Saturday, January 16, 2010

I gotta say it was a good day: Hoppy Pilsner and Carbonnade Flammande

I did some brewing on Thursday, and some cooking too, and it occurred to me while enjoying some well-earned vittles after the brew session that hey, today was a good day. Just like that classic rap song from 1993, except I guess instead of playing dominoes and not having to use my AK, I just brewed a nice pilsner, and instead of getting the Fatburger at 2 in the morning, I made a fancy beef stew from Belgium. But sentimentally, it was very much the same.

I'm pretty psyched to have finally gotten lager season rolling. I usually get to do at least a couple of lagers each winter, but I got a late start this year since I had a few other yeast strains already in action. I'm planning on doing at least another batch of the smoked helles (pretty much a Schlenkerla Helles clone) and a Baltic Porter with Paul Key.

When I design a recipe, whether it's "to style" or free-style, I like to think a lot about how I want to final beer to taste, smell, and look like. I like to keep a couple of commercial examples in mind if there is anything close to what I am looking to target. For example, if you are talking about German Pilsner, you have anything from Bitburger or Radeberger pils (very light, clean, and somewhat hoppy but pretty much a lawnmower beer), to something pretty radically hoppy and aromatic like Victory Prima Pils. More often than not, there's a huge range within the style to work with. Less so for German beers for sure, but still there's a range. This is why I think it's funny that some brewers make a point to say it's below them to brew to style. It's as if they think you can't make a creative expression if you stick pretty much within a recognized style. If you think about that for more than a second, you realize that's just not true. It's like saying that a cubist or a surrealist isn't really a painter. Not that beer is fine art, or that it has to be taken so seriously, but I guess art works as a good analogy. Maybe a food analogy would work even better: Do all cheeseburgers taste the same? Of course not!

Anyway (end of rant), I wanted my beer to be more on the hoppy, full-flavored end of the spectrum, like Victory, Jever and even Sly Fox Pils. I wanted to really push the hop flavor and bitterness, and have some residual body to counter the bitterness. I had a lot of noble hops still in the mylar package from 2008, and they were smelling great. I didn't adjust the alpha acids down for time on any of the hops still in the mylar.

One issue I had with this recipe is an extremely long time to go from the boil pot through the heat exchanger. I think there was a little too much hop matter and I just had to wait 40 minutes to knock out into the carboy, but when I did, the wort was at a great pitching temperature: 50 degrees. That's the lowest I've ever pitched a lager yeast, which should make for a really clean fermentation.

The Recipe:
7 gallons pre-boil, 5.5 gallons post boil, all grain
O.G. 1.055 F.G. 1.012 ABV 5.7% IBU's 45

9 lb. Weyermann Pils malt
.5 lb. carafoam

13 gr. Hallertau (1 plug) FWH
14 gr. Perle pellets 6.5% 60 min
8 gr. Magnum whole 12% 60 min
56 gr. Czech Saaz pellets 3% 20 min
28 gr. Czech Saaz pellets 3% 0 min
28 gr. Hallertau pellets 4% 0 min

Mash: 4 gallons + 5 gr. gypsum, 2 gr. calcium chloride
152 for 60 minutes
Sparge with 5 gallons at 166
Collect 7 gallons at 1.043 = 84% efficiency

Boil 90 minutes
wyeast nutrient & whirlfloc at 15 minutes

Whirlpool, rest 10 miuntes. Chill to 50 degrees, took 40 minutes to run through heat exchanger! Ground water was run though a copper pre-chiller in an ice water bath.

Collected 5.1 gallons at 1.055, pitched Wyeast 2124 Bohemian lager yeast at 50 degrees.
Fermented at 52 degrees for 12 days.
Pulled into the house on 1/26/10 for a D-rest for 4 days
Pulled back out in the garage to chill to 50 and racked to a keg on 2/2/10

OK, now here are some cooking pics of the Carbonnade Flammande, and this is the recipe that I based it loosely off of. The carrots are not traditional, I just felt like adding some vegetables. I used my flanders red homebrew as the stew base, which is still a little lacking in acidity. After I pulled a sample for cooking, I added some more bugs to the keg to help sour it up, and a couple of bottle of the Belgian Dark Strong to give it a little more maltiness and sugars for the bugs to eat.

The prep...the meat is browned. Use a well marbled meat, unless you like dry stew meat.

Most of the online recipes do not specifically call for Flanders red ale, but it's best to use a sour malty ale. If you can't find that, you can probably fake it with a Belgian Dubbel and a dash of vinegar and sugar.

The end product was excellent. I think it's traditionally served with noodles or pommes frites. I used some leftover garlicky mashed potatoes.

Here's another cooking project that Clarissa and I have been getting into: the no-knead bread technique that is very popular and turns out a great loaf.

Our first loaf, above was made with all bread flour and baked at 500 degrees. It was OK but it was not entirely done when we took it out of the oven. The crust was getting very dark but the inside was a bit moist. So it steamed out the crust and made it a bit chewy, but it was still pretty good.

Here's the second loaf, where we used 1/3 whole wheat flour and 2/3 bread flour. It tasted every bit as awesome as it looks here. We turned our oven temp down to 450 so it had plenty of time to finish cooking before the crust got too dark.


Paul! said...

looks good but that carbonnade flammande isn't quite to style, you see the specific cut you used kinda defines it more as an "american" carbonnade Flammande. I would enter it into category 16C-Specialty Flammande

the beer looks tasty, it reminds me of a pre prohibition pilsner Ive had before

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DA Beers said...

When I bake my bread use a cast iron pot preheated in the oven at 450 degrees. Add the bread then it's 30 minutes with the lid on, then 15 minutes with the lid off.

Seanywonton said...

Yep, that's what we've been doing too. I've actually got another wheat loaf going right now. Smells fantastic!

Brett Begani said...

our no-knead is done in the ceramic pot of the slow cooker, but we use it in the oven, comes out perfect every time by the recipe because of the slow even heating in the ceramic. I would think a dutch oven or similar would also work quite well. You might check your oven temp sometime with an oven thermo as they are notoriously wrong. 6 oven bricks on the bottom of ours takes care of opening the door temp fluctuations. :)

Nico said...

You're absolutely right, the traditional sour ale contains some acidity that breaks down the (traditionally) lean meat - but indeed some vinegar can do the trick. OTOH, you can also just pick up some gueuze at your local PastaWorks, which is what is typically used, like in my own recipe:

Oh, and stoofvlees with anything else than fries is a sin. :)