeasts. We split the batch into 2 5gal carboys and fermented one with CL-50yeast, and the other with Pacman cultured up from a bottle. Then at bottling we blended the two beers together and bottled as normal. The CL-50 is more of a malt accentuating yeast, and the Pacman gives a drier feel to the beer.

SteveG
10/25/06 04:41 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
All in all it sounds like a tough one to do twice. If you do pull it off again though I hope there's a swap and that I'm in it! Turning around what Mark said a little, I'm glad this is a hobby for us, not a job.
N8
10/25/06 04:50 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
We brewed the 3rd annual this past Sunday. It gets slighty tweaked each time, but is still pretty much the same base idea.

Jim Keaveney
10/30/06 02:29 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
"If there is a way to get a tobaccoesque character on purpose I would love to hear about it."

Not that I know of Dave. Do not have my notes with me but I can tell you that the grist was marris otter and durst dark munich malt with a splash of rosted barley. american ale yeast fermented near 60F.

I always find interesting flavors in big beers that I am not sure of exactly how they were produced. The combination of ingrediants can do funny things. I would guess the tobacco flavor was from the malt but have no guess on the strawberry thing (which i really didn't quite get anyway but I could see where Steve was coming from).

Anyway, If you want the full recipe, I can post it here or email it to you.

Cheers,

Jim

Mykel Obvious
10/31/06 11:06 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
Jim, if you don't mind, would you post it here? I'd love the chance to see what you did and play with the recipe myself!

cheers and beers,

mikey

Dave I
11/01/06 09:27 AM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
Jim,

I would definitely like to see your recipe. You COULD email it to me, however it sounds like a beer the rest of the readers might like to see on this board as well.

-Cheers

Jim Keaveney
11/01/06 07:12 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
OK, here it is. The base is Fawcett Marris Otter and the Munich is Durst Dark Munich (I am sure no other munich malt will impart the same flavor - this is a unique malt) Cheers,

Jim

Brewing Date: Saturday November 05, 2005

Recipe Specifics

----------------

Batch Size (Gal): 6.00 Wort Size (Gal): 6.00

Total Grain (Lbs): 28.25

Anticipated OG: 1.113 Plato: 26.61

Anticipated SRM: 21.8

Anticipated IBU: 99.2

Brewhouse Efficiency: 64 %

Wort Boil Time: 130 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.113 Plato: 26.57

Actual FG: 1.020 Plato: 5.08

Alc by Weight: 9.67 by Volume: 12.46 From Measured Gravities.

ADF: 80.9 RDF 68.2 Apparent & Real Degree of Fermentation.

Actual Mash System Efficiency: 62 %

Anticipated Points From Mash: 113.20

Actual Points From Mash: 109.66

Grain/Extract/Sugar

% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

81.4 23.00 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row) Great Britain 1.038 3

17.7 5.00 lbs. Munich Malt Germany 1.036 15

0.9 0.25 lbs. Roasted Barley Great Britain 1.029 625

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

Hops

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.50 oz. Magnum Pellet 15.10 70.6 60 min.

2.00 oz. Zues Pellet 13.60 28.6 20 min.

1.00 oz. Zues Pellet 13.60 0.0 0 min.

Yeast

-----

Fermentis US-56

Mash Schedule

-------------

Mash Type: Single Step

Heat Type: Direct

Dough In Temp: 0 Time: 0

Saccharification Rest Temp: 150 Time: 70

Mash-out Rest Temp: 0 Time: 0

Sparge Temp: 0 Time: 0

Primary Temperature: 62 degrees F

Dave I
11/06/06 11:37 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
Anybody else involved in this homebrew swap interested in sharing their recipe? They all sounded quite lovely and would definitely be interested in brewing some if not all of them. Thank you for all of the responses as well. Some of the beer descriptions have really spurred me to do things new in my homebrewing. Well, that and the Miller Lite I was served at a party over the weekend. :(

-Cheers

SteveG
11/07/06 09:12 AM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
<<Some of the beer descriptions have really spurred me to do things new in my homebrewing.>>

Thanks Dave, that is totally why I made this place. It really is rewarding for me personally to read this.

Dave I
11/12/06 10:33 AM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
Hey Sebastian, any chance you would share your Barley Wine recipe?

N8, I think I got yours over at TastyBrew unless you would recommend any changes from over there. Looks great and since I have fallen madly in love with Founders Red's Rye I am planning on both your Barley Wine (great name by the way) and Denny's Rye IPA (not so great name but the beer is reportedly pretty good though ;) ).

Jim, a very sincere thanks for sharing your recipe. I think I am sold. It has an unburnt tobacco flavor/note, has dark Munich malt, and sounds very interesting (in a good way).

Great thread. Very inspiring to read about the unique stuff going on in these beers.

-Cheers

Dave I
11/16/06 06:22 PM  
Re: What I learned last night about home brew
Hey Jim,

I stole some of your recipe and turned it into a Rye Scotch Ale. I have not brewed it yet but I am hopeful it has some of the same nuances of yours. Mine is totally out of style in some regards but hopefully in encourages others to share their interesting beer recipes and notes. A bit off-topic for a Belgian board, but I am excited about it.

-Cheers

SebastianP
11/16/06 06:35 PM  
Re: Barleywine Recipe
Sorry for the delay, here is the recipe

O.G. 1.082

Batch size: 5 gal yield in bottles

Bottled March 2001

12 lb Briess 2-row Brewers Malt

0.75 lb Paul's Medium Crystal Malt

2 lb C&H Dark Brown Sugar

2lb Crisp MO (toasted in oven at 325*F for 25min)

1 lb Durst Wheat Malt

2oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, in Mash

2oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, 1st wort

3.75oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, 90 min

1oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, 15 min

1.25oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, 10 min

1oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, 5 min

1oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, 2 min

2oz Northern Brewer, leaf, 8.3%, steep

Wyeast 1968 - ESB (From prior primary)

The key to the flavor profile you guys tasted was age. With it the malt (especially the home toasted malt) was able to come though.

Rob
04/13/07 09:12 PM  
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