Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Modern Times Blazing World Clone

Photo courtesy of

It might appear that I have been brewing like crazy recently, and if you're talking to my wife she would agree with you. Living in a a cold weather climate this time of year I try to take advantage of every day we get that is above 40 degrees to get outside and brew. Most recently I have taken some inspiration from Chris at Lewybrewing.com and started doing some double brewdays, his system seems to make it much easier for him the mine does but I manage. I have only done it three times so far but I have been dialing in my process quite well. On this occasion this beer shared a brewday with the Philly Breakfast Stout. There were three of us working on the day so things were a little easier then my other two double brewdays but timing is still key so that the brewday does not run on for over 8 hours.

Now to the beer, I'll keep this short and sweet because this is not even my recipe. By this point you've probably already heard of Modern Times Beer, they have gotten alot of attention over the last few months, and rightfully so as they came out of the gate very strong with their first four year round offerings (Blazing World, Fortunate Islands, Lomaland, and Black House). Modern Times has been on my radar ever since they tapped Michael Tonsmeire, from the  TheMadFermentationist.com, to develop those very recipes as a brewery consultant. Tonsmeire's blog has been the inspiration for my own blog, and I would assume many others, and his postings have really helped me along the way to become a better brewer.

From the beginning Modern Times has been an open book when it comes to their recipes and process for these beers with links directly to the recipes on BeerSmith, their idea was to crowd source the homebrew community on the recipes as well as build up interest in their brewery. I had always wanted to try a couple of their recipes, but it was on the back burner until a few months ago I got my hands on cans of each of the four and was blown away. Over the next few months I plan to brew three out of the four of their year round beers starting with Blazing World. I enjoyed the Black House but a stout would last on tap in my house for a little too long, next will be Fortunate Islands and Lomaland both are right up my alley.

Blazing World is described right on the can as Hoppy. Dank. Amber. I couldn't agree more with those descriptors, its has moderate but sharp bitterness, big tropical fruit notes and an underlying biscuity malt presence to "balance" it out. I took their recipe right from the website as a starting point but made some tweaks for my system and my preferences when brewing hoppy beers but the basic beer should be very similar.

I increased the amounts in some of the hop additions, especially in the late additions and dry hop, i bittered solely with CTZ instead of CTZ and hop extract since I had a bunch on hand. I also moved the Simcoe mash hop to a first wort hop, I realize these can be pretty different but I am still not sure I get anything from mash hopping. The other change I made was using BRY-97 American West Coast Ale instead of 1056, this really isn't much of a change from 1056 and I have been wanting to try it out for some time now.

Tasting Notes: 3/12/2014

Blazing Wards

Brew day: 12/28/2013
Kegged: 1/18/2013

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 14.20 gal
Post Boil Volume: 11.50 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 11.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 10.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Measured OG: 1.059 SG
Measured FG: 1.010 SG
Estimated Color: 8.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 72 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

83.5% - 21lbs 8oz - CMC Superior Pale Ale Malt (3.1 SRM)
11.7% - 3lbs - Munich  (10.0 SRM)
3.9% - 1lb - Dextrose (added with 5 minutes left in boil)
1.0% - 0lbs 4oz - Roasted Barley (310 SRM)

First Wort Hop - 0.75 oz Simcoe [12.50%] - 11.0 IBUs
Boil: 60min - 2.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 53.2 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 2 Whirlfloc Tablet + 2 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
20 Minute Whirlpool ~180f - 2.25 oz Simcoe [12.50%]
20 Minute Whirlpool ~180f - 1.75 oz Mosaic [11.50%]
20 Minute Whirlpool ~180f - 1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [11.20 %]
Dry Hop - 7 days - 4.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [11.20 %]
Dry Hop - 7 days - 2.00 Mosaic [11.50%]
Dry Hop - 7 days - 1.75 Simcoe [12.50%]

BRY-97 American West Coast Ale

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 150.0 F 

Fly Sparge 9 gallons of 175f

Misc: 15 seconds of pure O2, tank ran out mid aerate so I shook the fermenter for another 60 seconds. Filtered New Jersey tap water, no water adjustments because I am not familiar with the profile.

Notes: Lag time was very long with this strain, 36+ hours without seeing visable fermentation in the Better Bottle. I was about to do something about when I got home from work at the end of the 2nd day but things had taken off. You can read more about mine and Five Mile Brewing's experiences in this thread. We had to substitute the Roasted Barley for the Pale Chocolate due to availability locally, I tried to scale it down to match the color of the original as best I could.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tasting Notes: Jah-Rod

I had some high expectations before I even got around to brewing Jah-Rod. I suppose its due to my love for Prairie 'Merica, for which this beer is a clone of, and since Shawn from Meek Brewing was so pleased with his version, I expected the same satisfaction from my attempt. But realistically I thought that it would take a few batches to dial things in a little bit, although it still may need some tweaking this beer exceeded my expectations right out of the gate. 

