Friday, August 13, 2010

Westerly Weizen- Bavarian Hefe

This is one of my oldest recipes. I brewed this beer for the first time 4 years ago (from DME), and have brewed it every year since. It earned a 2nd place at the 2007 San Diego County Fair, which was my first homebrew contest. The next year it scored really well but didn't finish bottle conditioning so it did not place. This beer is a crowd favorite and is good in summer or at an Oktoberfest party. I keep the recipe simple and shoot for a Bavarian Hefe that leans towards a more banana flavor/aroma profile over a more clove heavy one.

Here is the Recipe: Westerlies Weizen

4.5# White Wheat
4.5#German Pilsner
0.5# Light Munich
Batched Sparged (nothing fancy)

Hellatauer Hersbrucker 3.5%AA 0.80oz @60 minutes

White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale

OG= 1.052
Expected FG = 1.013
Expected ABV= 5.1%

As I mentioned the first few batches were brewed using 100% Wheat DME and had great results. I added half at the start of the boil and the other half at the end to keep the color light.

I pitched a good sized starter and saw small signs of fermentation within 4 hours, by morning the airlock had shot off and the beer is still cranking away. I usually brew this in June because the ambient temps are perfect, but since this has been the coolest July and August in 100 years in San Diego, and the weather is essentially June-like. I decided to go for it. Ambient temps are 68-70F.

Next Up: Table Saison and Indochina Saison, possibly a wet hop beer using a local strain of hops called Julian Gold.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wit Beer Tasting

I brewed a wit back in June for a work party. It was 5 of 10 gallons of beer, and so not all of it was drunk. At the time it tasted kind of sulphury. It wasn't terrible but it seemed to cover up some of the subtle nuances of the style, mainly the citrus and corriandar. When I got back from my honeymoon I decided to pull a glass off the tap and see how it was tasting, and since I didn't get a chance to do a formal tasting, I've done it here.

Appearance: Great yellow color, with great cloudiness and a huge lasting pillowy white head!

Aroma: light citrus and spice (corriandar) right away, followed by some characteristics Belgian phenolics. Very nice, but a little too light on the aroma. This may be from a long aging period or too few spices, I didn't want to overdo it.

Taste: The taste is light and refreshing. Wheat, slight tartness, citrus zest and a light lingering spice in the finish.

Drinakibility/Overall: This beer is very good now, the cold conditioning in the keg did this beer well. It is nice and light with a nice fruity, spicy tartness that makes it very refreshing for a warm summer day. I think next time I may up the spice/zest levels just a tad. Very good and easy to drink!

Back from the honeymoon...Big Update

We got back last week from our honeymoon to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We also had a cool 12 hour layover in South Korea. I say cool because we got to take a tour of the DMZ. The trip was amazing and we had so much fun. I suggest that if anyone wants to go on a trip, make South East Asia your next destination. The beer was pretty much the same old light lager types but we did go to a couple of cool brew pubs in Vietnam and drinking $0.15 beer in Hanoi was cool. The really cool brew pub was the Louisiane Brewhouse . They had some nice simple but well made beers and a great view (last two pictures above).

I have included a few things in this update; trip round up, scores from San Diego County Fair, hop update, sour beer update and Viognier wine update).

Here it goes. I got my score sheets back from the SD County Fair. The competition was huge this year with 800+ entries and very few judges. I think the lack of judges comes from a poorly run contest and too many entries. There was only one score sheet per beer and it was the small brief version. After talking to some friends the scores were very inconstant and some of my final scores were added up incorrectly. We think it may be are final year unless they run the competition differently. Despite that I earned a 4th place for my Robust Porter (it was actually brewed as a Schwartzbier but I entered it as both). It scored a 40 and got some okay feedback. The Schwartzbier score card got lost in the shuffle, so no feedback. My Belgian Blonde with Meyer Lemon Zest and Lavender scored an impressive 42, but did not place. This beer gets really good feedback, but just doesn't make the cut. My Golden Strong and my Dark Strong both scored 32's. The Dark Strong Said 30, but upon adding up all the component scores it was a 32, which is dissapointing because that has done well in other comps and it was a well made beer. Teh golden strong is a little to hot and not crisp enough, so I didn't expect much. My sour cherry stout with brett scored a 31. It was too sour and lacked carbonation. I agree with the second characteristic, but too sour?? It was fun to enter this contest as it was the first contest I had ever entered, but I probably won't enter again. 3rd picture down.

Above is a picture of my hops. It has been an unusually cool summer in San Diego so I think that is one reason my hops didn't grow all that large yet and why they have no flowers yet, hopefully soon.

The picture second from the top is of my sours and my vintage Pabst Beer light I inherited from my Grandfather. While I took a picture of my sours I tasted the following (Orval-ish beer, Pumpkin Saison, Dark Saison, and a Flander's Red) that have been brewed within the last year. The beers have really come along nicely, especially since neither saison were supposed to be soured/funkified. The Orval-ish beer is actually much more sour and less funky than a traditional Orval. I used the Wyeast "Orval Blend", but I probably let it bulk age too long. I was going to dry hop it, but we will see. I plan on adding some fruit to the Pumpkin Saison (maybe plums, or peaches), the Dark is nice on its own, the Flander's is coming along but it is the youngest. I need to keg/bottle some of these so I have more room to brew more sours.

The very top picture is of a Viognier wine that me and a friend have made. It is our second batch and should be ready to bottle soon. Viognier is a great white wine, especially if you like Belgian beers that are fruity but dry.