Monday, August 31, 2015

First Tasting: Apricot Sour (West Ashley Clone)

After listening to The Sour Hour on The Brewing Network with Tim Clifford I was inspired to attempt a Saison Bernice clone since I had a bottle of Bernice. I also decided that I should attempt at making a West Ashley clone since it is only Bernice with apricot pureé added.  I had never used fruit pureé in a beer before and normally just use fresh fruit, but I figured I would stick with what Tim said on the podcast. The only thing that was different from their recipe was the lack of barrel use and I didn’t ferment with 3711 alongside 3724. In retrospect I will probably not use pureé any more due the amount of apricot gunk it left in my bottles. I also wasn’t particularly impressed with the aroma from the apricot pureé so I gave it a little bit of apricot extract that I had left over from a beer I brewed for a friend. 

Appearance: Pours a hazy light orange with chunks of apricot pureé topped off with a tall fluffy white head that slowly fades to a thin lacing. The only thing I would like to change from the appearance would be the apricot bits, but that’s an easy fix, don’t use pureé.

Aroma: Up front there is a potent apricot aroma, mostly from the extract, but it doesn’t come off as a fake aroma. I get some lactic sourness in the nose as well as a bit of mango. The apple character that I get from the Bernice version has either faded with age or is overwhelmed by the apricot.

Taste: Lactic acidity, a hint of green apple and citrus. The funny thing is that the apricot comes across as more sweetness than acidity. I’m wondering if the pureé doesn’t add acidity like the fruit would. 

Mouthfeel: Very effervescent with a clean acidity and dry lingering fruity finish. The carbonation might be a little too high, but nothing a little swirling can’t fix.

Overall: I’m very happy with how this beer turned out. Next time I’ll just use whole apricots I choose to do an apricot sour because I wasn’t too happy with the character, I don’t like using extract, and I don’t like all of the residual pureé in the bottles. With all of the carbonation it makes it look like a snow globe. It’s no West Ashley, but it’s still very enjoyable.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Tasting: Blended Tart Saison

My favorite Saisons are those that are slightly tart and funky. So far I’ve never really been able to make a beer that is slightly tart. I’ve tried adding bugs at different points during, after or before fermentation and the end result is more sourness than I would have preferred. Since I was planning on doing a dry hopped sour but wanted to cut the acidity a bit I brewed a straight Saison. After I came up with my blending ratio I still had left over sour beer and non-sour beer. I used the left over beer to blend a Saison that I figured would be slightly tart instead of fully sour. 

I had never blended beers before so I really had no idea what I was doing other than tasting different proportions and hoping it would work out. My process involved taking as close to equal amounts of each beer from a two different pitchers using a wine thief and placing them into different glasses. A better way would have been to weigh out the amount of liquid to have a more accurate ratio, but my method worked out. I made 4 different blends: 3 parts sour and one part Saison, half and half, 2 to 1 sour, and 3 to 1 Saison. I evaluated each blend for aroma and flavor and made adjustments if needed. When I decided on my blends I racked from the carboys into a bottling bucket and attempted to hit the same blend ratio on a gallon scale. In the end I ended up with around 5 gallons of dry hopped sour beer, 4 gallons of tart Saison and 1 gallon of Saison that I added cucumber juice to at a later date. 

Appearance: Pours a hazy straw yellow with orange hues and a fluffy white head that fades relativity quickly. I was hoping for better head retention with the higher wheat content, but I think the acidity had its way. The beer does clear up as it warms up to become pretty clear. I’m assuming that the small amount of dry hops I added gave the beer some chill haze. 

Aroma: Rustic barnyard funk and spicy phenolics with notes of lemon zest and lactic acid. I’m really pleased with the aroma. It’s everything I like in a good farmhouse Saison.
Taste: Black pepper and a hint of lemon tartness with a clean spicy base. There is a bit of funk on the finish. 

Mouthfeel: Light body medium-high carbonation with a dry slightly tart finish. I wouldn’t mind some more carbonation but it’s not bad where it’s at currently. There is the possibility of more carbonation in the long run since there is Brett in the beer. 

Overall: I’m very pleased with the results of this beer. It is exactly how I like my Saisons, slightly tart but still containing Saison character with some funk. Light, drinkable, refreshing and still complex. I’m very happy with how the blending came out. I know most home brewers can’t blend beers due to lack of space or time, but I’m probably going to start doing this to all of my Saisons. I normally have lots of sour beer sitting around, however, the only problem I would encounter would be finding time to brew regular Saisons and having carboys available.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sour Barrel Ver. 6 (Oatmeal Sour)

Lately I feel like I’ve only been writing about my failures during brewing. The last few beers have not turned out exactly how I would have preferred. They are not bad, just not what I wanted. I guess it’s not too much of a bad thing to have high standards.  The issues I’ve had have come from my clean beers not from my sours. I need to get around to reviewing two of my fruited sours, which both turned out very well. 

What messed up this time had nothing to do with potential cross contamination, but completely forgetting I was going to brew an 8 gallon batch and not adjusting my base grain accordingly. I swear I know how to brew haha. It’s my attention to detail that lacks. I got up in the morning and went into autopilot mode setting up everything for 5 gallons, water, and grain, everything like normal. I couldn’t figure out why my gravity was coming in low, until I realized that I intended to make 8 gallons instead of 5 gallons, so I went back to check my calculations. I had everything set up for 5 gallons, so I was just under efficient for 5 gallons, but then I realized I also added oats for 8 gallons instead of 5 gallons. In retrospect I decided to add far too many oats for an 8 gallon batch, but it was definitely too much for 5 gallons. I wanted to add some flaked oats like I did for my Bernice clone to give it some softness to the body, but I over did it for sure. 

I plan on using this beer as an experiment. It will be sour because it’s in my barrel, but I’m going to find out what happens if you have a larger portion of flaked oats in your grain bill. I’m talking large like an oatmeal stout amount. I may need to rack it into a carboy so that I can give Brett time without being exposed to as much O2 as my barrel would normally infuse, but I will see when I taste it in the future.  Some of the things I did change from my last few barrel fills was to increase the IBUs a bit to hopefully keep the lacto at bay and allow for a longer and slower fermentation. 

Beer Stats
Batch size: 5.5 Gallons
Boil time: 60 mins
Estimated OG: 1.056
Measured OG: 1.048
Measured FG:
SRM: 4.7
IBU: 36

Grain Bill
5lbs - Pilsner Malt
3lbs – Pale 2-row Malt
2lbs – Flaked Oats
3lbs – Vienna Malt

Hop Schedule
60 minutes – Magnum – 1oz

Mash Schedule
148oF - Single Infusion – 70 minutes
156 oF – Infusion – 20 minutes

Barrel leftovers


8/11/15 – Brewed by myself. All issues have been documented above. Added 3 grams of CaCl and 1 gram of Gypsum for pH adjustments. During the boil I racked the previous barrel batch onto 7lbs of fresh blueberries and left all yeast behind and didn’t clean the barrel. 

8/13/15 – Signs of fermentation have started.

12/12/15 - Racked to carboy and added 7lbs of frozen Fredricksburg peaches.

2/17/16 - Bottle slightly over 4 gallons with 130 grams of table sugar.