Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hazelnut E.S.B. / Base Beer Tasting, and process REVEALED

Finally, here's an evaluation of the hazelnut beer I made a few months ago, and details on the hazelnut product I used as well as how I used it.

First, let's discuss the process, which I kept secret at first, but I promised I would get to. The hazelnut product I lucked into is produced by Freddy Guy Hazelnuts in Monmouth, Oregon. Clarissa and I regularly stock up on their dry-roasted hazelnuts at the PSU farmers market, and they are just great nuts. We put them in salads, breadcrumb mixes, desserts, and also we just snack on them when we have the munchies. A few months ago they had a little sign up that said something to the effect of "We sell hazelnut press cake for brewers, ask about it!" Hazelnut press cake is a by-product of their hazelnut oil. After the hazelnuts are pressed to extract most of (certainly not all of) the oil, a still very flavorful and largely oil-reduced hazelnut cake is left behind. As we all know, oil is the bane of foam stability in beer, and may muddle up the beer flavor in other ways.
Fritz, one of the owners of Freddy Guy, has experimented with hazelnuts in his own homebrew. He typically uses a pound of nuts in 5 gallons, 5 minutes from the end of the boil, to achieve a good hazelnut flavor in his brews. While this would be a great way to introduce them to a recipe as a homebrewer, I am always thinking of how this might pan out on a commercial system. First off, I would worry about about small chunks of hazelnuts slipping into the heat exchanger, which could be very difficult to get back out. It seems like they might even plug up or stop a runnoff completely in a worst-case scenario. Maybe not, but it could be a risk. They could be bagged up, but that would be 30 or more pounds to bag up for a in a 10 barrel brew. My aim with this homebrew was to isolate the the hazelnut contribution by having a clean version of the beer to compare it to, so I decided to add my hazelnuts to half of the beer post-fermentation.

I added 1 lb., 2 oz. of hazelnut press cake to 4.5 gallons of the base beer. The beer had finished primary fermentation and the "clean" half was racked directly to a keg. I prepped the hazelnuts by adding them to 1 quart of boiling water to semi-sanitize them. They do soak up liquid and they soaked up the quart of water completely, so they will decrease your beer yield if they are not rehydrated in some way. Then I funneled them into a large carboy which was then purged with CO2. The beer was transferred on top of this and kept at 68-ish for 2 weeks. I would have only kept it on for a week, but then, you know, life happened, and it just sat around in my back room until I found time to empty out and clean a keg to transfer it to. I periodically spun the carboy to get the nuts back up in suspension. I did see a small trace of oil on top of the beer, but I just tried to leave it behind when siphoning to a keg. The kegged beer was not fined. I just had about 3/4 inch of the dip-tube cut off to leave any sediment at the bottom.


Base Beer: Nutty, carmelly malt aroma, light citrus/fruity esters from yeast and late hops, but malt-balanced. A touch of tobacco aroma at the end. Deep copper-red hue, good clarity but not crystal clear, with light bubbles. Low foam stand, probably just from lower carbonation. Flavor is malty, like a good amber ale, with plenty of caramel and biscuit flavor from malts and high level of crystal malts, but not cloying. Hop flavor is moderate, spicy, and grassy. Medium-full bodied mouthfeel, finish is dry. Nice drinking beer, not really an E.S.B., more of an American Amber. I could see having a couple of pints in a row with dinner or a yard-work session.

Hazelnut Beer: Exactly the same in appearance as the base beer, no excess haze or particulate, and both have a light wispy head. Aroma is definitively hazelnutty, but it is different than that of a hazenut-extract beer (i.e. it does not smell like hazelnut-flavored coffee or Torani syrup). There is a certain smooth, creamy, nut-buttery quality to it, a light floral perfumeyness, as well as a dry-roasted presence. It's not restrained, it's very much the dominant aroma, but still smells like beer. The hops are not as present in the aroma, and the malt plays a background role. Flavor is like the base beer, but with a sweeter presence similar to almond extract, and a slight dry-roasted nut finish. Not as bitter or hoppy (going back to the base beer for a taste it seems really hoppy in comparison) but it has a nutty dryness at the end. Overall, I think it really captures the essence of the hazenut. The flavor combination works, and I would say it's a very drinkable beer. All the same, maybe the hazelnut level is a bit (like 25%) too high, because I think after a pint of this I would be ready to move on to a different beer. The hazelnut aroma/flavor seems to be powerful enough to potentially stand up to a stronger base beer like a porter or stout.

If you are interested in obtaining some press cake for brewing, and if you do not live in the area, you should contact Freddy Guy's via their website. It looks like they have a mail-order page, and although they do not have the press-cake listed their, I'll bet they would be willing to ship it if you asked nicely. It looks like minimum orders are $25, so you might want to go in on it with some friends or buy some other stuff too. I can't say the exact price they would charge for the cake, but it is probably a pretty good deal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ludd Lite Saison 1.0, and first impressions of Beersmith 2.0

(Above: Typical Oregon summer. You have to dress your carboys up like Kenny from South Park and, use heating pads to keep your saisons warms enough!)

This is a pretty "corny" name for a recipe...I was kind of conceptualizing a product that could be marketed one day, even though in all honesty I will probably never call it Ludd Lite (if I did I would probably get a cease and desist request in the mail from a certain macro-brewer). I have always been interested in a saison using all American ingredients, and more specifically, one brewed 6-row barley and corn. So, this was really just a daydream, but I wanted to see how the beer might actually taste: a low gravity "entry level" craft beer that is actually a saison, but takes significant influence from macro-American-lagers. I guess the real trick is making a beer that is super-drinkable but also substantial enough not to be called "watery". We'll see how it comes out. The "Ludd" part of the name is kind of a jokey reference to Ned Ludd, the legendary leader of the Luddite movement in England which rebelled/rioted against automated machinery in the workplace taking away from skilled human jobs. It seems to fit the saison/farmhouse philosophy of doing things.

