14: Orange Wheat (ag)

Which beer?


Let's Drinking with Enjoy OUR IPA and Let's drinking White Ale

These beers!

Five lovely boxes of beer...


14 more bottles than aniticipated (yes, I had to pay for the extra!)...


Labels too!


Now where to put it? Some in the kegerator...


Some in the fridge (note lack of food other than beer!)...


The rest in the fermentation chamber...


Oh, and some in a glass of course!

The White Ale tastes fantastic – very much like Hitachino’s own White Ale. The IPA – I’d say it’s more like a strong pale ale or a British style IPA, but still very drinkable.

Of course none of these came out with the funky aftertaste of the beers I’ve made at home – hopefully which I’ll now be rid of after making the fermentation temperate. And the orange and coriander of the white ale is perfectly balanced, unlike that of my later Orange Wheat! Just shows the difference when you work with professionals, use professional equipment, and follow their methods.


On Thursday I bottled Beer thirteen (Strong Lagunitas IPA Clone) and partially bottled Beer sixteen (Anchor Liberty Ale educational Clone), dry hopping the rest of Liberty with Cascade.

I commented then that Beer fifteen’s dry-hopping (Muddy Puddle Unpredictable JPA) still hadn’t had much influence. By Sunday it was a different story – the intensity was just at the right level to be lip-smackingly good. The Liberty clone had also reached “my, that’s good!” level – so on Sunday I bottled both Beer fifteen and Beer sixteen.

A few weeks ago I was desperately frustrated that my IPAs/hoppy ales were not coming out well. By monitoring the dry hopping process – checking the taste every few days rather than just leaving it in for 7 or 14 days “default” as many people do (and I did) – I’m having much better success. Hopefully now I can scale this up to a full batch with the same success.

What hasn’t been a great success is Beer fourteen (Orange Wheat). It has come out far too orange. I added 20g more coriander as a “dry hop tea” on Sunday and it has balanced out a little, but it still not ideal.

I think two factors have adversely affected this beer. Firstly, I didn’t monitor the orange taste – and despite the peel I used being sold by Sakeland for making beer, I don’t think the flavour is ideally suited. Once again, monitoring the taste every few days would have caught this earlier – which is why Beer two didn’t go the same way.

Secondly, I’ve been crushing the coriander rather than grinding as I did at Kiuchi for Beer ten – I don’t think crushing has released the intense coriander flavour I wanted. Puzzlingly, Beer two used far less coriander but tasted better – maybe I crushed the coriander better then.

I can still drink this – it just isn’t the flavour I desired. I’ll be trying again over the summer with different orange peel (I have already bought it) and after buying a grinder for the coriander.

Freezer pr0n

Freezer pr0n

As seems to be the constant since starting brewing, my weekends have become consumed by beer.

Saturday I attended a party put on by one of the homebrewers I know in Japan. There were only six homebrewers there (plus friends and partners) but amongst us six was the winner of the Japanese homebrewer of the year (or “Grand champion sumo wrestler” as Excite translated his title) and a guy who worked in one of Japan’s craft breweries until it closed last year.

I took along three of my beers for them to try and get feedback on.

The first was my All Fuggles Bitter, the only beer than I’m proud of. Unfortunately it was cracked open after drinking a seriously hoppy IPA (similar to my Unpredicatble PA) and consumption of an awesome chili (which I completely failed to get the recipe for), so the only comments I received were “I can’t taste anything”. Bitter – real bitter, not Best or ESB – is light and consumed at room temperature and as such just couldn’t compete with those flavours. It was stupid to crack it open then. I was gutted at the reaction.

The second was Flasher. General opinion wasn’t that Simcoe is overpowering, but that fermenting at room temperature (mid 20’s) with the yeast I’m using (UK S-04) is causing the overly fruity flavour. The guys suggested better controlling fermentation temperature and/or switching to US-05.

The third beer I didn’t even open. Fuggles was supposed to show people I could make a decent beer, and it failed. Flasher clearly wasn’t up to standard, as I’m not even happy with it. And the last time I met those guys and let them taste my first three beers, they obviously were not good (being my first three beers ever). I just felt too ashamed to bring out another and subject them to my sub-standard crap, especially when there was such other great beer on offer. When no-one was looking I surreptitiously took the bottles of my third beer out of the freezer and packed them away in my bag (so no-one would drink them accidently).

It’s clear to me now that I need to focus my attentions on temperature and yeast. I need to keep a constant fermentation temperature in the right range and I need to work out which yeasts are good for me. What’s the point of my having spent a fortune on a hops, grain, a kegerator, kegs, and all that jazz if I’m not able to achieve perfection? Yeah, I like (some of) my beers but there’s only so much of watching other people desperately wishing they hadn’t poured my beer that I can take.

On the positive side, this is the kind of thing that drives me on. I’m the worst critic of myself, and despite being in this game for less than three months, I’m judging myself by the best of the best in Japan. It’s through watching and learning from masters that you succeed, so this can only help me, even though it is painful.

Sunday was bottling, kegging, and dry hopping day.

