Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First Tasting: Lavender Coffee Porter

This beer was two batches in the making. After the first batch was accidently infected I had to dump it because I didn’t want 5 gallons of slightly tart porter. After I dumped it I immediately rebrewed it out of determination to have it the way I want it. This time I sanitized the crap out of my carboy to make sure there were no signs of life. First I filled it with water and added bleach. I let it sit overnight and then dumped it and rinsed it in the morning. After that I filled it up with Starsan to kill anything that might still be alive. I’m happy to report that it was successful. 

The beer that is in the keg is only a coffee porter, obviously I intended for this to be a coffee lavender porter. I tried to think of ways to add lavender to parts of the beer, but not the whole batch due to fear of it turning soapy. Initially I was going to make a tincture using vodka and lavender, but I was lazy and it would take longer while it extracts the lavender. While I was buying a gift for my father’s birthday, I stumbled upon some lavender extract. I was careful to add the lavender one drop at a time to my glass so that I could find the limit when it became too powerful. I determined 4-5 drops of lavender extract was the right amount for a noticeable lavender aroma without it being soapy and over powering the coffee.  

Appearance: Pours a dark black with hints of brownish-red on the sides when the light shines through it, all topped off with a thin tan head, decent head retention. When you hold it up to the light with a thinner glass you can see that there is a slight haze. 

Aroma: Upfront you can get the lavender, which comes across as fruitiness, as the beer sits and warms up the coffee become more apparent. There is a strong coffee aroma with some dark chocolate and roasty notes. 

Taste: Dark berry flavors with dark chocolate, mocha and coffee flavors. I’m guessing the berry flavors are from the lavender since they are not there without the extract.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low-medium carbonation and a slightly bitter finish. The bitterness keeps it from becoming sweet. The body is nice, yet still drinkable. 

Overall: I think the coffee profile came out really well and I’m pleased with the body. I definitely think going with the lavender extract was a good choice, because I can add it if I want and I can control the amount I add. At low quantities it seems fruity, whereas, if you go over that limit it smells like soap.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

First Tasting: Dry hopped sour

I just realized the other day that I never actually wrote a review for this beer. At first it was very hit or miss from bottle to bottle. Some had a great tropical fruit nose and others were slightly acetic with ethyl acetone. I am happy to report that is no longer the case. The last few bottles I’ve had were all tropical and venous. This beer started off as late hopped wort (no hops added before flame out) and it was then used to blend with a saison and dry hopped with more Nelson hops. I’ve read that when dry-hopping with sour beers the character of the hops can be different than with clean beer. I’ve also read that time can cause the hops to go through swings in aroma while brett has its way with the esters. I’m guessing that is what was happening in the beginning and it’s finally rounded a corner to what I was hoping it would end up. 

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange with a rocky white head that lingers and clings to the side of the glass. Very effervescent looking. 

Aroma: Lots of citrus fruit, lime, passionfruit, and white wine. I’m pretty happy that the Nelson came across as the elusive white wine aroma instead of cat piss. There is a touch of barrel and funk coming through. I’m really pleased with the aroma. 

Flavor: White wine, citrus, and lactic acid. The acid is more towards the lactobacillus side of acidity instead of the pediococcus side, which keeps it light and refreshing.  No bitterness from the hops. 

Mouthfeel: Very high carbonation, with a light body and very dry finish. The acidity is not long lasting, but there is a hit of tannin on the back end. 

Overall: Now that it’s finally leveled off I’m very pleased with the way this beer turned out. It’s refreshing and tart with a nice blend of white wine and tropical fruit. Using dry hops with sour beer is something I’d like to try more in the future, possibility with a single hop to get a feel for how the hop will work with brett and acidity or with some type of blend that has worked well in an IPA.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

First Tasting: 1056 vs Brett Blend APA

I’m a little bit late on my review for these beers. The keg for my Tasty APA kicked a few weeks ago, but my Brett keg is still going strong. I documented the differences in fermentation temperatures and dry hopping, which means this isn’t a complete comparison between yeast, but an approximation. Normally I would ferment Brett under temperature control, because if it’s too hot it will produce a lot of phenolic flavors. The problem was that I didn’t have room in my chest freezer so I tried to do the best I could to keep it cool using an ice bath. 

Wicked Weed Brett Blend

Wyeast 1056
Aside from the differences in off flavors produced due to fermentation there are some noticeable differences in the beers due to the characteristics of the yeast strains selected. The Brett version finished much dryer than the 1056 version and there were some noticeable differences in appearance.
I entered the APA into Dixie Cup XXII in Houston and it received an average score of 36. I always find it interesting reading the judges’ comments, because everyone’s pallet is different you’re going to get a different description of your beer, but sometimes they are very different from each other. 

1056: Pours a hazy pale yellow with slightly orange hues topped off with a creamy looking white head with good retention. The head clings to the side of the glass as it fades. The haze does clean up as the beer warms up, which means it was only chill haze. 

Brett:  Pours a hazy pale yellow with orange hues and a creamy white head with good retention. The head clings to the side of the glass as well. The difference is that the beer never clears out. Brett is a notoriously bad flocculater, probably due to the fact that it has never really gone through selective pressure for its appearance and clarity.  

1056: Citrus hop aroma with a touch of bready malt and grassy notes. 

Brett: Slight citrus notes with a lot of black pepper and funky cheese notes. I rarely get any funk from Brett as a primary strain, I’m wondering if it was due to one of the selected strains or if it was due to the high fermentation temperature. 

1056: Bready malt flavor with a tangy citrus hop character. Higher than I would have preferred bitter finish that lingers a little while, but clears up to a malty finish in the end. 

Brett: No malt in sight, black pepper and grassy notes with a long lingering bitter finish. This beer finished at 1.006 as opposed to 1.012, which made the bitterness much more apparent. I think this shows how important final gravity is for balance in a beer since both beers were hopped the same amount. 

1056: Low to medium body with moderate-high carbonation and a dry hoppy finish. The bittering lingers, but not enough to overwhelm the pallet. 

Brett: Light body with medium-high carbonation and a crisp very dry finish with a long lingering bitterness. 

Overall: I’m pleased with how the 1056 version of this beer came out. I would lower the bitterness probably by moving the hop addition to 45 minutes or decrease the amount of hoping to 0.75 ounces of hops. I think the bitterness was a little too much for the style. I was brewing someone else’s recipe so I wanted to be true to it so I could get an idea of the beer before I made any changes. I like the base malt recipe but I personally would use different flavor and dry hops. As far as the Brett version: temperature control is the first thing I would change. Without controlling temperature during fermentation, I’m not able to really comment on the way this Brett blend ferments, except for the way Wicked Weed used it. I chose this blend because I really enjoyed their beer and I still think it can make a good beer, it just needs to be treated correctly. I would also probably brew it separately from anything using Sacc because the base grain recipe will need adjustments. I would definitely add some flaked oats to increase the body of the beer and lower the initial hopping since it will finish dry and Brett doesn’t produce glycerol, which increases mouthfeel.