Saturday, February 23, 2013
Well friends, I think it's time to wrap this blog up. Looking back to the first post, I can't believe I have kept this going since 2008, and it's been an active archive of most of my homebrews for most of that time. That's pretty cool! Not only that, but I've been able to keep a bit of a journal on my progress, not only as a homebrewer, but also through life and on my transition to being a professional brewer.
I got this comment last week from a fellow homebrewing blogger:
Orion Homebrewing said...
Hey, I am moving soon back to Boulder, CO from Portland and am hoping to secure a brewing job there. Any advice as to how to approach a potential employer and gain employment? Aside from obvious things like a resume do you think I should offer a link to my blog on my resume? Any tips since you have gone down this route would be most appreciated.
I thought for my final post here, why not try to sum up my experiences on going pro, and offer some advice to people who are thinking of making the commitment to taking brewing on as a career. That is largely what this blog became for me, so if I can pass on some helpful hints, I'd be happy to. However, keep in mind, this is just one brewer's perspective, and some other brewer might give different advice, because there really are different ways to doing this. Also, I'm not going to try to sugar coat this. This is my honest, trying to be balanced opinion, but I'm not doing anyone any favors if I try to paint this as a "dream job", or make it sound easier than it is.
People get into this business in different ways. There is a certain amount of circumstance or luck involved to getting your foot in the door, especially if you do not have a brewing diploma of any kind. Some people seem to be really lucky, and just end up in the right place at the right time, and land an entry-level brewing job with little or no experience. I feel like I had to make my own luck. I'm not sure if I did things the best way, but I chose the strategy of moving to a brewing city and committing to working as a brewer, no matter what it took. I didn't have a brewing degree, and in Portland, I'm not sure that is would have helped much. Possibly at the bigger breweries, but most of the smaller ones that I was interested in didn't seem to put much weight on that. That was a hard route to go, but it worked, eventually. A friend of mine called Portland "Hollywood for brewers", because there are a lot more people looking for brewing jobs than there are job openings, and people move from across the country with the same idea. This can make it even harder to find work, and it also effects the pay scale, and possibly even some employers' attitudes about employees. One anecdote I'll pass on, when I was asking Van Havig, who brewed for Rock Bottom at the time, to check out my resume, he said something to the effect of "You want to brew? You shouldn't have moved to Portland." Well, Van can be blunt at times, but he had a point! Yet still, I have seen quite a few friends make the transition in that time, and it is do-able.
My strategy worked out eventually, but financially, it probably would have worked out better if I had stayed at my office job in NYC for a little while longer, invested in a brewing certificate of some kind (I think I would have chosen the American Brewer's Guild program), and then started looking for a brewing position anywhere in the country. So, that's another option I would suggest that people look into if they can swing it. I'm sure it would be a good learning experience too. I have checked out about half of their course materials, and while I knew a lot of the stuff pretty well, there were other areas like engineering that I had been totally ignorant of. But then again, just being a part of the Portland beer culture was a really great experience. That's something I might have missed out on if I had taken that route.
Also, be aware of the payscale of most brewing jobs. Chances are, unless you work for one of the very large craft breweries for a long time, or start your own brewery, you're probably not going to be able to finance your kids' college tuition on a brewing salary. There is an annual brewers salary report in The New Brewer Magazine if you want to check that out.
Starting off as a fledgling pro brewer, for an experienced homebrewer, can be very weird at times. one of the tough gaps to bridge is giving up creative control, at least for a while. 99% of entry level craft brewing jobs are not going to give you much say in anything. They are going to assume you know very little about what you are doing, and they are going to want you to brew their beers, for the most part, and do things their way. That can be tough for someone who has had full autonomy for the past however many years. That's one of the main reasons I kept homebrewing for my first two years in the field. Yes, there are some employers that will welcome your recipe ideas and even your perspective on the brewing process, but I don't think it's the norm. So learn to be OK with that, for a while, and homebrew on the side if you have time and need to get your ya-ya's out. Also, when you do get that creative power, it will likely still be somewhat collaborative. I actually usually prefer the collaborative creative process. At Jackie O's, some beers definitely are the brainchild of one person, but almost all of them go through some sort of conversation before the first brew, and definitely if we decide to repeat them. It's fun and I think it generally leads to better beer. But if you want to be that artiste-type brewer who brews exactly what they want every time, you might want to start looking for investors now. ; )
I did two brewing internships, one for Sixpoint in Brooklyn, and one for Upright in Portland. These weren't formal internships really, but Sixpoint did take on interns regularly, and I think Upright does from time to time also. One reason why I am so keen on them is that if you are having aspirations of brewing, but aren't sure if it's too much hard work, you'll find out very quickly in an internship. Pretty much any small craft brewery - I'm talking brewpub or 10-20 barrel production brewery where you are not pushing buttons to move beer - is going to require a LOT of physical labor from their employees. Some breweries are set up more ergonomically than others, but even in a brewery that has paid a lot of attention to having the right equipment so you don't have to break your back lifting kegs and stuff like that, there is still a ton of physical work: crouching, lifting, working in tight spaces, hot spaces, cold spaces, you name it. You are going to get dirty. You are going to get sprayed in the face or crotch with beer or yeast. You are going to be working around chemicals and hot liquids, and if you don't pay attention to safety protocol, you could get really hurt!
