Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Funky Saison

That time again to get another sour/funky beer in the works. This one ended up being a result of purchasing some Sorachi Ace hops several months back. S. Ace hops can be really divisive; some folks claim it produces a nasty, fake, lemon pine-sol type of flavor/aroma. Other say it gives a nice balanced, bitter citrus note. I was inspired by Brooklyn's Saison which is made exclusively with Sorachi Ace (all throughout from bittering to dry hopping). I had it on tap in town and really enjoyed the balance of Belgianesque phenolics with the light lemon notes. I also wanted to try a couple other techniques; using T-58, a dried yeast from Safale that is supposed to produce light clove and banana flavors, and pitching in some cultured bottle dregs. It started with simply a bottle of Saison de Lente from the Bruery, a fantastic, dry fruity saison finished with Brett. I ended up supplementing with some dregs from the bourbon barrel wee heavy and the Flander's Red. The result was a pretty hoppy, mid gravity saison (if you will) with some funk in the finish. I don't have plans to give it tons of time before kegging, so the funk should be pretty subdued.
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 5.87 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Estimated Color: 5.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 37.5 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
7.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 66.67 %
3.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 28.57 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 4.76 %
0.50 oz Chinook [12.50 %] (75 min) Hops 23.2 IBU
1.00 oz Sorachi Ace [11.10 %] (Dry Hop 14 days) Hops -
1.00 oz Sorachi Ace [11.10 %] (10 min) Hops 14.3 IBU
1.00 oz Sorachi Ace [11.10 %] (0 min) Hops -
1 Pkgs SafBrew Specialty Ale (DCL Yeast #T-58) Yeast-Ale

04/19/10: Brewed this morning. Efficiency didn't seem to take too much of a hit. Mashed at 150 to control yeast and residual sugars for Brett. Beer took off very quickly and temps started out in the mid 60s quickly got around 80. Moved carboy to the basement where it was in the mid to upper 60s to finish out before kegging. Hope to get this guy kegged within a month or so.
05/10/10: Just pulled the first sample and it's remarkably at 1.003. No funk is noticeable but the spice profile is really nice. Certainly not along the lines of a saison but some solid Belgian flavors.
05/24/10: This guy is starting to get a nice fluffy white pellicle, one of this thickest I've had of any sour. Hopefully one of my kegs kicks soon and I can get it tapped.

NHC 2010 Results

So this year, I was a bit bummed not to make it back to Philly to judge again in the NE region of the NHC. However, I did enter three beers. I thought these would be my three best I've made in the passed year. I entered: Christmas Saison, Funky Belgian Stout (tasting to follow in a few days, recipe unfortunately lost), and my Oat Wine.
I thought the saison would do the best, but it only managed a 33 overall. Judges said it was a bit over spiced (entered in 16E, Belgian Specialty) and too alcoholic. I had novice and recognized judges, so nothing too special there. Other notes; there was a 4 point differential between the two, looks like the novice had to come down from a 37 if I can read it correctly. He seemed to really enjoy it despite saying he's partial against spiced beers. He didn't pick up much of the ester profile even though I think it's pretty prominent, just the spices. The other judge hopes things will mellow with age, so if I have anymore, perhaps I'll enter in another contest.
The Oat Wine did the worst, managing a 31.5. I was forced to enter it into OA/Smoked beer category because there's a limit of one entry per category. Both judges said the alcohol was too dominant and the oak wasn't prominent enough. Why I didn't manage full points for appearance is strange (should be a given unless high cloudiness/poor head retention which neither was present). The judges just seemed confused about the beer since there was some "different" things going on with no comparison. I hoped it would do better since both 1st and 2nd in the same category last year (in NE) were sours.
Fortunately, the Funky Belgian Stout did the best. It got a 41, though frustratingly did not move on to the Nationals. The judges seemed to really enjoy the range of funk and acid coming through with a light roasty background. One called it a black gueuze! Said the roast was lacking but the wild yeast was great. The other said "don't change anything!". It went to mini best of show, but didn't make it past. The one problem I remember from NHC first round last year is you only have 1 sample per beer. It get's really difficult to ration all of the samples especially if it goes to BOS. I wish it was a 2 bottle entry, but I understand with upwards of 800 entries per region, that would be a ton of beer (and what to do with entries that don't need the second bottle for judging).
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results, though I wish I had an entry move on. The feedback was good, and certainly things I agree with the judges on. As other friends have told me, it's really a crapshoot to do well with beers that are so different, and are not traditional styles (however, the opposite could be just as true). I'm hoping to enter a couple into Spirit of Free Beer this year, though I'm not sure which since it requires a 3 bottle limit per entry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Long Aged Homebrews

