Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Kegerator, The search for a brewing job goes on, and a new beer is born.

Today I took a taste of the 2 wild ales I brought all the way across the country in cornelius kegs. Above, on the left is the all B. Bruxellensis session ale. I'm letting the sample de-gas to take the F.G., but it's very dry! The flavor is not incredibly brett-like or horsey, but it does taste like a good session beer. I'll do a full tasting later once it's fully carbonated.

On the right is me & Ray's Flanders Red, which is tasting good, and is has developed a moderate level of sourness, while retaining some sweetness and caramel flavors. I might take this keg back out and let it sour up for another 6 months.

In the middle is a mix of the 2 that came out of the beer line on my new kegerator. It tasted really good! Maybe better than either of the 2 beers separately.

Speaking of new kegerator:

I just finished up installing the gas and liquid lines on this baby yesterday. I went a little over budget on it, but thanks to a generous friend who shall remain nameless, I got a great deal on the faucets and all the liquid & gas hookups. So I went for a 3rd tap, couldn't help myself!

So I can now fit 8 kegs in at once, or 4 kegs and some fermenting lagers, plus some additional space for competition beers. Cool!

I also racked my first Portland (saison) brew to a keg, which is kind of perfumey, incredibly dry (1.004), and hoppy. I'm not sure what I think of it yet, but I am drinking it uncarbonated & at room temp. I think it leaves a somewhat cardboardy finish, which is not from oxidation, but maybe the extreme dryness is making the hops seem harsh? There is also the issue of Portland water, which contains some chloromines, and I haven't found time to by a water filter yet. It would be a nice thing to rule out, more than anything.

This week also marks 1 month that I have been in Portland. Although I haven't written anything on this blog about my job search out here, I am looking for brewing work, and believe me, it's not as easy as it might seem. So far my efforts have included going door to door to breweries and brewpubs to introduce myself, ask about work and give them a resume and a few homebrews, which I brought out specifically for that purpose. So far, only one or two breweries of maybe 12 has said that they were even hiring, and my main hope ended up hiring someone who has about 14 years experience as a brewer.

Instead of getting bummed, I have tried to keep my focus positive, and just do my best to truly immerse myself in the brewing scene here. That includes the work I have done making connections at breweries, as well as homebrewing a lot to give out more samples, and joining both the Oregon Brew Crew and the PDX brewers clubs. I'm also planning on entering as many local homebrew competitions as I can, and start stocking up beers to enter in the National Homebrew Competition.

This week I helped 2 breweries with their bottling days. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera. Upright Brewery initially really impressed me with "Flora Rustica", a saison brewed with some kind of flowers (it was an awesome saison, but I'm not sure what type of flowers were used or what they were supposed to smell like). They also have many other beers using Wyeast 3711 as a primary fermenter, and if you haven't tried them out, you should, because many of these beers are outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the "4", a session saison, and "Reggae Junky Gruit" which is spiced with lemongrass, szechuan peppers, and uses no hops at all. Yes, the name is a Ween reference. Upright uses a custom built bottling line for bottle conditioning 750 ml bottles. It is completely hand operated, and fills 6 bottles at a time. It's not an extremely fast setup, but with 4 people, we were able to prep, bottle 6 barrels of beer, and clean up in about 6 hours. Not bad!

New Old Lompoc 5th Quadrant brewpub produces a number of tasty beer styles, and has a fairly extensive barrel collection going on right now. They use a roving bottle filling business called Green Bottling. It's basically 2 guys running a labelling machine and a filling machine, which are unloaded from a truck into the brewery. I helped clean and pack the bottles into cases, and we got through 24 barrels of beer in about 4 hours! There were a lot of cool folks to get to know, and they sent me away with a backpack full of bombers.

So, the search for brewing work goes on. I'm just trying to stay positive, work hard, and brew strong! In the mean time, here's a beer I brewed up for the upcoming AHA club-only competition for Belgian Strong Ales. I brewed it up to be a Belgian Blond ale, but we'll see how it tastes once it's bottled and decide which category to enter it in. It bares a striking resemblance to Mr. T's 30 Pound Necklace, which did well as a tripel. I will probably not have time to bottle condition this one though. I'm planning on using the Beergun.

I used 2 different yeasts on this beer, because I had a starter of Wyeast 1214 (Chimay) yeast going, but I didn't see any activity in the starter after 8 hours! Wassup, Wyeast? I bought an additional tube of Whitelabs 530 (Westmalle) and pitched that in as insurance. It took awhile, but 24 hours later is was going strong. I think it will be just fine.

Blackeyed Blonde
Recipe is for 6 gallons post boil volume.
O.G. 1.068 F.G. 1.011 ABV 7.7% IBU's 27

9.5 lb. Pils malt
1 lb. wheat malt
4 oz. aromatic malt
2 oz. melanoidin malt
1 lb. corn sugar
8 oz. unrefined cane sugar

24 gr. Perle pellets 7.1%AA 60 min
14 gr. Styrian Goldings pellets 3.5% 30 min
14 gr. Styrian Goldings pellets 3.5% 0 min

3.5 gallons mash water +1 tsp gypsum + 1 tsp Bruton salts
Mash in to 151, keep between 149-151 for 60 min
pH was 4.9 on the ColorpHast strips, 5.2 on the cheap strips.
After 60 minutes, raised to mash out 170 degrees

Sparge: 5 gallons at 165-170
Collect 6.9 gallons at 1.049 = 82% efficiency
Boil 90 minutes, sugar at start of boil
Hop additions as noted, Wyeast nutrient whirlfloc at 10 min
Chilled to 70, whirlpooled, and racked to carboy.
Oxygen for 70 seconds.
Pitched 1 qt. starter of Wyeast 1214
Also pitched 1 tube WLP 530
Fermentation did not take off for almost 24 hours, but then it was vigorous.
Ferment at 68 for 3 days, then let rise to 70 degrees.
Racked to keg on 10/2/09, I thought I picked up a bit of residual sulphur at this point.
I left the keg out for a few days, occasionally venting the headspace to let any sulphur out, and refilling it with CO2.

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