Monday, 22 June 2015

June BeerCamp - Cocoa Psycho by BrewDog

Image courtesy ratebeer
I recently invested in BrewDog via their currently running Equity for Punks scheme, so it's no coincidence that BrewCamp beer for June is Cocoa Psycho by BrewDog. This is an intensely flavoured Russian Imperial Stout that bears a passing resemblance in flavour and texture to a barrel stout I was involved in a few years ago, albeit with a massive difference in FG: 1.021 vs 1.007. I'm still not sure why that barrel stout finished so low, other than that there is some organism in the barrel that's not supposed to be there. I would describe most of Cocoa Psycho's character as coming from the roast grains, possibly with some astringency from coffee, though the coffee is very hard to pick out. Oak chips and vanilla pods are in the description, but again I don't pick up any oak or vanilla flavours, another similarity with this and the barrel stout of a few years ago. They are possibly there but just masked by the roasted grain. It is a very thick and almost syrupy beer; obviously a lot went into it, reflected in its off-licence price tag of €7 for a 33cl bottle.

Fortunately BrewDog have given us a lot of information in various locations about Cocoa Psycho, making our job a lot easier. On this page they say that roasted grains make up 23% of the grist, while on this page they give us the vitals:
  • Grist: Extra Pale, Wheat, Dark Crystal, Smoked, Black, Roasted Barley
  • Hops: Cascade to 85 IBU
  • SG: 1.098
I don't think there is any Cascade character present so I plan on bittering with hop extract or Magnum. Yeast is not specified but I think a neutral yeast like US-05 or WLP-001 would be appropriate, however US-05 does not attenuate enough to make the final numbers work. Chris White was right when he said liquid and dried yeasts are not the same! Phil said he can pick out the crystal malt clearly, but again I'm not so sure: if I hadn't been told it was there I probably wouldn't notice.

The recipe I've devised for a 19 litre clone brew going on the information given is:

Amount Item Type % or IBU
5.90 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) MCI (5.9 EBC) Grain 66.67 %
1.00 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC) Grain 11.30 %
1.00 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC) Grain 11.30 %
0.50 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (157.6 EBC) Grain 5.65 %
0.25 kg Smoked Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 2.82 %
0.20 kg White Wheat Malt (4.7 EBC) Grain 2.26 %
19.00 gm Hop Extract [51.00 %] (60 min) Hops 85.4 IBU
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale

Est Original Gravity: 1.098 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.021 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 10.06
Bitterness: 85.4 IBU
Est Color: 172.7 EBC


Unfortunately I'm all out of black malt but Mark said he'll sort me out with some, so this should make for an interesting brew, but we've all agreed it will take time to mature, so I won't have an update on this one for 2 months or more.

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Update 07/07/15
Brewed this today in 10 litre batch which is a departure for me, but turned out to be a lot easier than doing a 20 litre as I have lots of smaller pots etc and a 3kw gas ring can boil ~12 litres a lot quicker and easier than it can ~22 litres. I missed my targets slightly probably by over estimating boil-off. Resultant wort is 1.090

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Lick Then Hammer - Part 2

This is a continuation of this post: Lick Then Hammer

Pellicle
In the previous article I omitted what I was going to do as regards yeast and bugs in the Lichtenhainer I was brewing, the main reason being that I was departing from the established norm to the point where I was nervous the resulting beer would be crap! To recap, the basic details of the brew were:

  • 20 litre batch
  • 1.9Kg Weyermann rauchmaltz (beech smoked barley malt)
  • 1.9Kg Baird's wheat malt
  • 200g Weyermann acidulated malt
  • 8g of Hallertauer Hersbrucker in the mash
  • Regular 75 minute infusion mash at 66°C
  • 60 minute boil
This is where I departed from other recipes. Rather than opting for a controlled environment I decided to make a lacto starter from some Weyermann acid malt. From our chat with Chris White we know that the subspecies most common on grain is L. brevis, but of course there is always the risk that something else is there. I pitched the starter at 40°C and let sit at warm room temperature for a couple of days. There was quite a bit of airlock activity and when the gravity dropped to 1.016 I added a small amount of Brett Bruxellensis, the Yeast Bay Beersel mix to be exact. It was fascinating to watch the pellicle form on this over the next couple of weeks! When activity seemed to slow to the point where there was very little I racked to a corny keg. A Lichtenhainer is the kind of beer that should be consumed young!

So how did it turn out?

Yum yum
Great is the short answer, but I would make improvements. It hasn't cleared, which is doubtless due to the wheat. In contrast Smoke Signals is crystal clear. There is a nice acid twang, perhaps not as strong as in Smoke Signals but the smoke levels are roughly equivalent, going from memory. What I would definitely change though is the Brett. The recipes I've come across online had a Kolsch yeast, and I think this would suit the style better. Indeed Smoke Signals has that clean flavour profile with no (non-smoke) phenolics and no other attributes that Brett brings. This is definitely on the rebrew list but next time I will make an actual L. brevis starter to elimiate any uncertainties, and use a clean ale yeast like WLP-001 or US-05. I think I'll drop the wheat malt too and just use pale or lager in its place, maybe with some carapils.

All in a worthwhile brew that I'll tweak and do again.

Cheers!