Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saison du Fleur: Wedding beer Redux

My first attempt to brew a beer for my part of the wedding favors is definitely infected. Hard to say where the infection came from since I’ve only brewed two beers on my new setup and each are sour. Only the first batch was intentionally sour, the second (wedding beer) was not supposed to be sour. I’ve narrowed it down to three areas that could have caused the infection. To date I have not had an infected batch that has resulted in a lost batch. Only one infection that I know of was infected and it was probably Brett-C in my Hoppy Hefeweizen, which was due to not having separate racking hoses at the time. The hefeweizen was designed to be consumed quickly so I didn’t really notice it until the end of its life. I also knew this was a potential problem but I didn’t have time to buy a separate hose so I just accepted the risk.

This go around I don’t have any clean batches to prove that it was from the Fantรดme dregs and not my brewing system. If it is my brewing system I’m have narrowed it down to two potential locations. The hose that connects my keggle to the carboy for racking and the ball valve that connects the keggle to the hose are the points of concern. Luckily each is an easy fix. If it’s the hose I can just buy a new hose. If it’s the ball valve then I just need to spray sanitizer on it prior to racking form the keggle, which I have not done yet.
It’s been about a week since I brewed this beer and so far no sign of infections, so I’m assuming it was from the dregs. I used the exact same method, no spraying sanitizer on the ball valve (which I need to do anyways) and I didn’t replace the hose (which I should do anyways). As of last checked it was normal saison. 

Our wedding theme has morphed in the last few weeks and is currently wildflowers in general. So since I have a chance to rebrew the wedding beer I figured I would incorporate this somehow. I decided to go with a combination of hibiscus and elderflowers. The hibiscus should give it that reddish color that I was looking for as well as a subtle tartness and cranberry flavor. The elderflowers I’m hopping will add floral notes and not the green pepper notes you get from a Cantillon Mamouche. 

Original Gravity (est): 1.053
Final Gravity (est): 1.012
Measured FG: 1.006
ABV:  6.1%
IBU: 27.4
Batch Size: 10 gallons
Boil time: 90 mins

Grain Bill
45% - Two Row Pils – 9lbs
25% - Two Row Pale – 5lbs
10% - Acidulated Malt – 2lbs
10% - Light Candi Sugar – 2lbs
5% - Special B – 1lb
4% - Rye Malt – 12oz
2% - Caramunich – 6oz

2oz – US Golding – 60min
1oz – US Golding – 20min
2oz – Sorachi Ace – Flame out

WYeast 3726 – Farmhouse 

Mash Schedule
60mins single infusion at 148F

(2/16/13): Brewed by myself. Easy brew day nothing thrilling. I did however accidently miscalculate my time and added my hops early. I added the hops at the 75 minute mark so I followed the schedule and just removed them early. I wasn’t using the Goldings for aroma so it shouldn’t be an issue. I also added 15 minutes of boiling to hit my target volume. Half way through the boil I made the candi sugar. I used a table spoon of yeast nutrient to convert the sucrose. I added the candi sugar straight to the boil. The gravity measured at 1.048. 

(2/20/13): Gravity down to 1.022. Tasted normal, no sign of an infection (Yay!). I’ll check the gravity in a few days to see if it’s any lower. If not I might rouse the yeast.

(3/11/13): Gravity down to 1.006. Bottled with 0.6 cups of table sugar. At bottling I steeped 2 ounces of Hibiscus in hot water in my coffee press for about 15 minutes. Then I added it during bottling. I had to split the batches in my bottling bucket, so I bottled roughly two separate 5 gallon batches. The Hibiscus added a nice tart cranberry like quality to the beer. It also added some redness I was looking for originally. I yielded 48 large format bottles and one small format bottle for testing. Now I just need to add labels and wax.

(3/25/13) - First Tasting. Turned out how I wanted, I like it and I look forward to see how it evolves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First Tasting: It's a Trappist!

I’ve finally got around to writing a review for It’s aTrappist! I brewed this beer last year with a friend of mine. Half of my batch and half of the beer that he brewed were racked into a Balcones Blue Corn Barrel, where they remain today. The other half of our batch we bottled. I had one about a month after it was bottled but I felt it needed more time.  Then I forgot that I had bottles of it and where I had put them. So I’m finally writing a review.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany with a light tan/white head about a centimeter thick that fades to a thin lacing over the top of the beer. 

Aroma: Lots of dark fruit, figs, plums, raisins, and burnt sugar. There is also a hint of tobacco and a touch of sweetness and yeasty spice. 

Taste: Huge raisin flavor and a continuation of the dark fruits from the aroma. Slightly sweet but in no way cloying. The flavor is not as complex as a true Trappist beer but that is the mystery of the monastery. 

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation and a dry finish. I was worried it would be undercarbonated and too sweet but I think it ended up finishing just right. 

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer. I think next time I brew it again I will either buy actual Belgian Candi sugar or I will make my own with the new way I have learned. I felt the aroma and mouthfeel was spot on but there could have been more complexity. I think it will hold up well over time and I look forward to see how it evolves.

Monday, February 4, 2013

First Tasting: Barrel Aged Flight By Night

For my first attempt at barrel aging I figured I would start with something simple. The barrel that I used was a bourbon barrel from Ranger Creek Brewstillary in San Antonio. Since I did not have options on the type of barrel I had the ability to choose the type of beer to put into the barrel. I decided to go with an Imperial Stout, which is a combination that is often utilized. Since it was a fresh barrel I wanted something that could stand up to the bourbon and oak. 

Appearance: It pours black with no noticeable head. If there was one thing I would change about the beer it would be the head retention. 

Aroma: The aroma is great. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee and oak with only a hint of alcohol. I’m very pleased with the aroma, it’s a little muted but I think that’s fine. 

Taste: chocolate, oak and bourbon are the predominate flavors with an alcoholic warming sensation on the back end. It’s a touch boozy for me but I think it will age nicely. I’m not sure if the booziness comes from the bourbon or from the beer itself. This was the last beer that I brewed before I had fermentation temperature control. 

Mouthfeel: I’m slightly disappointed with the mouthfeel. The beer is relatively thick but I think it’s a touch undercarbonated. I wanted it to be on the low end of the carbonation spectrum but I think I under-anticipated the amount of priming sugar to use. It has a slightly prickly mouthfeel but it will lose the carbonation before the end of the glass making it seem flat and uncarbonated. 

Overall: I’m very pleased with my first attempt at a barrel aged beer. There are a few aspects that I would like to improve upon but those aspects are related to brewing or bottling and not to barrel aging.