Friday, June 9, 2017


Dafuq dis?
A couple weeks ago I got the opportunity to chat with Drew Beechum for an episode of Experimental Brewing's "The Brew Files series". It was a super fun chat about NEIPA's ranging from what the style is all about, their construction, my shitty opinions and my unhealthy Tired Hands obsession. It was super fun, and a really fluid conversation since Drew and I are like minded in our NEIPA affection, especially when using Oats. At some point in the conversation I make mention that I don't brew a lot of weird beers, and try to keep things simple. But the thing about making definitive statements like that when the recorder is running, there is a good chance you shoot yourself in the foot and make a liar out of yourself. I'd make a crap politician, or maybe a good one, flip-flopping is good right? Give the episode a listen anyway, I only somewhat make a fool of myself.

Right, so about shooting myself in the foot on not brewing weird beers. I've seen a couple commercial breweries adding Oat Milk to their hoppy beers in place of Oats in the mash, so I figured I would get weird and give it a try, I love Oats after all. The first brewery I saw using Oat Milk was a collaboration The Veil and Omnipollo (The co-inventors of the Milkshake IPA with Tired Hands, always getting weird with the collabs) in an instagram post, but unfortunately I never got to try the beer. Then I saw a fella named Joe in my local homebrew club brewing with it, so I decided to jump in and give it a try myself. To be honest it sounded kind of gross at first, actual milk in a beer? I was intrigued though, but first I wanted to figure out what the hell Oat milk even was.

Oat milk is all the rage in Sweden apparently, so makes sense Omnipollo is using it, it is non-dairy so no worries there. Essentially whole oat groats are soaked in water for some period of time, that porridge is then blended and strained to give you a thick milk like product with an intense oat flavor. I drank a glass of it before using it and the flavor is super potent. I've been chatting with Brian Hall of Brouwerij Chugach about using it in NEIPA and he suggested dosing a finished beer with it, which we both did and were pretty blown away by the result.

So I bought a bunch of Oat Milk, seems the brand Pacific is the most common in both grocery stores in the states and online, through The Veil used Oatly. I wasn't totally sure how much to use, and though its probably wiser to start small and go up from there I ignored other folks advice and went heavy on the milk for my first batch. Joe, the fella from my homebrew club, measured the gravity of this Oat milk as ~1.046 so when I was formulating my recipe I took that into consideration and added it as an extract in Beersmith. I chose to use 96oz of Oat Milk in a 5 gallon batch, which by my calculations would make up about 14% of my fermentables. As if that weren't enough, and since I like layering Oat varieties these days, my grain bill also consisted of 18% Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats, with Pilsner as my base only because I had it on hand. 

Straight murk.
So 96oz is a large volume in a 5 gallon batch, to avoid ending up with an abnormal finishing volume with a possible low gravity i subtracted the 96oz (0.75 gallon) from my total sparge volume and added the milk at flameout. It seemed to have worked out pretty well in that respect, as I hit a 1.054OG and the exact volume I wanted. I added the milk right from the fridge, though it doesn't require refrigeration prior to opening, the cold milk dropped my wort temp right down to 185F which was a happy accident as I wanted to do a whirlpool hop addition and rest at that temperature anyway. Yay for less chiller water!

I should take a moment to mention the hops, this is a NEIPA after all, though I think most people can gather what hops work well in this style already. I have a lot of hops on hand in my freezer, and chose to use Azacca, Citra, Centennial, Mosaic and Amarillo in this batch. Why? Because those hops are awesome of course, and I am really liking using a wide variety of hops in this style for a more complex fruity, tropical, juicy, hop profile. For this beer I wanted a super low bitterness so only boiled 0.5oz of CTZ with the next addition not happening until the whirlpool, but of course a heavy dry hop was added.
Rabbit food.
For this beer I started a new pitch of yeast, I've been using Wyeast 1318 for some time now but chose to mix it up a little. Something that's always intrigued me was blending a couple of the popular NEIPA yeast strains, and Conan has always been a candidate for that for me. I enjoyed it years ago but the strain is fickle at times, but that peach-y-ness you can get from it is magic. Derek from Bear Flavored and Kent Falls Brewing once joked, "Only the pure of heart can get Conan to behave", I must not be pure of heart. So I blended two Imperial Organic strains, Barbarian (its Conan obv) and Juice (rumored to be similar to 1318), best of both worlds I am hoping. I will use this blend for my next handful of batches, I'm sure it will drift but that's the fun of it.

