Friday, May 17, 2013

Irish Red Whiskey Barrel Aged

My Irish Red Ale (recipe at bottom) which I've been making unmodified since 2011 was the obvious candidate for aging in a Rye Whiskey barrel. I was just hoping that the beer was strong enough in malt flavours to complement the whiskey flavours. Spoiler alert. (It was!)
The barrel arrived with a bit of whiskey swishing around. That was exciting. I was glad that the barrel was not dry. Well five days past before I filled her up. She was moist at this stage.The first week the angels took about 700 ml. My ale aged three weeks and I emptied it into kegs for carbonation. I did fill the barrel with an Ale when this beer was drained from the barrel.

The barrel has added significant oak, char, and whiskey. Being a small barrel (8 gallons) the ratio of surface area to beer is very high so aging goes faster then large barrels. I'm not a fan of cherry beers however this beer can best be described as a warm malty cherry tone with whiskey after flavours. The ABV has gone up at least 2  to 3 percent. 

Aroma is whiskey and light malty. Taste is like dark cherry malt. Light on the palette with a warm glow of whiskey. The after taste is slightly bitter with a persistent whiskey flavour. The ale is estimated to be about 10 to 11% ABV with no burn.  I would expect this to be served in small portions since drinking a pint may put you under the table. The combination of cherry, oak and malts together create a nice Irish Whiskey Ale.

Many people opt for a stout when doing their whiskey barrel aging. I would consider a Red Irish Ale an equal alternative and maybe even a better alternative when it comes to the complex flavours whiskey can offer.

Over time this beer has changed. It started out with warm cherry flavours that a beer that would hit you with the whiskey flavours. This got a wow from everyone who drank it. At 3 months is mellowed and smoothed out. between 7 to 8 months it was smooth and the cherry disappeared and you are left with  a more malty beer with whiskey over tones. The oak rounded the beer out nicely. At 10 months it's magical. The mouth feel has significantly lighten and the flavours have merged.

Next time I would consider aging for 5 weeks in a fresh barrel and mashing at 153F to pull out more grain flavour.

May 5 2014 - This has been a fantastically successful beer. A favorite among many. Lagering in keg change the beer profile considerably over time. Down to my last few pints.

1 - 3 mths  - Strong Rye flavour and malt flavours were distinct. Tastes of dark red cherry (good) and a real after kick of rye on the palette.

4 - 5 mths - Flavours blending together. Improved. Cleared some. Still a strong rye flavour.

6 -8 mths - Tamed beers. Rye is getting more mellow but still very distinct.

9 - 11 mths - Maybe reached it's peak - smooth ruby red - amazing.

12-15 mths - not much changed. Slight improvements.

Irish Red - 10 Gallon
Maris Otter18 lbs
Black Roasted Barley5 oznormally just 2 oz per 5 gallons
Cara Red2 lbs
40 L1 lbs
60 L1 lbs
British 70/802 lbs
The Boil
152First Golding UKNormally not added
151Golding US
15NACoil, Tablet
Saf 04 Yeast at 68 for 7 days
Mash 152F
FG 1.024
OG 1.070?

ABV 5.5%
keg pushed this way up in ABV

Boddingtons' Clone

Boddingtons' Clone (Recipe here)

Update - July 15/2013 - This beer although nice and creamy is very similar to the real thing. Which in this case is nothing interesting. Like many others out there, I find this beer has little taste and weak mouth feel. Nitro adds a nice creaminess but without malt flavour why bother. With everything I know about hops, it might be a waste to add hops as the aroma would get clobbered when pouring. 

When I made Guinness I was expecting that it would be difficult to clone. Who hasn't heard about how the Irish water and secret recipe makes something you just can't duplicate. What a load of sh*t. Guinness is one of the simplest beers I've made and I plan to make it again soon.  Boddingtons another popular nitrogen charged beers which I enjoy so guess what?

The recipe for Boddington's is just two malts. A british base malt and a little 55 Crystal for body and flavour. The hops are the same as many British Bitters and Guinness. This beer is that it is aiming for about 3.5% ABV. I achieved 3.1 with 6 pounds of base malt. The  beer final gravity (FG) is a very low 1.008. This means it low in calories. 

Dumped into the keg are fully nitro ready in 3 days with infuser stone. Blight white creamy head with  a very drinkable beer but lacks flavor. A bit tasteless. Reminds me of some of the review the original received. Next time mash at a higher temp to create body and add some flavor malts. 

I think my Irish red would be a treat on nitro. 

Munich Lager

Recipe: click here

I've enjoyed all my lagers and continue to have great success. Up until this lager I've used no flavored malts. I suck to traditional hops and pilsner malts. This lager has two flavored malts each with 8 oz. Not a lot of flavor malts but I wanted to see the difference. These additions darkened the lager and gave it more full body. It reminds me of some of the German Lagers I had last year while in Germany. Definitely darker and more full body the Helles and most of the main stream Pils.

Like all the lagers, this requires about three weeks to ferment and about 5 more weeks to lager into a nice beer. This is all done in a temperature controlled chest freezer.

I've stopped making yeast starter and have had great success pitching yeast into 100F wort. Fermentation is slow as expected but my FG achieves success each time. During fermentation, about 3 weeks into the fermentation, rotten eggs aromas does happen but completely disappears  with additional lagering.

Bitterness is a bit on the sharp side. It goes well with this lager with more body but I would consider using a lower Alpha hop next time of add the bittering hop at 50 minutes. The clarity of the beer is perfect. Notice I don't filter my beer, nor do I need to. This beer clears up nicely with lagering.