Monday, October 5, 2009

Hood River Hops Fest, and a very un-hoppy Belgian Dark Strong

Above: new 70 quart mash tun with a Celebrator goat that Jamil gave me at NHC.

I've been trying to brew as much as possible for competition, and Roots is collaborating with the Oregon Brew Crew on a competition for an upcoming pinot noir/bourbon barrel aged brew. Only 2 categories are open for this competition: Baltic Porter and Belgian Dark Strong. My personal feeling is that a Baltic Porter might be a better beer to age in these barrels. But with limited time and a healthy yeast cake of trappist ale yeast, I went with the Belgian Dark Strong. There's really no way that this beer will have matured properly in only 21 days, which is the entry deadline. But, since I can just bottle up a few bottles with the Beergun, it's no big deal. I'll just keep rest of the beer in a keg until it's time to bottle the rest.

Below, you can see the detail on the new mash tun. I actually turn the pipes upside down when brewing so the slits are facing downward. Cutting and fitting all the pipes, and then using a hacksaw to cut the slits in the copper pipe was extremely time & labor intensive process! So my advice to anyone is to go with the stainless mesh tube in the bottom of the mash tun if you're doing a conversion like this.

So, I brewed the Belgian Dark Strong on Friday, and then on Saturday we took a trip to Hood River Oregon for the annual Fresh Hop Fest. The weather was supposed to be great, but unfortunately it was pretty rainy. This didn't seem to phase the Oregon beer revelers though!
There were tons of great beers there. As a brewer, I felt that it should have been better marked as to which beers were 100% fresh hop beers, and which used a mix of wet & dried hops. My favorite fresh hop beer, which not only used an excellent hop variety, but also displayed it perfectly by holding back on the crystal malts, was Widmer's Hopturnal Emission. It was brewed with fresh Summit hops, and the aroma was so inviting! The flavor was intense and hoppy.

I also really enjoyed: New Old Lompoc's Harvestman Red, which was brewed with fresh Crystal hops, had a juicy malt backbone and subtle hopping. It was an excellent session red ale. Rock Bottom's Octoberfist (yes, I spelled that right) was an excellent malty lager, with a touch of extra hop character from the fresh Hallertauer hops. Maybe the reason that some of my favorite beers were on the malty side is that after a whole day of drinking hoppy ales, my pallete was craving a change. There were many other great fresh hopped IPA's from other breweries, the full list of which can be found on the Hood River Hops Fest website.

Back to the brew: This is Jamil's Belgian Dark Strong recipe brewed pretty much straight up out of Brewing Classic Styles. The differences are:
  • Recipe calls for WLP530 Abbey yeast. I used a blend of Wyeast 1214 and WLP 530.
  • Recipe uses Hallertauer hops as a 60 minutes addition. I used Perle and Magnum.
  • I had a little issue with not getting as good efficiency as I hoped for. I was at 66% instead of 70%. What I should have done is add a half pound of DME to make up for it, but instead my cheap ass spent an extra 40 minutes collecting the last runnings in another pot, boiling this on the stove at the same time as the regular boil, and then adding the runnings to the main pot once they could fit. While this was a big time-suck, I did hit all my numbers dead-on, and I don't think I picked up much extra caramelization.
Recipe is for 6 gallons post boil, all grain + sugar
O.G. 1.103 F.G. 1.023 ABV 10.7% IBU's 30

15 lb. Pilsner malt
3 lb. Munich malt
1 lb. caramunich 60
1 lb. aromatic malt
1 lb. special B
8 oz. Melanoidin malt
8 oz. Wheat malt
1 lb. corn sugar

15 gr. Magnum pellets 13.6%AA 60 min
6 gr. Perle pellets 7.1%AA 60 min

Mash: 6 gallons + 1 tsp gypsum, mash in a little low to 149

at 10 minutes into the mash, added about 1 gallon boiling water to bring up to 153
Total mash time 65 minutes

Sparge: 5 gallons at 170 degrees
Collect 8 gallons at 1.071 = 70% efficiency

Boil: about 2 hours, started in 2 pots. See above notes.
Sugar at beginning of boil.
Once boil volume was down to 7 gallons, started the timer at 90 minutes
Hops as noted, Whirlfloc and Wyeast nutrient at 10 minutes
Chilled to 68, whirlpooled, and collected 5.25 gallons
Oxygen for 2 minutes
Pitched 2 cups (half a yeast cake from the blond) of Wyeast 1214 & WLP 530
Ferment at 68 degrees for first 48 hours, then let slowly come up to 72 degrees over 1 week.
Took a gravity reading at 10 days, 1.023. Target was 1.024. Pretty good! tastes/smells pretty solventy, I guess that's to be expected at this age.

P.S. I just lined up a one day a week internship with Upright Brewery. Very exciting! Even if I'm not getting paid yet, it will be great to be brewing and learning.
Cheers & Brew Strong.
Sean / Chupa / Senior Wonton


DA Beers said...

I must have just missed you at the fest. I had to leave around 2 and only got to try five beers. I thought the Walking Man and the Deschutes were the highlights for me.

Seanywonton said...

Yeah the walking man was up there with my favorite fresh hop IPA's. Didn't try the Deschutes, although I did use all 15 of my beer tokens. That was a damn good fest, sorry I missed you! We got there right after 2.

forrest said...

Sean, i'm glad you have time to blog! Looks like you're keeping spirits up and carboys filled out there :) Good karma should find its way to you soon. And, nice picture of you and Clarissa, btw.

I'm glad to hear that fresh hops make a difference, because I picked some on a farm in the Netherlands and smuggled them back on the airplane. I'm not sure the variety..., but my housemate Warren and I brewed them into a belgian blond, which I'm pretty excited about.

Hmm, I should just email next time. Keeva and Joe are still talking about the awesome tour you gave at SixPoint.