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 Strong Wheat Ale – Transferred to Secondary by Jeremy
June 20, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, competition, strong ale

I transferred the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale to secondary a couple weeks ago and stole a taste while doing it.

Tasting a beer like this at such an early stage obviously won’t tell you much about how it will taste six months down the line, but it is still fun to do because you get can get some broad outlines of how the beer will turn out.  For example, I could really taste the honey here, unlike in the Gowanus Strength German Wheat.  The color was caramel-ly, although it’s hard to tell in this photo, and looked similar to the Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale.

I will be bottling soon and I’m already looking forward to another taste test!

Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale – Recipe Rewrite by Jeremy
March 18, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, competition, label, recipe

I’m working on a recipe to enter into competition and, after finishing up the Gowanus Wheat Beer the other day, I’m making a couple of changes.

The first most important change is to not screw up the mash. Last time, when bringing the mash from the dough in up to the sugar rest, I added water that was too hot and the temperature shot way up to 180 degrees. That definitely denatured some of the beta-amylase resulting in a beer with higher levels of unfermentable sugars and a fuller body, even though I eventually brought the beer down to the appropriate range. The other change is a little more subtle.

For homebrewers new to all-grain the recommended sugar rest is typically around 153 degrees, which is what I did for both the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale and the Gowanus Wheat Beer. At that temperature, both alpha- and beta-amylase are active and you get a medium-bodied beer. The alpha-amylase chops starches at arbitrary points into big pieces. It’s active at higher temperatures, works fast, produces unfermentable sugars and a full-bodied beer. The beta-amylase chops starches into small pieces, like glucose and maltose, but it works only from end points. It’s active at lower temperatures, works slowly, produces fermentable sugars and a lighter beer with higher alcohol content. The second change I want to make is to lower the sugar rest temperature to promote the beta-amylase for a lighter, drier beer. The trick is that the rest has to be much longer because this enzyme works much more slowly.

According to BYO, the sugar rest for Anheiser-Busch’s Bud Light, which has the profile I’m going for, is at 140 degrees and it’s held there for three hours. For the past couple batches, I’ve held the wort at 153 degrees for an hour, but for the next batch I’m going to do what A-B does: lower temperature, longer rest.

Here’s the latest incarnation:

4 lbs. Rahr White Wheat

4 lbs. Rahr 2-row

1/4 lb. Flaked Wheat

1 oz. Willamette (5 mins)

4 lbs. raspberries (frozen, add to secondary)

Sugar rest at 140 degrees, three hours. Edit: Based on advice from other homebrewers, I’m going to try 145 degrees for two hours.

These are big changes and should really improve the brew.

A Happy New Year by Jeremy
January 1, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, competition, roadmap

We threw a NYE party last night that turned out to be a huge success. Everybody had a great time and I was finally able give away the last of my holiday gifts. To several people at the party, I gave homebrew six packs with three bottles of Olde Nash and three of the Chinook Me. Everybody was impressed and some were doubly impressed, because this was their first look at all the work I’ve done over the last three months. Even as I think back now, I’ve done a lot since October and ’08 is shaping up to be just as busy.

My resolution for the new year is to enter and place at a beer competition. I’ve never even been to one and have no doubt that I’m being overly ambitious, but you have to aim high. I got some new equipment for the holidays and even got a book of recipes from a friend, all of which will help me move this hobby of mine forward. I’m excited about the prospect of crafting my own recipes and moving away, in general, from the simplified process I’ve been using to learn the fundamentals, which I’ll have to do to get serious about competition. In January, I’ll do my first all-wheat batch and my first beer outside the IPA family. By February, I hope to have a couple of recipes outlined that I can begin perfecting in preparation for competition. And, by mid-year, I should be set to test the waters with an initial offering at, probably, a smaller, local beer competition.

Anyway, here’s to the New Year!