Saturday, February 27, 2010

Collabos with a Yard Gnome

My good friend Paul and I brewed a couple batches together recently, and I'm just now catching up to posting those recipes. Once again I have to work (occasionally) which means I don't have as much time to get cracked out on strong coffee and stare at the computer screen. The job is pretty cool so far, helping out at Green Bottling, a truck based bottling line that contract bottles bombers for over 20 breweries in Oregon. It's a cool way to see the inside of a lot of breweries, make connections with the brewers, and work with some cool people. So far I have helped them bottle at Bridgeport, 10 Barrel in Bend, and Lompoc. We are headed to Ashland tomorrow for a 4 day bottling binge.

The first brew we did was a flanders red, using Al B's "Rodenbug" blend on its 2nd generation, or 3rd if you count the starter I made in between batches. The recipe is very close to the parameters set in Jeff Sparrow's Wild Brews book, although we used flaked triticale instead of corn or flaked wheat. The fermentation got a little rambunctious in the primary and blew the tinfoil off one carboy, good thing it's a sour beer.

Flanders Red, Brewed on 1/30/10
Recipe is for 12.9 gallons pre-boil, 11.7 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.060 IBU's 16

12.25 lb. Vienna Malt
5 lb. Flaked Triticale
2 lb. Aromatic malt
2 lb. Caravienne
1.5 lb. crystal 15
.75 lb. Special B
.5 lb. crystal 120
.5 lb. crystal 75

52 gr. Willamette whole 4.7% AA 60 min

Mash 7.5 gallons water with the following additions:
5 gr. chalk
1 gr. gyspum
2 gr. calcium chloride
2 gr. baking soda

Mash in to 156
Forgot to put in the triticale! Put in at 20 minutes, dropping the temp to 148.
Pulled .75 gallons of mash liquor and heated to boiling, adding back to mash.
This raised temp back to 158
Total mash time 75 minutes

Sparge with 8.5 gallons at 170

Collect 12.9 gallons at 1.054 = 81% efficiency

Boil 60 minutes
yeast nutrient at 10 minutes

Chilled to 70, aerated by shaking for 2 minutes
pitched a slurry of AlB's Rodenbug blend / cali ale yeast
Fermented in the mid 60's for about 3 weeks, then racked to secondary for aging. Gravity was at 1.020.

The second brew was a baltic porter, a style that we both like a lot, and Paul's first lager. We started off with an intensive baltic porter tasting at Belmont Station, but sadly most of the beers were overly aged and overly oxidized, tasting of nothing but prunes and cardboard. The best one we had is the one I have repeatedly poked fun at Paul for drinking, Black Boss, because I'm of the opinion that there's no way they could sell it for $2 for 16 oz. in the states and actually put quality ingredients in it. But actually it tastes great, striking a similar flavor balance to a Belgian Dark strong, in that the alcohol warmth helps to keep it from being overly sweet or syrupy. I'm pretty sure there are almost no hops in Black Boss , which is probably one way they pinch the pennies in making it. Either that or it's government subsidized!
We tried the Fuller's London Porter too because of a note in the BJCP style guidelines about Baltic Porters sharing some malt similarities to brown porters.

Paul took some nice photos of the brewday and you can see them here. Note the cold steep on the carafa malt. That was a first for both of us.

Unfortunately, the first 2 lagers I made this year seem to have some DMS issues, which has to be from the long time it took me to chill the wort (about 40 minutes with a plate chiller). I'm going to try to alleviate some of the corny DMS aroma by bubbling CO2 through the beer repeatedly. I'll post an update if that process helps at all. We cooled the baltic porter using an immersion chiller to get it to 90 or so to avoid DMS formation, and then ran it through a plate chiller to knock out to pitching temp.

Baltic Thunderbolt!
Recipe is for 13.5 gallons pre-boil, 12 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.076 F.G. 1.015 ABV 8.1% IBU's 30

19 lb. Weyermann pilsner malt
6 lb. munich malt
3 lb. caramunich 60
1.5 lb. crystal 120
(2 lb. carafa special 550L, steeped at room temp for 12 hours in .5 gallons water)

37 gr. Yakima Magnum whole 13.5% AA 60 min

7.5 gallons plus:
7 gr. chalk
3 gr. calcium chloride
3 gr. baking soda

Mash in all grains except the carafa at 150 for 70 minutes
Add the cold steeped carafa and stir in, rest 10 minutes

Sparge with 8 gallons at 168, recirc 5 qt.
Collect 12.75 gallons at 1.072 = 79% efficiency
Topped up to 13.5 gallons

Boil 90 minutes
yeast nutrient & whirlfloc at 10 minutes

Chill to 52 degrees, using immersion chiller and then plate chiller
Aerate by hand for 4 minutes (ran out of oxygen)
pitched 1/2 yeast cake per carboy of wyeast 2124 from the smoked helles
Fermented at 52ish for 3 weeks, then a D-rest at 62 for 1 week
Racked to keg on 3/24, tastes great and none of the DMS flavors that the previous batches had.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breakside Test Batches

Ben and Tony getting fired up

On Saturday, the 13th, Tony, Ben and I got together to do some test batches for Breakside Brewing. We decided to start off with a test batch of the Wit, and our Rye ale, the 2 recipes we felt the least confident on how they would turn out. We also wanted to split the Wit 3 ways in order to test some different yeast strains and pick a house Belgian yeast. We don't have the stuff moved into the brewery yet, so we spent a long day hanging out in Tony's garage and doing a double batch.