But the other reality of this industry is, most small breweries that I've seen aren't even set up that ergonomically. At most places, it's going to be a hindrance if you can't lift a full keg by yourself, probably multiple times in one day. That's probably not kosher with OSHA, but it's a fact, and you should know it going in. Pay attention to the amount of physical work expected at a prospective employer's brewery. If you think you might have issues doing that type of heavy lifting, keep looking for a brewery that's better set-up to your needs. (Hint: if they at least have a forklift, that's a good sign). If you end up at one of those breweries where you have to do things like say, carry full kegs up a flight of stairs regularly, then I urge you to pay attention to how you are doing those tasks, and try not cause your body damage over the long term. It would suck to be a great brewer for 5-10 years before having to bow out because your knees or back just can't take it anymore.
Let's get back to finding a job though. I think it's certainly good to have a resume. Since I didn't have much experience, I tried to do a resume highlighting my internships first, then went on to my work experience, then my education, and then highlight my homebrewing qualifications. I did put on the resume that I had a blog. I seriously doubt anyone paid that any attention, but it can't hurt. Just do what you can with the resume, because a lot of getting your foot in the door is more about getting face-time at the brewery. You need to get to know the brewers, and you'll probably have to know them for a while to gain their trust. I don't know exactly how to explain this, but if you want to get in somewhere, you need to be a face they see on a regular basis and that they like seeing. Try to be that guy, or girl, who is always showing up with a good homebrew, or just to chat and have a pint, or try out their latest beer. At the same time, and this is hard to give specifics on, try not to be annoying. You also don't want to be the person that they see and pretend they don't see because you are going to ask them 100 annoying questions while they're trying to work, before saying, "By the way, I'd still like to work here!"
A couple thoughts on bringing in homebrew to a brewery: The other part of my "resume" was my homebrew. When I was out "doing my rounds" in Portland, dropping off resumes or just checking back in with people, I always had my best homebrew with me, in clean, uniform brown bottles. Around each bottle was a label-sized piece of paper, printed from my computer, with my name at the top, my phone number and email, and the full beer recipe. This way, I looked organized, and they would easily have my contact info if they drank the beer and liked it. I got some good response to this. Some weren't job offers, some were just flattering comments or emails from brewers I respected saying they really enjoyed the beer. But at Alameda, where I landed my first brewing job, I definitely think those beers helped me get on their radar and into the lead for the next job opening. So, yes, if homebrew is what you have, use it to your advantage. Let's get more into detail on this though: Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, bring any beer that you don't KNOW is really excellent. If you don't know, take it to a homebrewer you respect and get their honest opinion. You want to show your best stuff here. And make it look nice, no half-peeled-off labels or sharpie writing. Be a pro in your mind already, and you will be taken seriously. OK, another point: you have to make sure they actually drink the beer. Every brewery I have every set foot in has a shelf of homebrew and other beers that people bring in and they somehow never, or only rarely, actually drink that beer. One of the reasons is that they may be distrusting of the quality of some of those homebews, for good reason. Or they may just set it on the shelf and forget it. When I was at Cascade I actually found some of the bottles that I had given them on such a shelf, as we were going through a bunch of old crap and dumping out a lot of those old beers. I was like "Hey, this shit was good! Why didn't you drink it!?" Well, we did drink it there and then and it was still good. So this gets to my point in a roundabout way. Your best chance of keeping your beer off that shelf is to drink that beer with them, the day you bring it. This can lead to good things, discussion of brewing techinques in which - BING! - you get to trade some information with the brewer. This is a good chance to show them what you know but also ask them a little bit about what they do. Everyone loves a little flattery.
