Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Callen

I set out to do a partigyle Wee Heavy and 80 Schilling.  The hope was to brew a big Scotch Ale to name after my son Callen as an owed to our heritage, as the label reads:
"For such a wee lad, he is a heavy one.  Assertive and bold, but effervescent, one would do well to watch in amazement as this one ages.  Or enjoy him while he is young and smooth, w/ hints of flowers and earth; ne’er a harshness to him at all.  Take your time with him, and ponder the many intricacies of what he is; if you go too fast you’ll miss the wonders of truly knowing him, and he may just sneak up and bite ya’ in the ars!"
To start with, C120 and Special B may not have been the best choice.  But knowing exactly what went wrong on this batch recipe wise will not be easy since the yeast that I pitched was a slurry of 1056 from a previous batch that I had no idea was infected with a wild yeast.  Gushing bottles, fruity esters, what might be Brett L.  Makes for a decent Belgian Dark Strong, too bad that's not what I was trying to brew.

Appearance:  Pours a deep copper (muddy from the yeast being stirred up by the gusher infection) with a super thick beige head that persists for days and leaves a thick cap for the entire drink.  Great lacing, and lots of carbonation.

Smell:  Smells of fake cherries, dark fruits, burnt sugar, faint bread crust, pears, strawberries, flowers.

Taste:  Tastes like it smells, cherries, burnt sugar, toffee, fruity, pie crust, spicy heat in the finish - smooth yet warm.  Honestly I get hints of Trader Joe's 2012 Reserve Belgian beer less the chocolate and over the top spice.

Mouthfeel:  Medium-full consistincy, sweet but warm finish, carbonation makes it lighter on the tongue and leaves a smooth finish.  (If I add a touch of Lactic acid to the glass it makes the whole thing pop).

Overall:  For a Belgian Dark Strong it would be very nice (maybe back off on the fake cherries some though).  As a Wee Heavy if fails miserably.  The gusher infection is very fruity, lots of cherry, and tears through residual sugars thus the gushing.  Hoping that the pie cherry flavor eventually begins to morph to some horse blanket and some acid as well, thinking Old Ale after some time in the cellar maybe.  We'll see where this one goes in time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bring On The Bugs

I've been thinking about building up my reserves for sour dregs to add a little more depth and complexity to my sour beers.  The two that have finished were good, but I only used one type of dregs to achieve them and my hope is to add a lot more to the following batches.  Previously I have used Russian River's Supplication and Consecration.  Recently I built up the dregs from there Sanctification which is brewed with only Brett, with Lacto and Pedio in secondary, and bottled with Brett alone (thus removing the champagne yeast that they use in all the other sours at bottling), as well as dregs from a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere which has a great pellicle.  I added the dregs from a bottle of Oude Beersel Oude Geuze Vielle to my Lambic as well as dregs from some of my homebrew, Cantillon, and a dose of Logenberry Mead from my buddy that had gotten infected.  

I've got quite a few bottles of different sours that I was considering culturing from, such as, RR Beatification (among other RR offerings), Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, Oakshire Scookumchuck, Girardin 1882 Black Label, Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait 2007, and Hannsens Scarenbecca Kriek.  What I was thinking was to make a 1.030 starter wort from DME and Apple Juice, transfer into water bottles and put it in the freezer until I drink one of these bottles, at which point I will pop the cork, pour the beer, flame the lip, and add dethawed starter wort to the dregs in the bottle then place foil on top and leave at ambient to grow.  After some time I will be able to swirl up the starter of which ever one/ones I want to use, pour some off into the beer I am brewing, and add some more starter wort to it to feed it and keep the culture going.  This will give me variety, and since I have lots of 1 gallon jugs, I can add JP to one, Cantillon to another, Hannsens to another and RR to another, and compare how they turn out, then blend to the desired effect I want.

One problem that I hit was with the bottle of Fantome Saiosn D'Erezee Prentemps that I did this with.  I ended up with Icebergs on top (Large clumps of mold) and a Sea Cucumber floating around in the liquid (large carpet of mold).  According to another homebrewer and sour  maker he has had this same issue when the starters are grown in too hot an environment.  Another issue that Mike Tonsmeire threw my way, and I was reminded of again while reading Wild Brews again, is that mixed cultures like this will be very difficult to keep in balance.  Inevitably the Sacc strain will die off and autolize, the Lacto (especially in un-hopped stater wort) and Pedio will multiply rapidly, and the Brett will not keep up with the acid bacteria.  If this were to happen, successive batches would become very sour and not have much other flavor components to keep the beer in balance with the proper flavors and aromas, just sour.  What he recommended, and the way I will probably go, is to just pitch the dregs into a batch, let it age, bottle, and then pitch the dregs from my bottled beers into new sours along with other dregs, age, bottle, repeat, and so on.  This will give me a large diversity of bugs and wild yeasts from different breweries, as well as a house character as my current bugs and yeasts are repitched and morph from batch to batch.  With all the different sours I have going right now, it sounds like a good option.

