Review: Ruddles County Clone (Best Bitter)

Posted by Olan on 7/30/2014 at 04:00:03 AM


Today's beer review is one I have been looking forward to; it comes to us from my good friend Greg, of High Point, North Carolina.  Greg is an active member of the /r/homebrewing community, and goes by the screen name of /u/vinpaysdoc - give him a shout sometime!  Greg drove through Birmingham recently on the way to visit one of his kids at the University of Alabama, and was kind enough to swap beers with me (as well as hook me up with several vials of yeast).

Greg's beer is a best bitter - specifically, a Ruddles County Clone.  I haven't had the pleasure of trying this beer myself, though it's a real favorite of Greg's. 

This particular bottle spent a good week in my fridge prior to me taking it out for this review.  Since this is an English style, I did let it warm a good bit before I did the review (though it was probably still cooler than it would be served in a UK pub). 

You'll notice that this video is noticeably shorter than my first effort; I decided to do my actual sipping and note taking off camera in an effort to spare the viewer from my strange faces and long pauses.  The "uhs" and "ahs" are drastically reduced, for which I am proud.  I also feel like the sound quality is improved, thanks to my use of a directional mike - but beware, you will still hear my kids in a couple of spots.  Sadly, I fear that will be a stable of these reviews... but then, what exactly did you expect from a guy named "Homebrew Dad"?

Enough technical mumbling... on to the video!

This bottle gave a strong hiss when I uncapped it.  The initial pour was an attractive, albeit slightly hazy, warm golden liquid with a finger's worth of dense off white foam.  The foam did not stick around long - it quickly fell to a cap, and even that did not last.  There was negligible lacing on the glass.

The aroma as I poured was absolutely amazing - even though I was not actively sniffing the glass, the scent of warm caramel was abundantly present.  I have smelled anything like this in a beer - it was nothing short of amazing.

Sadly, that aroma did not persist, though it did give way to a very nice maltiness with hints of caramel and some very mild fruitiness.  Hop aroma itself was very subdued. 

In a contrast to how things usually go, the flavor for this beer was almost an inverse of the aroma.  Hops took center stage here, with the overall flavor balance definitely tilted toward bitterness.  The supporting malt profile was nicely rounded out with mild fruitiness and subtle caramel.  I did notice that the warmer the beer got, the more apparent the fruity esters became.  Finish was dry, with just a bit of pleasant, lingering bitterness.  Greg had warned me ahead of time that this beer was a "caramel bomb", but I didn't get that at all - I got some pleasant supporting caramel notes, but nothing that seemed out of line.

The one real flaw that I personally found with this beer was in the finish, where I felt like the flavor got a little harsh. 

Mouthfeel was spot on for the style - light and drinkable, smooth all the way through, with the aforementioned dryness.  As I mentioned on the video, this is the sort of beer that you would order a pitcher of to enjoy with your friends. 

Overall, I feel this was a very good beer, one that Greg should be proud to share.  Greg's beers are consistently of high quality, so I'm looking forward to the next one I get to review!

Also, if you care to check it out, I did complete a scoresheet for this beer.

Batch Size (gallons)5.25
Recipe typeAll Grain
Style8B. Special/Best/Premium Bitter
Original Gravity1.050
Final Gravity1.016
ABV4.46% (basic)   /   4.45% (advanced)       [what's this?]
Color22.3 SRM
Boil Time60 min

YeastWLP002 (English Ale)

Pale Malt, Maris Otter8 lbs 8 oz85%3
Table Sugar (Sugar), Caramelized1 lb10%1
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L 8 oz5%60

Challenger (Boil).55 oz906.2%12.2
Northdown (Boil).5 oz907.7%13.8
Kent Goldings (Boil).35 oz106.7%2.9
Bramling Cross (Boil).4 oz86.8%2.8
Kent Goldings (Boil).35 oz06.7%0

for complete recipe (with details like mash and fermentation temps), click here

Tags for this post: best, bitter, review, video, beer, homebrew, ruddles county, clone

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Tags for this post: best, bitter, review, video, beer, homebrew, ruddles county, clone

The Winds of Change are Blowing at Homebrew Dad

Posted by Olan on 7/28/2014 at 08:10:29 PM


When I first created the Homebrew Dad website, the idea was pretty simple - I wanted a place to chronicle my own growth as a brewer.  I had this idea of sharing the steps that I took from complete and utter beginner to... well, to wherever I might take this hobby.