On a side note: I have heard, I don't remember which brewer said this, but basically the opinion that some brewers don't look kindly on homebrewers bringing in beer as a resume because at heart, they can be jealous people with fragile egos who cling tenaciously to their creative thrones. I'll just say, I believe there are probably some brewers like that, but man, what a depressing thought! I don't think this is any reason to be wary of bringing homebrew in as a resume tool. I mean, would you really want to work for someone like that? I'd venture a guess that this is a rarity and not a common opinion though.
I think you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to land that first job. Do whatever role, even if it's washing kegs 8 hours a day or bottling, you've got to take it. You are probably not going to get to be that picky. If you have a chance to work for a brewery, even if you think they are making a less than stellar product, take it! Maybe it will eventually be your chance to help them in that area. However, if you get a job offer from someone who is making really "problem" beers, I might actually advise against taking that job. If their beers are regularly showing up with obvious amounts common beer flaws that any beer judge could pick up, or worse, infections, I would actually say you should move on. That job is not going to be worth your time in the long run. That's a matter of opinion, but I'm sticking to it. Unless they hire you as a consultant, you probably know more than them already.
And this goes for any industry, but also, watch out for bad bosses. This is a tough area to make a judgement call on, because if you really need that first brewing experience, only you can make that call. We all know what bad bosses or owners are like. They usually throw up red flags before you even get a job offer. But, they could make your life miserable if you are not careful. If you end up taking a job with a bad employer, how are you, personally, going to segregate the act of brewing from the experience of working for a shitty boss? If you get in this situation, don't let them burn you out! It's not the brewing that's a problem, it's the work situation. Try to keep that in mind and move on as soon as possible, to someone who respects you.
That's pretty much all I have based on my own personal experience. Just remember, BE A PRO. Be it already in your actions and your thoughts. The job search is kind of like dating - you can't be afraid of rejection, and eventually if you keep at it, everything will fall in place and you'll be able to start your dream job in this glamorous world of brewing! (Wait, do you still think it's glamorous? Go back and read this again from the top!) Best of luck, at the end of the day, this is an incredibly rewarding job that for the right person, could provide a lot of happiness and gratification.
Thanks to everyone who read this "blog" (can we not find a better word for that?) and kept up with what I was doing. Homebrewer or pro, we're all of the same breed. It's been really fun to see what other people are doing and it's amazing the amount of information that is shared through the brewing community through blogs. I want to keep this blog fairly pure and mostly about homebrewing, which is why I'm shutting it down now. BUT, if I take up blogging at for my current job or any future breweries, I'll be sure to post updates here.
Cheers, best of brewing to you,
Monday, June 11, 2012
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I suck! We have made the move to Ohio. Things are good. I'm brewing for Jackie O's, still in the training period while the production site is being constructed. I'm glad to be back home, but I also miss the brewing scene in Portland, and more importantly, our friends we left behind. We are planning our wedding, for which I will brew the same Belgian Blond with lemon verbena, yarrow, and grains of paradise that I made for Lou&Liz and Tony& Annie's wedding. I hope it turns out well on its first commercial iteration.
Right now I have a lot bigger priorities than keeping this blog going, but I would like to keep writing about brewing, either on this blog or on the Jackie O's blog. I'll keep you guys and gals informed as things progress. Happy brewing!
Right now I have a lot bigger priorities than keeping this blog going, but I would like to keep writing about brewing, either on this blog or on the Jackie O's blog. I'll keep you guys and gals informed as things progress. Happy brewing!
Monday, February 27, 2012
The Temperanillo barrel aged Flanders Red has been in the barrel for almost exactly a year now, and it's tasting great. The acidity is moderate, with a little acetic character. But the complexity from the Brettanomyces, and the wood and wine character from the barrel is amazing. It sucks to say, this barrel aged beer is putting any of my previous carboy-soured homebrews to shame. That in itself s a big lesson in how important a barrel is to brewing quality sour beers. I'm not saying "Don't brew sours if you don't have a barrel," (some people have had a lot better results with the carboy sours than I have) but I believe it makes a real difference. In some ways this beer feels like it brewed itself, and that we had very little to do with its success.
In any case, since I am going to be moving away soon, I have to give up my slot in the group project for the next beer to go into the Temperanillo barrel. My slot will be taken over by Mike Wright, the owner of The Commons Brewery (formerly Beetje nano-brewery). The barrel project will still be strictly homebrew, but we did have the advantage of brewing all the wort at The Commons in one day, with a double-batch on the 35+ gallon "Beetje" system (the original nano-brew system from before" Beetje" expanded to a 7-barrel brewery and became "The Commons".
