Chipotle Peppers Roasting

Posted in Craft Beer, on 22 June 2016, by , 0 Comments

Developing an Idea

Any free time I get right now (however limited that might be) is being put toward developing new recipes,  whether that be entirely new ideas or just tweaking an old recipe with something new and exciting.  For todays Brew, we are tweaking an old Robust Porter I had brewed plenty before.  As just a Robust Porter this beer was profoundly Malty, Roasty, and with a full punch of Chocolate and adding a new variable: Spice.

Creating a beer tends to be a lot of educated guess & check: Create a recipe based on tried and tested ideas, and slowly change the recipe over the course of multiple batches, finding out what you like about the recipe and what can be left out.  The base recipe for the Robust Porter started as a very simple Maris Otter and Chocolate Malt based beer, which while good, was nowhere near where the base is today.  But that is the joy of homebrewing, brewing, and cooking in general, just as you would make a pasta sauce you add a little more basil on first taste, maybe some black pepper on second taste, and a bay leaf afterward.  Unfortunately unlike making a pasta sauce, we cannot simply adjust our recipes at every taste, as every taste comes after a day of brewing, 2 weeks of fermentation, and possibly additional aging time rather than every 5 minutes of simmering.  Luckily this is batch #9 of Robust Porter, so our ideas are dialed in to the point where I feel comfortable throwing a complete monkey wrench in the process by adding Smoked Chipotle Peppers.  While this beer was terrific on its own, it could definitely handle additional flavors to pair with the rich chocolate and roast.  Typically when I make a Chili, especially one with a huge pack of heat I tend to throw in a few pieces of dark chocolate chips to add the extra mouth-feel and help round out the flavor, and that was my inspiration for taking this chocolatey beer and giving it that Chili


Building the Recipe: How to Pair Spice

Like most beers I tend to make I went with a very English base: Maris Otter (56%), which gives more character, nuttiness, and biscuit flavors than a standard American two-row malt.  The second major contributor is Crystal 60 (12%) which gives a defined toffee flavor and an amber hue to an otherwise jet-black beer.  Equal amounts of Roasted Barley (10%) and Chocolate Malt (10%) help pack the flavor you would expect from Cocoa Nibs (Bitter, roasted, nutty, dry).  To make it a true English Robust Porter Brown Malt (8%) is also added to give an additional toasted and nutty flavor that can only be achieved using this unique malt which used to be the base malt of every English Porter before modern malting techniques were perfected.  Unlike previous iterations of this recipe I decided to add Flaked Barley (4%) in addition to give an even deeper body to really make sure the spice is paired well rather than being overbearing.  This is then mashed all the way up at 154F, leaving behind a ton of unfermented sweetness which is normally perfect for a winter night, but instead to be paired with the heat for a Summer night.

Since this is an extremely sweet base beer it also needs to be paired with a fair amount of hops to add complexity and to avoid a cloyingly sweet beer.  The Hop profile for the Porter is relatively simple with Columbus as the bittering hop (Relatively standard for a lot of my beers, and adds a little pine and spice in this case), Saaz at the 15 minute mark for a clean herbal taste, and a big punch of Centennial at the end for a Citrus and spice kick, rounding out at about 50 IBU.  We are not aiming for anything funky with the fermentation profile so we settled with American Ale yeast which tends to not add anything of note to the beer, but also does not subtract or overly complicate.


Spice: Baby Spice

Spice is the variety of life, and there are many ways to spice a beer.  Well for this batch I decided Roasted Chipotle was the direction I wanted to go in, giving it a safe level of smoke and spice.  These will be added by making a “spice tea”: first we’ll coarsely chop the peppers (with seeds) and boil them until softened.  After the peppers are softened the liquid will be poured through a cheese cloth, saving the liquid to be added into the Bright Tank, or in this case directly into kegs after fermentation.  This allows for a consistent addition of spice/flavor so this beer can be scaled up from the pilot system to the full system (thats a lot of peppers).

Chipotle Peppers

Before and after Smoking/Drying

Putting it all together

This will be the next beer brewed, with an update on the Brewday and on the final taste.  Really hoping this is the beer to bring to Chili Kickoffs and a generally good beer to pair with Barbecue, Ribs, and anything smoked.

Building the Brewery

As you have probably seen from the Facebook / Instagram posts, the Brewery build is finally coming together.  We have the tasting room completely framed out, one of the two bathrooms built, and rapid progress being made to move forward.  This week I’ll be ordering the PVC pipes and all the valves, solenoids, and controllers necessary to get the Glycol System (Refrigeration system) put together to get the Fermenters are hooked up and ready.  As soon as the Fermenters are setup my next step will be moving onto the Brewhouse, getting a platform welded, ordering my Control Panel, and setting up a Mill and auger.

