Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Le Ferme du Funke

Every so often you come across a beer that you brew and you know that you got it right.  This is one of those moments.  It was one of my first Saisons.  Honestly I gave more thought to the other Saison I brewed on the same day, a Rye Saison with Apricots named ApRYEcot.  This beer was supposed to be a basic Saison while the other was to be a nice fruity, spicy Summer drinker.  This beer evolved when I decided to pitch Brett at bottling and let a case age.  That was extremely difficult with how good it turned out.  And it's a good thing I was able to hold back on that case.  When one our local, yet national, BJCP sanctioned homebrew comps hit this past February, I decided to enter it.  I'm sure glad I did.  I took 2nd place in the KLCC Homebrew Competition, Category 16: Belgian and French Ales.  1st place went to a very talented homebrewer, who consequently I tied for 2nd place and then beat out in a mini-best of show for the win, splitting him to 1st and 3rd.

Pours a clear gold with 1+ finger of brilliantly white head that fades slow to a thin cap and nice ring leaving good lace.  Lots of tiny bubbles continue to flutter to the top.

Smells of spicy Brett, light funk, hay, lemon, pepper, barnyard comes in as it warms.

Tastes the same as the nose, spicy, floral, lightly funky, hay, lemon, peach, lingering fruit in the finish.

Crisp dry finish, tart, but not sour, bubbly, light, smooth, bitterness lingers and makes for a perfect finish begging for another sip.

Very nice Saison.  Refreshing, crisp, dry, spicy, light flowers and fruits, lots of Brett phenols, light Brett esters.  Barnyard is restrained but the Brett is not.  Could use more malt and hop flavors and aroma, but Brett tends to eat everything in sight and transform it.  The Brett did it's job.  Great carbonation and head, looks beautiful.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sour Blonde Update: Tropicana!

The Blonde Ale has made some advances since I last updated on it.  What started as a test batch to ensure my fermenters were free of the infections that hit my other brews, morphed into a sour project when the experiment revealed that my conical was indeed still infected (and much new information leads to the conclusion that it is actually the source of it all).  The batch was being housed in 4 glass jugs, and the conical, the former containing Lacto, Pedio, Brett, and oak, the latter containing Brett only.  I recently added some 5 gallon glass carboys to the brewhouse, scored at a garage sale for $12 each, couldn't pass it up.  I decided to take the just under 3 gallons of oaked and soured version, the 1 gallon of Lacto from yogurt and honey, and the 6 gallons of Brett Blonde and mix them together split into 2 carboys.  One remains blended and aging for now (will receive some fruit later), the second received fruit now.

I did some chatting with fellow homebrewers and sour lovers Mike Tonsmeire (and his friend Seth) and Ryan about possibilities for adding tropical fruits.  Both recommended staying away from pineapple unless I was going to back sweeten as they are highly acidic.  After looking at the options of guava, papaya, mango, passionfruit, and dragon fruit, I decided on mango (passion and dragon are too expensive).  I added one papaya and remembered that I don't much care for it, and one won't impact the flavor enough to worry about it.  I also added 3 mangoes skinned and de-seeded.  According to a few sources, I would need between 8-10# of mango, and i only added about 3.  The cost factor does weigh in, so when I found some Mango Nectar (high fructose corns syrup free) on sale for $3.50 1/2 gallon, I jumped on it.  Bought 2 jugs.  The juice weighs in at 1.057 OG.  I added one jug to the carboy and almost overflowed the vessel.  The other I put into one of my glass gallon jugs and then siphoned some of the sour beer in with it to ferment it like a sour/wild Mango cider.  Once they are done souring, I will blend them back together before bottling.  Who knows what else will happen between now and then though.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Recipe: Thud Butt - Double IPA -- BANGARANG SERIES

BANGARANG... The term used by the Lost Boys in the movie Hook as a statement of enjoyment, agreement, and delight.  It could be a battle cry or an adjective.  One thing was for sure, if you liked it, it was Bangarang!  Thus starts a new series of recipes, the Bangarang Series, featuring beers that make you wanna Bangarang!  And this beer definitely fits the bill' named after Thud Butt, a big, bold, gentle yet powerful character, the name is an apt fit for a 9.2% ABV, 92 IBU, Double IPA that finishes dry with a noticeable alcohol, yet not solventy, and a huge hop punch.

