Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Tasting: Saison du Fleur

I’m finally getting around to writing up the first tasting for this beer. The tasting happened a while ago, but luckily I took notes. I brewed this beer for wedding favors for our wedding (which is also why it took me a while to finally write a review). I’ll try to write a review for the MicroIPA but there is not much left in the keg, I guess it was popular. I only had one glass of it that night and enjoyed it. Everyone that had some told me they really liked it, I guess they could have been being nice to me since it was our wedding after all. If you have forgot the Wedding Saison was actually a double brew. The first batch was infected and it forced me to brew a second batch. I changed what I planned to brew for the second batch and made it a little closer to what was the “theme” of our wedding.
Picture provided by Day7 Photography

Appearance: Hazy reddish-orange with yellow hues and a thin white head that quickly dissipates into a thin ring around the side of the glass. The hibiscus definitely added some color. Prior to its addition the beer was a pale yellowish-orange.  There are small particles floating around in the bottom of the glass, which I’m assuming are the elderflowers. I’m not too worried about it since this was the last bottle and got the majority of the gunk at the bottom of the carboy. 

Aroma: Slight tart cranberries, very floral, with notes of citrus and spice. I like the spice from the Saison yeast. I was worried that the elderflowers would be too over powering but I guess one ounce per 5 gallon batch was just enough. You can tell they are there but they are not screaming in your face and they didn’t give the beer a green pepper taste that Mamouche can have sometimes.

Taste: Spicy and yeasty with a subtle tart cranberry taste. The elderflowers didn’t provide any taste which was good; I was also worried about that. I’m glad that the hibiscus was not overwhelming. I wanted it to be a hint of hibiscus tartness to make the beer refreshing without it being too tart for people that are not used to that kind of flavor in beer. 

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a dry refreshing tart finish. I love Saison yeast because they will dry a beer out without making it feel watery. So far it’s a little under carbonated but I did try this beer after only one week. I’m assuming with more time it should hit just the right amount. I’ll have to try another bottle later to confirm. 

Overall: I liked the beer a lot and will probably brew with hibiscus again. I might increase the amount I use next time since I like tart beers. I could see it working well with a Berlinerweis or a Tripel. I had to try this beer early to make sure it wasn’t infected like my last batch. There may or may not be Brettanomyces in it but I’m willing to let that go. If there is Brett in the beer it should add a nice extra layer of complexity to the beer for those willing to wait on it for a while. There shouldn’t be any chance of bottle bombs since they were bottled in strong Belgian bottles. I’m looking forward to trying this beer in the future to see how it has progressed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Micro IPA

It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to brew to serve at our wedding. I finally decided that since I’m going to have another commercial beer there that I will brew something I want to drink. It will be late spring in Texas so I wanted something refreshing, thus I decided on a low ABV IPA, al la Founders All Day IPA. I decided to also try some new brewing techniques while I was at it, hop bursting and no sparge. I read on the Mad Fermentationist that a no sparge technique is ideal for a low ABV beer. It helps keep the integrity of the body and helps it not seem watered down. I also have read that hop bursting is ideal for aroma. This technique pertains to adding the hops to the last 15 minutes of the boil so that most of the aroma remains intact. Since this beer is going to be a low ABV session ale I wasn’t worried about having my IBU total too low with the hop bursting. Since I was adding about 4 ounces of hops in the last 15 minutes it should give me something pretty close to 40 IBUs, which sounds low for an IPA but when you take into account the ABV it’s pretty high. Most IPAs are in the 7-6% ABV range and the 80-60 IBU range. Going off of that ratio 4%ABV and 40 IBU should be just about right. I also attempted to adjust the water again as I have done in my last few beers. It definitely made my last IPA much better so I wanted to mimic that.

This sound great until it comes down to execution. Everything that went wrong was mostly my fault since I was multitasking and repairing my car at the same time. I didn’t have time to brew and work on my car over separate days or weekends so I attempted to do it at the same time. Well because of this I forgot to add my salts to the mash, didn’t notice that the homebrew store added my flaked oats to a separate bag, mash was too hot so I had to add ice cubes, and had a near boil over (even though it was 5 gallons in a 15 gallon keg). I decided that adding the salts to the boil should produce the same affect, but who knows I could be wrong. I also tried to rectify the oats situation by again employing another Mad Fermentationist technique by adding quick oats to the end of the boil. I was in the process of freaking out about missing the oats while my fiancĂ©e calmly searched adding oats to beer and found Mike’s old article. I also threw a little DME and table sugar in at the end of the boil as an attempt to add the lost sugar from the missing oats and I also added a little Maltodextrin to hopefully add the body I was hoping to gain from the oats. I might add more at kegging if I feel it’s too thin.  Turns out I probably didn’t need to add the sugar since my OG was 1.043, actually higher then I was expecting. I was expecting a lower efficiency due to the lack of a sparge to remove the remaining sugars. 

Biggest thing I learned from this brew day is don’t do other things while you brew. Oh and also RDWHAHB.

Batch Size: 5.25 Gallons
Original Gravity (est.): 1.042
Final Gravity (est.): 1.011
IBU: 39.2
SRM: 8o
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Estimated efficiency: 60%

Grain Bill:
7.25lbs - Marris Otter – 70%
1.75lbs – Pale Malt – 17%
1lb - Caravienne – 10%
0.5lb – Flaked Oats – 3%

Hop Bill:
Centennial – 1 oz –pellet - 15 min
Amarillo – 1 oz –pellet – Flame out
Chinook – 1 oz –pellet - Flame out
Citra – 1 oz –pellet - Flame out
Amarillo – 1 oz –pellet – Whirlpool
Chinook – 1 oz –pellet - Whirlpool
Citra – 1 oz –pellet – Dry hop 7 days
Amarillo – 1 oz –pellet – Dry hop 7 days
Chinook – 1 oz –pellet - Dry hop 7 days
Citra – 1 oz –pellet - Dry hop 7 days
Amarillo – 1 oz –leaf – Keg hop 7 days
Chinook – 1 oz – leaf - Keg hop 7 days
Citra – 1 oz – leaf -  Keg hop 7 days

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Mash Schedule:
Mashed for 45 minutes at 155F, no sparge

1 teaspoon of Gypsum added to the boil
0.5 teaspoon of CaCl added to the boil

3/23/13 – Brewed by myself. As stated above everything that could have gone wrong happened. Mash read 160F when I initially added the water so I added some ice cubes and stirred until I got it down to 155F. I added the salts to the boil and the quick oats in the last 10 minutes, since the regular oats were not added as planned. Chilled to 68F and pitched a 1 liter starter that I made 3 days prior. Gravity reading was 1.043. Left to ferment in the chest freezer at 68F.

3/25/13 – Increased the temperature to 72F to help the yeast finish out.

4/3/13 - Took a taste test and turned down the chest freezer temperature to 35F to cold crash. There might be brett in it since it looked like there was a pellicle in between the hops, but I could be wrong. The beer smelled and tasted amazing. I'll dry hop it in two days and rack to a secondary carboy.

4/12/13 - Racked to the keg with 3 ounces of whole leaf hops placed into a bag. I carbonated the keg to 15psi and placed it in the freezer.

4/15/13 - The flow rate is really slow. I'm pretty sure the dip tube is clogged. I switched the gas side to the liquid side and open the valve. Then I switched it back and it's flowing fine now. A little under carbonated the but smell and taste is right where I want it. 

4/19/13 - First tasting. Everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot.