Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tasting:Humbolt Brewing Hemp Ale

My wife and I hosted an Oktoberfest party which was also a late 40th birthday last week. We had over a dozen beers on offer and some great food. We had 4 different Oktoberfest beers, the orginal (Spaten) was the best, but all were enjoyable. One of my friends brought the Hemp Ale and was curious to know how it tasted since we didn't get around to tasting it during the party, so I promised him I would post a review:

Tasting: Chilled to ~40 degrees (f) from a pint glass.

Appearance: 3/3 Gorgeous mahogany color, nice off-white head.
Head: 1.3/3 Thin head that disappears after 1/4 glass.
Aroma: 2/3 Rich malt smell with hint of fruit .
Flavor: 2/3 Sweet, malty, hint of roast, no discernable hops or bitterness.
Mouth feel: 2.5/3 Medium body with light malt lingering on the palette.
Overall: 1.5/3 Drinkable, not bad, but nothing stands out to make me want more.
Buzz: 2/3 Moderate buzz after 1 glass.

I am not sure, but it could be that the hemp is used in place of hops as a bittering agent.  I read elsewhere that the stems of the hemp is used, not the leaves or bud.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Brew 8 - Pilsner

It has been a couple weeks since brewing a czech-style pilsner, and the beer is fermenting comfortably at 52deg (F) in my chest freezer.

This was another brew that I am very thankful I had brewing software for. I have several recipes for Pilsner, and this one was very basic using primarily 2-row instead of imported malt, but I thought the hops looked low.

I loaded the recipe into Beer Tools and saw that the bitterness was about 30% lower than the range for the style, so I boosted them up to be within the range. Here is the recipe:

Here are my brewing notes:

5:54 PM 8/22/2008 Burner started under Mash/Lauter Tun

Strategy: Mash in at 140(F), observe drop to 128
Recirc/Heat to 145(F)
Single Decoction to 150 (F)
Recirc/Heat until 160(F)

5:59 PM 8/22/2008 Temp = 158, replace water and recirc.
6:10 PM 8/22/2008 Dough in @ 141
6:14 PM 8/22/2008 Temp = 132
6:34 PM 8/22/2008 3 recirc. @ 1 qt ea + dir heat - Temp ~ 145
6:35 PM 8/22/2008 Start 1st Decoction
6:51 PM 8/22/2008 Decoction ph = 5.0, mash ph = 5.4
6:51 PM 8/22/2008 Mash temp = 145
6:59 PM 8/22/2008 recirc. + return decoction + direct heat
7:00 PM 8/22/2008 temp @ 150
7:04 PM 8/22/2008 2nd decoction
7:13 PM 8/22/2008 temp uneven 152 - 160
7:24 PM 8/22/2008 end 2nd decocotation
7:26 PM 8/22/2008 Direct heat + recirc.
7:32 PM 8/22/2008 temp @155
7:35 PM 8/22/2008 Starting sparge water heat - 6 gallons
8:05 PM 8/22/2008 Water at 180
8:11 PM 8/22/2008 Started Sparging, 1st runnings at ?? (hydrometer is broken)
8:40 PM 8/22/2008 Started boil
9:15 PM 8/22/2008 2.5 oz of Saaz hops
10:00 PM 8/22/2008 Added Irish Moss
10:05 PM 8/22/2008 put immersion chiller in
10:12 PM 8/22/2008 added .5 oz of Saaz hops
10:17 PM 8/22/2008 stopped boil, started chill
10:24 PM 8/22/2008 temp = 130
10:58 PM 8/22/2008 finished cleanup, beer in primary at 75 degrees, temp controller set at 70 degrees.

The mash tun spout was positioned over a 6 qt enamel pot with a burner under it, and when recirculating I would heat the wort up to 160 and then pour it over the grain bed.

When applying direct heat, I would also draw the bottom fluid off so it didn't heat up too much, the fluid was coming out at around 160, and then pour it over the grain bed.

My decoctions must have been too small since the temperature rise was a lot lower then I expected.

The next morning I purchased a new hydrometer and took a gravity reading, it was 1.050, I have no idea what the original gravity was. 1.050? 1.052? the target was 156 so it came in lower than expected.

I pitched from a 750cc starter and the primary started to ferment almost exactly 24 hours after pitching, 36 hours after pitching I dropped the temp to 60(F), 48 hours after I dropped to 55(f) and then to 50(f) where it bubbled away.

After 10 days, I transfered to secondary then slowly raised the temp. to 63(f) for 2 days (diacetl rest), then 1-2 degrees per day, I lowered the temp to 38(f) where it has been for 2 weeks now.  I used a 5 gallon corny keg for secondary, it is a very nice fermentation vessel for secondary fermentation and I plan to use them from now on.

The beer was very clear, somewhat thin and a little bitter when I tasted it during racking, we will see how it ends up after lagering is complete.  I purchased some Malto Dextrose so I can add a little body if needed.