Gowanus Brewery

Gowanus Double India Pale Ale – Intro and Update by Jeremy
October 10, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, double ipa, naming

I had some fun with this one.

This recipe is different from my first DIPA, which I didn’t realize until I went to unpack this kit, but all that doubt went away a couple weeks ago went I thiefed my first sample. This one is going to be outstanding:

  • 16 lbs. British Pale Malt
  • 0.75 lbs. Dingemans Caramel Pils
  • 0.25 lbs. Briess Caramel 120
  • 1 oz. Summit (60 min)
  • 1 oz. Centennial (30 min)
  • 1 oz. Cascade (10 min)
  • 2 oz. Glacier (0 min)
  • 1 oz. Cascade Hops (dry hop)

    I tweaked this one just like the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale.  But, instead of 1 ounce of oak, I used 2; and instead of boiling the garden hops, I threw them in during secondary (pictured). I should add that I actually dumped this beer from primary right onto the amber ale’s secondary bucket to get that first ounce of oak.  The GDIPA sat there for only about a week, before I siphoned it too off to a third bucket.

    This beer is going to taste great despite a couple of factors working against it.  First, I spilled about a pound of grain when I went to mash in.  Whoops.  Second, primary fermentation was active at the less-than-ideal temperature range of 80 to 84 degrees, but the ambient temperature here quickly dropped to the mid-sixties.  Perhaps partly due to those factors, my original gravity was only about 1.075, rather than the target 1.085.  But, as I said, it already tastes phenomenal!

    The specific gravity is at about 1.020 now and I’m just waiting for some free time to bottle it up.  It is going to be one of a three-pack of beers I send out for the holiday season: Strong Wheat, DIPA, & Amber Ale.

    Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale by Jeremy
    September 6, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: all-grain, amber ale, beer, hops, naming, northern brewer, recipe

    A new season; a new brew.

    The “Harvest” of the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale is represented, pitifully, by the half-ounce of fresh hops I pulled off the garden this season. I say pitifully, because that’s the entire harvest. A small harvest is typical, though, for newly-planted hops, which can take up to two seasons to reach their full potential.

    Still, a half ounce of garden hops is kinda weak for a harvest ale, especially considering that the ratio for fresh hops to pellets, which recipes tend to assume, is 5 to 1. So, to cover all my bases, I’ll add that the spent grain went to the compost for next year’s harvest. So, we’re agreed. It’s harvesty.

    Anyway, the beer. I bought the all-grain American Amber Ale kit from Northern Brewer, which they describe as follows:

    It’s not quite an alt; it’s not quite a pale ale. Our American Amber borrows from German and British brewing traditions to make a beer that’s uniquely American, perhaps similar to the ales our forefathers brewed in the colonial days. Hearty and smooth, this beer improves greatly with a little extra aging, if you’re patient enough.

    It includes 8 lbs. 2-row pale malt, 1 lb. Munich malt, and 1 lb. Caramel 60, 2 oz. Cascade hops (60 mins.), 1 oz. Cascade hops (15 mins.), and an American Ale yeast. I modified the recipe to include a quarter ounce of home-grown Centennial and a quarter ounce of home-grown Cascade for aroma (the Willamette has yet to flower). I’m also going to put 1 ounce of oak chips on this beer during secondary for about a week to add enough extra tweak to feel like I can really call it my own.

    Will tell you how it turned out in about six weeks!

    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 Strong Wheat Ale – Recipe by Jeremy
    May 6, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: all-grain, beer, naming, recipe, strong ale

    Six months from now–when it’s once again dark and dreary–it will be time to indulge in this new brew, the Gowanus Strong Wheat.

    You need at least six months aging time for a strong ale, which according to the BJCP guidelines, is “usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery… Normally aged significantly prior to release. Often associated with the winter or holiday season.”