The group decided to do a golden sour this time. After some deliberation on the recipe, we stuck to a pretty simple design:
As the above picture clearly illustrates, we brewed the beer on a Sunday morning, and many of us had had a late Saturday night. Luckily we had donuts from Acme Donuts, and not much work to do for a lot of the time. Some drinking was done and it was decided that we all really like Green Flash "Rayon Vert", as well as The Commons "Flemish Kiss", both dry hopped, brett-aged belgian pale ales inspired by Orval.
The brewday was very straightforward, but it did end up being about 12 hours, and we still had to get 16 carboys over to Walker's house by car.
Since the only big space we had to ferment the beer in was Walker's basement, we decided to use an alt yeast to ferment the beer. Wyeast #1007 / German Ale Yeast is one of The Commons house yeasts, and we fermented it at ambient basement temperature, which ended up being about 63 degrees fermentation temp.
We are scheduled to rack the beer into the barrel on the same day we rack the Flanders out. We are going to do as little barrel cleaning as possible, possibly just giving it a quick cold water rinse to get most of the trub out. Possibly not even that. We also discussed the idea that if for some reason the golden sour does not progress enough in actual sourness, because of the clean primary fermentation, we could top-up with a strong lacto culture, possibly isolated from a bottle of Fantome or Cascade beer.
As it turns out, we are racking the Flanders out on March 4th, exactly one year after it was filled. That wasn't planned, I just realized it today when looking back at the notes for the first barrel fill. I won't be in town, as Clarissa and I will be in San Clemente for the birth of her sister's first baby. Sounds like a visit to Pizza Port is also in order!
I still haven't gotten around to putting up a post on our other barrel project, the Old Ale with Brett C. that I jokingly call the Billy The Mountain Clone (it was first intended for a 2nd-used bourbon barrel, but we ended up using a pinot barrel due to availability, just like Upright's Billy). I guess I'll get to this when we pull a sample from that barrel, which should happen some time in March.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
To preface this recipe and tasting a little bit, I'd like to talk about yeast choice. Normally, when it comes to IPA's, I am a Cali ale yeast guy, and I wouldn't think of using another yeast. But in this case, I went to the homebrew store and they were almost cleared out of yeast! I could have gone back for some Cali later, but I got a little lazy and decided to go down to a local brewery for some of their house yeast, which is the Fuller's strain (or Wyeast 1968 ESB yeast). Now, although this isn't my first choice, I had to give it consideration because the brewery is cranking out some great IPA's with it. I won't mention names, but if you were to Google-map my house on NE 57th and Failing street in Portland, it would be a fairly large and well-known brewpub about a mile from my house.
So, I talked with a friend who is one of the brewers at this brewery, and he had some interesting insights on homebrewing with the WY1968 yeast. His observation is that it does not ferment out as dry in a homebrew as it does on a professional level. I would think that the main reason for this is the high flocculation of this particular yeast. It tends to drop out fast and heavy after fermentation, leaving some residual sweetness and some diacetyl in the beer. On a pro level, in a big conical, the natural convection in the fermentation will keep this yeast up in suspension a little longer than in a carboy at home. So his (and my) solution to this problem was to mash low for fermentability, and more importantly, to start agitating the fermenter pretty heavily after primary fermentation starts to slow. I was shaking/rousing my yeast 2-3 times daily when I saw signs of it slowing, up until the day I dry hopped it. And after that, I still agitated in once a day or so.
I think this did help to reduce diacetyl to very low levels (not none, but not noticable), and also helped get a few more points of attenuation, although I think it would have finished slightly drier and even less diacetyl with Cali ale yeast, for sure. See my "overall" comments for even more thoughts on this, below. On to the tasting:
Appearnce: Slightly hazy golden-orange, I assume haze is from dry hopping and overall hop load. White head with good lacing, thanks Carapils.
Aroma: Citrus, Citrus, Citrus (mainly orange) from the hops, some evergreen, some fruity esters and alcohol, some background malt sweetness. No noticable diacetyl but it is probably there in some very small amount. Not hot, no off aromas.
Flavor: Assertive first sip of hop resins, and malt presence with some caramel and mid-palate sweetness, followed by some hop tannins, and a spicy lingering bitter finish. Moderate alcohol on the finish, not hot, just a substantially strong brew.
