Tasting of Oat Pale Ale (OP Series #1)

First entry of 2019 is going to be for the tasting of the Oat Pale Ale we brewed more than a year ago and that is already finished. But before getting into it, I would like to take this opportunity to wish every reader of this blog a great new year, hopefully drinking a lot of great home brews.

The reason for this to be the first entry of 2019 is in part due to chance, but I’m glad this beer is the one that starts this year since it has been our favourite beer from all the ones we’ve brewed through these years. We liked it so much that we have decided to make a series of beers following the scheme of this one (we’ve already brewed the second one, I will write about it in a few weeks) whose name is going to be OP Series (Oat Pale Series).

Oat Pale Ale (OP Series #1)

As those of you who read the entry about brewing this beer would remember, we took inspiration from a beer from Pilot we drank in Scotland. Our objective was to brew a low alcohol beer, with a smooth mouthfeel and lots of aroma.

Appearance, as expected from the high percentage of malted oats, is hazy, with a nice golden colour. Foam is white, with medium-high retention.

Very fresh citric and tropical notes in aroma. Citra hops, that smelled beautifully when we opened the bag on brewday, really paid off. There are also some esters probably from the yeast (Vermont IPA) and some hints from the malt. Aroma diminished with time, but this loss was less marked than with other hop forward beers we’ve brewed.

More or less the same characteristics are found in flavour, with Citra as the star of the show. Lots of tropical fruits, some citric notes and a bit of peach, the latter maybe produced by the yeast. Bitterness is on point and it balances sweetness from the malts very well. Base malt and malted oats give some biscuity and bready notes.

In spite of the great aroma (really great when the beer was fresh) and flavour, what we liked most about this beer was its mouthfeel. It has a spectacular texture, pretty smooth from the high percentage of malted oats. A medium carbonation complements this mouthfeel in a very good way. Body is medium-high, which masks its low alcohol content perfectly (a beer of only 3% ABV).

All of the above is what made this beer so special for us. As commented before, we will work with new versions of this recipe to try different malts and hop combinations, keeping the proportion of malted oats and the yeast (at least in the first versions). The only drawback of this beer was that maybe it would be rounder if we had had a better efficiency (the theoretical ABV was 4.4%). For future brews of this series we will look for some trick to improve this aspect (well, at least on the third one, since we had the same problem with OP Series #2). Milling barley malt and malted oats separately could be a good starting point, since the size of these grains is quite different. Whatever we do, we will tell you about it. Again, happy 2019 to all of you. Cheers!

Posted in Tasting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Tangerine Porter – brewing with pure cocoa (Part 2)

It’s been a few months since we made a cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans, which we used to brew two different Porters. We already told you about the first one, a more or less standard Porter with lactose, cinnamon and vanilla that we named Chocolatatic Porter. Now it’s turn for the second one of these beers. In this case the recipe was less conventional, since we used tangerine juice and zest. Like other beers we’ve brewed, this time the inspiration came from a commercial beer, Tangerine Porter from Tempest Brewing. We tasted it and we liked enough to brew a similar beer. We named this one Tangerine Porter (yes, I know, same name. My bad, at least in Spanish the order of the words is not the same).

Malts for our Tangerine Porter

Grain selection was based on one hand in the available information of the Tempest Brewing beer we wanted to imitate and on the other hand in the experience from other beers we’ve brewed. We had definitely learned some things though these years and it’s time to start using this knowledge. Most of the grist, more than three quarters, consisted of Maris Otter, an English base malt we though was more than appropriate for the style. To this base malt, we added four specialty malts that allowed us to get, or at least try, the parameters we were looking for. There was, of course, chocolate malt, a must for Porters, for flavour and colour. Then Biscuit malt and crystal malt (Crystal T50 from Simpsons to be exact) to contribute some maltiness, and finally, naked malted oats (also from Simpsons) to add some more flavour and, above all, some body that could be thinner adding tangerine juice.

We didn’t think too much about hops and yeast. Chinook boiled for 60 minutes to get most of the IBUs needed for the target bitterness and some Cascade at flame out to try to get some citric notes for the hops that could interact with the notes coming from the tangerines. The chosen yeast was Safele S-04, the famous English strain.

