Gowanus Brewery

Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale – Bottled by Jeremy
June 21, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, competition, strong ale, wheat

Last night, I bottled the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale and stole another taste.

It was even better than before.  The flavors have all mellowed since before going into secondary, as they should have.  Another round of fermentation started after transferring the beer and lasted for over a week.  The wheat and honey and even the hops are all noticeable in the flavor and aroma.  The color has darkened a bit and the body isn’t quite as thick as it was before.  In fact, it reminded me a slightly thinner, more drinkable version of the Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale that I reviewed months ago.  And, with a final gravity of 1.024 and an alcohol by volume of 10.1%, it packs an alcohol wallop in the nose even without carbonation.

I made a lot of this beer and, after bottling, now have 47 bottles on hand.   Eleven of these bottles are larger than 12 ounces, too.  I have four short Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 24-ounce bottles, three regular 24-ounce bombers, and four tall 16-ounce bottles from some cheap Polish beer.  If I had used all standard-size bottles, that would be 56 bottles total–my largest haul yet!

I’m in the process of designing a label for these bad boys.  Achieving the right level of bad-assery is proving a challenge.  Of course, I plan to leave some unlabelled to enter in competition later in the year.

Gowanus Strength German Wheat – Kegged by Jeremy
June 19, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, kegerator, review, wheat

Last weekend I dumped the Gowanus Strength German Wheat into a keg and hooked it up to the keggerator.  Result:  tasty beverage.

The beer, which had a final gravity of 1.006, is fairly light and has the distinct banana and clove characteristics of a German wheat beer.  It is cloudy and gold in the glass and retains a tall creamy head.  Overall it’s very good and refreshing, but I’m sad to say that I’m having trouble picking out any flavor or aroma contributions from the honey or hops.  Maybe a side-by-side with commercial German wheat beer without honey is in order.

If in the future I decide to make another batch of strong wheat ale and have the opportunity to make batch of beer like this again, I think I would experiment with a different yeast and other adjuncts.  This is a good beer, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t think the German wheat style does it for me.

Fortunately, we have a couple folks coming over for the Mermaid Parade this weekend, so I will have plenty of help finishing off this brew.

Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale – In Primary by Jeremy
May 31, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, brewing, strong ale, wheat

The brew day for the Strong Wheat was a long one, but everything worked out amazingly well.

The only unknowns for the day seemed to revolve around volumes: How much of my pot would 19 pounds of grain take up? (About 1 gallon) How much water would all that grain hold onto at lauter? (About 2.75 gallons) How much water can I boil off per hour? (About .75 gallon)

In the end, I collected 7.5 gallons of wort instead of 8 and boiled it down to 5.5 gallons instead of 5. The original gravity was approximately 1.100, which equates to a mash efficiency of about 68%, and, after adding the yeast starter, my total final volume is about 6 gallons.

By the way, my 1-liter yeast starter packed more than enough punch to jump start fermentation on this beer. Knowing there might be substantial blow off, I split the 6 gallons evenly to two 5 gallon carboys, and, as you can see in this picture taken about 6 hours after pitching, there was already a lot of foam developing; after 12 hours, it was being forced out of the air locks.

Gowanus Strength Wheat Ale by Jeremy
May 30, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, brewing, naming, recipe, wheat

The grain bill for the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale was huge, so I could take a third running for a second batch of beer. It’s the Gowanus Strength Wheat.

The last run off the grain, which was about 50% wheat, 40% pale malt, and 10% liberty malt, gave me a gravity of about 1.030. During the boil, I added one ounce of Willamette hops and one pound of amber Belgium candi sugar at 60 minutes and, at flame out, I added one pound of honey. The resulting original gravity was about 1.040. To top it all off, I pitched a 500 mL starter of German wheat yeast.

Under BJCP guidelines, this is a Specialty Beer, a category that includes beers that don’t fit well into other established categories because unusual techniques, ingredients, or ingredient combinations have been used. I’m not sure if using the third running for this beer qualifies as an unusual technique, but honey is specifically named as an unusual ingredient. We’ll see how special it tastes in a few weeks.

Gowanus Wheat Beer – Bottled by Jeremy
March 17, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, label, naming, wheat

Yesterday, I bottled the Gowanus Wheat Beer, which is what I named the American Wheat Beer I brewed a few weeks ago. I’m over the clever names. It’s just Gowanus Wheat Beer.

Bottling went great, but something went screwy with the fermentation. OG was 38 and final was 16, which means ABV is about 3% (rather than the 5% that an OG should produce). What’s odd is that the specific gravity was 16 when it went in secondary a couple weeks ago. There was no change between then end of primary and yesterday. It stopped, prematurely.

In Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, he suggests that the most common explanation for stuck fermentation is high levels of dextrin. Dextrins are starch chains of four or more glucose molecules and are unfermentable. Smaller starch chains and individual glucose molecules are fermentable. The ratio of the sugars depend on how the mash goes. If the temperature is on the high end, you promote beta-amylase and get more dextrins. If it’s on the low end, you promote alpha-amylaze and get more fermentable sugars. In the future, I’m going to do this mash at 150 degrees to promote alpha-amylaze. I’ll also have to hold the rest longer because this enzyme is relatively slower than the other. In the end, this beer should be drier and lighter than it actually came out.

The label came out great, even if the ABV isn’t totally on point.

American Wheat Beer – Started by Jeremy
February 25, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, brewing, recipe, wheat

I just finished brewing the American Wheat Beer that will be the model for my competition beer.

It comes from Northern Brewer which describes the beer as a “spritzy, refreshing warm-weather crowd-pleaser” with more hop character than its German counterpart and fermented with a milder-tasting yeast. To make it mine, I plan to do two or three things. I’ll adjust the grain bill and mash to produce a lighter, crisper beer. I’ll add a homegrown adjunct, probably heirloom raspberry. Also, I plan to grow hops this summer, but they won’t be ready for harvesting until the end of summer, which may be too late for competition.

The recipe is straight forward. It calls for four pounds each of Rahr White Wheat and Rahr 2-row Pale, and one ounce each of Willamette (60 minutes) and Cascade (15 minutes). The yeast used is Wyeast #1010 American Wheat Yeast. The recommended mash schedule is single-step at 153 degrees. The target original gravity is 1.040 and my actual was 1.038.

During the brew, I hit two major snags–one new, one old.

First, to bring the mash from the protease rest at around 125 degrees to the saccharization rest at 153 degrees, I added about four gallons of boiling water, which I should not have done. The temperature shot way up past 153 degrees to about 180. Visiting 180 degrees for enzymes is like staring at the sun for us. The water I added should have been at or below 200 degrees. Fortunately, I was able to bring temp down to the 150’s by adding an additional gallon of cold tap water. On the bright side, since my starting gravity turned out fine, I got to see first hand that grain enzymes are robust enough to handle an occasional screw up.

The second issue I ran into I dealt with in my last batch. I just couldn’t get the wort cooled fast enough towards the end of the brew. Instead of hauling the MegaPot up to the bathtub this time, I let it cool on the range down to about 180 and drained it to the primary fermenter, a plastic bucket. I sealed it, put an empty water lock in place with tin foil wrapped around it, and just let it sit overnight to cool slowly. When I got up this morning, the wort was near room temperature and I was able to pitch the yeast. This isn’t ideal, but, as long as we can avoid contamination, I think it may be our best bet for the time being.