Wednesday, May 27, 2015

First Tasting: Plum Sour

This was a beer that has been nearly 3 years in the making. It started out as a reddish colored Saison that was fermented with Fantôme dregs. Although it was not supposed to, it quickly soured and was placed aside for extended aging. Out of the ten gallons, half of it was ready to have fruit added after only 11 months, but this half took longer to turn the corner. I decided to add plums to the second half after trying Tilquin Quetsche, a lambic refermented with plums. Unfortunately when the beer was ready it was past the season for me to be able to use the plums on the tree in my backyard (also the tree only produced 3 plums so it wouldn’t have worked anyway).

Appearance:  the beer pours a murky reddish-brown with a tan head with low to moderate retention. The reviews that I got from ACCF said the beer poured clear, probably because I left them to sit upright for a month before as opposed to throwing it in my fridge a few days before. 

Aroma: I get a general fruitiness in the aroma, mostly berry or stonefruit, but it’s hard to discern plums. A touch of caramel and acidity. Surprisingly I don’t get any acetic acid in the nose, especially with the extended aging. The fact that I left it in its primary fermentation vessel probably helped prevent any oxidation over time. Plums don’t have a distinctive aroma, which didn’t help me in the competition. 

Flavor: Lactic acid upfront, a touch of acetic acid, some stone fruit flavor, and a bit of caramel. Just like in the aroma the plum is not really discernible over any general fruitiness. I think most of the flavor in a plum comes from the skin, whereas the meat of the plum is mostly sugar. Since I have tried the beer before and after the addition of the plums I can tell the difference, but if you didn’t know there were plums in it you probably wouldn’t be able to guess. 

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation with a surprisingly full body for the dry lingering acidic finish. I would like the carbonation to pick up more and hopefully with time it will. There is more then when I first bottled, but not as high as it should be for the style or my preference. I probably should have added fresh champagne yeast at bottling, but I chose not too because the yeast was still alive and picked up when I added the plums.
Overall: The scores that I received from ACCF averaged 29.5 with most of the negative comments coming from the fact that you couldn’t really tell there was plum in the beer. Since I entered it under fruit lambic it should have been more prominent. I don’t really think there is too much you can do to add plum flavor other than may be more plums. If I were to do another plum sour I would probably go with a pale base beer. I think the darker base, while adding complexity, covers up some of the more subtle plum flavors. I can’t really complain too much since I basically considered these beers a loss and was prepared to dump them. In the end I ended up with a drinkable plum beer and a blackberry beer that helped me receive honorable mention for funkiest of show.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Grapefruit IPA and Juicy IPA v2

It seems like it’s been forever since I brewed, even though it’s only been a few weeks, but compared to the pace I was on it’s been a while. I wanted to brew a grapefruit IPA ever since I tried Ballast Point Sculpin and I wanted rebrew the IPA that I brewed over the winter break ever since I tried it and was disappointed I only had 3 gallons. Why not brew them together? 

I sent the head brewer at Ballast Point, Yuseff Cherney, an email asking for suggestions or tips for adding grapefruit flavor and aroma. I told him some of the ideas that I had, including using grapefruit juice to lower my mash pH, which would not have allowed me to brew both IPAs at the same time. Luckily for me he was nice enough to reply two hours after I emailed him with some suggestions. He recommended using a very aromatic fruit (buy different varieties and try them out), try to avoid using the white pith since it will provide unwanted bitterness, to add the peal as you would the dry hops in secondary for a few days (depending on the amount of grapefruit you want), and to use hops which simulate grapefruit, such as Cascade. 

My plan is to brew the two batches using the same wort and hoping schedule, but to use different hops during my hopback. For the grapefruit IPA I want to use more Cascade for more grapefruit aroma and to add some Simcoe for a little extra pine. The other beer will be the same as my Juicy IPA. I’m still trying to get better at rebrewing beers. Part of the skill of a great brewer is to be able to rebrew past beers and make them taste the same. I can say right now that the beer will taste different. I over shot my mash pH by 0.2 and over shot my target gravity. I hit my pre-boil target, but failed to realize until after I added the sugar that I calculated my target pre-boil gravity with sugar added. I could have added water to the boil to adjust the gravity, but I didn’t remember to add the sugar until the last 15 minutes of the boil and didn’t realize what I was doing (this is why good brewers can rebrew beers).

Beer Stats
Batch size: 10.25 Gallons
Boil time: 90 mins
Estimated OG: 1.061
Measured OG: 1.068 (updated)
Measured FG:
SRM: 7
IBU: 60.2

Grain Bill
18 lbs Pilsner malt
2 lbs Vienna Malt
2 lbs Sugar
2 lbs Acid Malt

Hop Schedule
20 min – Cascade – 1 oz
30 min - whirlpool – Citra – 2 oz
30 min - whirlpool – Mosaic - 1 oz
30 min - whirlpool – Cascade – 0.5 oz
(Juicy IPA)
30 min - hopback – Citra – 1 oz
30 min - hopback – Mosaic - 0.5 oz
30 min - hopback – Cascade – 0.25 oz
(Grapefruit IPA)
30 min - hopback – Simcoe – 1 oz
30 min - hopback – Mosaic - 0.5 oz
30 min - hopback – Cascade – 1.25 oz
(Juicy IPA)
Dry hop – 8 days – Citra – 2 oz
Dry hop – 8 days – Mosaic – 1 oz
(Juicy IPA)
Dry hop – 8 days – Cascade – 2 oz
Dry hop – 8 days – Simcoe – 1 oz
Dry hop – 8 days – Grapefruit peal – 2 oz

Mash Schedule
148oF – Single Infusion – 90 minutes
165oF – Mash out

Conan yeast slurry stepped up to 2.5L starter


5/14/15 – Brewed by myself. Added 4grams of CaCl and 12 grams of gypsum and 2ml of lactic acid to the mash along with 4 grams CaCl and 8 grams of gypsum to the sparge water. Collected 13.5 gallons of 1.049 wort. Mash pH was 5.05 (lower then I wanted). Boil pH was 5.15. Chilled to 62oF, oxygenated with pure O2 and placed in chest freezer set to 66oF.

5/15/15 – Fermentation started in the regular IPA about 8 hours after pitching and it was just beginning in the grapefruit IPA.

5/16/15 – Increased temperature to 68oF

5/18/15 – Fermentation slowing, increased temperature to 70oF

5/20/15 - Increased temperature to 75F

5/21/15 - Gravity down to 1.017. Hoping to knock off 4-5 more points. 

5/22/15 - Added dry hops to the regular IPA

5/26/15 - Gravity down to 1.011. 

6/12/15 - Kegged each beer and carbonated to 12psi

6/27/15 - Added more grapefruit zest and some juice to the keg. 

7/23/15 - First tasting