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.