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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Entering 'Phase 3' of my brewing career
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Old 12-16-2005, 06:41 PM   #1
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Default Entering 'Phase 3' of my brewing career

No questions here, just my own out-loud thinking and a description of how my brewing will change in the next year. It's a long post, and I don't think I really expect anyone to read it all. I just need to put it all into words.

I started brewing 8 years ago, and for the first 4 or 5 years I brewed only from kits. The beers were good and I learned that I really loved the hobby, but I wanted to expand my options, so I moved away from this "Phase 1" brewing.

For "Phase 2" I started brewing the occasional recipe found in a magazine or on-line someplace. This allowed me to learn more about controlling my brews and what to add to achieve specific goals. This phase lasted up until a few months ago (right about the time I joined this forum).

Thus began "Phase 3". Well... more accurately, Phase 2 has been turning into Phase 3 for the last few months, and I now know what I what direction I am headed. Since September, I have been formulating my own recipes. This has proven to be the most satisfactory phase, as I am in control of what I make, and all success (or failure) is totally my own. I am not limited by the styles available in kits, and I am not just cooking up someone else's recipe. These beers really are MY beers; conceived by me, brewed by me.

However, I had been enjoying the process of making up the recipes so much, I began to feel like I was flitting all over the place, always eager to try something new or different, cranking out recipes and batches like a machine and having mixed success (mostly pretty good, but that damn porter is just a bottle stealer.... I have no desire to drink it at all.)

So, I have decided that "Phase 3" is really about perfecting my arsenal of beers... having a core set of beers that I designed and making them be all that they can be. This core set of beers is as follows:

The House Brown
Description: The stock beer in the house; always available. Not too bitter, not too malty, slightly nutty and always thirst-quenching. Relatively low ABV.
Thoughts: A brown ale has always been a standard in my house. I've got a loose recipe that changes from batch to batch, depending on what hops and yeast I happen to have lying around. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's just OK, rarely it is not so good. I have decided to stop varying the recipe, select 'my' hops/grians/yeast, and turn this beer into a crowd pleaser.

Kaduva IPA
Description: The wife's choice. VERY hoppy, VERY light colored. Smacks you in the face when you drink it.
Thoughts: I was never really too much of an IPA fan until recently. I had found a few that I thought were fantastic (and I think I started to become a Hop Head b/c of this.) My first self-concocted attempt at an IPA turned out pretty damn good, despite some off flavors from having too high a fermentation temp. I am going to start refining this one by dropping the bittering hops a touch, upping the flavor and aroma hops a couple notches, and fermenting it at the right temp. This beer should have a short life on the shelf; once it's ready to consume, it will go fast... especially in the heat of summer.

Espresso Stout
Description: Dark, roastey, hearty, and smacking of fine Italian espresso. A cold weather beer to warm the belly. A beer for me... I like dark beers.
Thoughts: This one is actually pretty close to my ultimate goal already. I've brewed stouts many times, but this most recent batch with the large dose of espresso gave it that extra 'something' that I had been looking for. The only thing I would change with this latest recipe is to back off on the Laaglander DME... it's just too thick and chewy when that extract is used exclusively since it is only 65% fermentable. I should only need a couple spins to get this where I want it (slightly thinner and better head retention.)

Gruagach 80/-
Description: Dark red, malty, hints of smoke. A perfect beer with a meal of roasted meat.
Thoughts: This was a recent experiment and it paid off. I considered it one of the best beers I have ever made, and this was confirmed by 6 other people when I took a sixer to a poker game. It was a huge hit with those that tried it, and I was requested to bring a twelver the next time. This beer is also close to its final incarnation... I just need to bring out the smokiness a little bit more.

Holy Grail Porter
Description: The darkest red color, bordering on black. Bitter and roastey, but smooth drinking and satisfying.
Thoughts: Porters are my favorite beers, but I have NEVER brewed one that meets my expectations. This one is going to have to start from the ground up, and will probably be the last one I perfect; hence the name.

