Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wyeast De Bom Golden Sour - Recipe & Tasting Notes

Wyeast De Bom





Beer: Wyeast De Bom Golden Sour
Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: Sour Beer / Farmhouse Ale
Brewed: 8.21.14
Bottled On: 11.13.14
ABV: 5.7%


Appearance: pale straw yellow, orange hues, moderate head, low retention
Smell: apple cider, candied pear, Belgian esters, hormonal lactic funk, apricot

Taste: 
apple, citrus, candied pear, apricot, clean lactic, mild tangy funk, weird fruit
Mouthfeel: high carb, crisp, med-light body, low bitterness, slight fullness at finish

I'm going to try my hardest to keep this entry short, because holy crap I have a million things I should be working on right now. But before 2014 mercifully draws to an end, I wanted to write about a few experimental beers I brewed much earlier in the year. Plus, this batch doesn't require a lengthy introduction, as the premise is pretty no-duh: Wyeast put out a new sour blend as part of its "Summer Sours" Private Collection, and I was compelled to test it out. Pretty self explanatory.

The De Bom blend appealed to me a lot more than some of the other pre-mixed blends yeast companies release, simply because it was playing to a realm of beer that I've been dabbling with a lot in the last few years: deconstructed, quick-fermenting sours. Full-on sour blends are obviously great fun, but I only really have the space to keep a few of them going at a time — testing out every new re-arranged mix of microbes simply isn't an option. But I'm particularly fond of sour saisons / sour farmhouse ales and the way their simple stacking of flavors can create totally different impressions of balance simply by shifting one corner of the balance pyramid slightly. Lactic punch here instead of there? Different beer. Soft versus sharp? Different beer. Funk-crusted versus bright lemon tartness? Different beer.

I had suspected that De Bom was Wyeast attempting to recreate the character of Cascade's highly regarded sours, which, unlikely as it may sound, are not pitched with Brettanomyces and sour only through the action of lactobacillus. So in addition to simply being another random blend, it promised a possible glimpse into one of America's more interesting sour beer producers. 

Wyeast doesn't give the exact composition of this blend, but they do say that De Bom is intended to create "sour ale profiles but in a fraction of the time required by previous, less manly cultures." A new quick sour blend with some unknown microbial agents: awesome. For best results, they recommend: "no O2/aeration at beginning of fermentation; periodic dosing with O2 during fermentation to stimulate ethyl acetate production; frequent sampling to monitor development and complexity. Under optimum conditions, beers can be ready for consumption in 1-2 months."

The ability to sour quickly with an aggressive strain of bacteria is a nice tool to have. Now, Wyeast also happened to release the lactobacillus Brevis strain as part of its Summer Sours collection, and it is rumored that Brevis is, indeed, the Cascade strain (caveat: this speculation is based on my vague memories of some internet conjecture, and may be entirely false). This could be entirely a coincidence, or, as I took it with some liberal reading between the lines, a clue that Brevis was simply paired with a Saccharomyces strain to make a fast-fermenting De Bom culture. So there you go: with enough conjecture and assumption, it might appear to be the case that De Bom = Cascade culture. Or inspired by it. Maybe.

Then again, now that I'm drinking the results, I might want to rescind that hypothesis. Cascade's sours are notoriously acidic and hard-hitting in the pH department, and this homebrewed trial really doesn't carry much of those traits. The taste is somewhere closer to a mild Berliner Weisse on the spectrum of sour things, with an estery yeast profile that dominates the beer more than the mark from its bacteria. It's fruity and weird, like a Belgian pale with tart undertones. There's just no way to pretend this successfully delivered on the potential of a quick-fermenting but fully complex sour ale, though to be fair, there could be various process reasons for that.