On to the beer; recently a fellow brewer hooked me up with rhyzomes for my hop yard - 7 varietals (of his nearly 20).  While I was there we were chatting about the types of beers I brew and how the hops will compliment my brewing.  I told him that I'd love to brew IPAs but the cost of hops can just be outrageous which is why I was planting a few big IPA hops (Cascade, Chinook, Blisk).  He was extremely generous and, unprompted, dug into his hop locker and filled a grocery sack with nearly 2# of hops.  Some were the odd varieties that I got to plant so that I can get a feel for their character.  The bulk were Cascades, along with some Zeus as well.  While I was still at his place I brought up Zeus as a bittering hop and he said that it is a great flavor and aroma hop and poured me a sample of a double IPA with Cascade and Zeus.  I was hooked.  And, well, since I had those hops now, and quite a bit at that, I decided to brew one up myself.  I also tossed in some Galaxy as well since I've heard some great things about them and happen to have a few ounces.  I'm targeting a big back bone that still has some maltiness as well as some character, but remains very fermentable, thus dry and drinkable.  I've got some Munich in there for a good maltiness, as well as some Caramalt 10/15L for a light graham cracker note, and some CaraFoam for a little bit of body with the 12% Sugar.   Lots of late hopping for aroma and flavor, and dry hopped to boot, 1# total.


5.70 gallon batch
OG 1.084
FG 1.014
ABV 9.2%
IBUs 92
SRM 16
84% Efficiency

9.5# Pale Malt
3.0# Munich 10L
0.75# Carafoam
0.75# Caramalt 10/15L
0.06# Carafa III (Color)
2.0 # Table Sugar
1/2 tsp Gypsum
3/8 tsp Calcium Chloride
60 min single infusion @ 153*F

Boil (60 min):
FW 1.00 oz Zeus 15.4 AA%
15 1.00 oz Galaxy  13 AA%
15 1.00 oz Cascade ~ 6.6 AA%
KO w/ 15 min WP 1.00 oz Galaxy  13 AA%
KO w/ 15 min WP 1.00 oz Zeus ~ 16 AA%
KO w/ 15 min WP 1.00 oz Cascade ~ 6.6 AA%
Post KO @ 130*F  1.00 oz Galaxy  13 AA%
Post KO @ 130*F 1.00 oz Cascade  ~ 6.6 AA%
Post KO @ 130*F  2.00 oz Zeus  ~ 16 AA%
DH 9 days 2.00 oz Zeus
DH 9 days 1.00 oz Galaxy
DH 9 days 2.00 oz Cascade

Kettle Additions:
5/8 tsp Gypsum
3/8 tsp Calcium Chloride
1/4 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1 tab Whirfloc

1056 American Ale - Pint of Slurry from Oakshire
65*F 3 days
68*F 2 days
71*F 7 days
45*F 2 days (to clear)

Put the FW hops into the kettle directly instead of in a bag and had to fish them out and put them into a hop sack.  I missed a few which caused the pick-up tube to clog after the boil.  My refractometer went on the fritz, and kept jumping around on the reading so I had to crash cool a sample and use the hydrometer.  Ended up overcooling the wort before my post chill hops (was aiming for 150*F and cooled to 130*F).  The hydro sample was super sweet and bitter, smelled and tasted great.  Had to rack via auto-siphon due to clog.  Aerated for ~15-20 minutes, pitched a pint of slurry.  Fermentation was rocking by 5 hours.  Woke up the next morning to find my stopper missing and a thick krausen and sludge around the neck of the carboy... had my first blow-off.  Cleaned it up (before taking a picture of course), sanitized my siphon and a glass gallon jug and transferred 1/2 gallon to increase the head space.  Temp got up to 70*F for a few hours maybe when the temp probe popped loose from the side.   Seems like a lot of issues, but a good brew.

