Welcome to the beer factory

Let me welcome you to the beer factory.  As a beer lover it is in my blood to “create” beer, therefore I   Introduce  you to 11:11 Brewing.  As much as we (if you are here clearly you love beer) enjoy the world of drinking beer, many of us feel disconnected to the world of beer creation and brewing.  I hope to have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the craft beer drinker, and those curious about and interested in the actual process of beer brewing.

While I will spend time actually teaching about the brewing process, tonight I want to invite you into the middle of the brewing process as, (my brewing partners and I ) work on a couple of batches of beer.

So, what did we work on tonight?  Lots!!!

Tonight we started by working on our Wide-Eyed Coffee Porter.  We previously brewed up the base for this beer, a standard porter showcasing roasted barley and chocolate malts.  Tonight we racked off the beer into a 5 gallon carboy, of course we couldn’t help but take a quick taste to see where the beer was at.  The taste was nice and mellow and already had a nice coffee note to it.  We had used a generous amount of Carafa malt in the mashing process and this particular malt is often credited with giving beer some coffee notes.  There was also a distinct chocolate milk flavor to it, no surprise since the beer was medium bodied and brewed with chocolate malts as well.  All in all Nate and I were very encouraged with the flavor of the base porter at this point in time.  After we finished racking the beer into the carboy, it was time to start working on our coffee tea.

Brewing with coffee can be a difficult process.  First and foremost for anyone interested in doing it, I suggest a light to medium roasted coffee bean.  dark roasted coffee will be to bitter for the beer and will more than likely give off unwanted flavors.  For our beer we chose a medium roasted Guatemalan bean from one of my favorite coffee shops “LaLa Java” in Northboro, MA.   We used 8 oz of beans for this beer.  We hope that this will provide enough flavor without ruining the actual elements and flavors of the porter.

8 oz. of Guetemalan Medium Roasted Coffee

 

There are several different arguments as to how coffee should be infused into beer.  Some say to use it directly in the mash, others say brew a fresh pot of coffee and add it during bottling.  For this experiment I chose to make coffee tea by cold steeping it for 48 hours and adding it to the carboy.  I chose to do this for two reasons.  First I want to give the coffee enough time to infuse and marry with the porter in the carboy.  Secondly, I was somewhat afraid that if I brewed the coffee using heat it would release to many bitter flavors.  My hope is that by cold steeping the coffee beans it will extract all of the flavor without much bitterness.  After grinding the beans, I put the grinds into a fine nylon bag and added them to my container full of water.  Currently the coffee is steeping and I will add the tea to the beer tomorrow.
Coffe grinds in the steeping container

 

So there you have it, a quick “how-to” on adding coffee to your beer.  I’m looking forward to tasting the beer once the coffee has infused but that probably won’t be for another week or so.
Our next mission for the evening was to bottle up our “Lightspeed Amber Ale”.  However, before doing that it was time to relax and have a couple of beers 🙂
Nate, my buddy Pete and myself decided to try two beers from the 11:11 Brewing collection tonight.  First up was “Hop Mercy IPA”  This IPA which sits 6.2% ABV is brewed with a combination of Centennial, Cascade and Crystal hops.  Nate, who tends to shy away from IPA’s in general was pleasantly surprised by the vivid hop aroma and flavor but the low levels of bitterness.  Many people who don’t enjoy IPA’s are turned off by the high level of bitterness and almost “aspirin-like” flavor.  By using crystal hops that have a very low alpha-acid I was able to minimize the bitterness while maximizing the hoppiness.  Below is a picture of this beer from last night.
Hop Mercy IPA

 

The second beer we cracked open was Golden Apricot Blonde.  I think Blonde Ales make the perfect base for a fruit beer.  Blonde Ales are not overpowering in flavor and are fairly malty, therefore it makes a very nice backbone for fruit, allowing the fruit flavor to be the star.  That being said the key with any fruit beer is capturing the essence of the fruit flavor without letting it taste like juice.  For this particular beer I used 4 pounds of Apricots that I added into the carboy during the secondary fermentation process.  The beer had a very distinct apricot aroma with hints of maltiness.  The flavor retained the apricot flavor but also didn’t make you forget that you were drinking a beer.
I had originally brewed this beer for my sister at her Law School graduation party.  At that point I had made it an Imperial Blonde (meaning higher alcohol content)  For this batch I decided to make it more of a session beer, knocking the ABV down to 5%.
Golden Apricot Blonde Ale

 

After we were done enjoying our beers it was time to get back to work and bottle up the amber.  The amber had been aging for the past two weeks and was ready to get into bottles and carbonate up.
Lightspeed Amber aging in the carboy

For anybody who has done their own brewing, I’m sure we are all in agreement the bottling process SUCKS!  That being said it is a necessary evil if you want to have a nice beer cellar full of different beers ready to drink.  For anybody about to embark on the bottling journey this process is  made much easier, and is much more enjoyable if you can enlist the help of some of your friends.

My bottling crew (Pete, left Nate, right) hard at work

 

Even Yaz wanted to help bottle

 

The bottling went smoothly, we turned out 45 12 oz bottles and one growler.  Of course since it is impossible to bottle a beer without taking a quick taste test, we all enjoyed a quick sample of the Amber Ale.  The color was phenomenal.  A deep amber that was crystal clear.  The aroma was bright with nice citrus notes from the hops and the taste was hoppy, finishing with a nice semi-dry malty finish.

A quick sample of Lightspeed Amber Ale.  Notice the great amber color
Categories: Beer, Brew Tech

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