For one, I brewed this at a friend's house and we left it in his basement for three months, which is longer than the time Wyeast says this culture should require. After three months, it was very clearly stable in gravity. But we didn't follow the hand-holding procedure that Wyeast suggests for this, the unorthodox method of "periodic dosing with O2 during fermentation to stimulate ethyl acetate production." I kind of overlooked that advice at the time, but in retrospect, I'm simply confused as to what it's meant to achieve. Ethyl acetate is responsible for solvent and nail polish remover characteristics, which are not desirable qualities so far as I know. Am I having a brain fart, or missing something here? I feel like I must be — frankly, with only two weeks left in 2014, and 2014 being absolutely the most stressful and silly and anxiety-inducing year of my life, this wouldn't be surprising. I'm absolutely fried! And I have read that ethyl acetate can also come across as fruity or pear-like, so maybe there's some chemistry here that I just don't understand. I'm not very good at chemistry even when I'm not fried! If you can educate me on what my cheese-addled mind is failing to grasp here, please do let me know.

Secondly, mixed cultures work very well in aged sours, but I think I prefer to keep cultures separate in the case of beers like this (quick sours). Deconstructed, one could pitch the lactobacillus alone, initially, giving it a head start by a day or two, and with the right equipment, ferment at an elevated temperature favoring the bacteria, before pitching any yeast. Here, with the culture mixed, fermenting at 110 F for 24 hours probably wouldn't be an option.

Since I haven't had any other beer made with De Bom, I don't know if the character could have turned out drastically different given other conditions and process variables, but my intuition is that this is a fairly accurate representation of its profile. Frankly, I can't really decide how much I like it; every sip I go back and forth, from "this is pretty good!" back to "this is kind of weird in a way I can't put my finger on!" Ultimately, the oddest thing about this for me may be that it tastes bizarrely sweet, despite finishing relatively dry and relatively tart. There's a lot of mouthfeel, almost too much slickness in the body, which I blame on my generic sour recipe that uses 30% wheat in the grist. And then the flavor itself is decidedly cidery, which is something I often get in a beer fermented with a fruity yeast (often Belgian yeast) that has just a bit of tartness to it. If the lactobacillus in this blend had pushed out a bit more acidity, or the yeast had dried the beer out more, I think it would come across as more balanced to me, but I can also see the general public really enjoying this one. It's extremely fruity in a unique way, sweet enough to appeal to the American palate, and yet tart enough to become refreshing and multi-dimensional. It works. I can't decide how I personally feel about it, but it works. And its weird in ways that I have a hard time describing, which is cool. Like I said: I find it fascinating that the same basic character elements can stack up in different ways to make a totally different beer. I don't know that this is the way I would prefer to stack them personally, for the type of balance I find most appealing, but whatever arrangement they're in here, it's a nice option to have.

I said before this would be a short entry. I'm really bad at that.


Recipe-
Brewed 8.21.14
Bottled On: 11.13.14
Batch: 5 Gal
Mashed at 148 degrees for 60 minutes
Fermented at basement temp, 74 - 76 F
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.7%

Malt-
70% [#7] Pilsner malt
30% [#3] white wheat

Hop Schedule-
0.5 oz Nugget @0 min

Yeast-
Wyeast 3203 De Bom Sour Blend


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Equinox Single Hop IPA - Recipe & Tasting Notes



Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: IPA
Brewed: 11.08.14
Kegged On: 11.21.14
ABV: 5.8%


Appearance: hazy orange/copper, thick foamy head, lacing for days
Smell: sweet berry fruits, melon, cantaloupe, candy fruit, tropical weirdness, the color green
Taste: 
candy fruit, berry, melon, floral, sweet cantaloupe, sweet green pepper, berrppers
Mouthfeel: light-to-medium body, high carbonation, clean finish, low-med bitterness

Let's be super duper clear about something: beer is and forever will be highly subjective. Gather a group of people in a room — especially a crowd that varies widely in both drinking experience and brewing experience — and ask them to write down tasting notes for a beer without conferring with each other or listening to each other's feedback, and you will receive a dictionary's worth of responses..

