PostNatal IPA Bottled

I almost bottled PostNatal and Cherry Sparkles on Friday, just a week after brewing them, but I just couldn't do it. Even though both were done fermenting, I felt like it was too early to bottle them, even for me.

But now it's in this any-day-now mode with my wife's pregnancy, and eeking out a few hours to bottle one batch, let alone two, is a politically and practically delicate matter. You just sort of never know when I'll be needed.

But since PostNatal is for use after giving birth, I thought it would be nice if it were ready at that time. I know I'd want to crack a cold one pretty soon after giving birth, but maybe I'm projecting.

Fortunately, my wife is one of the most understanding on earth, and was agreeable to me bottling today. It turned out it was really only reasonable for me to bottle one of the batches today, but that's fine. Cherry Sparkles can wait a little bit more. Maybe tomorrow ;)

PostNatal started at 1.032 and the FG was 1.006. That makes it 3.4% ABV, which is a little higher than I wanted, but still hopefully low enough. The body is pretty thin and watery. I think that will improve with some fizz in there, and perhaps a little with age, but age generally hurts hop-centric beers. I will probably add more crystal malts and increase the mash temperature for next time I make this one. The hop bitterness is good and firm with a nice linger, but the hop flavor and aroma are weak to non-existant. I guess I need a lot more hops at flameout and maybe at other late boil times.

I'll report back when they're fully conditioned.


Pictures and revisions

<--Dragon King (left)...and...(right) Marynka Porter-->
First: Dragon King. For some reason, this bottle didn't have as much head as the others have. I still don't know of a great way to get consistent carbonation from bottle to bottle within a batch. Any thoughts?
Now: Marynka Porter. I was on crack when I said this was fruity like Cascades. There's none of that. The body is pleasantly light, given the darkness of the beer. I think it's more the Fuggles I'm picking up on and remembering and calling Cascades. What the hell do I know, anyway?

Brew Day

Today I am making two beers at once. This is the second time I have done this. That makes today the Gemini Series Beta Project.

Gemini Beta One is PostNatal IPA. This is a low alcohol IPA. Before you get all BJCP on me, let me tell you that I know IPA is supposed to have high alcohol, or else it isn't an IPA, just a hoppy Pale Ale. Blah blah blah. There's no style that welcomes 1.030 OG, 11 SRM, 45 IBU beer. At least none that I could find that would mean anything. If you know of one, let me know. The wort is not too sweet (obviously) and is very bitter (perhaps also obviously).

Gemini Beta Two is Chery Sparkles. This is named in honor of Iris, my four year old daughter. This is her self-appointed nickname, and ever since I had her make a label for me, she's wanted me to make this beer. She didn't really care what it tastes like, since she's four and hates beer. I think she'll like it to be pink. I am making my Stonington Memorial Summer Ale recipe, which is just a half wheat, half base malt beer with less than 20 IBU of Tettnanger hops. This is adapted from the Northern Brewer.com American Wheat recipe. But it's not like some earth-shattering unique recipe. I'll be using dry yeast, US-05, like always, so it won't be as tart or tangy as a normal American Wheat beer. Then I'm going to add some cherry extract at bottling time, to give it a very subtle cherry flavor. Then I'll probably dose it up with some red food coloring so the beer and bubbles will hopefully become pink. Should be fun. It's still boiling, so I don't know the gravity, but I'm planning for 5.5 gallons at 1.043.

Marynka Porter Tasted

I also broke into the Marynka Porter. No photo of this one, either. What's wrong with me? I think I'll have to drink one each of the Marynka and the Dragon King tonight so I can get a few snapshots to post here.

The Marynka Porter pours deep dark brown with a small head. The smell is of roasted grains. The taste is dark too. The Marynka hops promised a licorice, cedary flavor, and deliver something like that. I really like the Marynka hops with the Porter. I also used a small dab of Fuggles, but I used a lot more Marynka. I find this kind of a little light-bodied, and the hops seem almost fruity to me at times. I might have guessed there were Cascades in there if I didn't know better. Unless Northern Brewer.com sent me Cascades labelled as Marynka. Which I don't think they'd do. This is my favorite home-made beer right now. The Mean Giant Double Stout and Big Slick IIPA are just a bit over-the-top intense sometimes. But the Marynka Porter hits the spot. And at 7.1% ABV, it's the lowest alcohol of my own beers available right now!