The Sabco Brewmagic system is pretty awesome. It seems pretty easy to get a handle on. I don't know why they don't stick a pump in between the HLT and the mash tun, since they are at the same height and therefore not easy to gravity feed. Instead of pumping over to the mash tun you have to keep filling the HLT as you go to keep the water level above the level you want in the mash. Mash temp is held by recirculating the wort through a small electrical heating unit, and mash steps are done manually by adding bottom heat while recirculating. The boil is pretty straightforward, and we use a Therminator plate chiller with in-line oxygenation and thermometer to cool the wort.
(Tony recirculating the first runnings, which we found to be unnecessary since the mash is recirculated the whole time.)

The Wit is a pretty standard recipe using about 50% wheat flakes, coriander, dried sweet and bitter orange peel, and chamomile. We split the batch into 3, 4 gallon batches, fermented separately with Wyeast 3787 (Westmalle), Wyeast 1388 (Duvel), and Wyeast 3711 (Theriez). The 3 yeast strains we decided to use were picked for their potential to ferment many different kinds of Belgian ales, although I'm not sure the French saison yeast from Theriez is the best choice for that. Maybe we should have tried the LaChouffe strain in stead, but I thought the saison yeast would be fun to try. The unfermented wort tasted really spot-on for a wit, with the chamomile being very up-front in the aroma, but that will most likely change with time and fermentation.

The Rye recipe uses 30% rye malt, pale malt, and some honey malt. It's designed to be a blond session ale but it came out a little darker than we had expected, more of a pale ale color. We used Perle as a first wort hop and Sterling as a 60 minute addition. It seems like this beer is not really settled in its identity yet, Ben likes the idea of it being like a light English summer ale with a Marris Otter base, while I thought it should be a hoppy blond or kolsch kind of base beer, with significant hop aroma but coming from German or hybrid hops. I kind of think it will be better with some late hop additions but I also think that using only early additions in the first batch will give us a better idea of what the rye malt is doing to the flavor and aroma. We split this batch between the classic Cali ale yeast and the WLP007 "Dry English Ale" yeast. My vote is for Cali as our house "clean" ale yeast, because I think it does way better for hoppy beers and is a little more tolerant to slightly warmer fermentation temperatures.

All these beers are fermenting away in Tony's house and I can't wait to try the beers to see which yeast strains prevail. We might hold off any additional brewing until we move into the building, but I will keep the blog updated on our future brews.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thirsting for Bamberg: Smoked Helles Redux

This recipe is inspired by a singular beer: Schlenkerla Helles. This is the only non-smoked beer made by the Schlenkerla brewery, but because of the residual smoked malt from the brewing equipment and the yeast pitch, this beer has a pleasant smoky flavor. It's a perfect "entry-level" smoked beer. Many of the smokier beers like Schlenkerla Marzen are an acquired taste (and believe me, I've acquired it).

This batch is my second go around on a smoked helles, with very little changes from the first batch. I added a little munich malt for color and background flavor, and carapils for foam stability. One thing I noticed about the Schlenkerla Helles last time I tried it is a more bitter, firm finish than my homebrew. That bears out when looking at the 30 IBU's they claim. But I like my recipe where it's at, and I'm not trying to make an exact clone. The name of this beer comes from the fact that I first served it last year at my 30th birthday party. 31 is coming up!

"30 Rauch"
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 6 gallons post-boil, all grain
1.051 O.G. 22 IBU's

6.75 lb. Weyermann Pils malt
1.75 lb. Rauchmalt
.5 lb. munich malt
.25 lb. aromatic malt
.25 lb. cara-pils malt

39 gr. Halltertau pellets 3.9% AA 60 minutes

Mash: 4.5 gallons H20 + 2 gr. gypsum + 2 gr. calcium chloride
153 for 60 minutes

Sparge with 4.5 gallons + 2 gr. gypsum + 2 gr. calcium chloride at 168

Collect 7 gallons at 1.044 = 86% efficiency
Boil 90 minutes
Wyeast nutrient and whirlfloc at 10 minutes
Chill to 50 using plate chiller over 40 minutes
Oxygen for 2 minutes
Pitch .75 cups thick slurry of Wyeast 2124 from Pilsner
Ferment at 50-52 degrees

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saison Dupont "Clone", Blackeyed Blonde tasting

I'm getting a little behind in posting my recipes so I'm just going to put this up with very little introduction. I've done a lot of saisons but I've never tried to clone Saison Dupont exactly. Even this is just close in the malt (they use 100% Dingemans Pilsner) and yeast (this is some sort of isolate from the Dupont culture, but I truly believe they are using a multi-strain yeast. Saison Dupont is one of my favorite beers on the planet, if not my ultimate "desert island" beer. The first time I had it, early on in my homebrewing days, was truly a life changing event.