Along the way, the website has grown and evolved with me.  I learned that recipe sharing is a pretty big aspect of brewing; rather than post a recipe once, as most blogs do, I decided to set up a central repository to keep them in, which would allow me to embed the recipe again and again, and would also allow people a simple, convenient way to refer back to a given beer recipe.  I then had an idea about perhaps expanding that repository one day, so I set it up in such a way as to make the recipes fully searchable - for instance, if you had, say, Munich malt and wanted to see all of the recipes that I had posted that used it, you could do so with a simple search.

I became interested in some of the more technical aspects of brewing, and have always enjoyed programming.  I ended up creating a series of utilities - the priming sugar calculator, the ABV calculator, the beer calorie calculator, the grain and hop databases, etc.  Wherever possible, I have tried to keep an eye on scalability and flexibility for these, as well.

I set up an area of the site for...
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Tags for this post: homebrew, brewing, beer, community, forum, content

Announcing the Conan Yeast Giveaway!

Posted by Olan on 7/24/2014 at 03:54:33 PM


Conan yeast.  The "secret" ingredient behind Heady Topper - one of the most highly regarded beers in America.  The yeast has a unique, bready flavor profile, and is often described as having a honey-like finish.  Many homebrewers view this yeast as a Holy Grail type strain for IPAs, pale ales, and other hop forward beers.

The Conan yeast strain, commercially known as ECY29 (North East Ale), also has a deserved reputation as being difficult to obtain.  East Coast Yeast (manufacturer of the strain) does not yet have the manufacturing capabilities of the big boys (i.e. White Labs or Wyeast), and as a result, this popular yeast strain often sells out quickly. 

So, with that being said... how would you like a fresh vial of Conan yeast for the low, low price of *free*? 

Today, I'd like to announce the first ever Homebrew Dad yeast giveaway.  I have obtained a fresh container of ECY29 (special thanks to /u/GirkinFirker from reddit!), and will be spinning up a large starter for the sole purpose of sharing the love, so to speak.  Of course, odds are that there's no way I'll be able to harvest enough yeast to meet all of the potential demand from folks who'd like a free portion of a hard to find yeast. 

So, I'd like to make this interesting.  To be considered for a vial, please submit an idea for the beer that you would like to brew with the yeast.  I'll judge the ideas off of originality and general...
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Tags for this post: conan, yeast, ecy29, contest, giveaway, beer, homebrew

Review: American Dream Pale Ale

Posted by Olan on 7/22/2014 at 08:36:57 PM

Our very first homebrew review comes to us from Isaac of Leesburg, Florida. Isaac and his buddy Matt both brewed up American pales ales for the 4th of July, and have been kind enough to share them with me.

Isaac's beer - titled "American Dream: Ryes of a Nation" - is actully the brainchild of his wife, Amy. Amy had the idea of a recipe with the desired result of "a piece of bread soaked in rye beer, with orange or tangerine notes". Isaac has been brewing for several years, so he helped oversee which ingredients woudl help provide the intended result, but this was Amy's baby.

I chilled the bottle for about 48 hours prior to my review in the hopes of making sure that any shipping sediment had settled nicely. I took the bottle out of the fridge a good 10-15 minutes prior to filming, then shot the entire review in one take. I used one of my custom pint glasses for this beer, which I gave a thorough salt scrub and multiple rinses to prior to the review.

A few notes about the filming itself - I would call this an unever effort overall. Even though I waited until late at night, then went off alone in the kitchen, you coudl still hear my three younger boys from two rooms away. I ran the round through some noise reduction, which cut some of that out - and made the sound pretty tinny in the process - but...
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Tags for this post: hombrew, review, American, pale ale, rye

Delicious Spent Grain Bread

Posted by Olan on 7/17/2014 at 03:47:43 PM

It has become a required ritual that I bake bread with the spent grains from brewing my beer.  Of course, the final flavor varies a bit due to the variances in my grain bill for the beer in question, but by and large, I end up with a dark, chewy bread that compares favorably with any nice restaurant appetizer.  Expect a nice crusty outside with a moist center.

3 cups spent grain (finely chopped in food processor to cut down on pieces of husk in your teeth) 1/3 cup of water 1/4 cup sugar 6 cups all purpose flour 2 tsp salt 1 egg (beaten) 1/4 cup milk 1 packet dry bakers yeast honey to taste Instructions:
mix yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl to activate your yeast. Use warm - not hot - water (maybe 100 degrees F). Allow 30 minutes for yeast to activate. Add your yeast starter, egg, salt, spent grain, and milk in a large mixing bowl, along with the bulk of your flour.
Mix this up well, adding flour until you reach a consistency that allows you to handle the dough with floured hands without it sticking to you like crazy. You may end up with more or less flour than called for above, depending on the humidity and such. Add honey to taste. I typically add 1/4 to 1/2 cup. knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky. I personally put this into my food processor with a bread...
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Tags for this post: spent, grains, bread, grain, bread recipe, baking, beer, beer bread

Taking a Walk on the Hop Side - My First IPA

Posted by Olan on 7/08/2014 at 10:57:01 PM


As you may have gleaned from my post history, I'm a big fan of malty beers.  By and large, I just don't seem to really enjoy beers that venture far into to the bitter side of the balance. 

I know, I know.  I must be one of a very few homebrewers who doesn't worship at the alter of the IPA.  I've tried numerous commercial IPAs, but almost every single time, I have found them to be too bitter for me to really enjoy.  As far as that goes, even most pale ales are more bitter than I like.

Go ahead, insert your girlie-man jokes here.  At a time when the craft beer industry is seemingly in a race to see which brewery can roll out a hopwater product that can melt your teeth enamel through sheer bitterness the quickest, my beer tastes seem fairly quaint.  I have continued to sample various IPAs, and while they don't always gross me out as quickly as they once did, I just have not managed to develop a taste for them.

That is, until April of this year, when I ended up meeting Greg Ellis, a brewing buddy from reddit.  We exchanged several bottles each; one of Greg's beers was a Citra DIPA.  I'll admit that it worried me, but I gave it an honest shot... and lo and behold, it was delicious!

This beer balanced to the bitter side, yes, but only mildly so.  It had plenty of hop flavor, however, and the citrusy aroma was...
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Tags for this post: IPA, hop, hops, bitter, English, English IPA, homebrew, brewing

How to Determine if Your Beer Needs a Blowoff Tube

Posted by Olan on 6/19/2014 at 02:11:36 PM


I've come up with a simple, foolproof method of determining this whether or not you need to use a blowoff tube when brewing, or if an airlock is sufficient.  Just answer the questions below.

Question one: are you brewing beer?

If the answer is "yes", then you should use a blowoff.

Question two: see question one.

Yeah, okay, I'm being a bit silly... but it's rock solid advice.

I had gotten a little cocky of late; once I made it to really good temperature control (mini fridge/STC-1000 combo), I noticed that my blowoff tubes weren't really doing anything - no krausen was being ejected into the water, etc.  So for the next few brews, I tried using an airlock only; sure enough, this method seemed to work just fine. 

With my last brew (Belgian blonde with WLP530), I was reminded that some yeasts care nothing for my paltry temperature control, that they WILL explode if I don't take measures to prevent it.  Fortunately, I did swap that one to a blowoff before catastrophe struck.  Clearly, I learned my lesson... right?

Of course not.  Sunday, I brewed an English IPA using WLP022 (my first time with that yeast). 

Even with a big, healthy starter (did a one liter starter, stepped it up to three liters, decanted back down to one, saved one vial out for a future brew), I was surprised at how slow things got going.  The following morning, I had an almost nonexistent krausen cap on top of the wort, as well...
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Tags for this post: blowoff tube, blowoff, airlock, fermentation, beer, homebrew

Following up on my Disastrous Review: I abuse a Bottle of Beer

Posted by Olan on 6/09/2014 at 07:17:00 PM


You may recall my bitter disappointment over the horrible review  I got from a pro brewer after sending two bottles of my Royal Goblin brown ale - perhaps the best beer I have ever brewed - to the guys at the Behind the Craft podcast.

I've had several people ask me if it was possible that there had been a mix up, if perhaps the Behind the Craft guys opened someone else's bottle which led to the explosively foamy, soap flavored beer that they "enjoyed".  I doubted that was the answer, and an email with Brendan led to this response: "There is no way I'd get your beer confused with another!  Everyone talked about the great labeling." 

After a big discussion on reddit, I decided to abuse a bottle of my beer to see if I could reproduce the sad results that the Behind the Craft guys came up with.  I took one bottle of the Royal Goblin, stuck it in a cardboard box, and put it in the trunk of my car for a few days.  I then moved the box to the floorboard of the car so that it would be even hotter.  I made it a point to flip the bottle over several times, just to be sure that the yeast wasn't allowed to settle too nicely.

The two bottles that I shipped out were sent at the end of March, where they went via FedEx ground to Pennsylvania.  I...
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Tags for this post: heat, beer, gushing, infection, ruined, review

To Filter (the Trub) or Not? Comparing Otherwise Identical Beers

Posted by Olan on 6/06/2014 at 05:51:35 AM


Recently, the esteemed Brulosopher put together one of his excellent exBEERiments, this one on the subject of how trub affected beer in terms of clarity, flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.  The idea was that he brewed one ten gallon batch of cream ale but split it into two fermentors.  In fermentor number one, he made an effort to whirlpool and filter out as much break material as possible from the kettle, whereas in fermentor number two, he intentionally transferred extra trub with the beer.

The two beers had identical original gravities, and post fermentation, identical final gravities.  Brulosopher had some local homebrew buddies sample the two beers in a triangle test - i.e. giving them three unlabeled glasses, with two of one beer and one of the other - and asked them to identify which was which, and to compare and contrast the two.

I was fortunate enough to have been selected to receive a bottle of each sent to me in the mail.  I refrigerated them for thirty-six hours, and tonight, cracked them both open.  I decided to review the two beers at the same time, using the BeerAdvocate review style (appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, overall).  Understand that I do not possess a particularly refined palate, am not a BJCP judge, and have no special qualifications for reviewing these beers; I'm just a guy who loves to brew and drink beer.  In this post, I will refer to the beers in the same way that Brulosopher has - Truby...
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Tags for this post: trub, beer, clarity, flavor, aroma, homwbrewing, truby

Disgusting Mold Covered my Carboy, or, it's What's Inside that Counts

Posted by Olan on 5/29/2014 at 05:47:10 PM


At the end of March, I brewed a batch of one of my "house beers" - Frolicking Friar.  It's the famous Revvy clone recipe for Leffe Blonde, which, incidentally, is a delicious beer.  I will admit to having a bit of a soft spot for this particular brew, as my mind combines two of my biggest interests in it - beer and Disney World.  You see, I had this beer for the first time at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival back in 2011, which opened my eyes to Belgian beers. 

At any rate, I brewed this beer (with the help of my three little boys) at the end of March, with the intention of leaving it in primary for four weeks.  My primary fermentation chamber (a mini fridge/STC-1000 temp controller combo) was occupied with the lagering of a bock, so I pulled my Mother of a Fermentation Chamber out of mothballs and put it to work.  I discovered anew what a beast WLP530 is; I had gotten spoiled by not needing a blowoff with other beers, thanks to temperature control, but the 530 was having none of that (hello, foamover!).  So, I converted my airlock to a blowoff (by connecting a hose to the inner valve of the airlock), dunked the other end into a big bowl of starsan, and once fermentation was done, I promptly forgot about it. 

Experienced brewers may note that I did not mention swapping back to an airlock or changing out...
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Tags for this post: mold, fermentation, beer, bottling, Belgian, ale, stink

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