Day 3 took sample, tastes and smells great, down to 1.034, ramped up temp to 68*F to encourage continued ferm as it appears to have slowed.

Day 5 took another sample, down to 1.021.  Ramped up to 71*F to finish strong.

Day 7 took a sample, down to 1.014, remains the same as of day 10.

Day 10 dropped to 45*F until bottling.

Day 12 removed from fridge and shoved (difficultly) full of hops & marbles

Day 14 moved back to ferm fridge at 40*F for cooler/longer DH

Day 21 bottled to 2.3 vols CO2.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: IMPtolerant - Imperial Milk Stout, Batch #2

Batch #2.  My first ever batch of homebrew was a kit for cloning Widmer's Snow Plow, a Milk Stout and my first ever Craft Beer.  I loved it.  I had not drank since I had become a Christian, wrongly believing that the two were opposed to one another.  After some long battles with the Bible on many topics I was wrongly raised to believe, I came to an understanding that alcohol was not the Devil's drink, but a wonderful gift God had given to man to enjoy responsibly.  I began my journey by imbibing in Odouls while I was still living on my Bible College campus that forbid alcohol.  After some time my wife and I were at Chili's for dinner with my buddy and his wife; they had Snow Plow on tap and I decided to have a beer, a real one.  I tasted the Snow Plow and had to have a full pour.  Having not drank alcohol in nearly 5 years, this not-so-strong beer packed a punch.  It was unfortunate that Widmer ceased making it, and yet, when I was looking for my first recipe to brew and saw a clone for it, I had to do it.  First craft beer.  First homebrew recipe.  After brewing that beer I had left over hops since it only called for 1/2 oz bittering and 1/2 oz flavor (and no idea yet about isomerization and gravity), as well as a nice healthy yeast cake.  I decided to buy the grains and extract and make a smaller batch to increase the gravity, and added brown sugar as well.  I had no temp control, so the batch needed some aging.  While aging it, I added some Bourbon soaked American Oak chips to some, and left the rest plain.  After about 3 months I bottled the batches, and have aged quite a few for a year and a half now.  Thought it was about time to give a review.  This is for the straight Imperial Milk Stout, 8.8% ABV.

Pours like jet black oil, thick 1 finger brown head fades quick to a thin collar.  No lacing.

Smells of deep, rich chocolate, light coffee roast, toffee, chocolate milk, vanilla, caramel, tobacco, plums, mild cherries.  Almost smells barrel aged, but it's not.

Tastes of vanilla, cherries, plums, toffee, sweet breads, light roast, mild milk chocolate, tobacco, honey.

Smooth on the tongue, bubbly, medium body and light, semi-dry finish, warming.  A tannic-astringency on the back end, but not much.

Not bad for a second batch with all the missing information on how to brew an Imperial that I now have.  I think the tannins in the finish comes from over sparging and squeezing the snot out of the grain sack... repeatedly.  Surprising how the dark malts nearly disappear in the flavor, almost Barley Wine like.  Deceptively drinkable for 8.8% ABV.

Monday, June 11, 2012

And Another One, and Another... Gushers Update

Seems as though the infection spread further and goes back farther than I had originally thought.  But this does help to close in on the issue.  I had brewed 2 ESBs to do a side-by-side comparison on two yeasts.  The one that happened to be in the fermenter that had housed the infected batches was very slow to start fermenting and had lots of phenols once bottled.  It seemed to have better carbonation than the other version as well.  I had originally thought that the phenols were from a stressed fermentation since the yeast pitch came from a local brew-pub, was from an Imperial IPA, and was mostly hop sludge.  Turns out, after 4 months at room temp, we have gushers again.  Looks as though the gusher bacteria took hold while waiting for the yeast to grow and work.  