Add to this my culture of Lacto from yogurt, and my Brett starters - 1 Orval, 1 Reinhardt's Flemish Wild Ale, and I will be getting some Brett C from an all Brett beer that some buddies have going, I should be looking at quite a bit of funk to funk around with.

Monday, May 14, 2012

3 Beers, 1 Mash, Good Deal...

It might just become a yearly brew for me… A triple beer mash that is.  Last year I did a Bavarian Hefeweisse, an American Wheat IPA w/ pineapple, and a Session Sour from a single mash.  This year I did a single mash for 3 more beers.  This year the Hefe was switched out for a Witbier, the Wheat IPA for a clone of 3 Floyds Gumballhead, and the sour mashed Session Sour for a sour mashed “Saison” with oak and Pinot Noir juice.  Made for a great brew day, and hopefully, despite a few hiccups, some great beers.

Single Mash:
11# Flaked Wheat
9.6# Great Western Pale Malt
3# Rice Hulls (for good measure)
5/8 tsp Gypsum
3/8 tsp Calcium Chloride
Single Infusion: 151*F for 60 minutes
Ran off 13.5 gallons.
Split into 2 - 6.75 gallon batches

Witte Comeback:
45 minute boil
FW 0.30oz Sterling AA% Unkown (home grown 7.5% estimated)
15   0.70oz Sterling AA% Unkown (home grown 7.5% estimated)
KO 1.00oz Sterling AA% Unkown (home grown 7.5% estimated)
10 mins 0.80# Flaked Wheat added to boil
KO zest of 2 Cara Cara Oranges, 0.12oz Coriander, 0.12oz Pink Peppercorn, 0.12oz Green Peppercorn (didn’t buy enough spices and missed each addition by half… oops)
Tea of: zest of 1 Cara Cara Orange, 0.20oz Coriander, .12oz Pink Peppercorn, 0.10oz Chamomile steeped 5 mins @ 190*F added to fermenter (1.5 cups)

5.0 gallons 3726 Farmhouse Ale yeast slurry
0.5 gallons 3726 Farmhouse Ale + souring bugs/Brett
Fermented @ 83*F 2 days, 78*F for 3 weeks
Blended at bottling

5.5 gallons
OG 1.050
FG 1.005
15 IBUs
5.9% ABV

0.75# Caravienne steeped 35 minutes @ 150*F
45 minute boil
FW 0.50 oz Amarillo 9.3 AA%
45   0.30 oz Amarillo 9.3 AA%
15   0.50 oz Amarillo 9.3 AA%
5     1.30 oz Amarillo 9.3 AA%
KO 1.00 oz Amarillo 9.3 AA%
DH  1.40 oz Amarillo 9.3 AA%

1056 American Ale pitch f/ Oakshire
Fermented @ 66*F for 2 weeks
DH @ 66*F for 4 days

***Hit the 1.055 gravity perfect @ 5.0 gals but forgot to drain ½ gallon of StarSan from Better Bottle before racking so ended up with 5.5 gallons @ 1.050.  Added 1# sugar boiled in 1 pint water to the fermenter on day 2 to boost gravity back up making it 1.057, and FG hit low @ 1.007 making for a 6.6% ABV beer instead of 5.5%***

5.5 gallons
1.057 OG
1.007 FG
34 IBUs
6.6% ABV

Vino Cilurzo (Sour w/ Pinot Juice):
Last runnings from mash 6 gallons @ 1.011 soured with 0.10oz of Pale Malt in bucket @ 98*F for 50 hours, smell of yogurt, not much sour, light twang, somewhat astringent.  Went to boil and my burner caught on fire resulting in no boil.  Racked back into the same bucket less grains.  Pulled 1 quart of wort and brought to just under a boil on the stove.  Added hops and steeped for 5 minutes.  Strained into bucket.  Pitched ¼ cup slurry of 3726 Farmhouse + souring bugs/Brett slurry.  Added 3 pieces of French Oak blocks.  Didn’t take OG, estimated @ 1.030.  On day 2 added 3000ml of Pinot Noir concentrate that I scored for free when it was broken in transit to Falling Sky, estimated new OG 1.050.  Smelled of sulfur so I added 3726 Farmhouse slurry for more yeast activity and also added yeast nutrient per recommendations from a fellow brewer.  As of 4 weeks the sulfur smell is gone and a pellicle has formed.  Looking forward to how this one turns out... it will be bottled in early July since I need the bucket for my Flander's Red, and I don't have another fermenter (unless I pull it off to 1 gallon jugs).  At this point FG is 1.010.

