Sunday, April 7, 2013

BRETTTTT!!!!!!!! #3

This is my 3rd attempt at a 100% Brett beer. I have had really good luck fermenting beer with 100% Brett. The beers have finished dry,  extremely fruity and slightly tart. My first two batches used Brett c. and Amarillo and Nelson hops respectively. The Brett c. and Amarillo worked amazingly well together and is probably the best beer I have ever brewed. I have a post here about my second batch and my thinking with these beers. I have changed my thinking a bit, and this time I decided to create a big starter before pitching. I may get a slightly cleaner finished beer but that is fine.

For this batch I used brettanomyces anomalus that I received from Al B before he opened up East Coast Yeast. He told me that this strain was a WYeast strain of Brett a. The vial was old (2009-10) so I started with a small amount and ramped it up over a number of starters. The yeast was very active by the second round of starters and started fermenting vigorously once I pitched it into the wort. I kept with the  same 100% brett strain and 100% hop varietal. In this version I used Rakua hops, which should have peach, passionfruit and mango-like characteristics. I felt that these hops would complement the fruitiness of the Brett a. well.

Recipe: 2-Row, Carapils, Crystal 40. Rakua hops @60, 20, 0. WYeast Brett anomalus.

Citrus Saison

I had a bunch of citrus (blood oranges, navel oranges, and Meyer lemons) and wanted to brew a beer for my work happy hour my wife and I will be hosting in early May. I knew that saison is a style that will be nice and drinkable and refreshing for an afternoon happy hour party. I also thought that the citrus would play well with saison characteristics. My coworker Alex came over to help me brew up this beer. His good friend and housemate just started brewing and he wanted to see what all grain was about. Alex chopped the citrus up into 1/8's and we placed them in a mesh bag and added the last 10 minutes of the boil. I used White Labs American Farmhouse blend yeast which has some funk in it. To compliment the citrus and the yeast Alex and I decided to use Motueka hops which are said to give citrus, passionfruit and tropical fruit aromas and flavors. We also added a small amount of Amarillo for that orange component. In addition I threw in a small amount of cracked black peppercorns, and 6 crushed fresh bay leaves at flameout. The bay leaves had this great fruity aroma with a slight menthol-like component. The beer is fermenting away and smells amazing!

Recipe: 2-Row, White Wheat, Vienna. Motueka and Amarillo hops at 60, 20, and Motueka alone at flameout. Blood oranges, navel oranges, and Meyer lemons, black peppercorns, and fresh bay leaves. WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Napoleon's Dynamite. A Berliner Weisse: Two Ways. An Experiment in Taste and Speed.

Berliner Weisse is one of my favorite styles of beers. I had my first a number of years back at Stone Brewing's 2nd annual sour fest. It was a sweltering, humid day in July. Although many of the beers were tart and refreshing the Berliner was just outstanding at quenching my thirst and not getting me too wasted. That was before Berliner Weisse "blew up". The next version I had was the Bruery's Hottenroth. That beer woke me up to a whole new version of Berliner Weisse. In addition my homebrew buddy Pat made an amazing batch that he served at our house warming party almost 5 years ago. Since then I try and make at least one batch a year, usually in time for summer. In the past I have built up a starter of a commercial strain of lactobacillus and pitched that for about 48 hours before pitching a clean ale yeast. This has worked very well for me in the past. However, it does take some time to get sour enough. On a side note I usually brew a batch of Gose with the bacteria/yeast cake left over from the berliner.

This year I had some extra time on my hands and decided to test two methods of making Berliner Weisse. I have heard good and bad things regarding sour mashes for Berliners and so I figured I would do a side-by-side experiment. I would sour mash one Berliner (which should allow for a nice sour beer, in a much faster time frame. may have some off flavors, not as complex) and I would do a more traditional version where I pitch a commercial lacto strain and then after ~48 hours at warm temps I cool it down and pitch a clean ale yeast (which should be more complex, less chance for off flavors, be nice and sour, but takes longer). We will see how the results turn out.

Here is an overview of my procedure:
-16# of grain into the mash tun, 8# 2-Row and 8# of Wheat Malt, mashed at 150F for 35 minutes.
- Drain off first runnings and collect.
-Sparge mash and collect second runnings (this was 8 gallons final).
-I split that 8 gallons into two parts. 4 gallons went back into the mash and 4 gallons stayed in the kettle.  I then added 1.5 gallons of water to the kettle. I added a pitcher full of ice to the mash to cool it down closer to 100F (I only got it down to 125F, I tok the temp tonight and it was down to 110F, in addition the grain had risen above the liquid level and the funky aromas were starting to form.) I wish I had pictures.
-The sour mash will hold at ~100F for 48 hours. I added about a half pound of crushed grain to the mash tun as well to introduce some healthy lacto.
-Kettle Half was hopped and boiled for 15 minutes, cooled to 80F, and the lacto was pitched. after 48 hours I will cool and add clean ale yeast.
- The sour mash will get mash hops, drain and sparked to bring final volume to 6 gallons. I will boil it for 15 minutes to kill the lacto. I will then add a clean ale yeast to finish fermentation.

My hope is that the sour mash version will be just as sour, and complex as the commercial strain version, and hopefully with no off flavors. If this is the case then I would do a sour mash from here on out, since this version would get me to the same ends at a much faster rate.

Westerlies Weizen 2013

This was one of the first beers I ever brewed and it was my first beer to medal in a competition. Its a great beer for the gloomy foggy Spring/Early Summer here in San Diego (May Grey and June Gloom). Westerlies blow in from the ocean and create these gloomy conditions, I love so much. A hefeweizen is a cloudy, mirky beer perfect for this time of year.

 I typically like Hefeweizens that lean more closely to the banana versus the clove flavors/aromas. I am watching the fermentation temps closely to produce large amounts of the ester isoamyl acetate. I am aiming to stay in the high 60s to low 70s, 68-71F.

I made this batch for a good friend who will be deployed shortly to Afghanistan, it is her favorite beer I have made. I tried a year or so again to do this batch all grain with no decoction and it wasn't very good at all. I kept to simple and used DME, light and Wheat. I hope it turns out and she can enjoy some before she is deployed.

Recipe: Light DME, Wheat DME, Northern Brewer @ 60min and 20. WLP 300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast.