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Peat-smoked beer (lagavulin-esque?)

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ClarnoBrewer

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I picked up some peat-smoked malt at the LHBS the other day and I'm pretty excited about it. Lagavulin is by far my favorite scotch and I'd like to brew something that is evocative of that.

Does anyone have any thoughts? I'd like to keep it simple. I'm not a fan of brewing with more than 3 or 4 malts and a couple varieties of hops. I'm thinking slightly malty and lightly hopped to showcase the peat. Maybe a brown? I'd love to hear your ideas!
 

Revvy

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How much peated malt did you pick up? You really use that sparingly compared to Rauchmalt, which you can use in pounds, a opposed to mere ounces with peated.

You have a couple options. You could go for a simple Smash type pale ale (single malt and single hop) with just a little peat in it. Like maybe marris otter as base malt, and english hop variety like a fuggles and an english or irish ale yeast.

Then you would have something pale in color almost like a nice scotch.

The other option is a brown like you said, I have a nice brown in my recipes pulldown, that I have added a pound or more of rauchmalt on occasion....You could do the brown with a couple ounces of the peated instead of the racuh..

Just again be careful with how much you use....My understanding is that peated is really smokey...

There's some good threads discussing using it in the similar threads box below....

Heed their warnings.

Good luck. :mug:

The more i think about it, the SMASH beer with a couple ounces of peat may be fun, and unique...I think a lot of folks think darker beers when they think of smoke....it might be cool to have a slightly smokey pale aie instead.
 

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Most of your scottish ale recipes will call for either peated or roasted malts. Scottish ales are rated by schillings depending on alcohol content so just pick how heavy you want your beer. Just be careful as you really don't need much peated malt to add a nice smoked flavor. In my experience more than 6oz or so (in a 5 gal. batch) and the peated flavor becomes overpowering and actually masks other flavors of the beer. I really enjoy the peated flavor when balanced well though.

Here's a place to start with some scottish ale recipes.
http://beerrecipes.org/findrecipe.php?beerstyle=Scotch Ale

Good luck!
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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Thanks guys! I also kinda like the idea of doing a SMaSH-ish beer. I have some fuggles, so that might be a good hop to use. I may also add a bit of Crystal 40 or something like that to give it a hint of sweetness. I'll also be careful as to how much peated malt I use. Thanks for that warning as I probably would have gone overboard with it!
Jmil, I'm typically not a big fan of Scottish ales as I find them a bit too malty, but I'll keep them in mind.

Here's what I'm thinking, based largely on what I have on hand and your suggestions:
9lbs 2-row
1 lb Crystal 40
6oz Peat smoked malt
2 oz fuggles

I may throw in a little crystal or cascade towards the end just for a hint of aroma.

Thanks again!
 

Revvy

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Thanks guys! I also kinda like the idea of doing a SMaSH-ish beer. I have some fuggles, so that might be a good hop to use. I may also add a bit of Crystal 40 or something like that to give it a hint of sweetness. I'll also be careful as to how much peated malt I use. Thanks for that warning as I probably would have gone overboard with it!
Jmil, I'm typically not a big fan of Scottish ales as I find them a bit too malty, but I'll keep them in mind.

Here's what I'm thinking, based largely on what I have on hand and your suggestions:
9lbs 2-row
1 lb Crystal 40
6oz Peat smoked malt
2 oz fuggles

I may throw in a little crystal or cascade towards the end just for a hint of aroma.

Thanks again!
I can't tell you whether or not that's too much peat, but at least it will fade with time, if it turns out to be.

You've got me thinking about doing a small batch of something like it as well....I haven't drawn up the recipe but I'm thinking Marris Otter, fuggles, and irish ale yeast maybe.

Keep me posted on how yours turns out.

:mug:
 

KingBrianI

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Here's what I would do, and it seems in line with your philosophy and revvy's suggestion.

99% golden promise
1% peat smoked

you don't want much of it at all, a little goes a long way.

aim for an OG of about 1.080 and mash really low, like 148 for 90 minutes.

boil down your first runnings to caramelize them and get some complex caramel flavors going on in there.

bitter with fuggles to about 30 ibu.

ferment with a clean, highly attenuating yeast.

you should end up with a lightly smoky, deep golden, high alcohol, well-balanced sipper. it fits your preference for a simple grain bill and should produce a scotch whisky-like beer.
 

Revvy

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Here's what I would do, and it seems in line with your philosophy and revvy's suggestion.

