Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Belgian Single, Barrel Bound

Time to get that barrel bottled and refilled. Unfortunately, Mike has already posted about his brewing of it. You can read about the history and description of the recipe here. I'll make my post pretty brief and give my recipe which is slightly different from his.




Stats

OG

1.053

FG


IBU

25

ABV


SRM

4

Specifics

Boil Volume

8 gallons

Batch Size

5.5 gallons

Yeast

75% AA

Wyeast 3787



Fermentables

% Weight

Weight (lbs)

Grain

Gravity Points

Color

91.0 %

10.00

Castle Pils

46.5

3.3

3.0 %

0.33

American Vienna

1.5

0.2

3.0 %

0.33

German Acid Malt

1.5

0.1

3.0 %

0.33

American Soft White Wheat

1.8

0.2


10.99


51.2


Hops

% Wt

Weight (oz)

Hop

Form

AA%

AAU

Boil Time

Utilization

IBU

100.0 %

1.75

Styrian Goldings

Pellet

3.4

6.0

55

0.303

24.6


1.75







24.6


9/30/09: Brewed this morning. Again, no-chill so hop addition is a theoretical 75 mins. I mashed for 60min at 154 and 90min boil with terrible winds so it was a bit of a pain. Made a 2L starter from the wort with the yeast I split off of last weeks brew.


video
Here's a little video of the new chilling method, Jamil show in the background. Sorry it's sideways, can't figure out how to rotate it. You can see a bowl of 2L of wort chilling in the sink for the starter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Comp. Results: Montgomery Country State Fair

After a bit of back and forth with the coordinator of receiving my score sheets (due to a wrong address), I finally got back my results. I had entered three of my beers: Brett L stout, Mango Chipotle and the Berliner Weisse. Of the three, the most surprising was the Berliner; as you remember from one of my previous posts I was a bit dissapointed with the results. The Berliner was slammed for being a gusher, infected, having overly present band-aid phenols, and a muddy appearance. I attempted to counter with the coordinator that should have tried the other bottle because of a possible isolated bottle infection. However, because of their 2 bottle limit, they did not. I still find the beer to be perfectly clear, having a clean lemony aroma but I understand the acid isn't super clean with some slight off flavors. But, nothing near undrinkable.
The Brett stout and Mango Chipotle were the final beers in the Specialty Beer category's flight. Very much in that state they were extremely sparse in verbal descriptions of the beers. For both I got "Obvious Brett aroma", "Close to a Lambic". Obviously, these judges were either palate fatigued or ignorant to brett beers and decided not to expand on their descriptions. Nonetheless, both beers scored quite well with the Brett Stout receiving a 32 and the Mango Chipotle a 39, and placing first for its category. The judges didn't seem to find the formers' combination of brett and stout as complimentary of each other while the latter had many flavors that were complimentary and integral to the final beer.
Overall, I'm a little dismayed by the competition. I think the judges did a poor job of finding the flaws and merits of each beer in an objective manner. However, I'm still happy to have a blue ribbon hanging on a magnet on the fridge.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tasting: Vanilla Wine


I've yet to really figure out a better name for this beer, so I'm just going to call it "vanilla wine" for now since they seem to be the dominant flavors. Out of the three 100% Brett beers I've made, this is definitely my favorite. It really has developed such a depth of flavor including a bit of tartness. I'll probably hold onto a couple bottles to enter in some competitions in the future as I think it could do really well.
Aroma: Funky cherry pie, some light barnyard sweatiness, rubbery phenols, vanilla, oak, tropical fruitiness. This one really runs the gamut. The brett is much more pronounced than with the Mango Chipotle, perhaps Brett C is just a pretty quiet yeast.
Appearance: Chill hazed burnt orange, honey colored. A fingers worth of bright white head with average tracing. I also noticed these bottles are producing pellicles at the top, the only Brett beer to have done that so far (aside from the Gose).
Flavor: A mouth full of flavors! It starts out with the funk and vanilla working side by side, then a really lactic pucker, finishing with the oak and mild wine notes. I'm pretty surprised just how sour it is (nowhere near a lambic or mixed bacteria beer though) being it's just brett. I'm wondering if it was the oak or wine that played a part, or being a second pitch. The phenols aren't too overwhelming either and they add a kind of saison like clovey/rubbery note.
Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, somewhere around 2-2.5 vols. I would say it's medium bodied with the acid taming its presence. A good bit of warming in the finish (it's over 7% abv).
Overall: Again, I really can't say I would change anything with this beer. The wine doesn't seem to have contributed a ton of flavor, but I didn't split the batch, so there's a possibility it does. The oak is pretty tame and could be increased, but as it is, it helps the drinkability and not make it seem as such a heavy beer. I find the vanilla to be pretty spot on providing plenty of interest and blending well with the cherry notes of Lambicus. I definitely have to do another 100% Brett beer in the near future and hope it turns out as well as this one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Fun Clone


