Monday, December 24, 2012

1st Place Recipe: Procrastinator (Dopplebock)

Lagers… the difficult beers of brewing… temp control, larger pitching rates, clean beers, a showcase for brewing flaws.  Some brewers never make the move.  I have avoided these beers for the 2 years I have been brewing for 2 reasons: 1) pitching rates, 2) I don’t care for very many lagers.  My tastes don’t mesh well with many of the pale lagers I have tried, thus far I have enjoyed a few Munich Dunkels, a Schwarzbier or two, and a good, dark Dopplebock, but if the Dopple is lighter, I tend to not care for it much.  Add to this the lack of drive to build up a 7 liter starter (not too mention the lack of equipment for it) and there hasn't been much push to brew a lager.

Recently I was at a brewing friend’s house discussing and crushing hops when the topic switched over to lagers.  He loves to brew them and has a refined palate for critiquing them from his time in Germany.  He has consulted with some of our local Breweries on their lagers and helped them to reach a much better level in brewing these beers.  When I voiced my concerns about pitch rates he, surprisingly, said that too much emphasis is given to the whole giant pitch thing.  He stated that a 2L starter is more than adequate to brew a great lager, but too many people are fermenting them at the higher end of the temp range and then taking them off of the yeast prematurely.  With this encouragement, I finally decided to take the plunge (with a 4L starter to be safe).  I have been procrastinating long enough, and now it is time to brew my Dopplebock.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UPDATE: Carol 2012 (Lambic)

After 2 months of wild fermentation I pulled a taste of the Lambic I brewed in October.  It has a distinct bitterness to the sour, much like a 3F or Cantillon, just not as harsh.  The sourness is very present for such a young sour, and different from a straight lactic sourness and no acetic.  The sour profile contains an acid from (I suspect) some of the early bacterias that weren't in the first edition.  There are a few esters in the young beer that are slightly off, not bad, but not totally pleasant.  Looks like I have a real Lambic fermentation on my hands with early bacteria and acids from other wild sources before the Lacto or Sacc started doing their thing.  I am looking forward to where it goes from here as the Pedio blooms and the Brett takes some of the less desirable esters and acids, and transforms them into (hopefully) wonderful fruity and funky esters.  The long aging period should also help some of the bitterness drop out that comes from the hops (if any of the bitterness is from the aged hops at all), as well as some tannins from the French Oak.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hop Taco Revisited


Awhile back I had made a Hop Taco for my kettle based on plans I found from Knights of the Mash Fork.  It seemed to work fairly well for keeping the hops out of the pickup tube and out of the carboy, but it made clean up very difficult.  It was cumbersome and awkward, I couldn't really clean it in place, I couldn't clean the kettle with it in place, and removing the pickup tube was difficult since the hop taco would inhibit spinning it.  Once free the Hop Taco was strewn with hop particles making it hard to clean as they would get caught on the wire ends that were frayed around the edge (also great for stabbing your hand during removal, cleaning, and replacing).  If I was able to get it clean, I then had to try to get it put back together again which proved to be just as difficult as removing it.  Finally, after a long and tiring double brewday I walked away leaving the hops, orange zest, and trub in the bottom of the kettle and didn’t go back to clean it until it was too late.  There was quite a bit of mold and what looked like possible rust on the taco and I ended up just throwing it out since it was difficult to use anyways.

I still needed a way to keep the hops from clogging my pickup tube though.  I made a version of the Hop Spider that proved useless.  Most of my hops would just get caught in the upper layer of nylon and remain suspended above the wort so I would have to remove the spider and dip it into the boiling wort with each addition.  After only a few batches that mechanism was relegated to the same fate as the Hop Taco.  Since then I have been using paint strainer bags or nylon sacks I got from the produce section (designed for keeping fruit free from fruit fly attacks while they sit out); they worked well until I had to clean out all those hop sacks after each brewday, some of which get caught under/around my pickup tube.

All of this leads me to a new dilemma, what is the easiest way to add hops to the boil allowing for the best extraction and aroma, as well as the easiest clean up afterwards while keeping hops (as well as spices) out of the pickup tube and carboy?  This has lead me back to the Hop Taco, just redesigned.  I found a small fine mesh Stainless Steel strainer at Walmart for $7.  The SS ensures that it won’t react negatively to the low pH and hot temperatures of the boiling wort as well as keeping it from rusting.  The fine mesh should keep more particles out, and I am hoping that this includes pellet material as well.  The smaller size allows for greater ease in cleaning as well as removal, and less to clean once the brew session is done (the larger one had more surface area to clean and more wire fray to catch hop pieces on).

For this version I used soft brass wire 0.41mm in thickness.  Many of the models I found online call for SS thread, but I can’t find any, and the copper wire I used on the last rendition was way too thick which made it difficult to get a tight stitch, and with the smaller size on this edition, the stitching needs to be tight.  I did break the wire a couple times, but was able to get a fairly tight stitch, and I doubled the coverage by looping around the outside first, then passing through along the edge as well.  I crimped the edges to leave a lip where the opening is for a hose clamp to grab onto and keep it on the pickup tube.

