Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tasting: Deliverance Kentucky Sour

Looks like it's been a little over a year since I brewed the Deliverance Kentucky Sour.  This beer was first conceived in the bathroom, but I'm happy to announce that the flavor is not reminiscent of one.  It's been sitting in the kegerator for quite a while, but most of it was consumed on my birthday in March.  It's gotten even better since then.  I was looking around for a funk-keg to put the all-brett beer in, and I decided to have a taste of the Deliverance and bottle the rest.  The first sips were really amazing!  I don't say that as a testament to my brewing, but only to the wonderful bugs that have worked their magic on this beer in the past year.  If I can congratulate myself for anything, it's for a sort of interesting base recipe, and patience.

This beer would have been pretty mediocre if not for a big contribution from the critters in AlB's second Bugfarm blend.  The New Jersey homebrewer and microbiologist was super cool in sending out some tubes of custom-made funk to fellow babblebelters.  He's also the guy who beat me out for first place in the Bruery's batch 50 competition, and I'm sure he deserved it!  Most importantly, I'm bottling up the last of my beer tonight to send him some samples.  Al, I hope you enjoy it man!

I wasn't planning on adding AlB's blend to this beer, but at 6 months there was hardly any funk and it really needed some "oopmh" that I thought would never come from the original bugs.  I guess something like Al's blend could be approximated by starting with a commercial sour culture and dosing it with commercial lambic dregs from time to time.

Here's a little out-take where I was trying to go for the redneck theme with a Bush Gnome.  Not the best application, but definitely the most use I ever got out of that thing.  Besides, Bush is not from Kentucky and I'm pretty sure even most rednecks can't stand him at this point. are the tasting notes:

Appearance:  Dark brown, clear with cherry-red highlights.  Great head stand which I assume is due to using rye malts.

Aroma:  Intense brett character and sourness up front, backed with a deep maltiness of chocolate, cherry, and even a bit of coffee and oak.  Clean sourness, no acetic acid perceived.

Flavor:  Sour, bright with clean maltiness and once again chocolate, cherry, and oak.  very low bitterness and a slight horsey brett character.  Great sweet/sour balance with balance leaning slightly towards sour.  No real alcohol or warmth was noticed.

Mouthfeel:  Creamy, medium-full body, and a bright, slightly puckering finish.  Could use some more carbonation.  I could have adjusted that in the keg, but I was only expecting to bottle a few bottles.   Turns out I had over a gallon of beer in there.

Overall:  I don't deserve to make such a great sour beer!  Base beer was good but it did not flesh out into a mature and complex product until the bug blend was added.  Most closely resembles a Flanders-type sour ale with a touch of coffee, and no acetic acid.  I hope I can repeat it.

 P.S.  If you are hoping for any NHC updates, I'm still hoping to get to them.  Basically we had such a great and intense time, that it would have been a shame to sit in front of a computer when there were tons of things to do, and beers to drink.  I'm still hoping to do at least one post on the conference and at least throw up a few of the more PG-rated pictures.