Tangerines ready to be zested and squeezed

The final recipe and process summary were as follows:


1.00 Kg (2.20 lbs) (76.9%) Maris Otter (Crisp) (5.0 EBC)
0.10 Kg (0.22 lbs) (7.7%) Golden Naked Oats (Simpsons) (18.0 EBC)
0.10 Kg (0.22 lbs) (7.7%) Biscuit malt (50.0 EBC)
0.05 Kg (0.11 lbs) (3.8%) Chocolate malt (900.0 EBC)
0.05 Kg (0.11 lbs) (3.8%) Crystal T50 (Simpsons) (133.0 EBC)
5.00 g (0.18 oz) Chinook (13.00% AA) leaf (boil 60 minutes, 32.6 IBUs)
20.00 g (0.71 oz) Cascade (6.20% AA) leaf (whirlpool 10 minutes, 12.4 IBUs)
57 g (2.01 oz) from the tablet of cocoa from raw cocoa beans (boil 15 minutes)
1 liter (0.26 gallons) of tangerine juice
Zest from 2 tangerines (at bottling after being soaked in vodka for 2 weeks)
Safale S-04 (1 sachet, previously rehydrated)
Volume: 5.25 L (1.39 gallons)     OG: 1.050     FG: 1.012     ABV: 5.0%     IBUs: 45.0     Color: 43.7 EBC     BU/GU: 0.907     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 37 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 14 ppm; Cl: 14 ppm
66.0ºC (150.8ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 72ºC (161.6ºF) for 10 minutes
60 minutes

Tangerine zest soaked in vodka

We started the brewday setting up everything and boiling the water we were going to use to remove chlorine. In the afternoon, after crushing the grain, we mashed in with 5 liters (1.32 gallons) and the different grains. Target temperature was 66ºC (150.8ºC), and we nailed it the first minutes of the mash. Then we opened the lid of the cooler a couple of times to stir the mash and the temperature dropped to about 63ºC (145.4ºF) after one hour. We mashed out adding 3.5 liters (0.92 gallons) of boiling water to get 72ºC (161.6ºF), stirring thoroughly for 10 minutes.

Once we removed the bag with the grains, we boiled the wort adding hops and the cocoa tablet at the times showed above. When we added the cocoa tablet we stirred with a wooden spoon to aid mixing well. After finishing the whirlpool with Cascade hops, we cooled the wort until it reached 20ºC (68ºF). During that process we also took time to rehydrate the dry yeast we were about to pitch. Before pitching we transferred the wort to a 6.25 liters (1.65 gallons) PET bottle, shaking it to oxygenate as much as possible and we put it in a fridge. We set the fridge at 17.5ºC (63.5ºF), considering we wanted a fermentation temperature of 18ºC-19ºC (64.4ºF-66.2ºF). Original gravity was a little bit higher than expected (1.054 vs 1.050), due to the fact the evaporation was more than planned. Finally, after pitching yeast, we cleaned everything before getting a well earned rest.

Cocoa and yeast sediment after fermentation

Next morning, 12 hours after pitching, fermentation activity was visible, with a good krausen already present. It had a nice chocolate colour and the temperature was about 18.5ºC (65.3ºF), the same we were targeting. Fermentation kept on showing signs for the next 3-4 days and then these sings disappeared. Some trub (cocoa and yeast) started to sediment at the bottom of the PET bottle. We left it that way for a few more days. Two weeks after brewday we squeezed the tangerines (from two different varieties) and zested two of them to soak the peel in vodka for a few days. We kept the juice, about a liter (0.22 gallons) in the freezer for one hour and then we put it in the fridge for a few hours. Finally, the night before transferring the beer to a secondary fermenter, we kept the juice at room temperature for a while. Before adding the juice we took a gravity reading. Gravity at that point was 1.010, with the beer having a nice and prominent cocoa aroma. After adding the juice the total volume was about 5.5 liters (1.21 gallons). Shortly after, due to the sugars from the juice, fermentation started again. However, these sings of fermentation stopped after a day.