The Marynka porter has no phenol at all to it. Maybe that's just because the dark grains hide it, but I don't think so. The massive hops and ABV in Big Slick couldn't hide it, so why would dark grain flavor hide it. This is part of my new belief that my water is alkiline, and thus better at dark beer.

Dragon King Tasting Notes

I don't have a picture yet, for some reason... but I have broken into the Dragon King Pale Ale.

It pours a very light golden color, with a pretty good sized head. It is still pretty cloudy. The initial aroma is lemony, which I guess comes from Ahtanum hops. Then there's a big whiff of phenol in there, like band aids, still. Where the hell is this coming from?! All new buckets and stuff, so it's not that... Overall, it's not too hard to get past the phenolic smell. The taste doesn't carry it. This beer is an easy drinking 7.8% ABV. The 40 IBU aren't quite enough to achieve a deep bitterness, but there's enough to keep it interesting. The lemon zinger finish makes me anticipate that this will be a nice refreshing summer beer. Refreshing and nearly 8%. Phenols or not, that's not too bad.

Just today I got an email that had included the AHA forum daily email in it. They're having a discussion on phenols over there. Once you get past all the talk of "good phenols" that come from yeast, like Hefes and Belgians and things, I found a new bit of information. Many said that the band-aid phenol could come from high pH sparge water/wort runoff. I am pretty sure that my water is alkiline. The water report indicates it has a high pH, which I always thought didn't matter, as long as the other stuff was OK. Not that I've tested it...

But I also notice that my very dark beers don't seem to have a problem. In fact, before I started brewing, I didn't think I really liked dark beers like stouts and porters. Now I love them. Mine always come out really well. This would make sense with high alkilinity water, since the dark grains have a lot of acidity to them. It might be starting to come together.


America Makes the Best Beer

It's official! My poll got a whopping seven votes to determine that the best beer comes from home. I think there's a person from a different country that logged in and voted for Imports. But I can't argue with numbers. What a landslide! If only I knew what the real elections of today resulted in, I could make a political analogy, but I don't, so I can't.

All I can say, in my best redneck Red-State voice "Whooooo! USA friggin rules man!" But seriously, I do think that we have the best beer culture in the world here. Where else does every brewery make a RIS and IIPA? There are some British breweries that make like ten beers under 5% ABV.

Thanks to everyone who voted here!

Dragon King and Marynka Porter Bottled

On January 26th, I brewed two beers on the same day. Dragon King Pale Ale was intended to be a 1.055, 40 IBU basic pale ale. Marynka Porter was meant to be a 1.047, 33 IBU basic porter, featuring Marynka hops.

This being my first batches with my new grain mill, I got unheard of efficiency, and ended up with a pair of 1.070 beers. That makes a really low IBU American IPA and a midrange Baltic Porter. Unfortunately, I didn't measure pre-boil gravity, so I didn't boost the hops accordingly. Both beers are expected to be a bit malt-leaning.

Today I bottled the two. Marynka's been done for a few days. Dragon King didn't seem as far along, but I figured now's the time.

Marynka ended up at 1.016. One point lower than BeerSmith predicted, even mashing at 155. There's just no stopping that dry yeast! And I didn't even rehydrate it. The beer has a nice dark grain aroma, with the taste to go along with it. The hops are subtle, as expected, and perhaps to style. Marynka is said to have a cedar, rootlike, licorice thing going on, and I can sort of pick up on that. I figured this would be a really nice complement to a Porter's dark malts. Now that it's a baltic porter, the Polish hops only make more sense. I am really happy with this one. There's a slight tang, and the body is a little light. I think I need to use more dark malts to get past that dark malt tang, and that will also deepen the body. I'll just have to ignore the SRM specs for dark beers that I make. Mean Giant RIS proves I love tons of dark malts.

