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.


Tom E said...

Sean - were you invited to the symposium to define the CDA style? If not, I'm not sure that you know enough about it to properly brew it. That could be the problem.

Seanywonton said...

haha Tom...don't quit your day job yet though!
Anyway I have been thinking about brewing a whatever you want to call it. Just a matter of finding time and inspiration. So far my fave is one that Pyramid brewed recently and brought down for the Oregon Brewers Fest brewer's dinner. It was delish.

Tom E said...

I'm thinking about hosting a symposium to define the Jersey City Douchebag Lager style. I figure if there's a symposium then the style will finally get the recognition it deserves.