An Awful American Stout

Back in March, with Brew Riot and a Lone Star Circuit Stout competition looming on the horizon, we grabbed an American Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles and went to work. I used some salvaged Warrior hops for bittering to push the recipe to 69 IBU and we whirlpooled some Centennial for aroma and flavor and fermented it all with a White Labs California Ale yeast.

Now I titled this “Awful American Stout” because when it was time to bottle and ship the contest entries the stout was not a good stout Continue reading “An Awful American Stout”

Update – British Brown Ale

It has been a successful start to the brew year. For the March style competition our brown ale squeaked out a win! The judging was very close, a single point decided the winner, and we had that single point. That is one win and a second place.

There is a second batch of that beer carbonating in the keezer at the moment and I’ve had co-workers ask when it will make an appearance at the office kegerator 🙂

Cobra’s Hopped Home Brewer’s Challenge

A local craft brewer conjured up a home brewer challenge. Silvia and I were intrigued enough to sign up.

When we arrived to pick-up out mystery ingredients were expecting a
crazy experimental hop or goofy fruit like Buddha hand. Instead we received a one pound jar of dark liquid malt extract, honey malt, munich malt, and some crystal 40. Our instructions were to use some of each ingredient at some point during our brewing process. Continue reading “Cobra’s Hopped Home Brewer’s Challenge”

British Brown Ale

March’s style of the month is 13B – British Brown Ale. I am a fan of brown ales, including Newcastle Brown Ale and  Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, so I thought that this style would be fun to try.

Back to Brewing Classic Styles for a solid recipe to start from. Since we tend to like malt forward beers with caramel flavors, we decided on the Southern English Brown: Nutty Man Brown Ale. Continue reading “British Brown Ale”

January – American Porter (20A)

First style out of the gate for the Dallas Homebrew Collective was 20A – American Porter. Last year Silvia, Adam, and I had brewed a partigyle with runnings from a Russian Imperial Stout. We all agreed tasted rather porter-ish and I decided to put it in the club’s style competition.

With an eye on the upcoming competitions styles, Silvia and I brewed a Robust Vanilla Porter in early December with a recipe straight out of Brewing Classic Styles. The vanilla notes aren’t as strong as I’d hoped. Seeking some input from the group on just how much more vanilla we should add to the brew, I bottled some up and took it to the January meeting and entered it in the style competition as well.

Our two entries pretty well stacked the deck in a field of four. We ended the night with second and third place for our efforts. The interesting things are in comparing the volunteer judges tasting notes against the BJCP Style Guide and the relative numbers for the brews. The feedback from the judges was both interesting and confusing.

For the vanilla laced porter, both agreed that it was too sweet, “not very attenuated” and too light a mouth feel for the style. The numbers don’t bear that out. According to the 2015 guidelines the final gravity range is 1.012 – 1.018 and our beer clocked in at 1.014, solidly within range. One would imagine the a final gravity dead within the range would qualify as “…dry to medium-sweet” so I’m unsure as to what the disconnect with the judges and the style guide were on that evening.

The partigyle porter feedback was equally confusing. One said the mouthfeel was light, but ok for the style. The second judge said the mouthfeel was right on. Neither of them said anything about sweetness or under-attenuation even though the final gravity for this ale was actually higher than the vanilla laced version. This version was also much more roasty, which I expected to get dinged for, but it wasn’t mentioned as a detraction.

I’m fairly certain that the judges getting the roasty porter before the vanilla porter didn’t help their taste buds out as they tried to evaluate each sample. I give them credit for taking the time and making the effort. Perhaps they should have numbers available to temper their feedback with regards to attenuation/sweetness.

The partigyle porter likely will never be brewed again, it was a one off from a large batch and we probably won’t be able to replicate it anyway. The vanilla porter may be tried again, but with a fresh vanilla bean and some properly temperature corrected gravity measurements.

Happy Brew Year

I don’t really do “New Year’s Resolutions”, but I have come to understand the value of setting goals. One of my brewing goals for 2016 was to be recognized for brewing beers to the classic styles. Silvia and I are members of two homebrew clubs, Dallas Homebrew Collective and The Cap and Hare Homebrew Club, both of which have style competitions.

Another brewing goal for 2016 was to enter at least half of the Collective’s style competitions. My hope is that I will score enough points with the to finish the year in the top 5. I am not 100 percent certain how the Collective scores their brewer of the year, but since Matt won seven months, it wasn’t really in doubt to any of the other members.

Cap and Hare runs a “Master Brewer” competition each year which has a different format. You can brew whatever style you wish and it will be judged accordingly. Each month entries are collected, samples are had and judgements rendered. The beer that scores the most points against its style standard wins. A brewer gets one crack at a style and six entries for the year. A winner earns four  points, second place gets three, third scores two points and an entry garners you a participation point. Most points at the end of the year is crowned Master Brewer. Bonus points are awarded for medals at the annual Bluebonnet Brew-Off .

January has started well and we entered two porters for the Collective’s monthly competition, a pale ale for Cap and Hare, and have four entries bottled up to submit for the Bluebonnet Brew-Off this March.

In the Beginning

I got a gentle nudge into home brewing. On several occasions, my loving wife, Silvia, said to me “Honey, you should start home brewing”. After about the fifth suggestion, I started trolling Craigslist for used home brewing equipment.


Our all grain brewing rig.
After about two months of looking, I found what I thought was a reasonably priced all grain setup. It consists of a pair of ten gallon coolers, one acting as a hot liquor tank and the other equipped with a false bottom for a mash tun. There is also a ten gallon kettle with a propane rig for heating water and boiling the wort. The deal also included a pair of plastic carboys and a lovely copper wort chiller.

On December 13th, 2014 Silvia and I brewed our very first beer. Since we are both fans of oatmeal stouts, that was the first recipe that we tried and our first go turned out quite well, but the flavors weren’t as complex as we would have liked.

Our second attempt was with an award winning recipe from the American Homebrewers Association. This attempt got better reviews from friends, family, and unsuspecting homebrew club members.

In the year  since firing up the kettle for the first time, we’ve put out quite a few beers. Austin Home Supply was the source of our first two kit beers, a Fat Tire clone and a Pliney the Elder clone. Both of these kits were awesome and the beer turned out great and further fueled my brewing ambition.