Showing posts with label experimental dark matter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experimental dark matter. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Playing with the Darkness

It has been almost two months since I brewed the 2.0 version of Experimental Dark Matter, my dark smoked ale which I can never decide if it is a mild or a porter. The recipe for this version of EDM, new name pending admittedly, was as follows:

  • 3lbs light DME
  • 0.5lb chocolate malt
  • 0.5lb caramel 120 malt
  • 0.1lb peated malt
  • 0.5oz EKG @ 60
  • 0.25oz EKG @ 15
  • 0.25oz EKG @ 1
  • Wyeast 1782 Scottish Ale yeast
The vitals for the brew were:
  • OG - 1.052
  • FG - 1.016
  • ABV - 4.8%
  • IBU - 21
Ah yes, but how did it taste? Well last night I pulled a bottle from the cellar and gave it a try.


It certainly looked as I wanted it to, pitch black with just a merest hint of crimson at the edges. The head was about the same colour as the original EDM, but not as creamy, perhaps something a touch of wheat in the grist would solve? I had been forewarned that using excessive peated malt would make the beer too smoky, but the nose of this one was not smoky enough for me. If you grew up in the Highlands or the west coast of Ireland, where peat is the fuel of choice for many, you get used to the smell of peat smoke and I wanted more of that smell than I got. The dominant force on the nose was chocolate, dark bitter chocolate, backed up by earthy and oaky notes.


Drinking the beer again brought the chocolate flavours to the fore, though there is a subtle but noticeable touch of booziness to the beer and a light, almost nutty, roastiness. The spicy bitterness of the East Kent Goldings cut through the sweetness nicely so that the beer is not cloying. 

Overall, this version of EDM was good, very similar to the original and definitely something I will enjoy drinking, though I might prefer to make it for spring or autumn, and add a touch more of the peated malt.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Hate Pigeonholing!

I find myself in somewhat of a quandry, though thankfully not of the kind that leads to existential angst. You see, I have decided that this year I will go ahead and enter the Dominion Cup, Virginia's leading home brew competition. I also plan to enter the home brew section in the local county fair, though this isn't a BJCP or AHA sanctioned competition, but hey, any chance for some glory and being able to call myself an "award winning home brewer". Sit, ego, sit.

I have four beers to enter for each competition:
  • Samoset 2009 - my barleywine into which I chucked some dried sweet orange peel
  • Black Rose - a very dark Dunkelweizen, almost a wheat stout
  • Old Baldy - a 65 IBU American IPA, dry hopped with Challenger
  • Experimental Dark Matter - the peat smoked mild
It is the last of those four that is the root of my bafflement, or rather which category to enter it into. Given the style guidelines set out by the BJCP for Mild (11A), a starting OG of 1.052 is too much, though at 4.3% abv the alcohol content is within the given limits, as are the 16 IBUs.

However, given that I used a portion of Peat Smoked Malt in the grist should I enter it in the Smoked Beer Section (22B)? If so, then the question becomes, what is the base style? I have played with the idea that the base style closest to the beer I produced is a Robust Porter (12B), but the hopping is wrong for the BJCP's interpretation of Porter, though ideal for Mild.

There is of course the final option, to enter the beer in category 23, the anything goes world of "specialty beer". The problem there is that I am not convinced that my beer is that much of a specialty. Historically speaking we all know that "mild" doesn't refer to the alcoholic strength of a beer, but rather it was a young beer that hadn't yet become "stale" or "old", so from my understanding of Mild, that's exactly what I have made, just with a dash of lovely peat smokiness in there as well.

What to do, what to do?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's Been Brewing?

It has been a while since I wrote about my homebrewing exploits, so I thought a little update was in order.

About a month ago I did a brewing double header, the joys of having two carboys, where I made a revamped Experimental Dark Matter, seriously considering a name change on that one once the recipe is settled, and my first American style IPA, which bares the moniker Old Baldy IPA.