1.00 oz Cascade (home grown)
1.00 oz Challenger (home grown)

~ 6.5 gallons
~ 1.050 OG
~ 1.002 FG (unkown, assuming low FG with bugs, Brett, juice)
~5 IBUs
~ 6% ABV

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shortened Brewday Update

As I stated in my last post, I severely tweeked two brews to shorten my brew day and make it much easier and less stressful... thus funner, and it was.  My efficiency was slightly lower than I thought it would be but I still hit my numbers where I wanted to.  1.049 for my Wit, and 1.055 for the Gumballhead... then the curve ball.  I was racking the Gumballhead into the Better Bottle with my airstone going just fine while I emptied my mash tun.  After it finished I looked over to see a plume of foam exiting the top... wait a second... why is Starsan foam coming from the... top... of my... oh... !  Yes, after pouring a half gallon of Starsan into my fermenter, shaking to sanitize, putting the shirt over the top to keep the sun from skunking my beer, and putting the stopper in to keep debris and such out, I forgot to empty the Better Bottle before racking into it.  Luckily Starsan is drinkable, unlike Iodophor, and so it just diluted the beer from 5 gals @ 1.055 to 5.5 gals @ 1.050.  To adjust for this I added a pound of sugar to the fermenter to get the gravity back up to about 1.055 so that I will still hit the right ABV (maybe a little higher with how fermentable the sugar is).

As an added bonus I drew off 6 gallons of 1.011 gravity last runnings and soured them for 50 hours @ 95*F.  Smelled like yogurt, not too tart though.  Went to boil it with 2.5# DME and my burner caught on fire at the hose, so no boil.  I pulled 1 quart of wort and brought it to just under a boil and added 1oz Challenger and 1oz Cascade for a frutiy, spicy, floral, citrus hop nose to it and steeped for about 5 mins, then strained it into the other 6+ gallons of unboiled wort in the bucket.  I added some slurry from the 3/4 gallons of Soured Saison I just bottled, and after 2 days it smells of fruit, lactic, and CO2, and I can see the wort churning when I look inside.  Tossed in a couple of my French Oak cubes as well.  In a few months it should be nice and tart and funky.  My thoughts are to add fruit or maybe flowers to it, possibly dry hop.  We'll see how this one turns out for a last minute, last runnings, sour mash that didn't fully sour and never boiled, hopped nose but not boiled, oaked experiment, that I didn't take a gravity reading on.

Be on the look out for the recipes soon.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Already Slammed Enough... Shortened My Brewday

As I reflected on my schedule, and the two beers I was getting ready to brew, it dawned on me, I don’t have to make this so much work.  I was slated for 2 separate brews, 2 mashes, 2 boils.  1 American Wheat with all Amarillo - a Gumballhead clone with Wheat Malt, Pale Malt, and CaraVienne.  The other, a Belgian Wit with Flaked Wheat, Flaked Oats, and Pils, which would call for a 90 minute boil.  I have been slammed enough already that I didn’t need a 9+ hour brew day.  So I decided to make a switch.  

I swapped the Wheat Malt for Flaked Wheat, which works since Gumballhead uses Red Wheat (Flaked) not White (Malt).  I also swapped the Pils for Pale Malt since the flavor isn’t going to shift too far - if it was nearly 90% Pale opposed to Pils it would show, but at less than 50% it won’t matter too much.  This dropped the boil time for the Wit to less than 90.  It also allowed me to combine the base malts and do a large single mash and run it all off into one giant kettle.  After mashing for 60 minutes, I will run it off into 1 kettle, stir, test my gravity, then split, leaving slightly more in the American Wheat than the Wit to account for higher hop losses.  I also adjusted each recipe for a 45 minute boil to shorten the day by another ½ hour.  I will steep the Caravienne in the wort for Gumballhead, and I will toss the Oats into the boil for the last 10 minutes on the Wit (contributing the mouthfeel as well as starches that will help keep the haze around), a tip I picked up from Michael Tonsmeire, that he got from a The Alchemist.  Should make for a much shorter, easier brewday, and two great beers.