I also found one last bottle of Free Bag O Malt Mild, the first brew from the conical which happened to be in the fridge since bottling back in September 2011.  Gusher.  I think my hunch of the bacteria inhabiting the used conical is more than a hunch.  The second batch in that fermenter was only in it for 1 week, and it had some fairly powerful bubbling when I popped the last one of those this weekend too, never gushed though.  So first batch in conical, gusher.  Second, over carbed.  Third, gusher.  Fourth and the one from my other fermenter that got a re-pitch form conical #3 batch, gushers.  Another fermenter repitched, gusher (5th from conical seems to be okay even though it has the same repitch as the other fermenter, yet it is a 10.6% beer).  Yet another batch from a different fermenter that had housed 2 infected repitched batches, gusher.  

Needless to say, I pulled the American Blonde that was fermented in that Better Bottle from the fridge to leave in the garage for a few weeks at 70+ degrees to see if it gushes as well.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Recipe: Le Ferme du Funke (Brett Saison)

If you haven't caught on yet, I love me some Saison!  It wasn't always this way.  I went to a Fresh Hop festival 2 1/2 years ago and grabbed a beer that had Saison/Farmhouse Ale as the style.  Only beer I've spit out before pouring out the rest of the taste glass.  I immediately ran for a refill of something hoppy to get that swill off my tastebuds.  Some time later I had Upright Four and really enjoyed it.  I had Jolly Pumpkin Bam and Bam Noire and really loved the Noire.  I got a 6 pack of Collette from Great Divide.  Now I try every Saison I see on tap, and drink quite a few of them.  I have a sports bar next to my house that has Upright 5 on tap regularly.  The more I drank them the more I love them (unless they are brewed with 3711).  I really enjoy Dupont.  And I have brewed 4 Saisons now.  There wasn't a question when I brewed my first Saisons I was going to use the Dupont strain.  Didn't care about the stalling, I wanted that yeast.  Did my first Saisons when I didn't have temp control, so I did them in the garage in the high 70s.  One turned out to be a great idea, but not much more - a Rye Saison with Apricots.  The Apricot puree took over much of my beer which meant either 3 gallons of "clear beer" of 5 gallons of soupy beer.  I opted for soupy and bottled most of the Apricot.   This lead to lots of sulfur in the nose and bottle bombs as the yeast destroyed the remaining sugars in the fruit.  The other batch I did that day is an amazing beer, it took 2nd place in a National BJCP sanctioned comp in the category 16, splitting 1st and 3rd to an amazing brewer.  Finished with Brett in the bottles, I'm glad I found, I'm not sure how, a way to keep nearly a case for almost a year.

5 gallons
1.044 OG
1.004 FG
5.3% ABV
20 IBUs
7.5# German Pils
1.0# German Vienna
0.75# Faked Oats
0.25# Belgian Aromatic
0.25# Acidulated Malt
60 minutes @ 149*F
68% Efficiency
90 Minute Boil:
90 0.5 oz Styrian Bobek 3.8AA%
20 0.7 oz Styrian Bobek 3.8AA%
10 0.3 oz Citra 13.4 AA%
5   0.8 oz Styrian Bobek 3.8AA%
1L starter WYeast 3724 Belgian Saison
Shook to Aerate
4 weeks @ 75+ (ambient in garage in July)
Bottled w/ 1/2 cup starter made from Orval dregs
Whirfloc Tablet

Review: Antiquated Ambush (Sour Saison)

What do you mean you brewed a sour in 4 weeks?  Yup.  Did my original Saison recipe from a few months ago with a few tweaks, and then, due to a boost in efficiency had an extra 3/4 gallons of wort.  Took it out of the main fermentation and hit it with my RR starter.  4 weeks later I had 5 gallons of Saison, and 3/4 gallons of sour Saison with a hint of Brett, and a nice tartness.  Blended the two and bottled.  Nice pellicle in the bottles.  After 7 weeks in the bottle at garage temps the bugs and Brett are doing a great job of boosting the carbonation levels closer to the typical Saison range (under carbed on purpose so I didn't get bottle bombs).  I'm very hopeful of how this beer is going to continue to develop over time.  Nice thing is that I used the yeast slurry from the soured version to do the same thing with my Witbier!

Pours a slightly hazy (souring bugs and Brett still active, pellicle at top of the bottle) burnished gold with a nice 1+ finger pure white head.  Lots of tiny bubbles.  Decent lacing.  Head fades slowly to a thick cap that persists to the last drop.