99% golden promise
1% peat smoked

you don't want much of it at all, a little goes a long way.

aim for an OG of about 1.080 and mash really low, like 148 for 90 minutes.

boil down your first runnings to caramelize them and get some complex caramel flavors going on in there.

bitter with fuggles to about 30 ibu.

ferment with a clean, highly attenuating yeast.

you should end up with a lightly smoky, deep golden, high alcohol, well-balanced sipper. it fits your preference for a simple grain bill and should produce a scotch whisky-like beer.
I've never used Golden promise malt so when I just googled it I came up with this...seems you are on the right track there king! :mug:




1999 Benromach "Origins" Batch 1 - Golden Promise, Speyside Single Malt Whisky 750ml
SKU #1043142

Wow, Wow, Wow, is this incredible single malt! So creamy and rich with lovely length! This is one of the best bottles of single malt that I have tried this year! Benromach "Origins" is a series of special bottlings crafted to highlight how subtle changes to the art of whisky making can help shape the character of the final single malt. Batch #1 starts with the barley component and is made with Golden Promise Barley It was distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2008. Matured in a sherry cask and has a phenol level only 4ppm. 50% ABV
 

Edcculus

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My favorite Scotch is Laphroaig, which is probably the most highly peated malt out there. I say bring on the smoke! I will however object to peat malt being used in Scottish ales. I just don't think it should be in there.

As far as a beer recipe evocative of Islay malts, you should probably go higher than most people would initially suggest. My reasoning is that Lagavulin, Laphroaig and other Islay malts have a very high and distinct peat character. Almost like a slegehammer. Keep the beer light. Golden Promise, or other English Pale Ale malt, maybe a touch of a light crystal for some sweetness. Bitterness, not too sure of. I'd look to keep the bitterness to gravity ratio at 1 in beersmith.

I'm not really sure how peat malt plays in beer. I know Rauchmalt sometimes needs to be used in very high quantities to get any flavor. Peat is much more distinct though. Maybe start with 1lb and see how it goes? IMO you DO want a lot of peat in this beer if you want it to be reminiscent of an Islay malt.

Now, I have to run to the store. I only have a dram of Laphraiog left!
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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Alright, I'm brewing this today, so here's the final recipe based on everyone's good points. I'll keep you all posted on the results.
11lbs 2-row
1.5 lb Crystal 40
12oz Peat smoked malt
2 oz fuggles

As Edcculus states, the Islay malts are really peaty, and I think this beer will be pretty peaty as well. Maybe too peaty, but there's only one way to find out. The crytal 40 should give it a bit of sweetness, and it should come in around 1.070. I like the idea of using golden promise or maris otter, but I don't have any at the moment. Maybe next time around. And I think I'll stick with just Fuggles to keep things simple. I'm going to grind the grain right now. I'll let you all know how it turns out. Thanks for helping me build this one!
 

KingBrianI

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I've never used Golden promise malt so when I just googled it I came up with this...seems you are on the right track there king! :mug:
It's interesting you pulled up a Benromach article. That is the one distillery I visited while in Scotland. They have some really, really nice scotch, and do interesting things to some batches like age in sherry barrels like the one you showed. We got to try several there and the tour guide was great, and we met the head distiller since the couple we were with had just gotten married and bought a self-filled bottle of a cask-strength scotch. Anyway, I love the stuff and brought back a couple bottles, but couldn't find it over here anywhere. Fast forward to this past december, my fiancee and I get married in california, and the nice folks from scotland brought a bottle for us as a gift. We were super excited. Then while wandering through a BevMo, what did we see but a bottle of Benromach. It's quite a small distillery, so I was surprised to find it over here. I do know they do a lot of stuff for the British royalty though.
 

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kingbrain just posted the recipe for a tranquair house clone wee heavy, if you can taste it, go taste it, but i have brewed it numerous times and it most definitely isn't scotch peaty.

if you wanted that i would go for a little more peat smoked, which looks like you did, although its very very easy to go overboard on it, if you like a peaty scotch you should like what you made. If you are overpowered by the peat i'd switch your base grain to something a little stronger flavored
 

KingBrianI

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kingbrain just posted the recipe for a tranquair house clone wee heavy, if you can taste it, go taste it, but i have brewed it numerous times and it most definitely isn't scotch peaty.

if you wanted that i would go for a little more peat smoked, which looks like you did, although its very very easy to go overboard on it, if you like a peaty scotch you should like what you made. If you are overpowered by the peat i'd switch your base grain to something a little stronger flavored
traquair house ale (one of my all time favorites!) is 1% black barley (or roasted barley), not peat-smoked.
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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I know a lot of people that also find Lagavulin or Laphroaig to be undrinkable. I Actually ended up using a pound of peated malt. When I milled it and mixed it with the rest of the grain, I didn't really get much of a peaty presence. When I mashed, I could definitely smell the peat. After boiling and hopping though, the initial hop bitterness that you get right after the boil masked the peat entirely. I know that once that settles down a bit the peat will be more noticeable. Right now, it tastes really good.

