Archive for the ‘Recipe’ Category

White House Honey Ale

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Recipe
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First RackingThe white house is helping small business owners. It’s not a new program for small business lending, more favorable tax laws or deductions or even government purchasing guarantees. I went to my local home brew store (http://www.texasbrewinginc.com) this weekend to pick up ingredients for a batch of White House Honey Ale. Hey, Election Day is coming up and depending on your politics you’ll either be celebrating or commiserating. Either way, beer makes it better.

Apparently I’m not alone in the idea since the recipes for President Obama’s White House brews were released earlier this month. When I mentioned what I was brewing, the store owner already had kits set up and ready to go; I didn’t get one because I brew in 3.5 gallon batches rather than the 5 gallon size the recipe is for. If you haven’t seen the recipe yet, it’s available on the White House blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/09/01/ale-chief-white-house-beer-recipe. If you do a search, Wikipedia will come up first and the recipe is posted there too. I’m not sure what that says about the world, but if it makes making beer a little easier, okay.

The recipes aren’t very descriptive; there is no BJCP (http://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php) brewing style given, and grains are labeled as “amber crystal malt”. 35º, 60º, 120º amber malts? American, German, British? Dingmans’ biscuit malt? And the directions are somewhat confusing for the novice so read them through carefully- they are in order of ingredient, not times of additions. HBU’s are used to calculate the amount a hop addition in the porter recipe, so make sure you have the formula to figure out alpha acids before you go get supplies. BYO magazine has a good article here: http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/50-recipe-calculations/123-alpha-hop-soup-figuring-bitterness-ibus-aaus-and-hbus.

That said, I’m glad the White House put out the recipes. I don’t usually like to brew other people’s recipes because I brew infrequently enough that I don’t have time to test all of my own ideas, but occasionally it’s good to brew a recipe that I didn’t write. Not only does it give me a standard to measure my skills as a home brewer (Did I hit the target gravity? If brewing a clone, did the beer taste like the original?) but it also gives me a chance to learn from other people’s ideas.

Extract and partial extract brewing are easy ways to get started home brewing. The cleanup is easier and the process is faster. What you lose is the control over what goes in the kettle. By doing all grain I can decide on grains from all over the world, and most home brew supply stores will carry a wide variety of grains and roast levels. Some brew stores have close to 100 types of grains and roasts, while most usually only have three or four kinds of bulk malts and if you want to create a recipe it can be hard to know what will be available and what you’re really getting. One time, I bought what I thought (and was labeled) as liquid wheat malt, only to find out later it was light barley malt. I didn’t end up with quite the Belgian-style wheat I was aiming for. Not bad, but not what I wanted.

If you buy cans of malt (as indicated in the White House recipes) you can be a little more sure of what you’re getting, and your options will usually increase as well. The catch here is that not every store will have a huge selection of canned extracts, while I have yet to find a brew store that doesn’t carry Maris Otter, Torrified wheat or biscuit malt. The other big difference I’ve noticed in brewing with extracts is that I have a lot more boilovers. Occasionally a kettle will boil over when I’m using all grain- but not nearly as frequently. You should be stirring your wort during the brewing process anyway, though you’ll need to keep a sharper eye on your extract brews. Putting foil under your burners is a good idea too, I do that anyway.

Attached to this post is a Beer Tools printout of the White House Honey Ale. I’ve scaled the batch down to make use of my three gallon carboys and interpreted some of the ingredients based on what was available locally. I changed the yeast because I already had the US-05 in my freezer. I used all liquid extract (from the bulk section of by brew store) because I mistyped in Beer Tools and entered the dry extract as extract. Should still be interesting, and I’ll have something to toast with on Election Day. Early voters can get in on the action too, it’s home brew after all. Which, I’ll take a moment to point out was legalized in 1979 by another Democratic President, Jimmy Carter.

For those of you looking for another easy partial grain recipe to brew, I have an Irish Red Ale up on the Recipe File page.

Cheers!

White House Honey Ale

3.25 oz demeterra sugar in 3 quarts of water, normally I don't use this much liquid in priming a batch for bottling but (per third comment) wanted to lover the final ABV of this batch slightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When dissolving sugar in canning jars, leave the lids slightly loose so that you can shake them to dislodge stuck sugar granules safely. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the water bath, tighten the lid and let cool to room temperature.

 

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The inspiration for this beer came from two places. I have wanted to try a fruit beer for some time now, and when I was given several bags of dried cherries (5 or six pounds in total) that seemed like a sign. Although I considered basing the recipe for this experiment on a Saison/ Bière de Garde, Wit or Brown Ale (ala Great Divide’s Wild Raspberry Ale), Stout seemed like the most natural pairing for tart cherries. I really prefer dry Irish style Stouts over the sweeter and more alcoholic English Sweet Stout and Russian Imperial Stout styles so was not sure how to proceed from here.

