Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Update

Well, I wish I had more brewing news but I have been fighting a cold and dealing with El Nino. For those of you who don't habla Espanol, El Nino is Spanish for The Nino. It has been raining for 4 straight days, hail, trees blown over, lightning, we have had about 5 inches of rain in the last 4 days. Pretty good for Sunny San Diego, considering we only average 8-10 inches a year. Because of this I have had to push back brewing instead I will be cleaning, transferring beer and sealing up my chest freezer.

Once I get the brew garage and chest freezer cleaned up and seal properly, I plan on putting on my Brett Gose (an accidental brett infection is a great tasting Gose). I am also going to rack the second runnings beer from my RIS. I am not sure what style it is, but it is a roasty brown beer with a nice hoppiness. It will be perfect for the cold rainy weather. I am going to check my gravity and flavor of my Dark Saison and then rack into a keg to get a little age on it. My Orval-Like beer the first picture in the previous post has really developed a nice pellicle (much thicker than the picture). I will give it another couple of months and then rack to a keg and dry hop it. I also need to check the gravity on my RIS. I think that is about it, but it already is turning into a big task.

Up soon a Schwartzbier and a Bier de Garde or a Vanilla Strong Ale.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sour Update

I have been really into sour beers since I first tried one at the famous Monks Cafe in Phili back in 2004. I had Monks Flemish Sour and was blown away by the strange beer I was drinking. From that point I fell in love with all beers sour, although it woul dbe another year or two before I really became aquainted with teh various sour styles. As I continued to homebrew I knew at one point I would have to try and brew a sour. My first attempt was the very style that started my love for sour beers, a flemish sour red. I brewed that beer in December of 2007 so at just over two years old I am hoping that the beer is near completion. It never really got sour like I wanted although it did have some funk. I think this is because I used a neutral yeast in primary and I don't think I gave the bugs enough complex sugars to eat in the long run. This summer I tried to blend the beer with some other styles I had lying around and nothing really impressed me, so I tried a new strategy and caramelized some dried currents and then deglazed them using some cabernet wine. I poured this mixture into the fermenter and came back in November, much more sour, not perfect but not bad. I may blend it with a 2 year old Old Ale.

I took a short break from brewing sours when I moved and moved up to All Grain. In the spring I went back to the dark side and brewed a Berliner Weisse. Very simple recipe of wheat malt and pils, mash hopped and no boil. I made a starter of WY Lactobacillus d. in organic, no preservative apple juice MArtinelli's (the kind in the little apple shaped bottles). I got this hint from Patrick Rue from the Bruery after tasting their Berliner. I was very happy with the results and the beer was a thirst quenching treat over the summer.

Next up was a Gose (anotehr German style sour wheat using lactobacillus, corriandar, and salt). I pitched the yeast cake from the Berliner into the Gose that used the same grain bill with corriander and salt added the last 5 minutes. The beer was amazing, probably one of my favorites to date and definately my fiancees favorite. However, this beer became infected with a strain of brettanomyces accidentally. It still tatse very good but it is extremly dry now and has a light funk. It is kegged and is next up on tap once I clean my keggerator.

In the spring I brewed what I called BRETT!!! It is an 100% Brett Clausenii Fermented Pale Ale with 100% amarillo hops. This beer tasted terrible at about 2-3 months but as time progressed it matured into a amazing beer. One of my favorites and defintely a beer I will be trying again soon, except this time I will use Brett anomoulus and Nelson Suavgon Hops. I popped a bottle today and I think it may be my best beer, so far.

This fall I brewed a Fall Saison with roasted pumpkin and butternut squash, the beer was accidentaly infected with brett ( I have since changed and cleaned all my brewing equipment to prevent further accidental infections). The beer was pretty nasty a few months ago, so added the dregs of some Jolly Pumpkin La Roja and the dregs of a Toronado 20th (Thanks for the B day beer Ryan). I tasted it yesterday and wow, sour, funky and it is really coming along great, I guess some accidents work.

I brewed an Orval like Clone using the Wyeast VSS collection the Trappist Blend (Trappist yeast and Orval's brett strain). I also added the dregs of an Orval to add the complexity in the bugs. This beer is really starting to get some funk and has a small spotty pellicle (the very first picture above), very unlike the pellicles I have seen in my other wild beers. I look forward to kegging this guy up soon and dry hopping the beer.

I think I will go on a sour/wild beer hiatus for the next few months as I am running out of carboy space, but don't worry I will come back to them in March or April

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flemish Red

In the pictures above the Flemish Red is the Carboy on the far left and the other picture has Al B's Blend and the hop/nutrient addition.

Back in December of 2007 I brewed my first sour beer a Flemish Red (Flemish Sour Red) using steeping grains and liquid extract. I used White Labs WLP 500 as a neutral primary yeast and then pitched WL Sour Mix and Brett L. in secondary. I was bummed that the beer never really got that sour. It had a great aroma and formed a nice thick pellicle. This summer I figured after about 20 months I needed to do something with it so I added 1.5lbs or dried currents that were caramelized and deglazed with some Cabernet wine, the beer went through another fermentation and now the beer is much more acetic and has a better flavor, if anything it may be a little too thin and acetic. I plan on blending the Flemish Red with an Old Ale I brewed about the same time to add a bigger malt backbone.

