Sunday, May 22, 2011

Schools Out for Summer!

Every year I brew a few beers for my work parties (Winter and End of School Year). In the past I have tried to incorporate an item from the student's school lunches. I call this series, The Best Ale in the Universe. Recently the district switched food providers and very little has looked appetizing in a beer, so I decided to forgo the food item and keep it simple. I wanted beers that would appeal to the widest range of drinkers, so I went with a Belgian Pale and a Blonde.

Belgian Pales are easy drinkers and in my opinion a little boring. I wanted to put a slight twist on the beer to spice things up a little. I wanted a tartness that a slight bacterial or brett infection would give, but I didn't have the time, so went with a little acid malt. This is my first time using the malt, so I will see how it comes along. In addition to the acidulated malt, I added some fresh Meyer lemon zest and pink peppercorns at flameout. Finally, I used some late addition Amarillo hops to give the beer a nice citrusy and tropical fruit component.

The Blonde is pretty straight forward, simple malt bill, a little added sugar, and northern brewer hops. I hope it will come out as a balance between malt and hops. I have never brewed a blonde before so I ma interested to see how this beer comes out.

Spring Forward Belgian Pale Ale: Pilsner Malt, Wheat Malt, Honey Malt, and Acidulated Malt. Norther Brewer Hops at 60, Amarillo at 15, and flameout. Meyer Lemon Zest and Pink Peppercorns. White Labs Belgian Style Pale Blend.

Blonde: 2-Row, Wheat Malt, Sucrose. Northern Brewer at 60 and 15. US-05.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Napoleon's Dynamite

Berliner Weisse is one of my favorite styles of beer. Said to be one of Napoleon's (not the one above) beers, he and his troops called it the Champagne of the North. It is light, refreshing, tart and low alcohol. It also is the shortest brew day I have. I brewed a batch a few years back and it was a huge hit. I think the best commercial version I have tasted is The Bruery's Hottenroth. I wanted to shoot for a beer like Hottenroth. I did quite a bit of research on methods and procedures to brew a Berliner when I was planning the first batch. What I found was a blend of 50% pilsner, 50% wheat malt, lactobacillus bacteria, neutral yeast, a small amount of aged hops (which do not inhibit the growth of lactobacillus delbrueckii) gave the best approximation to what I was going for. I emailed Patrick Rue of the Bruery and asked them some questions about yeast and bacteria. They shared with me that they grow their lacto in a starter of preservative free apple juice. I grow mine in the apple juice and left it in my warming oven which sits at about 70F or higher. This would promote the most bacterial growth in the shortest time period. I mash the beer (hops included) and then run off and bring the wort to a boil. I kill the flame and chill to about 80-90F and pitch my bacterial starter. I let that go at it alone for 2-3 days keeping a warming belt on while the bacteria grows. Then I pitch the neutral yeast, and take teh warming belt off. The beer comes out nice and tart with a clean finish and so easy to drink on a hot summer day.

I will probably use the yeast/bacteria cake for a gose, another interesting German Style Wheat!

Recipe: German Pilsner Malt, White Wheat Malt, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, aged cluster hops, and US-05.