Icarus Warehouse Build

The view of the tasting room from the Brewhouse


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Pale Ale Brewday

Posted in Craft Beer, on 8 June 2016, by , 1 Comments

Where We’re At – Feeling Pale

As you probably know by now, when we’re Pilot Batching, it means we’re probably going insane for one reason or another, today the end result is a Pale Ale.  Lately that means holdups that are out of our control: Permits, and Loans.  One of the standard sayings in starting a brewery is that budget double any expense you plan, and plan for three times as long as any schedule you expect, well we’re about there.

  1. Our Federal Permit (TTB) is in the final stage awaiting final approval from the final inspector so we can have our Final Final Final, err our Permit.
  2. Our State Permit is in limbo, each of our investors were fingerprinted a month ago, and at this point we’re just awaiting guidance for what round of forms we need to plow through next.  I think its safe to say New Jersey is very thorough when it comes to their background checks and approvals.
  3. Lakewood has been phenomenal to us, with plenty of places and helpful figures trying to find ways to help and potential places to have us on tap including the Historical Theater “The Strand” as well as at our local Minor League Baseball Stadium First Energy Park home of the Lakewood Blue Claws.
  4. Money: Well if you have ever bought a house and thought that closing process was difficult, I would not suggest applying for a SBA loan, we are now 6 months into our Loan Closing, it gets awfully difficult to finish purchasing equipment and pay for all the nice things we need.  But we should be close which means a lot of movement soon.

While running a brewery might be 75% Janitorial Work, 20% Administrative, and 5% Brewing, starting a brewery is more 75% Acting like a Lawyer, 20% Being a banker, 4% Drinking the sorrows of bureaucracy, and 1% Brewing (Today).

The Brewday

Galena Pale Ale – The Idea

Now that the weather is getting nicer out there is nothing we love drinking more than a Fresh Hopped Pale Ale, so naturally we decided to brew a Fresh Hopped Pale Ale.  Personally I like my Pale Ales relatively simple, probably a result of studying in England, with the delightful simplicity English Pale Ales and Bitters have to offer.  English Pale Ales and Bitters tend to be slightly lower in alcohol, maxing at around a 5%, we were aiming for more of a hybrid, with and English style malt bill but American strength, American hops, and American yeast, the best of both worlds.

Malt Bill

So based on this I created my malt bill with a strong base of English Maris Otter (71%) which gives more character, nuttiness, and biscuit flavors than a standard American two-row malt, and Munich (18%) which provides a maltiness and a slightly amber color to be rounded out by Carapils (7%) for body and foam retention and Caramunich (4%) for a slight caramel hint.  The goal was to hit 5% ABV with very little residual sweetness and achieve that perfect Pale Ale color: darker than straw but lighter than amber.

Galena Pale Ale Malt Bill

Finishing the Pale Ale Sparge, you can see just how Pale the malt bill is

Hopping the Pale Ale

The main thing we were trying to highlight in this beer was the Fresh Hops.  We were gifted a batch of last years crop of Galena which was both dried and frozen whole cone to be preserved.  Fresh hops while harder to work with thanks to their bulk, absorption, and havoc they play on pumps are absolutely delicious when used properly.  As they are less processed than pelletized hops they have more preserved Hop Oils which make for a beautiful but delicate aroma.  The main descriptors for Galena are “Citrus, Spicy, Fruity” but I’d describe it most similarly to a Pineapple mixed with Blackcurrants, not sure my description is any easier to imagine.  I paired this with Azacca, a new hop to me which packs an intense mango/papaya aroma and flavor with it.  Rather than go with the standard American west-coast American style of hopping this to the point of puckering, I went with 45 IBUs which while relatively bitter can still be balanced by the malt profile and instead used a lot of the hops on the back-end for additional aroma.

Fresh Galena Hops

Whole Cone Galena Hops

Whats Next: Fermentation and Dry Hops

To compliment the Malt Bill and Hops we went with American Ale II for the yeast which while clean produces some nutty and fruity esters reminiscent of an Irish Ale Yeast without the intense dryness.  We went toward the upper range of he suggested Fermentation temperature scale, at about 69°F for a week.  At the end of the week we dropped the temperature slightly to 60°F to drop some yeast before we could begin the dry hop.  After dropping the initial yeast we added in additional whole cone Galena and pelletized Azacca for an additional 3 days before final cold crashing.  While it is sitting in Corny kegs carbing at the moment, the smell going into the kegs was absolutely insane, just blasts of Pineapple and Roses, extremely excited to try this when it is ready.


Post Pale Ale – What’s Truly Next:

Hopefully our next update has a lot more happy statements about how thrilled we are to be finished with our State/Federal permits and our bank account is looking a little nicer with this loan finally closed.  As soon as the loan closes we can pay our Contractor to build out our Tasting Room and additional bathroom as well as have our wiring and plumbing run for our Brewhouse.  We’re close, real close.  Beer Soon.


Beers on Deck to be Brewed:

Galena Pale Ale
Smoked Pilsner

Ginger-Grapefruit Witbeer

Chipotle Porter

Currently Fermenting:

Sweet Potato Pale

Currently in Barrels:

Imperial Coffee Rye Porter


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