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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Recipe: Diggin' Up A Date Beer 2017


It's August in the South. The humidity is unbearable and it is close to 90F even at night but you still need a date. When you walk your self down to the grave yard with a shovel in your hand you know you have alot of digging to do. You might need to dig a few holes before you find a date you like. The rigors of the task are exhausting and you need to stay hydrated. A nice crisp lager that won't put you in a hole too is what you really need.
Diggin' Up A Date Beer 2017 is an International Pale Lager that is classified as category 2B by the BJCP. The style is similar to an American lager but slightly more robust and flavorful. Here is our version of the classic style:

10 lbs Brewers Malt 2-Row
8.0 oz Vienna Malt
8.0 oz Wheat - Red Malt
0.50 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 45.0 min
1.00 oz Huell Melon [7.20 %] - Boil 10.0 min
0.50 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min
1.00 oz Huell Melon [7.20 %] - Whirlpool for 30 minutes at 170F
1.00 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Whirlpool for 30 minutes at 170F
1.0 pkg SafLager West European Lager (DCL/Fermentis #S-23)
This is the basic recipe. If you would like the full recipe that includes water treatment, yeast nutrient, etc message HopHead Hardware on Facebook or Twitter.

Mash: Single Infusion, Light Body with a step temperature of 148F
This photo does not do the clarity justice.
You could read a book through this beer.

Targets:
Batch Size: 6 gallons
Target OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated FG: 1.009 SG
IBU: 27.5
Color: 3.5 SRM

Ferment using Saflager S-23 at 62F and ramp up to 70 for a diacetyl rest and then cold crash before bottling.

Estimated Bottling Volume: 5.5 gallons
Carbonate to 2.5 Volumes of CO2



So What Does It Taste Like?
The body on this beer is very light but not so light that a craft beer drinker will feel like they are drinking water. It is very clean on the palate with slight notes of citrus and melon. It is incredibly balanced with a noticeable but faint breadiness. This is a beer that you drink while mowing the grass in the hottest part of the year. This is a beer that craft beer drinkers can enjoy and macro crap drinkers will like and not be intimidated by. Just think of a run-of-the-mill American lager that is actually tasty.




For The Sake of Transparency: Affiliate Links Explained


I recently stumbled upon a discussion about affiliate, sites, links, and "self-promotion" on Reddit at r/homebrewing. Some Reddit users appreciate content that sites like this one provided and some users see us as being sneaky and just after your money. For the sake of transparency, allow me to explain how affiliate links work on HopHead Hardware.com and all of our social media pages.

I often link to Adventures in Homebrewing. Their starndard url is http://www.homebrewing.org/. I simply add ?AffId=500 to any page on the AIH site to create http://www.homebrewing.org/?AffId=500 and when someone clicks the link a cookie is placed in their browser. Any purchase made over a certain period of time (i think it is 30 days with AIH) will give me a commission on the sale.

More examples:
Here is a 1lb bag of Briess 2-row from AIH
-Not an affiliate link: http://www.homebrewing.org/2-Row--Pale-Ale-Malt-1-lb_p_3724.html
-Affiliate link: http://www.homebrewing.org/2-Row--Pale-Ale-Malt-1-lb_p_3724.html?AffId=500

MoreBeer is another site that I use:
-https://www.morebeer.com/ vs https://www.morebeer.com/index?a_aid=HopHeadHardware

When someone clicks on one of the affiliate links a harmless cookie is placed in their browser that triggers the site to say "hey, this person came to our site via HopHeadHarware." We get a small commission from the sale and it doesn't affect the price of an order in any way. It could be argued that affiliate commissions are calculated into prices but it can also be argued that affiliates are a good way to boost sales numbers while keeping overhead low. That results in a more profitable business that can provide better service, pricing, and selection to their customers.

