I live in Arizona, so it should come as no surprise that chilling a batch of beer is a giant pain in the ass here. I'm lucky if my tap water gets under 90F in the summer, and I've never seen it fall under 70* in the winter. I bleed with envy at all those folks that can simply hook up a hose to their chiller and run 50* water through it. But alas, I live in the desert, and chilling wort sucks here.
Every now and then I decide to brew a clone recipe of a beer not to see how well I can replicate it, but rather just to be able to try it. The Zombie Dust Recipe
I brewed a couple years ago was a good example. I couldn't actually get my hands on Zombie Dust, so there wasn't a point in comparing how close I got to the real thing. But given the massive hype it was nice to be able to taste roughly what Zombie Dust was like. Well, after hearing rave reviews of Kern River's Citra Double IPA over the past few years, I decided to brew up a batch so I could see what it was all about.
Here we are, it's finally time to put my 12% Imperial Stout down for a nice long twelve month nap. To quickly recap, I'm brewing a huge imperial stout, and trying my best to mimic the barrel aging process for the beer. I've been wanting to brew a beer like this for a quite a long time, so it feels really good to finally get moving with it. I'll skip over most of the barrel aging process, as I covered that in my last post.
Let's talk about an interesting topic: Barrel-aged beers. I started thinking hard about these after I just paid $9.99 for a 16oz bottle of Bourbon County Stout this Black Friday. It got me thinking: I'm a competent homebrewer, I'll just crank out a batch and age it myself. Experience making high gravity beers: Check. Tasty RIS recipe: Check. Barrel-aging: Um, not so much. And there lies the sticky point: Barrel aging. It's something home brewers struggle to replicate short of getting together with a club, buying a barrel, and brewing 55-60 gal to fill said barrel. I personally have little to no experience with it. I've oaked a few beers before, but none had anything close to what I would call "barrel-aged" flavor.
Over the past couple years here at Bertus Brewery there have been countless requests to brew a Fresh Squeezed clone; about 98% of which happen to come from Mrs. Bert. Since I also really love that beer, and I'm currently woefully lacking an IPA on tap, it seemed that the day has finally arrived! Fresh Squeezed is a really interesting IPA. It's not very bitter, nor is it in-your-face-hoppy. It has a pretty big caramel malt character, but it makes up for all of that with really juicy, citrusy, fruity aroma. It's smooth, approachable, and really well brewed.
What if I told you that most of what we knew about Pliny clones was wrong? Well, about six months ago, I received an email from a fan of the blog who happened to stumble across some info about the Pliny recipe that looked pretty different than what we've heard from Vinny in the past. I’m intentionally leaving out some details, out of respect for Russian River, but I have every reason to believe the info to be accurate. The same recipe info was later posted to a popular homebrew forum, although it surprisingly didn’t garner much attention. With that said, please don't ask me for specifics, as I'm already pushing my moral boundaries here. I really debated whether or not I was going to post this recipe at all. After some deliberation, and considering just a cursory search will turn up the same details now, I decided that I'm not exactly divulging any secrets. So here's my experience brewing this newer (more accurate) Pliny recipe.