Brew Strong, 
Sean / Senior Wonton / Chupa

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

San Francisco beer tour by bicycle

Things have been going well in NYC, but I have really needed a break from my office monkey job.  Since I was already blowing wads of cash to come out to Oakland for NHC, I figured why not make it a week's vacation, get some time to totally not think about work, and see some new sights.  So after a long 12+ hour double brewday at Sixpoint on Saturday (the groundwater is getting warmer this time of year which means knockout takes 90 minutes instead of 45), I threw some stuff in a bag in the most disorganized, last minute effort to prepare for the trip, and headed out Sunday morning.  I was pretty exhausted from a long week, so on Sunday I just hung out around North Beach and the Green Tortoise Hostel, ate a huge burrito picked up a 6 pack of Full Sail Amber (one of my favorite "gateway" craft beers), and turned in early.  
The Green Tortoise is snugly nestled between many family entertainment institutions like the one above, in the very touristy and very affluent area of San Francisco called North Beach.  It's an area where a lot of the famous Beat writers used to live, but now I doubt you could find a house here for less than 3 million.  That's just a guess though. I got a pretty early start on Monday and headed out to a bike rental shop where I picked up this speed demon.  Well, OK, it's a slow hybrid, but it was nice for touring the city and I wasn't in the mood for speed.  The helmet was a must, as I was on unfamiliar ground and planning on drinking.First I needed some coffee, so I took Clarissa's recommendation and headed down to the Mission District to Ritual Coffee.  Almost got hit by a taxi on the way down (my fault).  I was still un-caffeinated and suffering from some pretty bad allergies.  I considered it my warning for the day to be careful in my innebriated travels.  After some Sumatran French press and a cheese danish I was feeling pretty good and hopped back on the bike for my first stop:The 21st Ammendment is a big supporter of the BN, so I really wanted to check it out first hand.  I had a half pint of the Tasty pale ale (the Pro-Am recipe brewed by Mike McDole), and it was pretty awesome.  Tons of hop delivery, and a resiny body.  If you are looking for balance, you WILL NOT find it in this beer.I also tried everything else they had on draft.  Sadly, the Brew Free Or Die IPA was not on tap, but only available in a can.  I have a feeling I will get to check it off the list before I leave the bay area though.  

My favorite beers were the Dahm Kolsch and the Belgian pale ale called Primus.  I was not a big fan of the Watermelon Wheat at all.  From my tasting notes:  "Fresh melon aroma, but then again it had a slice of watermelon on the glass.  Flavor:  dry Jolly Rancher with bready wheat.  On second pass, smells strongly of seaweed and wet dog."  

I met Jesse, the head brewer, who was a really nice guy.  I kept looking for Sully, but I didn't see him.  I figure I'll see him at NHC at some point.

I couldn't help but stop and take a picture of this spa, and wonder if the offer a special on happy endings.   I was on a budget though, so I had to take a pass.

So instead I stopped a Vietnamese noodle joint for some nourishment.  This bowl of vermicelli, BBQ pork, beef, prawns, and an egg roll was delicious!  I could really eat this more often.

Jesse, the brewer at 21A, recommended Magnolia Brewpub as a must-stop, which is located in the Haight-Ashbury.  First I had to make my way up some pretty steep hills though, which totally  kicked my ass!  What can I say, I'm not in that good of shape and not used to steep hills;  we just don't have them in NYC.   This photo really doesn't relate the steepness of the climb, since it was taken from the top where the hill levels out a bit more.
OK, that was a legitimate climb!

After that is was off to Haight-Ashbury proper.  Haight street itself is pretty scary.  It's an over-commercialized parody of what it once aspired to be.  Just see below for a perfect example.  It pretty much sums up every storefront on the street.  I'm sure there are a few cool places, like Amoeba Records, and Magnolia was pretty cool, but mainly it's just fly-paper for tourists and crazy hippies.

Here is Magnolia Brewpub, where I tried a couple of beers.  The ambiance was great, and the 2 beers I had were pretty good, but not great. I've had (and sometimes brewed)  better homebrewed IPA's and Belgian wits than the ones I tried here.  The IPA wasn't bad, just not the west coast IPA I was expecting.  It's sessionable, clean,  and moderately hoppy.  The "Wit Rabbit"   tasted like it was brewed with an American ale yeast, with no Belgian esters for complexity.  The spicing levels of orange peel and coriander were just right though.  It was also clear as a bell, which again makes me think it was not brewed with a wit yeast, and probably used wheat malt as opposed to raw wheat.

I met a really nice guy wit his wife at Magnolia who reminded me that the legendary Toronado beer bar was right down the street, so I made that my next stop.  I ran right in to two friends from out east who were here for NHC:  Paul Kaye, and my friend Todd, below, from Philly.

Let's just say many treats were available.  I stuck with the Moonlight Brewery and Russian River beers though.  When in Rome, right?  

I was planning on hitting up some other stops, but after I got back to the hostel, ate some pasta, and laid down for a minute, jet-lag and the long day kicked in and I was sleeping like a small child.  

