Wednesday, December 31, 2014

TIRADE: 2014 BJCP - Saisons w/o Brett? Utter Absurdity!

HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE EVERYONE!  I hope your year has been a good one, mine sure has.  Speaking of a New Year, this should be the year we get our new BJCP Style Guidelines.  And you know what, I already have a bone to pick with these new 2014 BJCP guidelines.  Yes, I realize that I am about to rant on the rough draft of a document that is not yet released to the public as the solidified standards.  But let’s just be honest, if you have read this section of the new proposed guidelines you have either scratched your head in wonder if it is a typo, or have become nearly irate at how glaringly inaccurate the standards for Saison are.  I am building my case against a specific aspect of the forthcoming guidelines on multiple basis points: Historical accuracy, Commercial Examples given within the BJCP document, and Current Practice.

The BJCP guidelines contain 2 back-to-back nonsensical statements that Brettanomyces is not to be a part of the Saison style.  The Characteristic Ingredients section states, Brettanomyces is not typical for this style,” and then Style Comparison says, “Saisons with Brett should be entered as American Wild Ales.”  C’mon, really!?!?  Since when?  Have the creators of this section of the style guidelines ever drank a Saison?  Have they ever read the seminal tome on Saisons: Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski?  If so, did they ignore the entire historical essay by Yvan De Baets?  Go back and read it.  Look for all the points in which he talks about Saison having a “wild side”, being produced with mixed cultures, and being akin to young and hoppy Geueze.  Read it.  Read it?  Did you see that?  Brett is part of the standard characteristics for the historical style.  I realize that everyone says Dupont is the best, and I tend to agree, but Dupont itself uses a blend of 4 yeasts as its house culture, which in the essay is stated to have highly attenuative wild yeast in it (pgs 108-109).  I have had a pellicle form atop my bottle culture from Dupont, and am re-culturing it again just to confirm.

Another issue I want to raise with the guidelines as they stand in reference to no Brettanomyces character in Saisons is the inherent inconsistencies in the document itself.  When we look at the commercial examples listed by the guidelines’ authors we find, or course, Saison Dupont, which has already been stated contains Brett (the statement is to highly attenuative wild yeast that create acids and rearrange esters, so yes, Brettanomyces), followed by the Fantome beers, and Saison de Pipaix, then many others.  It is interesting to me that the commercial examples flow from most accurate to closely accurate in that order, and the #1 spot which defines the style, the #2 (which actually holds numerous examples from a single brewery) and the #3 spot ALL CONTAIN BRETT!!! (read the first comment on this Mad Fermentationist blogpost for info on #3).  How can you make a statement like “Brettanomyces is not typical for this style,” and “Saisons with Brett should be entered as American Wild Ales” then in the next breath state emphatically that the style defining examples are beers containing Brettanomyces?  How divergent from yourself can you actually be?  “The best Saisons made commercially contain Brett, but your lowly homebrews better not or they are out of style!”  Sure thing guys.

Let’s be honest about the new guidelines for a moment shall we.  One of the main reasons we are getting updated style guidelines is because the landscape of the beer world has shifted greatly in the past 6 years since the last revision.  These new guidelines contain information on oxymoronical beers like Black India PALE Ales and Session IPAs (their just the new APA, c’mon).  But why?  Because these beers are changing and redefining previous style boundaries.  And so are modern American Farmhouse AlesBrettanomyces is just one of many yeasts present in a large range of today’s Saisons.  Many of the currently sought after beers in this style contain Brettanomyces as well as Lactic acid bacteria for some.  Hill Farmstead, Jester King, Crooked Stave, Side Project, Grassroots, Tired Hands, all make a variety of Saisons containing Brettanomyces, and in some cases, it is the primary fermenter.  Even Boulevard and Bruery, make a Brett Saison, and who can forget Jolly Pumpkin?  My point is that these are not American Wild Ales.  This is the new face of Saison.  This is actually the old face of Saison with new twists on hair styles, glasses, tats, piercings, and facial hair from American brewers.  As I stated earlier, Saison has always had Brettanomyces in it, up until the 20th century when mass produced lagers and single strain brewing yeast cultures ruined the beauty of a truly rustic ale.  Why in the world would someone create a committee of smart brewing folks to rewrite the current guidelines to reflect the current shift in color for IPAs but purposefully exclude the shift in Saisons back to the original style?

I realize that I can be fairly bold when I get on a tangent, and this is one of those times.  To anyone who had a hand in writing the guidelines for Saisons, I mean no disrespect, and I am sure you put a lot of thought into the guidelines.  If you took offense, I would encourage you not to get angry with me, but to ask the deeper question: is this guy right?  I doubt anything will change when the new guidelines are released.  If it doesn’t change, it will just be another area that the BJCP fails to reflect the reality of today’s beer culture, it’s just really sad that it could be that far off at the very moment it releases its newest update.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why I Brew Beer: Christmas Edition

Why I brew?  Good question.  Here is part of the answer (too long for one post).  

