Rolling Rock

This is a beer I’ve never liked.  I’ve tried a couple of bottles over the years and Rolling Rock disproved for me the adage that ‘The best beer is a free beer’.  Any Rolling Rock I’ve ever had was never one I actually paid for and never one I could even finish.  They’re just all too reliably skunked by their green glass bottles I suppose.  As a result I was more than hesitant when Rachel wanted us to brew up a batch of this as a nice summer time “lawnmower” beer.  She found the recipe in an older Brew Your Own magazine article on retro clones.

This is easily our cheapest beer ever, even counting the purchase of a brand new package of liquid yeast.   The malt bill was really small with only 6lbs of 6-Row Malt and a bit of flaked corn and rice.  A little under 2oz of hops round out the recipe.

The process for this beer was unique since Rolling Rock is noted to have a detectable level of DMS which is supposed to be reminiscent of canned or cooked corn.  “Homebrewer science” says you can cause this off-flavor in your beer if you boil it with the lid on.  In order to insure a more than detectable level was still present in the final beer we boiled it for the full 60 minutes with the kettle lid on.  

This being a beer Rachel was particularly excited to brew, she ran this brew day from start to finish.   Our original gravity was only a bit higher than planned 1.048 vs 1.047.  Overall everything was pretty much right on target, which was lucky since we had to guess what the boil off rate would be having lid still on.  Batch was chilled to 54 degrees, put into a glass carboy, and placed in our lager fridge at 11C (53F).  Originally we pitched a smack pack of Wyeast 2035 American Lager yeast whose origins are rumored to be the August Schell Brewery in Minnesota.   The pack was a bit old and was only one of two our local shop had; apparently American Lager Yeast isn’t popular.  Sadly the smack pack never swelled up even after 10 hours of waiting.  We pitched it anyway and after 2 days with no sign of any activity at all I ended up tossing in a pack of Saflager W-34/70 that we had on hand.  Fermentation took off by the next morning.

No lawn to mow in sight.

No lawn to mow in sight.

After primary fermentation was over to speed up the beer clearing I gave fining with gelatin a try with great success, the final beer was crystal clear in glass.  The whole batch was kegged and naturally carbonated in the keg.  Overall it was really well received both by visitors and by our local homebrew club members (one of which liked it enough to plan his own re-brew of it).  I more than pleasantly surprised by the beer, particularly given my aversion to Rolling Rock.  Even with the cover on boil, I couldn’t really pick out an overwhelming canned or cooked corn presence in the beer.  There was certainly a noticeable corn taste, but I’d attribute that more to something along the lines of cornbread rather than cooked or canned corn to me.   Wasn’t unpleasant at all and without the skunked green bottle taste it’s a fairly nice easy drinking summer beer.

That said I felt it had room for improvement.  It could have bit more of a hop flavor and aroma, not bitterness really just a bit more hops on the nose.  The original recipe had no late hop additions at all, just Tettang and Willamette added at the start of the boil.   When we decided we wanted to do a second batch of this beer I decided to make some small alterations to hopefully improve on the original.

For second batch we scaled the recipe up to 11 gallons and for bittering I replaced the Tettang and Willamette with 19 IBUs of CTZ.  I then added an another hop edition of 1/2 oz of each Tettnang and Willamette for a 15 minute steep in the Whirlpool after the boil.  Beersmith projects this change puts the IBUs basically the same on the two batches (22 IBUs before, 21 IBUs now).  This second batch was also boiled with our normal process and ventilation, no kettle lid on to concentrate DMS because I was afraid it might boil over and I didn’t want to babysit it.  Batch was pitched over yeast slurry collected from our 1926 Dark English Lager, which itself was a repitch of the original Rolling Rock batch W-34/70 yeast cake.

Once it’s fermented out if I’m not happy with the hopping still I may do a small dry hop of both Tettnang and Willamette (or maybe I’ll dry hop one keg ad not the other).  I’m curious to see if the “cornbread” character I tasted in the original is lost when boiling normally; though I might miss it after it’s gone, I am a pretty big fan of cornbread…

Update: By far I prefer the recipe with the kettle lid on during the boil, the “cornbread” character was completely lost and to be honest while it was a good beer, I wasn’t nearly as happy with it as I was with the first one. In the future some compromise between the hopping and the lid on boiling might produce what I was looking for in the second edition. But, next time I think I’ll re-brew the original.

Rolling Rock (Original Recipe for 5 Gallons)

This is the original recipe, unaltered from the BYO original (Oct 2011).

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5 gal 60 min 22.4 IBUs 5.7 EBC 1.048 1.013 4.7 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Rolling Rock Clone 1 B 1.04 - 1.05 1.004 - 1.01 8 - 26 3.9 - 7.9 2.5 - 2.8 4.2 - 5.1 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Brewers Malt 6-Row (Briess) 6 lbs 70.59
Corn, Flaked 1.5 lbs 17.65
Rice, Flaked 1 lbs 11.76

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Tettnang 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 2.4
Willamette 0.75 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.7

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 153°F 45 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Rolling Rock² (11 Gallons)

Upscaled edition with a different bittering hop and Tettnang and Willamette reserved for the whirlpool.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
11 gal 60 min 20.9 IBUs 5.7 EBC 1.047 1.012 4.5 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Rolling Rock Clone 1 B 1.04 - 1.048 1.004 - 1.01 20 - 22 3.9 - 7.9 2.5 - 2.8 4.2 - 5.1 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Brewers Malt 6-Row (Briess) 13 lbs 72.22
Corn, Flaked 3 lbs 16.67
Rice, Flaked 2 lbs 11.11

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
CTZ 0.6 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 17.5
Tettnang 0.5 oz 15 min Aroma Pellet 4.5
Willamette 0.5 oz 15 min Aroma Pellet 5.5

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Irish Moss 0.55 tsp 10 min Boil Fining
Yeast Nutrient 1.00 tsp 10 min Boil Other

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 153°F 10 min
Check PH 153°F 50 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

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