Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Love Lost: Bretted Saison

My kegs are empty, I’ve finally got a weekend with some time off and it’s starting to warm up. Time to brew a Saison. I’ve wanted to brew a Love Buzz “clone” ever since I tried the Anchorage Brewing beer. Embrace theFunk had an interview with Gabe Fletcher where he revealed a little bit about his process, as well as, a receipt for Love Buzz. Obviously I can’t stick to the whole receipt due to my lack of a pinot noir barrel, but I can substitute with pinot noir soaked oak cubes. I’m also deviating from the Brett-Brux and going with the Brett sample that I received from BKYeast. This Brett was isolated from a bottle of 2007 Cantillon Iris.

I decided to brew a 10 gallon batch since, as stated above, my kegs are empty, and the Brett portion will take a few months. The regular version will go straight into the keg after some dry hopping with more Citra hops. I found the recipe from Gabe interesting. If you ready it the portions of adjuncts that he adds are very small, just a few grams per batch. I’ve never added orange peel or pepper or rose hips for that matter before, so I’m honestly not sure how much I should add. I figure I’ll stick to what Gabe says and if I feel I need more I can always re brew.

When I went to buy the grains and hops for this beer I forgot that the recipe on Embrace the Funk was in terms of percentages and that Hopville was bought out by Brewtoad. This meant that I couldn’t quickly come up with a recipe for exact amounts of grain or hops. So I had to wing it. I ended up buying 26lbs of Pils Malt and 2 lbs of C-60 and White wheat. Turns out I was only a few pounds off. I decided to brew a larger batch and adjust since I assumed I would be wildly under-efficient due to all of the grain in my small mash tun. I came in over my intended gravity and topped up with water. 

As usual I tried a different method for my brewing process. I didn’t have access to the immersion coils that I usually have so I decided to use the jockey box that I recently acquired to cool the wort. I disconnected all of the parts of the jockey box for my keggerator and connected the two stainless steel coils with plastic tubing. To cool the beer I first racked it from my kettle into a sanitized corny keg. Then I pressurized the keg and pumped it through the jockey box and into my carboy. It worked pretty well but I didn’t, for some reason, account for the fact that I was taking wort that was probably around 180-190oF and trying to chill it to 70oF. That’s a lot of heat transfer! I know for next time to have more ice then I did. I had to constantly dump water from the jockey box and top it up with fresh water. On the plus side I’m pretty sure I did accomplish what I intended, which was to decrease the amount of water I use to cool my wort. Next time I now know to have more ice on hand. It didn’t chill the wort all the way down to pitching temperature, but it got it close, maybe down to 90oF, so I placed the carboys in to my keggerator to chill them the rest of the way, then I pitched my yeast. The benefit of my new cooling system was the aeration. This was probably by far the most aerated beer I’ve brewed to date, judging by the amount of foam created in the carboys. I didn’t get around to changing to the new hoses that I purchased, so if it ends up being infected due to the previous lines then it’s my own fault. I’m hoping it will be ok, the previous user swore by his cleaning practices and the lines were only slightly discolored. I also doubt that he was brewing and kegging wild beers. 

Hopefully in 8-10 months I’ll have something that slightly resembles Love Buzz Saison. 

OG: 1.063
IBU: 42
ABV: 7.1%
Batch Size: 5 Gallons

Grain Bill:
89% - Pilsner malt – 25lbs
5% - Carapils 60 – 1.25lbs
5% - White wheat – 1.25lbs

Hop Bill:
Columbus – 1.5 oz – pellet - 90min
Columbus – 0.5 oz – pellet – 30min
Citra – 2oz – pellet – 0min
Citra – 3oz – pellet – 12 days

Weast 3726 Farmhouse 

Mash Schedule:
Single infusion at 151oF for 90 minutes

Rose hips – 7 grams – 0 min
Fresh Orange peel - 7 gram – 0 min
Whole black pepper- 3 gram – 0 min

5/26/13 – Brewed by myself. Pretty standard brew day no surprises this time. It cool longer to cool then anticipated and I need more ice but other than that it was fine. Cooled to 70oF and pitched a double stepped up starter from the wedding saison yeast slurry. First I built up the starter, and then I made two separate starters and poured a small portion into each growler. The two growlers were pitched into the carboys. Fermented at 80 degrees.

5/27/13 – Fermentation took off after about 12 hours, nice white krausen about 2 inches thick with some light brown spots and hop material in it.