The second part of the idea came when I saw coconut sugar in Sprouts- adding sugar to a wort can give the palate the impression of dryness, since the sugar is added without the accompanying body/mouthfeel that you would get by extracting sugar from grains during the mashing process. Many of the Irish Stout recipes I looked at, including all of the Guinness clones, had sugar of some kind added to the wort. I’ve never used coconut sugar, so this is also an experiment with that as well.

For those of you who don’t know me, every year I try to brew an anniversary beer that includes new ingredients and techniques as a learning experiment. The anniversary beers tend to be a higher alcohol content (7% abv +) than I usually brew for (4-5.5% abv), and in the past have been loosely based on the Bière de Garde style. In 2011 I experiments with creating a sour mash by soaking grains in water at about 110 degrees for a couple of days, before that I’ve experimented with re-cultured yeasts, ingredients (lemon verbena, oak chips, grapefruit peel, local honeys, etc) and decoction mashes. I usually try to brew so that the anniversary beers are ready for “release” on Halloween (Samain), hence the name. This year I’ll delay the release by a little bit, and hand them out to friends and family when my son is born (late Novermber-ish).

For the technique experiment this year, I am taking inspiration from Gordon Strong’s book “Brewing Better Beer” (http://members.brewersassociation.org/store/detail.aspx?id=420) and altering the preparation of the dark grains from my previous Stout and Belgian Dark Ale attempts. Instead of mashing the dark grains in with the pale grains I am separating them out this time around. I am using Black Roasted Barley, American Chocolate Malt (Briess) and Carafa Special Type III Dehusked malts. By prepping the dark grains separately, I am also able to make a larger batch of beer than I usually do. Due to pot size (and apartment living) I typically aim to yield about 3.5 gallons of finished beer per batch. This time, I can boil about four gallons of wort and add in about three gallons of cold wort (from the dark grains) and reach about 5.5 – 6 gallons of beer. The brewing process started two days before it normally would have, as detailed below. I made two trips for supplies, so that the grains would be freshly milled for both rounds of brewing. I could have had the lighter grains milled at the same time I bought the darker grains, though this would have resulted in grains that were oxidized, a lower mash efficiency and a weaker, more bitter beer (from tannins).

Black Cherry Coconut Stout

Black Cherry Coconut (Stout) actual

Two days in advance of brew day (Thursday):

Black Roasted Barley prep:

  • Brought 3 quarts of water to a full boil, added the grains and removed from heart. Steeped grains for 5 minutes before straining and putting the wort into the Ozarka water container. Placed container into the refrigerator to chill.

Carafa Special & Chocolate Malt prep:

  • Bought a 2.5 gallon container of Ozarka water, emptied out ½ gallon (into drinking glasses) and poured grains in through the spout opening. Left at room temperature to steep until the morning of brew day, when the container was place in the refrigerator to cool down.

Brew day (Saturday), Mashing:

  • Started with 4 gallons of tap water at 124 degrees, and added Maris Otter and Torrified Wheat. After dough in temp was 122 degrees; 30 minute rest.
  • Heat applied, and temp boosted to 155 degrees; planned 60 minute rest.
    • Temp after 30 minutes was 150 degrees, heat applied to for a couple of minutes
    • Temp after 60 minutes was also 150 degrees. Wort did not feel like sugars were fully developed, so continued the rest for an additional 15 minutes. After additional time, the handle of my mash rake was sticker and the wort had a higher viscosity than before; also tasted much sweeter.
  • Heat applied again, and temp boosted to 165 degrees for a 10 minute enzyme rest
  • Strained wort off grains, and used 1.5 gallons hot (about 190 degrees) water to soak the grains in an “infusion sparge” for 45 minutes.

Brew day, Boiling:

  • 90 minute total boil
    • Galena hops added after 30 minutes (timer set for 30 min).
    • Liberty hops and Irish moss added after 80 minutes (timer set for 50 min).
    • Flame out (timer set for 10 minutes); yeast activator in WYeast packet crushed.
    • Wort strained into primary to remove hops and other solids, both batches of cold word added; 4.25 gallons volume. Cold water added to bring volume up to 6 gallons.
    • Primary placed in ice bath to cool.
      • Wort has a strong dark chocolate flavor with a bitter espresso and oak undertone. Hops come through in the background.

Brew day, Post-boil:

  • Specific gravity reading: 1.052 at 89 degrees.
    • Temperature correction: +0.004.
    • Adjusted specific gravity: 1.056, or 6.75% potential abv.
  • Yeast added.

Fermentation Schedule (planned):

  • 7 days in primary fermenter.
  • Beer racked off yeast sediment in primary. Cherries prepped by blanching (to remove the oils used is packaging them, which will inhibit head development) and then puréeing. Beer racked into secondary over cherries, and a little SAF US05 dry ale yeast added. Secondary fermentation will take between 14 and 28 days.
  • Rack beer to tertiary to clarify for 7 days (I realize that this beer is going to be pretty dark and hard to see through, but I want to make sure that as much sediment as possible is removed from the beer prior to bottling).
  • Bottle condition for 11 weeks.
  • Cold condition for 1 week.
    • Actual results will be posted as comments to this post.