Belgian, IPA, Saison

Weekend Beers

This weekend, I enjoyed two Belgian style American brews: Ovila Abbey Saison and Cali-Belgique IPA.

The Ovila Abbey Saison is a collaboration beer between Sierra Nevada and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This is a beautiful bottle of beer. It stood out on the shelf commanding my attention-and it got it. This beer shows the range of Saison. Nowhere near as dry as what you would typically expect from a Saison. This beer was more like a Saison mixed with a Tripel. And how could you go wrong with that.20130902-122304.jpg

The second beer was a Belgian inspired IPA by Stone. Half the bottles are labeled Cali-Belgie and half Cali-Belgique. The idea of brewing an IPA and adding Belgian yeast sounds simple enough and makes you think “hey, I could of thought of that.” But you didn’t and Stone did, and it’s brilliant. I will add an IPA with Belgian yeast to my must homebrew list because this beer is delicious. It tasted like a Belgian Tripel with lots of hops. The purist, old world beer side of me loved the Belgian spiciness and the American in me loved the smack in the face from the hops.
20130902-123939.jpgI love Belgian beer, who doesn’t, right? But American takes on Belgian beer are making me fall in love all over again. Everything New Belgium is doing, to the beers I just mentioned, the New World is shaking things up.

Homebrewing, IPA

First Brew Finished: Brooklyn Brew Shops Everyday IPA


My First Homebrew: Everyday IPA.

I may have been impatient and popped a cap a week early, but managed to save the last six till they had been bottled for two weeks.

I am thrilled with the results of my first homebrew. Not only is it drinkable, but had I bought this at a store or been served at a bar I wouldn’t have had a clue it was homebrewed by a noob.

I had read complaints about the carbonation – that two weeks was too short and to wait three – but it seemed fine to me. You can see the bubbles in the photo. The head retention wasn’t as long as the one I popped after the first week, but it wasn’t bad. The hop aroma was strong and the taste was bitter – a good bitter, an IPA bitter. This tasted like real beer. Like honest to goodness, store bought beer – and better than some of the stuff they call beer in the store.

I am so pleased with my first Brooklyn Brew Shop Kit that I ordered another, the smoked wheat. Will try to brew it next weekend and post my photos.


Everyday IPA (Brooklyn Brew Shop): My First Homebrew

Finally brewing my first all grain beer!

I bought my supplies from my local homebrew stores – Victors Grape Arbor and Southwest Grape and Grain and ordered my first all grain kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. The kit came with all the grains mixed and ground, a packet of dry yeast, a packet of columbus hops and a packet of cascade hops. If you are interested in the recipe – or more small batch recipes, check out the book they sell.


Everyday IPA Kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop

The hops had an amazing citrus aroma. I divided the cascade hops in to five batches that were added every 10-15 minutes.


Pellet Hops

To start, I followed the instructions on the website. Heated 2 quarts of water to 160 and mashed at about 145. It seemed a bit thick. I think next time I will mash at 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain (I think this was 1:1).


Checking the mash temperature.

After the hour, I poured the wort through a strainer and sparged with 4 quarts of 170 water.


Sparging. Using a strainer.

All the columbus hops hops went in at boil – and the aroma was carried away with the steam. The cascade went in at 5, 15, 30, 45 and 0. It looked and smelled like beer!


My sweet, sweet wort!

I had a 10lb bag of ice in the sink to cool the wort. Took about 15 minutes to get it just under 70. I pitched the yeast and since my boil off was more than I expected, I didn’t use a blow off tube but just used the three piece airlock.


Fermenting the first gallon.

Fermentation took off that night – only a few hours later. It has been in my closet for 2 weeks and I am bottling this weekend.

I will do a few things different – even if it comes out good.

  1. Use more water to grain in the mash.
  2. Rehydrate the yeast – not a starter but in warm water like I do with bread baking.
  3. Maintain a lower and more even fermentation temperature.

Right now, I am assuming my mashing is fairly inefficient and I am not taking OG readings or PH. I am just practicing making beer – getting the techniques down and my workflow. As I progress, I will start worrying about hitting a target gravity and the PH of my water. For now, lets just have fun and brew!