Because a baby was born 2000 years ago.  I realize that seems odd, why would a baby being born 2000 years ago cause me to brew beer in the 21st century?  Of course, you probably have some idea of who this baby is, and are wondering even more, why the birth of baby Jesus would cause me to brew beer.  I mean, isn't he that guy that grew up to make people give up drinking beer and going to movies?

The birth of that baby brought hope.  It brought joy.  It brought peace.  It said to the world "YOU MATTER".  It said to the world, "You don't have to wander and wonder, is there more than this?"  And not just the people in the world, but the stuff in it, it matters.  It was this baby who would grow up, and as his first miraculous act take water and turn it into the best wine.  He did this at a party where they had already drank all the wine they had on hand.  He did it to take the shame of the host away who should have had enough wine to last the entire event (about 5-7 days long).  It was this baby who spent the bulk of his most impactful moments in life caring about hurting and broken people that the religious of his day had rejected, and he did it over food and wine.  He grew up to be mocked by the religious leaders of his day for being a drunk and glutton, a friend of sinners (like me).  He was born to love the broken, heal the sick, take our shame, make us whole, forgive our sins, bring us peace.  He was born to bring us back to the God who made us and placed us in the world he made, with all of its wonder, including the wonder of fermentation.  He enjoyed this world with us, and will do it again some day.  Until then, I enjoy it in remembrance and gratitude.

I brew beer because I want opportunities to enjoy good drink and good food with broken and hurting people that the religious people I know would reject (who isn't broken and hurting, let's be real).  I brew to enjoy the gift of a God who loves me, and who gave himself for me.  Who gave us yeast and hops and barley.  I brew because a baby was born 2000 years ago, and I yearn to be like him.  He came to stop us from wandering and wondering, is there more than this??? Why, yes there is... here's a beer I made... let's talk about it...

So, enjoy a good beer with your good food, with friends and loved ones, and celebrate the birth of a baby, a baby to bring us hope.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY: Shaker Tray (for Yeast Ranching)

In most modern labs cultures and media are grown on some sort of tray or platform designed to move the liquid culture for faster growth.  In the brewing world we use stir plates.  These contraptions use magnets to create a vortex inside the liquid yeast starter which off-gases the CO2 and brings in oxygen from the ambient air for a much higher cell growth.  This works great when you have a high enough volume to use a stir-bar and flask, but what about those initial steps?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

REVIEW: RE: Fresh (Mango Berlinerweisse)

A hot Summer's day, sweat, labor, dirt, lawn, shovel, gardening, building, deck, scorching sun, heat stroke.  A far cry from the blustery weather in Oregon this December.  But thus is the way of the sour beer brewer.  It's ready when it's ready and no sooner.  I wanted my Mango Berlinerweisse in the heat of August when I was mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, Barbecuing fish, and preparing to pick some hops.  A week before Winter is officially here is not when I wanted it.  But when you work with Lacto as a souring agent post boil, that is what you get.  I am finding that the Cascade Lacto strain is best used with patience.  It does not sour quickly, that is for sure.  Still a tasty beer, and will be great in another 6-7 months when the heat hits again and yard work is in full swing.

Pours stunningly clear with a thick, moussy, brilliantly white head that drops harder than a Ghavi beat.  Bubbles continue to rocket up from the bottom of the glass like an aquarium stone.

Mild barnyard funk jumps first with fruity yogurt following.  The fruit is kind of dull and nondescript, can't tell it is Mango.  Light crackery malt back note.

Sourness washes over the tongue first with a fruity pop.  Subtle tropical fruit note, but like the nose, can't discern Mango.  Crackery malt.  Light sharpness to the acid, acetic isn't part of the style, but it isn't overpowering at all, very light.

Puckering tartness pulls on the tongue and sides of the throat.  Dry finish with a very prickly carbonation.  Effervescent, light, crisp, refreshing.

Clean lactic kick with a mild fruitiness and faint Brett notes.  Not a super complex beer, but the style isn't known for that.  Easy drinker, and will be wonderful when the heat hits next year.  Definitely needs more Mango.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RECIPE #75: The Justin (American Barleywine)

I have been brewing for 4 years now.  During that 4 years I have written at least 6 recipes for a Barleywine, but never pulled the trigger.  It's not that I am afraid of the style.  It's that I am not too sure that I wanted a full 5 gallons of it.  Sometimes I really love Barleywines, sometimes not so much.  The beer that defines the American Style tastes like garbage fresh... yes, Bigfoot, I'm looking at you!  Overly bitter, grassy, astringent, like chewing on hop cones, overlaying tangy caramel malt and a little roasted dryness.  I really enjoy the lower IBUs and bolder malt character of English Barleywines, but thus far in my brewing career, I have failed to make an outstanding British beer of a lower gravity, making a bigger one isn't really what I wanted to do (too much money and time invested).  So, for this one, when I finally pull the trigger, I went for a blend.  Malt complexity, toffee, toasty, and lots of bold American hops.  All of this layered over enough bitterness to balance and clear the pallate, but not so much that it is the only thing you can taste.  I chose a yeast with character and a medium attenuation to keep it from drying out too much, and to add an extra layer of complexity.  I am hoping that this beer will age gracefully for quite a few years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