Dragon King came out weird. I used two hops I don't normally use: Brewer's Gold and Ahtanum. Brewer's Gold was a 60 and 30 minute addition. It turns out that Brewer's Gold is sort of like a low alpha Chinook, which I am learning that I don't like too much. It has a real pukey smell to me, which might be more objectively described as intensely resiny and spicy. Big Slick IIPA has a lot of Chinook in it, and it is worse off for it. Maybe Columbus next time? Or Simcoe? Or ?? But Dragon King is no IIPA. With 40 IBU and 1.070, it is very mildly hopped. To say the least. But the Chinook makes a decent bitterness when you don't catch a whiff of them. The Ahtanum is said to contribute a distinctive sweet, citrus-zest character. Making the recipe, I thought "grapefruit" and thought maybe I had a Cascade option here. But it is more like lemon. The lemon zest impression from a 30 minute and flameout addition of Ahtanum is big. Almost like actual lemon zest. This is a summer beer. A huge one. Coming out at 1.010, it is 7.8% ABV. The alcohol is pretty well hidden, and the overwhelming character is my negative impression of Chinook and a big lemon tang finish. It doesn't help that it is dry as hell, finishing at 1.010 and all. But I think the big ABV will help this one keep for a few months until it's warm enough to enjoy a refreshing beer. Plus there's something to be said for a nearly 8% beer that's anything close to refreshing. This just might end up being a regular summer brew for me, and for my eventual brewery. The concept is perfect for today's beer market.

So there you have it, two beers, twins, born in the same day, but not identical. Both are good in their own way. You can never choose a favorite child. But I feel a preference for Marynka right now, based off this tasting. Of course, come warmer days, I just might change my mind. Sort of like the kids. One day, Iris is the fave. Then the next day, Boden is best.

Another nice thing was saving some time by bottling two batches at once. The original intent of brewing two in one day was to save several hours by parallel brewing. The same thing paid off today in bottling. It's been taking me two-and-a-half to three hours to bottle one batch, but I did two today in probably four hours. I was able to sanitize the bottles for batch two while bottling batch one. And I did a bunch of other ad-hoc multitasking as I went along.

This is also amazing considering this was my first bottling with Iodophor. I am on a 15-minute soak schedule with Iodophor for now (although I hear that it doesn't need that much, that's just what Zok said to do). So if I have to do four rounds of sanitation in my bottling bucket to handle two cases of bottles, that's an extra half hour right there.

In the end, it's awesomely cool to bottle four cases of beer in one day. I feel like a farmer that just sowed all the seeds for the season. I just can't wait until this abundant feast of beer is ready to harvest. They say you reap what you sow, but I can't wait to reap this!


Gemini Alpha Update

A week ago, I had my first dual brew day. Gemini Series is the name of the two-beers-made-on-the-same-day thing. Alpha is my name for the first of this series. They were made together, pitched just hours apart, but not progressing at the same rate.

Marynka Porter had an OG of 1.070 for 5 gallons. It's pretty much done fermenting now. I haven't seen a bubble all day. Though I see evidence of bubbling when I go down there. I figure it's to the point where it's just expressing the CO2 from the beer that's now made in the bucket.

Dragon King Pale Ale had an OG of 1.070 for 5.5 gallons (total coincidence on the same OG). It's still going. It bubbles every ten seconds or even more frequently. It is probably still scrubbing those last few points of gravity off the beer. Interesting, and even expected, since I mashed it four degrees cooler than Marynka (151 vs. 155). Plus, it's obviously lighter, and thus, to a certain extent, more fermentable by nature.

I could probably bottle Marynka right now. And God is it tempting. But I want to wait. I want to bottle them together. Two for one. Both on the same day. So in all likelihood, I'll be making the move on Tuesday or so next week. Of course, I'll post about it when the time comes. I'm eager to taste these latest creations. I expect both to be excellent. I think Dragon King might end up a little under-hopped, since the gravity came in 15 points higher than planned. But I'll be happy with clean-tasting, contaminant-free beer right now. Hopefully new buckets and tubes means no band-aid phenols.