Friday, September 27, 2013

Nelson Sauvin Rye Pale Ale

The first time I had Alpine Nelson I was blown away.  I haven't had the beer in nearly two years, but I still have vivid memories of trying it.  It was unlike anything I've ever had; tropical, white wine like, and with a perfectly balanced malt character.  From that point on, I made it a goal of mine as a homebrewer to brew something similar.  From my extract days to a couple of partial mashes, I've attempted a Nelson Sauvin RyePA  three or four times with various supporting hops and brewing techniques.  However, I had yet to attempt an all grain version as the more experienced brewer I am now.  It seemed all the other beers had off flavors, whether from process or poor fermentation.  So when I was looking for my next hoppy beer to brew, I figured it would be the perfect time for another go at it.

This beer is not meant to be a clone.  The style was meant to be the only similarity--an IPA brewed with rye and Nelson Sauvin hops.  While I do know that Alpine Nelson is brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Southern Cross hops, I went about formulating the hop bill from scratch.  It is very easy to "over Nelson" a beer so the supporting hops are important.  I wanted to be sure to make the Nelson shine, but still add something a little bit different in the background.  At the end of the day, I decided to go with Mosaic, one of my favorite new American varities, since it has a similar profile to Nelson Sauvin with dank tropical fruit and a slight cattiness, but it is different enough to be interesting.  The second supporting hop I went with was Ahtanum.  To me, Ahtanum is citrusy and earthy hop.  I thought the citrus notes in the background would make the tropical, grape, berry, and melon notes from the Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic not appear too out there for an American IPA.  And the earthy notes from Ahtanum mix well with the earthy and spicy notes from the rye.  

As for the malt bill, I wanted this beer to be an American IPA with rye, specifically an IPA first.  Therefore, I avoided most of the darker malts that many rye beers include.  I find this gives many people a false impression that rye is a dark malt, when it's really only about 4 Lovibond (the Rahr 2-row I use is 2 Lovibond).  In my normal IPAs I use Vienna Malt and CaraPils with the 2-row, but I did decide to make this a little bit darker using Light Munich and Crystal 40 in order to make sure the rye is noticeable but not overpowering.  As for the Flaked Rye, I use it in my saisons so I always have some, I saw the half opened bag and threw it in.  I really don't see a need for it since nearly 20% Rye Malt is more than enough to be noticed.  All it really did was force me to make an emergency LHBS run for the next saison I brewed.  So I'd probably leave that out next time.

Nelson RyePA
Brewed 26 August 2013, by myself
Batch size: 5.25 gallons
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.009
IBU: 70
SRM: 7
60 minute boil

7 lbs. Rahr 2-row
2 lbs. Weyermann Rye Malt
1 lb. Weyermann Light Munich
8 oz. Crystal 40
8 oz. Flaked Rye

5ml CO2 extract @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Warrior @ 60 min. (16% AA)
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ 0 min (30 minute hop stand) (11.2% AA)
1.00 oz. Ahtanum @ 0 min. (30 minute hop stand) (4.6% AA)
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin dry hop
1.00 oz. Mosaic dry hop
1.00 oz. Ahtanum dry hop

WLP001, 1L starter made 8/24

Carbon Filtered DC water with 3.2g gypsum and 3.6g CaCl2 added to the mash
Ca: 87 ppm
Mg: 7 ppm
Na: 20 ppm
Cl: 79 ppm
SO4: 99 ppm

1/4 tsp. of yeast nutrient and 1 Whirlfloc tablet added with 15 minutes left in the boil

150F for 60 minutes

Collected 6 gallons of 1.050 runnings (72% efficiency)
Chilled to 85F, put in fridge to get to 65F
Pitched decanted starter, solid fermentation after 12 hours, blowing off in 36 hours

9/6/2013 - Added 1/2  the dry hops after crashing to 50F overnight

9/8/2013 - Added the other half of the dry hops 

9/15/2013 - Kegged

9/27/2013 - Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Golden, light amber, beautiful beer color.  Slight haze from the rye and a two finger head that lingers around with lacing around the entire glass.