Now all I need to do is find some time to brew with it!  I've got a pound of 2012 Simcoe pellets, ½# Meridian and Calypso, and quite a few pounds of Chinook and Cascade homegrown hops waiting in the freezer, as well as a pound of Mosaic on the way.  And with nothing hoppy it looks like I am needing to brew an IPA very soon, which will be much easier with my new wort chiller that I am going to fit with a whirlpool option to attach to the new March Pump I am getting for Christmas.

***EDIT:  When used for a Dopplebock with whole leaf hops it worked great.  When used on a 10 gallon IPA with copious amounts of pellet and leaf hops it clogged shut rendering the pump and ball valve useless.  Will be trying a SS braid in its place to see how that works.***

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Slap Yo Momma (Wet Hopped White IPA)

The last of the three Wet Hop beers, this one is very complex, with big fruits and deep layers to dig through.  It doesn't have near the hopiness needed for a a White IPA, but still goes well beyond a standard Wit.

Look: Foggy gold with thick buttermilk colored head.  Head stays tight for awhile then becomes a thin whisp of bubbles on top.  Good lacing.  The beer sparkles.

Aroma: Big Belgian esters, pear, apple, strawberry, orange, tangerine, clove, coriander, grapefruit, pepper, floral, spicy, chalky yeast, sweet grains, subdued hops, honestly, it is hard to tell where the hops end and the spices begin, and where the spices end and the yeast starts.  This is one complex nose.

Taste: Pear, pepper, clove, ginger, herbal, chalky yeast, citrus, sweet grains, floral hops, rose water, alcohol, coriander.

Mouthfeel: Big fizzy medium-light body w/ pulling dry finish , chalky.  Bitterness is balancing and spot on.

Overall: The hops are pretty low for an "IPA" and fresh hops, but it is a good beer.  Bitterness presents in the finish to clear off the complex palate.  Drinks like a stronger / hoppier Wit.  Really enjoy it even though the hops are fading quick.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recipe: The Becca 2012 - Third Trimester Tripel: When Things Get Funky (Tripel w/ Brett)

Last year I made an Imperial Stout with Cherries, Smoke Malt, and Chipotles named for my wife, Becca, A Smokin Hot Mother Of A Stout.  The beer didn't really suit her much since she can't stand to drink it.  I had been looking for a beer she would really enjoy to become the new Becca.  One of my first beers, batch 3 to be exact, was a Belgian Golden Strong, and my wife loved it, and I have wanted to rebrew to what I originally wanted.  The original turned out much darker than gold, and much sweeter than I had wanted; many people likened it to a sweet Tripel.  I had originally taken 1 gallon of that beer and put it on Brett like Matilda.  The Brett never really took hold (Reinhardt's Flemish Wild and Matilda dregs), so I hit it with Supplication dregs and turned it decent sour.  I have longed to make another beer like it again.  Enter the perfect solution to my delimma.

I used basically the same recipe as before, just All Grain instead of partial mash.  A 50/50 blend of Continental Pilsner malt and Domestic Pale Malt forms my base, along with about 20% White Wheat Malt.  Add a little Belgian Aromatic for some maltiness and touch of depth, and roughly 15% sugar to dry it out as well as boosting the gravity.  In the original recipe I used clear candi sugar which is expensive table sugar when it comes to the flavor contributions, so I just used table sugar.  The original recipe had Sterling hops, but I went with Santiam on this batch since I have a good 5oz in the fridge already.  I took some of the final runnings of my Wee heavy  and boiled it up for an 1800ml starter that I ran for a few days and then put in the fridge to stop the growth of the Brett from continuing too much.  I had snagged a package of the Wyeast PC Trappist Blend strain not knowing that it had Brett in it, and had needed a beer to brew with it so it seems the Lord's providence worked in my favor.

This beer seemed apt to become the new Becca since she loved the original, and she enjoys funky beers.  Seeing as she is in her third trimester with our second child, this year's rendition is The Becca - Third Trimester Tripel: When Things Get Funky.  Now I only needed a day to brew it... enter in the email from Denny Conn... our brew club needed one more brewer for Teach A Friend to Brew Day, and I jumped on it quick.  An easy brew, single rest, low mash temp, simple malt bill, sugar to boost the OG and dry it out, 2 hop additions, chill and pitch.  

