Monday, 25 February 2013

Brewing a Rising Tide Daymark clone (No. 2 in the Maine Beer Clone series)

When I wrote my post on brewing the Oxbow Freestyle #5 clone, I mentioned that I'd like to start a series of beer clones from different breweries around Maine. As I mentioned in that post, Maine has a great number of excellent breweries that are making very tasty and border-pushing beers. I thought of several breweries that I'd like to contact about providing information for a clone; one of the first that came to mind was Rising Tide Brewing Co., located in Portland.

Owned by husband-and-wife team Nathan and Heather Sanborn, Rising Tide opened their doors in October of 2010. While Heather is in charge of the business side of the brewery, Nathan - a long-time homebrewer before going pro - is the brewmaster. Their first beer was Ishmael, a Dusseldorf Altbier. Over the next couple of years, they added other beer styles to their line-up, including an American IPA, a Black IPA, and a dark Wheat beer. They have also begun producing some seasonal beers, such as Tempest, a Brown Porter with local coffee beans and cold-steeped coffee. All of their beers are available in 22 oz bombers, and/or on tap at many beer bars and restaurants around Maine. They've also recently started distributing beers to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

I've had all of Rising Tide's regular-release beers, and I've also had their Tempest on tap. They were all really good beers, but my favorite by-far has been their Daymark, an American Pale Ale made with a portion of rye malt; Rising Tide refers to the beer as a Rye Pale Ale. It's a fantastic beer regardless of what you want to call it, with a nice character coming from the rye malt, and a big hop presence both in the aroma and the flavor. Very drinkable at 5.5% ABV, and the bitterness is perfect for a pale ale - present and firm, but not overwhelming. I assume this is a very popular beer for Rising Tide, as it was available at a lot of beer bars and restaurants when I was on a recent trip to Portland.

Shortly after brewing the Freestyle #5 clone, I contacted Nathan by email and asked if he'd be willing to help with a homebrew version of Daymark. He got back to me within a week or so, with the following:

"Sure, I'd be happy to give you a little guidance on the Daymark. What I normally tell people is: 2-row, about 10-15% rye, and a touch of wheat. Centennial and Columbus to 45 ibus, mostly at the end of the boil. More in the whirlpool. Target 1050 starting gravity and mash cool. Ferment with a clean ale yeast and dry hop aggressively.

The most important aspect of the grain bill is the rye, and the character of the rye that you pick up will influence the amount you need to use. Our rye comes from a couple different farms here in Maine and Mass and varies slightly from batch to batch. You'll want to experiment with somewhere between 10 and 15% of the grist as rye."

It's always nice to actually see the recipe for a beer you've tried many times and enjoyed... it's a good way of confirming/negating an opinion you may have already formed about the ingredients or technique. Obviously the Centennial hops provide the citrus character in the beer, while the Columbus, known for giving a pungent, spicy aroma and flavor, would go well with what the rye malt brings to the table. After almost 60 batches of homebrew, I haven't actually worked with rye malt, so I won't give an opinion about whether or not rye malt actually makes a beer spicy (a hot topic on many homebrew forums!).

With Nathan's info, it wasn't too difficult to put together a homebrew recipe for Daymark. I went with ~12.5% rye malt; I know that it came from Canada Malting Co., but that's all. Plus, I have no experience with rye, so I figured middle-of-the-road for Nathan's recommendation should be fine. The rest of the grist I made up with Canadian 2-row, and about 5% Wheat malt. I also added 1/2 lb of rice hulls, since Rye malt is supposed to be a bit tricky to work with, stuck-sparge wise (12.5% isn't a lot, but better safe than sorry). Daymark has always struck me as a fairly dry beer, so I'm going to aim for a mash temp of about 150 F.

Now, the hopping schedule: since the IBUs and perceived-bitterness for this beer aren't ridiculously high, I went with a very small addition of Columbus at 60 minutes. I then added healthy amounts of both Columbus and Centennial in equal portions at both 10 minutes and at flameout, where I let the hops steep for a further 10 minutes as the "whirlpool" step. As a result, the perceived bitterness of this beer will likely be higher than the calculated number of 42 IBUs. Of course, there will also be a fairly-large dry-hop addition of both Columbus and Centennial, as per Nathan's instructions. A total of 3 oz of dry-hops does seem a bit much for an APA, but Nathan DOES say to dry-hop "aggressively", so there it is!

In terms of the rest of the recipe, I'm using US-05 Safale for the yeast, and I'm going to add a small amount of gypsum to the mash, just to bring up the calcium levels slightly. I plan on fermenting the beer at about 68 F (a usual target temperature for clean, American ales) for 2-3 weeks, before throwing in the dry-hop addition. When this beer is complete I'd love to find the freshest Daymark I can get my hands on to compare... as usual in New Brunswick, definitely easier said than done!

Thanks again to Nathan Sanborn for the info!

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 80% efficiency) OG 1.050, FG 1.013, IBU 42, SRM 4, ABV ~5% 

3.64kg (82%) Canadian 2-row
568 g (13%) Rye malt
227 g (5%) Wheat malt
227 g Rice hulls

Columbus - 8 g (10% AA) @ 60 min
Columbus - 42 g (11% AA) @ 10 min
Centennial - 42 g (6.1% AA) @ 10 min
Columbus - 28 g (14.5% AA) @ 0 min (with 10-min whirlpool)
Centennial - 28 g (9.9% AA) @ 0 min (with 10-min whirlpool)
Columbus - 42 g dry-hop for 7 days
Centennial - 42 g dry-hop for 7 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale dry yeast, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 5 g gypsum added to the mash

- Brewed Feb. 21st, 2013, with Geoff. 50-minute mash with 12.8 L of strike water, mashed in just a touch under the target of 150 F. Mashed out for 10 minutes with 7 L of boiling water, resulting temp 165 F. Sparged with ~4 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons in the kettle.

- SG 1.039 (target 1.041). 60-minute boil. After letting final hop additions steep for 10 minutes, chilled to 62 F in about 25 minutes with immersion chiller. Poured into Better Bottle, end volume low at about 4.5-4.75 gallons due to hop sludge in kettle. OG 1.050. Pitched rehydrated yeast at 62 F, aerated by shaking for several minutes before and after pitching.

22/2/13 - Real activity in the airlock wasn't visible until late evening... the temperature was still pretty low in the morning at about 64 F, so I increased the temp in the room. By the end of the day, the temp had got up to 68 F and the airlock was bubbling steadily every second.

23/2/13 - Bubbling at least once per second in the AM, temp up to 70 F. Starting to slow slightly in the evening. By the next day, airlock activity slowed to every 3 seconds, temp holding at 70 F.

2/3/13 - Gravity reached terminal target, 1.013.

5/3/13 - Added dry hops directly to primary fermenter (no secondary currently available).

10/3/13 - Put fermenter in fermentation chamber with temp set to 50 F, to help the dry hops settle out.

13/3/13 - Bottled with 101 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 4.25 gallons, with max temp of 70 F reached. Also added ~1/4 pack of Nottingham yeast, rehydrated.

14/5/13 - Posted the tasting notes here. Close, but I'd like it to be closer... can't say it's cloned, yet.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tasting : Back in the U.S.S.R. (Kate the Great clone)

I've been pretty consistent on this blog about posting tasting notes... later than they should be posted. Even in terms of beers that are better consumed fresh (e.g. IPAs), writing about my impressions usually takes me longer than it should. This isn't because I find it a chore; it's more because I want to be sure that I've formed a solid opinion about what I'm tasting, smelling, and seeing. For example, it turns out I rushed my notes about the Smuttynose Finestkind clone... only 10 days or so after posting them, I realized the beer was much hoppier (and tastier) than I had originally thought.