When this beer is done, it will be fun to a side by side comparison with a bottle of Saison Dupont, even though I doubt it will be close enough to truly call a "clone". I'm going to try and bottle condition at least a six pack of this beer to see if it makes a better saison. I suspect it might, not because of the "increased complexity" from re-fermentation that a lot of people claim, but because the presence of yeast and unfiltered proteins add a lot of mouthfeel to very dry beers. When I keg saisons and they are almost crystal clear after a few weeks, they can be very "unforgiving", with little mouthfeel to bring the other elements together.

Saison DuPont "clone"
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 5.9 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.051 F.G. 1.007 ABV 5.8% (6.2% after bottling sugar)
28 IBU's (this would be a low estimate as the large flame out addition is not included))

7.5 lb. Great Western Pilsner malt
2 lb. Belgian pale malt

(All hops were 1 year old pellets, in sealed mylar packaging. I did not adjust AA% down)
14 gr. Styrian Goldings 3.5% AA First Wort Hop
28 gr. East Kent Goldings 4.8% AA 90 min
28 gr. East Kent Goldings 4.8% AA 0 min
14 gr. Styrian Goldings 3.5% AA 0 min

Mash: 4.5 gallons water + 4 gr. gypsum + 2 gr. Calcium Chloride
Step mash using bottom heat on stove, total 90 minutes:
126 for 15 minutes
Bring up to 148 over 10 minutes and rest 30 minutes
Bring up to 157 over 10 minutes and rest 10 minutes
Bring up to 170 over 10 minutes and rest 5 minutes, then start lauter.

Sparge with 4.5 gallons at 165
Collect 7 gallons at 1.043 = 84% efficiency
Boil 90 minutes, hops as noted. Wyeast nutrient at 10 minutes
Whirlpool 1 min
Rest 6 minutes while setting up heat exchanger
rack to carboy over 6 minutes, cool to 76
Oxygen for 60 seconds
Pitched a slurry of WLP 566 at 76, ramping to 84 over 5 days. Held steady at 80 until finished.
Bottled / kegged on 2/17/10
Dosed each 12 oz. bottle with 1 tsp priming sugar, each 22 oz bottle with 1.75 tsp.

As part of my "liquid resume" for my job search, I've been dropping off a lot of homebrew samples to the local breweries. As you can see above, I put the whole recipe on the beer label as well as my contact information. The other night I was very pleased to get an email from one of the brewers at Laurelwood that they were very impressed with the "Blackeyed Blonde", which is a Belgian Blond ale. Not only was I happy that the brewers liked it a lot, but I was touched that they actually made it a point to email me and let me know. Thanks, Hans. Ben Love from Hopworks also said he liked it, picking out a nice spicy phenol profile and very subtle alcochol.

Here's my tasting assesment:
Aroma: Big bubblegum / banana character at first, jumping out of the glass. Clove, mixed with a sweet grainy malt. Apple esters, and some warming alcohol is noticeable but not fuselly. Hardly any hop aroma. A discernible "flinty" mineral character in the finish which I think is from the beer, but might possibly be from the glass.
Appearance: Deep gold, crystal clear, medium-high carbonation. Head retention is not very good. Pretty much went away within the first minute.
Flavor: Big mouthful of sweet malt character, bubblegum esters, slight toasty & grainy pils malt quality. Clean bitterness on the end cuts away any sweetness and leaves a subtle noble hop flavor (this is pretty subtle as this beer is 4+ months old and was not incredibly hoppy to begin with). Combo of bitterness, alcohol warmth and CO2 dryness really help to dry out & clean up the finish.
Mouthfeel: Big, round gentle body with mouth expanding CO2 levels. The beer actually expands in your mouth as the CO2 comes out. Some prickly Co2 bite as can be expected. finishes dry and clean with lingering warming alcohols, not hot or harsh.
Overall: The few months keg conditioning and bottle aging have been kind to this beer, cleaning up the burst of sulphur that was apparent when I first kegged it (probably too early as I needed the yeast cake). I'm not a huge fan of the big banana character that the Wyeast 1214 throws off, and I can't say I'm a big fan of that yeast for both performance issues and the incredible amount of banana it creates. Overall this beer has a lot of complexity, and a definitive trappist signature flavor. It's also getting me a bit tipsy and it's not even 1 pm! I hope I can stay productive today...