Tangerine Porter at bottling time

Twelve days after adding the juice, we finally found some time to bottle the beer. We bottle almost 5 liters (1.10 gallons), 14 bottles of 33 cL (12 oz). We added the vodka in which we had soaked the tangerine peels and enough sugar to get a final carbonation of 2.0 volumes of CO2 before bottling. Final gravity was 1.008, a little bit lower than the theoretical value. This and the fact that original gravity was higher than planned, made the beer stronger that we aimed to, about 6.0% ABV (probably a little bit more due to the sugars in the juice). In a few weeks we, after carbonation in the bottles was finished, we would be able to taste our two beers brewed with pure cocoa, this Tangerine Porter and Chocolatastic Porter. We’ll show you soon how was the final result.

Posted in Elaboration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tasting of gose with apricots, our first sour beer

After finally deciding to brew our first sour beer at the end of last year, we were eager to finally taste the final result. Especially having into account that, at least theoretically, the parameters of the process we had followed seemed to have not stray from the right ones. If you want to check how we brewed this beer, you can read everything about it here.

Gose, served with and without fruit dregs

First of all, I have to explain something about its appearance. As you probably know, we had some trouble to separate completely the beer from the apricot purée. This involved that some fruit dregs were present in the bottles. After some weeks at cold temperature these dregs deposited at the bottom of the bottles and, if you were cautious, you could serve this beer with a nice golden colour and quiet clear. However, if you shook the bottles just a little bit or if you poured without caution, the beer was hazy and with an orangey colour. You can see the differences in picture above. Foam is white and with low retention.

Regarding aroma, fruit is the most prominent characteristic, with a mix between apricots and citric tones. The acid touch from Lactobacillus is also present. There is no aromas coming from the yeast.

For flavour, a firm but rather smooth tartness is the first impression you get. Soon you can notice the apricot that, in my opinion, balances the acidity quite nicely. Wheat malt imparts some bready hints and, as with aroma, there are also some citric notes, maybe from coriander. Bitterness is quite low, just enough to balance malt sweetness. Safale K-97 yeast did a pretty good job performing a clean fermentation. Salt is not noticeable, but I have the feeling that this beer wouldn’t be the same without it, since it is probably enhancing other flavours.

Body is low-medium, with a medium-high carbonation. It is a very dry and refreshing beer, which makes it very drinkable, especially with good weather. In addition, its low alcohol content, 4.2% ABV, allows you to drink a few glasses without any danger. The fruit dregs, contrary to what it may seem, are not noticeable while drinking the beer. In fact, we preferred the “hazy” version with the fruit that the “clean”.

All in all, we are very happy with this beer. Of all the batches we’ve brewed these last years, this is probably in the top 3. I’m very proud of it and I must say we enjoyed it from the first to that last bottle. Maybe all of this is because it was our first sour beer, something different from what we are used to brew, but the fact is we are very glad with the result. For future versions and, in spite of being something that didn’t really bothered me, I would probably change the way in which we added fruit. Although some fruit dregs remained in the final beer, it was quite tedious to separate most of the fruit from the beer. We could also play with other type of fruits. For the rest of the process, I will keep it more or less the same, only minor changes. If this beer was a test to keep brewing sour beers, with the final result I have no doubt that sour beer have arrived to stay.

Posted in Tasting | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chocolatastic Porter – Brewing with pure caco (Part 1)

As I told you in the post about our cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans, we brewed two different Porter style beers using that tablet. In this first post I’m going to describe the first of them, which we named Chocolatastic Porter. First I will describe what was our idea, then the ingredients we chose and, finally, the process we followed.

While designing this beer our idea was to get a Porter that would remind us drinking chocoloate, but in beer form. For this, we first needed to get a cocoa flavour as intense as possible. We would like also to add some adjuncts that go well with chocolate (cinnamon, vanilla) and keep some residual sweetness. As cocoa is bitter, we should restrict bittering hop additions. Regarding yeast, as we wanted cocoa to shine, we would need a clean yeast to ferment the wort.

Cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans and lactose

Evidently, the first ingredient was obvious, the cocoa tablet we had previously made. We needed to choose the amount to add. For that, we did a little research reading articles about brewing with cocoa and chocolate, finding some real nice ones like this from Cat Stewart, or this one from Chris Colby (sorry, this one only for Brew Your Own subscribers). Considering all these articles, we decided to add about 100 g (3.5 oz) from the cocoa tablet for 10.5 liters (2.77 gallons) of beer. Following Chris Colby’s advice, we also decided to add lactose to get that residual sweetness we were looking for, 150 g (5.3 oz) the last 15 minutes of the boil.

Boiling the wort

As for the malts, due to stock issues we picked two different base malts, Pilsen malt and Maris Otter, coupled with various special malts usually used for Porter beers. Some biscuit malt to get some complexity, chocolate malt for obvious reasons (colour and flavour) and flaked barley to get some body and help with foam since we were afraid fats from cocoa could detriment foam stability.

Regarding hops, we finished the amount we had of Chinook using it for bittering and we used some Northern Brewer for a flavour addition at 15 minutes before finishing the boil, choosing this variety because we thought it could go well with this style due to its earthy and woody atributes. To get a clean fermentation we trusted the always reliable US-05 from Safale. Finally, we also used a cinnamon stick and two vanilla beans, soaked for some days in the minimum volume of vodka to cover them. We added this vodka at bottling.

For the water we used for brewing, we only added some calcium chloride to get a mash pH of 5.5 and additionally to boost calcium and chloride to help with yeast growing and to increase malt flavour, respectively. You can see the final recipe and a summary of the process for this brew below.

Our two Porters brewed with cocoa, fermenting


1.50 Kg (3.31 lbs) (51.2%) Pilsen malt (Grannaria) (3.9 EBC)
0.70 Kg (1.54 lbs) (23.9%) Maris Otter (Crisp) (5.0 EBC)
0.33 Kg (0.73 lbs) (11.3%) Biscuit malt (50.0 EBC)
0.15 Kg (0.33 lbs) (5.1%) Chocolate malt (900.0 EBC)
0.10 Kg (0.22 lbs) (3.4%) Flaked barley (Thomas Fawcet) (3.0 EBC)
10.00 g (0.35 oz) Chinook (13.00% AA) leaf (boil 75 minutes, 31.5 IBUs)
10.00 g (0.35 oz) Northern Brewer (11.20% AA) leaf (boil 15 minutes, 12.9 IBUs)
102 g (3.60 oz) from the tablet of cocoa from raw cocoa beans (boil 15 minutes)
150 g (5.29 oz) lactose (boil 15 minutes)
1 cinnamon stick, soaked in vodka for 1 week (vodka added at bottling)
2 vanilla beans, soaked in vodka for 1 week (vodka added at bottling)
Safale US-05 (1 sachet, previously rehydrated)
Volume: 10.5 L (2.77 gallons)     OG: 1.057     FG: 1.017     ABV: 5.3%     IBUs: 44.4     Color: 49.1 EBC     BU/GU: 0.774     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 109 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 14 ppm; Cl: 141 ppm
67.0ºC (152.6ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 75ºC (167ºF) for 5-10 minutes
75 minutes

Vanilla beans and cinnamon stick soaked in vodka

In the morning of the brewday we boiled water to remove chlorine and we left it cooling until the afternoon, when we adjust the water profile adding calcium chloride as I previously mentioned. We mashed with 12 litres (3.17 gallons) of water and the crushed grain, stirring well before putting the lid on. Initial mash temperature was 67ºC (152.6ºF). After half an hour we open to stir the mash again and temperature had decreased to 65ºC (149ºF). After one hour the temperature had dropped to 63ºC (145.4ºF). While we stirred the mash one more time, we added 7.7 litres (2.03 gallons) of almost boiling water for the mash out, keeping a temperature of 75ºC (167ºF) for 5-10 minutes before we removed the bag with the grains. Pre-boil gravity was 1.041, a little bit higher than the theoretical one (1,036), probably due to a finer crush.