Since my Portsmouth Kate the Great clone, which I brewed in November of 2011, is a Russian Imperial Stout, I DID purposely hold off even sampling the beer for months after it was bottled, as I knew that it would likely seem too harsh if consumed early (my OG and FG both came out surprisingly close to target, giving the beer a hefty 9.7% ABV). I've had this beer about seven times over the last 6 months or so; now that it's over a year old, I figure it's finally time to really assess it.

As mentioned in the original post, the recipe is based on notes from Tod Mott, the head brewer (at the time... he's moved on since) at Portsmouth Brewing, sent to Michael Tonsmeire. Mike brewed his own clone, which he has the tasting notes for here. Despite several differences between how I brewed the beer and how Mike did (the most significant being that Mike used Port-soaked oak cubes in secondary, as Mott recommended), it looks like our beers had some major similarities. The most striking aspect of this beer is how muted the roast/coffee/chocolate presence is for a RIS, especially in the aroma. Looking back at the grain bill, I guess this makes sense... despite the large amount of specialty grains, there really isn't a huge proportion of Roasted Barley, Black Patent, or Chocolate malt. I get the impression that the real KtG is much more roasty, but of course I can't base that on my personal experience with it, since I've never been lucky enough to try it.

In general, I'd say that the beer came out nice... it's surprisingly smooth for such a high-alcohol beer; the time being cellared has almost certainly helped. The next time I brew a RIS, I'll likely go for a more-roasty, simplistic recipe, such as the Stone Imperial Russian Stout recipe that's available.

Appearance: Poured with a large, light-brown, creamy head with excellent retention. Sat at 2 inches for most of the time while drinking. Body is black and opaque.

Aroma: Rich, sweet, caramelly aroma. Lots of chocolate. A bit of roast in the background.

Taste: More roast character in the taste than the aroma; while the sweetness is the first thing noticeable, there’s a medium-strength coffee/dark chocolate flavor that follows, leading to a medium-high bitterness in the finish. As the beer warms, a dark fruit character begins to come through.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, with medium carbonation. A touch of astrigency and alcohol warmth.

Overall: Surprisingly drinkable for such a big beer... likely the 13 months of aging has helped smooth the beer out. Tasty, but it could definitely stand to have more in the roast department.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Brewing a California Common

It's been said before, and bears repeating - every homebrewer has had batches that just haven't turned out. Whether it's due to infection, stale ingredients, incomplete/improper fermentation, or any of 100 other reasons, it's really frustrating when you consider the money, and especially the time and work, you've put into it. It's a hopefully-not-too-common result of homebrewing many batches, but that doesn't make it any easier when it happens to you!

I'd say one of my first really disappointing batches was my first (and until today, only) attempt at the California Common style. A beer style that truly originated in the U.S., California Common, or Steam beer as it is sometimes known, is quite unique. It is an amber-colored, toasty, firmly bitter beer that is fermented with a lager yeast that works at unusual temperatures: in the low 60s F (low for an Ale, and high for a Lager). The style usually showcases the Northern Brewer hop, which is known for giving woody/minty/"rustic" qualities to the aroma and flavor. The most well-known California Common is Anchor Steam, from Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. A very tasty and drinkable beer, Anchor Steam is definitely the example that a lot of California Commons strive to imitate.

When I brewed a Common in May of 2010, I was still using dry malt extract, but I had upgraded to an outdoor propane burner and larger kettle... all-grain brewing wasn't far away. I also did my second partial mash with this beer, using a bit of 2-row with some Munich malt, Crystal 30 L, Victory malt, and a touch of Pale Chocolate malt. This followed the recipe from Jamil Zainasheff's "Brewing Classic Styles". Everything seemed to go smoothly, including the boil, chilling, and transfer to the primary fermenter. I pitched the Wyeast 2112 California Lager yeast starter (at 3.25 L, high enough to supposedly get the proper cell count), aerated the beer, and set the fermenter in a downstairs room with the ambient temp hovering around 60 F.