Experimental Dark Matter was an attempt to recreate a beer kit recipe which was my first ever stab at brewing, and happened to turn out well. Taking on board the advice of BUL 180 up in Oregon, I cut the amount of peated malt from 0.5lb to just over 0.1lb so as not to overpower the beer with the aroma and flavour of peat smoke, and possibly to lessen the chances of homesick melancholy overcoming me whilst drinking. The original gravity on the beer was 1.052 and it finished off at 1.020, a touch on the high side perhaps, but it should give the beer some nice residual sweetness and an ABV of 4.3%. As I am on a month long beer fast, I will be waiting until July to actually try some.

Old Baldy IPA was originally going to be called Hopbombination, but as this beer is intended for Independence Day, ironically it is also my wedding anniversary that day and then Mrs Velkyal's birthday on the 5th, I decided on a more topical name. I used 5 different types of hop in this beer, Citra, Centennial, Amarillo and Cascade in the boil and then dry hopped with Challenger for a couple of weeks in secondary. If my calculations are correct, it should have an IBU rating of 125 if this website here is to be believed. On the booze side of things, it started off at 1.060 and once primary fermentation was done it came down to 1.016, giving me a nicely respectable 5.9% ABV beer, which I hope will be a hit come July 4th.

Currently in one of the carboys is another batch of LimeLight 2.0, again being made for a friend's special occasion, in this case a house warming party when they move out of Charlottesville to the wilds of Troy. Whilst on the subject of LimeLight, I mentioned previously that there was a bum batch, I think the extract was not as fresh as I would have liked, and it was much darker than usual, plus the fact that I used a different yeast strain. However, the feedback I am getting about that batch is extremely positive, so I am planning to do a batch of Limelight which I will then split into 2 carboys and see the effects of the different yeasts.

That's kind of everything at the moment, other than deciding which beers to put forward for the homebrew competition at the local county fair, and later this month bottling Mrs Velkyal's dandelion wine. You'd think we liked our booze in the Velky Al household, you'd not be far wrong!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backwards to Forwards

My first homebrew was a kit to which I added some rauchmalt, used muscovado sugar instead of the recommended table sugar and fermented using Wyeast's Scottish Ale yeast. It was good, very good in fact, especially the stronger variety, which I labelled EDM 13, and so I want to try to re-create it as an extract with specialty grains brew.

Having used a pre-hopped syrup in the original beer, the challenge is to work out the right specialty grains and hops to use. When I did tasting notes about EDM 13, I described it as follows:
  • Sight - dark ruby, tight tan head
  • Smell - smoke, treacle, dark chocolate
  • Taste - burnt toffee, smoke, dark chocolate
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
I actually think the specialty grains are not wildly difficult to work out, with chocolate a key feature, then chocolate malt is a must, the treacle and burnt toffee in there suggest to me a high Lovibond caramel malt, perhaps going as far as 120?

Hops though are the big question, and one for which I need to make a couple of assumptions. The can of extract in question was Munton's Perfect Pint Dark Mild, so it is fairly safe to say that the hops were most likely an English variety. The two obvious candidates are Fuggles and East Kent Goldings, with the latter being the front runner for its spiciness which wasn't entirely overwhelmed by the rauchmalt.

So, for my usual 2.2 gallon batch, I am thinking about the following recipe as an attempt to recreate EDM 13:
  • 3lbs Light DME
  • 0.5lbs Peat Smoke Malt
  • 0.5lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5lbs Caramel 120
  • 0.5oz EKG @ 60
  • 0.25oz EKG @ 15
  • 0.25oz EKG @ 1
  • 1782 Scottish Ale Yeast
I have decided to replace the German rauchmalt with a peat smoked malt, largely because I prefer the flavour of peat smoke as opposed to classic rauchmalt, although I love rauchbier. Hopefully, I will brew the new EDM 13 next weekend, just after brewing my first American IPA, to be called Hopbomination (although I am toying with the moniker, One For the Hopwhores). I haven't brewed for a while, and am looking forward to the wonderful sound of popping airlocks....

