Wednesday, May 28, 2014

RECIPE: #63 Hey, You Made It (Vienna Lager)

Lagers.  It is a love hate relationship.  I used to hate them.  Then I made a couple, and they turned out very well, even taking home some medals.  They tend to go through stages.  At first they are meh, it's clean and wet.  Then they peak and you realize you don't have much left.  Then it either dissapears in the middle of its glory like my Pilsner, or I hold onto it long enough that it shows age and becomes nothing but a bland cooking medium at best like my CAP from last Summer.  They are not my favorite styles of beer, and I would much rather drink a Saison, Wit, German Hefe, or Sour on a hot Summer night over a Pils, but there is still something beautiful about a perfectly brewed and poured lager.  As I stated at the beginning of the year, I am out to win competitions this year, including Club Only Comps for our brew club.  The 4 medals and Best of Show in February set me on the course for accomplishing this, but I still need to get in on our COC comps.  The next one is lagers, so I wanted to get at least one beer in there.

Friday, May 23, 2014

UPDATE: New Look

I have been struggling with the look of the blog lately.  Don't get me wrong, the black look was slick, but it always felt dark.  The black theme didn't seem to convey the vibrancy and joy of life and beer.  Don't get me wrong, I love the beauty of a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout as thick as motor oil on a cold and gloomy night, but I would much rather sit in my yard on a warm Spring day with the flowers blooming and a Lambic or Saison in my glass.  To give a more vibrant feel to the blog I redid the banner at the top (Brett pellicle) as well as the background (cells) to give it more pop and life.  I also switched up the all the Pages too to reflect the theme of Ending the Silence and Letting the Beer Speak!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

RECIPE: 1st Place APA #64 Tropic Thunder (Vienna, Amarillo, Simcoe, Brett Trios APA)

When I put together my recipe for my Vienna Lager I had to split the mash up for something else.  I thought about it and toasty malts, 1.048 OG, sounds like a great canvas for an American Pale.  Add to this that I wanted a Pale to enter into the Sasquatch homebrew comp, and I had already blown my keg of IPA with the Black IPA headed to the same demise, I needed a hop bomb.  Stephen had done a lot of work to clean up an infected pitch of Conan I had, and I had planned to use it to ferment this batch.  Low and behold I didn't ask for it soon enough and didn't have time to get it built up in time.  I thought about using the pitch of 1469 I still had from the IPA, since it has a lot of peach notes too, but decided against it.  I made that decision because I had 6 strains of Brett built up for the Saison, and have heard very good results from others about Brett Trois and hoppy beers.  I had only done one other Brett and Hops beer and didn't care for some my hop choices.  I really wanted to do one again, so why not now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

DIY: Making Yeast Extract

As I continue to bug out on bacteria and wild yeast (pun intended), I find more and more information on ways to culture and grow them.  I am also beginning to get more technical than simply adding dregs to starter wort and letting it go for awhile, though that works well.  Part of this is coming from reading a lot of information over on BK Yeast's blog, and part from the fact that I have been hanging out with Stephen, a buddy from church, who has a lab in his garage and works in microbiology.  In my reading I came across a post on BK Yeast about making Yeast Extract.  In the yeast ranching world Yeast Extract (YE) is an important component.  It is one of the main ingredients in agar plates for growing yeast and brewing bacterias, along with a sugar source (usually malt and glucose), and hydrolized protein.  In the DIY spirit of homebrewing he set out to make his own YE for plates and for growing cultures.  I followed most of his instructions to make my own, including information in his follow up post, and both Stephen and I used it with great success when mixed into our yeast starters.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Recipes: #61 BANGARANG: Jolly Roger & #62 BANGARANG: Too Small (Saisons)

Saisons, arguably my favorite beer style.  Well, that and IPAs.  And Wild/Sour beers.  Hard to choose... so why not just take aspects from each of them and combine them?  In more of the American Farmhouse tradition I took a more traditional Saison (Pale, Rye, Munich) at 1.037 OG and layered in some bold American hops.  Coupled with the dry and bitter finish, with the fruity and spicy yeast character it should make for a great, easy drinking beer.  I also split up the big batch onto 2 separate yeast pitches. 

For one I used a starter I had built up from Allagash Confluence, which contains their proprietary house Belgian yeast strain as well as a proprietary Brett strain they isolated in their coolship (named it Jolly Roger since I plundered their yeasts!).  On the other half my yeast pitch was far more complex, which I dubbed Too Small since it is so crushable.  I had to resurrect an 8 month old Fantome yeast and 2 Brett strains from the fridge, cultured a new strain from Orval, and built up 3 other Brett strains.  Add to this that I attempted to culture 3 sources of Lacto (which failed).  I was able to get a good pitch of Cascade Lacto from Stephen though, so it worked out.   All of these strains were pitched (along with some 3726 Farmhouse) simultaneously at primary.  My hope is for a fruity, slightly spicy, tart, funky, complex blend of all the yeasts and bacteria.