REVIEW: BANGARANG: No Nap (Coffee Porter)

There is something so comforting about a dark beer in the cold of winter.  The roast and chocolate, the hint of sweetness, a touch of toasty malts, it seems to invoke the natural atmosphere of the season.  It's something you can snuggle up to the fire with.  A good cup of coffee can do much the same on those dark and dreary days.  And of course, these two beverages make great friends.  The dark, chocolaty, roastiness of the beer and the coffee interplay beautifully if done well.  As a bonus, it makes for a great beer to pair with breakfast, whether on a Saturday morning, or Tuesday night.  Turned out just like I hoped the recipe would.

Look:  2/3
Pours a dark brown, almost black, see of lusciousness under a creamy tannish head that persists to a thick cap all the way down.  It is too dark to see through, but is super clear with garnet highlights.  Foam clings to the glass to the end.

Aroma:  10/12
The first thing to blast you from the glass is fresh cold pressed coffee!  Roast, chocolate, bold mocha.  Not like 2 day old coffee at work, fresh and vibrant, like smelling the coffee grinder after a fresh batch.  Under the coffee are notes of walnut skins, rich toffee, and biscuits.  There are also some mild dark fruit esters in the background.

Flavor:  16/20
Tastes like a barista prepared you the best cup of Joe.  Coffee dominates with mild roast and dark chocolate.  There is a low level of earthy hop notes that pair well with the roast and coffee, layered over bitter chocolate, biscuits, and walnut skins.  Hop bitterness is in the medium range and could use a boost to help the finish hit with a touch more oomph.

Mouthfeel:  3/5
Medium body gives way to a semi-sweet finish that is balanced out by the bitterness and roast which linger on the palate.  Medium carbonation helps to cleanse the palate.  There is something slightly off in the end, it sits a little flabby.  Needs to either have a few more IBUs or a few more points off the FG to give it a finishing punch.

Overall:  9/10
The combination of the base beer and the coffee beans is exquisite.  Hard to tell where the coffee ends and the beer begins.  The sweetness of the beer pairs well with the roast in the malt and coffee, and is balanced well with the bitterness of the hops.  Multi layered beer as the coffee kicks hard and then gives way to toffee, chocolate, toasty malts, and earthy hops below.  The stonefruit esters from the yeast play well with the cherry notes from the beans as well.  Again, the finish needs a little more punch to it, but otherwise a wonderful beer.  And at 5.5% you can have a few.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY Equipment: March Pump In Tool Box - Rebuild (Stainless Steel with Sample Port)

2 years ago for Christmas my Dad bought me a single present, the March Pump I had been wanting for quite a while.  Since I don't have a brew stand and have to tear down and move my brew house after every brewday the best option for my needs was to build it into a tool box.  I happened to have a tool box fit for the job as well.  Originally I had looked at BYO articles for the build, as well as a few others.  I opted to include an outlet along with the switch so that I can plug in other electrical equipment when needed like my vacuum sealer for resealing hops.  I also went with a flat light switch instead of the standard one that sticks out away from the surface, this will keep me from possibly catching something on it and accidentally turning it on while dry.

After a few years of using the original mixture of brass fittings with the aluminum camlocks I finally switched to all Stainless Steel.  This gives me the ability to know that there isn't any reacting of the metals, and allows me to use any SS safe cleaners with out worrying if that cleaner is safe for multiple metals.  And lets just be honest, the full SS looks sexier.  I scored SS cam locks for my birthday gift from my wife, and had some bonuses from work that allowed me to source the other pieces on eBay for a good deal.  On this iteration I also added a second ball valve on the out flow for bleeding off air and for pulling samples (thanks to the recent BYO article for giving me more info on this).