I always pull a glass of the post boil wort to sip, measure gravity, and visually inspect. Normally there isn't much to write home about, but this was one ugly looking glass. Without a doubt the murkiest glass of wort I've had going to the fermentor since my first batch of the HopHands clone. Tons of solids dropping to the bottom, most of which I am attributing to the milk. It was super creamy though, very, very oat heavy, so nailed that bit yea?
Break material, Oats, whatevs, I knew this would be a hazy\murky one.

I am pouring this beer at the Memphis Taproom Homebrew and Hot Dog Extravaganza for Philly Beer Week, without a doubt the best event of beer week every year. SO if you're local, come give this weirdo a try. Some of it will likely show up at HomebrewCon this year as well. So here it is, my Oat Milk NEIPA...

Better than Özil

Appearance: Absolutely hideous beer, the ugliest beer I have ever brewed, no doubt about that. It is totally opaque and almost white in color when seen in the right light, I'm blaming the Pilsner malt on the lighter color, I prefer it more orange but who cares. Carbonation is still light but there is a bright white thin head on top, fades a bit.

This photo doesn't do the white-ish color justice, I'm just such a damn good beer photog now, soz m8.
Aroma: Huge aromatics coming off this beer, a massive bouquet of Guava, Mango, Peach, and White Grapes. About as tropical and fruit like in the aromatics as you can get, I hope it never fades.

Flavor: Bitterness is virtually non-exsitent up front, but the body is pure silk, more so than many batches in the past. It explodes in your mouth with fruit flavors, Guava and Mango jumps out at me, its so reminiscent of a fruit smoothie that its almost un-beer like. The oat flavor is on full display, not overpowering but its unmistakable in my opinion. As the beer leaves your palate there is a bitterness that creeps in, almost too late but it just saves the finish from being one note.

Final Thoughts: I can't say I would be able to guess this beer was brewed with Oat milk, but the oat flavor is strong in this one. Not so much more than in the Alien Church clone I brewed earlier this year with both malted and rolled oats, flavor wise the oats are pretty similar actually, and that beer didn't look so murky. 

This was a super fun beer, its weird and a bit shocking to look at. I will experiment with Oat milk again in this style but I don't see myself using it as a replacement for malted or rolled Oats with any regularity. I wonder though how it would work out in a Stout where that appearance isn't so shocking, might be worth a shot. 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.82 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Measured FG: 1.012 SG
ABV: 5.5%
Estimated Color: 3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

67.8% - 7lbs 4oz - Swaen Pilsner
18.2% - 2lbs - Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats
14.0% - 0.75 gallons - Oat Milk (Flameout addition)

First Wort Hop - 0.50 oz CTZ [14.00 %] -  27 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Amarillo [12.90 %] 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %] 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Azacca [14.70 %] 
Dry Hop:  3.00 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop:  1.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop:  1.50 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
Dry Hop:  1.00 oz Amarillo [9.00 %]
Dry Hop:  1.00 oz Azacca [14.70 %] 
*Dry hops were split evenly into two additions, half in primary during fermentation and half in a dry hop keg*

1L Starter of Imperial Organic's A04 Barbarian + A038 Juice blended together in equal portions

Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.0 F 

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.31, Water Profile 2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ( 132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 147ppm Cl, 74ppm SO4). Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 64f for 4 days then bumped to 72f for another 5 days, on the 3rd day of active fermentation half of the dry hops were added directly to primary, the other half was added in a dry hop keg on the 12th day. Tapped 15 days from brewday.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tired Hands Alien Church Clone-ish kind of thingy

The title here is misleading since this didn't exactly start that way, but after nearly two years of playing with a recipe inspired by the venerable Alien Church from Tired Hands Brewing Company I've landed on something that's a little bit me, and a little bit Ardmore PA. 

The line of Milkshake IPA's from Tired Hands garner all the attention, and while I think those are culinary masterpieces, they drink more like a cocktail than a beer to me and are a single serving beer for me. The hoppy beers that excite me most are the ones that are exceedingly drinkable, refreshing, capable of blowing your mind, all the while maintaining the ability to be an everyday beer worth a few pours in a sitting. For me, among many other beers, Alien Church ticks all those boxes. Sometimes I drink it and marvel at the pungent aromas, or the silky smooth body. Other times I realize i've thrown back 3-4 without thinking about it as I am thoroughly content and enjoying the moment...I love Alien Church.
Ed's keg pour on the left, and the Alien Church can pour on the right. Hazy, not murky or turbid, no tricks.