That's basically it. This is what the Walker Brewing Company will be producing, year-round. I'm sure I will have the occasional experiment and some seasonal beers (a fruity lighter beer for summer, a lager here and there, etc), but the core line-up is what I listed above. I might possibly add a regular old Pale Ale to the line-up, but I don't see me expanding on it too much.

The plan is to brew these repeatedly, tweaking where necessary, until I feel I have achieved the flavor I would expect to find in the hightest-quality imported or micro-brewed beer.... something I would not hesitate to enter into a contest against the world's best brewers.

I will brew a batch of each type to start the new year, and then will re-brew (with any tweaks necessary) when I start running low on a particular type.

The Walker Brewing Company is now focused on perfection rather than variety.

-walker

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Old 12-16-2005, 07:01 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker
Espresso Stout
Description: Dark, roastey, hearty, and smacking of fine Italian espresso. A cold weather beer to warm the belly. A beer for me... I like dark beers.
Thoughts: This one is actually pretty close to my ultimate goal already. I've brewed stouts many times, but this most recent batch with the large dose of espresso gave it that extra 'something' that I had been looking for. The only thing I would change with this latest recipe is to back off on the Laaglander DME... it's just too thick and chewy when that extract is used exclusively since it is only 65% fermentable. I should only need a couple spins to get this where I want it (slightly thinner and better head retention.)
Mind sharing your recipe? I haven't found one I like yet.
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Old 12-16-2005, 07:13 PM   #3
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Here's the modified recipe (not as thick and better head retention, hopefully)

Walker's Espresso Stout

Grains (steep w/ 1.5gal @150F for 40 minutes, rinse w/ 1.5 gal @170F)
16 oz 90L crystal
6 oz black roast
4 oz roasted barley
16 oz carapils (for head)

Extract/Sugar
44 oz Laaglander Dark DME
44 oz Amber DME
22 oz Light DME
16 oz dark brown sugar (to boost alcohol content)

Adjuncts
16 oz brewed italian espresso (added at bottling time)

Hops
1.00 oz perle @ 60 minutes
0.25 oz chinook @ 60 minutes

Yeast
Wyeast Irish Ale Yeast (1084)

Primer
1.25 cups DME
-walker
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Old 12-16-2005, 07:22 PM   #4
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Sounds like a mission statement.
Good luck.

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Old 12-16-2005, 07:37 PM   #5
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Sweet, I believe that I will fall into the Phase 2 section on your post. I am still a little nervous about creating my own recipes. Hence my subscription here...haha

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Old 12-16-2005, 07:42 PM   #6
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my quest for a perfect porter was what pushed me to creating my own recipes. I never found a kit or on-line recipe that I liked.

The first "I did it all myself" porter is a disaster and it's been sitting in bottles for a couple months now, I think. I find I can drink it if I mix it 50/50 with a bold pale ale, but by itself... it pretty much sucks @$$.

-walker

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Old 12-16-2005, 07:58 PM   #7
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I'm on my way to "Phase 3" as well. For anyone interested in recipe formulation, check out the book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/093...lance&n=283155

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Old 12-16-2005, 08:45 PM   #8
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I totally agree with your comments Walker. I plan on trying to figure out the rotational stock that I brew as well that is great and repeatable in 06. I don't especially know what they are yet other than my porter, IPA & Apricot Wheat. I need a APA, stout and a hefe to probably round it out. Then, throw in the occasional experimental beer. Guess its up to the individual though. Some may love the "change it up" batch everytime. Me, I'd rather do a select few well.

PS - if you jump to all-grain ever (or are you?) do you start back at Phase 1-AG all over again?

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Old 12-16-2005, 09:14 PM   #9
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If I jump to all grain, I would probably consider myself starting at Phase 2 again... using recipes from y'all and some publications until I got the swing of things. I don't think I CAN do Phase 1-AG (do they sell AG kits someplace?)

I would then progress on to Stage 3 and ressurect my core lineup in AG fashion (same core beers, but AG recipes.)

-walker

PS: can I have your porter recipe?

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Old 12-16-2005, 09:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker
I don't think I CAN do Phase 1-AG (do they sell AG kits someplace?)
They do...just like an extract/partial kit except with a bag of grains to mash instead of extract.
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