Monday, December 28, 2009

Brewing Plans

Having not had a single beer throughout Advent, I was very much looking forward to Christmas Day and downing a few bottles, admittedly though, this week is a blip in many ways because I intend to keep my annual booze free January.

Much to my own surprise, I only drank my homebrew on Friday, mainly the Machair Mor Imperial Stout, but also a couple of the spiced winter ale - Biere d'épices. I will write more about the Biere d'épices some time during the week, as I have more back in Charlottesville and want to do a proper tasting, and take pictures and such like.

One thing I am very happy about with the Machair Mor is just how much better it was with an extra few weeks of conditioning in the bottle, the Galena hops have mellowed a touch and now combine with all that chocolate malt to make a beer which is dangerously moreish.

Possibly the greatest pleasure was being able to share my brews with Mrs Velkyal's father and uncle, both of whom were most complimentary. I think now though I will need to buy a few more of the 3 gallon fermenters and start making more of my staple beers, especially as my dad is keen to try my beers when he and my mother come to visit in March/April. Particularly in order will be more of the Gael 60/-, a fresh batch of my Experimental Dark Matter (not using a kit though this time), and a new, hopefully improved, version of Limelight, which from reading homebrewing.cz (only in Czech sorry), went down very well with other homebrewers.

With all this brewing to come, I must admit that I am doing so with an eye on entering a few competitions this year. I am well aware that I am unlikely to win anything, but I want the feedback from judges so that I can improve my recipes and get more pleasure from seeing people enjoy my beer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cyclops Your Own!

As an act of solidarity, and also the fact that I have gained a bit of weight lately, I am going on a two week carb fast, which regrettably includes drinking no alcohol for a fortnight. This is something I do reasonably regularly, so it isn't anything drastic or dramatic - but it was the excuse I gave myself for doing a comparative tasting of the two versions of Experimental Dark Matter.

First a quick re-cap. When I made the beer a few weeks ago, I ended up with two different original gravities in the carboys - one was 1.040 and the other was 1.052, that 10° and 13° Balling respectively if I did my calculations correctly. The reason for two different gravities I think was the rather less than scientific approach that I took. Any way, after a few days of nervous waiting, both carboys fermented away to their hearts content.

When I bottled the beers, I did so about 5 days apart because the stronger of the two was still bubbling a bit and I knew that it wouldn't harm the beer to sit for a few days more. Plus I made such a bog of bottling the first that I decided a jerry can with tap was just what the doctor, and the wife fed up with sticky tiles, ordered. I also carbonated the stronger beer slightly differently - I used more priming solution, and hoped that the bottles didn't explode.

To the beers themselves, which I will do Cyclops style, first up the 10°, which had an ABV of 4.1%.


  • Sight - light ruby, small tan head
  • Smell - smoke, molasses, bitter chocolate
  • Taste - light caramel, faint hops, slightly sour
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Personally I thought this version was a bit thin in the body, and while it tasted fine it wasn't something that I would drink several pints of, I also under-carbonated it.

Next up the 13° with a 4.8% ABV.


  • Sight - dark ruby, tight tan head
  • Smell - smoke, treacle, dark chocolate
  • Taste - burnt toffee, smoke, dark chocolate
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
This was much better, and very close to what I was trying to achieve - the body was much fuller and rounded, lacking that slightly sour tang of the 10°. Being smug, I wouldn't have been disappointed if served this in a pub.
So my first brewing experience was successful, I got something drinkable at the end of it all, and in the 13° version, something enjoyable. It is shame I only have 10 bottles in total left, and 6 of the strong one - might use the 10° for some cooking....

Monday, March 16, 2009

From Darkness to Light

My first beer was Experimental Dark Matter, bascially a Munton's brew kit with some smoked malt steeped for flavour, fermented with a Scottish Ale yeast instead of whatever was in the packet under the lid - which I used to make a rather nice date and sultana loaf. This week should see the arrival of some more ingredients for homebrew number two - a witbier.