Mid way through fermentation, Orange Wheat tasted little of coriander or orange, but yesterday it tasted very strongly of orange – almost to the “feck me” level. So I decided to rack it to a keg, leaving behind all the orange peel and coriander in the process. I then boiled a teabag of 20g of cracked coriander seeds with 200ml of water, and after a few minutes boiling, added the water and teabag to the keg. That should balance out the orange taste.

Lagunitas IPA and Unpredictable JPA, I bottled 6 x 330ml of each and then dry hopped. Lagunitas OG 1.079, FG 1.017; Unpredictable OG 1.053, FG 1.009.

Lagunitas was to be dry hopped with 10.5g each of Centennial and Cascade for 3 US G. I had 2.1G left after bottling so scaled down 10.5 / 3 * 2.1 to give roughly 7g each.

JPA was due to be dry hopped with 5.5g each of Amarillo and Centennial. I screwed up and ended up dry hopping with 3g each of Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo. Since all three hops were used for flavouring and aroma, I don’t think it’s a major disaster. Again, I had less than the full 3G left so didn’t use as much as the 11g suggested for 3G.

Conventional wisdom of homebrewers states that you should dry hop for 1-2 weeks – but I’ve recently found out that some commercial brewers, including Lagunitas, dry hop only for 4 days. I’m convinced that Flasher tasted better after half a week dry hopping than the full week, so I’ll be monitoring this dry hopping closely, probably bottling most after 4 days and a few after 5-6 days. When it’s finished, I’ll have versions of Lagunitas and JPA with and without dry hopping – it will be a great way to taste and smell the difference dry hopping makes.

Speaking of hop experiments, the Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone is almost done and it has a pretty strong Cascade taste, despite only having a 60m bittering addition. It just goes to show that not everything you read (I’m thinking of “doesn’t matter which hop you use for bittering since the original flavour of the hop ia almost lost” type comments) should be believed verbatim. Anchor should be done fermentation in the next few days – again I’ll be bottling some and dry hopping the rest. It tastes good so far.

Right now I’m thinking about how I’m going to achieve consistent fermentation temperatures. I know I can use my fridge to ferment at lager temperatures of 9 degrees, but that will only allow me to ferment one lager, and wont work for ales. I’m strongly considering buying the freezer I saw at the party at the weekend (currently on special at Labi) and a temperature controller and throwing it in the space the ironing board currently occupies. Total cost to wallet: 40,000 yen. Enhancement to beer making skills: priceless.

Today I made my first solo all grain batch. It’s an attempt to make a wit – a variation on Hitachino Nest White Ale. I also made a version of this at the Kiuchi Brewery 10 days ago.

Orange Wheat

Boil volume: 14L
Final volume: 12L

Anticipated OG: 1.044 (based on 68% mash efficiency)
Actual OG : 1.046 (measured OG adjusted to 15C)

Grain (all precrushed):
1.25kg American 2-row
1.25g Wheat malt

IBU 18
35m: 10g Perle leaf 8.2%
5m: 15g Willamette 5.1%

20g Coriander seeds, crushed with a rolling pin
57g Dried orange peel (pack bought from Sakeland.net)
4g Nutmeg powder 
Update 25th May 2009: Yesterday I racked from the primary to a keg with more coriander, leaving behind the extras above. See here for details.

Safbrew WB-06 Dry Wheat Beer Yeast, 1/2 a packet rehydrated (since one pack does 6G). Pitched at 26degrees, then the wort put into the fridge to cool more. I’ll ferment at standard room temp of around 24.

Similar to Strong Lagunitas IPA Clone (ie. using a grain bag) except adding no DME and instead of heating 9L to 70 for 60 minutes, I did 10m at 40degrees, 10m at 50degrees, 40m at 65degrees. Boil time was 35 minutes, in line with the hop times above. For the extras, I split them into five hop-bags and added 1 at 4m (which ended up spilling its contents anyway!), 3 1/2m, and 2 1/2m, then the last two at 1m before the end of boil.

Initial taste is similar to the version I made at Kiuchi for bitterness, but much less coriander taste. That is probably because at Kiuchi they used a coffee grinder to grind the coriander and nutmeg and added them straight to the wort. I didn’t want to do that this time, because I didn’t want all the orange peel falling to the bottom of the wort and not getting into the bucket – hopefully the orange, coriander, and nutmeg taste will develop as the beer progresses.

I couldn’t work out grain, hops, or spice quantities to use from the Kiuchi recipe because they didn’t tell me the water quantities (and silly me didn’t ask). Where Kiuchi used 67% 2-row and 33% wheat, I used 50/50, choosing the amounts to get in the wit range of 1.044-1.050 – that should give me more of a wheat taste. I kept the hop 2:3 ratio the same as Kiuchi but guessed the quantities based on IBU, keeping to the lower end of 15-25 at 18. Coriander and nutmeg were scaled down by about half, roughly in line with the smaller batch size – but I doubled the orange peel quantity which, with the smaller batch size, means I’ll be using about four times.

The Kiuchi verson of this will be delivered to me in three weeks, roughly about the time this will be ready to drink. Will be very interesting to compare the two – the three if I still have any of the original Hitachino Nest White Ale keg left!