Some Reddit users that participated in the discussion were concerned about biased reviews and their concern is valid. I think the majority of the homebrewing community is above that. I know that HopHead Hardware never recommends products for the sake of sales via our affiliate links. Getting caught doing that would tarnish our reputation that we are just starting to build. Naming names would not be cool but we recently dropped two affiliates due to reports of them screwing their customers by inflating shipping charges to outrageous amounts at the same time that they were running a big sale.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Saflager S-23 Review

I'm a big fan of dry yeasts. Many brewers believe that liquid yeast is the only way to go and that dry yeast is inferior. That may have been the case in the past but dry yeast processing has come a long way in recent years. I use lots of US-05 in my homebrews, especially when I am in recipe development mode. For Big Brew Day 2017 I brewed up a "Polish Ale" kit from AIH but it was actually a lager because I used Saflager S-23 from Fermentis. S-23 is a dry lager yeast. It is recommended for the production of fruity and estery lagers at 51F-59F. I have had beers fermented at typical larger temperature range with this yeast and it produces quite a bit of fruity esters. When fermented at ale temperatures something magical happens. It ferments out to an unbelievably clean lager.

That was the last beer that I brewed before I got my fermentation fridge so I was very tempted to pitch US-05 but some fellow club members told me about their experiences with S-23. One guy, in particular, has used it a lot. He said that for clean results treat S-23 just like an ale yeast. My experiences confirmed his advice.

We have used S-23 a few times now at the No Ragrets Brewatorium and we are now building a big healthy culture of this yeast to keep on hand. For most of my S-23 beers, I use the following fermentation schedule:
  1. Pitch re-hydrated S-23 into well-aerated wort at 52F.
  2. Immediately start the rise to 64F and allow beer to ferment for 7 days
  3. Bring the beer up to 68F for 4 days.
  4. Bring the beer up to 70F for 3 more days.
    We are now at the two-week mark for fermentation.
  5. Drop the temperature to 64F for 1 days.
  6. Drop the temperature to 58F for 1 days.
  7. Drop the temperature to 48F for 1 days.
  8. Drop the temperature to 44F for 1 days.
  9. Drop the temperature to 40F for 1 days.
  10. Drop the temperature to 37F until bottling day.
    This profile fits my system and your values may vary from mine. The crash phase is extended but is planned around my beer rotation. Crashing can be done in as little as 2 days but more time should yield better clarity.
After bottling I let these beers sit at room temperature for carbing and conditioning for two weeks and them "lager condition" in the bottle for another week by placing them in the refrigerator. After that, the beer is ready to drink. Please note that I have only been using this yeast for beer in the 4.5% to 6.5% range so a higher gravity beer will need more conditioning time and possibly more primary fermentation time.

I have noticed a long lag time using this yeast of up to 3 days but once it starts it moves fast. A diacetyl rest is advised since this is a lager strain but I cannot say that it is necessary because I have always taken the time for that step when using S-23. Safale says that the attenuation numbers on this strain are a little low but I have gotten up to 88% attenuation using a big healthy pitch that was harvested from the fermenter and rinsed.

Get a pack or two of S-23 and give this yeast a shot. You will be surprised at how easy you can craft a nice lager without all of the typical lager troubles and legwork. Treat your beer like an ale, add a diacetyl rest and voila, you have a homebrewed lager.

Get some S-23 from AIH by clicking HERE.
Get some S-23 from MoreBeer by clicking HERE.

Note: I am bottle conditioning an international pale lager that included S-23 now. I am currently fermenting an IPL (India pale lager) with S-23 and those recipes will be linked here when the beers are ready.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Recipe:Huntress IPA version 1.1


Huntress 1.0 was a really nice beer and I will brew the recipe under another name. It wasn't exactly what I was shooting for so I developed the Huntress 1.1 recipe in an attempt to dial in my perfect IPA that is tuned specifically for me. That is the beauty of homebrewing. A brewer knows what they want and they can make it rather than settling for a commercial beer that they just like a lot. In the end, Huntress will be a tropical melon bomb with a touch of over-sweetness. The dialed in Huntress will also have a big silky body. There is no strict goal for the appearance.

Huntress 1.1 almost hit my goals on the head but it does require some more tweaks. The hop profile is spot on, the body is exactly where I want it to be but the sweetness a little more than what I want and the alcohol level is too high. Even though this version isn't exactly what I want I will reuse it again. An aggressive Belgian yeast strain would make a great Belgian IPA with a big estery juicy profile...yum.