Smell: Dank, tropical fruit, with a nice caramel sweetness in the background

Taste: Sweet tropical fruit start, maybe mango? papaya? that leads into a nice white wine musty flavor with nice earthy note, possibly from the rye, and Ahtanum.  The finish is bitter and spicy from the rye but the caramel malt flavor is just apparent enough to keep the beer balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light carbonation, slightly chewy and dry enough (1.009!) that the crystal malt doesn't compete with the hops. Pretty much exactly where I want my beers to be.   

Overall: While Alpine Nelson is a vivid memory, there's no way I could possibly remember all the intricacies of it's taste.  I'd love to taste Nelson next to this just for comparisons sake.  I know there are different (as was my intention), but they're probably my two favorite Nelson Sauvin forward beers, and I'd love to see how different they really are.  I couldn't be happier with this beer.  

9/28/2013 - The beer won the Best of Show at the DC State Fair Homebrew Competition.  Scoring a 45 (non-BJCP) and placing first out of 79 beers.  Cool!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Honey Grisette

Grisette, a relatively unknown style of beer, is a farmhouse ale with origins with the miners in the Hainut province in southern Belgium.  Basically, what Saison is to farmers, Grisette is to miners.  Traditionally, a grisette is lighter and lower in alcohol when compared to a saison, and generally features a generous amount of wheat. Grisette literally means "grey", a reference to the color of the outfits of the female factory workers that would hand out the beer to the miners at the end of the day.

For my second beer utilizing WY3725 (the first was a Dark Saison I brewed the day before), I wanted to brew a grisette, but make it my own by adding honey.  I read that Shaun Hill uses 15-20% honey in his honey saisons, so chose that as a target amount.  Choosing the variety of honey required a little more thought.  For this beer, knowing I was going to use WY3725 as the yeast, I wanted to have an subtle tart and earthy flavor profile with a little bit of citrus in the background. So to help accentuate the citrus, I decided to use Orange Blossom Honey added at flame out to provide a little bit of flavor, but not overpower the other ingredients in the beer.

"Grisette de Miel"
Breweed 11 August 2013 by myself
Batch size: 5.25 gallons
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.003
IBU: 25
SRM: 3.6
60 minute boil

4 lbs. Rahr 2-row
2 lbs. Rahr Red Wheat
8 oz. Whole Foods Quick Oats
8 oz. Flaked Rye
1 lb. Orange Blossom Honey added at flameout

0.35 oz. Warrior @ 60 minutes (16% AA)
2.00 oz. Styrian Goldings @ 5 minutes (4% AA)

WY3725 - Biere de Garde 2L starter made 8/8/2013, pitched 750ml

1 tablet Whirlfloc, and 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient added at 15 min.

60 minutes at 152F

Carbon Filtered DC tap water with 2g gypsum and 2g CaCl2 added to the mash and 2 gallons and 1.2g gypsum and 1.6g CaCl2 added to the sparge
Ca: 89 ppm
Mg: 5 ppm
Na: 15 ppm
Cl: 84 ppm
SO4: 99 ppm


Collected 6 gallons of 1.034 runnings (75% efficiency)
Chilled to 88F, put if fridge to cool to 70F
~8 hours later pitched decanted starter, left at 68F ambient to ferment, solid fermentation 12 hours later
Ramped temperature up to ~80F after 2 days

8/20/2013 - 1.003, nice but not too much yeast character, apparent orange earthiness from honey

8/24/2013 - Needed fermenter so I kegged with 4.5 oz. table sugar and .25 oz. chamomile in 8 oz. water

9/1/2013 - put on tap

Dark Farmhouse Ale

I have begun my search to find the perfect "house" saison strain.  Wyeast re-released in July WY3725-Biere de Garde.  This is a saccharomyces isolated from Fantome and should produce mild esters/phenols, finish slightly tart, and accentuate the malt.  I decided to brew two beers in consecutive days, this dark saison and a honey grisette, to get a better feel for this yeast.  I didn't expect this yeast to be overly expressive, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to brew a farmhouse style ale with dark malt bill and have the malt and yeast play off of one another rather than clash in terms of flavor.  I've had a couple darker saisons where the yeast character and the darker malt flavors seemed to be competing, not complementing one another; so I definitely wanted the latter over the former. At the end of the day, my plan is to split this beer 3 ways: 1) straight with just saccharomyces, 2) secondarily fermented with Wyeast Brettanomyces Lambicus, and 3) secondarily fermented with Brett. Lambicus and my house sour microbe blend. I think it will be really interesting to see how different microbes and aging can make the same beer taste so different.
Gnarly pellicle on the Brett Lambicus portion