To make it easier on anyone wanting to build there own, I have included the original build of the pump into the tool box, and then updated the install of the fittings onto the pump head.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

RECIPES: #72 BANGARANG: No Nap (Coffee Porter) & #73 Dark Dismay (Brett Porter)

I don't typically brew Porters.  Actually, I've never brewed a Porter in my 4 years of brewing.  You know, Porter, that obscure style, is it a less roasty Stout, or a more roasty Brown Ale?  But there is something wonderful about a good Porter on a cool night.  My inspiration to make this beer was from the Mad Fermentationist and his new book American Sour Beers.  In it he references a Vatted Porter made by a commercial brewery where they age a Porter with Brett and Lacto in oak tuns for some time.  I decided I was going to do the same, brew 10 gallons, and age half for funk.  My wife told me I always sour and play with Brett, do something different for once. O_o?  She suggested coffee.  So I went with it.  Half coffee, and half aged on Brett for funk.  I had gotten to enraptured in the idea that I wasn't going to miss out on it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

REVIEW: Bangarang: Neverland (American Sour Collabo w/ Falling Sky)

When the guys at Falling Sky and I set out to do a kettle soured homage to my Best of Show Gueuze, I wondered if we would ever actually get it brewed.  Scheduling conflicts continued to get in the way.  But we made it, and I am sure pleased we did.  The beer is a hit at the pub.  A new member to our church was talking with another member over lunch about how great this sour beer was he had at Falling Sky.  That other member then introduced him to me, the guy across the table from him, as the brewer of said beer.  It has been a cool experience to have conversations with people about the beer and the vision behind it.  My head is getting a little big, but it is hard not to, the beer is that good.

Pours a slightly hazy deep orange with a decent head to it.  The head is low as the beer is carbed lower than it should be for a sour.  It also falls a little fast, but sticks around as a thick cap, which for a beer this sour is really good.  Some spotty lace clings to the sides, but not much.

The first thing to jump from the glass to the nose is a big sour bite.  Like lemons, but less citrusy.  Very clean for a kettle sour.  Most kettle sours I have had are easy to pick out, but not this one.  Tropical and stone fruits follow, mostly pineapple juice and Kern's Apricot Nectar.  The malt is dominated by sweet honey notes.

A blast of sweet tarts hits the tongue first, makes you pucker up for sure, like sour patch kids.  Mild fruity hops come in next but are pushed away quickly by honey and toasty malts.  It is definitely a sweet and sour punch.  When it was a little younger the hops came through more with the pineapple and apricot, with a finish of Lipton Iced Tea powder. 

This is a sour beer for sure, suck your lips off your face, but then it releases to a sweet, but light and crisp finish.  Faint bitterness.

Very clean and sour beer.  Sweet.  Hints of hops play with fruit up front.  Would actually like more from the hops, so I dry hopped my second keg with Mosaic and Simcoe.  It also need a higher CO2 level, which up until this past weekend I couldn't really do (I finally was able to hook up my dual regulator giving me 4 lines at normal beer levels, and one tap at a higher level for sours, wilds, Saisons, Belgians and Hefes).  You really have to be in the mood to have your lips removed to drink this beer though.  Wish we would have made it in May so I would have the kegs in July and August when it was really hot and this beer would have been super refreshing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

REVIEW # 70: BANGARANG: Rufio 2.0 (1st Place Imperial Red IPA)

The rain is here, actually it is dumping buckets full everywhere.  The weather report says that there is possible flooding, and strong South winds that could down power lines and take out trees.  It gets dark by 6pm, and it stays dark until after I am already at work in the morning.  The temps are dropping as quickly as the leaves on the trees.  Fall is officially here.  And so is my Imperial Red IPA.  I love having this beer around at this time of year, malty, hoppy, dank, alcoholic, warming, comforting.  Needs a couple tweeks and we should have a house recipe.

Pours a clear deep red bordering on brown with definite ruby highlights under a 2+ finger thick khaki head that lasts forever.  Bubbles are tight and small, leaving a thick lacing all the way down the glass, alcohol legs sweep along the path of the sip.

A huge burst of resin and pine leap from the glass before it even gets to your nose, and gives way to a generic bag-o-hop-pellets kick from the dry hops.  Citrus pith, mild coffee grounds, sweet breads, toffee, fruit cake, tangerines, and spicy hops.  As it warms there is a faint floral soap note.

Citrus rind washes all over the tongue at first sip, pith, resin, hop oils coat the entirety of the mouth, pine cones, and dank hops.  Below the initial burst of hops is a firm malt backbone, toffee, dark fruits, sweet malts, burnt sugar finish.  Spicy hops blend with the smooth but warming alcohol.  The finish is roasty, slightly ashy, and bitter, a pithy note lingers.  Touch of lactic sourness when really cold, I added 9ml of Lactic Acid to the sparge instead of 0.9ml, and it shows.

Medium body gives way to a dry and bitter finish.  The alcohol, dextrins, and carbonation leave a good body keeping it from becoming thin.  Medium carbonation helps deliver the hops and wash the palate clean.  Lingering bitterness and alcohol warmth.

The blend of hops and malts are pretty spot on for this beer.  The color is a tad dark, and the roastiness is too present in both aroma and flavor, need to dial the Black Patent back a hair.  Definitely need to avoid adding too much LA to the sparge water, detracts from a wonderful beer.  As always, my bitterness needs to get a crank up a notch or two.  Overall I am really pleased with the beer aside from the minor flaws, the worst of which is brewer error as opposed to recipe.

