Apricot Ale Homebrew Update

It’s been just over two months since I brewed an Apricot Ale, and it was finally ready to drink earlier this week. Overall, I think it came out well. It tastes a lot like a slightly hoppier and more bitter Magic Hat #9, which I attribute to the dry hopping. The apricot flavor is a bit stronger than I’d like, but my experience is that it’s strength will fade as the beer ages for a few weeks. It spent ten days in primary, six weeks in secondary with the dry hops, and about ten days in the bottle before I opened the first one. I had originally planned to only keep it in secondary for a week or two, but I changed my mind and decided to let it age for a bit with the dry hops.

Here’s a picture of a half gallon growler of the ale:

And here’s the recipe:

Grains:
7 Pounds Light Malt Extract
1 Pound American Crystal 60

Hops:
1 Ounce Amarillo (9.2%) @60min
1 Ounce Amarillo (9.2%) @30min
1 Ounce Columbus (13.2%) @ 10min
Dry hop with 1 Ounce Cascade (5.5%) in Secondary (six weeks)

Other:
White Labs California Ale V Yeast
1 Whirfloc Tablet @5min
4 Ounces Apricot Extract at Bottling
5 Ounces of Priming Sugar at Bottling

Original gravity reading: 1.056
Final gravity: 1.014

Alcohol by Volume: 5.9%

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Vanilla Cream Ale Update

I previously wrote a post about my first time experimenting with vanilla beans in a beer recipe. After about two months of aging, the Vanilla Cream Ale is ready for drinking.

And the verdict?

It’s delicious. There are, however, a couple things I’d change for the next batch. It has a strong vanilla aroma, but the flavor competes a bit with the hops. Rather than use a distinctive hop like Cascade in the boil, in the future I’d replace it with something a bit more mild, such as Willamette or Kent Golding to compliment the vanilla flavor. It’s also a bit darker than I anticipated, so I’d probably replace the Caramel 60 malt with a Caramel 20 or 40.

I’m not sure what I accomplish by rating my own beer, but (for my own records) I’d give it a B+/A-. It’s a great beer, but there’s still room for improvement.

For anyone interested in making it, here’s a link to the full vanilla cream ale recipe.

Homebrew Review: Magellan’s Black Cherry Stout

It’s a complete coincidence, but I’m happy to say that my first homebrew review is of a beer that came out particularly well. It also happens to be the first recipe I ever brewed. Back in 2006 after being inspired by a Sam Adams brewery tour, a good friend and I decided the whole “brewing thing” didn’t seem all that hard, and we went out and picked up a homebrew kit. Given that we knew absolutely nothing about the process, the store manager suggested we try out one of the pre-packaged recipe kits.

The most interesting one on the shelf was a black cherry stout, so we went with it. The kit was a pretty simple extract based recipe, and we just followed the directions using our new equipment. Three weeks later, we were drinking our first beer. And it came out great. A huge confidence boost for first-time brewers. 

You just have to put in the time. It’s really that easy.

Five years later, I found myself wondering whether it was actually as good as I remembered. So I decided to make it again. Here’s the original recipe. I stayed true to it in spirit, but adjusted it to be an all-grain recipe with a wide variety of specialty grains and a few hop additions. The black patent, chocolate, and roasted barley provide a dark matly character, and the flaked barley adds some some thickness to the head. I modified the hops schedule to add some more bitterness.

Here it is:

The result: A great winter stout with a dark matly character balanced by a prominent hop aroma. The black cherry flavors are noticeable, but not overwhelming, and the head is thick and creamy. It’s been conditioning for just two weeks, and I’m sure it will only get better with age. I would make this recipe again, but might consider using fresh cherries next time. The cherry flavoring seems to mellow with age, and I’d like to make it a bit more prominent, and maybe even add a hint of sourness.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10*

Here’s a summary of the beer:
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 40
SRM: 26

And here’s the full recipe.

*I acknowledge the somewhat obvious conflict of interest that arises when I rate my own beer. But nobody else is going to rate it, and I need some record of the quality of each recipe. Maybe I’ll impose an average rating over time. Maybe I wont.