Sydney Rae Session Rye Tasting Notes


Sydney Rae Session Rye
Style: 15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)
Brew Date: 5/13/2014
Serve Date: 6/17/2014
OG: 1.035
Expected FG: 1.011
Approximate ABV: 3.1
IBUs: 1520140616-172618-62778103.jpg
There is not much foam when I pour this beer. Disappointing, as it is similar to hefeweizen, which would normally have very high carbonation. I didn’t give this any extra priming, but maybe I should have. It is carbonated and definitely tingles as you drink it, but it could be livelier.

This beer is very cloudy with a tan color. It sports orange highlights and could even look brown in lower light. It is cloudy like a hefeweizen, not like that way too old Kölsch from the other week. It almost looks like an Arnold Palmer.

It is definitely not that sweet, but it has sort of a lemon zesty-taste you might expect from an Arnold Palmer. The weizen yeast is prominent, but the spicy rye brings out a different twist. There is some clove upfront followed by banana, but it seems more acidic. That is where the lemon comes in. It’s fruity but it seems acidic giving it a bit of citrus. It is somewhat dry and definitely leans more toward that lemon than sweet orange or bitter grapefruit.

All of that comes through in the aroma and the flavor. It smells and tastes great. As it hits the back of the palate, though, it seems a little thin. This is a very low gravity beer and that comes through late. I’m definitely glad I used Munich Malt in place of the Pilsner I originally planned. I’d like it to look a lighter, but the added body and hints of bread are needed to keep this from being too light on the palate.

There is no trace of hops in this beer. While I obviously didn’t want it to be a hoppy beer, I think a bit more bitterness could have helped balance it better and some minor spicy Tettnang or Saaz hop flavor could have helped give it some complexity in the finish. I calculated this at 15 IBUs, I would probably bump that up to about 20, maybe with a small charge of Tettnang hops around twenty minutes from the end of the boil.

The low carbonation is not ideal, either. I’d definitely try to carbonate closer to hefeweizen level next time.

Despite these issues, though, this is an enjoyable Summer session beer and a nice change of pace from the wheat beers that pop up everywhere this time of year.20140622-234728-85648297.jpg


Week Eighteen

It’s been about a month, but I will be brewing again this week. I’m also going away for the holiday weekend immediately after the brew session. As a result, I’m not going to have time to post my usual brew day report. Instead, I’ll post the recipe and plan for brew day on Thursday and then update sometime next week, after I’m home on not only the brew day, but fermentation.

The rest of this week will be the usual assortment of tasting notes and old batch summaries. For tasting notes, I’ve already promised to cover Sydney Rae Session Rye. I’ve done tasting notes for Single Hop IPA #3 and Elkland Golden Lager, so I guess it’s time to get them done for Single Hop IPA #4 and Elkland Amber Lager. I think I’ll be pretty much up to date on tasting notes at that point.

It should be a good week on the blog, but it will be a better week at the cabin with a whole lot Elkland Golden and Amber Lagers.

Spicy Old Man Barbecue Sauce

I’ve been making my own barbecue sauce for a long time. I initially looked up recipes on the internet and tried a few different ones before settling on what I liked. Ever since, I just sort of mix things as I go and do it by taking lots of samples along the way. So, it was tough to come up with an actual recipe for this post, but as with most things, I encourage you to use this as a starting point and figure out what fits your own tastes.

For this recipe, I used my Spicy Old Man Chipotle IPA along with ketchup as the base. I’ve made BBQ sauce with and without beer and it makes a big difference, but the sauce can work either way. This particular beer is completely dominated by the heat of the peppers it was aged with. For that reason, I skipped my usual additions of Cayenne pepper and/or chili powder. If you use a different beer, I would add a small amount of Cayenne pepper for a similar effect.20140522-105841-39521068.jpg

You can also use different styles of beer for drastically different sauces. A big malty beer like a bock in a sweet sauce will work well. A roasty stout with some smoked meat will work in a dark BBQ sauce. Even something hoppy could work with will work with a hotter, spicier sauce. Like I said originally, just experiment and figure out what you like or what will work in a specific situation.

This time, I was making the sauce for some pulled pork I made for a family get together. I wanted to make something that would be good for a lot of different people with a lot of different tastes. My spicier BBQ sauces might be perfect when I’m grilling chicken for myself, but little kids coming to this event probably wouldn’t go near it. Mentioning that when the sauce I made uses a very hot beer might seem strange, but I used the beer instead of adding other hot spices to give a subtle balance to what is otherwise a pretty sweet sauce.