To summarize Huntress 1.1:
The aroma smells like opening a bag of Amarillo hops and taking a whiff. (....well maybe not THAT strong) It tastes like a big juiced up Bell's Two Hearted IPA with heavy melon and citrus note4s. There is very little lingering bitterness and a very silky mouthfeel. The head retention isn't very good and that will be tweaked and could be a product of too much FermCap S used at the end of the boil. At 8.2% abv this tasty treat is sneaky after a fair amount of conditioning time.

This is certainly a recipe worth re-brewing and sharing with all of you fine folks. Here it is:

Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons   Bottling Volume Target: 5 gallons
Targets: OG: 1.070  ABV 7.3%  IBUs: 56   SRM: 5.4  Mash PH: 5.2

  • The mash step temperature is 152 F for 60 minutes for a medium body
  • Primary fermentation should be 65 F
  • Dry hops are 5 days before bottling
  • Bottling calculations are for 2.4 volumes of CO2
  • Let this beer condition for a full 4 weeks and cold condition for at least 5 days
I had some fermentation temperature spikes, a stuck sparge, and too fine of a mill on the grain so this brew session wasn't without problems. I ended up with an OG that was higher than expected and an FG that was lower to make up 8.2% abv. My volume was a little short so my boil off was a very high rate. I decided to let it ride. After running the numbers I could have topped off the batch to the volumes specified by BeerSmith and been right on my OG target. Due to the reduced volume, I experimented with rehydrating the dry hops before pitching them into the beer in order to reduce hop absorption. I used 1.5oz of sanitized and cooled water per ounce of hops. I will do this every time I dry hop from now on.

So far all of my bottles are a little darker than my gravity samples. I believe that they were slightly oxidized but that is a problem with my process and not the recipe. You folks with CO2 access and kegs shouldn't have that problem.

To see the grain to glass video visit our YouTube channel by clicking HERE. I should have waited another week before sampling the beer. If conditioned out some of the flaws that I was picking up during the tasting portion of the video.

If this recipe peaks your interest brew it up and let us know what you think on our social media pages. You can see those links on our Connect page. If you use the links provided we will get a small commission that goes towards more brewing and more brewing means more content for HopHeadHardware.com. Cheers!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Next Up: Frankenbier 001

So..... I may have gone on a few too many shopping binges at our affiliate sites. I have a bunch of ingredients that I need to use up before they start aging on me. We're doing a "Frankenstein" brew and calling it Frankenbier 001. It will be an India Pale Lager and should be ready by the hottest time of the year here in Tennessee. Late August is pretty brutal here with triple digit temperatures and jungle level humidity. This batch is definitely an experiment, but hey...... isn't the experimentation half of the fun. We didn't name our home brewery the No Ragrets Brewatorium for nothin'. Stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see how this one turns out. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see me rambling and for brew day videos.

UPDATE 7/24/2017: This brew day was pushed back by one week. We're letting another beer lager and cold crash for an extra week before proceeding with Frankenbier 001.

UPDATE 8/23/2017: This batch is sitting in the fermentation fridge waiting to be bottled. Just gotta find some time...


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Independent Craft Brewers Seal

I'm not always a fan of the moves that the Brewer's Association makes. I find some of their policies to be overreaching, such as their Advertising and Marketing Code. That was nothing more than censorship that they are imposing on craft breweries. You can read more about that HERE. They got this one right though. The Brewer's Association has launched an official seal for independent craft brewers. The idea is that truly independent craft breweries can use the official seal on their packaging to help distinguish themselves from the evil empire owned brands. Nowadays it can be tricky to weed out the macro soldiers in the cooler.
overreaching and counterproductive. I was most recently bothered by updates to their

The guidelines to qualify for the seal are fairly simple. A brewery must prove that they meet the following criteria:
1: Valid TTB Brewer’s Notice.
2: Meet the BA’s craft brewer definition.
3: Sign a licensing agreement.

The Brewer's Association is not currently restricting approval to its members only. They do cite that there may be an administrative fee for breweries that are not members of the organization. For now, it's free to any qualifying brewery.