Belgian beers are almost all extremely simple recipes. Getting through Brew Like a Monk was such a joy. Stan Hieronymous does an excellent job of finding out as much information on Belgian style beers brewed both in their homeland and here in America. Starting out, he documents the Trappists with loads of useful tips on their techniques and recipes. I was really interested in the smaller beers that the monks brewed for their personal consumption since they mostly brew higher ABV beers for sale. A few are talked about in BLaM: Westmalle Extra, Chimay Doree, and Orval Petit. Petit is simply a lower gravity version of the original, but Extra and Doree are a bit different than their bigger brothers. The former contains no sugar and is hopped higher, and the latter is spiced. I chose to tackle Westmalle Extra since it seemed like a nice easy drinking pale beer to have on tap. I put together as much of a recipe as I could and then decided to shoot Stan an email. He was extremely helpful putting together the pieces, that I think this will turn out to be an excellent beer.
So, what we know:
OG 1.046 FG 1.005 88% AA 5.3% ABV 5 SRM 31 IBUs
100% Pilsner malt, all Czech Saaz hops, Wyeast 3787 (Westmalle)
What we don't know:
Quantity and timing of late hop additions, what Pils malt, mash schedule, fermentation schedule, pitching rate.
Stan has given me some advice: use a small 10min hop addition; long, low temperature mash to ensure high fermentability, and assume their fermentation schedule is the same as the rest of their beers (pitch at 64, raise to 68).
The recipe




Stats

OG

1.047

FG


IBU

38

ABV


SRM

3

Specifics

Boil Volume

8 gallons

Batch Size

5.5 gallons

Yeast

88% AA

Wyeast 3787



Fermentables

% Weight

Weight (lbs)

Grain

Gravity Points

Color

100.0 %

9.50

Castle Pils

44.1

3.1


9.50


44.1


Hops

% Wt

Weight (oz)

Hop

Form

AA%

AAU

Boil Time

Utilization

IBU

80.0 %

2.00

Czech Saaz

Pellet

4.0

8.0

40

0.303

33.0

20.0 %

0.50

Czech Saaz

Pellet

4.0

2.0

FWH

0.184

5.0


2.50







38.0

9/23/09: Brewed today. Did a 90min mash at 147 followed by a 90min boil. I'm doing the latter because this is the first brew that I'll incorporate my no-chill method. There has been no claims of massive DMS production, but I've heard very little from folks who have done high % of Pils malt beers. You'll notice to the hop schedule looks strange, and that's because I'm following the adjustments from this guy. I"ll also build a 2 L starter from the resulting beer that I'll pitch in about 32 hours when the wort has chilled. I'll save a bit from the starter for next weeks barrel brew. Wish me luck!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Thoughts on No Chilling

