Sunday, November 28, 2010

JDP3: The Goldilocks batch?

Grinding rye by hand is as much fun as you think it is.
My third batch of the JD Project is under way and the numbers look good so far.
The original gravity came in at 1.094, which is quite high, but no where near as high as the 1.135 the first batch started with. If the attenuation is good, I should end up with an A.B.V. of around 8 or 9 percent, perfect for a scotch ale.
For this batch, I returned the brown sugar and increased the amount of smoked malt. In the last batch, the smoked malt flavor never came through and the lack of brown sugar likely contributed to the lower A.B.V.  (That said, JDP2 was a good beer, it just wasn't a scotch ale. Once I got past that, I realized it was a really good rye ale. With the lower amount of malt and no brown sugar, the rye was the predominant flavor. That wasn't what I was going for, so it took me a while to appreciate the beer I did have. Now that I'm down to a few bottles, I'm actually a little bummed. I really like it.)

I also picked up a couple hop bags for this batch. Talk about making a difference. Transferring the wort from the pot to the fermentation bucket took no time at all because I didn't have to keep cleaning hop goop off the filter. Those little nylon hop bags should mean I'll have little to no trub in the beer. Man, that'll be a nice change.
Should this batch work out the way I hope, I plan to submit it to The Bruery's Batch 300 homebrew contest. The winner gets to make a commercial batch of their beer on The Bruery's system and enter the Great American Beer Festival's Pro-Am competition.  Now, I'm sure I have no chance to win, but what the hell, it never hurts to try.
Even if I don't win, even if the beer sucks, I have 10 liters of very good whiskey. Tell you what, though, that beer won't suck. Not once it's had time in my barrel of aged Early Times. I sampled some a couple weeks ago along side some regular Early Times. The difference was dramatic. The whiskey from the barrel was a rich caramel brown and was full of vanilla and brown sugar flavors. I like Early Times, but the stuff straight from the bottle paled in comparison to the 10 liters I'd aged for five months. It was nearly two different spirits entirely. If I can get the flavor of that whiskey to come through in the American scotch ale, I might just have a decent beer.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

FW1/JDP2: Cafe Con Leche and the Scottish Scotch Ale

It took 10 minutes to pour this beer.
So all that hand wringing I was doing over the sour flavors in the stout proved unnecessary. FW1 tastes good. By no means is it a perfect espresso milk stout, but it is more than drinkable.
The biggest problem with the beer is it's over-carbonated. I did add a bit more dry malt for bottle conditioning than I normally do, but I did so because think many of my beers have been a bit under-carbonated. Well with the stout, it takes five minutes to pour and I've already lost one to gushing and another to detonation (the bottle cap didn't pop off, the upper half of the bottle did). That said, once it's in the glass and settles, it's tart and a bit bitter from the espresso, and the creaminess of the body comes through ... once the carbonation subsides.
Since it's a espresso milk stout, I've named it Cafe Con Leche. Because I got the wort from Mike Roy at Franklin's, this batch is a one and done, but it has motivated me to tackle another stout in the next few months. I'll probably wait until I wrap up my scotch ale experiments.

JDP2 on the left and JDP1 on the right.
Speaking of JDP2, well, it's OK. It is drinkable, but the 6.4 A.B.V. and light body make it more of a Scottish ale than the intended scotch ale. And because I dialed the malt back too far and cut the brown sugar all together, the rye is too pronounced. So back to the drawing board. I think I should have the recipe pretty well dialed in by the next batch.
That said, JDP2 benefited as much from the addition of bourbon as JDP1. As you can see in the picture, JDP1 (on the right) is much darker than JDP2. It's also flat, while JDP2 has a nice amount of carbonation. JDP1 is overly sweet and overly boozy, while JDP2 is a bit thin and the rye gives it too much of a bite. Yet ... YET ... the bourbon cuts through both giving the beers a nice balance without overwhelming either. Isn't bourbon great?

I rise the tasting glasses in a small amount of bourbon to simulate what the beer will taste like after aging in the bourbon barrel.