5.75 gallons
1.079 OG
1.007 Est Fg
9.4% Est ABV
32 IBUs

4.25#  Weyermann Pils
4.25# Great Western Pale
3.0#  White Wheat Malt
0.75# Belgian Aromatic Malt
2.25# Table Sugar
75 Minutes @ 148*F
82% Extract Efficiency
82% Brewhouse Efficiency

90 Minute Boil:
FW - 2.0 oz Santiam ~ 6.0AA% (Home Grown)
10 mins - 1.0 oz Santiam ~ 6.0AA% (Home Grown)

6 gallon Better Bottle
15 mins Aeration
Wyeast PC 3789 Trappist Blend - 1.8L Starter 
36 Hours @ 68*F
24 Hours @ 70*F
14 Days @ 75*F
1 Week @ 55*F

Gypsum 1/2 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 5/8 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
Whirfloc - 1 tab

Brewed @ Oakshire.  Brewday went smoothly.  Got slightly higher efficiency than I expected and ended up with extra wort.  Racked into 6 gallon Better Bottle and pitched yeast @ 3:00pm. Drove home and aerated with pump for 15 minutes.  Placed in ferm fridge @ 68, transfered 3/4 gallon out into sanitized 1 gallon jug.

At 7 the next morning (16 hours) there was a 4" krausen already.  This yeast is ripping through the wort and is a true top-cropper.  Attached a blow off to both fermenters.  Jumped temp up later that night to get a little more fruity expression from the yeast since the Trappist High Gravity is known for a subtle and spicy character at lower temps and I want a balance between esters and phenols.  Bumped up temp gradually over the coarse of a few days to restrain fusel alcohols and promote yeast expression.

After 4 days the gravity was down to 1.025.  After 1 week it was down to 1.010.  After 2 weeks the FG is down to 1.007, tastes of clove and pepper with hints of pear and strawberries, light banana.  This yeast is ferocious.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Just Freshinin' Up - Wet Hop Red

When I wrote the recipe for this beer I was looking for a dank and sticky Red Ale, and I got it, kind of.  Unfortunately the hops weren't as big as a presence as I had hoped for and they are fading quick, but they still show off.  It is definitely more of an American Brown with the color and somewhat more restrained hops, but good none the less.  I had hoped for more citrus and pine from the load of Chinook.  I would like to rebrew this one again next year and back off the crystal malt a touch, cut the roast barley back quite a bit, and load up on a lot more Chinook.

Look:  More Brown than Red, this beer pours a murky chestnut with ruby hues under a thick sticky beige head that leaves great lace all the way through.

Aroma: Smells of big resin, thick sticky hops, pine cones, dark fruit, citrus, spice, raisins, burnt sugar, light roast, sweet breads, caramel & toffee, fruity.

Flavor: Taste hits big with resin, followed by pine cone, malty, bread dough, caramel, burnt sugar, roast grain, raisins, grapefruit, clean.

Mouthfeel:  Semi sweet with a firm bitterness, malty, nice carbonation, medium body.  Sticky hops coat the tongue and linger.  Carbonation is fairly high helping to lift the lingering hops for a cleaner finish.

Overall: Beer turned out nice.  I was looking for big malt and resin and I got it.  Color is way too dark, but the flavor is great.  Fermentation is clean, carbonation is a little high (gushes at room temp, but FG is still the same and no gushing at fridge temps).  I was hoping for more pine and citrus from the Chinook.  Unfortunately the hops are beginning to fade after only a month or so.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Recipe: Let's Partigyle (2nd Runnings Best Bitter)

When making a beer as large as the Callen you inevitably end up with sugars left in the mash tun even after pulling 8.5 gallons of wort to boil.  Adding more sparge water to the mash and running off the additional sugars to make a smaller beer is a great way to get the best bang for your buck as well as getting another beer out of all that work.  Back in the day this method (partigyle) was used quite a bit, and some English breweries still use it to make their classic beers such as Fuller's.

Honestly I was expecting more that 16% efficiency, but then again, I did sparge with 120*F water.  Seeing that the OG was lower than I expected, I added a little bit of sugar as well as what DME I had on hand (not much), and dropped back the bittering hops drastically.  One difficulty with these beers is that the bulk of the body and flavor ended up in the main beer leaving the second beer flabby and thin.  To compensate for this I added a quart of the first runnings to the kettle as well as topping off the mash with a half pound of British Dark Crystal for a boost of body and fresh crystal flavor.  I also added 1/2 oz of American Oak to alter the mouthfeel slightly and add another layer of depth to the beer (and for a little throw back to when English beers were fermented in oak barrels).

Last year I brewed a Scottish 80- for the small beer, but this year I have been itching to brew another Bitter and I have quite a bit of Challenger and Fuggle hops so I went with a Bitter as my second beer.