After this, I'm not really sure what went wrong. The fermentation temp got up to 65 F, I moved the fermenter into the garage, and brought it back in about 10 hours later, where the temp read 63 F. The airlock showed activity, but after a couple of days of moving the fermenter in and out, the beer finished at a FG of only 1.024, where the target was about 1.014. I did what I could to try to encourage further activity: roused the yeast, increased the temp, pitched some rehydrated Nottingham yeast... nothing. All things considered, the beer didn't end up tasting THAT bad, but it was obviously underattenuated, and the perceived bitterness of the beer was too low as a result. I'm not sure if the fermentation stuck because of yeast health, or because of a large temperature drop when I moved it into the garage (I was at work, so wasn't monitoring it).

Sorry about the long story. Anyhow, I've finally decided to revisit this style, and have been planning to ever since I've had the temperature-controlled fermentation chamber, not to mention 1/2-lb of vacuum-sealed Northern Brewer hop pellets. I changed the recipe some, after reading about the California Common style in Ray Daniels' book, "Designing Great Beers". Instead of just 2-row as the base malt, I went with a 50:50 mixture of 2-row and Maris Otter, to try to increase the toasty character. The Crystal (now 40 L) and Munich malt are still present, as is the small amount of Pale Chocolate malt.

The kettle-hopping is virtually the same as Jamil's recipe, resulting in about 46 IBUs of bitterness. However, at Daniels' suggestion, I'm going to cold-crash the beer to about 50 F for a couple of weeks, as well as dry-hop with some more Northern Brewer. I'm still going to ferment the beer with the 2112 California Lager yeast, which is the replication of the strain that Anchor uses for their Steam beer. Hopefully with proper temperature management (I plan on keeping the fermentation temp around 60 F, the lower end of the range listed on the Wyeast website for the 2112), I can coax the yeast to actually bring the terminal gravity down to target, resulting in a cleaner, well-attenuated, and more-bitter beer.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 80% efficiency) OG 1.051, FG 1.013, IBU 46, SRM 10.4, ABV ~5% 

1.59 kg (36.3%) Canadian 2-row
1.59 kg (36.3%) Maris Otter
682 g (15.5%) Vienna malt
454 g (10.4%) Crystal 40 L
68 g (1.5%) Pale Chocolate malt

Northern Brewer - 28 g (7.7% AA) @ 60 min
Northern Brewer - 42 g @ 15 min
Northern Brewer - 28 g @ 1 min
Northern Brewer - 42 g dry-hop for 7 days

1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 2112 California Lager (PD Dec. 19/2012, with a 2.5 L starter)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 5 g gypsum added to the mash

- Brewed Feb. 3rd, 2013, by myself. 50-minute mash with 14.5 L of strike water, mashed in at 153 F (target 152 F). Mashed out for 10 minutes with 7 L of boiling water, resulting temp 165 F. Sparged with ~4 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons in the kettle.

- SG 1.039 (target 1.042). 60-minute boil. Chilled to 58 F in about 20 minutes with immersion chiller. Poured and filtered into Better Bottle. OG low at 1.048. Pitched yeast starter at 58 F, aerated by shaking for several minutes before and after pitching. Placed BB in fermentation chamber with temp controller set at 60 F.

4/2/13-5/2/13 - Consistent activity, bubbling in the airlock averaging about once per second.

6/2/13 - Bubbling slowed to about every 2 seconds. Turned temp up to 62 F.

21/2/13 - Decreased temperature in the fermentation chamber to 50 F.

24/2/13 - Racked beer to 5-gallon secondary fermenter, placed back in fermentation chamber.

2/3/13 - Added dry hops. FG 1.015.

9/3/13 - Bottled with 112 g table sugar and ~1/4 pack US-05 rehydrated yeast, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 5 gallons with a max temp of 64 F.

24/6/13 - Tasting notes; came out much better - toasty, with a strong NB hop presence.