The grains to use were the most important aspect in designing this beer. For a beer than is expected to finish dry, and be refermented with various microbes, an abundance of roasted grains can lead to astringency.  To try to avoid this, I went with Briess' Midnight Wheat.  This is roasted wheat that is very dark (550L), but imparts more of a chocolate flavor and deep color as opposed to roast and astringency.  I also used flaked rye to add some spice and earthiness, and melonoidin and red wheat for a little more depth and protein in the beer for the long term secondary fermentation.

The hops are pretty much straight forward saison.  Saaz for a little spice, and a touch of Styrian Golding for earthiness and subtle citrus.

Oh and this is my first beer using a drill to turn my grain mill, which is awesome.

Dark Farmhouse Ale
Brewed 10 August 2013 by myself
Batch size: 5.25 gallons
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.005 (straight portion)
IBU: 20
SRM: 17
Boil time: 70 minutes

8 lbs. Rahr 2-Row
1 lb. Rahr Red Wheat
1 lb. Flaked Rye
1 lb. Weyermann Melonoidin
4 oz. Briess Midnight Wheat

0.25 oz. Warrior @ 60 min (15.5% AA)
1.00 oz. Saaz @ 20 min (3.1% AA)
1.00 oz. Saaz @ 0 min (3.1% AA)
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (3.0% AA)

WY3725 - Biere de Garde: 2L Starter made 8/8/2013, pitched 800ml
WY5528 - Brettanomyces Lambicus
"House" Sour Blend

1 tablet Whirlfloc and 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient @ 15 min.

Carbon filtered DC with 3g gypsum and 3.6g CaCl2 added the mash and 2.5 gallons distilled added to the sparge
Ca: 76 ppm
Mg: 5 ppm
Na: 15 ppm
Cl: 71 ppm
SO4: 84 ppm

153F for 60 min

Collected 6 gallons of 1.048 runnings (68% efficiency)
Extended boil 10 minutes to concentrate.
Cooled to 85F, 6 hr later pitched the yeast once at 70F, left at 75F ambient to ferment, solid fermentation after 12 hours

8/20/2013 - 1.005, Dubbel like, roasty, not much in terms of yeast

8/30/2013 - 1.005, bottled 2 gallons with .85 oz corn sugar; pitched house bug blend and Brett. Lambicus into 1 gallon, and pitched just Brett. Lambicus into 3 gallons

Sunday, July 28, 2013

100% Brettanomyces IPA

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to Chad Yakobson on the Brewing Network's Sunday Session.  Chad is the owner of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project in Denver, a brewery that uses Brettanomyces almost exclusively.  Chad discussed Crooked Stave and his master's dissertation on Brett., The Brettanomyces Project. His interview was extremely informative and got me to read his dissertation in its entirety.  The Brettanomyces Project covers 100% Brett fermentation in great detail.  I knew immediately that I needed to brew all Brett beer ASAP.  Something that intrigued me was that early on in fermentation Brett does not exhibit any of the earthy or barnyard flavors that many associate with it.  And, in fact, some strains, especially a Brettanomyces Bruxellensis strain isolated from Drie Fonteinen (commercially available as WLP644 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois), can produce massive pineapple and other tropical fruit flavors.  So, I had to do an IPA with this yeast and loads of tropical hops.  Since Brett ferments slower than Saccharomyces, I had to start my starter 8 days early and step it up after 4 days in order to get it to around ale yeast pitching rates.
Choosing the hops that would complement this strain of Brett was the next task.  Citra is an obvious choice due to the tropical flavors it imparts, therefore I wanted to use a lot of it.  I bought a pound of EXP 1210 for my summer wheat, so I thought that hop has some nice citrus and berry flavors that can fit in the tropical flavor profile the yeast and Citra hops will impart. I also chose Centennial, as a more "traditional" IPA hop to keep the beer from getting too tropical.  I also had a half an ounce of Simcoe lying around so I tossed that in the dry hop, I figured it can provide some pine and a subtle tropical flavor; however, I doubt the half ounce is really noticeable with all the other hops in the beer.  Also, this is the first beer that I used CO2 hop extract for bittering.  I anticipated this beer to finish dry (<1.010), so I didn't want to wreck anyone's pallette with bitterness.  Therefore, the smooth bitterness extract imparts seemed perfect for this beer.