Mouthfeel: Moderately full body thanks to some residual sweetness and dextrins. Resiny hop bite with a slight hop astringency (green tea like), not out of balance though. slight warming finish.
Overall: Good drinkability, good balance (for an IPA). The slight sweetness, to my palate, is sometimes welcome, other times I think it gets in the way a bit of a full-on hop blast. This almost drinks like some sweeter imperial IPA's I have tried. I think with a cleaner yeast, it might be easier to go back for a second pint, but maybe I am just being a little too picky. I really wish I had done a side-by-side fermentation with Cali yeast! One additional thought, the final gravity of 1.017 is not that high, but there is definitely a perception of sweetness. I think this might be due to the difference between residual dextrins vs. residual simple sugars, which I'm sure this yeast left a little bit of. So, I think it's probable that this beer would taste different than the same beer fermented with Cali and mashed a bit higher, even if they finished at the same gravity (if that makes sense).
OK, whatever, here's the recipe:
Recipe: IPA - Flight & Simcoe
Style: American IPA
TYPE: All Grain
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.30 gal
Boil Size: 8.00 gal
OG: 1.069 SG
Estimated Color: 6.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 84.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 89.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
12 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 92.6 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 3.7 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.7 %
14.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 6 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
42.00 g Falconer's Flight [10.50 %] - Dry Hop 6 days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
28.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
42.00 g Falconer's Flight [10.50 %] - Boil 0.0 m Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
28.00 g Simcoe [12.40 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 7 9.4 IBUs
28.00 g Falconer's Flight [10.50 %] - Boil 10.0 Hop 6 7.9 IBUs
28.00 g Falconer's Flight [10.50 %] - Boil 30.0 Hop 5 20.2 IBUs
28.00 g Simcoe [12.40 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 46.9 IBUs
Mash in SS pot
4.75 gal + 2 gr Gypsum + 1 gr. CaCl
149-50 for 40 min, then raise to to 152
152 for 30 min, then sparge out
5 gal sparge, no minerals, 175 for starters but quickly fell to 168ish
Collect 7.5 gallons (held off .5 gallon of that to add later as "top-up")
Wyeast nutrient & whirlfloc at 10 min
Pitched 300 ml WY1968 slurry (78% measured viability), pretty thick stuff.
80 seconds of O2
Pitched at 69 degrees
Ferment in SS keg at 68
after 48 hours, start agitating fermener (rocking) 3x per day.
1/11/12 -1.017 Dry hopped loose in fermenter. Agitated every day or so.
1/17/12 Racked to keg
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Big changes abound! Clarissa and I are going to get married, and we are moving back to my hometown of Athens, Ohio. I'll be working for Jackie O's brewery as the pub brewer.
Here's a local newspaper article on the subject of Jackie O's expansion.
I'm super stoked to get the opportunity to run the pub and work with the brewmaster, Brad Clark, on some of the planning for our production site. I've had some great experiences out here in Portland, but I really love my hometown, and I have always intended to get back to the midwest at some point.
I'm currently planning on starting in May, but that might get pushed back if our licensing on the new production site gets held up (I hope not). I would like to keep blogging while I'm working at the pub. I'll have to talk with them and see how they feel about that, but I imagine they'll be cool with it.
I probably won't be homebrewing at all, to be honest. I want to give the pub everything I've got, and since I'll have some creative license, I won't have to do my experimentation on my days off. Plus, I'm really looking forward to getting into some other non-beer hobbies, like gardening, hiking, and maybe even fishing and hunting.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wow, about 2 months since my last post! That's a record I think. One of the reasons why is that I have decided to wait to post recipes until I do the tasting too. So I have been brewing, but the posts will go up later.
For this beer, I was looking to make a beer that would be reminiscent of an Ayinger lager, especially their Oktoberfest, although once again I did not have their exact lager strain (which would be the Wyeast "Hella Bock" seasonal strain). I wanted it to be dark, melanoidin rich, and slightly sweet, with a big flavor profile but low alcohol. I wasn't looking to make a lager "to style", but I think it's a great example of a Munich Dunkel.
Appearance: Dark brown with a stable tan head that leaves a great lacing. Ruby highlights, clear but not "filtered" clear.
Aroma: Dark toasted breadcrusts, with a slight fruity sweetness from crystal malts. Very little to no hop aroma, slight alcohol contribution. Robust maltiness and a clean lager profile with maybe just a touch of sulfur (which dissipated as beer spent more time lagering).
