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September 6, 2010

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about the focus of my blog.  Of course I love to brew beer, but I also like to cook and now my wife and I are getting into gardening.  So, I’ve come up with a new blog called The Thirsty Commuter. It’s been a good year plus run with this blog, but I feel change is necessary. I’m not going to take down this blog, because I plan on keeping it for nostalgia sake.

So, I invite you to come and join me at my new blog!


Extra Special Bitter Tasting

June 13, 2010

I’m down to my last few bottles of my ESB,  and I realized that I haven’t posted about the results yet! I better get crackin’ before it’s all gone!

Aroma: Malt forward aroma with hints of caramel.

Appearance: Golden brown

Flavor: Malt malt and more malt! I’m getting more hints of caramel and the beer is not sweet. It’s got a great finish.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation level is between low to medium, and overall the beer is not too heavy.

Overall Impression: I am very very happy with this beer and the Thames Valley yeast! I think next time I will try and use British Crystal malts to see if it makes a difference.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Results From First Competition!

May 1, 2010

You are looking at the third place finisher in the Scottish/Irish Ale Category at the 2010 UNYHA Home Brew Competition!  I was quite shocked to see the results as soon as it was posted on the competition’s website.  In the competition itself, there were over 300 entries, and in my category I was one of 17 entries.  Not a bad result for my first ever competition, eh? Placing third in my category was a very nice accomplishment, but the main purpose in my mind was getting feedback from a trained palate.

I have received my score sheets in the mail from the judges and my final assigned score was a 35/50. With the score sheets I also got my certificate and ribbon (pictured above) and I also received a $25 gift certificate to for hops!

Judge No. 1 (non-BJCP certified)

Aroma: Coffee Odor, mild hop, slight fruity odor. Caramel. (8/12)

Appearance: Brownish, slight red hue. Good head, light brown in color. Good clarity. (2/3)

Flavor: Sweetness lasts into finish, good malt/hop balance. (15/20)

Mouthfeel: Medium body, light-moderate carbonation, maybe a bit low. (4/5)

Overall Impression: Pretty good example of style, and a good drinker. (8/10)

Total Score: 37/50

Judge No. 2 (Nat’l Judge-C0100)

Aroma: Some sweet maltiness. (7/12)

Appearance: Color and clarity good, head didn’t last. (2/3)

Flavor: Malt dominates the hops just a little (appropriate for style). A little caramel flavor evident. (13/20)

Mouthfeel: Good body & CO2. (4/5)

Overall Impression: A light drinkable ale. (7/10)

Total Score: 33/50

I am very pleased with the feedback I received from both of the judges! In the future I will be a lot more confident in my brewing abilities when it comes to entering more competitions.  However, part of me wonders if they could’ve elaborated a bit more. I’m sure this is probably the norm for a competition of this size with the number of entries. Am I wrong for feeling a little slighted with their comments?

Now, the fun part will be figuring out what kind of hops to get with my gift certificate! Cheers!!

Extra Special Bitter Brew Day

March 27, 2010

It’s an absolutely beautiful, cool day outside today. I picked a perfect day to brew my next batch which will be an Extra Special Bitter. This is a style that I have never brewed before. The only commercial experience that I have had with this style is Fuller’s ESB. I’m excited to see how it turns out! I am also trying out a new yeast, which is Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale.  The recipe below is from Brewing Classic Styles.

BeerSmith Recipe Printout –
Recipe: Extra Special Bitter
Brewer: Karmabrew
Asst Brewer:
Style: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)
Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.25 gal
Boil Size: 7.61 gal
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 8.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 42.6 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU
11.00 lb      Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        93.62 %
0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM)     Grain        4.26 %
0.25 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)    Grain        2.13 %
2.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (60 min)    Hops         42.6 IBU
1.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (0 min)     Hops          –
1 Pkgs        Thames Valley Ale (Wyeast Labs #1275) [StaYeast-Ale
Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 11.75 lb
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp
60 min        Mash In            Add 17.63 qt of water at 164.0 F    154.0 F