I saw the grain bill just as a vessel to transport the yeast and hop flavors.  However, brewing an all Brett beer does require some additional considerations when deciding on the grist.  First, Brett does not produce as much glycerol, which provides a beer with mouthfeel, as Saccharomyces, so I added 8 oz. of oats for some body.  Furthermore, Chad Yakobson's dissertation also stated that some lactic acid can increase the production of ethyl caproate and ethyl caprylate, the esters that produce those tropical pineapple flavors.  So I added 8 oz. of acidulated malt.  I also enjoy a slight toasted malt flavor in my IPA so I added Carapils, Vienna, and Red Wheat to provide that without adding too much caramel sweetness.

This was also the first beer that I decided to try a different slightly different water profile for a hoppy beer. Generally, I follow the accepted hoppy beer water profile of medium hardness with some gypsum added to accentuate the hops.  For this beer, after having some beers by Hill Farmstead and Tired Hands, I noticed that they are remarkably delicate but still pack loads of flavor.  I also saw Shaun Hill say in a comment on the Mad Fermentationist Facebook page say that in his hoppy beers, he uses, in addition to gypsum, a decent amount of Calcium Chloride, which accentuates the malt profile.  Therefore, I thought I would try to use softer water than usual and go for a more even Chloride/Sulfate ratio.  The idea is to have nice malt flavor without being overly sweet, and still allow the hops to come through.
All Brett IPA
Batch size: 5 gallons
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.010
IBU: 60
SRM: 4.9
Boil time: 60 min.

7.25 lbs. Rahr 2-Row
2 lbs. Rahr Red Wheat
1 lb. Vienna Malt
8 oz. Carapils
8 oz. Whole Foods Quick Oats
8 oz. Weyermann Acidulated Malt

5ml Hop Shot CO2 hop extract @ 60 min.
1.50 oz. Citra @ 0 min. (Pellet, 14.1% AA)
1.00 oz. Centennial @ 0 min. (Pellet, 9.2% AA)
1.00 oz. EXP 1210 @ 0 min. (Pellet, 6.5% AA)
2.00 oz. Citra dry hop (Pellet, 14.1% AA)
1.50 oz. Centennial dry hop (Pellet, 9.2% AA)
0.40 oz. Simcoe dry hop (Pellet, 12.9% AA)

WLP644 Brettanomyces Bruxellenus Trois, 500ml starter made 6/21/2013, stepped up to 1500ml on 6/25/2013

1 tablet Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient @ 15 min.

Carbon filtered DC tap water cut with 6 gallons distilled split evenly between the mash and sparge, with 5g of CaCl and gypsum added to the mash.
Final water profile (in ppm):
Ca: 86
Mg: 2
Na: 7
Cl: 81
SO4: 98
(bi)carbonate: 64

Sacch. rest @ 153F for 60 min.

Brewed 30 June 2013, by myself
Collected 6 gallons of 1.048 runnings (70% efficiency)
Tap water was 80F, so cooled to 85F and put in fridge to get down to 65F
After 6 hours it was at 65F, gave it 60 sec pure O2 and pitched the decanted starter.
Left at 65F to ferment, 18 hours later solid fermentation.
7/8/2013 - Down to 1.013, nice delicate bitterness and tropical flavors, set to 75F ambient to finish out
7/12/2013 - 1.010, added 1 oz. Citra, .4 oz. Simcoe, and .5 oz. Centennial to the fermenter
7/16/2013 - Added 1 oz. Citra and 1 oz. Centennial to the fermenter
7/18/2013 - Cold crashed to 34F
7/22/2013 - Kegged

8/12/2013 - Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Beautiful golden with a nice white head that lingers. There's a slight cloudiness, but the brett dropped out pretty well and left a beer that is not more cloudy than a typical unfiltered IPA.  While lighter than your average IPA, it is exactly what I'd like to see in an IPA.