Smells of lemon, pepper, apricots, tropical fruit, hay, Brett funk, tart, light buytiric acid as well (not too off-putting, just a mild fecal scent).  Spicy and floral hops are present but not powerful.  

Tastes much like it smells, tart lemons, peppery spice, ginger, apricot, sulfur, fruity, floral, Brett funk is mild yet present.

Dry, crisp, spritzy, light, refreshing, bubbly, tart, very balanced finish between the dry, bitter, sour, sweet.  The finish is surprisingly perfect (surprising due to being a first time attempt at the recipe).

I'm very impressed with this beer.  The Saison yeast is quite restrained on this version compared to the original, more than likely due to overpitching (same issue on the Witbier), wish it was popping a little more.  Lots of stuff working together on this version.  The Brett and bugs are quite present for being this young and the low FG, they must have ripped apart the 3/4 gallon early.  The spice, fruit, tartness, look, Brett, dry tart finish, hops, all of it works together to make a very delightful drink.  Only two things that I wish would change are the mild buytiric acid (which over time will hopefully be esterfied by the Brett and bugs), and the weather.  Oregon is nothin but rainy and cold right now, and this beer just begs the clouds to kick and the sun to ramp us up to the 80s.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A New Name: End Of Silence Brewing

For those of you who frequent the blog, or maybe stumble upon it every now and then, you will probably notice a slightly new look and name.  I've been toying around with a new name for the blog and for my brew house for awhile now.  Originally the name was Quack Town Brewing.  It was a spin on Track Town, as well as the Ducks, and the wackiness of Eugene's ethos.  The more I looked at how I brew, what I brew, and what I want to communicate, the more apparent it became that "Eugene" and its ethos is not my brewing philosophy.  I want to brew good beer, with flavor and life, that has a voice, as it was intended to be.  I had toyed with the name End Of Silence for some time.  I had a beer named this, a Red Ale.  The name is actually the title of one of my favorite bands, RED, debut album.  I stole the name for my brew house for two reasons.  First, the dynamic flavors that can be achieved through different grain combos, paired with hops, yeasts, spices, fruits, bacteria, age, wood, and water profiles is endless, and so much more than yellow fizzy piss water produced in mass today.  And secondly, as anyone who has read my profile, I'm not too shy about my beliefs that there is a God (no this is not Ninkasi) and fermentation is a gift from Him to be enjoyed (in moderation).  Thus End Of Silence - an end to beer that is stripped of its voice through watered down flavor, and an end to the dual false notions that fermentation is somehow an amazing accident and an inherent evil.  Welcome to the end of silenced beer, and the beginning of beer as it was created to be.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What To Make With A Hop You Have No Info For

I recently got tons of hops from a fellow brewer who has a fairly large variety of hops that he grows.  I got some of the unknown and experimental varietals that he has like American Blisk, European Cerara, French Tardif de Bourgnone, and Japanese Shinsuwase which is supposed to be very perfumey.  I also have some of an old school New Zealand hop the they no longer grow, that was a precursor to the new varieties named AlphAroma.  Since I don't have any beers to taste as to understand this hop, and no one has any information on it, including the guy who gave them to me, I decided to brew a small extract batch with them while I mash my Double IPA.  I have 2.6# of Pils DME left over from the 5# bag I bought for the Last Runnings Sour from my last brew day.  I grabbed some CaraHell for some body and head retention assistance as well.  The goal is a pseudo Pils/Pale Ale just to get a handle on what the hop can do, if it is a Noble knock-off then more of a Pils, if it is American like many other NZ strains, then more of a Pale Ale.

3.8 gallon batch
OG 1.036
IBUs 33
Est ABV ~ 3.7%

Steep CaraHell in 1 gallon water @ 155*F
Sparge with 1 gallon water @ 170*F
Add 2.58# DME
Bring total preboil volume up to 4.5 gallons

Boil (30 minutes) 
15  1.40oz AlphAroma
KO 1.40oz AlphAroma

Ferment 65*F 1056 American Ale (Oaskhire Slurry)
14 days