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Blonde Ale Experiment

smertz001

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Nov 13, 2012
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Houston, TX
smertz.net
As I'm quite new to brewing, I decided the best way for me to learn is to do and experiment. Today's experiment:

Two - One Gallon Batches. One will be brewed with Hops. One will be brewed without Hops as the control. Since I'm not familiar with hops and what exactly they do, on a sensory level. I will be doing a couple of these experiments as time and equipment become available. The first one will be with Cascade hops as I had a bunch on hand and wanted to see if they really have a grapefruit like flavour like others have suggested. If that's true then this hopped version could be quite pleasant.

Ingredients:
Light Liquid Malt Extract
Water (Ozarka)
WYeast 1056
Cascade Hops.

Control:
1# 5-5/8oz Light Liquid Malt Extract
1 Gallon Water

I used my 5 gallon pot for this. And got the water to a boil, cut the heat, added the extract mixed it in good, then got it to a boil and did the 60 minute count down.

Afterwards, I cooled it, poured it into a 2 gallon bucket for primary and then filled it up with another 80oz to get close to the 1 gallon mark. Pitched the yeast at 72F. Gravity 1.041

Hops:
1# 5-1/2oz Light Liquid Malt Extract
1 Gallon Water
1/8oz Cascade hops @ 60m
1/4oz Cascade hops @ 5m

I used a 2ish gallon pot for this one. Got it up to the boil, cut the heat, added the extract, mixing it in good. Then brought it back to a boil, added the 1/8oz hops and boiled it for 55m. I then added the rest of the hops for 5 more minutes and then cooled it, put into a 2 gallon bucket for primary and filled it up with another 48oz of water to get to the 1 gallon mark. Pitched the yeast at 74F. Gravity 1.043.

Things that could make a difference here. That I had to add quite a bit more water to the control than the hopped version. How quickly they were both cooled. I didn't think to time that. And the amount of yeast in each. I took one package of the yeast, and split it between the two.


They are both in a room where I setup an AC on a Rancor temp controller and it will be at 68F +/-2C. Just right in the middle for this yeast.
 

Cpt.Frederickson

NewBee
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May 27, 2012
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South East, UK
The version withput the hops will likely be...interesting...
I say this because hops are there for bitterness as well as flavour and aroma, and the bitterness is needed to balance the brew.
I've tried some fermented unhopped wort (made from DME) that was a byproduct of yeast growing and I was less than impressed!
But at least you'll be able to get a good grasp of the hop's contribution to the beer. I'm a fan of Cascade too, definitely citrussy and I get what people mean by grapefruit with regard to this hop.
Enjoy, and I hope it goes well!
(BTW, the 'Rancor' temp controller made me think of this, does he do temp control theses days?!)
 

smertz001

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Nov 13, 2012
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Yeah, I'm not really expecting the "control" to be good. But I do want to get the whole balance of bitter and sweet and such. Once I understand that, I will be able to brew better definitely, much like how I cook. I just know how things taste and can related them to other flavours and can just cook without recipes and great things come alive. I want to get to this point with brewing (meads and beer.) But also realize there is some science to this like baking and so need to be able to control amounts and keep tabs on everything so it can be reproduced easily next time around (if it warrants it.)

And yes. He does do temp control now. He's standing in my room right now, flipping the switch on the AC unit on/off as need be. (=
 

Cpt.Frederickson

NewBee
Registered Member
May 27, 2012
122
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South East, UK
Sounds like a good plan. Beer making is a bit more 'scientific' in a sense, mainly due to hops; alpha acids, boiling times, bitterness and utilisation rates...the list goes on and on!
But then again, it is hugely fun learning :D
I found a good start was to look at clone recipes for beers I enjoy and base some recipes on those and grow it from there.
I get what you mean about food though, sometimes it is just a 'feel' thing, and I get this with brewing in a sense. Follow your instincts :thumbsup:
 

smertz001

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Nov 13, 2012
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Houston, TX
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I got the little room in the garage cleaned out. Got the temperature gauge working on it, and the temperature drops for the week so it's now too cold out there for my fermenting!

So, now they are back in the house where they at least won't freeze this week.

Never the perfect batch! But that's what makes all this interesting!
 

Midnight Sun

NewBee
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Jul 13, 2010
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Anchorage, Alaska
After tasting the non-hopped beer, you could also try blending the rest with a mead for braggot. I tend to prefer hopped braggots, but you never know until you try!
 

smertz001

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Nov 13, 2012
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Houston, TX
smertz.net
Oooh! That's a good idea. And nothing to stop me from adding hops to it after the fact as well.

Or I could as a hop pellet to the bottles and recluse it for a bit to see how the effects things.

So many choices! Maybe one gallon of unhooked wasn't enough! (=
 

smertz001

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Nov 13, 2012
527
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Houston, TX
smertz.net
I bottled these two up this weekend. The non-hopped beer tasted pretty good as is. And hit an SG of 1.008 for an ABV of 4.33ish Percent.

The hopped version hit: 1.007 for and ABV of 4.73ish Percent and it was also pretty good. I will give them a week to carb up and see how they taste next weekend.

So, far quite please and a little surprised at the results. How the hopped one had more of a drop in gravity, and how tasty the non-hopped version was. Not what I was really expecting, but not fully sure what I was expecting here.
 

smertz001

Premium Patron
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Nov 13, 2012
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Houston, TX
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Cracked these two open today.
Unhopped- Golden and hazy in colour and appearance. Nicely carbed up. It tasted okay, nothing special. I'm glad there is only about 9 bottles of it left as I'm not sure about drinking it really.

Hopped version: Golden and hazy as well in colour and appearance. Also, nicely carbed up. It tastes good. I could sit down and drink this one quite a bit. I'm sad there is only 9 or so bottles of this one left.

But. This has showed me the balancing that hops do between the sweet and bitter. So the experiment is a success. Now the next one will be another batch like the hopped version, but using different hops.

Another thing I may try is to take the unhopped version and pop a hop pellet into the bottle and let it sit a bit, then try it to see what that's like, and if that gives me any sense of what hops can do and their different flavours.

Blonde Ale Experiment: SUCCESSFUL.
 

Cpt.Frederickson

NewBee
Registered Member
May 27, 2012
122
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South East, UK
I'm glad your experiments have worked out nicely, its always good to achieve an understanding of how your ingredients affect each other.
As to dry hopping the bottles; this may get messy. Perhaps try two side by side batches, one dry hopped and one not. Also, remember this will only produce aroma and some flavour, but no bitterness so would be unlikely to contribute much in your current brew.
Best of luck mate!
 

smertz001

Premium Patron
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Nov 13, 2012
527
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Houston, TX
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Cpt.Frederickson: Yeah, I understand that it won't help with the bittering doing this. But it should allow me to get an understanding of their flavouring and aroma like you say. And I like the idea of also doing the side by side of a the brew done with the hops and then dry hopped. That I can do now, since I still have hops left over from this batch. So will give that a try! Thanks!
 

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