In a few minutes I should be heading out to Russian River with Doug.  I'm pretty psyched, and I wonder if we might get a chance to meet the legendary Vinnie Cilurzo

Friday, June 12, 2009

Vacation announcment: NHC in Oakland California

I just wanted to mention that I'll be heading out to California on Sunday to attend the National Homebrewers Conference in Oakland. If any of you who follow my blog are out there, keep an eye out for me! It would be fun to meet in person.

I'll be bringing my camera and computer out and blogging when I have time. Besides the NHC festivities, I'm planning on a number of other things:
  • Spending a little time in San Francisco
  • Going up to Napa Valley and Russian River Brewing Company
  • Brewing Network bus tour and Anniversary party on Wednesday
  • Judging the 2nd round of the National Homebrew Competition on Thursday
  • Systematically pickling my liver
Cheers, hope to see you out there.
Sean / Chupa / Senior Wonton

Monday, June 8, 2009

"Meetification" Pale Ale

Craig, the head brewer at Sixpoint, had the great idea of getting all the Sixpiont brewers and interns to meet up once a month to share a homebrew they made, with a planned beer theme for each month. Craig, Evan and I picked a style or theme for each month for the next year, and we will have a tasting once a month and share recipes. With our trademark creativity and almost gymnastic use of the English language, we're calling it the "Homebrew of the Month Club".

Here is the planned schedule:
June: Pale ale
July: "Worker's Ale": 4% or less ABV beer brewed with Sixpoint ale yeast
August: Saison
September: Belgian Golden ale
October: Belgian Dubbel
November: Fruit or vegetable beer
December: Christmas/spiced beer
January: Single-hop IPA
February: Imperial Stout
March Wood-aged or smoked beer
April: Lager
May: Wild Ale

I brewed my pale ale submission for June yesterday, which we should be tasting at the end of the month.
This is a seriously back-ended hop schedule with a tiny 60 minute hop addition, and all other hops added in the last 20 minutes of the boil. I will probably dry-hop it too. I'm hoping to get a bright blast of the orange / tangerine flavor from the Summit addition, without the funky garlic/onion quality that is supposedly a product of adding it at the end of the boil. If it comes out like I want, it should be in the same vein as Mike McDole's "Pliney Lite" or Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale.

"Meetification" Pale Ale
Recipe is for 6.9 gallons pre-boil, 6 gallons post boil, all-grain
O.G. 1.055 F.G. 1.011 ABV 5.8%  IBU's 48

8.5 lb. 2-row American pale malt
1.5 lb. Glen Eagle Marris Otter
8 oz. Victory malt
6 oz. British Crystal 70

5 gr. Summit pellets 18.5% AA (!) 60 min
28 gr. Summit pellets 18.5% 20 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets 8% 15 min
28 gr. Cascade pellets 6% 0 min
14 gr. Amarillo pellets 8.6% 0 min
Dry hops:  1 oz. each Centennial and Amarillo pellets, in the keg (in bags)

Mash: 4 gallons H20, 152 for 60 minutes (fell to 145 over that time). Raised to 170 over 25 minutes.
Sparged with 5 gallons water at 170
Collected 6.9 gallons at 1.048 = 84% efficiency.

Boil as noted, with additions of Whirlfoc at 15 min. and Wyeast nutrient at 10 min.
Chilled, racked to carboy, and added pure oxygen for 75 seconds. Pitched an appropriate-sized starter of Wyeast 1056 at 69 degrees. Fermenting at 68 degrees.

Racked to keg on 6/24/09.  Still very yeasty, but tastes promising!

Mineral additions: I still haven't had the time to study and prep on the water additions with John Palmer's calculator, but I added 1 tsp gypsum, 1 tsp chalk, and 1 tsp. "Burton salts", about half in the mash and half at the start of the boil. I added the chalk to attempt to increase the mash pH, but it would not increase past 5.0. So I guess I have to deal with it next time.