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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Update: Laminated Envelope - Blackberry Version

Awhile back I brewed up an American Blonde Ale to test my fermenters that had housed infected batches.  The resulting beers were mixed and soured with different dregs and such.  After some time had passed I split the batches into 2 5 gallon carboys and added mangoes and mango juice to one, leaving the other one plain for a later addition of fruit.  Just a few weeks ago we returned from a long trip to California to find an abundance of blackberries on the large bush that has overtaken an entire fence in our back yard.  We were able to pick nearly 6# in one evening, and still had tons left that we were unable to get to that day.  Seeing that we didn't need that many berries, I decided to split off 4.33# of blackberries into the plain sour batch.  After dropping some in, one-by-one, I tried pulverizing them in my hand, and this too caused too much splashing, so I blended them up in the blender and poured it through my funnel with a tube on the end that was under the surface, cutting down on aeration.  The beer is a deep purple with chunks of blackberry floating around and a very broken pellicle on top.  Honestly, it looks like a giant version of the starter I did about this time last year from the same blackberry bush to make the Lambic I am going to bottle soon.  Between the two carboys I should have about 4+ gallons of Sour Blackberry Blonde and nearly 5 gallons of Sour Mango Blonde come next summer.