6/3/13 - I went to check on the beer and I noticed that the air lock had been knocked off and there was dark gray cat hair on the rubber bung. I think I know what happened here, hopefully it is not infected. I'll turn that half into the kegged half if it seems ok in a few weeks.

6/8/13 - Each air lock is still bubbling. Slowly but still bubbling. Hopefully they are not infected from my cooling method, I wouldn't be surprised though, only time will tell. Although there are a lot of factors that could cause the air lock to bubble besides infection.
6/12/13 - Took a taste test and decided it was time to add the dry hops to the kegged version. I added two ounces of Citra pellets straight into the carboy.

6/30/13 -  Brett topped cropped from Cantillon Brett IPA.

7/3/13 - First tasting. Good but has room for improvement. Excited to try the Brett version.

1/9/14 - Gravity down to 1.009.  I should be dry hopping soon.

1/14/14 - Dry-hopped with 3 ounces of Citra hops. Kind of seems like over kill but oh well.

1/20/14 - Bottled with 1.9oz of priming sugar targeting 2.2 volumes of CO2. Finally got to try out my Champagne corker as well. The bottles look pretty awesome with corks in them. 

3/4/14 - First tasting. From what I can remember it is pretty similar to the actual thing, with only minor differences. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Tasting: Hoppily Ever After (Micro IPA)

This is another late review that I’m finally getting around to posting. I brewed this beer to be the second of two kegs for my wedding in late April. It took me forever to decide what I wanted to brew for the wedding. Do I brewing something with mass appeal or do I brew something that I’m going to like? I decided that since I was getting an Irish stout from Freetail Brewing, which should appeal to those that don’t like “light beers,” that I could brew something I would like. I wanted something low in alcohol with a powerful aroma. I was pleasantly surprised that it was very popular at the wedding. I was hoping to have some to review after the wedding but I stored the kegs in my Aunt’s freezer while we were still in Austin and by the time I was able to get them back the IPA had been finished. 

Appearance: It pours a hazy pale straw yellow with orange hues and small hop particles floating in the glass. I need to work on my filtering better. The head is a thin white head with small dense bubbles. It quickly fades to a thin ring around the glass. I’m not sure whether to attribute this to the beer, the jockey box, or the fact that it was sitting in a pitcher before it was poured into my glass. 

Aroma: This is where I wanted the beer to shine and it didn’t disappoint. Big hop nose with grapefruit, citrus, guava, and mango dominating. The Citra is really shining through. There is a hint of pine in the back ground but not enough to turn people off. I would say the hop bursting and the keg hopping was a success. I’m not sure about how extended keg hopping would work because it obviously didn’t last that long, but I can always try again in the future. 

Taste: I’m very happy with the taste of this beer. I was worried that my IBU balance would have been too high since the ABV was so low. I kept it at around 40 IBUs. The flavors consisted of grapefruit and peach with some citrus notes and a slightly bready finish. I was surprised that there was still some malt body left.
Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation with a nice dry finish that had a short lingering bitterness. I was worried before I tried the keg that it would be over carbonated which would make the body seem too watery. Then I was worried after I initially tried it that the carbonation was too low. It ended up just about where I wanted it. 

Overall: This was the first beer that I have ever kegged so I was kind of winging it. I’m glad that it worked out fine. On top of never kegging I had never used a jockey box. My week at work prior to our wedding was spent reading about kegging and using jockey boxes. The glass I had at our wedding seemed as if the carbonation was fine and the jockey box seemed to have a decent flow rate. The beers were definitely cold so I guess it worked. I’m very pleased with how this beer turned out. I’m sad that I only had one glass of it but I’m glad that it was so popular. I guess it’s better to brew a beer and only have one glass because everyone liked it rather than having a lot left because everyone hated it. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to and I’ll have to brew it again for the summer. Once I have some keg space cleared up for the beers that I’m planning on brewing. 

Side note: The first time I tried to pour from the keg and test the beer it was clogged. I’m not sure if it was hop particles or yeast or the hop bag but the flow rate was really slow. I quickly researched how to remedy the situation. Most solutions involved releasing the pressure and removing the drain spout to clean it. My problem was that this was the day before our wedding so I didn’t have the time to do that. One person mentioned putting the gas port on the liquid side and using it to blow the gunk out of the way. My recommendation for doing that is be careful. Make sure the gas is on and the valve is already open so that you do not have the beer enter and ruin your regulator. Also make sure that the pressure is already set higher than your keg pressure. The gas side is not designed to fit on the liquid side but it will fit with some force. It is also hard to remove. However, it did fix my problem and it was never clogged after that.