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Grapefruit Honey Ale

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 June 2015 at 00:24
I was finally able to brew my Grapefruit Honey Ale tonight:

http://brooklynbrewshop.com/beer-making-mixes/grapefruit-honey-ale-mix

It is in the middle of the boil as I type this. 

The process went fairly easily, with no significant event or complication. As always, I brewed this beer with Big Spring water from Lewistown, Montana as a foundation. Temperature control during the mash was quite consistent, thanks to my use of my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Sparging was easy and efficient, thanks to my use of three vessels. At the beginning of the boil right after the hot break, I added my Columbia hops.

At 30 minutes I will add some Cascade hops, and at 55 minutes I will add more Cascade hops along with the peel and zest from one large grapefruit. At the end of the boil, I will add in my Belgian candied sugar and some honey from our local apiary. After that, I will cool the wort down below 70 degrees, pitch my yeast, set up my blow-off tube and forget about my beer for two or three weeks, until it is time to bottle.

I am expecting some very good beer, if the aromas during the mash and boil are any indication.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 June 2015 at 07:39
   Sounds nice...can't wait to hear your impressions.

 Gotta post some pictures!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 June 2015 at 19:53
I'll see if I can get a few of the beer in fermentation and when it's finished, Dan!

Update - I checked the fermenter yesterday morning, and again today. Fermentation is going very nicely, with plenty of active signs including a bubbling blow-off tube, a nice, clean foam on top of the wort and the beginnings of some wonderful, healthy krausen. 

So far, so good!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2015 at 17:06
I've been checking my fermenter daily, and it looks just about right. There never was any overly-vigorous fermentation, but it is definitely taking place, and that is what matters. Ambient temperatures have been steadily in the high 60s, so the conditions are all right. I might "kick the jug" (figuratively speaking) in order to make sure that the yeast are doing their work, but things are looking good. 

Tonight, I will replace the blow-off tube with an air-lock, then wait out the rest of the time (probably 3 weeks total) until bottling. In the meantime, I've got a couple of ideas for label design.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Sepeptember 2015 at 20:18
I had an extremely long and bumpy month of July, followed by an August that wasn't much better; as a result, I did not get this beer bottled until last night.

The beer itself looked great - it was amazingly clear and had a nice, dark-amber colour that really looked incredible. I believe that it turned out a little darker than it should, but I am not overly-concerned about this. The aroma was very enticing - malty with a warm citrus note that I am really looking forward to experiencing. 

The bottling went very smoothly; I always hope for 10 bottles from my 1-gallon batches, but this time I only got 8. This seems to be par for the course - now and then I might get 9 bottles, but I end up with sediment when I try too hard to squeeze every last bottle from the batch. With my next batch or two, I might try racking to a secondary after a couple of weeks, and I will see if that helps.

One "trick" that I picked up which is especially helpful is to have my son shine the flashlight of his iPod toward the bottle while filling. The room that I usually bottle my beer in must not have the best lighting, because I can never seem to see what's going on in the necks as I fill the bottles. The flashlight helped with this immensely.

There was a little beer left over after bottling, perhaps a third of a bottle, and I was impressed with the sampling I took. In every way, I think that this might ultimately be my favourite brew yet. The grapefruit came through perfectly, balancing the malts and working with the hops to provide a unique bitterness that was just enough without being too much. I know that this is supposed to be a summer beer, but I can't help thinking that - with the substitution of orange and the addition of a cinnamon stick and a few cloves - it might be excellent for the holiday season, as well.

I am not sure if the extended time sitting in the fermenter helped or hurt, but all-in all, the beer was definitely worth the wait - and will continue to be so, I hope. I will allow the beer to condition in the bottles for three weeks, then refrigerate for an additional week before sampling. I'm looking forward to trying it, and will try to remember to report on results.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sepeptember 2015 at 18:19
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Sepeptember 2015 at 12:19
I sampled my Grapefruit Honey Ale today, and was truly impressed. I must definitely give a huge "shout-out" to The Beautiful Mrs. Tas for getting this for me and opening the door to my brewing interest! I was a little worried about this one, because it sat in the fermenter far longer than I had intended, by about 2 months. Fortunately, the extended time had no effect on the quality, except perhaps to improve it. 