Last week when I brewed my RIS and my small beer I went for The Flemish Red as well. My buddy Ryan was helping and we had his burner and his brand new mash tun. Since brewing that first Red in Dec. 2007 I have read and researched much more including Wild Brews. I feel I have a better understanding of the style and process including fermentation schedules. I have been frequenting the Burgundian Babble Belt for about 2 years now and have also learned a ton from the home brewers there. I was lucky enough to get a vial of Al B's Rodenbug Blend #3 (you can see the vial in the pictures along with the hop and nutrient additions). I am just adding the blend that has tons of bugs and wild yeasts in it. I am not adding a primary yeast, I am just adding the blend as I am hoping the acidity and funk will increase since there should be much more for the bugs and wild yeasts to eat. I added some carapils (dextrine malt) to give extra complex sugars down the road. The only notes, the new mash tun had issues and so we lost some of the volume that I wanted and I didn't get to do a step mash. Also, time did not permit me to make a starter from the blend, so I just aerated and pitched then gave a little heat using a therm belt. It took about 48 hours for any signs of fermentation but it is rocking now. I have heard great things from Al B's blend so I am really looking forward to the finished product. I hope to do this beer every December so I can blend future batches.

Ingredient Amount % MCU When
US Vienna Malt 9.00 lb 77.6 % 6.0 In Mash/Steeped
US Carapils Malt 1.00 lb 8.6 % 0.2 In Mash/Steeped
Belgian Special B 0.75 lb 6.5 % 20.9 In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 40L Malt 0.75 lb 6.5 % 5.7 In Mash/Steeped
US Aromatic Malt 0.10 lb 0.9 % 0.4 In Mash/Steeped

Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
US Cluster 6.0 % 0.37 oz 7.9 Loose Pellet Hops 60 Min From End

Al's Rodenbug Blend #3

Russian Imperial Stout and American Small Beer

I decided to brew a few beers earlier this week. I wanted to brew something that would be good in a few months, something that would be good in a few weeks and something that may be good in a year or more. I have never brewed a Russian Imperial Stout and they are not usually my favorite style of beer but after having a couple of Old Rasputin's, a Port Sticky Stout and Drakes RIS I was inspired. What I love about these stouts is that they do not punch you in the face with roasted grain harshness, they slowly jab you over and over again with complex malty bills that lean away from too much heavy roast malt. So I started to build a recipe to reflect the style of RIS I like (see below). I also wanted to add some more complexity to the grain bill so I added some oats and rye malt. I also figured that since I had a big grain bill I might try and get a second runnings small beer out of it. For the small beer, I would top off with any grain. I used US S04, and pretty hop aggressive additions.

Dead Moroz (Russian Imperial Stout)
Ingredient Amount % MCU When
US 2-Row Malt 11.00 lb 57.9 % 3.7 In Mash/Steeped
US White Wheat Malt 2.00 lb 10.5 % 0.9 In Mash/Steeped
US Chocolate Malt 1.50 lb 7.9 % 99.4 In Mash/Steeped
US Roasted Barley 1.00 lb 5.3 % 56.8 In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 120L Malt 1.00 lb 5.3 % 22.7 In Mash/Steeped
US Rye Malt 1.00 lb 5.3 % 0.7 In Mash/Steeped
US Flaked Oats 1.00 lb 5.3 % 0.6 In Mash/Steeped
Sugar - Muscovado 0.50 lb 2.6 % 1.9 Start Of Boil

Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
US Centennial 9.7 % 1.65 oz 41.4 Loose Pellet Hops 60 Min From End
US Centennial 9.7 % 1.18 oz 22.7 Loose Pellet Hops 30 Min From End
US Cluster 6.2 % 0.73 oz 5.8 Loose Pellet Hops 15 Min From End
US Centennial 9.7 % 0.71 oz 8.8 Loose Pellet Hops 15 Min From End
UK Golding 4.2 % 1.00 oz 2.2 Loose Pellet Hops 5 Min From End
US Centennial 9.7 % 0.65 oz 0.0 Loose Pellet Hops At turn off
UK Golding 4.2 % 0.52 oz 0.0 Loose Pellet Hops At turn off

White Labs WLP001-California Ale

I wanted to use Northern Brewer Hops instead of Centennial but the LHBS has been really bad about having lots of hop varieties on sale. I think next time I do a beer that really requires a specific hop I will order online. I used cluster to replace some of the Goldings they didn't have either. Not ideal but sometimes you just gotta role with it.

Small Beer (American Dark Mild)

Fermentables same as grain bill except minus the sugar and add some extra oats.
Hops Cluster at 60, 20, and 1 minute.
Saf Ale US 04

I am thinking I may age half or all of the RIS on American Oak or American Oak soaked in Port Wine.