I think the too much peat debate may also have to do with preference. People tend to either love or hate Islay whiskys. I love them, so it'll be good and peaty. Granted, I may be the only one drinking this beer. But that may not be such a bad thing!
 

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Search for the Walkersons Gruagach recipe. I brewed this a few months back and it turned out pretty damn good.

Matt
 
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I've been wanting to do a recipe with peated malt as well after looking through homebrewer's companion. There's a recipe for a 5 gallon mini-mash batch in there on page 310 that goes as follows:

2.2lbs peat-smoked malt
1 lb crystal
1.5lbs Vienna Malt
3lbs light DME
1oz styrian golding (45 min)
1oz kent goldings (15 min)
1/4 tsp irish moss (15 min)

You pick the ale yeast.

Flavor comments say "intensely smoke-flavored ale not the mellow smoke flavor of a Rauchbier, but an almost medicinal character unique to smoke peat moss."

After reading the previous comments though it sounds like 2lbs is a ton to have in a 5 gallon batch. I know one thing I like rauchbier but I almost would have liked it to taste smokier.
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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I guess it goes back to what you like. I think smoke is something that's easy to over-do, but if you love the flavor, smoke it up! Honestly, I think that the pound that I just brewed with is not going to give me as much peat as I'd like. But the fact that your recipe is described as having a "medicinal" flavor would probably be pretty strong. I'll definitely report back on what 1 lb ends up tasting like.


I've been wanting to do a recipe with peated malt as well after looking through homebrewer's companion. There's a recipe for a 5 gallon mini-mash batch in there on page 310 that goes as follows:

2.2lbs peat-smoked malt
1 lb crystal
1.5lbs Vienna Malt
3lbs light DME
1oz styrian golding (45 min)
1oz kent goldings (15 min)
1/4 tsp irish moss (15 min)

You pick the ale yeast.

Flavor comments say "intensely smoke-flavored ale not the mellow smoke flavor of a Rauchbier, but an almost medicinal character unique to smoke peat moss."

After reading the previous comments though it sounds like 2lbs is a ton to have in a 5 gallon batch. I know one thing I like rauchbier but I almost would have liked it to taste smokier.
 
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I'm looking forward to hearing what your pound of malt does. That will determine how much I use I'll sort of base it on your tastes. Plus I'm a cigar smoker and think this would be a good cigar beer maybe.
 

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I'm a fan of Islay Scotch and have brewed more Scottish Ales than any other variety. The peatiest Scottish 'type' ale used 1-cup of peat malt. It was an early recipe I brewed from a kit that said it used 1-cup. I think that translates into about 5 ounces by weight. Anyway it was rather strong in peat flavor, but not overpowering. However rather than mellowing with time, it seemed to get stronger. Since it was a 4-5% abv bier as it mellowed the peat became more round, smooth, and forward. Really amazing complexity for such a small bier. I could absolutely see 10-12 oz. working in a complex 7-8% abv bier.

Schlante,
Phillip
 

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This thread has me confused. I am loving the taste of Ardbeg, which I believe is a pretty "peaty" scotch. However, I have never enjoyed a smoke beer. In fact, Rogue's "Old Smoky" beer tasted like a complete ashtray to me - yuck. This Ardbeg doesn't taste smokey, it tastes peaty... isn't there a difference? Then david_42 up there says his peated beer (8oz) was like an ashtray. I was all excited to make a peat beer and now I'm conflicted, confused, and confounded!
 

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Maybe there is just less to hide the peat in scotch? The peat flavor in Scotch IS smoke. Most of the Islay distilleries at least floor malt their own grain, then smoke it over peat fires. Peat is obviously a compact mass of decaying plant matter used in the area as fuel for centuries. Peat smoke has a different taste than say Beechwood. Some of the more peat heavy Scotchs are often described as "medicinal". Its almost a harsh smoky phenol.
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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I agree with Ed. Peat is way different than other smoked flavors. Having lived in Ireland a bit, there's nothing like the smell of a peat fire. It's hard to describe, but it seems to impart more of the flavor of the peat and less of the actual smokiness. I wouldn't describe Lagavulin as particularly smokey, but it's very peaty. And the peat flavor comes from smoking the malt over a peat fire. Ugh. I know it doesn't make sense, but that's my best explanation. I hope my beer tastes peaty and not just burnt!
 

