Jess has been watching me brew beer for a number of years. Even as I’ve begun to step up my game on the beer front by brewing each month she’s been peering over my shoulder and taking pictures from the sidelines while I brew.
In recent months she’s gotten increasingly more curious, even giving me ideas on crazy new recipes to try. You can imagine my amazement when she told me she wanted to try brewing her very own beer. The special ingredient she had me craft a recipe around is a roasted green tea called hojicha. She first had this tea at a little tea shop in Osaka and drank so much that she got totally wired and ended up running around Osaka in a giggly blur for the rest of the afternoon.
In an attempt to let the hojicha shine through, I kept the recipe fairly straightforward. However, I used a slightly different technique than I normally would.
Most recipes that include tea simply toss the leaves into the boil and leave them in during the fermentation process; I steeped the tea beforehand into a super-concentrated brew, chilled it in the fridge, and added only the liquid at the end of the boil. I did this to try to keep some of the tea’s bitterness out of the beer, as over-steeped green tea can easily become unpleasantly bitter.
Ingredients: (for 2.5 gallons)
2 lb. Light DME
1 lb. Wheat DME
6 oz. Smoked Malt
2 oz. Dark Crystal Malt
¾ oz. German Spalt Hops (3.2% aa) – 60 minutes
¼ oz. German Spalt Hops (3.2%) – 15 minutes
¼ C Honey
¼ C Agave Syrup
Irish Ale Yeast – WY1084
¾ C Houji-cha
While Jess was at work , I prepared the tea by mixing 4 cups of boiling water with the tea and then put it in the refrigerator to brew and chill. Once she got home we measured out the rest of the ingredients and I proceeded to walk her through her first homebrew!
Mash the smoked malt and dark crystal malt at 145 degrees F for 30 minutes. After the mash, sparge the grains, then bring the wort to a boil. Add in the light and wheat DME, stir to dissolve, and bring to a boil again. Once it boils, add in the first hop addition and begin timing the boil. After 45 minutes, add in the second hop addition. After a total of 55 minutes, add in the honey and agave syrup and boil for another five minutes. Once the boil is done, turn off the heat and add in the chilled tea, filtering out the tea leaves and only adding in the liquid. Chill the wort, and then add it to the fermenter. Once it equates to room temperature, add in the Irish Ale yeast and allow to ferment.
We will taste this one at the end of the month, and let you know how it comes out. We are hoping for a better turnout than last month’s brew, especially since it’s Jess’ first attempt.
*A note from Jess: Given the strange beer name, I thought I’d give you a little background on why I named this brew Elegant Elephant Ale. Getting wired on hojicha in Osaka was just the start of a long and crazy night. My friend and I spent a day in Osaka (we were on a trip primarily to Kyoto) to see my favorite band, Uchuu Sentai NOIZ, play live. I was pretty obsessed with them for a while, and between January to July I saw them seven times. SEVEN! Oh yeah, I had it bad. Anyway, one of my favorite songs by them is called “Elegant Elephant.” It’s incredibly upbeat and silly – I’m pretty sure it’s an ode to Dumbo. Since this beer commemorates my time in Japan and I’m hoping for a light flavor, Elegant Elephant seemed appropriate.*