4.5 gallons
1.036 OG
1.012 Est Fg
3.5% Est ABV
39 IBUs
14 SRM

11.0#  Great Western Pale Malt
9.5#  Crisp Maris Otter
2.0# MFB Munich
0.75# MFB CaraMunich 40L
0.75# MFB CaraMunich 120L
0.75# Crisp British Dark Crystal
0.12# Crisp Roast Barley
0.50# Crisp British Dark Crystal 75/85L
0.50# Table Sugar
0.26# DME
65 Minutes @ 158*F
16% Extract Efficiency
15% Brewhouse Efficiency

75 Minute Boil:
60 mins - 0.80 oz Home Grown Challenger ~ 7.5AA%
15 mins - 0.80 oz Home Grown Challenger ~ 7.5AA%
15 mins - 0.80 oz Home Grown Fuggles ~ 6.7AA%
2 mins - 0.80 oz Home Grown Challenger ~ 7.5AA%
2 mins - 0.80 oz Home Grown Fuggles ~ 6.7AA%
DH - 0.80 oz Home Grown Challenger ~ 7.5AA%
DH - 0.80 oz Home Grown Fuggles ~ 6.7AA%

Chilled to 65*F
5 gallon glass carboy
1469 West Yorkshire & 1056 American Ale - 1/4 pint of slurry from Brown Ale
5 Days @ 62-64*F
2 Days @ 68*F
7 Days @ Ambient Garage - Dry Hopping

Gypsum 5/8 t (mash), 3/4 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 3/4 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
3 Taps Yeast Nutrient
0.50 oz American Oak (primary)

Fermentation took a little longer to kick off than the Wee Heavy due to the lower pitch rate and sleepy yeast.  By 36 hours signs were starting to show, and by 50 hours the beer had a 1/2" of soapy foam on top with a layer of brown sludge.  The soapy foam dissipated later that day, and on the next morning there was a huge krausen that threatened a blow off.  I am hoping that this is due to the 2 yeast strains since this is the same thing that happened with my 2 Lambics.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Leaf Turner - Fresh Hop Brown Ale

Fall is quickly setting in here in Eugene.  The temps are dropping, sunlight fades, massive cloud cover the sky, rain pours down, the leaves change to brilliant hues of reds and yellows.  As it is clear that the warmth and vibrancy of Summer is gone, much of the desire for a crisp, dry, light, pale beer, and this beer does a great job of quenching the thirst of a shifted palate.  Smokey, fruity, mild chocolate, full, sweetish, balanced, malty, just enough alcohol to help warm you on a cool night.  The name is truly fitting.

Look: Thick creamy super sticky beige head sits atop a clear brown beer with ruby highlights.  Sticky lace.

Aroma: Smoky wood and campfire present themselves first with milk chocolate following close behind. They lead into pecans, biscuits, and fruits, figs & plums as well as peaches.  Citrus rind and light pine finish off the nose, very subtle and fruity.

Flavor: Much like the nose the flavor begins with smokey chocolate leading quickly to sweet caramel and toffee, toasted biscuity malt, nuts.  Fruitiness hits as well with more peaches, followed by Christmas tree and sweet breads.  As it warms there is a distinct roasty bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Big creamy mouthfeel like Nitro, balanced.  Lightly astringent finish when cold, not sure if it is from the roasted grains or the Pickling Lime.  Carbonation cleanses the palate.  Bitterness is perfect.

Overall: For a Wet Hop beer the hops are subdued, but it actually works perfect for this balanced Brown.  The smoke malt is more pronounced in my beer than in Sierra Nevada's Tumbler who I stole the malt bill from, bringing a pronounced smokiness up front.  The yeast plays very nice in this beer keeping it malty, nutty, fully attenuated and yet full and creamy.  Lots of layers in this beer.  The finish is off though, the astringency takes away from an otherwise great beer.  Definitely want to re-brew this one next year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Callen's Killer Krausen

Came home tonight to find this awaiting me in the ferm fridge.  Only 4.8 gallons of wort in this 6 gallon Better Bottle and I'm still in danger of a blow off.  Man this beer is ripping like mad.  Glad that I didn't top off with that 1/2 gallon of water already.

Recipe: The Callen 2012

Glug, glug, glug goes the wort in the kettle.  Honestly I was shocked at the syrupy string that pulled off of the tubing when I moved it from the container I vorlauf into, but the noise in the kettle during the last hour of the 2.5 hour boil was like a sound effect used for a tar pit in a cartoon.   What more should I expect form a 1.105 OG Wee Heavy?

Last year about this time I brewed a Scottish Wee Heavy that didn't turn out right.  First off, I used American Caramel malts that were too dark as well as 1056 which is not known for making a malty beer.  Then the beer got infected.  Lots of cherry notes present themselves in last year's version.  This year I went for a brand new recipe from the bottom up.  New base malts, new character malts, new yeast, new hopping regimen, new beer.  I started with a base split between Great Western Pale and Maris Otter for a nice toasty/biscuity English feel.  Next I added in some MFB Munich malt for a little more malt character.  On top of this I did a 3 way split of MFB CaraMunich 40, 120, and British Dark Crystal 75 for a deep caramel and toffee layer with some burnt sugar and a hint of dark fruits, with a touch of Roast Barley for color and to help dry out the finish some so it won't be too cloyingly sweet.  Pulled enough for a 2 1/2 hour boil for a little more kettle caramelization and better efficiency.  Tossed in some Fuggles for a touch of bitterness to balance it out.  Fermented it with a mixed yeast culture of Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire and 1056 American Ale that came from my Brown Ale that turned out quite nice.  The Yorkshire strain should give me some nutty and slight dark fruit character as well as a full mouth feel, lots of malt character, and the American Ale should help it stay clean and finish the fermentation up completely.  Even with the 158*F mash I am hoping for a good 75% attenuation putting me in the 1.026 FG range for 10.0% ABV.  With the controlled temp on the ferment I am hoping to be drinking this bad boy by Christmas.

