Monday, August 30, 2010

Post 100! Collaborator lab results

I just noticed as I was logging in that this is going to be post 100 of my blog! That means, more or less, I've posted about 100 recipes on here too. A lot of posts do not have a recipe, but some have multiple. So let's call it just shy of 100 recipes, give or take a few (I'm not going back to count, are you?).

Anyway, I finally pleaded and begged and bugged the OBC enough to release the Widmer Collaborator lab results which should have been out a long time ago. I think the competition was in May, and the lab testing was done on May 27th. I was really excited to see the lab results come in, since I have never had any scientific QC testing on my beers, and I was curious to see if my measurements would jive with the lab-ometers. Most of them did, gladly. And there was a ton of other stuff which I was hoping they would measure, but unfortunately that did not come with the testing. I was hoping to see dissolved oxygen levels, bacterial count, and carbonation level measurements also. Well, it was all free anyway. Thanks again Widmer.

On to the results. First the Baltic Porter that Paul and I brewed, which was a finalist, but did not get picked as a Collaborator beer. I don't think I ever did a tasting of this for the blog, and I should soon. It was pretty good but not quite malty enough. But still, quite tasty.
Beer Analysis - BALTIC PORTER


SpecificGravity 1.01431.015
Alcohol(%v/v) 8.608.06
(%w/w) 6.706.28
Original Gravity in Percent Plato 19.0918.4
Real Degree of Fermentation 67.766.2
Calories 260.1
pH 4.83
Color (in Lovibond) 103.037.1 (SRM)
Bitterness Units (International Method) 31.930.2

Evaluating the results: The measurements were all quite close here, except for the color. I don't really understand that one honestly. For one thing, from what I quickly read online, SRM is the same as Lovibond. If so, then I'm way off, but color is such an obvious thing in brewing that I don't really care about ever having it checked by a lab.

On to the Saison, which was not a finalist and therefore also not picked as a winner. This was a pretty good beer, but as I mentioned it just didn't have a great aroma profile. It was just a bit subdued and not outstanding.

Beer Analysis - SAISON Results MY MEASUREMENTS:
SpecificGravity 1.0035 1.007
Alcohol (%v/v) 6.33 6.2
(%w/w) 4.99 4.9
Original Gravity in Percent Plato 12.79 12.6
Real Degree of Fermentation 76.5 71
Calories 166.2
pH 4.29
Color (in Lovibond) 3.1 3 (SRM)
Bitterness Units (International Method)
28.3 28.3

Evaluating the results: It looks like I was really dead-on most of my numbers for this beer, except for the final gravity. This could have been a bad measurement by me, but more likely it was from continued fermentation in the bottle. We all know how saison yeasts go slowly but surely through their final stages of fermentation. But if that's the case, I would have expected carbonation levels that were pushing bottle bombs, and I didn't have that problem. The beer tasted as if it were carbed to about 3.5 volumes I'd guess, and that was with a pretty substantial dose of priming sugar that would have equaled 6+ oz. per 5 gallons.

All in all, I'm very happy to see I've hit my numbers on these beers. At least at the 30 IBU range, my IBU calculations are pretty close to the actuals. I would guess that they start to skew quite a bit as the IBU's go up though.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Clarissa's 30th Birthday beer: quick-sour amber farmhouse ale

Clarissa and I were talking about what to brew for her 30th birthday beer recently. I really wanted to include her more on the beer recipe formulation than in past years, so we started by just talking about what kind of beer she would like. She likes sour beers a lot. They don't have to be extremely sour, but beers with less hops, a slight tartness, and high drinkability are really what she prefers. I have to be honest and say that I really wasn't that big on either of the last two beers I have brewed for her birthday. One was an imperial wit, and the other was a squash saison. Both were interesting beers, but not really beers that I was terribly proud of. So, we are keeping our fingers crossed on this year, and I think it will be at least a very interesting beer, and hopefully very complex and tasty.

We started with the idea of an amber colored beer, to evoke the feeling of fall, since her birthday is on Halloween. We quickly ruled out the idea of using squash, since I did that last year and it was a real pain in the ass to mash (and it's kind of cliche). The idea of a slightly sour farmhouse ale quickly came up, so I had to start thinking about how to get that sourness in a short amount of time. She also mentioned wanting a lemony quality to the beer, and that she really liked the spices I used in the Belgian summer ale recently.

So, I had to take all this info and figure out a recipe and technique. I hope it ends up with a flavor that is very evocative of a Fantome Automne farmhouse ale. I don't even know if I've ever even tried Fantome Automne before, but I would like to get close to the house flavor they have, with a nice tinge of lactobacillus sourness and some brett. Also, I have to credit Paul for a bit of inspiration with the technique, he had a phenomenal funky saison with lacto and brett C, so I used some of his ideas for this beer.

One more thing: Thanks for the help on the brewday Clarissa!

(Nameless beer for now...any thoughts?)
Recipe is for 6.7 gallons pre-boil, 5.6 gallons, post boil, all grain
O.G. 1.054 F.G. ABV IBU's 23

3 lb. 2-row organic pale malt (1 lb. is used in the sour mash)
3 lb. Weyermann Pilsner malt
1 lb. Munich malt
1 lb. Caramunich 60 L
1 lb. aromatic malt
1 lb. wheat malt
4 oz. Munton's crystal 180-200 L

12 gr. Magnum pellets (2008) 13.6% AA 70 min
16 gr. Styrian Golding pellets 3.5% AA 0 min
11 gr. Sterling pellets 7% AA 0 min
6 gr. Amarillo pellets 8.6% AA 0 min
3 gr. fresh lemon verbena, sliced thin 0 min
2 gr. grains of paradise, crushed 0 min

Sour Mash:
24 hours before brewday, mash 1 lb. pale malt in 1 qt. water to 105 degrees in a small pot.
covered grain surface in plastic wrap, and let sit out warm overnight. By 24 hours it was VERY sour, but not too funky or garbagy. The layer of plastic wrap really helps keep the fink down!

Main Mash:
4 gallons water, mash in to 153, rest 30 minutes
Add sour mash to main mash after 30 minutes
Heat entire mash to 158 over 10 minutes, rest 20 minutes

Sparge with 4.75 gallons at 170 over 30 minutes
Collect 6.8 gallons at 1.044 = 80% efficiency

Boil 85 minutes, hops/spices as noted
whirlfloc & wyeast nutrient at 10 minutes

Whirlpool and rest for 15 minutes before chilling
Chill with plate chiller to 68 over 20 minutes
Oxygen for 60 seconds

Pitched 1 liter stirplate starter of Wyeast 1010 American Wheat yeast
(I know this is probably not an obvious choice, but I had a few packs of free yeast laying around and since we're using a sour mash & brett, the primary yeast strain is almost a non-issue. I was looking for a subtle yeast.)
Ferment at 68 for the bulk of fermentation, then let rise to ambient (72+).
Racked to a keg on 9/13/10. 1.016. Tastes very good already, has a nice amber ale body & flavor, with a very slight tartness and lemony, fruity, peppery finish. Very nice balance on the spices. Pitched 1 pack of Wyeast Brett Clausenni to funk it up.

12/14/10. This beer has not progressed much in the brett flavor, and the Brett C has not even dropped the gravity by a point! It's still at 1.016. There is a nice little pineapple aroma though. So here's what I did: rack it back into a 5 gallon carboy, along with about a quart of the young "E-Z Lambic" for extra funk, and 3/4 ounce medium toast French oaks chips. That should funk it up and give it some of that sour farmhouse character I'm looking for. Obviously this wasn't ready for Clarissa's birthday. Maybe we will bottle condition it and serve some on her birthday in 2011!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saison De Duas Notas So

Saison season has opened! That's right, we are in the middle of Oregon's mild excuse for a summer (it's currently 63 degrees at 2:30 pm). This would typically warrant only saison homebrewing in many other cities, but here the only difference is the groundwater temp goes up a bit and it's a littler harder to chill the wort properly with your heat exchanger. I was planning on doing another Saison Dupont clone attempt, but when I went to the homebrew store, all they had was $2 an ounce, 2008 crop American Goldings sitting in a refrigerator. No way I am gonna get jacked like that, so I had to come up with a different idea.

Luckily, I had an idea earlier that week to try some Northern Brewer hops in a saison, and they had a good selection of NB from 2009. This is a hop I have hardly used at all, and I want to isolate it by using it as the only hop to try and get a feel for the flavor and aroma potential. I decided to leave everything else very predictable and clean, to really let those hops shine through. So, I went with 100% Pilsner malt and 100% Northern Brewer, and Dupont yeast. If the Northern Brewer proves to be a good hop for this, I might try to substitute some American malts next time to get a real "American" saison.

The name of this recipe comes from a play off an old Samba song called "Samba De Uma Nota So", or "One Note Samba". This is my 2-note saison.

Above: THE MAN, Joao Gilberto!

Saison De Duas Notas So
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-booil, 6.2 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.055 F.G. 1.007 ABV 6.4% IBU's 32

10 lb. Weyermann Pilsner malt

14 gr. Northern Brewer whole 7.8% AA (First Wort Hop)
12 gr. Northern Brewer pellet 9.8% AA 90 min
45 gr. Northern Brewer whole 7.8% AA 0 min

Mash: 4 gallons H2O + 4 gr. gypsum + 4 gr. calcium chloride
Mash in to 128, hold 15 min
Heat to 147 over 10 min, hold 35 min
Heat to 158 over 10 min, hold 10 min
Heat to 170 over 10 min, hold 5 minutes and begin sparging.