I decided to do a witbier after reading an article about small scale brewing on the Irish Craft Brewer website, a very good resource which I recommend everyone go and read - also the guys who run the website are superb. The witbier brewed in the article is very much classic, but using dry malt extract rather than all-grain brewing. As all-grain is out of the question for a little while, I decided to try out this recipe, although being me I plan to mess around a bit. Essentially I want to to swap the orange peel for lime peel, and am considering using the last of my smoked malt to make a smoked witbier - guess who loves rauchbier! As I have two carboys, I could make one with the smoke and one without, so I can compare.

This will be the first beer I have made which involves a boil - brew kits are great for getting the basics of making beer - so I will be using the Saaz hop pellets I bought with the first beer in mind, adding them at the relevant times as in the recipe.

On the EDM front, both versions have been bottled, the second one from my food grade plastic jerry can with a tap, which made life so much easier. I popped open one of the 10° versions, which ended up with an ABV of 4.1% and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting - actually I rather enjoyed it, but I will write more about that later in the week.

Monday, March 2, 2009

EDM Bottled

Or at least the 1.040 OG version is now bottled. The final gravity on this one was 1.010, giving it an ABV of 4.07%. I decided to leave the stronger of the beers for a couple of extra days as there is still the occasional bubble coming through. I only managed to get 6 full bottles from the beer, partly a combination of small batch, just 4 litres, and the fact that bottling with a piece of tubing rather than a bottling bucket is a pain in the backside and a study in slopping beer on the floor.

That's one of the reasons that today I am going to Bauhaus to buy one of their jerry cans with a tap on the front, so that I can use it as a secondary fermemter and/or bottling bucket.

I tasted a little bit of the beer, and it is a little on the thin side and the smokiness I wanted doesn't seem to have worked, but given a few weeks in the bottles and some carbonation we will see what the final result is. At the moment I am just rather glad that the process worked and I have made beer!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And the award for beer name....

When Saruman from The Tale of the Ale suggested this name, it was clearly a case of all bets being off. It was love at first sight, and so the smoked Scottish dark mild (or maybe not from looking at the style guides) will be called:
  • Experimental Dark Matter
Saruman's prize? Erm, a bottle of said beer if it tastes alright when he hopefully comes over to Prague sometime in the Spring. If not, then I think the fact I introduced him to a good Hooker should be more than enough!
Being the sad anorak I am (and if any brewers in or around Virginia are reading this and need marketing people then email me!), I spent about 3 or 4 minutes messing around on Word developing a label for the said beer, here is a screenshot.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mild or Imperial?

It started with a frantic phone call from Mrs Velkyal; a box had arrived at her school and they wanted money, for her to take it off their hands - 832CZK to be precise, about 25 quid. I had forgotten that there is some strange way of paying for mail order goods here - paying the deliverer the entire invoice amount. It all got sorted, and I got to bring home the ingredients for my first homebrew project, ordered from this website (sorry if you don't speak Czech).

Rather than going straight on in to all grain brewing, due to a lack of space and a disinclination to spend tons of money on stuff only few months before moving, I decided to get myself a Munton's Perfect Pint kit, the dark mild to be precise. However, from reading How to Brew I know that it is probably best to use the extract as a base to add other things to my beer. So I dreamed up making a smoked mild, and decided to get a different yeast to use and some extra hops to freshen things up a little.

My ingredients are:

Munton's Perfect Pint Dark Mild hopped extract
Demerera sugar
Weyermann Rauchmalt
Saaz red hop pellets
Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale

My basic plan is to make 3 batches of 8 litres, owing to space restrictions. At the moment I am not sure how much rauchmalt to use (I have 2kg of the stuff!!!), or at what point to use the hops - any advice happily received.

I have also played with the idea of making a kind of Imperial Smoked Mild (contradiction in terms I know) and using all the extract in a single batch, especially as the yeast is well suited to high alcohol brews. Again, homebrewers out there, any advice would be gratefully received.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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