T.R.A.S.H XXI Competition Results – American Amber

April 10, 2011

I entered the American Amber, American IPA, and Breakfast Stout into the T.R.A.S.H. competition this year. The judging was yesterday at the Sharp Edge Brasserie and today the club held a banquet at Rock Bottom Brewery.

I’ve never entered a competition before. I entered this one not to try to win anything, but rather to get the detailed judges notes to help me learn how to make better beer. However, I ended up winning the American Amber and American Brown flight! In addition to my beer, there were nine other ambers and ten brown ales.

While I’m excited and proud about winning, I’m still most excited about the notes I got. The Amber scored a 40 out of 50, with a Master BJCP judge giving it a 41 and non-BJCP judge giving it a 39. The notes:

Descriptors
Judge 1 (BJCP Master): Estery
Judge 2: Estery

Aroma
Judge 1: Clean caramel and ester aroma. Low hop, no diacetyl or phenol or fusel alcohols – good. Moderate esters are to style. 10/12
Judge 2: Nice caremel sweetness w/ citrus hop character. Hops become more dominant as beer warms. Very appropriate & balanced. 10/12

Appearance
Judge 1: Amber, very clear, off-white head holds up well. 3/3
Judge 2: Amber, slight haze. Persistent off-white head. 2/3

Flavor
Judge 1: Malty caramel but not overly sweet. Lingering malt and hop complement each other. Low hop flavor is OK for style. 4/5
Judge 2:Caramel maltiness. Not very much initial malt sweetness. Gives way to a nutty / toasty flavor at end. Hops make for a nice finish without a lingering sweetness. Nicely balanced. 4/5

Mouthfeel
Judge 1: Medium body. Medium Carbonation. Touch of creaminess and no astringency. Alcohol seems apparent but clean – no harsh fusels. 4/5
Judge 2: Medium body & carbonation. No astringency. 4/5

Overall Impression
Judge 1: Very nice example of a common style that often is not brewed this well. All I can say to improve is to get a touch of delicate hop aroma up front. 8/10
Judge 2: Very drinkable, well brewed beer. The hops & crystal malts balance very nicely. 8/10

Final Score
Judge 1: 41/50
Judge 2: 39/50

Sylistic Accuracy
Judge 1: Classic Example [x] [] [] [] [] Not to Style
Judge 2: Classic Example [] [x] [] [] [] Not to Style

Technical Merit
Judge 1: Flawless [x] [] [] [] [] Significant Flaws
Judge 2: Flawless [] [x] [] [] [] Significant Flaws

Intangibles
Judge 1: Wonderful [] [x] [] [] [] Lifeless
Judge 2: Wonderful [x] [] [] [] [] Lifeless

I’m very happy to have these notes. My IPA scored nearly as well, though it didn’t place. The Breakfast Stout didn’t fare so well. I will share how they did and the notes I received on them in future posts.

Thanks to Jamil & Palmer for the recipe! (It came from Brewing Classic Styles.)

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Dubbel Racked, Gulden Draak Drank

April 3, 2011

This was a good weekend for beer around our house. In addition to brewing the witbier yesterday, I also racked Jess’s Belgian dubbel to a secondary fermentor.

(The golden-colored carboy is 2010 Traminette, bulk aging.)

I know there’s a raging debate in the homebrew community about whether or not beer should be transferred to a secondary if you’re not adding stuff like dry hops, oak, cacao, etc., and if you’re not going to bulk-age the beer for an extended time. I did not secondary the IPA I brewed a couple months ago, and it’s starting to clear up nicely. But… there is much more sediment in those bottles than in the beer that I do secondary. I don’t think we’re good enough brewers yet to get clean, clear beer without a secondary. Someday…

Also, I wanted to get the dubbel out of the primary in this instance for two reasons – the carboy was filthy due to the massive krausen during primary fermentation, and also I wanted to use the carboy to ferment the witbier. The solution to the latter problem is simple: get more carboys.

The weekend of beer ended with a fantastic dinner:

Moroccan beef tagine and Gulden Draak. The only problem I have with this picture is that it’s gone now. Also, I need to learn to take decent pictures.

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Beer #19: Witbier (and Raspberry Wit)

April 3, 2011

Brewed on April 2nd, 2011, this is the second witbier I’ve brewed. The first was two years ago, before I’d begun all-grain brewing and before I decided to become more serious about this hobby. Even still, that beer stands as one of the best I’ve brewed. The recipe this time around came from Brewing Classic Styles. Here’s what went into the beer:

  • 5lb, 8oz Belgian 2-Row Pilsner Malt
  • 5lb Flaked Wheat
  • 1lb, 2.1oz Flaked Oats
  • 4oz German Munich Malt
  • 32g Hallertau Hops
  • 5.2g Chamomile Flowers (from Celestial Seasonings tea bags)
  • 15g Coriander Seeds, crushed
  • Grated Zest of 1 Pink Grapefruit, 2 Cara-Cara oranges, 1 Navel Orange, and one Minneola

Witbier is a tricky beer to brew because it’s hard to get the light color if you’re using extract, and all-grain wit requires an extra mash step – a protein rest between 113°F and 132°F. This was my first time doing any kind of mash other than a single-step infusions mash.

From what I’ve read, multi-step mashes are better performed in a mash-tun that can be heated. I don’t have such a thing (I use a picnic cooler MLT), so my only option was to dough in at 122F with a very low water-to-grist ration, then add very hot water after the protein rest to bring it up to saccharification temperature (low 150’s). You can see in the picture above how thick the mash was during the protein rest.

The multi-step mash went well. I was close enough to be happy on my gravity numbers. I planned for 70% efficiency, which according to beer smith would give me a pre-boil SG of 1.047 and an OG of 1.054. I had 1.039 and 1.053, respectively.

The color… I’ve never made a beer this pale:

On to the boil…

It’s nice to have fun kitchen trinkets to use when brewing. I could have whizzed the coriander up in a coffee grinder, but the mortar & pestle is much more gratifying:

Here’s 15 grams of crushed coriander, the chamomile flowers from four tea bags, and the zest of all those citrus fruits, grated with a micro-plane. (Again with the kitchen gadgets.)

After the boil, the wort smelled amazing. The coriander, chamomile, and citrus formed a harmony that gives me high hope for this beer, especially once married to the great Belgian flavor I expect from the WLP400 Wit Ale Yeast. About that yeast – it smells absolutely horrible. I made a 1.5 liter starter in a one-gallon growler with foil over the mouth, shaking the growler every few hours. The smell coming out from under the foil was not unlike any of the descriptions you might have heard for Sex Panther cologne – from a dirty diaper full of Indian food to a certain Yeti’s gentleman’s sausage. According to the wisdom of the internet, this is normal for this yeast. I vaguely remember the wit yeast smelling like shit the last time I brewed witbier, but I can’t say for sure.

And here is the beer this morning, happily fermenting away at 68°F:

I piched the yeast at about 3:00 PM yesterday. When I checked in on it at about 10:30 PM, it was actively fermenting with 1/4″ of krausen. This morning it was in full-on sugar eating, wort churning mode.

I have interesting plans for this beer. It’s a 5.5 gallon batch, but I plan to rack some of it into a 3 gallon carboy atop a couple pounds of raspberries (from your grocer’s freezer), and bottle the rest plain. Both versions should be a fantastic summertime beer come May or June.

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