Add First Wort Hops to kettle before sparging.
Sparge with 5 gallons H2O at 170, over 40 minutes
Collect 7 gallons at 1.049 = 90% efficiency
(I checked my last runnings which were at about 1.014)

Boil 90 minutes, additions as noted
Wyeast nutrient & Whirlfloc at 10 min
"Topped off" the kettle with some water to 6.2 gallons at the end of the boil.

Whirlpool & rest 15 minutes while setting up heat exchanger.
Ran through plate chiller over 10 minutes, to 76 degrees
oxygen for 60 seconds
Pitched a 1 liter, stirplate starter of Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison yeast.
Fermentation rose on it's own to 81 over the first 24 hours
Raised to 88 degrees by day 3, left there until day 5, when I lowered the thermostat to 84.

***Racked to secondary after about a week so I could collect the yeast. Kept at above 80 for 6 weeks total, the damn beer was still at 1.020!!!***

Alex from Upright hooked me up with a krausening wort from his fresh hop beer. I pitched about a quart of this into the beer which helped get it going. This was the De Ranke isolate.

Racked to keg on 11/8/10. The sample tastes freakin' awesome. 1.007. I also filled a growler and I am going to bottle condition it. Can't wait to do a tasting of this beer and maybe do a side-by side with keg & the bottle conditioned growler.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sour Cherries!

Today I brewed what I hope will be a very interesting beer: a saison with 100% Pilsner malt and 100% Northern Brewer hops. I have never tried these hops exclusively in a beer, in fact I've hardly used them at all. But more on that beer later when I get time to post the recipe. For now I'd like to catch up on a couple things that I've been doing to other beers.

I'm pretty proud to say that I brewed Alameda's second batch of Black IPA [Cascadian Dark Ale for those Cascadians with fragile egos ; ) ] with just a little help from Eric. It's probably my 4th or 5th batch I've brewed there with a little backup support, and I think pretty soon I'll be ready to brew on my own. In fact that's the plan, during the GABF I'll be the one sticking around to care for the brewery while Carston and Eric are gone. As for the beer itself, I think it's going to be a big improvement over batch one. We undershot our target gravity on the 1st batch, leaving an extremely hop-forward beer with a really spicy Zeus profile, but lacking in malt to back it up. It kind of tastes like a dry robust porter with a shitload of bitterness and pungent/spicy hops. Not bad actually, but not really what we wanted.

Batch 2 was pretty much completely reformulated. The base is Rahr 2-row malt, and we added to that small portions of Munich, Crisp C-77, Carafa, chocolate, roasted barley, and flaked oats. We got the O.G. up to a solid 1.072. The hops were Simcoe, Cascade, and Amarillo with a pretty large flameout addition, and we are going to dry hop it. Flavor samples of the fermenting beer are promising!

On the homebrew front, I picked up 25 lbs. of pitted Montmorency sour pie cherries from a processing place in Yamhill for $50. It's called Fruihill Inc, if anyone is looking for sour pie cherries. It's a pretty good deal, and although I really like the flavor my last sour cherry beer got from the pits, it would have actually cost more to get them with pits.

I pulled a flavor / gravity sample of the Flanders Red that Ray and I brewed 2 years ago, and it tastes like it is begging for some cherries. I also opened a bottle of Upright "Six" for inspiration, which has been sitting in my garage, not even refrigerated, since at least December. I wasn't sure what to expect but it actually tastes incredible with that amount of age on it, even when not handled ideally. It's good fresh, but it really comes into its own after 6 months with a very dry spicy mouthfeel, huge carbonation, and some Belgian esters blending with caramel malt and cherry-like flavors. Go try it and grab a bottle to age while you're at it.

I added 7 lbs. of the sour pie cherries, plus 2 lbs. of sweet dark cherries with pits, to my already almost 2 year old flanders red. It really seems to have improved over the last 6 months, about the time that I added AlB's bugs to the keg and topped it off with some Belgian Dark Strong, and a bit of our latest batch of Flanders. The beer itself tastes good but it could actually be a little maltier. It may turn out less of a flanders and more of a generic sour kriek cherry-bomb, which I can't really say I would be sad about. I also added a bit of French oak to the secondary, and maybe this will all get bottled in 2-3 months time.

The remainder of the cherries were frozen in quart bags. They also make great desserts. Clarissa cooked up a great cobbler last week with them. They have a really nice sourness and also a spicy cinnamon-like flavor.

Here are a couple of cocktails Clarissa and I made recently: This is just "for fun" stuff.

Googly-eyed bloody mary made with home-pickled asparagus (awesome), and some of a hot sauce that Paul made with Chiles de Arbol (in the Red Rocket bottle). We also tried some Mazi's Piri-Piri in one of them, which is a great hot sauce, but I'm not sure if you can get it out here. We got it at Murray's Cheese on a recommendation from one of the Sixpoint brewers.

This is simply fresh, super sweet seedless watermelon, crushed up with ice, mint, and Knob Creek bourbon. Might be nice to try it with Thai Basil in the future instead of mint.