As I'm finishing up chilling my cream ale wort, I found my last bottle of amber saison I made about 1.5 years ago. It's actually pretty high in abv (7-8% IIRC), so it's certainly age worthy. I used 3724 (Dupont) for yeast, which is known to be very finicky though I did get very good attenuation (recipe is lost however due to my previous pc crashing). The beer is definitely showing some oxidation, and the rich thick maltiness is coming out. Near sherry like notes dominate while the spicy, earthy saison yeast has subsided. I can't say it's in an improved state, but it's an interesting one to taste; obviously better than how the Pliny clone aged though! Anyone else have good/bad results with an aged beer, hopefully something over a year or so?
(as an aside to photog snobs, I know the white balance is off, but I really like the strong blue tint I got to this shot)

Cream Ale V3.0

I'm really digging getting back into brewing since so long of a break. I had just not made time for myself to enjoy a nice relaxing brew day, and certainly enjoying the results. Now that I'm quickly filling up all my fermenters and draining my kegs, it feels good.
This week I'm brewing my third rendition of a cream ale. The first was basically straight out of Jamil's book, with a slight hop substitution. The second I switched up the yeast, hops and grain base (while still using some corn and sugar). This time, it's not a huge change-up, just a way to utilize some hops I have (one variety I don't believe I've ever used). It should follow the Schwartzbier on tap once it's kicked. Looking forward to this one when the warmer weather hits.
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 6.30 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 3.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 20.8 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 81.63 %
1.00 lb Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 8.16 %
1.00 oz Williamette [4.50 %] (75 min) Hops 14.3 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (10 min) Hops 4.9 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (0 min) Hops -
1 Pkgs Ale (DCL Yeast #US05) Yeast-Ale

04/14/2010: Brewed on a gorgeous, warming morning. Mashed at 150-149 for 60min on this one for high fermentability. Meant to add .75# of cane sugar but totally forgot. Gravity at 1.051 is still good, and I'm happy to have my efficiency back up to 70%.
05/10/2010: After really neglecting this beer, I pulled a sample and it's sitting at 1.005. Flavor is extremely mild with really nothing dominating. Basically, what I'm looking for. Hopefully I'll get it kegged up within a week or so.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Imperial Munich IPA

Since I got a little careless with utilizing my cold weather season to brew some more lagers, I had to come up with something to use all the Munich malt I bought for a Doppelbock. Having torn through anything hoppy on tap, I figured I would put together a double IPA that was all Munich malt. (I also have a ton of American hops on hand, so really nothing else to buy but yeast). Because Munich malt isn't as fermentable as Pilsner, or any pale 2-row, I decided to go about 90/10 Munich/sugar to ensure it was dry enough. Coupled with using US05, should be no problem. The only other issue I've just been reading about is the low diastatic power of Munich malt (in essence, that it can be tricky to self convert without the use of a high lintner malt). However, having just finished mashing, and knowing I used Bolander Munich from Briess and completing an iodine test, I'm confident I have some sweet, sugary wort. Aside from that, I had to come up with a solid hop schedule. And I'll admit, I kind of just went the dart board method, and randomly picked them. I know I needed some first wort hops, bittering, flavor and aroma, so just went with the strong points of each hop. Chinook for FWH (not a huge fan of the piney notes, but it's my highest alpha hop and would do well for bittering), Centennial for bittering and flavor (love the citrus), Simcoe for flavor, and Amarillo and Centennial to finish out the aroma for knockout. I haven't determined what I'll do yet for keg hopping but will certainly update. Anyone else out there with success stories for single malt beers?
(started my brew day off with one of the first (carbonated) bottles of the Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy)
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: ~8 gal
Estimated OG: 1.072 SG
Estimated Color: 14.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 124.5 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
15.00 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 90.91 %
1.00 oz Chinook [12.40 %] (75 min) (First Wort Hops 37.8 IBU
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [9.40 %] (75 min) Hops 26.1 IBU
1.00 oz Centennial [11.50 %] (75 min) Hops 31.9 IBU
1.00 oz Centennial [11.50 %] (20 min) Hops 18.5 IBU
0.50 oz Simcoe [12.70 %] (20 min) Hops 10.2 IBU
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [9.40 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.00 oz Centennial [11.50 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.50 lb Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 9.09 %
1.5 Pkgs Ale (DCL Yeast #US05) Yeast-Ale

4/07/10: Brewed this morning in the hot morning sun. No problems other than the horrible efficiency. Due to either incomplete conversion or otherwise, it's something I want to revisit in the future. Will add some keg hops when it comes to that, but will be updated on the blog.
4/21/10: Just pulled the first sample and this is an awesome beer! Huge caramel, toffee, biscuity nose without a huge hop presence. Big bitterness and nice citrusy flavor with a dry finish. Gravity finished at 1.012 so 7.8% abv and 82% attenuation. Hoping to get it kegged up today just need to get some hop bags (pantyhose!) and kill the Cal Common. Wow, I'm happy with this one.
4/21/10: Kegged up with 3oz of Centennial and 2oz of Amarillo. Been drinking fantastically since just carbonated. It's going to go fast!
5/10/10: And it's kicked! Haha, probably my best kegged beer to date.