I'm still pulling my hair out over this damn Wyeast 3724 (Saison Dupont) yeast. I had my first generation batch (the saison with rye) in the keg/secondary with an airlock, kept warm at 85 degrees for 3 weeks. It was bubbling slowly but constantly, so I was hopeful that it was dropping in gravity...until I pulled a sample yesterday during my brew session. It has only dropped 2 points in that time from 1.026 to 1.024! Damn, that was so frustrating I almost stopped my brew session right there. But I decided to keep going, and it did encourage me to pitch and ferment even hotter this time. So far that seems to be paying off with a visibly more vigorous ferment in the first 24 hours. I will pull about a quart off of the new beer to re-krausen the first saison, and hopefully that will do the trick in getting it going again.

Also, this is my first try at using Beersmith 2.0 for Mac. I have always used Promash in the past, even though I've had to keep a barely-working old IBM Thinkpad PC around to run it. Well, so far my opinion of Beersmith is that it's good, but in some ways incredibly over-engineered. I'm sure part of that is just getting used to a new program and figuring out how to do things, but it seems like it is trying to automate too much of the brewing decision making. For instance it is trying to tell me exactly how much water to use in my mash, when and how to do the mash steps, and I don't really brew like that. It's also trying to tell me how many days days it will take to ferment (if you know this yeast, that is even more of a knee-slapper). From the "Brewsheet" layout, I learned that on 7/29/11, I am supposed to "Drink and Enjoy", at which point I am supposed to self score my beer on a 50 point scale. It seems hard to just ignore these parts of the program, but maybe I can change my preferences or make them go away.

Also, with Promash I always used the mash-in temperature calculator to tell me what temp I should get my mash water to in order to hit my target mash temp, and it worked great within a degree every time. With Beersmith's calculator and I ended up mashing in 4-5 degrees hotter than I wanted (easy fix, just mix in a little extra cold water real fast). It is frustrating for now, but I want to try figure out these hangups before I gripe too much about it.

But...I can copy & paste the recipe reports! (Text in RED is some of the stuff that is just wrong or that I would prefer not to have automated and I don't know how to change yet.) If there's any confusion on numbers, see the "notes". They are correct.

Ludd Lite (6-Row, Corn, Crystal hops)
Belgian Specialty Ale
Type: All GrainDate: 06/15/2011
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.70 galBrewer:
Boil Size: 7.21 galAsst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 minEquipment: 6 gallon - SS mashtun
Final Bottling Volume: 5.20 galBrewhouse Efficiency: 88.00
Fermentation: Ale, Single StageTaste Rating(out of 50): 0.0
Taste Notes:


3 lbs 9.0 ozPale Malt (6 Row) US (1.8 SRM)Grain151.4 %
2 lbsCorn, Flaked (1.3 SRM)Grain228.8 %
1 lbsWhite Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)Grain314.4 %
21.00 gCrystal [4.30 %] - Boil 60.0 minHop512.7 IBUs
21.00 gCrystal [4.30 %] - Boil 20.0 minHop64.3 IBUs
14.00 gCrystal [4.30 %] - Boil 0.0 minHop70.0 IBUs
6.0 ozCara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)Grain45.4 %
1.0 pkgBelgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) [124.21 ml]Yeast8-

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.039 SGMeasured Original Gravity: 1.038 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.006 SGMeasured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.3 %Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.3 %
Bitterness: 16.9 IBUsCalories: 0.0 kCal/12 oz
Est Color: 2.5 SRM

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash OutTotal Grain Weight: 6 lbs 15.0 oz
Sparge Water: 5.06 galGrain Temperature: 60.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 FTun Temperature: 155.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUEMash PH: 5.20

Mash Steps
NameDescriptionStep TemperatureStep Time
Mash InAdd 11.94 qt of water at 157.1 F148.0 F75 min
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: KegVolumes of CO2: 2.7
Pressure/Weight: 17.22 PSICarbonation Used: Keg with 17.22 PSI
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 45.0 FAge for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Single StageStorage Temperature: 65.0 F


Yeast: Generation 2 Saison. Cold stored 4 weeks. 4 Tbsp thick slurry into a 1 quart stirplate starter with a little extra yeast nutrient, 24 hours before pitching.

Mash: 2 gr. gypsum, 2 gr. CaCl. Mashed in high: 153ish. Calculation said I would mash in to 149. Adjusted quickly with cold water. Fell to 140 over 45 minutes. Heated over 5 minutes to 154. Rest 20 min and sparge.

Sparge: 3.75 gallons at 170. 2 gr. Gypsum, 2 gr. CaCl.

Collect 5.5 gal at 1.040 = 88% efficiency

Top up with 2.5 qts
Boil 60 min
Wyeast nutrient (1 tsp) and whirlfloc at 10 min
Top up to 6 gallons (hot volume) at end of boil (should be 5.75 cold volume)
Whirlpool and chill thru plate chiller to 80 degrees
Collect 5.5 gallons
Oxygen 90 seconds
Put on heating pad immediately and dialed in to 90 degrees, it was fermenting within a couple hours.

6/16 ramped to 95

6/20 decreased to 93

6/21 decreased by 2 degrees per day, down to 85, and held there.

7/7 Racked to keg, 1.005. Force carbonate.