Friday, April 13, 2012

Magic Hat #9

Magic Hat #9 was one of my very first forays into craft beer, and for that reason it holds special place in my heart. I'm not willing to go so far as to call this a world-class beer, because it isn't, but from my very first bottle many years ago, it has remained one of my all-time favorites.

It pour amber with a very slight haze. My pour yielded at least two fingers worth of frothy head, but retention and lacing are not great. I won't be too critical about appearance with this beer, though, because usually just drink it from the bottle.

The aroma is highly fruity with apricot and papaya being the most prominent. There are also some citrus and floral notes present along with a light malt scent.

Taste pretty much mirrors the nose. It's definitely fruity but not overly sweet. The apricot is the most noticeable fruit flavor, but there is also some of the papaya from the aroma as well as some citrus. It is very lightly hoped and the slight bitterness is reminiscent of grapefruit. It is lightly carbonated and extremely smooth.

While I acknowledge that most would probably rate this beer as average, this has been a favorite of mine since I started drinking craft beer and it remains one of my "go-to" beers. Although it is available year-round, its general lightness and fruit flavor make it perfectly refreshing on a hot summer day. I realize this is high praise, but if I could only drink five beer for the rest of my life, #9 would be one of them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homebrew Batch 2: Tasting

For our second batch of homebrew we used a Wheat Beer recipe kit and added an orange "tea" to the fermenter with the beer (which you can read about here). The goal was to add some citrus flavor and aroma to the beer and it was certainly a success.

This brew pours a rich amber-orange color with considerable haze. There is minimal head, which disappoints me a bit since our first batch had such thick, creamy head. With little to no head to speak of, lacing is poor to non-existent.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that we were blown away but the aroma when we opened the fermenter for the first time. When we opened our first bottles we were equally pleased. We achieved our goal of adding citrus aroma to the brew with the orange zest, yet it is not overwhelming. The malt is also prominent in the aroma, but there is little in the way of hops aroma.

This beer basically tastes like a poor-man's Hefeweizen, which is really what we were going for (considering we were brewing an all-extract rather than an all-grain beer). The citrus flavor is definitely prominent; the addition of the oranges really come through. It is sweet, but not too sweet for my liking. Also, this batch tasty much less yeasty than our first. Finally, there is little bit of bite from the hops on the finish which was lacking in our first batch. Body is light to medium and feels a bit watery.

Jason purchased a hydrometer, so we were able to test the gravity of our beer before and after fermentation in order to measure its alcohol content. The recipe, if followed exactly, states that the beer should be around 4.5-5% ABV. Assuming I did the calculation correctly this beer comes in at around 6.2% ABV, meaning the additional sugar from the oranges really did help.

Overall, this brew is a huge improvement on our first batch and I'm higly pleased. We've learned a lot have begun discussions some of our future projects. What excites me the most about this batch is that, although the recipe is not entirely our own, we had a vision of what we wanted to create and it turned out as well, if not better, than we could have hoped. Our next step will be to create a recipe that is our own without the use of kit.

Note Regarding Batch 1: Jason shared a few bottles of our first batch with some folks he works with, and one woman in particular happens to be a great cook. She liked the beer so much that she made a barbecue sauce using our beer as a base and used that to make barbecue wings. I was not fortunate enough to try them, but I hear they were amazing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Homebrew Batch 2: Brew Day

Since we deemed our first batch of brew a success, and since we felt that we had learned a lot from the experience, we felt comfortable enough trying something new. For our second batch we purchased a Wheat Beer recipe kit from our local homebrewing supply store which contained all the ingredients we would need for a simple wheat beer. Our intentions, however, were not to brew a simple wheat beer.

For the most part, we followed the instructions included with the recipe kit exactly was they were written. However, after the brewing was complete, we added our own ingredients to the beer; Oranges! We started with six whole oranges and grated some peel into a bowl. The idea was to use the orange zest to add some citrus flavor to the beer. Next, we cut up all six oranges into small pieces, adding the pieces and zest to one half gallon of water to steep at around 150 to 160 degrees. Our hope was that the orange pieces would add some additional citrus flavor to be beer while also providing some additional sugar to the mix (hopefully increasing the alcohol content). It's important to note that when cutting the oranges, the white part of the peel is to be avoided. This part of the peel will cause your beer to become quite bitter.

Once the brew and the oranges were cool enough, we added them both into our fermenter and pitched our yeast. This particular recipe calls for a fermentation period of only one week, but we allowed it to ferment for about ten days. We transferred our first batch into a secondary fermenter after one week and allowed it to ferment for another two weeks before bottling. However, with this batch, we decided not to transfer to a secondary and bottled it after the 10-day fermentation period.

When it came time to bottle the beer and we opened the fermenter for the first time, we were greeted with the most awesome aroma of bready malt and citrus. The orange aroma was quite a bit more intense than I had anticipated, but I was in no way disappointed. Bottling went off without a hitch, and we ended up with a total of 50 bottles.

We allowed the beer to carbonate in the bottles for about a week and a half before refrigerating and tasting. I will post our review and final thoughts on this brew later.