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May 10th, 2011

Beer Update – IPA, Belgian Pale, and a new seasonal

Since we started up back in December, a lot of people have asked me if it was difficult transitioning from brewing 10 gallon batches of beer at home to brewing 1000 gallon batches at the brewery. The answer is yes and no – no because the equipment we have at the brewery is designed for brewing beer, which makes it a lot easier to control variables like fermentation temperature, yeast pitching, grain mill settings etc. – so if a particular batch turns out really well, we can easily replicate it later. The difficult part has turned out to be taking the 10 gallon recipe and duplicating it with a 1000 gallon recipe. Stuff like lauter tun depth, kettle surface area, fermentation vessel height to diameter ratio and lots of other things all have an impact on the final flavor of the beer and there’s no exact calculation (that we know of anyway) that you can do to accurately predict the results. A good analogy is homemade spaghetti sauce – it’s one thing to make it at home for a family of 6-8, but suppose you join the army and get tasked with cooking it for the entire platoon. I’m sure it will be good, but it probably won’t taste the same as the homemade version (at least the first time). The point of all this is that you’ve probably noticed some subtle – or not so subtle, it depends – variations between different batches of our beers. This is because we’ve been tweaking our recipes and processes with each batch to try and get as close as we can to my original homebrewed versions of these beers.

Well friends, we’ve nearly done it. The latest batches of IPA and Belgian Pale that were picked up by the distributor this week are as close as we’ve come yet. A couple quick notes on each one:

IPA
3 major changes here – yeast strain, hop varieties, and dry-hopping method. The old yeast strain was difficult to work with and we had a terrible time getting the beer to clear up in the bright tank. The new English yeast strain is much better in that regard and also produces a slightly fruity flavor which really complements the hop character. With the hop varieties, we eliminated the Centennial and we’ve started dry hopping with a new hop blend called Falconer’s Flight, which is very fruity and citrusy. We’ve also tweaked our dry-hopping method to deliver even more hop aroma. The overall result is an extremely aromatic and bright (as opposed to dank/herbal) IPA. If you’re not sure which one you’re drinking, ask the server/bartender to look at the number written on the keg collar – new batches will be numbered 16 or higher.

Belgian Pale
This beer is now a lot more…Belgian-y (Belgianish?). We adjusted the proportions of the malts in the grain bill and added a small percentage of Aromatic malt, which imparts a distinctive sweet, malty aroma. The other big change is the fermentation temperature. Previous batches were fermented at a cooler temperature for the entire length of fermentation, while the new batch was started cool and allowed to warm up naturally during fermentation by about 10 degrees. This encourages the Belgian yeast strain to produce a lot more esters and phenols, which are the chemical compounds with those distinctive fruity and peppery flavors that most people look for in a Belgian-style beer. If you liked the yeast character in our Tripel (get it while you can, we’re out of it at the brewery), you’ll like the new Belgian Pale. The new batch numbers on the keg collars are numbered 17 and higher.

New seasonal: Citra Rye Pale Ale
Our newest “seasonal” beer is a single-hopped rye pale ale featuring the Citra hop. Citra is one of our favorite hop varieties and has some crazy tropical fruit flavors and aromatics – think mango, pineapple, and orange. Add in 10% malted rye just to make it interesting and you have a super sessionable pale ale perfect for the warm Charleston spring. Kegs will be going out this coming Monday and should be hitting the taps later next week. 5% ABV, 35 IBUs.

There you have it – 3 new beers to try. Homework assignment: Let us know what you think!

Cheers!

-Edward

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