Tag Archives: homebrew brooklyn

Golden Promise + EXP 6300 SMaSH Beer

GP/6300 SMaSH Beer

Hop Steiner recently released four experimental hop varieties (dubbed the EXP series) to homebrewers.  I picked up two of the more interesting (to me) hops and brewed a couple single hop batches with them.  For one batch I brewed Vinnie Cilurzo’s Hop 2 It single hop pale ale recipe (the subject of a future post), and for the other batch I brewed a single malt and single hop beer, a “SMaSH”.  I have never brewed a SMaSH before, but I’ve tasted quite a few at homebrew meetings.  The goal of a SMaSH beer is to learn what a specific ingredient brings to a finished beer without any extraneous flavors getting in the way.  For my SMaSH, I chose Simpson’s Golden Promise malt because I had two bags laying around and I really enjoy the clean, slightly biscuity malt flavor.  I use it often in my English bitter recipe and previously used it as the base malt for my house IPA before switching to American 2-row.  I would characterize Golden Promise as somewhere between standard American 2-row (very clean, neutral) and English Maris Otter malt (more biscuit, bready).  Because I had a good grasp on what the malt would taste like, I was better positioned to test out the new EXP 6300.  There would be very few interfering flavors, as long as I got a nice clean fermentation.

Appearance.  Nice copper hue with a bit of haziness.  Not sure where the haze is coming from as I usually don’t experience much chill haze and didn’t change my process for this beer at all.  Still hazy after being in the keg for over a month at near freezing temperatures.

Aroma.  Things got weird.  Most noticeable is coconut, pineapple, vanilla, and general tropical notes.  Smells sweet, the combo of coconut and pineapple makes me think of piña colada and suntan lotion.  Or the beach in general.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Aroma of sweetness carries over into the taste, some grassiness, coconut and vanilla.  Not a very harsh hop, smooth bitterness.  Alcohol heat present, which is not the hop’s fault.

Overall Impressions.  This has lasted a while in the kegerator because this hop isn’t very enticing on it’s own.  I also let the fermentation rise too high and created a noticeable alcohol flavor that took a while to fade.  I haven’t done a SMaSH beer before, mostly because I feel single hop beers can’t really stand on their own, and this is no exception.  I had good luck with HBC 342 single hop, but the character of the EXP 6300 is too simple and just isn’t tasty enough to warrant going back for multiple pints.  I think pairing this hop with a standard citrusy American variety like Cascade would remind the drinker of a more classic hop profile and be easier to drink.  Or maybe something like Simcoe or Citra for a general fruit hop bomb.  Pairing with a more expressive yeast would be interesting, something like a German weizen yeast (banana, cloves) or saison (earthy, mineral, spicy) would make the beer more interesting by adding complexity.  I’ve still got the better part of a pound left of these hops, so maybe one of those ideas will make it into the brewing schedule.

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Wyeast 1581 Belgian Stout Private Collection

Wyeast recently released a new Private Collection strain, the 1581 Belgian Stout.  These yeast strains come out once a year for three months and offers homebrewers a chance to experiment with unique strains that aren’t popular enough for year round production.  At Brooklyn Homebrew we make it a point to try these strains out in order to offer a little insight to customers who might be interested.  I get particularly excited because I talk about and give suggestions on the year round strains pretty much everyday and it can get a little repetitive.  Having first dibs on these when they come out also allows me the secret weapons to have truly unique brews at homebrew meetings and events.

I chose to brew a Belgian Saison at our last Beginner’s Class and use the 1581.  Most saisons use a relatively simple grain bill comprised mostly of pilsner malt and an addition of simple sugar to dry out the finish.  We used light Belgian candi rocks in our case (to try and phase out an old product for a new one) and a small amount of wheat and spelt to bump up the grain bill. Keeping the grain bill devoid of character malts allows for the yeast character to come through front and center.

The Belgian Stout strain is supposedly sourced from the Brasserie Ellezelloise who makes the uniquely Belgian Hercule Stout.

Tasting notes: I wish I could tell you how awesome this yeast is but the truth is I’ve put off entering any tasting notes even into draft because this beer has consistently given off a green apple smell and flavor that has not dissipated since fermentation.  As you may or may not know, green apple is commonly a signifier of high levels of acetaldehyde and is usually produced by yeast during fermentation and then reabsorbed later on.  It can also occur during the oxidation process after fermentation is complete.  The most common reason for this off flavor is removing the beer from the yeast prematurely before the yeast have a chance to reabsorb it.  I know for a fact that we gave this beer plenty of time on the yeast so it’s possible oxidation occurred, but I’m gonna do some digging and see if anyone else encountered this problem.  I personally have never encountered acetaldehyde like this in my homebrews or brews we have done at the shop before.  One thing that Ben commented was that maybe it’s called “Belgian Stout” for a reason and only works well in all malt beers (a percentage of this beer was Belgian candi sugar).  It’s a theory, but I don’t totally buy into it.  Some other tasting notes included acetic acid and fresh fruit in the aroma and apple juice, sweet, viscous, and slight corn syrup in the taste.  It was not really a “saison” at all (not dry enough) and was technically closer to a Belgian pale ale, albeit a bad one.  We brewed another batch with the yeast cake using a Christmas ale/Belgian dark recipe that was just kegged today.  It will be interesting to see if the same green apple shows up in that beer, which would indicate that it may be part of this yeast profile, and I will report back with the results.

UPDATE: Second generation yeast pitch of this strain into a Brooklyn Homebrew Christmas Ale minus the spices plus two pounds of clear Belgian candi sugar yielded similar results.  The green apple is present but somewhat hidden by the generous amounts of crystal malt.  This is a much easier beer to drink than the “saison” but still needs some time for the alcohol to mellow out.  I think I will give this strain a run through at home and see if I get the same results, maybe this time with an all malt beer instead of drying it out with simple sugars.

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