Flavor: Toasty, Munich malt derived breadcrust, Moderate sweetness, low caramel flavor, but balanced more towards toasty flavors from malts. Moderate bitterness, very clean. Slight trace of hop flavor, then it ends with dry, toasty malt and clean residual bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, a little chewy, hearty enough for winter or fall but not too thick or filling. Moderate carbonation, low alcohol warmth, dry finish with just a touch of astringency.
Overall: This beer is a hit with Clarissa, who has a high appreciation for drinkable, flavorful session beers (you know, the kind us beer geeks think are "boring" and hardly ever brew). I like it a lot, and it's very close to what I was going for, but still I see room for improvement. I'd like to reduce the "bready" impact just a touch, and increase the perception of a light sweetness by dropping the IBU's just a touch. It's a great "dinner" beer, and you can have an imperial pint and go back for another. This keg definitely won't last long.
Recipe: Session amber lager
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Estimated Color: 15.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 23.1 IBUs
Mash Efficiency: 88.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 61.5 %
2 lbs Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 22.4 %
8.0 oz Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.6 %
12.0 oz Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.4 %
3.0 oz Carafa III (525.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.1 %
17.00 g Perle [7.10 %] - First Wort 90.0 min Hop 6 19.2 IBUs
14.00 g Perle [7.10 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 7 3.8 IBUs
1.0 pkg Bohemian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2124) [124. Yeast 8 -
4 gallons water, 1 gr. gypsum, 2 gr. CaCl, 2 gr. CaCO3
Mash in to 125F, 15 min.
Raised to 153 over 10 min, hold 30 min
Raised to 158 over 5 min, hold 15 min
Raised to 168 over 5 min, rest 5 min
sparge w/ 5 gal at 168 (no minerals)
Collect 6.8 gallons at 1.044
Boil 90 minutes, yeast nutrient and whirlfloc at 10 min.
End of boil: top up to 6 gallons (hot)
whirlpool & rest 10 min
chill thru plate chiller to 62
2 min O2
leave in garage at ambient temp (48) until visible fermentation
cooled to 50 degrees by 8 hours and visibly fermenting
fermented at 48-50 for 2 weeks
brought inside for diacetyl rest (65ish) for 1 week
11/23 Racked to keg, aged 3 weeks at 35 before drinking
Starter: 3750 ml stirplate starter 4 days ahead at room temp, decanted. Bohemian Lager yeast.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Sorry for the delay on posting this. I did the Fresh Hop Spelt Saison tasting during the first week of November and I just hadn't gotten around to putting it up.
Aroma: Huge fruit profile from esters and hops: I'm getting juicy fruit, orange, tangerine, passionfruit, hop spicyness and peppery esters with a touch of alcohol warmth. A little pils malt is in the background, as well as a wheaty aroma from the spelt.
Appearance: This beer threw a big raw-wheaty haze when youger, but it's surprisingly clear after about a month in the keg. A slight haze with a light gold pilsner hue. Nice glass lacing, starts with a huge head and falls back to an even 1/4 inch head after a few minutes in the glass.
Flavor: Nice balance of bready, slightly sweet malt, with a big spicy hop flavor contribution. Bitterness is not much higher than say, Saison Dupont, which is a really nice level, as in, it's not a Belgian IPA. Like a lot of fresh-hopped beers I have tried, even my favorite professionally brewed ones, it has a slightly sticky/soapy bitterness at the end. It almost gives a bit of a "cottonmouth" after swallowing. Very drinkable, it ends dry and spicy with a touch of warming alcohol.
Mouthfeel: The raw spelt provides some big body considering the very low final gravity. It's almost creamy. Some of the soapy character I mentioned above in the back of the mouth after swallowing. Very smooth otherwise, no astringency or harsh alcohols.
Overall: I'm super impressed with how this beer turned out. The fairly moderate IBU's keeps this beer a very true saison, while the big aroma and flavor hop profile makes it a bold fresh-hop beer. It's very drinkable and I've never tasted a beer quite like it. I am a little less than impressed with the soapy quality from the hops, but it is not too high. It's more of a nuance that I would like to work out in future incarnations of this beer. I don't think there is anything to do about it except use less fresh hops, which I would be willing to cut back on slightly in the future. Working with the raw spelt was a breeze. The only drawbacks it seems to have is that it is very hard to crush, like probably any unmalted grain would be, and it requires a step infusion mash, but clearly not a cereal mash. I'd highly recommend playing around with the grain, especially in saisons or other beers that require some raw grain contribution.