Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wedding Saison

This was the second beer that I intended to brew during my holiday break. I wanted to brew a beer as part of our wedding favors. The plan is to use Belgian 750 ml bottles and wax dip them. I also would like for my fiancée to use Photoshop to create labels for the bottles. 

On to the beer…I wanted something that was approachable, yet complex, yet still something intriguing. I finally decided on a Saison. Saisons are one of my favorite styles because of their broad range of interpretations, as well as, their yeast driven nature. For this particular beer I decided to use the dregs from a bottle of Fantôme Noel. In my opinion Fantôme is the quintessential Saison producer. I love the combination of aromas you get from their beers and the subtle tartness. I also wanted to go a little untraditional and brew a Saison that was reddish, trying to make a beer that was intriguing to look at. I want people to look at the beer and expect something different. I think Saisons are a great beer for people that are new to the craft beer world because they are dry and refreshing and usually low hopped. 

I haven’t fully decided if I’m going to do anything else with this beer i.e. dry hopping. If I love the aroma when it’s finished then I’ll probably leave it as is and bottle. If not I think a fruity or spicy hop would be a nice compliment. This batch also ended up being a 10 gallon batch since I needed to make enough beer to have 750ml bottles available to every guest. Hopefully I brewed enough.  All I have to do now is determine a name for the beer. Any suggestions?

As far as the brew day is concerned everything was going fine. I had to brew in the garage this time since it was raining. It wasn’t bad except I had to figure out the logistics of my set up. I probably should have placed the burner closer to the garage door so I didn’t spray water all over the garage while I was cooling. The only problem that I encountered was that I forgot to add the Belgian Dark Candi syrup during the boil and was forced to boil it separately and then add it later.  The two batches when split came within 0.002 points of each other. I plan on blending them at bottling so the difference will not matter.

OG est: 1.048
OG measured: 1.050
FG est: 1.006
SRM: 15o
IBU: 30.6

Grain Bill:
64% - 12 lbs – Belgian Pils
14% - 2 lbs 10 oz – Vienna Malt
11% - 2 lbs – Dark Munich Malt
4% - 12 oz – D80 Belgian Candi Syrup
3% - 8 oz –Flaked Wheat
3% - 8 oz – Special B
1% - 3 oz – Roasted Barley

Hop Bill:
2.5 oz – East Kent Golding – 75 minutes
0.5 oz – East Kent Golding – 30 minutes

Fantôme Noel dregs (from a starter made a week and a half earlier, stepped up twice)

Mash Schedule:
149oF single infusion saccharification rest for 60 minutes

(12/31/12) – Brewed by myself. Chilled to 80F and was about to pitch the yeast until I noticed the candi syrup still sitting behind me. I let the wort chill further in the carboys for a few hours while I was at the store. Then I boiled the candi syrup for 5 minutes and added it to the carboys. I was finally over my anticipated gravity and back to my normal efficiency. I think the double crush helped. Added the yeast in the evening, shook to aerate and moved the carboys upstairs to ferment in a warmer environment.

(1/13/13) - Very acidic. More then likely infected. I'm going to have to brew a different beer for the wedding. I think I'll hold on to this one a little longer and see how it develops. Worst comes to worst I'll dump the batch.

(2/18/13) - It has definitely changed from when I last tried it. It is no longer sharply acidic, still acidic but no longer bittingly sour. It has developed more cherry notes then it previously had. Originally I was worried about acetobacter, but it might not be acetobacter. I might add some Brett dregs and let it age a little longer. I might also add some cherries to accentuate the cherry flavor. I'm not sure yet.

(11/3/13) - Four pounds of blackberries added to secondary carboy.

(11/7/13) - Signs of refermentation have started.

(3/2/14) - Blackberry sour bottled.

(6/29/14) - First tasting of the Blackberry sour

(8/9/14) - Seven pounds of red plums added to the other half of this beer.

(8/10/14) - Signs of refermentation have started.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First Tastng: 100% Brett-B IPA

This beer was the second 100% Brett beer that I have brewed. This time I decided to up the ABV and the bittering hops and make it more of an IPA then a pale ale session beer then the first attempt. I also used a different yeast strain, which some people say produces more funk. I was very happy with the way this beer turned out. 

Appearance: The beer pours a hazy golden yellow with orange hues and a dense white head that slowly fades and leaves a nice lacing over the top of the beer and along the sides of the glass. I’m really happy with the appearance of this beer. 

Aroma: A big nose of citrus, grapefruit, peach and pineapple. The dominate aromas are different citrus and peach. This is the second best dry hopping job I have done. I think the water chemistry has really helped me with my dry hopping aroma. 