We made the hop additions showed in recipe above during the boil, and just after the last one, we added cocoa and lactose, stirring well to add dissolving both. After 75 minutes of boil, we started to cool the wort with our cooper immersion chiller. When the wort reached 19ºC (66.2ºF) we transferred it to a demijohn that we left in the fermentation chamber, set at 17.5ºC (63.5ºF), while we rehydrated the yeast. Maybe we should have boiled more vigorously because we ended with 1.5 litres (0.4 gallons) more than planned. That left us with a wort with an original gravity of 1.050, being the theoretical value 1.057. Not too much of a difference, but we have to keep on working to fine tune our equipment.

Chocolatastic Porter before bottling

Twelve hours after pitching yeast, fermentation was vigorous, with a good krausen formed. Cocoa aroma was evident, with a hazy appearance typical of active fermentations. Beer temperature was 18.5ºC (65.3ºF), with the fridge still set at 17.5ºC (63.5ºF). On the second day, krausen was even thicker and beer temperature was higher, 19.5ºC (67.1ºF). On the third day, fermentation signs started to disappear, the krausen was gone and beer temperature dropped to 18ºC (64.4ºF). We left it that way for a few days and, after two weeks from brewday, we transferred the beer to another demijohn to left some trub behind. We took a sample to taste it and it was quite good, with a pronounced bitterness and a more than evident cocoa flavour.

One week later we found some time to bottle. At this point, apart from adding sugar for carbonation in the bottles (enough sugar for 2.2 volumes of CO2), we added the vodka in which we had soaked the cinnamon stick and the vanilla beans. As you can see in picture above, the amount of vodka must be the minimum to cover whatever you want to use, so its effect is negligible in the final beer. We have tried this method of soaking in vodka several times with different ingredients and I think the result you get from it is pretty good. In this occasion, we kept the cinnamon stick and the vanilla beans in vodka for a whole week, and judging from the colour and aroma of the vodka it was more than enough. We bottled 27 bottles of 33 cL (12 oz), with a final gravity of 1.013 and an ABV of 4.9%. This FG was higher than normal due to the lactose we added, since this sugar cannot be fermented by the yeast we pitched. In future posts we will tell you the process for the other beer we brewed with the cocoa tablet (a Porter with tangerine juice) and the result for these two beers.

Posted in Elaboration | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Vossaøl tasting (Norwegian farmhouse ale fermented with kveik yeast)

This time last year, intrigued by reading several blogs, especially Larsblog, we decided to brew our first beer fermenting with kveik yeast. If this name doesn’t ring a bell, you can read our entry about brewing a vossaøl, a Norwegian farmhouse ale, emulating a traditional method. You should be able to find a lot of information about kveik there.

Our kveik fermented vossaøl between juniper bushes

First of all, let me clarify one thing. As you can see in the entry about the brewing of this beer, we split the wort in two. Each of them was fermented at slightly different range of temperatures, one of them at 30ºC-35ºC (86ºF-95ºF) and the other at 25ºC-30ºC (77ºF-86ºF). Once we tasted both beers, we weren’t able to find any differences between them, both were pretty similar beers at least for our palate. We even performed a triangle test with a friend and none of us was able to identify the unique sample. Taken this into account, the following characteristics should apply to both beers fermented at different range of temperatures.

Regarding appearance, although in picture above with juniper bushes the beer looks a little more dark and quite hazy, the thing is that this beer was light golden in color and more or less clear. Haziness in the picture was probably due to yeast in the bottom of the bottle and beer mixing due to movement. Below you can see another picture from the day we made the triangle test, so you can compare.

Triangle test with beers fermented at differente temperatures

After brewing the beer, we contacted Lars Marius Garshol to tell him about our experience and he told us that it was too clear compared with traditional examples, since those are usually amber in colour and that this was probably due to the boil time. Although we boiled for three hours, in this type of beer is not unusual to boil for four hours or more. In addition to this, since lautering takes quite a bit, some parts of wort are boiled form even 6-7 hours. According to Lars, this extra boil time is what justifies the difference in colour.

The leading role in aroma is without a doubt for juniper, with pine and citric notes. These citric notes, along some orange could also be due to the kveik yeast, according to what we had previously read about it, although we can’t be sure. No signs of malt here.

