Brewing Water Survey Results

In July 2010 I sent out a quick survey of RIFT members on what type of water we use to brew our beers. There were four multiple choice questions and could be answered anonymously (to protect the innocent?)

  1. What type of water do you brew with? (Municipal tap, well, bottled spring, reverse osmosis, other)
  2. Do you filter your water before brewing? (yes, no)
  3. Do you add mineral salts to your water? (yes, no, depends on the recipe)
  4. How hard is your water? (hard, soft, neutral, unknown)

I received 20 responses and promptly put off writing up the results for six months. But finally, here are some charts showing the results!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Results from the Multi-Yeast Amber Beer Experiment

Back in October, RIFT kicked off its Multi-Yeast Experiment.  After brewing 50 gallons of wort together, each volunteer was given a carboy full of the amber wort to ferment with a yeast strain they had selected.  The goal was to explore how different yeasts can express different flavors – all with the same base wort to work from.

This past Thursday (12/16), during our December club meeting, seven of the resulting beers were pulled together and we were able to do a group tasting.  Overall, participants were very pleased with the results, although quite amazed by the range of characters and flavors the yeasts produced.  To quote quote one club member, “some of (the beers) you would swear were a totally different recipe”.

During the tasting, Mark L. was generous to step up and play scribe for the evening.  Below are his collected notes based on the groups discussion of each beer.  They are presented in the order the beers were tasted (from what would be considered the cleanest yeasts to what would be considered the highly estery yeasts):

German Bock (WLP833)
Brewer: Jeff W.
Approx. FG: 1.019
Aroma: Big malt, slight sulfur, some bannana(?)
Mouthfeel: Big/robust mouth
Flavor: Malty sweetness, straw/wheat, low to no caramel, big malt

German Lager (Local brewpub strain)
Brewer: John C.
Approx FG: 1.015
Aroma: Butterscotch (Diacytel?), no sulfur notes like the Bock
Mouthfeel: Slickness / oily on the tongue (diacytel?)
Flavor: Caramelly, peppery finish

European Ale (WLP011)
Brewer: Josh P. 
Approx FG: 1.010
Aroma: Fruity esters, pear, slight bannana
Mouthfeel: slightly dry, light body
Flavor: slightly fruity, balanced

Cry Havoc (WLP862)
Brewer: Mark L. 
Approx FG: 1.020
Aroma: Smokey, toasted, heavy malt, milky
Mouthfeel: medium to heavy body
Flavor: Caramelly, dry fruit, toast on initial sip

English Ale (S-04)
Brewer: Ron
Approx FG: 1.018
Aroma: Fruit esters, some malt
Mouthfeel: Soft, light body (due to carbonation?)
Flavor: Tart finish, slight maltiness, fruity

English Ale (S-04)
Brewer: Steve
Approx FG: 1.014 – 1.016
Aroma: Fruit and malt in balance
Mouthfeel: mediun, soft
Flavor: rounded, fuller maltiness, clean finish

Forbidden Fruit (Wyeast 3463)
Brewer: Bil H.
Approx FG: 1.018
Aroma: Complex, raisins
Mouthfeel: light to medium body
Flavor: complex ( a lot going on), dark fruit, slight pepper finish, low level dubbel(?)

Thanks again to everyone who participated either as a volunteer brewer or taking part in the tasting.  Both this and the Hop Experiments have been a rousing success and quite eye opening.  We’ll certainly revisit these types of group events again in the future.



November’s Topic: English Pale Ales

The next RIFT Style Exploration Club Competition (in alignment with the AHA Club-Only Competition) will be on English Pale Ales (BCJP category 8). Therefore, for our upcoming November club meeting, we’ll be doing a style profile on the English Pale Ales as the competition kick-off. This will include reviewing BJCP parameters as well as tasting several commercial examples.

Everyone is invited to take part – all you’ll need to do is brew an Ordinary Bitter, a Special Bitter, or and Extra Special Bitter and have it ready by the club’s tasting night. We’ll judge/taste all the club’s entries during our JANUARY meeting, and the winning beer will be sent onto the national AHA competition to represent RIFT.

More details to follow, but please start planning your EPA brew session.


Multi-Yeast Amber Ale Experiment

It’s time again for another Big Brew, and another RIFT club experiment. October’s Big Brew, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 23, will be held at John’s Garage/Nanobrewery and we’ll be brewing up 50 gallons of amber ale hopped with Fuggles.

For the experiment, everyone will go home with 5 gallons of wort and pitch a different strain of yeast. From Jeff W:

Any commercial yeast is up for grabs and we’ll ask each brewer to ferment within the optimal fermentation temperature range as specified by the yeast manufacturer. It will be a great exploration of the different yeasts and their flavor profiles.