To make it sweet, I added brown sugar, which is my usual go to. Maple syrup, honey and molasses are popular as well. I love maple syrup but it’s usually prohibitively expensive for this type of recipe. I’m not as crazy about molasses, I like to get some more subtle molasses flavors from brown sugar instead. You may feel differently.

Some barbecue sauces call for onions and garlic. I used some fresh garlic this time, but I normally avoid onions. I don’t like too many chunks of stuff in my BBQ sauce. I just as often use powdered or granulated garlic, but I decided to use fresh this time. To replicate the onion flavor without having to try to dice onions small enough to not bother me, I used onion salt. If including onion salt, don’t forget the salt portion. You probably don’t want to add any additional salt.

Some recipes call for lemon juice, some vinegar. I always use apple cider vinegar. Either option will give you some acidity. Beer will add some as well, so for sauces without beer, I use more vinegar. The decision to use apple cider vinegar is partially convenience because I always have it around from various pickling and canning projects and partly just because I like the flavor.

Soy sauce and worcestershire sauce add more complexity. I usually use a lot more soy sauce than worcestershire sauce. In this particular case, I skipped the worcestershire all together. You may want to add some for your own barbecue, though.

Other spices I use are dried mustard and ground ginger. Dried or ground mustard has the same tang as prepared mustard, the condiment. You can substitute some of your favorite mustard instead. Honey mustard might be good in a sweet barbecue sauce, spicy brown in a hotter one, et cetera. The ginger is a recent addition to my my own sauces. It gives a really nice tang. I like it more to balance sweeter barbecue, it may be too much in a spicier version.

There are tons of different ways to make barbecue sauce, but all of mine are ketchup based. I’m not well versed in the various regional barbecues, so I don’t know how this works in but it compares favorably to anything you find labeled BBQ Sauce in a grocery store’s condiment section. The recipe for my latest batch is below. I will probably not repeat this recipe exactly, it can be used as a good starting point, though. This was also a very big batch. I used to make very small batches for individual meals. I’ve recently taken to making bigger sums of sauce and saving them in ketchup bottles in the fridge. I’m not sure how long it is good to save this way, but I haven’t hit the limit yet.20140522-105841-39521804.jpg

Spicy Old Man Barbecue Sauce

12 oz bottle of Spicy Old Man (or other hot pepper beer)
5 cups ketchup
2 cups light brown sugar
1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 tbs dried mustard
3 tbs ground ginger
2 tbs onion salt
2 tbs olive oil

Add the beer to a pot over high heat. As it heats up, add the garlic. Stir as it begins to boil and continue for five minutes. Then, turn down the heat to medium-high and add the mustard, ginger, onion salt and oil. If you are using a different beer, you can add a teaspoon or so of Cayenne pepper as well. Keep stirring and once all the spices are evenly mixed in, add the sugar and keep stirring. Once the sugar is mixed in, slowly add all the rest of the ingredients, stirring them in as you go.

After everything is in, turn the heat down to simmer and begin tasting the sauce to make adjustments for you personal preference. Once you’re happy with it, turn off the heat and let the sauce cool, unless you’re using it immediately. Once cool, you can use a funnel to add it to your emptied ketchup container. It will, of course be more volume than the ketchup so you can store the rest however you want, but I normally try to plan on using all of the overflow immediately.



Old Old Man Tasting Notes

20140626-232101-84061704.jpgOld Old Man
Style: 19A: Old Ale
Brew Date: January 27, 2014
Serve Date: June 26, 2014
ABV: 8%
IBUs: 60 IBUs

Coffee is the immediately obvious aroma from this beer. The color is dark, but definitely not opaque. There are red highlights showing through in the light. Out of the light, it almost looks black but there is still some brown showing. I really like the color of this beer. I don’t think I’ve ever made something in this hue. I’ve never made a brown ale, although this is a little darker than most of them, and porters and stouts have always ended up closer to black.

The coffee comes out again in the flavor along with brown ale like malty character. It is slightly sweet at the start, but the roast comes out more and makes it feel drier than it really is. It’s also a bit acidic, not sour but tangy and… well, acidic. That is definitely partly thanks to all the dark malts, but this was also before I got my water filter and I think that the water contributes some. I don’t distinctly taste chlorine, but I feel it could be contributing to the acid character.

As I drink more, the sweetness comes out more and I’m getting toffee and caramel flavors. More and more complexity shows as it warms and I drink more. Coffee prevailed at first, straight out of the refrigerator, but it seems much sweeter now.20140626-232101-84061389.jpg

There was not a big head to begin with, but it has really stuck around. There are a lot more hops in this than you would think initially, but keeping in mind how long it aged, it makes sense. There is a balancing bitterness but no discernible flavor or aroma from the Chinook and Brewer’s Gold hops, both of which have strong, distinct characters.