4.5 gallons
1.105 OG
1.035 Fg
9.5% Est ABV
24 IBUs
19 SRM

11.0#  Great Western Pale Malt
9.5#  Crisp Maris Otter
2.0# MFB Munich
0.75# MFB CaraMunich 40L
0.75# MFB CaraMunich 120L
0.75# Crisp British Dark Crystal 75/85L
0.12# Crisp roast Barley
65 Minutes @ 158*F
60% Extract Efficiency
56% Brewhouse Efficiency

150 Minute Boil:
90 mins - 2.0 oz Home Grown Fuggles ~ 6.7AA%

Chilled to 65*F
6 gallon Better Bottle
1469 West Yorkshire & 1056 American Ale - 3/4 pint of slurry from Brown Ale
15 mins of aeration with pump 
5 Days @ 62-64*F
9 Days @ 68*F
4 Days @ 82*F
5 Days @ 72*F
14 Days @ Ambient Garage Temps

Gypsum 5/8 t (mash), 3/8 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 3/4 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
6 Taps Yeast Nutrient
1 Whirfloc Tab

Boil off was slightly more than I thought and I got slightly less volume and a higher OG which worked since my FG was higher than I wanted due to a higher mash temp.  I factored my strike temp for all the grains but left out the crystal and roast until the end and hit 158*F instead of the 155*F I wanted and just went with it since last time I tried to cool off my mash I over cooled.  Aerated with pump for 15 mins.  Signs of fermentation started to show with in 12 hours, krausen building at 24.  High Krausen after 48 hours, fermentation is cranking along nicely.

Down to 1.049 after 7 days.

Down to 1.039 after 2 weeks

Down to 1.035 after 2.5 weeks

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Update: Carol 2.0

Last week I brewed my second Lambic.  After a 24 hour chill open to the air in my garage I racked the beer into a sanitized 6 gallon carboy.  Upon racking it, I added about a ½ cup of slurry from my previous Lambic (over a year old, and had been in the fridge over a month), as well as the dregs from a 3F Oude Gueuze.  There was no activity for 3 more days.  On Friday morning I sent a message to Mad Fermentationist asking how long is too long to wait before pitching something, and he advised pitching something right away if it didn’t take off that day.  When I got home from work that day there was a pure white soapy foam on top about a ¼” thick or so - it looked like StarSan foam.  This lasted for a few days and began to die back some.  On Sunday afternoon I pitched some of my Strawberry Starter that I had made earlier in the summer and had stepped up with some of the wort for the Lambic.  On Monday night I racked my ½ gallon of spontaneous fermented Brown Ale into a glass jug with an airlock and added the yeast slurry to the carboy (the beer tastes kind of watery and wild, but not off putting, nor does it taste like the Brown Ale).  Upon smelling the Lambic while adding the yeast the smell is not disgusting, but not appealing either.  I’m hoping that the fermentation will blow off any unwanted aromas, and the wild yeast will transform any unwanted acids and fats into lovely esters over the course of the year it ages. There could be some dangerous bacteria growing, DMS from the Pils and no chill, or a number of other possibilities, but most Lambics go through this stage for much longer than a week.  As of Tuesday morning there is a normal krausen starting to form on the beer and the airlock is starting to crank out like normal while it sits in the garage at a steady 67*F.  We’ll see where it goes over the course of a year…

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recipe: Carol "Lambic" 2.0 (Where the Wild Things Are)

As I sip on my “Lambic” from last year, which I am very pleased with, I am very anxious to brew another one.  This time I will use the same yeast culture from the last one as I saved the entire cake from the last brew in a gallon jar in the fridge.  This year I am going to go with a grist that is much more traditional, 65% Pils, 35% Raw Wheat, mashed @ 158*F.  Last year I had some character malts like Vienna and CaraVienne which are not traditional and I’m not sure they added any needed complexity other than color.  I also had a flavor hop addition which is pointless in a beer aged for a year, coriander was the same.  I added some cake flour last time for a little more dextrins to chew on since my mash temp was fairly low. 

I could always do a turbid mash, but why?  I could also do a cereal mash, but why?  These things are traditional, but do they add anything to the final product that won’t be there (or at least drastically noticed) in the final product?  My first Lambic is quite nice and it was mashed at 152*F, and hit 1.006 in 3 weeks.  The 158*F mash should leave a larger amount of dextrins in the wort for the bacteria and Brett to munch on, and the large pitch of yeast cake should ensure a healthy amount of bugs and Brett as well as autolized yeast for them to eat as well.  That combined with an overnight open cooling in the garage where all my wild stuff is going (which I already fermented a ½ gallon of left over Brown Ale spontaneously in there), and some more dregs from commercial and homebrewed sours should ensure a good, big, powerful, and characterful fermentation from the onset, avoiding some of the enteric bacteria that are not desired.  Add in a 3 hour boil, and aged hops, we are looking at a great start to a second Lambic for next year.

5.5 gallons
1.050 OG
1.001 Est Fg
6.6% Est ABV
8 IBUs

7.5#  Weyermann Pils
4.0#  Flaked Wheat
0.50# Rice Hulls
10 Minutes @ 148*F
10 Minutes @ 152*F
45 Minutes @ 157*F
78% Extract Efficiency
72% Brewhouse Efficiency

180 Minute Boil:
180 mins - 3.4 oz Aged Hops ~ 1.5AA%

Cooled overnight opened to air in garage
6 gallon glass carboy
Healthy pitch of cake from Carol 1 (cultured from blackberries plus dregs)
Dregs of 3 Fonteins Oude Gueuze
12 months at ambient in garage

Gypsum 1/2 t (mash), 5/8 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 1/2 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
1 French Oak Cube in primary

Brew day started off difficult.  I overshot my strike temp and hit a mash temp of 165*F.  After adding cold water I ended up at 148*F.  Added boiling water to get up to 152*F, then added more boiling water to get it up to 157*F, and rested for 45 minutes.  Wasn’t planning on doing a step mash, but oh well.  After collecting 10 gallons of wort I drained the last of the runnings into a separate kettle and boiled it down to about 800ml of 1.080 wort.  I added this to the beer and drew off 1200ml of 1.040 wort from the boil and cooled it to make a starter to my dregs while the wort cooled over night.  I added the dregs from a Hannsens Oude Gueuze to the starter only for a fruit fly to get into it and render it useless.  After a 3 hour boil, I had to move the keggle into the garage for the overnight chilling, and of course, while carrying the 15.5 gallon beast of a brewpot with a scorching hot bottom, I hit my leg with it and burned it quite nicely, luckily I only did it once and got the wort to the garage without spilling any or hurting myself anymore.  I covered it in a large sheer curtain sack that I synched down on the sides, hoping that the Fruit Flies don’t get into there like the starter.  After about 28 hours at ambient temp I racked 5.25 gallons of the wort into the 6 gallon carboy with the yeast cake, oak, and dregs.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are: The Carol

About a year ago, actually, 52 weeks ago, I brewed up a Lambic that I fermented with the yeast I cultured off of blackberries from my backyard and a small starter of yeast from organic peaches grown locally.  After making the wort and adding the entire starter from each yeast to the carboy, I had a "funny" fermentation which consisted of small bubbles flowing up to the top quickly to feed a very small fluffy white head that looked like a single centimeter of soda foam.  Eventually the fermentation looked a little more like normal, but the krausen never really roared up like a normal yeast would.  There were chunks of peach flesh and blackberry, as well as oak chunks on top.  I also added some wild grapes after a month for a little extra yeast.  After only three weeks it was down from 1.053 to 1.006.  Nice and fruity, with a light tartness, mostly tropical and berries.

Over the course of fermentation, I have added dregs from commercial and homebrewed sours to try to get more complexity built up from other sources of Brett and bacteria.  I added some Russian River dregs, Cantillon Grand Cru, Jolly Pumpkin, Oude Beersel, Girardin Black, some infected Logen Berry mead a buddy made, and some dregs from a sour I did with Russian River dregs.  This will ensure a more complex beer, but it also kills much of the work I did culturing the yeast since the final product isn't a showcase of what that yeast can actually do (part of the reason I am going to brew a new one this year with fruit cultured yeast again and leave it alone).

After a few months I noticed a lot of oak character showing, and seeing that I used 5 oz of French Oak that had come from a wine barrel in Lodi, it wasn't any wonder why.  I needed to do something to stop the oaking, but I didn't want to lose all of the goodness in the trub and yeast that is needed for a Lambic to ferment properly.  I racked the beer out of the carboy into my sour bottling bucket and then dumped the trub, yeast, fruit, oak, etc., into a vessel while I cleaned the carboy and removed all the oak.  After this I added a few pieces of oak to the carboy, opened the valve on the bucket and refilled the carboy.  While this was going on I also racked the yeast, trub, and fruit back into the carboy as well.

I noticed an oxidative character beginning to creep in around January, so I brewed a little extra wort on my Saison and added a half gallon to the carboy to displace the head space.  The FG was still at 1.005.  Only took a few days for the fermentation to kick back up and take on the fresh wort.  After about a month or so, it was back down to 1.005.

Given another month, the FG had gotten down to 1.002, and there was a sheen atop the wort slightly resembling an oil slick, not like the pellicles I have seen before on my other sour beers.  By mid summer the taste was nice, funky, tart, clean, fruity, spicy, but lots of oak, so I racked it from the 6 gallon carboy into a 5 gallon, taking some of the yeast sediment at the bottom with it.  Given another month, the oakiness is starting to fade some.  I racked 1/2 gallon out of the carboy and added 1/2 gallon of my sour Blonde ale to try to cut down on the oak a little.  A few weeks later I am happy with the results, and am ready to bottle, and seeing that it is sitting at 1.001, not much more for it to do in the short term.