Smell: Tropical pineapple dominates with a subtle resin and sweet bread in the background.

Taste:  Tropical fruit, mostly pineapple; not sure if it's the Citra hops or the brett. There's also a little bit of bitter grapefruit in the background.  This all leads into a delicate bitterness balanced by a sweet cracker backbone.  Very soft flavors, nothing overpowering, but still perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel:  Medium mouthfeel with medium carbonation.  The oats and Carapils provided just enough body to support the hops without it feeling too thin or heavy.

Notes: This is the best beer I've brewed.  It is perfectly balanced with an awesome pineapple flavor.  The bitterness could probably be a little more assertive.  Next time I'd definitely use some Warrior or CTZ hops in addition to the extract to provide a little more bitterness.  However, the fact that this is a fairly dry beer at 1.010 means that there isn't a lingering sweetness that makes it feel overly sweet.  

Citrus Hibiscus Saison

Having just brewed a hoppy wheat beer with citrus flavors, I thought it would be fitting to brew a sessionable wheat saison with big citrus flavors as well.  This showcases how similar flavor themes can be executed to produce different results in various styles of beer.  In my summer wheat, the hops impart the majority of the citrus flavors, where in this beer, the yeast and citrus zest added directly to the beer will do the majority of the flavoring.  Therefore, the yeast and the citrus chosen to be zested, the amount added, and when it is added in the process are very import.
Yeast selection was fairly easy for this beer.  Near the end of 2012, Danstar released Belle Saison; a dry yeast that seems to be getting rave reviews on the internet forums. I know everybody has different flavor descriptors for different yeasts, but from the information I gathered, Belle Saison seems to be very similar to Wyeast 3711 French Saison.  Both in flavor, more on the fruity citrus side with restrained spice, and in its crazy ability to attenuated fast and to a high degree (90%+).  Therefore, I figured this beer would be a good one to try it out.  Unlike most dry yeast, Danstar recommends using two packets in a beer with an original gravity over 1.050.  While I only planned on this beer to be around 1.040, to play it safe I made a starter from the dry yeast two days before the brewday.  The plan is to save half of the starter and pitch the other half.
Citrus zest was the next ingredient to choose.  I wanted depth of citrus flavor so I knew I wanted multiple types of zest to be added. Orange is an obvious choice, and for the depth I wanted to add some tangerine as well, thinking it would provide a little more of candied type flavor.  However, I was unable to find tangerine at my local Whole Foods, so I went with clementines.  When selecting fruits, I wanted the find the ones with the deepest colored zest, thinking they would provide the most flavor without any added bitterness or astringency.  I narrowed down when to add the zest to two times.  At the end of the boil and post fermentation, in the fermenter, like a dry hop.  When added at flame out, the citrus flavor will be subtle but become more integrated into the overall flavor profile of the beer.  Whereas, when added in the fermenter the citrus flavor will "pop" but fade over time.  In the end I decided to add the zest at the end of the boil, and then based on taste post fermentation, add more if needed.  The idea is you can always add more, but you can't remove any.  I'm hoping to achieve a nice balance between bright citrus flavor and saison yeast character. 
The last "atypical" brewing ingredient I added was somewhat unexpected.  When I tasted the final beer, it was not as complex as I anticipated.  I thought it needed something.  Having just had the beautifully awesome Sunbather at Tired Hands Brewing in Ardmore, PA; an IPA brewed with Hibiscus.  I thought it would be interesting to see how the tart and fruity flavor of Hibiscus would work in this beer.  In order to determine the amount of Hibiscus to add to the beer, I made a tea with 3/4 cup near boiling water and 1 oz. of dried Hibiscus flowers.  I let it steep for 5 minutes and then compressed the flowers with a spoon.  Using an empty hop shot syringe, I drew out .5 ml samples and added it to 8 oz. of beer until the color and flavor was right.  At the end of the day, 5 oz. of Hibiscus steeped in 2.75 cups of water seemed to work well.  