    Although I haven’t fully committed to the proportions, the final grain bill will closely resemble the following:

    8 lb. American 2-row
    8 lb. Wheat malt
    2 lb. American victory
    2 lb. Flaked wheat
    2 lb. Basswood Honey
    1 oz. Newport (13% AA, 60 min.)
    1 oz. Newport (13% AA, 45 min.)
    1 oz. Newport (13% AA, 30 min.)
    1 oz. Argentina Cascade (3% AA, 30 min.)
    1 oz. Argentina Cascade (3% AA, 15 min.)
    1 oz. Argentina Cascade (aroma)

    This will (theoretically) produce a wort with a starting gravity near 1.115 and a final alcohol content in the neighborhood of 12%. Because the alcohol content on this style of beer tends to be so high, it’s common to see them referred to as barleywines or barleywine-style ales. Of course, this particular beer would be best described as a wheat wine, owning fully 50% of its total weight to malted and flaked wheat.

    This isn’t strictly about big beer and big alcohol. I’m interested in pushing the limits on my technique and equipment and continuing to experiment with wheat beers. It’s also an opportunity to experiment with a new adjunct: honey. I’m adding honey to provide some complexity and to unify the overall beer aroma and flavor, but it will also provide additional fermentables and color. This particular type of honey is supposed create a lingering flavor similar to green ripening fruit.

    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.

    Extra Pale Ale – Naming and Style Review by Jeremy
    December 14, 2007, 12:00 am
    Filed under: beer, extra pale ale, naming

    Bubbling in the Extra Pale Ale fermenter has tapered off and this weekend I’m moving it to the glass carboy. It seems to be moving along fine and the recipe is so simple I don’t expect to run into any hiccups. Tonight or sometime I’m going to mock up a label for it: “Cleaner’s Ale – We’re All Going”.

    My first beer was a Double IPA, the second an IPA, so this, my third batch, will be my first Extra Pale Ale. I know it will be lighter in all respects and won’t be as hoppy as the first two, but I don’t know much more than that. Here’s what Northern Brewer had to say:

    Crisp, hoppy, and quenching, our Extra Pale Ale is highlighted with the sharp, citrus aroma of Cascade hops in the new tradition of West Coast ales.

    The information posted at BeerAdvocate is right in line and gives some perspective on the use of hops here:

    Of British origin, this style is now popular worldwide and the use of local ingredients, or imported, produces variances in character from region to region. Generally, expect a good balance of malt and hops. Fruity esters and diacetyl can vary from none to moderate, and bitterness can range from lightly floral to pungent. American versions tend to be cleaner and hoppier, while British tend to be more malty, buttery, aromatic and balanced.

    The contours of this style aren’t clear just yet, but we know that it is an American-style Pale Ale that, through the use of Cascade hops, represents “the new tradition of West Coast ales.” I should note that it seems this beer is known alternatively as Extra Pale Ale and American Pale Ale. It will be a clean and hoppy beer that may also taste fruity.

    The Wikipedia entry on American Pale Ale presents a fuller picture what characteristics to expect:

    [American Pale Ales] are pale to amber in color and generally their flavor and aroma is centered around the citrusy and pine character of American hops with caramel-like malt flavors and fruity esters from the ale yeast playing a supporting role.

    As usual, for the fullest picture, I turn to the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidlines on American Pale Ale. These guidelines are action-packed and I highly recommend you visit the BJCP site for yourself, if only to gloss over the wealth of information available there. The guidelines describe American Pale Ale the same as do the references above, with one exception. BeerAdvocate says diacetyl may be present, while the guidelines say it should not. I’ll have to explore diacetyl’s function in a future post. For now, I’ll try to wrap up this review. First, I’ll point to the ingredients section found towards the end of the guidelines:

    Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. American hops, often but not always ones with a citrusy character. American ale yeast. Water can vary in sulfate content, but carbonate content should be relatively low. Specialty grains may add character and complexity, but generally make up a relatively small portion of the grist. Grains that add malt flavor and richness, light sweetness, and toasty or bready notes are often used (along with late hops) to differentiate brands.

    Lastly, I’ll throw in the guidelines’ vital statistics section:

    OG 1.045 – 1.060
    FG 1.010 – 1.015
    IBUs 30 – 45+
    ABV 4.5 – 6%

    After re-reading my notes on the American Pale Ale style of beer, I’m really looking forward to trying this beer. With the citrusy hops, it sounds crisp and cleansing. Plus, as I think I planned, it will complement the Imperial Pale Ale and Chinook IPA well.