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!


James said...

I like your Erlenmeyer handle/holder. I've never seen one of those. Did the flask come with the handle?

Seanywonton said...

That is actually a pyrex Nescafe coffee "maker" I found in a thrift store for $7, and it was new. I say "maker" because the directions went something like: "For the freshest and best cup of coffee, simple heat water and add 1 tbsp. per cup of instant Nescafe coffee!"
Sounds yummy but I'll stick to using it for yeast propogation.

Hunington said...

I see you're using a kettle for a mash tun -- how do you keep the mash from burning when you bring up the temp?

Seanywonton said...

Since it's an EZ masher (basically just a stainless bazooka screen) that I use in the mash kettle, I just stir the mash while heating. Works great. I have only very rarely had problems with scorching when I forget I'm heating and walk away for awhile while.

Paul! said...

Pandering with cute girl pictures on your blog gets you no where dude.
I try every week......

Seanywonton said...

This is me showing restraint. I kept the best pictures for myself!

Darren said...

nice idea on the sour mash, have been planning to do one myself but in a Witt. Not sure on brewing it up in the kitchen though, that sour/dumpster smell can be nasty. I brewed about twice in the kitchen before the x sent me out to the shed for brewing.

david said...

I see Clarissa using a corded drill on the grain mill. Do you have a variable speed drill? When I had my Barleycrusher I tried a non-variable corded drill and it was just way too fast. Ended up going to a cordless so I could control the speed.

Seanywonton said...

Yeah, it's variable speed, just a cheap drill from home depot with a hair-trigger, but it gets the job done.