Not so with the wide world of hop flavors. Hop flavors — second to nothing but perhaps Brett character — can get real wacky. Watch when a new variety is released, how scatter-shot the tasting notes are. In most cases, this is because the adjectives describing the hop are a literal hodgepodge collected from whatever aroma / flavor notes were tossed out by a sniffing panel. It takes a while to form some sort of widespread consensus on what a hop more-or-less tastes like, and until we've all drank enough of the stuff to reach a consensus, you get flavor-note buckshot. Sometimes, it's a bit weird. Lots of new hops seem to be staking their reputation on being "The _____ Hop."

Alongside the typical tropical and fruity descriptors that normally accompany new hop releases like this, Equinox got a distinctive flavor note with which to mark its fame: green pepper. I was very curious how a flavor note such as green pepper might taste among a smorgasbord of exotic fruitiness, and frankly, figured it'd be another red herring, another weird note some guy picked up and they tossed into the description for the sheer weirdness of it. But lo and behold: my first pour, I could swear I got it. Green pepper...(?) Or something like vaguely like green pepper? Maybe green pepper, if green peppers were a sweet juicy fruit rather than a savory vegetable, if that makes sense. What the hell? This makes no sense. Clearly, the power of suggestion, right? In the past, I have concluded that this is how Mosaic got labeled the 'blueberry' hop, and probably an explanation for those mystical sounding "chocolate coconut" hops going around the other year (which I still haven't gotten to try). And now that I try more and more pours of this beer (all the pours, so good), the more confused I become. What does this goddam hop taste like? Is it green pepper? Papaya? Strawberry? Okay, none of those flavors are remotely similar. This shouldn't be this hard.

And yet every single person who tries this beer has had across-the-board scattered reactions. That's just how this works. We're going to have to spend a lot of time arguing about what these things taste like. Maybe enough people will reach a consensus that the rest of us will be tricked into finding that flavor too, because it's been incepted into us. Maybe we'll have to invent or apply nonsensical new vocabulary words to cover these flavors. Who knows.

One theme that I've managed to parse out, though: whatever kind of fruit or weird vegetable-but-if-it-was-a-fruit this Equinox IPA of mine tastes like, the beer bears a candy-like aura, apparently. That's the most common description I've heard. Candy-like fruit. What the fruit is, of course, varies greatly, a mystery unsolvable as Serial (are you guys listening to Serial?). But okay, candy-like at least gives us a smaller pool of suspects. (What the hell is the deal with Jay, right?) Candy-like-one-of-four-things. We're getting closer: if green pepper was in the berry family of fruits but then someone made a candy to taste like that and then this is a natural recreation of that candy as a hop. Mystery solved.

Underneath the candy-like-green-pepper-berry-fruitness, at other times I can glimpse some earthy sort of character in here. A few people gave variations on 'earthy' as their primary notes, though to me it's barely a minor undertone. Pine was tossed out. So, sure, why not. Maybe this tastes like chocolate coconut? I don't know. I can't tell if Adnan is guilty. He seems so genuine! Ugh. I can't tell what Equinox tastes like. Fuck it, I give up.

No, wait!

Hold up. I got this. I can tell you guys definitively what Equinox tastes like: hops.

Anyway! I really like this one. Right mouthfeel, low/balanced bitterness, all the focus on aromatic and exotic hop flavors. I've been very happy with how my IPAs are coming out this year, particularly with my new dry-hopping process. I realized after the fact that I only gave this batch 12 days from brew to keg, but this rushed timeline (I was trying to have the beer ready in time for a party) didn't seem to hurt it at all. Hell, in retrospect, you probably could make it to the Best Buy parking lot in under 21 minutes with a beer like this.

The real fun with Equinox: what other hops do I want to blend these with?


