Friday, February 27, 2009

Pictish Ale - Homebrew BIF

Awhile back on Beer Advocate a homebrew beer it forward was planned out by Jettanbass, who did a great job by the way. I just recently received the reviews of the beers I sent out, and thought I'd share some of the feedback on one of the beers. Reviewed by Leftist Coast, who I must thank for the frank feedback on my beers, I love critisism, without it, its much harder to improve

The beer, a Pictish Ale, which is a beer brewed sans hops, with only the addition of heather tips for bitterness and flavor/aroma. It was brewed last summer at the height of the hop shortage, and strangely, to me at least, has been loved by everyone whose tasted it, this has quite surprised me

Pictish Ale

OG 1075: FG 1019: 0 IBU: 80% Eff

5.5 lb Pilsner Malt
3.5 lb White Wheat Malt
2.5 lb Honey
1.5 oz Heather Tips (60min)
2.5 oz Heather Tips (5min)
US05 - Fermented @ 68F

135F - 15min
155F - 60min
Monday, February 23, 2009

Old Fuzz - A Port-Like Brett Old Ale

I’ve wanted to do something really big for awhile now, something that kicks your ass if you sip it too quickly. This idea has been floating around in my head for a few months now after reading Randy Moshers radical brewing.

In the book he talks about a port like beer, but I think he gets some things confused, as he talks about adding sherry flor to a port-like beer, sherry and port are pretty different to me, and port does not use sherry flor. That aside it sounded like a cool idea, I was thinking of giving it a shot, but damn if sherry flor isn’t hard to find, white labs is supposed to have it available year round but I can’t find anywhere that has it.

Something I have been doing lately though is brewing a lot of brett beers, and wyeast has a VSS blend out right now called Old Ale, that’s a blend of sacch and brett; and the brett strain in it sounds like brett lambicus – something I’ve really wanted to play with minus pedio, lacto and aceto. I’m really interested in the pie cherry flavor that they say it produces, I’m hoping to really pull out the pie cherry, and a bit of funk from the brett, toss in some oak, and maybe a bit of buckwheat honey for some molasses type flavors. Now to achieve the high alcohol content, I also plan on fortifying this, I hope to split it into two smaller batches after the primary, one that I will fortify and bottle still, and one that I bottle condition

I plan on mashing high to provide a good deal of sweetness to the fortified version, I’m hoping the brett doesn’t take the FG too low, a really big, really dry funky beer doesn’t sound the greatest to me, but if they do I may just add honey and fortify the whole batch, only time will tell I guess

Old Fuzz – A Port-like Brett Old Ale

3gal:1120: 41IBU

14 lbs Marris Otter
1 lbs Buckwheat Honey - added to secondary

1.00 oz Mt Hood (60min)
0.25 oz Zeus (60min)

Wyeast Old Ale 9097

At bottling I will decide what type of hard liquor I plan on fortifying with, but the still version will end up in the 20% range when is all said and done. I recirculated this time for about 25minutes prior to sparging, a bit longer than I normally do, but I had just finished the return side of my in the works brew system, The pic to the right does not do the wort justice, you could read a newspaper through it if you wanted!

Update 3/22/09 - Bottling, Fortifying & Sweetening
Fortified Version Review - 1/21/2012
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Berliner Weisse First Tasting

So I finally got around to tasting the weisse I brewed ~2months ago. Grabbed one of the 12oz I did for tasting along the way - don't wanna waste a bomber if its not peaking. I did the tasting straight up, as well as with some homemade raspberry syrup. Now onto the review......

