Monday, February 27, 2012

Group Brewday: Golden sour project

The Temperanillo barrel aged Flanders Red has been in the barrel for almost exactly a year now, and it's tasting great. The acidity is moderate, with a little acetic character. But the complexity from the Brettanomyces, and the wood and wine character from the barrel is amazing. It sucks to say, this barrel aged beer is putting any of my previous carboy-soured homebrews to shame. That in itself s a big lesson in how important a barrel is to brewing quality sour beers. I'm not saying "Don't brew sours if you don't have a barrel," (some people have had a lot better results with the carboy sours than I have) but I believe it makes a real difference. In some ways this beer feels like it brewed itself, and that we had very little to do with its success.

In any case, since I am going to be moving away soon, I have to give up my slot in the group project for the next beer to go into the Temperanillo barrel. My slot will be taken over by Mike Wright, the owner of The Commons Brewery (formerly Beetje nano-brewery). The barrel project will still be strictly homebrew, but we did have the advantage of brewing all the wort at The Commons in one day, with a double-batch on the 35+ gallon "Beetje" system (the original nano-brew system from before" Beetje" expanded to a 7-barrel brewery and became "The Commons".

The group decided to do a golden sour this time. After some deliberation on the recipe, we stuck to a pretty simple design:

1.062 O.G
85% Gabrinus Organic Pilsner malt
8 %Vienna malt
6% CaraHell
1% Acidulated malt
Mash at 154
Boil 90 minutes
10-12 IBU's from Perle hops at 60 minutes.

As the above picture clearly illustrates, we brewed the beer on a Sunday morning, and many of us had had a late Saturday night. Luckily we had donuts from Acme Donuts, and not much work to do for a lot of the time. Some drinking was done and it was decided that we all really like Green Flash "Rayon Vert", as well as The Commons "Flemish Kiss", both dry hopped, brett-aged belgian pale ales inspired by Orval.

The brewday was very straightforward, but it did end up being about 12 hours, and we still had to get 16 carboys over to Walker's house by car.

Since the only big space we had to ferment the beer in was Walker's basement, we decided to use an alt yeast to ferment the beer. Wyeast #1007 / German Ale Yeast is one of The Commons house yeasts, and we fermented it at ambient basement temperature, which ended up being about 63 degrees fermentation temp.

We are scheduled to rack the beer into the barrel on the same day we rack the Flanders out. We are going to do as little barrel cleaning as possible, possibly just giving it a quick cold water rinse to get most of the trub out. Possibly not even that. We also discussed the idea that if for some reason the golden sour does not progress enough in actual sourness, because of the clean primary fermentation, we could top-up with a strong lacto culture, possibly isolated from a bottle of Fantome or Cascade beer.

As it turns out, we are racking the Flanders out on March 4th, exactly one year after it was filled. That wasn't planned, I just realized it today when looking back at the notes for the first barrel fill. I won't be in town, as Clarissa and I will be in San Clemente for the birth of her sister's first baby. Sounds like a visit to Pizza Port is also in order!

I still haven't gotten around to putting up a post on our other barrel project, the Old Ale with Brett C. that I jokingly call the Billy The Mountain Clone (it was first intended for a 2nd-used bourbon barrel, but we ended up using a pinot barrel due to availability, just like Upright's Billy). I guess I'll get to this when we pull a sample from that barrel, which should happen some time in March.

1 comment:

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Hey there, Sean!
The images really left me really thirsty... This baby must be delicious... Congratulations on your hard work!

Man... I need your help: Last saturday I had the weirdest mashing ever, and I guess the only one who can put some light on the mess it was is you...
This is what happened:

1 - I was mashng an American Wheat beer (50% ilsner malt, 50% wheat), and, after mashing in i saw the crushed malt was full (let´s say one ouce) of little (very little) bugs (like those who eat the barley)... It was inevitable... the bugs where mashed with the malt, because when i saw then it was too late to remove the damn little creatures...

2 - the total conversion took more than 2 hours (!), and after I took the last iodine test and mashed out, i did another test and the iodine turned black again, like the conversion was undone... that was weird, and I can´t find a reasonable explanation for that... one time the test was OK, and then it wasn´t...

3 - I divided the wort (a 1.040 OG) in three different containers, each one with a diffrerent type of yeast (all from fermentis - S-04, T-58 and WB-06)... the fermentation started flawlessly, then the T-58 container stalled after 48 hours. I smelled the "thing" through the airlock, and it smells like sulfur compounds, which are common in a lager, but not in ale...

After that, verifiyng the absence of activity in the airlock, i notest that the kraeusen was settling down, so i agitated the carboy a little bit, trying to start the thing over again... well, i´ll know the results of that tomorrow, but I´m still worried with the sulfulric smell yet...

4 - So, Sean, wht do you thing gone wrong with this? I researched my notes once and again and couldn´t find any flaw in mashing procedures... the temperature schedule was followed perfectly. Idoine test made several times during the mashing showed progressive (although slower than the usual) conversion and i though it was because the low mashng temperature (about 62ºC, for a dryer beer), so I raised for 64ºC... then the conversion occured perfectly, showing the iodine completely orange, as the pattern... but then, taking another sample 10 minute after, the iodine test turned black again...

Had you saw or heard a thing like that before? Could the little bugs have a anything to do with this bizarre thing?

I did not took any samplefrom the beer yet, since I put it into the containers saturday night... But I´m very intrigued, because after two years of activity as homebrewer this seems to be my first great disaster (a 20 gallon disaster)...

After long analysis, I thought that you may be one of the few homebrewers i know who can really put some light into this mess...

Can you help me to analyse this?