So now that I've expounded on my love affair with drinkable beer, how did I arrive at the recipe below? As I mentioned earlier, I originally set out to make a clone recipe for Alien Church but after 8-10 iterations of the recipe and coming to grips with the fact that I have literally zero inside info on the beers production, I started dialing it in on my own preferences. That all said, this beer is very very similar to Alien Church, see photo below for lack of color differences, whatever the hell that's worth. My version is brewed with Oats, hopped with Mosaic, Citra, Chinook, Centennial and Columbus, just like Alien Church. It's fermented out with London Ale III, it'
s ~7% ABV, same (we think) as Alien Church. Similar ingredients, it tastes similar, smells similar, and looks identical to Alien Church, why isn't it a clone? Meh, I suppose it is to an extent but I made a few personal tweaks that I am pretty sure Jean at THBC does not do, but the end result is very Church like so maybe it is a clone.
As homebrewers, we need a better source for Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats by the sack.

The major difference in my recipe and what I believe THBC does with Alien Church is the type of Oats used. Over the course of the many iterations of this recipe the percentage of Oats, and the type of Oats, have changed a bunch. Ratios and timings of hops have changed as well but those tweaks never proved as noticeable as the Oats. Last summer Jean revealed on an episode of Steal This Beer that THBC uses Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats (TFMO), which are awesome, but when I started this I didn't know for sure that they used them so I started with Flaked Oats. 

Yittle bit a dis, yittle bit a dat.

In my experience there is a threshold where too much flaked oats can dominate a beer's flavor profile, on the other hand, the malted oats you can use at much higher proportions. When using only Pale malt and TFMO in the grist I feel the beers body is a little less full/creamy, and the flavor contribution from the flaked oats is missing for me. So after brewing batches with %30 Flaked, 50% Malted, 20% Flaked, etc etc, I found myself a nice little balance when using a Pale Malt base and both Flaked and Malted Oats. As I mentioned before, I have no insiders information on this beer, so Alien Church might have more than just Pale Malt and Oats (kinda doubt it) but this base is perfect to smash hops into.
Oh yea, I am full on BIAB at home now. I'll never go back, I hate wort making, love the cold side.

Alien Church has been out for a few years now, and after the many different batches I've tasted I always had a tough time pinpointing any one of the hops the stand out as predominant, as if thats an easy thing to do. But it kind of makes me think it fluctuates, or has fluctuated, a little but I'm just guessing. The below hop schedule is what I've used over the last 3-4 batches and has resulted in a solid Alien Church-esque bouquet and flavor profile. To the point that you could be tricked into thinking its is AC, both exuding tropical fruit aromas and a restrained but balanced bitterness. One thing I have found is Alien Church has a slightly more dank character than a lot of NEIPA style beers, something I have been able to hit with a small amount of CTZ in the dry hop and whirlpool. I've played with it in this recipe and others and I really like the subtle dank character it adds in the finish and aroma.

Both beers are littered with tropical fruit aromatics, while mine has a slightly stickier ickier aroma. Upfront bitterness on the two are very similar, it hits the tongue then wafts away, both beers finish with a slight bitterness but mine is more pronounced and heavier handed. The silky smooth body of both mine and AC are very similar, though I like to tell myself mine is fuller bc of the flaked Oats, but I can't say I can pick that out in a blind tasting. But I do taste the Oat difference in the two, maybe I'm using more Oats than THBC but I kind of doubt that. Overall the beers are very similar, but mine does stray into its own zone at times, with mine being a little more bitter. Both insanely drinkable beers, perfect this time of year, especially now that its 90F on the east coast.

So here it is, this is not the best clone in the world, this is just a tribute. 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.82 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.067 SG
Measured FG: 1.012 SG
ABV: 7.2%
Estimated Color: 5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 63 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

67.8% - 9lbs 8oz - Pale Ale Malt
14.3% - 2lbs - Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats
14.3% - 2lbs - Flaked Oats
  3.6% - 8oz - Table Sugar *late boil addition*

First Wort Hop - 0.75 oz CTZ [14.00 %] -  22 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 2.00 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
Boil:  5min - 1.50 oz Chinook [12.00 %] 
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz CTZ  [14.00 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.75 oz Citra [12.70 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.75 oz Mosaic [12.90 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.25 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.00 oz CTZ [14.00 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Chinook [12.00 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.00 oz CTZ [14.00 %]
*Dry hops were split into two additions, half in primary during fermentation and half in a dry hop keg*


Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.0 F 

Misc: 45 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.27, Water Profile 2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ( 132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 147ppm Cl, 74ppm SO4). Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 64f for 5 days then bumped to 70f for another 5 days, on the 3rd day of active fermentation half of the dry hops were added directly to primary, the other half was added in a dry hop keg on the 11th day. Tapped 14 days from brewday.