It has a low-medium body and high carbonation, with a very dry finish, almost champagne like, what makes it a very refreshing and easy to drink beer… if it wasn’t because of the powerful flavour of juniper, that predominates even more than in aroma. This flavour is something you either love it or hate it. It is a very characteristic flavour, a mix of pine, resin and citric notes, with a gin-like bitterness. When we brewed it we wonder if the amount of juniper was too much, and once we had finished all the bottles we can say that happened to be true. If we brew this recipe again we’ll lower the amount of juniper for sure. But there’s more, some malt shows timidly and some orangey notes are also appreciable, maybe related to the kveiv yeast. One thing I would like to point out is that, despite the high temperatures of fermentation, there are no defects or off-flavours of any kind, confirming us that this type of yeast are something special.

A lot of people was able to taste this beer, with mixed reactions. Some people liked it and others couldn’t even finish the beer. I personally didn’t dislike it. Even with the strong juniper flavour, which faded out with time, I drank quite a few bottles of this beer quite happy. The fact that it was very dry and easy to drink helped with that.

Without a doubt, brewing this vossaøl following a traditional method was a great experience. Brewing beer like they do in other parts of the world always contribute to broaden our knowledge about beer. We don’t know if we will brew a beer with this method again, since it takes a lot of time, but you never know.

On a final note, the best two things we got from this experience. First one, now we are more interested in working with kveik yeast than ever, particularly with no commercial strains, since those are purified strains. We would like to work with original strains, the same that they keep using in farms in Norway, which usually have more than one strain (some of them even some type of bacteria) and consequently contribute more complex characteristics to beer. And second, juniper. We had learn a lesson on how to use juniper in beer, especially about the amount to use. I think that on an adequate proportion can impart a lot of good things to several styles of beer.


Posted in Tasting | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Cocoa tablet from raw cocoa beans

This entry was going to be part of a longer one on which I was going to write also about brewing two different Porter beers, but since it could be too long and hard to read, I decided to make three shorter different entries. Inspiration for this first one came after watching an online video from Stone Brewing about one of their beers, Xocoveza. Actually, the video was more about the story of one of the ingredients of that beer, cocoa.

Raw cocoa beans before roasting

In that video, Greg Koch, one of the co-founders of Stone Brewing, tells the story of cocoa used for Xocoveza, from its cultivation and production in Belize, until its processing in the Stone facilities and its addition during brewday. I thought it was pretty interesting, but it stayed there.

However, a few months later, I came across with another video, this time from a Spanish cooking blog, in which they described how to make home chocolate form raw cocoa beans. This new video made me remember the first one and I started thinking about the possibility of doing something similar at home. After wondering how it could be made for a while, I decided to do it, combining the information I thought was interesting from both videos.

Roasting at about 120ºC (248ºF), after 30 minutes (left) and after 60 minutes (right)

First thing I had to do was to find raw cocoa beans. It is not too difficult to find them, but they are not too easy to find either. Finally I found what I was looking for in a Portuguese online shop and, after ordering them, I received raw cocoa beans at home a few days later. However, a few weeks passed by until I was able to find some time to start with it. During those weeks, I researched some extra information about the matter and started to summarise what was useful from the videos I talked about.

Firstly, I put 400 g (0.88 lbs) of raw cocoa beans on an oven tray, evenly distributed. I had previously set the oven at 120º-125ºC (248ºF-257ºF). Once that temperature was reached, I put the tray with the beans into the oven and I kept it there for one hour, spreading them after half an hour looking for a uniform roasting.

Cocoa nibs

Once the beans were roasted, it was time to peel them, one by one. You must be patient because it takes some time. Here, I regretted the fact that I was doing this all by myself without any help. With some of the beans it was easy to separate the hull from the nibs, but others required more time and effort. Probably roasting at a higher temperature would have been a better option to make the hulls more friable. However, being the first time I was doing this, I preferred to be conservative with roasting temperature and time.

Precisely, one of the alleged advantages of this method is the versatility that gives playing with roasting time and temperature to get aromas and flavours as preferred. Next time I will probably keep the time of roasting but I will set the temperature a few degrees higher.