Well, it's come time to do some modifications in my brewing procedure. When I first started, I was using a 30qt enamel canning pot to do full boils on an electric stove in my first apartment. I had such a hard time getting to a boil that I needed to keep the lid on partially for the bulk of boiling. Since then, I've upgraded to a (borrowed) aluminum 32qt pot and turkey fryer, a 25' immersion chiller and then a 50' copper chiller (using the former as a pre-chiller). When I left Kansas I gave my good buddy my larger chiller as I didn't think I'd be brewing much in the near future. Since I started brewing again here in DC, I've just been using my 25' chiller attached to the kitchen faucet. Again, since I moved from my previous apartment to here in Columbia Heights, I don't have a faucet that's adaptable to my chilling setup, and had to use an aquarium pump to pump chilled water through my chiller.
(Extra) long story short, I've been really dissatisfied with my chilling setup, as it takes nearly 45min to an hour to reach appropriate pitching temps (seasons aside). Jamil's whirlpool chiller has been something I've loved to upgrade to, but it requires a heavy duty pump that is well over $100. Since then, I've tried to find other ways to bypass this most important brewing process. The "no-chill" method whereby the brewer stores his near boiling wort in an HDPE container (or other heat tolerant container) overnight, or when they're ready to pitch yeast, seems to be getting very popular. There are several reasons for going this route: no water is used, and perhaps wasted, during the chilling process. The brewer saves some time by no chilling and pitching yeast the next day. There's less exposure to air and environment during chilling when the wort is at its most able to be infected by wild yeast/bacteria.
However, there have been many (unproven at least) detractors to this method. One is a combination of excess DMS production and potential chill haze by factors of covering the wort while it's still at boiling temps and not creating a well defined (and separated) cold break. According to many brewers, these are simply mysteries, and proven untrue. The most disturbing possibility is that of botulism which can thrive under a rich sugar environment with the absence of oxygen. However, many brewers think that the density of sugar and the lowered pH of wort is enough to thwart the possibilty of infection. In addition, by shortening the process from "chilling" to pitching yeast to <48hrs, it's possible to make this infection nonexistant.
I've since been sold to trying this process as the investment is limited to purchasing sealed HDPE containers which at a maximum are $15 a piece. These can also be used as fermenters with an appropriate stopper, but are extremely oxygen permeable (415 times a wooden barrel, 13 times a glass carboy with silicone stopper) so they shouldn't be used for prolonged storage.
Well, throughout the arguments I've heard, I'm compelled to give this a shot. I've yet to ascertain a time period in which massive amounts of DMS can be tasted/smelled, and will be doing 90min boils from now in with Pilsner malt rich malt bills. If anyone has any tips to add to my process, I'm more than happy to learn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poll Results: Competitions

I'm still on my short break from brewing, so not a whole lot is going on in the brewery. I racked the Christmas saison to condition for a few weeks and bottled the Oat Wine. I opened the first bottle of the latter yesterday, and it was quite tasty, but definitely needs some more time. I've also taken a short trip out of town, and as most know in the restaurant business, that means lots of make up time at work, so it's inhibited some brewing related tasks.
On the topic of the poll, it seems like folks either enter sparingly, or never. I'm not surprised given the type of brewing I do, and the followers I have. For the most part, the majority of what I brew would have to be entered into the Specialty Category which is a catchall and a difficult one to master. I'm still awaiting the score sheets from my latest entries, but I will certainly post them when I can. According to BJCP it doesn't look like I'll have many upcoming opportunities to judge locally, so it'll be several months before I make it to the next comp. I'm hoping to enter a few into next years NHC in addition to traveling to Minneapolis to see and experience it. For now, it's about it. I'll be brewing next week and trying out a "no-chill" method on the beer, will certainly post something about it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tasting: Smoked Doppelsticke


Having missed the opportunity to barrel age this beer, it simply aged out for a month or so and then bottled. I've gone through about a 6-pack of the Doppelsticke, and it's really developing nicely. It is certainly skewed towards a malt heavy beer with just enough hops to balance without adding much flavor. The smoke is more subtle than Mike's version, and it's likely to do with how fresh our respective Rauch malts were. This will certainly be a much better beer in a couple months as the temperatures dip.
Aroma: Rich caramel, darkly toasted whole wheat bread, a light to moderate smoke note without the bacon overtones. The yeast character is forthcoming with notes of dark, ripe fruits, sugar plums, raisins, brown sugar. Overall, you can tell this is a rich, sweet beer just from the aroma enough.
Appearance: A dark mahogany brown, nearly opaque but with some really beautiful ruby highlights. A really tight knit, densely packed off-white to tan head. This is a gorgeous looking beer.
Flavor: Up front, dark fruits, sweet caramel candy, light campfire smoke, rich melanoidan malts. Through the mid palate to the finish there's a touch of lightly spicy hops and a firm bitterness that balances all the sweetness. There's a light clove like phenol towards the finish that is interesting, and I wonder if it's fermentation or smoked malt derived. It doesn't have the yeast flavors of German Ale (Wyeast 1007/WLP036) that I think define a great Alt, but the cleaness is certainly there.
Mouthfeel: Moderately high carbonation due to overpriming really helps to calm down the rich malty sweetness. Most folks would want such a rich beer lower in carbonation, but for me it's good. Because of the high FG, it has a huge body and a milky creaminess finishing with a moderate belly warming.
Overall: I had some really high hopes for seeing how this did in a Bourbon barrel, but without that extra dimension, I still think this is a solid beer. I would definitely increase the smoked malt next time, and change the yeast to 1007 to get a bit more attenuation out of it (shoot for 1.015-1.018 instead of the 1.022 I got). I'll have to experiment with the Alt category some more come fall when the temps are more manageble.
Recipe and notes