The beer itself was a little over-carbonated, but that was my fault. If one is careful opening the bottle, the effort will be worth it, for sure. This American pale ale has a wonderful aroma, which is rich, malty and slightly sweet, but with a fresh and bright citrus highlight. This combination seemed to really bring out the honey as well, as when I close my eyes it was the first thing I thought of. Pouring into the frosted mug, it came out with a beautiful, deep-golden hue, just slightly hazy from the touch of wheat in the grain bill. There was a very nice, very white and very creamy head, which lingered kn the sides of the mug, promising a smooth mouthfeel. 

The flavour of this beer is really unique and very good, as well. A light and bright balance is achieved with the hops and grapefruit, bending the sweetness of the malts, grapefruit and honey into a whole new flavour profile that is nothing short of amazing. It really was good in every way, and I would most certainly recommend that anyone who brews beer at home should try this, either using Brooklyn Brew Shop's pre-packaged, all-grain mix, or by using the recipe. In every way, this is a very nice, easy-drinking, refreshing beer that I will definitely be making again!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Sepeptember 2016 at 14:39
On September 6th, 2016, I brewed a second batch of this beer. There were a couple of differences from the first time, which I will outline here:

a) I used the zest of two grapefruits (rather than the one used in the recipe) for this brew, lifting it off in strips with the "large" side of my zester. There was the tiniest scrim of pith on some of the strips, but that's no big deal, as the recipe actually calls for pithy peel for a more bitter beer. Since I prefer to back the bitterness off a bit, I decided to zest the grapefruit, rather than use the peel. I cut the long strips into something a little more manageable and toasted/dried them in a low oven (250 degrees) until they were just starting to brown, as the recipe advises. I added them toward the end of the boil, as directed, and I think everything went well with them.

b) In another departure from the instructions, which uses a mix of Columbus and Amarillo (Or sometimes Cascade) hops, I decided to go with straight Amarillo, due to its lower alpha-acid content (which translates to less bitterness) and the fact that Amarillo hops are well-regarded for their grapefruity character. The hops schedule that I came up with was:

0.07 oz @ 60 minutes (left in the boil)
0.10 oz @ 30 minutes
0.13 oz @ 1 minute

This puts the IBUs (bitterness) at 26.57, which is a bit light for an American pale ale; however, the grapefruit zest should push the bitterness up to around an equivalent of 30 IBUs, which is where I want it. Will it work in the end? I don't know, but I'll find out.

The rest of the brew was fairly routine, and the beer is happily fermenting now. As before, the colour is a bit darker than expected, but I have decided that this is "normal."

Things seem to be moving along quite well with this beer, especially in the sence that we're getting some great, citrusy aromas coming out of the fermenter. I'll let it ferment a total of three weeks, then bottle.

More as it happens, etc. & c....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sepeptember 2016 at 13:33
Well, I don't know how it happened, but my wife accidentally knocked over the fermenter sitting on the floor of our closet. I lost about a third of it, which means the best I can hope for with this batch is a 6-pack.

We're well past the 2 weeks that I should have needed for the ferment, so I put it in the refrigerator to cold-crash and will bottle it as soon as possible. My big worry now is oxidation. The sediment got stirred up pretty badly, so I'm hoping it will clear up quickly. My guess is that I really can't wait any longer than a couple of days.

Too bad, because this batch was going very well! Cry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Sepeptember 2016 at 10:41
I took a quick look at it this morning and it looks like it cleared up pretty well over-night. Not perfect, but a lot more clear (clearer?) than I expected it to be, so maybe it didn't get disturbed as much as I thought. In fact, it's pretty darn close to how it was before the dreaded spill. Sitting in the refrigerator all day long should get it where I need to be; but if not, I won't complain, given the circumstances. I've bottled beers that were a lot cloudier than this one is now.

I'll most likely just take the easy way out and use the carbonation tabs. I am 90% sure that the beer was fully fermented after over 3 weeks, but just in case, I'll go for a light-to-medium carbonation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sepeptember 2016 at 09:04
I bottled this beer last night, after cold-crashing in the refrigerator for a couple of days in order to clear it and pack the sediment down as tightly as possible. As expected, I only had enough for 6 bottles, rather than the usual 9 or sometimes even 10. Considering the fact that it got dumped, I'll take what I get and not complain.

Thanks to the cold-crashing, the beer was very nice and clear. As I siphoned down to the bottom, I picked up a very small amount of sediment, but much less than usual, and I am pretty sure that after carbonation and conditioning, this beer will be a joy to look at. I had enough left over for a small sample and was quite impressed with what I had wrought; the aroma and flavour were both grapefruity without being cloying and there was a well-balanced bitterness - from the Amarillo hops and grapefruit zest - that complimented the beer really nicely. With this variety of beer, the aroma is what I really enjoy; the grapefruit, malts, hops and honey all seem to contribute to something really special. I am expecting this to be a really good beer after it has some conditioning time in the bottle.