How does this affect us, the beer drinkers? If breweries actively participate in the program we will be better educated when making our purchasing decisions. Some of us don't care but some of us really care who we are buying from, or not buying from. I love a few of the beers from Boulevard Brewing, particularly Tank 7 and The Calling. Until last week I didn't know that they were owned by AV-InBev. The lack of the independent craft brewer seal would not have told me about their allegiance to the empire but if the bottle next to it on the shelf did have the approval I would know that it is not affiliated with them. With this seal, we will now have a way to distinguish the truly independent brewed beers from those that are part of a conglomerate without researching or making an attempt to track brewery acquisitions.

You can read more about the seal from the Brewer's Association HERE.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I have played along for too long now. Enough is enough.

{June 9th, 2017}

The craft beer boom has been a real thorn in the side of crap beer producing mega-conglomerates for a while now and none of them are taking action more aggressively than AB-InBev. Through brewery acquisitions, supply chain disruption, and control of beer related press AB-InBev is waging a war against small independent breweries across the world. For many of us, craft beer is a large part of out lives and we must decide how involved we are in the realm of craft beer.

"If the beer is good, I'll drink it." -my old view

I tried to stay out of the politics of my hobby for a long time. But recent moves by AB-InBev have forced me to re-think my position. At first, AB-InBev started getting into the distribution of craft beer; at some point, they realized that the trend was here to stay. I was ok with that. Soon after, they released some "craft beers" of their own. Some of them were actually really good if we're being honest. Many of the great beer lovers wouldn't buy it and crap beer drinkers wouldn't try the new offerings. The AB-InBev "craft" brands failed with a few exceptions. AB-InBev then started buying up small craft breweries. I was ok with that at first. Breweries are businesses after all. When Elysian sold I started to be a little concerned but it wasn't that big of a deal. AB-InBev purchased Northern Brewer, a homebrew supply shop, and the alarms started sounding for me. That is when I realized how far the conglomerate was willing to go to disrupt the craft beer movement.

Craft beer nerds went into full meltdown mode when AB-InBev purchased Wicked Weed Brewing out of Asheville, NC. Frankly, the reaction was ridiculous and over the top. Soon after AB-InBev purchased the hop yards of South Africa and immediately cut off the South African hops hop supply to any company that was not affiliated with them. This was and is a direct disruption of the supply chain. Northern Brewer touted the South African hops in their latest catalog with an over priced grab bag of hops and expensive homebrew kits. I wasn't much of a fan of Northern Brewer to begin with. I always found their shipping times to be too slow compared to their competitors such as MoreBeer, Adventures In Homebrew, Label Peelers, Great Fermentations, and others. Now Northern Brewer is dead to me.

The latest AB-InBev news is about their purchase of part of popular beer rating website Ratebeer.com. In fact, the purchase was made months ago but only recently announced. Many of the craft brewing industries leaders are voicing their concerns about AB-InBev owning RateBeer. Not only does AB-InBev have their foot in the door in the ownership, supply chain, and distribution of craft beer, now they are in on craft beer related journalism. Sam Calagione,
the well known President of Dogfish Head Brewery, is leading the charge against this latest acquisition. Citing conflict of interest and issues with journalistic integrity. Dogfish Head has asked RateBeer to remove all of their beer reviews and mentions from the site. Many other breweries are following suit. You can read Sam's letter be clicking HERE. PASTE Magazine posted a good article about this that you can read by clicking HERE. RateBeer is reportedly ignoring breweries requests to remove them from the site. Personally, I have always preferred Beer Advocate and Untappd. Ratebeer is a meeting place for trolls and fanboys and those who thought they were a cicerone but can't tell the difference in a hoppy pale ale and a double IPA.

I'm ok with playing hardball business. What I am not ok with is using power and slimy tactics to snuff out small businesses just to appease stockholders. In a perfect world, AB-InBev would realize the potential of small craft breweries and instead of trying to squash them AB-InBev would capitalize by helping with distribution. I have drawn my line now. I will no longer knowingly purchase AB-InBev affiliated or owned products whenever possible. No more purchases from Northern Brewer, or Goose Island, or Elysian, or Wicked Weed, or Devil's Backbone, or any of their other affiliates. I'm not arguing that everyone should boycott AB-InBev products or even care. I am saying that everyone should draw a line in the sand and stick with it. If you're are against AB-InBev be sure not to line up for Bourbon County.

I could cite more to back-up some of these facts but a quick Google search will lead you to good sources.