This beer took 1st place in the Imperial IPA category at the McKenzie Cider & Craft Beer Festival - Homebrew Competition

Thursday, October 16, 2014

UPDATE: Let it grow, let it grow, can't hold it back any more...

Got this video clip from Matt Van Wyk at Oakshire Brewing this morning.  This is the blow off activity on my yeast pitch I gave him at less than 24 hours after pitching onto just under 1 barrel of 10* plato wort.  Ferocious!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RECIPE #71: WTWTA: The Carol 3.0 (Lambic)

Earlier this year I entered a local BJCP competition and happened to win the Best of Show with a wild fermented "Lambic" I had brewed 2.5 years earlier.  I had cultured yeast and bacteria for that batch from blackberries over growing the fence of the back yard at our old house we rented, as well as peaches from the local farmer's market.  This was the only yeast I used for fermentation.  Over the course of the year I added dregs from commercial and homebrewed sours.  After a year and a half in bottles it won BOS.  When this happened I of course wanted to re-brew it, so I started stepping up the dregs.  For winning BOS I got to brew the batch at Falling Sky, but they don't do sours, so we did a kettle soured version that mimicked the original.  

Just after the win I was chatting about the beer with Matt Van Wyk of Oakshire Brewing and that it wouldn't actually be re-brewed commercially.  Then, almost as if it wasn't a big deal, he stated that he would brew the beer with me.  Matt makes amazing sours and the thought of even being able to do my beer with him is a huge honor.  8 months later and we are there.  I brewed this current batch for myself, 10 gallons, to fill a 6 gallon wine barrel, and have some for aging and blending later, as well as the big reason, to begin growing the yeast up for the 10 barrel batch.  I had pitched my starter onto 6 gallons of the wort I got from my Falling Sky brew, then pitched that slurry onto this 10 gallon batch.  I gave the slurry from this batch to the Matt who stepped it up on a 1 barrel batch to have it ready to ferment 10 barrels.  A few days from typing this, I will be at Oakshire brewing this recipe on a large scale for aging in full size wine barrels.  Never thought I would see this day come.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

REVIEW: I (heart) PcA (1st place IPA)

When my pastor told me we were going to do a Fall Party for the church and wanted me to brew a beer for it, I knew right away what I wanted to make.  I wanted an IPA, because that is the drink of choice here in the PNW.  Home to Oakshire and Ninkasi, the people here in Eugene know good IPAs, so I had to make a great one for the event.  I wanted big citrus character with background pine and resin notes.  I wanted a dry finish.  I wanted a firm bitterness.  Boy did I get it.

Pours a fairly clear orange with a touch of haze which is appropriate for a dry hopped beer.  A 3 finger eggshell colored head with tight bubbles sits atop the beer and slowly fades to a thick cap that lasts the whole way down.  Thick lacing clings to the glass and spots its way down the glass to the end.  Beautiful beer, best looking IPA I have made to date.

The smell of floral hops hits first with a touch of geranium, but not overpowering as some floral notes can get.  This is shoved out of the way quickly by an onslaught of grapefruit rind, sweet onions, hop oils, and mangoes.  After a moment there is a hint of sweaty socks (hello again Amarillo), followed by lemon and lychee fruits.  Touch of dank and pine, some sweet bread notes, and a hint of alcohol.

The first wash over the tongue is super oily, resinous hops, pine, bitter grapefruit, and tropical fruits.  There is a touch of floral, but not much and a hint of dirty peaches.  Sweet malt backbone supports the hops well leading to a firm bitterness that lingers on the back of the tongue.  Touch of grainy crackers.

The medium to light body gives way to a really dry (but not bone dry) finish.  The bitterness is firm but not abrasive or harsh, and it lingers through the glass.  No astringency.  Touch of warming alcohol.

I am really happy with this recipe.  I have always been anti-crystal malts in my IPAs but the light handed use of the lower lovibond Carastan actually worked quite well.  The sweet grainy malt and dry finish really let the hops shine.  Complex blend of citrus, dank, tropical, and floral work great together without getting muddled.  The bitterness is firm, but could actually stand to get turned up a few more IBUs.  Need to keep this recipe in the rotation and make a couple tweeks.

