I had tasted my version before this and really liked it, but had no idea how it would stack up to the real thing. Turns out, they were both excellent IPA’s, but there were some definite differences…
colour was slightly darker in my version
foam stability was about the same
Malt & Body
malt character was more complex and richer in the original
body was slightly more full in the original
This is where I noticed the biggest difference. The h0p aroma was more present in mine due to freshness, but it had an entirely different character than the original. Mine had a very dominant ‘rose’ character to it, something I had never experienced in a beer before. I did read an article in Zymurgy recently that discussed how the finished aroma of dry hopping can be incredibly different depending on how much yeast is present in the beer. There are numerous bio-reactions that happen that convert and change the myriad molecules involved in hop aroma. I was in a bit of a rush to get this one kegged to see whether or not it was worthy of a NHC submission, so I did something I had never done before. Continue reading →
Firestone Walker is not a name you hear too often up here in Toronto. We kind of live behind an iron curtain of sorts when it comes to the amazing selection of craft beers in the United States.
As my interest in the American craft beer scene deepens, I’ve been hearing more and more about them. It seems like they have something very special going on out there in Paso Robles, California. For starters, they are the only brewery in North America that uses a “Burton Union” style fermentation system, aptly titled the “Firestone Union“.
Of their many award winning beers, one has become a classic example of the west coast style IPA, Union Jack IPA. I’ve been reading Mitch Steele’s IPA book and For The Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymus recently, which has got me very inspired to brew some heavily hopped beers. Lucky for us, in both books, the brewers at Firestone Walker have been kind enough to let us in on how they make it.
First, let’s hear what Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster, Matt Brynildson, has to say about Union Jack IPA:
It’s been scorching here in Toronto this summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 42°C/108°F in the shade one day! As a result, the Belgian Style Witbier I brewed a few weeks back is finding a very happy home in my pint glass. Don’t get me wrong, the heat is great, my garden is loving it and growing like crazy. Downside is, our central air conditioner is broken, and hot, uncomfortable nights don’t always make for restful sleeping. No A/C also means my Belgian Witbier was fermenting in the 73-75°F range, with it hitting 77°F one day!
Belgian yeast strains can usually handle, if not enjoy, higher fermentation temperatures. Stan Hieronymus describes many fermentation schedules for wheat beers in his book, “Brewing with Wheat” being in the 73°F range, so I was hopeful that things would still work out.
Man, did they really work out.
The White Labs – Belgian Wit (#WLP-400) yeast I used in this beer is rocking the classic fragrance that is such a signature in Belgian witbiers. Unlike some German wheat beers that can be heavy on the banana or clove, it’s very balanced. Primary fermentation was quite slow, taking a full 2 weeks for the krausen to finally drop. I did some research on White Labs’ site after noticing that it was taking its time, and many others noted the same thing. The consensus was to just sit tight and be patient, as it would be worth the wait. Worth the wait it was. Continue reading →
As with all experiments, they don’t always work out the way you hoped they would.
Have no fear though, when things go wrong, it provides you with another opportunity to get it right.
In my first attempt of cloning a Guinness Dry Irish Stout, I started off by using Jamil Zainisheff’s Dry Irish Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles as a base. That beer turned out fantastic. I made no water adjustments to it, and the final result was quite delicious. For the second round I wanted to try and match the highly alkaline water of Dublin, as well as add some acidulated malt to try and emulate the Guinness ‘twang’.
Water chemistry in brewing is a very complex subject, one that I certainly haven’t mastered. Most home brewers would say don’t even bother messing with it, but I want to find out how to make the best beer possible. I don’t want to make ‘good’ beer, I want to make ‘great’ beer, so I will mess with everything I can until I find out how to, even if that means having some casualties along the way.
Albeit, it’s not a Guinness, this is a damn fine stout if I do say so myself.
A super thick, creamy head due to the large amount of flaked barley, and a very smooth roast character that comes through the middle. I think Jamil’s tip from “Brewing Classic Styles” of crushing the roasted barley to a fine powder really did the trick. All this with a nice dry finish and enough East Kent Goldings to balance it out, makes me a very happy brewer.
The only thing that fell short on this beer, literally, was my final gravity. According to BeerSmith, my estimated F.G. was to be 1.008, but it instead finished at 1.015. I tried to rouse the yeast and let it sit a little longer in primary, but it didn’t attenuate any lower. I’ve been having some issues lately with my beers not reaching their expected final gravity, so I need to look into my process and see if I can figure out the cause. Regardless, I don’t taste any residual sweetness in the beer.
I honestly don’t have much else to say about this beer, it’s simply delicious, even with such a low gravity.
Having said that, if we are going for a “Guinness” clone, then there’s a couple of things I’d like to adjust. Continue reading →