Recipe-
5.25 Gal., All Grain
Single infusion mash at 148 F
Fermented at 68 F in temp control fridge
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.8%

Malt-
78.3% [#9] Pilsner malt
8.7% [#1] wheat malt
4.3% [8 oz] Cara-Pils
4.3% [8 oz] corn sugar

Hop Schedule-
5 ml Hop Shot @60
2 oz. Equinox whirlpool @200 F
2 oz. Equinox whirlpool @180 F
4 oz. Equinox dry hop for five days

Yeast-
Safale US-05 American Ale



Monday, December 1, 2014

New Sizes for Brettanomyces Shirts, Plus Brett Hoodies!





Good news for those of you celebrating some sort of gift-giving holiday and/or occasion in the next month: I've sold enough of at least a few t-shirt designs to be able to re-order. And that means a few additional cool things that will doubtlessly fill you with holiday spirit.

"Space Metal Brett" and "Black Metal Brett" have proven to be reasonably popular designs (as has the "Wild Yeast Appeared!" shirt, but I ordered more of those in the first place). Therefore, I will definitely be re-ordering those two. The "Funky Brett" design is running low in a few sizes, but perhaps not quite low enough to warrant a re-ordering right now. However, if there's a lot of demand, we could maybe make it happen.

Here's where this re-order benefits you, dear clothing-wearer:

As many of you have pointed out, I didn't get any XXL size shirts in the first order. (Having never made nor sold t-shirts before, I just took the recommended size distribution from the printer, not really thinking about the fact that XXL shirts had to be specially ordered. Sorry!) This time, I will definitely get some larger sizes. However, if you know you want one of these in a larger size, please feel free to let me know in the comments just so I can get a rough gauge of how many to order.

Also exciting: I have found out that I can order a few hoodies alongside the t-shirts without having to do a whole separate bulk-hoodie purchase. Again, for now, hoodies would just be one of the above two designs. I need to get an exact quote once I place the order, but I expect they'll run around $35. If you would like to ensure that you are able to buy a Space Metal or Black Metal hoodie, please let me know which you'd like and in what size in the comments.

Similarly, I have not been able to gauge the interest in any of these designs in the form of a girl-specific shirt, so if you'd like me to investigate that, let me know that as well.

In the future: maybe hats with the mash paddle pentagram? That'd probably be cool.

Thanks everyone for your interest in these! Once I feel out the demand here, I will place an order and should be able to have these new items sent out by your End of December Holiday of Choice.

Cheers!



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brewing With Local Hops / Brewer's Gold Pale Ale - Recipe & Tasting Notes



Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: Pale Ale
Brewed: 10.21.14
Kegged On: 7.31.14
ABV: 6.2%


Appearance: pale orange/gold, good clarity, moderate head
Smell: mild fruit medley, melon, berry, floral, mild earth, mild spice
Taste: 
sweet mild fruits, melon, berry medley, floral/citrus note in finish, low bitterness
Mouthfeel: medium body, low-med carbonation, clean finish


I still don't think anyone fully understands why hops became the unquestioned poster-child of the revitalized beer movement. Logically, I suppose, it had to be something; something to focus on, to differentiate these new beers from the mass-market old. Water wouldn't work; too mundane. Yeast (and bacteria) are finally getting their day in the sun, but brewers have always had a habit of minimizing their importance, or misunderstanding it altogether. So it had to be either grain or hops.

I've noticed, through working at Beacon Homebrew and leading brewing classes and workshops this year: people just gravitate toward hops. Growing them, brewing with them, making tea with them, making pillows out of them, filling bouncy castles with them, and so on. Grain, for whatever reason, doesn't inspire much fascination. (And in fact, a lot of people will look at a bucket of barley malt and ask: "Are those hops?") New York has a rich history of hop growing, and the hop bines are finally returning to the region. I've talked to dozens of people growing hops that don't even know how to brew beer; or who have come to a brewing class to learn how to brew, primarily because they just want to grow hops and need something to do with them. Hops catch and hold people's attention. And I guess, to be fair, hops are considerably more exciting and odd (and aromatic) up close than a barley kernel is.

So in the future, a lot of us are going to have local hops available to brew with. Many of you are probably growing them yourselves. I've made a few different beers with different local hops since this harvest, and have been trying to get a feel for this growing but immature category.