On a side note, my efficiency went through the roof, close to 90% when I normally average in the 70-75% much for "sessionable".

Hibiscus Citrus Saison 
Brewed 7 June 2013, by myself
Batch size: 5.5 gallons
OG: 1.049
FG: 1.003
IBU: 15
SRM: 3.7 (except this beer is red)
Boil time: 100 min

4 lbs. Belgian Pils
4 lbs. Rahr White Wheat Malt
8 oz. Whole Foods Quick Oats

0.30 oz. Warrior @ 60 min. (Pellet, 16% AA)
1.00 oz. Ahtanum @ 0 min. (Pellet, 4.6% AA)
1.00 oz. Citra @ 0 min. (Pellet, 14.1% AA)

Belle Saison, 1L starter made 6/5/2013 saved 500ml, pitched 500ml

Sacch. rest 60 min @ 152 F

Carbon Filtered DC water with 1.5g gypsum added to both the mash and sparge

1 tablet Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient @15 min.
Zest of 2 Naval Oranges @ flame out
Zest of 3 Clementines @ flame out
Zest of 2 Navel Orange dry hop 5 days
4 oz. Hibiscus steeped in 2 2/3 cup water added to keg

Brewed 7 June 2013, by myself
Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.045 wort (86% efficiency!!)
Extended boil time by 10 min to concentrate (why, I don't know).
Tap water was at 80F so chilled to 85F then put in fridge for 6 hours
Once down to 70F, took a gravity reading. 1.051 so I added 1/2 gal of spring water to bring the gravity to 1.049.  Efficiency + prolonged boil made this is a little more than a table saison.
~12 hours later solid fermentation, no blow off

6/16/2013 - Down to 1.004, nice flavor, not as much citrus as anticipated.

6/17/2013 - Added zest from 2 Naval Oranges

6/23/2013 - 1.003, bright citrus, would have liked more yeast character, crashed to 34F

6/28/2013 - Kegged with 4.5 oz. table sugar

7/13/2013 - Added the hibiscus tea to the tea and put it on tap.

8/12/2013 - Tasting notes:

Appearance: Nice light red color, translucent with a subtle pink head that forms quickly but dissipates quicker than expected, probably from the added hibiscus tea

Smell: Generic fruity with a subtle bread and tart aroma.  Maybe slightly phenolic

Taste: Very dry. Hibiscus fruitiness is first detected which leads into a slight tart and yeast spice/phenolic maybe some citrus in the background. The phenolics are not necessarily what I would associate with a standard saison, but they're not unpleasent. Pretty much not residual sweetness, and the hibiscus fruit/tart stays in the mouth.

Mouthfeel:  Dry, crisp, tart, and refreshing.  Maybe a little more body would be nice, nonetheless it's a great summer beer.

Notes: Overall, I would have liked a little more yeast character.  Perhaps some earthiness.  Definitely a beer I think brett would go well with.  If I were to brew this again I would cut back on the hibiscus by an ounce, it seems to dominate the majority of the flavors.  The citrus zest is only faintly detectable.  A solid saison, however, much like WY3711, I feel Belle Saison does not pack the yeasty punch I'm looking for.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Wheat

As the DC weather gets warmer and (extremely) humid, the need for a light, refreshing beer increases as well.  The Craft Brewer's Conference was in DC this past March, and one of the events I attended was a talk on IPA by Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele.  During the talk, someone asked Mitch what he thought the popular hop this year may be.  He had two answers.  The first was Mosaic, which I already featured in my red ale, the second was EXP 1210, an experiment varietal from Hop Steiner.  A couple days later, I was browsing Farmhouse Brewing Supply and noticed that they had some in stock in 4 oz. and 1 lb. bags. Farmhouse listed the following flavor descriptors for this hop: "Blackberry, 'Super Cascade', Grapefruit, Orange, 'Amarillo Like', Lemon, and Pine."  That was good enough for me so I bought a pound of them. 