Enough tooting my own horn, here are some tasting notes, first are mine and the second are tasting notes from a friend I gave a bottle to. I didn't expect such a thorough glowing review of the beer, especially when I ask people to judge my beers as they would a commercial beer and ignore the fact that its considered homebrew.

Appearance: The beer pours a hazy golden straw color with an orange hue, moderate carbonation shooting up from the bottom of the glass can be seen through the haze. There is a 
with a white pillowy one finger head that leaves nice lacing on the glass after every sip.

Aroma: Notes of white wine, tropical fruits, a slight sticky dankness. Faint Belgian esters in the background, some coriander and pepper in the aroma as well.

Flavor: Citrus upfront, then a sharp bitterness right on the front of the tongue accentuated by the dryness of the beer giving way to peppery spice notes. The finish leaves you with some tropical fruit, tangerine, passion fruit. A touch of tartness and dry, dry, dry like white wine in the finish.

OverallIf you read this blog its no secret that I am a Saison fan, and I love the classic versions of the style, but this beer pairs the classic Saison characteristics with a bright pungent hop profile that really ties it all together for me. A more modern take on the style if you will. I am already itching to rebrew this and I haven't even gotten to try the Brett variant yet.  With another significant snow storm on the horizon for Philly I can't help but imagine drinking a growler of this beer on the beach this summer. Fret not, there will be plenty of this beer on tap come the warmer months.

Here is the review by a friend of mine for some unbiased tasting notes.

AppearanceJah-Rod is a quintessential example of the Saison/Farmhouse ale. The brew pours a muted strawlike yellow with substantial haze. The Saison produces a solid two fingers of foam upon the initial pour and demonstrates great retention of an ample cap throughout the drinking process with ample amounts of lacing. The appearance of this beer is a textbook Saison.

AromaThe aroma contains a depth and complexity with an initial citrus tartness which is accompanied by earthy and floral notes.FlavorThe flavor profile is light, zesty, with a bit of a funky backbone. The profile has a tartness that becomes more prominent toward the finish. Medium-bodied, with aggressive carbonation gives impression of a light drinking sessionable beer.OverallI would place this Saison among well known stalwarts such as Sofie or Hennepin.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Philambic Solera: The Half Birthday and the first tasting.

Sorry for the crappy iPhone pics, the DSLR
was out of commission.
As of January 19th 2014 my Solera "barrel" officially turned 6 months old. I have been itching to remove the carboy cap and take a whiff since fermentation subsided but it has remained sealed these past 6 months, ok I lied I snuck a peak once 4 months ago. I figured it was time to take a look at it, take a whiff and pull a sample to taste, because I have no idea if this is going well or not.

The cliff notes are, its going well, very well if you ask me. I pulled a good 8oz sample with a stainless turkey baster as seen in the photo to the right. The pellicle is thick and dusty, no 2 pellicles are the same and this is one of the more aggressive ones I have had in a few years of sour brewing. The white film on the side of the glass is bits of the pellicle, it was impossible to not get some in the glass. 

Tasting Notes
1.006 SG

The aroma is very lactic with some assertive fruity brett notes, peach, tangerines, pear. The first sip is very tart, like biting into a fresh tart green apple or a pear, in a good way. more fruit flavors throughout. On the back end it starts to feel dry and then hits a wall with a bit residual sweetness. 

It most certainly needs more time to round out, it reminds me a lot of the 1 year old unblended Lambic that I tried while on the tour of Brasserie Cantillon. Not that I am comparing the quality of this beer to a world class Lambic, but the tartness that then appears dry and finishes with some sweetness is the exact same impression that I had of the still Lambic from the barrel there. Which makes me think I am on the right track here, and no reason to think in 6 more months I won't have anything less then a solid sour beer. Time will tell.

To this point the beer has been in the keg without any oak, when I pulled the sample I added 0.75oz of nuetral oak cubes that spent time in 2 Saisons with Logsdon's, Hill Farmstead, and Crooked Stave dregs. The amount of cubes is a shot in the dark, I wanted to err on the side of being conservative as I don't want any oak flavor only as an added food source for the Brett to chew on and for a place for them to live. I may add more in 6 months when I check in on this next, until then I leave you with pellicle photos thats all people want to see anyway right?