Since I didn't know exactly - or even really approximately - how much beer I had to bottle, there wasn't really any way to know exactly how much priming sugar to add for carbonation. Because of this, I used the carbonation tablets that my son had bought for me, which work on a "per bottle" rather than "batch" basis:



I've never used these before, but they are pure dextrose, which is commonly used by homebrewers (and the brewing industry) for carbonating beer. I normally use honey, maple syrup or sometimes agave nectar, depending on what I am brewing, but the truth is that when it comes to carbonation, the sugar that is used matters very little, as long as there is a proper amount of it. Each type of sugar requires its own amount, but luckily for me, these tablets have a handy reference, right on the front.

After over 3 weeks, fermentation should have been finished, but I've had slow fermentations before. Normally, I'd go for a medium carbonation for this type of beer; however, considering the fact that I wasn't absolutely, 100% sure that fermentation had completed, I chose to use 3 tablets per bottle, for a "low" carbonation. This way, If for some reason the beer wasn't completely finished fermenting, I've got some wiggle room before bottles start exploding - which they probably won't anyway, but it never hurts to err on the side of caution.

Now, my 6-pack of Grapefruit Honey Ale is sitting in our closet at 70 degrees, which is a great temperature for allowing carbonation to take place. After 2 weeks, possibly 3, I'll put the beer in the refrigerator for a week before sampling. I really think it's going to be good, in spite of the problems that I've had with it.

More as it happens, etc. & c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Sepeptember 2016 at 07:03
    if you pick up some dextrose you may find you're able to use it in sausages too :)  Although priming with honey, etc is just inherently cool...so you get points either way!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Sepeptember 2016 at 08:59
Next time we're in Billings (250 miles away), I'll probably grab some. It seems to be the preferred "sugar" to use in the brewing world, and as you mention, it is also widely used in sausage-making. I've always been concerned about 'off" flavours, but it looks like that is not the case.

The honey is nice, but it can be inconsistent. I can use what seems to be the same exact same amount, batch-to-batch, and will get different levels of carbonation. Not too big of a deal, but something to be aware of. With this particular beer, it is also added after the boil, partially to boost the ABV, but also to really lend an interesting mellowness. Worth a try, now and then.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 November 2016 at 08:09
I recently sampled my second batch of this, and it was very, very good, better than the first time! I definitely made a couple of good decisions when I used Amarillo hops along with S04 yeast.

Flavour was dead-on wonderful, the aroma was even better; rich, malty and citrusy. The bitterness was a little more than I expected, but it worked very well here, providing great balance.

This remains a favourite, and I am loving it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 January 2017 at 09:05
I drank the last of this second batch on New Year's Day, and was truly impressed with how it ended up:



The photo doesn't do it much justice, on many levels; I really need a better cell phone, or I need to start dragging my "good camera" around when I drink beer. The beer was very clear - I wouldn't say that it was "brilliant," but I could easily see through the other side of the glass.

The head was fine - no complaints there - better than the picture (I have to take about 5 photos for each one that is even close to being good enough to post). The aroma was really nice with prominent-but-not-overwhelming grapefruit notes. The malts and hops reached a really, really nice balance, which was surprising considering that the beer was a little more bitter than I usually prefer. The grapefruit added a bit of a unique bitterness, but also contributed a fresh, sunny ambience to the beer that really rounded it out. The overall impression was quite smooth, possibly due in part to the honey.

When I make this again in the future, I'll definitely make it the same way that I made it for the second batch. The little tweaks that I employed really seemed, in my opinion, to make a great beer even better.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2017 at 10:18
It looks like I'll be making another batch of this soon. I have a friend who does amazing work with rifle stocks; both he and his wife enjoy sampling different grapefruity beers.

Meanwhile, I have a Herter's Model U9 in .22/250 arriving any day now, with a beautiful walnut stock that needs refinishing in order to get rid of the 1960s faux redwood look. My friend did an outstanding job on my Herter's J9 in .308, so I proposed a trade and he happily accepted.

I'll brew this new batch pretty much exactly as I brewed my second batch - if there are any noteworthy happenings, I'll post them here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 April 2017 at 11:48
Actually, now that I think about it - there's no reason NOT to make TWO batches of this, so that I can also have some in time for summer!
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