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The following is the 'log' list for the Rye Blonde Ale II.

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April 9, 2011 (12:31 AM)
So I'm working my way through the last of dozen or so of these now, after many people have had a chance to try at least a few of them. Not quite time for a "looking back" post, but I think it's about the right time for a present take on the mature beer.

The Belgianish half is very flavorful, rich with fruity/yeasty/spicy flavors and aromas. I might actually say that it's a bit too much going on, as far as yeast flavor, and slightly imbalanced there. However, it's an imbalance I enjoy, at least in moderate doses. I'd probably not want to drink a six-pack of them over an afternoon or something.

The 1272(ish) half has an almost (but not quite) roasted taste to it, and the yeast seems to have enhanced the malt flavors to the point where they seem stronger than the recipe would have you believe. I'd say this is now shifting from 1272 to 1272ish, not quite as clean as the original yeast, but nothing unpleasant yet. The 1272ish half would have done well with more hops, I think, to balance the increased malt flavor the yeast seems to have imparted.

Both beers have an ever-so-slight residual sweetness to them, too, so I must have mashed this higher than I thought. That day was kind of a blur, so anything could have happened.
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March 17, 2011 (08:36 AM)
So now that these bottles are well-conditioned, it's time to admit that the tweaks to this recipe made it a lot less blonde... maybe now it could be more accurately called a belgian pale?

Otherwise, I definitely prefer the belgian yeast over the 1272 portion, though both are good enough beers. I somewhat regret the higher mash temperature, as these are slightly sweet, and they might be better if they were a bit more dry. Also, I could have probably primed them with just a little more sugar, as the carbonation is on the low-to-moderate end (which I usually prefer), and it just seems like this beer would prefer to be a little more fizzy. However, all-in-all, a good batch. And I still have about 40 of them left, I'd guess, maybe closer to 50.
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February 20, 2011 (08:02 AM)
Bottled the Rye Blonde II yesterday, ended up with 78 normal 12oz bottles, three 22oz bottles, and five 500ml (16.9oz) flip-top bottles. Which, if my math is correct, is about 8.5 gallons. WLP575 got the "Hooch brews" caps, while the house 1272 yeast got the plain golden caps.
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January 24, 2011 (12:09 AM)
Both carboys have blown out their airlocks, so I replaced them with blowoff tubes. The 1272 got going faster (probably due to the starter), but the 575 is definitely more vigorous now. With a blowoff tube submerged about 4 inches in water, it's a constant stream of little bubbles with occasional bursts of large bubbles.

Both smell amazing, though, so I'm really looking forward to this beer.
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January 23, 2011 (11:28 AM)
Brewed the Rye Blonde yesterday, as planned. It was my first experience brewing more than 5 gallons at a time, and it definitely turned out to be far more time consuming than I had expected. I'm sure the sub-freezing temperatures also contributed to the extra time it took to boil and heat water and wort, though.

We were so tired by the time we were cooling the wort, and so cold, that we neglected to take a OG measurement. However, we had about 9.5 gallons prior to the final gallon and a half of sparge water, and that had a SG of about 1.054. Since we added some more (weaker) wort to that with the final sparging, then boiled it back down to about 9.5 gallons, the OG is at a bare minimum 1.054, probably closer to the target of 1.056 or higher.

The two yeasts are already behaving quite differently. We cooled to just over 60°F before pitching. The 1272 was pitched from a small (~500ml) starter, which had not yet reached peak activity. The 575 was direct pitched from the vial, out of a fear of a starter favoring one or more of the three strains in that blend.

By around 2am, when I woke up in the night and decided to check on them, both carboys had heated to around 71°F, so I moved them to the basement. By 8am, they were around 64°, and the 1272 was on the verge of blowing out of its airlock. The 575 was only barely active, so I decided it would prefer being slightly warmer, and moved it back to the main level. A couple hours later, at 68°, it's now cranking away. The 1272 did blow its airlock, which I replaced. Hopefully it'll settle into a more relaxed fermentation now.
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January 18, 2011 (10:05 AM)
Looks like the hops are on time for delivery tomorrow, so everything should be good to go for a Saturday brew session.

Also, since the year-old Wyeast 1272 was able to come back to life pretty easily, I've decided that I'm going to do a split batch, 5 gallons of the wort fermented with the Belgian blend, 5 gallons with the old 1272. Since it'll be the same wort and the same temperatures and the same brewing vessels (glass carboys), this should be a pretty good comparison of the two yeast strains.
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January 14, 2011 (09:17 AM)
I have realized that my 12-month-old jars of yeast slurry are not exactly viable, so I'm going to switch the yeast. It's going to undoubtedly change the character of the beer pretty significantly, but maybe it'll be for the better! New yeast (assuming it's in stock when I swing by the LHBS on my way home from work): WLP575 Belgian Style Ale Blend.
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January 13, 2011 (10:28 PM)
UPS tracking shows the hops for the Rye Blonde probably won't arrive until next week, so gonna have to brew something else this weekend if I'm brewing. Like, perhaps, a Roggenweizen Oatmeal Porter?
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January 9, 2011 (9:51 PM)
I picked up the grain for this recipe today, and ordered a pound of Czech Saaz hops from Hops Direct. I should be ready to brew by Saturday or Sunday (15th or 16th).
 
Right now, the plan is to make 10 gallons, but if not, I'll probably make 5 gallons and then make 5 gallons a week or two later, using the same recipe, just for the fun of comparing the two batches side-by-side.
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