Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Fresh New Hell Is This?

We've been working on a Helles here for quite a while now and although we have made some great tasting beer, we've never given ourselves a passing grade.

The Helles is a tough beer to make.  It's so light and subtle with no place to hide any mistakes in the recipe or brewing process.

We spent a lot of time over several batches of our beer and several score of our favorite commercial examples of the style.  One big issue was narrowing down the yeast that we preferred and another was fine tuning boil times and the temperatures during fermentation - specifically performing a proper Diacetyl rest.

I actually forgot to do the Diacetyl rest on the last batch.  I'm drinking a pint now and it tastes like I dropped a pat of butter in it.  This makes me sad.

When we started, we began with a recipe that tried to make up for the fact that most homebrewers don't do decoction mashes.  This was fine, because at the time, we were not doing them either.  The recipe was very good and can be found here.

Now, however, we are performing decoction mashes with consistency.  We've also fine tuned our current brewing process so that we are hitting all our numbers within .001 SG and we have good data on fermentation temperatures, boil times, and hopping rates from previous batches of Helles.

So, it's time to start over.

Our next batch will be our all new Edel-Hell.  German breweries use the term "edel" (which means "noble") for their most delicate versions of Helles.  The recipe uses only German Pilsner 2-Row barley and a little bit of Carapils for the head.  It has 3 hop additions with a different type of noble hops each for bittering, flavor, and aroma.

We're excited about brewing this beer and even more excited about drinking it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Milestone

This weekend's batch (#44 OktoberWinterfest) marks our first anniversary brewing as "Good Scarlett" - that is brewing with Shawn (and now his wife Donni) as a team. Whenever we are short a person on brew day, I am quickly reminded at how well it works when all four of us are together cooking up a tasty brew.

It is also the anniversary of our journey in to All Grain brewing which has been an absolute blast.  All Grain seems a bit daunting at first, but after your first batch it's easy and after 30 or so it's a cake walk.

Another interesting fact, amazing really, is that this weekend's batch definitively pushes us (including my early solo brewing days) over the 500 gallons brewed mark. 500 gallons.  That's 4,000 pints of beer.

The last 3,500 of those are really solid beers as well! This includes the recent batches of Dunkle and the Riverhouse Ale. The Riverhouse was made for my uncle and is a Ballantine IPA clone.  Ballantine has been gone for a long time so I don't know how faithful it is, but it is a fantastic batch of beer.

In closing, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us with encouragement, taste testing, plumbing, and everything else. Here's to you... Sláinte!