Picobrew

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I agree with Ed. Peat is way different than other smoked flavors. Having lived in Ireland a bit, there's nothing like the smell of a peat fire. It's hard to describe, but it seems to impart more of the flavor of the peat and less of the actual smokiness. I wouldn't describe Lagavulin as particularly smokey, but it's very peaty. And the peat flavor comes from smoking the malt over a peat fire. Ugh. I know it doesn't make sense, but that's my best explanation. I hope my beer tastes peaty and not just burnt!
Yes that is what I meant too! I love the taste of "peat smoked" beers and scotches, but to me it has never ever tasted like wood smoke or ashtray. It is quite different, and to me doesn't even evoke the word "smoke".
 

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Get about 50 lbs of MO and .5 lb of peated malt to make about 25 gallons and mash in the high 150's and make ...add turbo yeast and let her rip, then repurpose that nice copper "immersion chiller" as you heat the "beer" up and run what is collected into a nice used barrel. Given you live next to the Pacific there in Oregon go stash that barrel by the ocean for 10 years and see what you got :)...

Oh you meant Lagavulinesque :) man I love that stuff, but I can't argue with being afronted by Laphroaig too.
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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Ben- sounds like a great idea! I may or may not have experimented with such things in the past. Gotta watch out for the darn revenuers!

Funny thing is that I love (LOVE) Lagavulin but I'm not really a fan of Laphroaig. TheFrog is just too iodiney or something. A friend described it as tasting the way naugahyde smells. Man, I remember when I could pick up a bottle of Lagavulin for $30.


Get about 50 lbs of MO and .5 lb of peated malt to make about 25 gallons and mash in the high 150's and make ...add turbo yeast and let her rip, then repurpose that nice copper "immersion chiller" as you heat the "beer" up and run what is collected into a nice used barrel. Given you live next to the Pacific there in Oregon go stash that barrel by the ocean for 10 years and see what you got :)...

Oh you meant Lagavulinesque :) man I love that stuff, but I can't argue with being afronted by Laphroaig too.
 

COLObrewer

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Lets not forget fellows that most of the water used in brewing scotch whiskey is influenced by the peat bogs as well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I also don't prescribe to the theory that absolutely no scottish ales used/use peat smoked malts in them. Did/do the scotts import all their barley malt from england? Or do they use the same malt from the same malt houses in scotland that are used by the whiskey brewers? Or is it just the water.

Just thought I'd throw some more in there to think about/investigate.
 
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ClarnoBrewer

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The water profile must have a fair bit to do with it, but I'm not sure how much peat flavor it would add. I've lived in peat producing areas (N. Tipperary) and our water didn't remind me of good scotch. But I'm sure it's a factor.

As for the Scottish Ales, you're probably right, some of it may be sourced locally, especially for the smaller breweries. I've never had an Islay Scottish ale, though. Most Scottish whiskys are lacking in the peat department, the Islay ones being the exception to the rule. So if your Highland breweries and distilleries are sharing malt, it wouldn't have a noticeable peatiness. This is one of the things that makes Highland whiskys pretty boring IMHO.

It's an interesting point though. I wonder if they do use the same maltsters or if it's in-house? I can't imagine the malt being drastically different. And when distilling, you make a "beer" first that is then distilled. I wonder what some lagavulin "beer" left to age undistilled would taste like.

Now I'm getting really thirsty for some good whisky or whiskey, either one. And not a drop in the house!

Lets not forget fellows that most of the water used in brewing scotch whiskey is influenced by the peat bogs as well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I also don't prescribe to the theory that absolutely no scottish ales used/use peat smoked malts in them. Did/do the scotts import all their barley malt from england? Or do they use the same malt from the same malt houses in scotland that are used by the whiskey brewers? Or is it just the water.

Just thought I'd throw some more in there to think about/investigate.
 

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Clarno - The peat, seaweed, and iodine that is so offensive upfront, but still does not have a harsh alcohol burn is why I love Laphroaig so much. Gotta say I give it to Lagavulin hands down, but I rarely touch my bottle because its getting way thanks to the Washington liquor cartel. I wouldn't mind trying it side by side with the Laphroaig 15, but alas, all I got of Laphroaig in the stable is the quarter cask and the 10 year.
 