Taste: Citrus and grapefruit are the predominate flavors with a touch of Brett-y funk. The bitterness comes off smooth and assertive without being overwhelming and abrasive. I was worried that it would end up being grassy again since I had to dry hop with pellet hops. No grassy notes to be found. 

Mouthfeel: Personally I think the perfect level of carbonation for this beer. A medium level of carbonation that is refreshing and tingly without taking anything away from the beer. It finishes dry with a nice lingering bitterness. I’m glad that it doesn’t feel watery, which can happen with Brett because it does not produce a lot of glycerol and that is a fear I have with 100% Brett beers. 

Overall: Although I do not brew IPAs often (I would prefer to only keg them due to their rapid fall off rate) this is easily the best IPA I have brewed and easily one of the best beers that I have brewed to date. The bitterness comes off perfect, aggressive, without being overwhelming and pallet stripping. I think my biggest improvement in dry hopped beers has come from my usage of water chemistry. This is something I want to continue to improve on as I continue to brew.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cuveé des Chatsworth

Having the entire week off during the holidays gave me some time to get some long overdue brewing done. I was able to finally finish my keggle, although it still needs a little work so it is not so sharp, and brew two beers I’ve needed to brew. The first was the sours that I had planned to brew during the summer when I collected dregs from our tasting one night. Well once we decided to move and buy a house I didn’t want to brew anything and have to move it. Then when we moved I was too busy to brew at first and wanted to brew some other things that I would be able to drink right away. Long story short I should have brewed these sooner but I finally got around to it. 

The dregs that I had been storing in growlers may or may not still be usable. I did top them up with fresh wort every now and then, but when I decanted the top the day before brewing they were incredible sour. I think due to the warm temperature and extended time the Pediococcus produced too much acid and may have killed everything in there. But on the plus side by waiting so long I was able to obtain some Cantillon dregs from a Cuveé des Champions from our Night of the Sours Pt. 2 tasting. I was hoping to have two different sours, one from Beatification dregs and the other from Drie Fonteinen Zomer. But if they are not still viable then I should still end up with two different beers if I barrel age one carboy and not the other. 

I decided against doing a turbid mash for this beer but did try to stick to the basic Lambic recipe. I used about 2/3s Belgian Pale malt and about 1/3 Wheat Malt. Since I’m not doing a turbid mash I did not get unmalted wheat. I also used the aged hops that I purchased a few months ago for bittering hops at the rate specified by Jean van Roy (5 grams/liter).  

I came in slightly under gravity, I’m pretty sure I have discovered the reason I have been lately, but this time it was because I accidently spilled some of my first runnings. The brew day was uneventful and the keggle preformed beautifully. The only issue I experienced was chilling 10 gallons of wort without a pre-chiller takes a long time. After I collected the wort I used the yeast from my 100% Brett-B IPA to trigger fermentation and the yeast from my BA RIS (WLP001). Oddly enough it took about 3 days for fermentation to finally take off, I was about to use some of the Saison yeast I had to trigger fermentation until I noticed it had started. After two days of fermentation I poured the dregs of the Cantillon into each carboy. 

It’s nice having the option to brew ten gallons if I need or want to now. My plan is to let the beers ferment out and then rack one of them into my barrel for extended aging. 

OG Est: 1.042
OG Measurement: 1.035
SRM: 4o
IBU: 28.5

Grain Bill:
66% - 10 lbs Belgian Pale Malt
33% - 5 lbs Belgian Wheat

Hop Bill:
6.75 oz – Willamette – 3 years old – 60 minutes

Brett-Brux Trois, WLP001, Cantillon Cuveé des Champions bottle dregs

Mash schedule:
156o F for one hour – single infusion

(12/27/12) – Brewed by myself. Easy brew day aside from getting used to my new equipment. Chilled to 90oF degrees and racked to carboys. I placed the carboys into the chest freezer at 59 degrees and left them to cool for 3 hours. The bottle I saved from the Brett-B IPA was added to each carboy.

(12/28/12) – Dregs growlers added separately to each carboy. 

(12/29/12) – Still no activity, bottle dregs from the Ranger Creek RIS added to each carboy. 

(12/30/12) – Activity finally started; there is a nice fluffy white krauzen on top of the wort. In the evening I added the dregs from the Cuveé des Champions evenly into each carboy.

(1/13/13) - Racked one carboy into the barrel that recently held the barleywine. I cleaned the barrel by pouring boiling water into it.

(4/3/13) - Moved the carboy from the chest freezer to the beer room upstairs while I'm cold crashing the IPA. I'll leave it up there a while then maybe move it back down to the chest freezer.

3/26/14 - Bottled the barrel version using 4oz of table sugar.

7/10/14 - First tasting of the barrel version.