This beer took 1st place in the IPA category at the McKenzie Cider & Craft Beer Festival - Homebrew Competition

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

RECIPE #70: BANGARANG: Rufio 2.0 (1st place Imperial Red IPA)

I just love having a big, bold, dank, pithy, piney, red, hop bomb around a couple times a year.  Especially in the Fall when the darkness starts creeping in sooner and sooner, the nights are cooling off, the garden is waning, the trees are changing colors, the hops are fresh.  I usually don't like much, if any, crystal malts in my hoppy beers, and have even avoided it completely at times.  For my Imperial Red IPA I do like some burnt sugar in there, just not raisins and plums.  Of course you have to have the right hops to play nicely over a red, malty, base with a touch of burnt sugars and toffee, and a big alcohol presence.  I have done 2 beers along these lines in the past, the first iteration of Rufio was over a base of Vienna and Munich with Chinook, Simcoe, and CTZ.  The second Imperial Red IPA I did last fall used flaked barley, crystal rye, and Kiln Amber for a malty and aromatic base to support the Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and CTZ hops.  For this version (a return to Rufio), I used a base close to Pliny the Elder with an extra layer of Crystal using an addition of British Dark Crystal for burnt sugar and color along with the Carastan for honey and light toffee notes, as well as Black Malt for the color and dry roast finish.  I really enjoyed the way the 4 C hops played up the dank and pith last Fall over the more berry / tropical fruit forward notes on the first Rufio, so I went with this combo again.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


As I look back through old posts, and try to organize the blog, I came to realize that I had made an initial recipe post for the clean beer that eventually became the two sour beers that are Ira and Judith. I also gave some random updates with lofty ideas about all this crazy stuff I was going to do, and on how things were going. But there was no single recipe to show for the beers, what I actually did with them, what the process was, aging times, fruit additions, blending, bottling, etc. If someone wanted real info on the beers and how to make them, I didn't have gathered source of all the information. So, here it is. I have given the original recipe and fermentation specs, then outlined the process from there on in the notes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

RECIPE #69: I(heart)PcA (1st place IPA)

There has been a large shift in our church lately away from an attitude of retreat from "the world" to one of pursuing people with Christ's grace.  Our church is located in the South Hills so it can be out of the way and easily overlooked.  We haven't had much exposure to the community, even other churches don't know who we are.  Time for all that to change.  In an attempt to get more exposure, and to serve those around us, our church is going to be putting on an annual Fall Kick Off Party, the first of which is scheduled for October.  Part of this kick off party is to have beverages and food for people to enjoy.  Of course, in a city like Eugene, the beverage of choice is Craft Beer, and not just any Craft Beer, as this is the birthplace of Ninkasi, we prefer IPA.  I was asked to make the beer for the party, so I went with a hop bomb.  I have been really happy with the last few IPAs I have brewed in the aroma hop kick department, but the bitterness is always too low, and for a culture acclimated to NW IPAs, the bitterness has to be there.  To get my bitterness up on this one I pushed the Sulfates up over 250 ppm, dried it out, and upped the BU:GU ratio to 1.35.  This should give me a nice dry, bitter bite in the finish, and tons of hops in the flavor and nose.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

RECIPE: BANGARANG: Neverland (American Sour Collabo with Falling Sky)

Back in February I was able to watch the Best of Show unfold at a competition I had judged, and also entered.  It was completely humbling and shocking to see my 2.5 year old Gueuze advance to the top 6, top 5, top 4, top 3, top 2, Best of Show.  I still find myself at times wondering if it really happened.  The prize was to brew the beer on a full system at Falling Sky Brewing.  Issue is that they don't do sours, it would take 2+ years for the beer to be done, and I didn't have the exact yeast pitch used for primary as I had cultured it from Blackberries and Peaches almost 3 years ago.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

REVIEW: Enygma (Mystery Saison)

For going into this beer blind to exactly what to expect from both the hops and the yeast, I am quite pleased with the results.  So much so that I want to brew it again, and used the yeast for my barrel project.  The yeast didn't finish as dry as I had hoped on this iteration, but after speaking with the manufacturer, he stated that it is much more characterful and dry when used at a higher temp (got down to 1.005 on the barrel beer, but it contained sugar as well).  It is still fairly dry, spicy, characterful, and hoppy, and the taste is great.

Look:   3/3
Literally clear enough to read through, this beer is stunning.  Pours a brilliant pale gold into my Saison glass.  A top the beer is a thick, moussey, stiff head made of tiny bubbles that lasts for days, leaving thick lace down the glass to the bottom.

Aroma:  7/12
The first thing to jump from the glass on this beer is definitely the hops.  Bold burst of floral and resin, hop oils, grassy, light herb notes, earthy.  Under this is a touch of sulfur (part of the yeast's character) and white peppercorns.  There is some hay and a touch of funkiness to it, but not Bretty.  A mild vinous character, grape skins, hint of pear.

Flavor:  13/20
As the beer washes over the palette there is a general tartness to it, mildly Lactic, giving way to a wheaty cracker note from the malts.  Herbal and floral hop notes in the mid range play nicely with the peppery notes from the yeast.  No esters, just a touch of sulfur.  The finish is a medium bitterness, but needs to be dryer.