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It's an interesting point though. I wonder if they do use the same maltsters or if it's in-house? I can't imagine the malt being drastically different. And when distilling, you make a "beer" first that is then distilled. I wonder what some lagavulin "beer" left to age undistilled would taste like.
From what I have read in Designing Great Beers, the malt in the north is better suited to scotch, while the malt in the south is better suited to beer.
 

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Most of the smaller distilleries, especially the Islay ones floor malt and kiln/smoke their own barley. I'm sure most breweries back in the day either did the same (minus smoking), or just imported Pale malt from England. Peat is a very distinct flavor distilleries purposefully put in, or leave out. Like Clarno said, only the Islay Whiskys are known for their peat character. I doubt not many, if any distilleries get their water from peat bogs. Most brag about pure spring water etc, especially the Highland ones. They hold water to be one of the most important ingredients in Scotch.
 
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Ben, I love that you describe the flavor as offensive and say that's why you like it! No, I get it, it just sounds funny. But I do know what you mean. I also hear you on not wanting to get into the Lagavulin too often. I used to always have a bottle on hand, then it became only for special occasions (birthdays, holidays, Sundays), and now I just can't shell out the cash for it. I'm more likely to buy a $14 glass of it once in a blue moon.

Pico, that's interesting. Do you know why? Is it a flavor issue or an availability issue or something else? Just curious.
 

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Most of the smaller distilleries, especially the Islay ones floor malt and kiln/smoke their own barley. I'm sure most breweries back in the day either did the same (minus smoking), or just imported Pale malt from England. Peat is a very distinct flavor distilleries purposefully put in, or leave out. Like Clarno said, only the Islay Whiskys are known for their peat character. I doubt not many, if any distilleries get their water from peat bogs. Most brag about pure spring water etc, especially the Highland ones. They hold water to be one of the most important ingredients in Scotch.
Not convinced yet, the research I've done on the Islay distilleries suggests their spring water runs down from the springs through the peat bogs to their sources.
 
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I racked the peat beer yesterday. It tasted great to me, although I didn't really get much smoke or peat in the tasting. I also let a friend and fellow brewer taste it, without telling him what it was. The first thing he said was "wow, that's smoky!" So I guess it comes down to tolerance of such things. I think I'm going to love this beer and I think the peatiness is nicely balanced and not overwhelming. But some may disagree. I think I might throw this one into my whiskey barrel for a few weeks and add a little oak to it.
 
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Good to hear. I was talking to a friend at the cigar shop I work part time and he really wants to do a peat smoked beer. So I'm thinking I'll do a few average run of the mill beers to figure out my being assembled AG setup and then I'll do one of these.
 

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Most of the smaller distilleries, especially the Islay ones floor malt and kiln/smoke their own barley. I'm sure most breweries back in the day either did the same (minus smoking), or just imported Pale malt from England. Peat is a very distinct flavor distilleries purposefully put in, or leave out. Like Clarno said, only the Islay Whiskys are known for their peat character. I doubt not many, if any distilleries get their water from peat bogs. Most brag about pure spring water etc, especially the Highland ones. They hold water to be one of the most important ingredients in Scotch.
As of a couple of years ago, only 5 of the 90 distilleries in Scotland malted barley. And only one, Springbank, uses only its own malt.
 
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I just kegged this beer today. It'll need to chill and carbonate, but the taste I had was pretty nice. It's slightly sweet with a definite peaty after-taste. I don't find it overwhelming, but I've already demonstrated that it takes a lot to overwhelm me. I'll let some friends taste it and report what the consensus is. As for the numbers, O.G. was 1.061 and the FG was 1.006, so it's about 7%. I'm surprised that it's not drier than it is with such a low FG, but I'm not complaining. I think this one may be a winner (in my book anyway).
 
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See that sounds good to me. I'm switching to all grain in one more batch and I will be doing a witbier of some sort. So I need to decide after that what I'll do. Probably another IPA and then do your peat smoked beer.
 
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ClarnoBrewer

ClarnoBrewer

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I'll let you know how this turns out, and you let me know how yours goes if you do it. That's a lot of pressure though! I've never had anyone else brew a beer I made up. I guess there are a great many factors I can blame it on if it's no good!
 
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Any update on your batch? I think I'll be brewing one up in two or three weeks. I have a blonde ale on deck for National Homebrew day and might do this the monday after or the following week.
 
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