The recipe for the Big Brew will be based off an American Amber, with the hopping held back to a single 60 minute addition in order to minimize hop flavor additions (as the yeast-derived flavors should be the centerpiece).

PARAMETERS – Target OG: 1.052, Target IBU: 30-35, Mash Temp 152-154 F

GRAIN BILL – 78% Domestic 2-Row Pale Malt, 8% Munich Malt, 6% Crystal 40 Malt, 4% Crystal 120 Malt, 4% Victory Malt.

HOP SCHEDULE – Magnum Hops added at 60 min with target IBU: 30-35

We’ll need at least one volunteer to sign up for the calibration/control beer, which should be brewed with Cal Ale Yeast (WLP001/Wyeast 1056/US-05).

Leave your yeast choice in the comments of this post, first one to call it gets it. Tastings will be held at our December meeting.

Single Hop Experiment, Round 2

With the first round of the Single Hop Brewing Experiment going so well, the Rhode Island Fermentation Technicians (RIFT) decided to do a second round. As before, we would all brew the same Pale Ale that we used in the first round, but each of us would use a different hop. These would be single hop brews; one hop varietal would be used for bittering, flavor, aroma, and dry hopping. The goal was to allow the club to taste the differences between individual hops and learn some things about how they perform at the different stages of the boil or fermentation.

The volume of hops used for bittering would vary for each brewer, so that they each would end up with the same number of International Bittering Units (IBUs). There would be fixed amounts of hop used at the 15 minute flavor (.5 ounces per 5 gallons), 1 minute aroma (.5 ounces) and dry hopping (1 ounce) additions.
Here’s the run down on which hops were used in Round 2, with the typical alpha acid range for the hop and the brewer:
Hop Variety Alpha Acid Brewer
Sterling 5-6% Jeff W.
Mt. Rainier 6-7% Jeff W.
Premient 7-10% Tom A.
Centennial 9.5-11.5% Bil
Sorachi Ace 11.4% Tom A.
Chinook 11.5% Bil
Simcoe 12-14% Tom H.
CTZ 14-16% John
It should be noted that the first round had a number of classic American hops, a large number of which were fairly low in alpha acids. This round included some lesser known hops and alpha acids were generally higher than the last round. As before, we decided to taste these in ascending order of alpha acid strength, to reduce any risk of blowing out our taste buds. Here are the tasting notes from the June 2010 RIFT meeting.
Very clean, with spice and clove in the nose. It contributed to a “malty nose”. This was thought to be good in Belgians and Wits.
Mt. Rainier
Notes of clove, anise, licorice, and a minty flavor.
Strong complex nose. Metallic, grassiness, lemon citrus, grapefruit. Would be good in a copper ale.
This is a brew from the first round, brought back for comparison. Citrus, lemon, dry grapefruit, smooth, piney.
Sorachi Ace
Phenolic, cat urine, pine sol. Raw hop, green hop. Smooth bitterness. This was a bit of a surprise, as we did not detect any of the “lemon” character that this hop is supposed to have. It is also a surprise after tasting Brooklyn’s Brewery’s Saison that features this hop and has a completely different character. This is a hop that needs to be carefully integrated into a brew.
Papaya, fruit. Strong nose of grapefruit. Bready, yeasty. Classic American “Big C” hop for bittering.
Piney, papaya. Tangy, fruity, smoother than Summit. Similar to Roxy Rolles.
The Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus offspring. Ok, John cheated a little bit here, deviating from the base recipe to make a darker, maltier, better integrated Pale Ale. That being said…
Flavors: Candy cigarettes, neutral, clean, malty, earthy. Very tasty.
Stuff we learned:
Don’t assign Citra to someone who isn’t going to show up!   😉

2010 Club Calendar of Events


6/24 – Club Meeting: Single Hop Beer Tasting (Round 2)


7/10 – Club entries for the Dominion Cup are due to JW (for drive down to VA)

7/22 – Club Meeting: TBD


8/1 – Blues & Brews Comp entry deadline

8/26 – Club Meeting: IPA Club-Only Comp Judging / Tasting


9/23 – Club Meeting: TBD


10/8 – NERHBC entry deadline

Oct – SNERHC Comp entry deadline

10/21 – Club Meeting: TBD


11/25 – Club Meeting: Strong Ales Club-Only Comp Judging / Tasting


12/16 – Club Meeting: TBD

Single Hop Pale Ale II

Hot on the heals of the wildly popular single hop pale ale experiment in February, June brings a second round of american pale ales brewed with only one variety of hop. The club tasting will take place June 24. Here’s the tentative lineup:

Chinook – Bil H.
Citra – Josh C.
Mt. Rainier – Jeff W.
Premient – Tom A.
Simcoe – Tom H.
Sorachi Ace – Tom A.
Sterling – Jeff W.

Quite the array of hops there!