Mouthfeel:  2/5
Medium body sits light on the tongue from the carbonation which should be higher in a Saison, but that is the sacrifice you make with kegs.  Semi-dry finish needs some work as it should be bone dry for the style.  Bitterness is right where I wanted it which is amazing since I didn't know any information on the hops, not even the variety.  Touch of tartness and phenols in the end.

Overall:  9/10
Though the beer is lacking the super dry finish and high carbonation, as well as the dominate esters of a typical Saison, this beer is really enjoyable.  Not totally true to style, but headed in the right direction for sure.  The marriage of hops and yeast on the mild malt background is an amazing display of rustic character.  During fermentation, this yeast exhibited a strong smell of Orange Julius (orange juice and banana) which didn't carry over into the final product which is sad.

Friday, August 15, 2014

RECIPE: The Becca Begins (Solera Barrel 1st Fill: Belgian Blonde)

Barrel is all topped up
Ever since I started brewing sour beers, and especially after reading Wild Brews, I have wanted to make a sour and put it into a barrel to age.  Specifically I wanted to start a Sour Solera, fill it with one beer, sour it, pull a portion after 6 months, then refill the (now) empty portion of the barrel with new beer.  I can add the same recipe as the original keeping the base flavors the same, or I can add something different and shift the color, aroma, and flavor profile in a different direction for the next pull.  I just needed something to house the beer.

I had considered using one of the blue plastic drums from the Homebrew Store that previously housed Liquid Malt Extract, but the potential oxygen uptake on a project of this size was too much for me.  I had also tried to figure out a way to do it with a retired 1/2 barrel keg but couldn't find one through legal paths.  I had put out an email to the brew club to see if anyone had a lead on one, and a response I wasn't expecting came back: I have a 14 gallon wine barrel that I am not going to use that you can have.  Wow!  Jackpot!  

Saison and 5 Brett Strains
The barrel had set empty for some time so I had to do some work to get it to swell again as well as to clean it for holding my beer and not adding unwanted bacteria to it like acetobacter.  It took a couple days to get it to swell.  First i filled it 1/3 full with boiling water and stood it on each head.  I also filled the heads on the outside with boiling water to get them to swell.  After setting it back on its belly on the stand it was dropping water quite a bit.  I topped it up to about 1/2 full  with cold tap water and left it there for the day (went to finish my brew at Falling Sky).  I came back afterwards and topped it up to about 3/4 full as the water flow had declined (but not stopped).  The following day I topped it off to full after adding Potassium Metabisulfate (2g/L) and Citric Acid (1g/L) to it to kill any bacteria, mold, and anything else as well as keep the water fresh.  It was fully swollen and holding water tight by the next day.

Mash is Drained
I decided that I wanted to brew a Belgian Blonde for the first iteration to go through the barrel.  I wanted the light, fruity, spicy, funky, tart flavors to shine, let the yeast do the bulk of the talking on this one.  From here I can go wherever I feel fit.  I took a queue from Russian River's sour Blonde Sanctification and went with a lower OG than Belgian Blonde's usually have since the higher degree of attenuation from the primary yeasts, bacteria, and Brett will make it super dry and raise the ABV that way.  To give some character to the beer I used a fair amount of Belgian Aromatic malt and a home made Invert Sugar which lended a fruity alcohol note during fermentation.  I set up to brew 15+ gallons to ensure a full fill, but hit 16 gallons, and in the end, I still came up shy by 1/2 a gallon. 

Only time will tell where this one goes from here.

Gallons: 16.00
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.005
ABV: 6.40%
Added Invert Sugar to Hot Wort to Dissolve
IBUs: 22
SRM: 7.0
Efficiency: 92%
20.00# Weyermann Pilsner (80.0%)
2.50# Special Aromatic (10.0%)
2.50# Sugar, Invert (10.0%)
Mash 10 hours @ 154*F
Boil 45 mins
35 2.00 oz Magnum 16.40%AA
Kettle Additions:
Gypsum - Mash 1 1/4 tsp; Boil 1 3/8 tsp
Epsom Salts - Mash 1/2 tsp; Boil 1/2 tsp
Calcium Chloride - Mash 1 3/8 tsp; Boil 1 5/8 tsp
Lactic Acid - Sparge 1.4ml
Yeast Nutrient - 6 taps
Whirfloc - 1 each
Cooled to: 74*F
2 Better Bottles = JasperYeast JY43 Saison slurry from Enygma

1 Better Bottle = JY33 B Brux & 87 B Brux, ECY B Naardensis, B Custersianus, and B Nanus, Cascade Brewing Lactobicillus Brevis
Barrel = WLP B Brux Trois, BSI B Lambicus, WY B Clausenii, Orval B Brux, Elysian's Mortis B Brux, Flat Tail Brewing "Brett F" wild yeast from local plums, Cascade L Brevis
74*F 2 days
78*F 2 days
85*F 10 days
Ambient Garage Temps for 6+ months

Maxed out my 17.5 gallon Kettle
7/16 Boiled 3 3/4 qts of water with 2.5# of Demerra sugar and 5/8 tsp of Citric Acid for 2 hours to make 2 qts of invert sugar. Next time I will add half the water volume and boil for 20 minutes. Think it might be too dark and rummy for a Belgian Blonde. 