Cocoa paste

Anyway, cocoa aroma in the kitchen was awesome, and flavour from the roasted and peeled beans (nibs) was very strong. Next step was to grind these nibs. To do this, I used the always reliable Corona mil which we used to mill grains before we bought a roller mill. It should be taken into account that this step should be done with nibs at a warm temperature, since that way it is easier to form a cocoa paste. To get a suitable texture, I passed nibs three times through the mill, getting a soft cocoa paste as a result.

Cocoa tablet, ready to use in a brewday

I put this cocoa paste in a square shaped recipient used as a mould, which was kept in the fridge until next day to allow the cocoa paste to harden. Picture above shows the final result. From the 400 g (0.88 lbs) of raw cocoa beans I got a cocoa tablet of almost 300 g (0.66 lbs). So if you decide to try this at home one day, remember that you should account for a 25% weight loss during the process. As it could not have been otherwise, I took a little bit of this to taste it. It was quite bitter and full of cocoa flavour. In future entries we’ll tell you how we used it to brew two different Porters.



Posted in Elaboration | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Oat pale ale, taking inspiration from trips

I’m not going to deny it. Since I started homebrewing, every time I´ve had the opportunity of going on holiday, I´ve made some research on the local beers from the place I was going to visit and the pubs where I could drink them. This has become another attraction for those days. Of course, this also happened with the trip we made in October 2017 to Scotland, a country with a great brewing tradition. Among the beers we were able to taste, all of them of a considerable level, a few of them stood out.

We enjoyed Long White Cloud, the flagship pale ale from the always reliable Tempest Brewing Co, we drank from cask and bottle Gold and Red from the little Skye brewery, from the island of the same name; and we liked very much Green Hopped IPA from Dark Star Brew, with fresh “green” hops infused during conditioning. But if we had to choose one from all the beers we drank, we wouldn’t hesitate to pick Blønd from Pilot, a brewery from Leith, in the north of Edinburgh. We drank this beer for a dinner in a restaurant in Edinburgh and we loved it. Pale golden in color and quite hazy, it has a great tropical hop aroma and flavor, not too much bitterness and a really smooth mouthfeel. A beer to enjoy every sip. I looked for some information on brewery website and I found out that it was brewed with 50% of malted oats and that Amarillo and Galaxy were the hops used. I read also that it was only 4% ABV. Nowadays, this information has been removed from the website, I don’t know why, maybe a marketing decision.

Pilot Blønd label

Once we got back home from holidays, and while I was planning the next beers we were going to brew I remembered this Pilot Blønd and we decided to brew, if not a clone, at least a version of it. Based on information from the brewery we started to work on a recipe. First thing we did was to buy some malted oats, something we had never brewed with before. In particular, we made an order for naked malted oats, that were going to be 50% of the grist for the recipe. For the other 50% of the grain, we chose Pilsen malt from Dingemans we had at hand. For the hops, we didn’t have Galaxy or Amarillo, so we chose to use two varieties we had an amount enough for this recipe, East Kent Goldings for bittering and Citra in whirlpool and dry hop. The next step was to pick a yeast. Some time ago we had ordered three sacchets of Vermont IPA from Giga Yeast, the first of which we had used to brew our first NEIPA. Being a liquid yeast we didn’t want to risk them to spoil, so we decided we were going use that yeast for this oat pale ale. Finally, we had to decide our water treatment. I will explain it later, but we wanted to have a mash pH around 5.30 and a ratio sulfate:chloride of 1:1.

Citra pellet hops for whirlpool

Taking into account everything said until now, the recipe and the process summary looked like this:


1.30 Kg (2.87 lbs) (50,0%) Pilsen base malt (Dingemans) (5.0 EBC)
1,30 Kg (2.87 lbs) (50,0%) naked malted oats (3.0 EBC)
30.00 g (1.06 oz) East Kent Goldings (5.00% AA) leaf (boil 30 minutes, 28.4 IBUs)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Citra (14.20% AA) pellets (whirpool 15 minutes, 34.8 IBUs)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Citra (14.20% AA) pellets (dry hop, 6 days after pitching yeast, for 4 days)
Vermont IPA (#GY054) from Giga Yeast (2 golden pitch sacchets, ptiched directly without starter)
Volume: 10.5 L (2.77 gallons)     OG: 1.044     FG: 1.010     ABV: 4.4%     IBUs: 63.2     Color: 7.5 EBC     BU/GU: 1.451     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 114 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 143 ppm; Cl: 147 ppm
68.9ºC (156ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 75ºC (167ºF) for 5 minutes
60 minutes