BeerSmith Recipe Printout – http://www.beersmith.comRecipe: Extra Special BitterBrewer: KarmabrewAsst Brewer: Style: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)TYPE: All GrainTaste: (35.0)
Recipe Specifications————————–Batch Size: 5.25 gal      Boil Size: 7.61 galEstimated OG: 1.057 SGEstimated Color: 8.1 SRMEstimated IBU: 42.6 IBUBrewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Ingredients:————Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      11.00 lb      Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        93.62 %       0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM)     Grain        4.26 %        0.25 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)    Grain        2.13 %        2.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (60 min)    Hops         42.6 IBU      1.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (0 min)     Hops          –            1 Pkgs        Thames Valley Ale (Wyeast Labs #1275) [StaYeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch SpargeTotal Grain Weight: 11.75 lb—————————-Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch SpargeStep Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp     60 min        Mash In            Add 17.63 qt of water at 164.0 F    154.0 F


Time For Feedback

February 28, 2010

One of my goals this year with home brewing is to enter one of my brews into a home brewing competition. So, what better way to get that goal accomplished by entering my first batch of the year! I’m not really trying to win an award. My main focus is to get some honest feedback from an impartial judge. Don’t get me wrong I love all the positive feedback from my wife, friends and family that I get with most of the stuff I make.

In the latest issue of Zymurgy magazine, I saw the listing of upcoming competitions and I decided to enter the Upstate New York Homebrewers Association’s annual competition, which is being held on March 27th. With shipped entries being due on March 12, I better get ready to pack and ship my beers!!

Early Irish Red Version 2 Tasting

February 27, 2010

This weekend marks two weeks that my first brew of 2010 has been in the bottle conditioning. Ever since I bottled this brew I have been dying to try it. I’ve been feeling like a total newb to the hobby with all this nervous anticipation!  Today, I decided to chill a bottle and give this brew a taste to see how it turned out.  The beer is still relatively young, but I am pretty impressed with the results.

Aroma: Malt forward with a subtle roastiness, but mainly caramel-like. Hop aroma is non-existent.
Appearance: Beautiful deep amber color, with a low off-white colored head which quickly dissapates.
Flavor: Malt forward with a moderate caramel sweetness with a very slight dry finish with the roasted barley. No hop flavor is present.  In my opinion, I think the beer could use a touch more hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium body. There seems to be some diacetyl present which leads to a slight slickness to the mouthfeel (acceptable for the style).  Low to moderate carbonation.
Overall impression: This beer is pretty darned good for being so young. Personally, I would like to have more of a dry finish. I might have to increase the roasted barley in the recipe next time I brew this.  This recipe is definitely a keeper. I’m excited to see how this beer will evolve as it ages!
Rating: 3 out of 5

Move Over Smithwick’s!

February 15, 2010

Literally two weeks to the day I brewed my first batch of the year which is an Irish Red Ale.  This was also the inaugural brew using my new Barley Crusher (BC)!  It took me a while to crush the grain because I was turning the crank the wrong way!  It wouldn’t be a real brew day without a little user error.  Once I got the hang of it the BC went through all the grain with no problems. The recipe I brewed (below) was taken from the book Brewing Classic Styles (BCS).

BeerSmith Recipe Printout –
Recipe: Irish Red Ale
Brewer: John D
Asst Brewer:
Style: Irish Red Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)
Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.25 gal
Boil Size: 7.19 gal
Estimated OG: 1.053 SG
Estimated Color: 17.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 19.2 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU
10 lbs        Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        89.77 %
6.1 oz        Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)     Grain        3.41 %
6.1 oz        Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)    Grain        3.41 %
6.1 oz        Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)                Grain        3.41 %
1.00 oz       Fuggles [4.50 %]  (60 min)                Hops         19.2 IBU
1 Pkgs        Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084) [Starter 125Yeast-Ale
Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 11.14 lb
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp
60 min        Mash In            Add 16.71 qt of water at 162.8 F    153.0 F

Due to my user error with the BC, I had to run most of the grain through twice, and I got a lot more fine of a crush than I should have.  I ended up with a 1060 SG wort that went into the fermenter.

Today, I was ready to get this brew bottled.  I checked the gravity and it ended up at 1015. Perfect! The hydrometer sample tasted amazing. I believe I nailed the malt character beautifully this time for my second attempt at an Irish Red Ale.  I can’t wait to taste it once it’s fully carbed!