Knowing that I wanted to brew a light, refreshing wheat beer, and having a pound of this new exciting hop in my freezer, I thought it would be fitting to feature this hop heavily.  I wanted to have a light body, with just enough bread flavor from the wheat to support the generous hopping.  Therefore, I decided to use slightly more flavorful Red Wheat, as compared to White Wheat Malt.  I also wanted this to be on more of the citrus side of the flavor profile, so deciding which hop(s) to pair with the 1210 was important. I decided that the citrusy Ahtanum will hopefully bring out some of the lemon and grapefruit flavors of the EXP 1210 without trumping its more unique berry notes.  I also had 1 oz. of Motueka left over from the saison I brewed, so I tossed that in too for a little more depth.

Summer Wheat

5.25 gallons
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.007
SRM: 5.3
IBU: 45

5 lbs. Rahr Red Wheat Malt
4 lbs. Rahr 2-row
6 oz. Carapils
4 oz. Crystal 40

0.75 oz. Warrior @ 60 min. (Pellet, 16.0% AA)
1.00 oz. Ahtanum @ 0 min. (Pellet, 4.6% AA)
1.00 oz. Motueka @ 0 min. (Pellet, 7.5% AA)
2.00 oz. EXP 1210 @ 0 min. (Pellet, 6.4% AA)
4.00 oz. EXP 1210 Dry hop (Pellet, 6.4% AA)

Wyeast 1056, 1000mL stir-plate starter made 5/8/2013

1 tablet Whirfloc @ 15 min.
1/2 tsp. yeast nutriend @ 15 min.

Carbon filtered DC cut with 5 gallons distilled with 8g gypsum and 4g CaCl split evenly between the mash and sparge.

Sacch. Rest 60 min @ 153F

Brewed 10 May 2013, by myself
Collected 6 gallons of 1.040 runnings-poor efficiency (~64%)
Extended boil by 10 minutes (70 min total) to concentrate wort a little more.
Cooled to 78F, put in fridge for it to cool down some more.
6 hours later, down to 65F, gave it 45 seconds O2, and pitched decanted starter, left at 65F ambient to ferment.
Fermentation within 12 hours, blowing off within 24 hours.

5/17/2013 - Down to 1.008, a little drier than I would have liked, but my efficiency was pretty low, which means I mashed a little lower than I would have for a 1.045 beer (I expected to OG to be around 1.050).

5/21/2013 - Ambient temp set to 50F to drop some yeast out of suspension prior to dry hopping.

5/23/2013 - Dry hopped with 2 oz. of EXP 1210, down to 1.007 (~4.9% ABV)

6/5/2013 - Kegged with the other 2 oz. of EXP 1210 bagged and weighed

7/1/2013 - Tasting notes:

Appearance: Golden with a slight haze, big white head lingers around.

Smell: Grapefruit and subtle blackberry. Nice dough like aroma from the wheat. Seems the Ahtanum and 1210 played really nice together.  I don't think there was enough Motueka to really make much of difference, especially with the all 1210 dry hop, I would probably leave that out next time.

Taste: Grapefruit and lemon, perhaps a little too bitter when first kegged, but now after a month the bitterness is about right, unfortunately the big hop nose fell off.  Nice bread malt in the background, probably could be a little sweeter.  The low finishing gravity coupled with the heavy hopping makes it taste slightly astringent.

Mouthfeel: Medium thin, perfect for a summer drinking beer. Carbonation medium high, nice dry finish.

Notes: Definitely could use a tad more sweetness, but still a great refreshing summer beer. EXP 1210 is definitely a hop worth seeking and I look forward to using again. Nice lemon/grapefruit notes with subtle blackberry undertones.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kombucha Fermented Beer Experiment

When I brewed my sour red ale, I had a little more liquid left over in my mash tun than I normally do.  Rather than simply dumping this water down the drain, I thought it would be interesting to drain it into a gallon jug, add some left over Kombucha dregs I had saved (I had big plans of starting my own mother culture but never got around to it), pop an airlock on it, and let it ferment like a normal beer.  Normally Kombucha is fermented aerobically, which results in the production of acetic acid, and provides the majority of the tartness in Kombucha.  I figured if I didn't allow all this oxygen to get in, I would cut back on the acetic acid production and allow the lactobacillus (and whatever other bacteria is in the culture) to create more of a lactic sourness that is associated with sour beer.

