Thursday, August 11, 2011

3 Beers, 1 Mash

Back at the very end of August I had a difficult brew day, difficult because of what I had planned. I originally had set out to brew 2 beers with wheat. I wanted to do a Bavarian Hefeweisse and an American Wheat w/ fruit for my wife. So I set out to brew them both from 1 mash. I had been tossing around the idea of how I was going to do the American Wheat: blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, all 3, something completely different. This was also the same time that Falconer's Flight proprietary hop blend came out. As I was doing some research on them I thought, "ooh, lots of tropical notes, pineapple, some pine and grapefruit, sounds like a 'fruity' beer to me!", so I approached my wife about doing a hoppy wheat beer that would taste tropical and she loved it (except for the hoppy part). So the plan was set, 1 Bavarian Hefe that I would culture the yeast from Sierra Nevada Kellerweisse to brew, and a hoppy American Wheat with 7oz of hops and a whole pineapple (as if the hops weren't enough). Then, about a week before brew day, I got a wild hair, literally: Berliner Weisse! Berliner Weisse is a very low gravity, low alcohol, super dry, sour German wheat beer with a slight Brett funk, and I could do it from the left over runnings from the other 2 beers. What began as 2 beers became 3!

Here is the grain bill:
7# Pilsner Malt (37%)
10# Wheat Malt (53%)
1# German Dark Wheat Malt (5%)
1# Flaked Wheat (5%)

This was my first attempt at a lot of things, seeing as it was my 6th batch of homebrew, and 3rd all-grain, this was a feat in itself. It was the first attempt at culturing yeast from a bottle. First attempt at doing a double sized mash. First time using wheat (and 63% at that). First attempt at step mashing. First sour mash. First sour. First open fermentation. First time using fruit.

The mash started off difficult, I had to fit 19# of malt into my mash tun, and do a step mash (which requires infusing extra water to take the temperature up to the next level). I started out by doing an acid rest @ 113 to create the precursors for 4 vinyl guaiacol (the clove flavor in Hefe). Then I scrambled to get enough boiling water ready to get it up to 120 for a protien rest. After that I scrambled again to get enough boiling water to get it up to the sacc rest @ 152. Got it to 148... NO! Had to add some more boiling water (wasn't ready) which put it to the brim of my cooler mash tun, and barely hit 152. I thought I would have to do my first decoction mash to get it right, but it worked. Mashed for an hour, then started to vorlauf. I took the first runnings into the kettle to measure, then hit the MLT (mash-lauter tun) with the sparge water. I drained this into a 15 gallon rubbermaid storage container (I had to have all 13 gallons in 1 master volume and then split it for the beers to be equal gravity), as I siphoned the 6.5 gallon from the kettle into it as well and stirred. Mean while I hit the grain bed with more water and added some more pils and some acid malt, and let it rest for a couple hours.

I syphoned 6.5 gallons into the kettle, added .25oz of Simcoe hops, and brought it to a boil for 90 minutes, cooled, topped off with water because I was short on volume, and then syphoned it into my 6.5 gallon fermenting bucket. I added the yeast I had cultured from the SN Kellerweisse, and put one of my large mesh sacks over top and taped it off... that's right, no lid, open fermentation. As you can see in the picture, the krausen got huge, no restraint or stress on those yeasties!

I then added the remaining 6.5 gallons of wort to the kettle and comenced the boiling sequence for it, adding quite a lot of hops as the boil came to a close. I cooled it, syphoned into the Better Bottle, and attached the blow off tube after adding a slurry of 1056 from Oakshire Brewing and aeration.

Now back to the MLT. I added enough cool water to drop the temp to 118 F and fill the MLT to the brim. I didn't put saran wrap or foil on top (to protect from oxygen which feeds the wrong bacteria) like I should have, but it turned out good in the end. I placed it inside an old sleeping bag and put it inside over night. 22 hours later I took it out and popped the top to the most horrid smell ever; like death climbed into my MLT and used it as a jacuzzi. I got it outside and ran off 6.5 gallons, and started the boil with aged hops that made it smell worse. I topped it off as it boiled with more runnings as it boiled for 2.25 hours. Finally I cooled it and racked it into my glass carboy. I added a smack pack of WY 1007 German Ale, and a 2L starter of built up dregs from RR Supplication (Lacto, Pedio, Brett). Sour mash, and souring bugs in primary... what did I get myself into! That thing continued to reek through fermentation.

After a few days I scooped off the krausen from the Hefe and put a lid on it just to ensure that nothing got into it (especially since I had a wild 4 feet away). Then after 2 weeks I racked the hoppy wheat into a 5 gallon bucket and added an entire pineapple that I had cored and chopped up. The next day I added 2 oz of dry hops. After another week, we bottled both "Cavendish and Cloves Collide" and "Harmonious Convergence" (named such as it was a harmonious convergence of my wife's desire for a fruity wheat, and my desire for a hoppy one). "Left Out Left Overs", the Berliner Weisse stayed in primary another 4 weeks. At a total of 7 weeks we bottled "Left Out Left Overs" and let it carb for 2 weeks in the warm garage inside rubbermaid storage containers with lids just in case of bottle bombs (when an over carbonated bottle explodes due to pressure), but none hit. I put one case into the fridge after the 2 weeks, and left another out for 6. They went into the fridge @ 1.007, but after the 6th week bottled, I degassed 2 beers (one of the 2 week crew, and one of the 6 week) to compare gravities. Both clocked in @ 1.004! They dropped another 3 points after bottling; that is amazing they didn't blow.

They all taste great. The Hefe has a lot of over-ripe banana, vanilla, and a clove kick on the back end, very smooth and creamy, superb head and lacing, but they have gone almost crystal clear in just over a month. The hoppy wheat is nice and tropical, lots of pineapple, grapefruit, a little pine, tart wheat, smooth, dry finish, lots of haze, great head retention, and a nice bitter bite. The Berliner is quite sour, smells of ripe fruit, greek yogurt, and funk, with a dry, fizzy, sour punch in the throat; lots of white bubbly head that quickly disipates. Very impressed with all three, but will probably never do the entire thing over again.

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