It's often difficult to explain why 'local', when it comes to hops, doesn't work quite the same way as 'local' when it comes to the quality of produce. Freshness is important with hops, obviously, but a few weeks discrepancy isn't going to be nearly so important as how they're packaged. The big growers in the Pacific Northwest aren't some agri-corp pressing hop pellets made from pure GMO gluten and MSG out of molds in a factory — they are farmers with a ton of experience who really know what they're doing, because they've been doing it for a while. Most home-growers and small farms with a couple plants are still gaining that expertise. It's important to make a distinction between hops grown for fun, to be maybe thrown in a wet-hop beer in the fall, and hops expected to be put to use on a regular basis throughout the brewing year. There's more to well-handled hops than simply throwing them in a vacuum sealer. Me and a few friends got Cascade hops from a local grower that didn't seem to have been properly dried; once in the wort and beer, they had a near-magical ability to clog everything they touched. I've never seen hops have such a clingy, magnetic, port-stuffing ability — I was half afraid they would stick to me and smother me in my sleep.

But the main concern when brewing with local hops, I think, is that hops take a number of years to mature, and so much of what's out there is still quite young, and therefore mild. This is simply the nature of a fledgling industry, and means that the next few years, and the next decade especially, will be very exciting. Young hop farms are finding what grows best, and experimenting with new breeds like Neomexicanus and Tahoma. We'll start to see more variation between the same hops grown and adapted to different regions. Even between Eastern and Western NY, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, something as classic as Cascade will no doubt taste subtly different from farm to farm.

But for now, local hops are still finding their footing, as would be expected. Those Cascade hops (the cloggers), they basically disappeared into everything brewed with them. I brewed a wet hop ale with a large basket full of fresh-off-the-vine hop cones — of another variety, from another farm — that tasted like a kolsch. Good flavors, nothing weird, but just super mild. Again, these are all hop plants that have a lot of maturation to do. Give them a couple years, and hopefully they'll bear their own uniquely local flavors.

The best beer I've brewed with local hops so far is one that, oddly enough, uses an old and under-appreciated variety. You rarely hear any talk of Brewer's Gold as a flavor/aroma hop, but doing a single hop with this variety has been on my docket for a couple years now. It wasn't as high priority as brewing with exciting new stuff like Azacca, but I suspected BG had potential. As juicy and dank hop flavors didn't become acceptable until a couple decades ago, I've always assumed some of those past-century hops utilized heavily in early American brewing had more going on than we modern Citra-lovers realize. How could so many people describe Ballantine India Pale Ale as tasting like a modern IPA, when it couldn't have used modern hops? Cascade didn't just pop up out of thin air; it was part of an evolution in American hop terroir.

Well, Brewer's Gold is a worthy hop, if this batch is any indication. These particular hops (leaf, from the 2014 harvest) are from Camps Road Farm, the first modern commercial hop farm in Connecticut. In a super light and clean pale ale, yes, they are mild, but not in the sense of some of others I've used — not in the sense that they don't give off much flavor. It's just that the character is not exaggerated or aggressively bold in any particular direction; it seems like a summary of hop flavors, an encapsulation of a whole bunch of different things, none of which are turned up to 11. Which, it turns out, makes me for a very nice and very drinkable beer; I'm enjoying this far more than many IPAs on the market with a more intensely pungent character. It's just that I'm having an insanely difficult time pinning specific flavor descriptions upon it. Adjectives just slide off every note that I grasp at. I can barely get more specific than "fruit(?)". Maybe, uh.... floral? ... Hoppy? It might be one of the hardest-to-describe beers that I've made. But quite possibly, that intrigue is a big part of what's keeping me interested, too. It's complexities are on the subtle side, but there are certainly complexities.

In the right context, in the right base beer, there's a lot still to be said for the overlooked flavors of the past, and for the new farms in old regions newly growing old hops. One new hop farm a town up from me found a thriving, vigorous bine of (at least) 100 year-old hops growing on its property. Obviously, I demanded a sample to brew with. What will hops that have been left to nature for at least a century taste like? I have no idea, but I can't wait to find out.