The water source is the only problem I have with this beer. Slight acidity from the roasted malt would be nice, but I think it is accentuated too much by the unfiltered city water. If I remember correctly, my efficiency was not what I hoped. At 8% ABV, there is no alcohol evident in this beer. I think it is very nice right where it is, but I’m curious how far it could be pushed without coming through all with all the roasted malts and aging.

I think this is an excellent recipe that I would like to brew again. Considering it is traditionally a style to be drunk in the colder months, I would like to try. I gave most of this batch to my Dad, so I really don’t have much…20140626-232102-84062028.jpg

If I were going to change anything, other than filtering the water, it would be the yeast. I used the super clean Chico strain and it did an admirable job of eating sugar, creating alcohol and being inconspicuous, but I’d like to have some yeast character in this beer. I was leaning to mostly (all but a couple specialty grains, Special B from Belgium and Brown Malt from England) American ingredients, but I think an English strain, or even a Belgian one could really add some depth to this already complex beer.

Actually, with a higher starting gravity from better efficiency and a Belgian yeast, this could easily be considered a Belgian Dark Strong Ale or Quad. It does not taste like that now at all, but I’d be very interested to see how that would turn out. The wheels are definitely turning.



Spicy Old Man Tasting Notes

Spicy Old Man
Style: American IPA with Chili Peppers
Brew Date: May 14, 2013
Serve Date: June 25, 2014
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 70 IBUs

This beer is lively. I remember being afraid that the peppers and yeast wouldn’t get a long and the beer might not carbonate. That is definitely not a problem, there is a very nice, white head. It does, however, dissipate extremely quickly. Bubbles keep coming to the surface but they can’t keep together to get any foam going.

The aroma of the beer is all heat. It burns my nostrils. If I keep sniffing through the pain, I do get some hints of smoke, but that is it.

The smoke comes out much more in the flavor. It is a fight between the smoke and the fire from the peppers. The fire is definitely winning. This is smokier than I remember, but it’s just as hot.

I’m really trying to get more out of this beer and I just can’t find it. I guess there is some bitterness but… I’m grasping at straws. My throat is burning. The moment it hits my tongue, it tingles, first from the high carbonation, then from the heat.20140625-231858-83938301.jpg

Holding it in my mouth, the smoke starts to come out, but it’s quickly overpowered. There is more smoke in the aftertaste, still surrounded by heat, but it leaves a smokey pit in its wake. This is one case where the fire comes before the smoke.

I will say that the 7.3% ABV is masked well. I sense no alcohol whatsoever here. Also no hops, yeast or malt (outside of smoke). Maybe there is a hint of the actual flavor of the peppers in the finish, too. It is hard to decipher.

I am very curious what a judge would think of this beer. The people I’ve shared it with are sharply divided. The side of people who can’t drink it much more highly populated, but there have been a couple people who loved it. Masochists, I’d say.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t hate this beer. I think it was a fun experiment and I love sharing it with people to get their reactions. I believe splitting a twelve ounce bottle with someone in that situation is the proper serving size, though. I’m getting close to the end of this bottle and my palate is completely fatigued. At this point, I don’t think I could taste any other beer.

I also love cooking with this beer. I love the idea of cooking with beer in general, but I think a lot of times, with my inexperience and less than complete knowledge about the subject, I often lose the character of the beer in a dish. There is not threat of that here. If you put this beer into a meal in place of another liquid and some cayenne pepper or other spice, you WILL recognize it. This is another opportunity to enjoy half a bottle of the beer, as well…20140625-231858-83938583.jpg

Just a couple more sips… There is a lot of yeast in the bottom of this glass. One more sip should finish it… Okay. Yes. Done. I finished it. The beer and the tasting notes. All done. Now I’m going to take a couple swigs of milk (ah… well, almond milk, anyway) and go to bed. Woof.

Spicy Old Man Chipotle IPA

For the second entry in the “Old Man” series, things got a little out of hand. I had tried a couple beers with chili peppers and decided that I could do that. My Dad always liked spicy foods, surely he would like a spicy beer. I’m sure it’s been done, but I hadn’t heard of any smoked beers with hot peppers and it seemed like an obvious combination to me. Chinook hops, known for their abrasive character also seemed to fit in. So I decided that a chipotle IPA would be the end goal.

I didn’t want to go too over the top with hops because I wanted the chipotle aspect to be the star. I had learned since the previous year’s effort that I needed more hops late in the boil and that dry hopping was essential, but I played it conservative on purpose this time.IMG_20130629_191307I also debated how much smoked malt to use. I’m not sure how I settled on two pounds, but I think if anything, it was a bit low. In the end, it didn’t really matter, but I think using all smoked malt in addition to the extract, since this was a partial mash brew, would have been more interesting.

