Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Next Brew: Stone Ruination IPA Clone

Okay, the real reason I wanted to blog today was to talk about the next beer I'm going to brew.

It all started during the 5K, which ran by a local homebrew shop on Story Avenue named My Old Kentucky Homebrew.  I remembered seeing the shop during the race last year, but I forgot to look them up.  Now that I'm getting more serious about my brewing, I made it a point to check them out.

It turns out that Paul, the owner, holds an intro to brewing class every Wednesday night at 7.  I talked to Jennifer about it, and she was really encouraging about me going.

I was the only one who showed up for the class last night, so it was really nice to be able to talk to Paul about the way I do things and what I might be doing wrong.  I took him a bottle of the Nut Brown Ale, because even though it turned out really well, there is still an off flavor I taste.  That, and it's just not as strong as commercial beers are.

To him, the off flavor is oxidation.  Basically, the rule is that once fermentation is complete, you want to avoid getting any oxygen into the beer.  Obviously, I didn't realize this until now, so when I would transfer the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket, and from there into the bottles, I wasn't as gentle with it as I should have been.

As for the intensity of the flavor, he explained that the boxed kits you purchase are put together so that they're as cheap as possible.  This means that while they're they style of beer they claim to be, they simply don't use the amount of ingredients someone like me (who likes a strong beer) needs.

I felt a lot better after talking to him -- it was nice to hear that I'm pretty much doing things the right way from someone who's been doing this a while.

It was also really cool to learn about all the different grains that are available, and what kind of flavor each type brings to the beer.  He has dozens of types of grains, and each brings its own unique flavor to the party (some give the beer a biscuit or bread flavor, while others can give it a chocolate flavor).  I look forward to experimenting with different recipes and different combinations of ingredients to really create something I can call my own -- that's what this hobby is all about!

I went down there with every intention of getting my next kit, but I wasn't sure what style I really wanted.  To put my newfound confidence to the test, I decided to attempt a clone of a beer I really like -- Ruination by Stone, which is an intense IPA, and the kind of beer I never thought I would be able to brew.

Here's the kit:

This kit is different from others I've used in a few big ways.  First, there's about twice as much of everything than I've ever used before.  This is what will give the beer its strong flavor and higher alcohol percentage.

Next, this recipe calls for "dry hopping."  Normally, all of the hops used in a recipe are added during the boil. The earlier in the boil, the more bitterness they'll give to the beer, but they won't give it much flavor (since that will evaporate off).  The later they're added, the more of an impact on the flavor they have.  Two of the packages of hops in this recipe are added after fermentation, so basically they're added after it's already beer.  They'll soak into the beer for about a week after it's done fermenting, so all of that hoppy goodness will have nowhere to go but into the beer as pure flavor. :)

I'm so excited about this beer!  Look for a post from brew-day soon!


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