A beer that I have been watching, shaping, tasting, aging, and waiting on for a year is no simple brown bottle beer.  For this batch I needed to do something special, at least for a few bottles.  I started with 375ml Champagne bottles.  At this point I could go with cork and cage, or cork and cap (Cantillon style), but I opted for a cap and wax seeing as they look very nice, and it's super cheap as well as not requiring extra equipment.  Add to this full labels with art work and it is a very nice show piece, even if it is only 6 bottles worth.

I hope that the beer will carbonate quicker than my other sour which has been bottled for nearly 7 months and is still fairly flat.  Our club has a competition coming up and in late October that I would like to enter this batch into.  I will of course set the bulk of this beer aside to cellar for years to come and continue to develop.

This beer will be the first installment in my new series of beers, dubbed Where the Wild Things Are, named after characters from the children's book made movie.  The first is going to be called The Carol.  One of the main Wilds, he was impulsive, much like brewing a beer with blackberry yeast, adding dregs at random, and over oaking, only to move the beer twice.

NOTE: This beer took 1st place in Sour Beers and BEST OF SHOW in February 2014 at the KLCC BJCP comp.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Recipe: Leaf Turner - Wet Hop Brown Ale

Wet Hop brew # 3 in 3 days... should I do a Black IPa, or Brown Ale... hmm... I already have a Red IPA, and a White IPA, so the Black IPA would work.  But then again, it is headed into Fall, and a Brown sounds pretty good.  Brown it is, and seeing as I am loving Sierra Nevada's Tumbler right now, I decided to use their malt bill for my batch, just boosting the gravity with more base malt.  Of course I switched up the hops and went with what I have in terms of Wet Hops, lots of Chinook and some Cascade.  Much of what I have read on American Browns is that you want a present American citrus hop nose and flavor, so the grapefruit and citrus from the hops will work well, and the pine from the Chinook will help add some depth and bite to it so it isn't so bright, bringing it back to more of a Fall flavor.  Giving it an addition of Pickling Lime (first time using it) to keep the pH up from the dark malts, and balance it out some.  Finishing it off with West Yorkshire yeast as it "produces ales with a full chewy malt flavor and character, but finishes dry, producing famously balanced beers. Expect moderate nutty and stone-fruit esters." (Wyeast).  Chewy mouthfeel, yet dry finish, nutty, and moderate fruity esters, along with a citrusy hop nose, caramel and chocolate malt, sounds like the description of an American Brown to me, starter wort from the Red IPA tasted great too!

This beer was, again (the third beer now), to suffer an unexpected drop in efficiency (extract).  Everything is the same, the only things that might have changed are the water (tap) or the "illegal" to adjust the gap grain mill at the home brew shop was adjusted.  Hopefully I get it figured out soon, constant jumps in efficiency is not an option when you have a specific beer in mind to make.

5.5 gallons (5.875 gallons, only added 5.5 to fermenter, the rest is getting soured... go figure)
1.067 OG
1.014 Fg
6.9% ABV
45 IBUs
24 SRM

12.75#  GW Pale Malt
1.0#  Crisp Crystal 55/65L
0.75# Briess Chocolate Malt
0.50#  Weyermann Rauchmalt
0.25# Rice Hulls
45 Minutes @ 152*F
74% Extract Efficiency

45 Minute Boil:
45 mins - 0.5 oz Zeus 16.4AA% (Commercial)
WP @ 150 20 mins - 12.0oz Chinook (Wet) 
WP @ 150 20 mins - 4.0oz Cascade (Wet) 

WY 1469 West Yorkshire - 1L Starter (a little 001 as well for good measure)
Aerated 25 minutes
6 gallon Better Bottle
3 days @ 66-67
11 days @ 70

Gypsum 3/8 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 1/2 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
Pickling Lime 3/4 t (mash)
Whirfloc Tab (15 mins)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Recipe: Slap Yo Momma - Wet Hop White IPA

After picking my decent, but not overly abundant hop harvest this year, I called up Oakshire Brewing since last year they didn't actually harvest their hops for there own beers.  After getting the green light to pick their hops, I raided there Chinook and Cascades.  I also got a few bines of Centennial as well.  As my wife (who so graciously went and sat in the sun entrenched in a mound of Cascade bines and helped my pick while prego) and I looked at the vast amount of hops that I had, and how difficult it would be to dry them all, she realized that I would really need to brew a few more Wet Hop beers.  Graciously she said to me, "Why don't you brew some fresh hop beers?"  I replied, "I'd love to, but that means I'd have to brew tomorrow, and also Saturday twice."  To which she responded, "Okay."  Thus the wheels began turning.  I had already pumped out a recipe for my Red Ale and had the malts milled.  What else did I want to do?  White IPA!  I had wanted to brew one for some time, and I had lots of citrus fruit hops in the Cascade and Centennial, as well as the grapefruit component of the Chinooks, hit that with the pine, and some spicing and a Belgian Yeast.