7/18-19 Brewed alone, mashed all grains in at 8:30pm at 154*F. Dropped to 142*F by 7:30am, loss of 12*F over 11 hours. Sparged and boiled as one batch, added the sugar and end of boil. Cooled wort to 74*F and transferred via pump to 3 Better Bottles at 10:00am . Pitched 2 with JY 43 Saison strain slurry from Enygma, and the other with 5 Brett strains and Lacto. Set controller to 74*F. Positive pressure and bubbles in Saison yeast fermentors within hours, full krausen on all 3 by next morning. 

CO2 Force Racked Into Barrel
7/21 Jumped temps up to 78*F 

7/23 Jumped up to 85*F 

7/27 Pulled samples, tastes great. 1.006, 1.005, 1.004 on the refractometer. 

8/2 Wracked off of yeast into cleaned 15 gallon wine barrel. Samples of the JY43 version were lightly sulfury, higher alcohols, fruity, no phenols. The Brett and Lacto version had a bit of funk and over-ripe fruits. Came up short on volume some how, so I racked ½-1 gallon of the Too Small Sour Brett Rye Saison in with a bottling wand shoved into the picnic tap to avoid splashing and filled the headspace. This added BSI Brett Lambicus, Elysian’s Brett B, Wyeast Brett C, Orval Brett B, and Flat Tail’s Brett “F” to the mix as well as more Cascade Lacto. 

8/12 Pulled bung to see a pellicle has already formed and took a sample. Light Brett spiciness and funk mingled with fruity alcohol.

8/16 Was able to score some 4D Stainless Steel nails from a super helpful brewer in town that has an amazing barrel aging program. Drilled the head of the barrel about 3/4 of the way down with a 7/64" drill bit and then slid one of the nails into the hole. This gives me the ability to pull samples from the barrel over time and not have to open the barrel itself and expose the beer to oxygen.

Left in garage at ambient temps to age and sour (Max temp in August in garage was 122*F).

Monday, August 4, 2014

#67 RE: Fresh (Mango Berlinerweisse)

Another beer my wife really enjoys is a tart, light, spritzy, wheaty Berlinerweisse.  As do I.  And since the grists for my Hefeweisse I made for her and this Berliner are so close, why not make one of each at the same time.  Last time I did this I had a bad sour mash.  This time I opted for a single boil of both beers to 8.5 gallons, and then split them for fermentation.  I topped off the Berliner to dilute it to the proper strength, and the IBUs were perfect for both.  I have the Cascade Lacto strain, and decided to let it have fun all on its own for a week before introducing any Sacc to encourage good acid development in a short time.  I pitched big too, 1L starter of a very fierce bacteria, then hit it with some Kolsch yeast to finish the work, lower the gravity, and drop the pH even more.

After primary was done it was yogurty, and tart, but not as tart as I wanted.  I also had a few pounds of Mango chopped up in the freezer.  I added the beer to the fruit to age for a few weeks, and also fermented some pure Mango juice with the Lacto for some more fruit flavor and sourness.  On bottling I added a little food grade Lactic Acid to make it pop just a little more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update: A Barrel, and A Brewer for A Day (Or Two)

It has been a busy past few weeks and in our world, it isn't going to slow down anytime soon.  Wanted to give a quick update for what is in the works since there is nothing completed at the moment to post about.

I was able to squeeze in a brewday just over a week ago for 16 gallons of Belgian Blonde which I had made 2.5# of Invert Sugar for.  This will be going into a 14 gallon wine barrel that I was given by a friend.  Trying to get a bone dry barrel to swell was not an easy task.  I started yesterday morning and it is still dripping today, but nothing like the waterfalls pouring out when I first added water.  I put a holding solution of Citric Acid (1g/L) and Potassium Metabisulfate (2g/L) in there to kill any acetobacter or mold that might have been inside, and to keep it swollen and ready for this weekend when I move the beer into it.

Some seepage from the top staves
Falling drip of water
Another Drip Shot
I also spent this past Saturday and Yesterday as a brewer for a day at Falling Sky Brewing.  It was my prize for winning Best of Show in February.  We weren't able to rebrew my beer since they don't do sours, but we did a mock of it which was fun.  We mashed and soured the wort on Saturday, then went back on Tuesday to finish it off with a boil and hopping.

Adding the grains to the mashtun
12oz Citra Mash Hops
Brunch at the brewery, Pork Benedict
Cleaning out the Lauter Tun
Simcoe, Galaxy, 291
Free wort for me to take home and play with
Surprise lunch visitor came to see me brew
The yeast is in