Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bretty goodness

Ray and I just finished brewing a partial-mash Belgian style ale that we are going to spike with brettanomyces bruxenellis later. Since we have 10 gallons we are going to play a bit. One carboy will probably get some oak and the other might get some fruit or dry hops. After tasting Captain Lawrence's Cuvee du Castleton, and Ommegang's Saison Gewurtz, I wanted to do grapes. But it was not grape season; I ended up using a can of Oregon Apricot puree for convenience.

Recipe is for 11.75 gallons (11 gallons in the fermentors)
O.G. 1.059 F.G. 1.004 IBU's 30

12 lb. Durst Pilsner Malt
2 lb. wheat malt
1.5 lb. crystal 30
6 oz. sauer malt

3 lb. Munton's light DME
2.5 lb. corn sugar

48 gr. New Zealand Hallertauer, whole, 8.6% AA, at 60 min
28 gr. N.Z. Hallertauer at 15 min
40 gr. N.Z. Hallertauer at 0 min

1 gallon starter of Wyeast 1388 belgian strong ale yeast, in a starter made from 2 qts. of munich dunkel wort and 2 qts. water (1.030,will add some color and munich malt flavor)

Mash: 4 gallons
150 for 55 min (added.5 ml lactic acid to give the brett something to eat later)
Topped up with 1 gallon boiling water, which raised it to 157. Heated to 170 over 20 min.

Sparge: 5 gallons at 170

Collect 7 gallons at 1.065: 77% mash efficiency

Boil: 90 min
Added the DME and corn sugar at 20 minutes left
whirlfloc at 15 min
wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled, aerated, and diluted to 1.060. Pitched starter when wort was at 65 degrees.
Primary fermentation ramped naturally to 76 degrees.

Racked to secondary on 3/20/08. Gravity= 1.008.
I racked half of the beer on to a can of Oregon Apricot Puree (3.1 lb.)
The Apricot puree tasted wonderful, and when I tried the fermented wort it already tasted surprisingly apricotty on it's own!

3/27/08 I made a small 1 qt. starter with 1 packet of Wyeast Brettanomyces Bruxenellis. The reason I made a starter was to grow the brett a bit before splitting it into the 2 carboys. I Let the starter ferment at 72 degrees, rousing/shaking it frequently for 6 days. Then I crashed out the yeast in the fridge for 2 days, because the carboys are too full to fit the whole starter.

4/3/08 I poured off most of the starter wort, leaving 2 1/2 cups of wort and yeast. Pitched this between the 2 carboys at 72 degrees. I'm really excited and giddy! I'm typing one-handed now (no, not that) because I'm tasting a sample of the starter wort that I poured off into a wine glass. It is surprisingly acidic, with a definite brett aroma, a touch of plasticy phenols, and a mellow, biscuity background.

4/11/08: The brett really started refermenting this beer almost immediately. I've been watching a small rise of bubbles coming up the neck of each carboy for a week now. I tasted asmall sample today, because I noticed the temperature of the carboy was up to 76. It's higher than I would like it, but there's not much I can do about it. I think I'm going to relax and it will be alright. The sample tasted good and not too bretty or fruity.

After drawing a sample, I simmered up 3/4 oz. of medium toast french oak chips in about 2 oz. of water for a few minutes, and added it all to the carboy without fruit. I want to err on the subtle side with the oak, as oak can be extremely pervasive, and this beer will be very dry.

5/8/08: Both carboys are still showing signs of slow brett fermentation. Small bubbles are constantly coming up the sides. I took a taste of each today. The apricot one tastes like apricots and has a nice acidity to lift the flavors. The oaked one has a definite French oak aroma and flavor - glad I didn't use more! I also added 10 grams of Hallertauer pellets and 18 grams of EKG pellets to the oaked carboy, loose. I'm hoping to bottle both of these within a week to 10 days.

5/26/08 Bottled both batches today. I bottled 6 galllons of the apricot batch with 6.5 oz. priming sugar. I really like the way it is tasting. Bottled the 5 gallons of oaked beer with 6 oz. of sugar. The oak is really pervasive and out of place, in my opinion. I'd rather just leave it out entirely next time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Homebrew Alley 2: February 10th 2008

This was the NCYHG's second year hosting Homebrew Alley, a BJCP sanctioned competition. This year was a lot of fun (and a ton of hard work!). We judged 248 entries from around the country, we even got beers from as far as California and South Dakota. The club represented fairly well, with Phil winning second best of show and quite a few of our members collecting some ribbons.

I entered 4 beers and 2 of them placed. A robust porter with 100% homegrown American hops took first in porters, and a strong saison (9%ABV) with yarrow took second in Belgian and French ales. I'll post the recipe for the porter here sometime.

The porter was also picked as our club entry to the upcoming "Perfect Porter Challenge" club-only competition. I think it' s pretty hoppy, which I wanted, but from a judging standpoint it tends to mask the wonderful malt flavors. I will brew it again with less finishing hops (half-ounce additions instead of 1 ounce). But it was a wonderful beer down to the last glass I pulled off the keg.