A Dark Ray of Sunshine

imageConsidering its Portland, this winter hasn’t been as dreary as it could be. I brewed a robust porter with the expectation of cold weather and grey rainy days. One might think you would want a bright, sunshiny beer to counter winter’s melancholy days. For me though, this black elixir serves as a way to embrace the cold and grey. It’s like a warm coat you can wrap yourself into. It helps shield you from the elements, giving you an appreciation for the otherwise drab and dismal days of winter.

This porter ended up a tasty pint. I was not initially a fan of this beer though. Once it was carbonated, there was a harsh bitterness that surprised me. The hop bitterness combined with the astringency of the dark malts left the beer with a rough mouth feel. I was worried at first but decided to leave it alone. Then I tried it a few weeks later and was pleased to discover a delicious beer loaded with chocolate and maple flavors. While I would still say the bitterness is firm, it faded substantially and left a pleasant herbal character. This beer is definitely suitable for more than one pint. The alcohol came out to 5.8% so it’s not a session beer by any means, but the chocolaty, sweet flavor combined with a dry finish makes it an easy drinking beer.

I’m not really a competition brewer but I’m considering entering it if I can find one coming up. It will have to be soon though. This keg won’t last long.

Waiting for Pilsner

pilsI love and hate Bohemian pilsner. Crisp, hoppy, and refreshing with that rich bready, cracker character. Yum!  So what is there to hate? They take too long!

I brewed a Bohemian Pilsner on February 12. After about 2 and half weeks I increased the temperature from 50 F to 68 F (using my STC-1000 and a heating pad. Love that thing!)  It was looking good when I transfered it to a keg for cold storage after about 3 weeks. The yeast had significantly dropped out showing a sunny pale yellow color. The sample I tried was tasty. Perfect amount of noble hoppy bitterness from the Saaz hops.  I can’t wait to get this on gas and pull a pint but alas I’ll have to wait until the end of April.  I’m now regretting that I only brewed 6 gallons!

Like the porter I brewed a while ago, this recipe came from Brewing Classic styles. Pilsner, although tough to do well, is a pretty simple recipe. You can use all pilsner malt and adjust for your desired gravity. You’ll want to keep the gravity somewhere between 1.044 and 1.056. Add a little something for head retention if you want like the Carapils in this recipe. Use Saaz hops and keep your bitterness between 35 and 45. Those are the basics of the recipe.

Mine came out with a slightly higher gravity than I wanted. It started at 1.055. I did a double decoction mash and the efficiency came out a good deal higher than I anticipated. It finished at 1.012. I would have prefered a lower alchol but as long as the alcohol is not detectable I’ll be happy. Next time I’ll anticipate a higher efficiency when conducting a decoction. The gravity was acutally higher than 1.055 but I added some water shortly before flame out when I saw the gravity was higher than I wanted. Hooray for refractometers!

Anyway it was a fun brew day. Now its in the fridge. And I am forced to wait…Sigh…