5.0 gallons
1.064 OG
1.007 Fg
7.5% ABV
48 IBUs

7.0#  GW Pale Malt
5.0#  Flaked Wheat
1.0#  White Wheat Malt
0.75#  Flaked Wheat
0.5# Cane Sugar
0.25# Rice Hulls
60 Minutes @ 150*F
70% Extract Efficiency

45 Minute Boil:
60 mins - 1.0 oz Cascade pellets 8.4AA%
WP @ 150 20 mins - 6.0oz Chinook (Wet) 
WP @ 150 20 mins - 8.0oz Cascade (Wet) 
WP @ 150 20 mins - 3.5oz Centennial (Wet) 

WY 3726 Farmhouse Ale - 2L Starter
Aerated 20 minutes
6 gallon glass carboy
3 days @ 73-75
11 days @ 75+ 

Gypsum 5/8 t (mash), 3/8 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 1/2 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)
Coriander 0.3oz - 5 mins
Orange Peel 0.3oz - 5 mins
Yeast Nutrient (15 mins)

Efficiency tanked hard for some unknown reason.  Added sugar to boost OG and drop FG - I like my dry beers DRY anyways, and it will get me closer to the ABV I wanted.  Not sure what is causing this drop in extract efficeincy.  Pitched yeast from 1L starter (used to wake the yeast up) and also added some of the sleeping yeast from the mason jar in the fridge to ensure that I had a good amount of yeast, but still low enough to produce the esters and phenols I want.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recipe: Just Freshin' Up - Wet Hopped Red Ale

The hop harvest has come, and gone, leaving me with quite a bit of hops to do something with.  That something was the question.  I was torn on whether to brew a Wet Hop ale, or to dry them out and package them up for future use.  Seeing that my garage is overrun with wild yeast do to my sour program that inhabits most of that area and it being my brew house, I thought that drying my hops in the open air of that space might not be the best option since I may want to Dry Hop with my harvest at some point.  The spare room was taken by my dad who was up visiting, and the temps in Eugene are barely in the upper 70s so to dry them out properly I would need to run the heater.  This all seemed to point towards doing a Wet Hop beer.  I had been toying with the idea for awhile, and had a Red recipe worked up for it.

I was able to harvest 12.5oz of Chinook, 5.25oz Brewer’s Gold, 2.5oz AlphAroma, and 1.5oz of Shinsuwase.  I also have some Cascades that aren’t quite ready yet, as well as my Santiam, and a few Brewer’s Gold left to pick.  I packaged all of my 1.36# of hops together in a vacuum seal bag and put it in the freezer until they hit the brew.  I will pull them out just after knock out and get them into the batch, dropping the temp some, and getting as much of the aromatics into the beer as possible.

For the base, I wanted something with a great malt backbone for setting the hops against.  I went with Marris Otter for a little more of a malty, toasty base, a touch of Vienna for a little more malt complexity; MFB Kiln Amber will add some breadiness, add a sprinkle of Roast Malt for color and to help the finish dry out.  For the caramel malts, I decided to go with 2 CaraMunich malts instead of standard 2 row crystals.

5.4 gallons
1.067 OG
1.016 Fg
6.6% ABV
63 IBUs
15 SRM

11.0#  Marris Otter
1.0#  Vienna Malt
1.0#  CaraMunich 40L
0.4#  CaraMunich 120L
0.4#  MFB Kiln Amber
2.0oz Crisp Roast Barley 695L
0.25# Rice Hulls
45 Minutes @ 150*F
76% Extract Efficiency

60 Minute Boil:
60 mins - 1.5 oz Zeus 16.4AA%
WP @ 150 20 mins - 12.5oz Chinook (Wet) 
WP @ 150 20 mins - 5.25oz Brewer’s Gold (Wet) 
WP @ 150 20 mins - 2.5oz AlphAroma (Wet) 
WP @ 150 20 mins - 1.5oz Shinsuwase (Wet) 

WLP 001 Cal Ale - Slurry from Oakshire
Aerated 25 minutes
6 gallon Better Bottle
6 days @ 66
8 days @ 69

Gypsum 5/8 t (mash), 3/4 t (boil)
Epsom Salts 1/4 t (mash), 1/4 t (boil)
Calcium Chloride 1/2 t (mash), 1/2 t (boil)

Despite getting less Extract Efficiency (76% compared to 82%), I still hit my numbers spot on due to a lot less absorption from the hops.  Everyone says that Wet Hop ales will kill your efficiency and just suck up all the wort.  So far (last year as well), I just don't find it to be so, but I do squeeze the hop sacs dry before racking as well which helps.

Pitched @ 8:30pm, fermenting @ 5:45am.