Recipe-
5.25 Gal., All Grain
Single infusion mash at 148 F
Fermented at 68 F in temp control fridge
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.010
ABV: 6.2%

Malt-
85.7% [#9] Pilsner malt
9.5% [#1] wheat malt
4.8% [8 oz] Caramalt

Hop Schedule-
1 oz. Brewer's Gold @FWH
3 oz. Brewer's Gold @whirlpool
4 oz. Brewer's Gold dry hop for five days

Yeast-
Safale US-05 American Ale


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Crown Maple Strong Ale - Recipe & Tasting Notes

Crown Maple Strong Ale


Beer: Adirondack Cabin Breakfast
Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: Strong Ale
Brewed: 6.23.14
Kegged On: 7.31.14
ABV: 9%


Appearance: bright orange/copper, good clarity, moderate head
Smell: sweet malts, caramel, treacle, earth, maple
Taste: sweet rich malts, earthiness, treacle, maple in finish
Mouthfeel: medium body, rich, low bitterness, relatively clean finish


Earlier this year, I was going to try to pitch some kind of article about how maple is the next pumpkin. I never got around to it, but if you need evidence supporting my theory, look at the explosion of maple-infused bourbons that came out of nowhere and then mark down on a Post-It Note somewhere that Bear Flavored was the source of the first observation of this trend so that, in the future, you will remember where to attribute proper credit when everyone starts catching on. Pumpkin is under heavy fire as we mark another year of pumpkin spice-flavored everything jumping multiple sharks, and what's next? Pumpkin jumping fermented Icelandic shark? Clearly, the culinary world is going to need a new trend to shamelessly exploit, and soon. And it's going to be maple.

Whether or not this is a good thing, the fact is: maple tastes good. It is a good taste. The flavor of it is good. Who doesn't like maple syrup? What kind of nerve would it take to strike some kind of anti-maple stance? You would be rightly labeled a heretic.

As such, of all the flavors that craft brewers / homebrewers like to throw in a beer, maple syrup is one of the few that sounds, off the cuff, like it might actually be a pretty good idea. Here is where that gets tricky: maple syrup is pretty much concentrated sugar, and as such, when you add it to a beer, it ferments. And after all of it ferments, it's essentially... well, no longer there. The flavor of maple syrup is much more volatile than other stuff like molasses, despite its deceptively dark and rich appearance. When brewing beer with maple syrup, you'll commonly read that you should use Grade B maple syrup, which has a stronger, less refined flavor that's not as appealing for most straight applications of the stuff, but works well in cooking or brewing situations. Unfortunately, this only goes so far. The truth of brewing with maple syrup is this: you have to use ungodly amounts of the stuff for it to have any real impact.

I've been chasing this whale (whaleshark?) for a couple years now. My last attempt was hilariously disastrous and yet sort of intriguing thanks to the otherworldly potency of spruce extract (though after a while that beer started to taste like Dr. Pepper and I'm hoping I stumble across a bottle or two of it that got misplaced because I'd love to try it with like five years of age on it). Paradoxically, maybe, this is part of the reason why maple seems so innocent and inoffensive to me in this context. It's essentially impossible for it to become over-bearing and take over the profile of a beer, to a degree that it's actually really difficult to get a beer to taste strongly of maple at all without cheating.