In the end, though, despite a lot of research to learn to balance things, the peppers completely took over. I read that it was a good idea to remove the seeds. I know that most of the heat comes from the seeds, so this seemed like an obvious thing to do. Beyond that, I also read that by cooking the peppers and removing the skins, you could minimize vegetal or grassy flavors and get pure pepper. I cut open one ounce each of habanero and cayenne (finger) peppers, removed the seeds and then grilled them. Once they had cooled, I peeled off the skin and added them to the fermenter along with an ounce of Chinook hops.IMG_20130516_181020

I decided on this blend of peppers by buying one of each of the hot peppers I could find at the grocery store and putting slices into small glasses of another IPA I had recently brewed. The habanero was my favorite but the finger peppers had a very unique zing and I decided that mixing them was the best option. I still think if you’re going to do this type of beer, this is a good mix. Habanero seems to be the go to for a lot of brewers with jalapeño being another favorite. Personally, I’m not crazy about jalapeño peppers on their own. Mixed with a lot of other flavors on nachos or in other dishes they work well, but I don’t think they stand up as the main flavor component.

None of this seemed to make much difference in my beer, though. It is pure heat. There may be a subtle hint of smoke in there somewhere but there are no hops evident and the peppers themselves are unidentifiable behind the wall of fire. I had hoped that the heat would mellow with time, so I saved quite a bit of this beer, but that does not seem to be what’s happened. I haven’t had one in a couple months, but at last tasting it was as hot as ever. I will give it another try tomorrow, though, so come back for those tasting notes.IMG_20130629_152429

I have heard more from different people about ways to incorporate peppers into your beer without having them overpower it, but I can’t speak from experience. I can say that I’ve had some stouts and other dark beers with chili peppers since making this that I’ve enjoyed a lot more. I still think the smoked malt is a good idea, but the roasted dark malt character adds a great balance that my hops couldn’t hack. I haven’t given up on trying another chili beer at some point, but there are a lot of other things that I’m more eager to jump into first.SpicyOldManLabel

Spicy Old Man
(FOUR gallon batch)
Style: American IPA with Chili Peppers
Brew Date: May 14, 2013
Serve Date: June, 2013
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 70 IBUs

2 lb Smoked Malt
5 lb Pale Malt
3 lb Light DME

1 oz Chinook @60 min
1 oz Chinook @10 min
1 oz Chinook @ 2 min
1 oz Chinook Dry Hop

Habanero and Cayenne Peppers prepared as described above and added with dry hops

Nottingham Dry Ale Yeast

Bitter Old Man Tasting Notes

Original Post: Bitter Old Man
Style: 14C. Imperial IPA
Brew Date: May, 2012
Tasting Date: June 24, 2014
ABV: 8.8%
The first thing I notice is that this bottle is full almost to the brim. I’m immediately afraid of what is going to happen when I pop the cap. Homebrew this old tends to be over carbonated in my experience, being so full seems like an invitation for trouble. Opening it… nope. Perfect carbonation. It pours with a nice, bright white head. It is not as clear as I’d expect from a beer this old, but the color is very nice. It is tan and orange and pretty.

The aroma is immediately memorable. I loved this beer. I remember it having a nice Amarillo hop aroma along with a complex array of malts. The hops are gone but those malts have stood the test of time. Taking a sip, the malt promised in the nose is delivered with a bit of the notorious old homebrew cardboard character. The cardboard comes in late and definitely takes away from the beer, but when it first hits my tongue, it is very nice.

There is, of course, no trace of the hops. I expected the subtle flavor and aroma to be gone, but I remember this beer having a nice bitterness, too and there is none of that. This is all malt and age. I guess it is balanced okay, but I don’t specifically detect bitterness.

I keep mentioning the malt complexity, I guess I need to try to explain it, though I don’t know that I can do it justice. It starts biscuity and then gets a sourdough character and transitions into some general graininess. Victory and Biscuit Malts are often compared and said to be so close as to be interchangeable but I really think including them both here lends some indescribable complexity that could not be achieved otherwise.

Both malts are said to be “biscuit” accented, but they are subtly different and combining them adds something that is really unique and I think it is the hallmark of this beer. And while it probably shouldn’t be aged for two plus years, I love this beer.

It is a time capsule that takes me back to an exciting time. I won’t go into the details of the Summer of 2012, but this beer brings them to the front of my mind and I am very grateful for this glimpse into my own past.

I’m not finished with the beer, but I don’t want to rush it. I’m going to break my own rules and cut off my tasting notes here so that I can enjoy the last few ounces and, in the immortal words of Charlie Papazian, “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.”