Oat pale ale, 48 hours after brewday

In the morning of the brewday we boiled about 18 liters (3.96 gallons) of water to evaporate chlorine. In the afternoon, we milled the grain and we added 50 mL of sulfuric acid 1 N and about 12 mL of 33% of calcium chloride to adjust mash pH and get the water profile shown above. With the water heated at the corresponding temperature, we added the grain slowly, stirring continuously to prevent grain clumps. We put the lid on with the mash at a temperature of 69.8ºC (157.6ºF). We mashed for one hour, opening the lid after the first 30 minutes to stir the grain again. After one hour, the mash temperature had dropped to 65ºC (149ºF). We turn the induction plate on to raise the temperature to about 75ºC (167ºF) for the mash out, stirring one more time. We removed the bag with the grain and heated the wort to boil. We took a sample to measure the pre-boil gravity, 1.030, the same of the theoretical value.

Half an hour into the boiling we added 30 g (1.06 oz) of East Kent Goldings for bittering and when the boil was finished we turned off heat and we added 50 g of Citra that smelled really great when opening the packet, something that it is not always the case. We kept these Citra hops for 15 minutes and the temperature of the wort went from 94ºC (201.2ºF) at the beginning to 87ºC (188.6ºF) at the end of that time. Then we remove hops and started to cool the wort with our cooper chiller, keeping the first liters of water to use them for cleaning. Since the tap water was quite cold (it was December), the wort reached 17.5ºC (63.5ºF) in a few minutes. We transferred the wort to an 11.5 liters (3 gallons) PET demijohn, which we shook to oxygenate wort as much as we could. Original gravity was lower than expected (1.038 vs 1.045) because the evaporation was lower than which we had planned. We pitched directly two sachets of Vermont Ale Yeast from Giga Yeast because they had some time and maybe one of them was not enough. As we had a gose we had previously brewed in the fermentation chamber at a different temperature that the one we wanted for our oat pale ale, we left the demijohn in a bathroom which a steady temperature of about 18ºC-19ºC (64.4ºF-66.2ºF).

Oat Pale Ale just before bottling

Next day, 20 hours after pitching yeast there were no signs of fermentation. Since the fermentation chamber was empty then, we put the demijohn in it, setting a temperature of 18.5ºC (65.3ºF). The activity in the airlock started slowly after 48 hours, increasing its intensity with time. Beer temperature was 19ºC (66.2ºF). By the third day, the airlock activity was frantic and a thin krausen was forming. On the fourth day the airlock activity was almost nonexistent and the krausen was gone. After another two days without apparent activity we added the dry hop charge, 50 g (1.76 oz) of Citra pellest that still smelled like heaven, which gave us hope that this beer would result in something good. Four days later we removed hops and we lower the temperature gradually for 48 hours until it reached 15ºC (59ºF), to clear the beer somehow, although the great amount of malted oats as well as the hops used for dry hop kept the beer with a hazy appearance at that point. This haziness was something characteristic of the beer we were trying to emulate, so no worries.

After three days at 15ºC (59ºF), in the morning of that day we removed the demijohn from the fermentation chamber and we left it in the kitchen to bottle in the afternoon. Final gravity was 1.016, a little bit high (our NEIPA with the same yeast finished at 1.015), with a final ABV of 2.9%. A value a little off from the one we had planned, but nothing to worry about. We added sugar, boiled with a little water and cooled, enough to get about 2.4 volumes of CO2 and we bottled around 9.24 liters (2.44 gallons), 28 bottles of 33 cL. While we were bottling, we took a sample to taste it and it had a really good aroma from dry hopping, as well as a nice flavor, with a nice clean bitterness. This made us be optimistic regarding the final result, once the beer was carbonated. At bottling, the look of the beer was very similar to Blønd from Pilot Beer. In a next entry we will talk about how the beer turned out and if it met our expectations.

(UPDATE: You can check how this beer turned out here)

Posted in Elaboration | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment