denny's blog

Brewing up a new style

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Thought I'd start a thread to document my attempts at coming up with an "American Mild" ale. I want to end up with a sub 4% beer that doesn't have flavor and mouthfeel comparable to water! I'm basing it on the English Mild, obviously, but with American ingredients. My goal is to come up with a beer with the body and flavor impact of a traditional mild, although not the same flavor. I'm guessing this will take at least 3-6 attempts to get to what I have in mind.

Experiment - Comparing pellet hops to whole hops

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A couple months ago, my friend Mitch Scheele, who writes for the Northwest Brewing News, contacted me about an experiment he wanted to do. He had invented a piece of equipment he calls the “Hop Screw”. It’s a stainless tell cylinder with holes in it, a bar across the top to attach it to your boil kettle, and a plate and screw handle on top. A bit like a stainless cider press. The idea is that you attach it to your kettle before you start collecting wort.

The Latest Experiment

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A friend who writes for the Northwest Brewing News contacted me recently about an experiment he wanted to do. It just so happens that it was an experiment we had written up for the book, so I was all for it. Since we haven't had the tasting yet, I won't give away what experiment it was, but in a couple weeks you can read the procedures and results here!

Return of the Wee Shroomy

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Here in Oregon, we had the best year for mushrooms in the last 20 years. Yummy bits of fungal goodness were popping up all over in the woods behind my house. When my wife came back from a walk in the woods with a grocery bag full of chanterelle mushrooms, it was time to brew the Wee Shroomy! If you don't know, that's a Scotch ale/wee heavy that has 2 1/2 lb. of chanterelles added to it after primary fermentation.

Don't You Love It When a Plan Works?

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In this blog post , I wrote about the changes I'd made to my Rye IPA brewing process that I felt had made a huge improvement in the beer. I brewed a second batch exactly like the first in order to confirm that those changes were actually the reason I liked the beer so much more than before. Well, I kegged that second batch yesterday.

Am I Good or Just Lucky?

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I wrote a while ago about my experiments to increase sulfate levels in my Rye IPA. My latest batch, with a sulfate level of 300 ppm, is far and away the best of the many batches of this recipe that I've made over the years. So, now what I need to do is brew it again, exactly the same way, to find out if the changes in sulfate were the reason or if I just had Ninkasi looking over my shoulder when I made the last batch. That's what I'm doing today...brewing exactly the same recipe, with exactly the same ingredients, down to the same bags of malt and hops.

My latest experiments

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A couple years ago I began using Martin Brungard's excellent Bru'nwater spreadsheet to calculate additions to my water for various types of beers. I immediately began noticing improvements so I decided to dig a little deeper. I decided I'd concentrate on improving my IPAs with water adjustments. The main area I concentrated on was increasing my sulfate levels a step at a time and see what kind of effect it had. I decided to experiment on my Rye IPA recipe since I've brewed it dozens of times and know it well.

Sanitizing mushrooms - NOT!

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I just got done writing up the recipe for my Wee Shroomy for the book. Basically a wee heavy with chanterelle mushrooms added to it. After trying various methods of dealing with the mushrooms, the one definite thing I've decided is that I hate the "soak them in vodka and then add the vodka" method. It adds an undesirable heat to the beer. I simply chop and freeze the mushrooms before adding them. Many people, though, seem to be deathly afraid of not soaking additions in vodka, to the point of not even trying anything else.

Cascade Brewers Society Iron Brewer 2013

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Our club had its annual Iron Brewer competition last Saturday. In case you've never seen Iron Chef, the TV show that inspired the event, teams of brewers arrive at the brewing location, set up their equipment and are given secret ingredients to use in a batch of beer which they have 5 hours to brew. The ingredients don't have to dominate the beer, but they do have to make a noticeable contribution to the beer. We had six teams of 2 brewers this year. Each team was given a selection of crystal malts (20, 60, and Special B) and a quart of pomegranate juice to use.

Brewing Again!

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My job has a very unstructured schedule. Sometimes it's a day of work here and there, sometimes it's 2 weeks straight followed by a week or 2 off. I'm heading into a 10 day stretch of no work and looking forward to getting my brew on for the first time in a while! I'm planning on getting in at least 2 batches of relatively low alcohol, but (hopefully) flavorful beers. Both will be experiments because I haven't brewed either recipe before. One will be a low alcohol Belgian style beer, made with W3787 Westmalle yeast and some beautiful Hallertauer pellets I picked up.

A Day in the Life of a Writer

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think think think think write research research think think think get up walk around pet the cat play ball with the dog think think think write research go to work wish you had a beer

Sounds exotic, huh?

So, today I'm thinking about what types of suggestions for experiments to include in the book. The posts you've been making help a lot in knowing what you're interested in. That's a hint!

Preconception and Perception

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One of my biggest points in evaluating your experiments is knowing how to not fool yourself by letting what you think you know interfere with what you're trying to find out. Listening to an old podcast of America's Test Kitchen on my drive home last night, I learned about wine tastings conducted by Frederic Brochet. In a nutshell, in one tasting he served 2 glasses of the same white wine, only one was dyed red. Tasters proceeded to describe definite differences between the wines.


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Rather than thank everyone individually for every post in the forums, I wanted to just give everybody an overall thanks for your contributions. We're off to a great start and we've got a long way to go, but every post is valuable to us and hopefully it will be to other homebrewers.


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