The most obvious strategy therefore being to simply add Lots of Maple Syrup, and add it late in the process. Primary fermentation can scrub out more delicate flavors (this is why we dry-hop), so adding the maple syrup a week or two in helps retain a bit of nuance, theoretically. Following the same logic, you want to ferment on the cooler side. (It just this second occurs to me that it would be interesting to try this as a lager). But still, your main weapon for maple flavor is simply going to be the amount of syrup you add — I just don't see any way around this. This beer got about 3 lbs., or slightly less than a third of a gallon, of Grade B maple syrup. I then keg-primed the beer with 4 more ounces of syrup for carbonation. This strategy works reasonably well, though you're still unlikely to get a beer that tastes like straight-up maple syrup unless you use, well, even more, some ludicrous amount that essentially turns the beverage into a maplewine-beer blend kind of deal (don't think I won't try this). While a good chunk of the fermentable sugars (over 20%, in this case) were maple syrup, the maple flavor is quite subtle, a bit in the nose and a suggestion in the mid-palate of the beer, but never a note that's super, distinctly maple. Interestingly, in fact, I would say the fermented-out maple character here evokes a molasses flavor. Though I guess that makes sense: the sweetness gone, a much more earthy, rootsy (?), pungent character is all that's left.

The base beer underneath doesn't need much comment. I kept it simple and relatively light in color, wanting all the maple character I could summon to shine through. Flaked oats ensured there would be a good amount of body without cloying sweetness, and Munich malt provides a bit of clean malt character without, again, cloying sweetness. One pound of smoked wheat malt added a bit of body and, frankly, no detectable smoke character (so it could either be upped significantly, or dropped). No caramel malts here, no thank you — strong ales like this always push what I can handle enough as it is. I really detest cloying sweetness, can you tell? Ironic in a maple syrup beer, but that's how it is.

Subjectively, I think the results are quite tasty, but more critically, and hypothetically, there definitely could be More Maple Character, in a perfect world. Subjectively, again, this may be one of my favorite "strong ale" or barleywine-type beers that I've had in years — it's generally not high in my list of favorite styles, so there's some competitive advantage to be had by anything a bit different, but I really like this direction this takes the genre in. Just enough character from that syrup to be unique, but all-in-all a very strong representation from the base beer: clean, malty, not overly cloying, a rich(ish) indulgence that's a bit too drinkable for its high ABV.

Of important note, though: my strategy of adding Lots of Maple Syrup is likely uneconomical for brewers who are not maple farmers or friends with maple farmers. One third of a gallon is about 42 ounces (maple is actually easiest to weigh, I found, so again: 3 lbs. or 1.36 kg), but any way you slice it, that's an awfully expensive addition. Way more than the cost of the rest of your ingredients, most likely. And frankly, I would suggest adding even more, if you can. This right here is exactly why you don't see that many maple beers on the market: it can quickly become prohibitively expensive without enough payoff to be worthwhile.

But then again, sometimes you just have to treat yourself, right? A 5 gallon batch of maple strong ale with half a gallon of maple syrup might sound expensive outright, but it's still cheaper than buying a similar amount of a similar beer commercially. This is one of the main advantages of brewing at a homebrew scale: even when you splurge, you don't have to splurge that much.

Of course, I must now admit that I sweet-talked my way into doing a brewing demo for Crown Maple at Madava Farms, a producer of fine maple syrup in the Hudson Valley. This had its advantages, ie. maple syrup. And also real life taste-tasters! After brewing the test batch over the summer, I returned to Crown Maple the other week and poured samples for visitors to the farm at their harvest festival. The reception was I think universally positive, though I'm always the first to point out that the reception to any free beer regardless of quality is usually universally positive. Regardless, no one spit it back out in my face, and so I must thank Crown Maple for the syrup and the opportunity to get some good feedback on an adventurous brew-concept.


Recipe-
5.0 Gal., All Grain
Single infusion mash at 156 F
Fermented at 66 F in temp control fridge
OG: 1.078
FG: 1.010
ABV: 9%

Malt-
35.7% [#5] 2-row malt
21.4% [#3] flaked oats
21.4% [#3] Grade B maple syrup (added after primary)
14.3% [#2] Munich malt
7.1% [#1] oak-smoked wheat

Hop Schedule-
1 oz. Northern Brewer @60

Yeast-
Safale US-05 American Ale
London ESB (pitched at addition of maple syrup)

Other-
Keg conditioned with 4 oz. maple syrup




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