Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just a Beer, Please...

With all of the double, imperial, quadruple, wet hopped, continuously hopped, torpedo hopped, oaked, brett fermented, extreme, spiced, double digit percentage alcohol beers on the market these days, it can be easy to forget that sometimes people need “just a beer.” There are seven taps in by basement. I like keeping one or two of the above-mentioned beers around at any given time, but for the most part, people that come over to visit want to drink something that I’ve brewed, and they usually want to have more than one. So sometimes I simply need to brew an enjoyable beer that can be safely consumed one after the other. Ideally this beer is something that I can crank out relatively quick.

Recently I brewed such a beer – an Ale that I call the “Red Loin.” Despite the red designation, it does not fit, nor is it intended to fit, into any particular style guideline. Last month as my beer supply was getting dangerously low, I just started jotting down a recipe off of the top of my head for something to get on tap as a standard offering. The recipe is pretty arbitrary as you can see below. I enjoy brewing these spontaneous beers, because when I shoot for something specific, I am often disappointed. (It is hard to duplicate beer, especially those from the other side of the globe.) But I almost always enjoy the results of a randomly brewed beer for which I had no pre-conceived notions. Here is the recipe if you are interested:

89% Weyermann Vienna
5% Crisp “Light Crystal” (15L)
3% Crisp “Medium Crystal” (45L)
1% Crisp “Dark Crystal” (75L)
1% Castle Special B (145L)
1% Roasted Barley (~500L)

60 min boil – Northern Brewer (enough for 20 IBUs)
40 min boil – Northern Brewer (enough for 17 IBUs)
20 min boil – Willamette (enough for 8 IBUs)
Knock Out – Willamette (I used 1 oz for a 6.25 gal batch)
Dry – East Kent Goldings (I used 1 oz for a 6.25 gal batch)

Wyeast 1028 – London Ale

Mash: 122 degrees for 20 minutes, 154 for 40 minutes, and 168 for 10 minutes.

O.G.: 1.055
F.G.: 1.013
Alcohol: 5.5% abv
Apparent Attenuation: 75%

The percentages given above are by total grist weight. Use your own calculations to achieve the listed IBU for your system and volume. I open ferment in an 8 gal enamel pot, but you can ferment any way you desire! And that is not a typo above; I used Vienna as the base malt. Normally I would have used Marris Otter, but I wanted this beer to be different. Vienna is a great alternative, because it has a bit more character than a standard 2-row malt, and like Marris Otter, it adds a touch of color. Though seldom used, I believe it makes a great base malt. Maybe it gets no respect because it is caught between Pilsner and Munich malt?

The Red Lion turned out very nice. It pours a dark copper/light red color with a solid off white head. It has a pleasant earthy hop aroma with a touch of yeast character, a soft, round flavor that is fairly mild with nothing dominating, but a solid hop backbone along with a range of malt flavors. And it finishes with a smooth malt note and a subtle dry hopped EKG finish. Overall it is a very easy drinking beer with good character. Perfect to have on tap for when friends come over to visit. If I were to change one thing I would probably darken it up a touch. You can achieve this by adding a bit more Special B or roasted barley to the mash. Play around with it!

Speaking of all of those over-the-top beers that I mentioned above in the first sentence, do any of you have recommendations for my upcoming snow cave camping trip later this month? It is a bit of a hike (through the snow), and relatively cold, so I am looking for something strong and compact that will warm me up around the fire. (And it has to compliment Laphroaig 10.) Please provide any suggestions – I’m always looking to try new beers.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I've found nothing that chases a good single malt better than a good Scotch Ale. As the the Scots say, "I'll have a wee dram and a wee heavy." If you're hiking, you can't beat beer in cans. So even though I'm sure it's not a new brew for you, I'd go with Oskar Blue's Old Chub. Cheers!