So I drained about a half a gallon of the final runnings of my mash tun, added about 3 Hersbucker hop pellets and boiled it for about 15 minutes to sterilize the wort.  After that I cooled it to about 75F and dumped in the dregs of a bottle of GT's Kombucha.  A couple days later there was a krausen and it seemed to ferment quite traditionally.

After about 3 weeks in the gallon jug, I have enough beer for bottle six 12 oz. bottles with about 25g of table sugar and 2g of Safale US-05 at bottling to ensure carbonation and left the bottles at ambient temperature. 

Sour Red

I think the main reason I've been so attracted to brewing is that it combines science with art.  As an engineer, I am exposed to and appreciate science to the highest level, but I rarely get to express myself artistically.  Brewing lets me do this.  Using bacteria and wild yeast to craft "sour" or wild beers, as done in Belgium for centuries, opens up a whole door of science, art, and inspiration, that many brewers who follow the traditional German or English methods do not get to experience.  Additionally, drinking these beers adds a whole new complexity to the flavors the most experienced traditional beer drinker would associate with beer.  I knew I wanted to brew one of these beers, I just needed a little more time to learn the craft and, um, gain inpiration by seeing what flavors can be found in other sour beers.

Prior to brewing this beer, I read Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow.  This text covers the history, brewing methods, and tasting experience of sour beer both in Belgium and newer interpretations in America.  I would say it's a must read for any fan of sour or wild beers. 

For my first sour beer I wanted to do a lambic.  However, procedurally, it's a little complicated to begin with (turbid mash, long boil, aged hops, and that's not even getting into spontaneous fermentation).  So I decided to go for my next favorite sour style, a Red Ale.  Something similar to Rodenbach Grand Cru, Russian River Supplication (my favorite), or Jolly Pumpkin La Roja (the commerical bugs I used in this batch), but uniquely my own and most importantly actually drinkable a year from now!

My thought process in designing this recipe is to do a single infusion mash (for simplicity's sake) but do it at a high temperature to give the Brett and bacteria more sugars to eat during the long secondary fermentation.  After a couple of months I'll taste the sourness and add more bottle dregs if I want to try to add to it. Once it's nearly done I'll taste it again and see what fruit I want to age it on. I'll probably bottle half straight and age the other half on fruit for a couple of months.

See also Kombucha Fermented Beer Experiement.

Sour Red Ale
Batch size: 5.5 gallons
OG: 1.060
FG: ???
SRM: 15
IBU: 20

3 lbs. Belgian Pils Malt
3 lbs. Munich Malt
3 lbs. Vienna Malt
2 lbs. White Wheat Malt
1 lb. Caramunich
6 oz. Crystal 120
~4 oz. Crystal 15

2.00 Hersbucker (Pellet, 3.1%AA) @ 90 min., left out of freezer for about a month

Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja dregs (bottled 9/17/2013)

1 tablet Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient @ 15 min.

Sacch rest. at 157F for 60 min.

Carbon filtered DC tap water with some 5.2 stabilizer thrown into the mash.

Brewed 3 May 2013, by myself
Mash pH seemed a little low so I tossed in some 5.2 stabilizer.
Had some Crystal 15 left over in the bottom of my grain box so I threw that in too.
Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.052 runnings.
90 minute boil.

Cooled 5 gallons of 1.065 wort to 71F, added 1/2 gallon of distilled water to get the gravity down to 1.060.
Pitched the 3763 and dregs and left at ambient temperature to ferment (~70F).
6/5/2013 - Racked to secondary with 1 oz. French medium toast oak cubes boiled for 10 minutes. Down to 1.011, subtle sourness, very fruity and sweet, but tasty.  I'll revisit this in a year or so.