Appearance - Very pale, slight haze(lacto is fluffy) hopefully it will compact with age, very bubbly, thin long lasting head

Aroma - wheat, hint of some funkiness

Taste - Very wheaty, nice caramelization from the decoction you can really taste the difference it makes in a light beer like this, sourness is very subtle and not quite what I was hoping for

Mouthfeel - Very light, but the huge amount of carbonation makes up for it

Drinkability - A good beer, still far too green, a bit wheaty which I hope will fade as it ages, sourness is too subtle for my tastes but still there, next time I'm going to not hop this at all because the wyeast/whitelabs lacto is way too intolerant of IBU's, Overall this is something thats very easy to drink, and will be great when the summer rolls around, I preferred it without syrup, but SWMBO liked the syrup addition, little too sweet for my tastes though

Notes/Thoughts - Next time I plan on letting the lacto take ahold better before pitching the sacch, and dropping the hops from essentially nonexistent to none, this is due to the lacto strain wyeast/whitelabs offer, it is very sensitive to iso-acids, hopefully doing all of this will make it a bit more sour. I like the gravity where it is, but I could see myself bumping this up a bit making the body a bit more substantial, but we'll see this as this ones still very green....

Brewday 12/23/08 - Recipe & Notes

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Candy Sugar Update

So I got some time to do the all sucrose version of the
candy sugar today. Everything was done the same as last time, same boil temp, time, same amount of sugar, except that it was all sucrose. On to the review....

TypeAll SucroseSucrose/Fructose
ColorAmberDark Amber
TasteBurnt Marshmallows, ToffeeBurt Marshmallows (stronger),Toffee, Fruity, Dark Fruit, a bit sweeter
SmellBurnt MarshmallowsBurnt Marshmallows, Fruity

The differences between the two weren’t all that great, although the fructose version was much fruitier. Comparing the fructose granules to the table sugar, the fructose tasted very fruity anyway. I'm not sure what the differences will be in a finished beer that will be the next step. Although I won’t get to do much with it until the pineapple ciders are finished, or I pony up and buy some more 1gal jugs. More updates to come!

Dark Candy Sugar / Caramel - Recipe & Procedure
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dark Candy Sugar / Caramel

In preparation for an upcoming brew, I am making some homemade caramel. It is pretty easy to come by Belgian candy syrup now, but it is still fairly expensive for something that is essentially just sugar. Many of the recipes out there for making this at home require citric acid; they have you add the acid to help split sucrose (table sugar) into its monomers, fructose and glucose. This addition however, is not necessary; sucrose will split on its own to fructose and glucose with only the addition of heat. During the process sucrose is being hydrolyzed, essentially a molecule of water is added to each molecule of sucrose, resulting in a splitting of the sucrose.

Now I’ve read in far too many homebrew forum posts that this is a necessary step, when using table sugar, to ensure you don’t produce cidery flavors in your brew; the reason they state, is that only inverted sugar (fructose + glucose), and not sucrose, is easy for the yeast to eat, and that forcing the yeast to break apart the sucrose stresses the yeast resulting in undesirable byproducts.
Well this is just not true; breaking down and metabolizing sugars is why yeast are here! They can express enzymes that break the sugars apart, and in no way does this stress the yeast. The real culprit of the cidery flavors these people are experiencing is improper fermentation temperatures. When adding a simple sugar such as sucrose to wort, you are adding a very easily digestible food source that causes a very rapid growth of yeast dramatically raising the temperature of the fermenting wort. But many times this rapid rise in temp is not noticed/measure or is ignored; instead the sugar is blamed, further propagating this myth. Many Belgian beers are produced with 20% or more sugar, would you call Westmalle or Karmeliet Trippels cidery??

While the splitting of sucrose into fructose and glucose is not important in the production of possible off flavors, it is essential for the caramelization reactions. Earlier I said that water is added to the sucrose molecule splitting it, during the caramelization, molecules of water are removed from both fructose and glucose. During the caramelization, fructose is the more likely of the two to caramelize. This is because the caramelization temp of fructose is 230F, while glucose is 320F, and that’s quite a difference, you can easily get it that high at home, but its tricky to not burn the sugar when doing so.

Knowing that fructose is the will caramelize much faster than glucose, has always been in the back of my mind, but a pure source of fructose has eluded me. Then the other day, at a local farmers market, I noticed they had fructose granules in a bulk bin and the bulb went off in my head. I have made caramel before, and it turned out ok, but I never was able to produce the extremely pronounced flavors I expected. This time with a large added amount of fructose I hope to produce an extremely robust caramelized flavor. I plan on making an all table sugar version in the next few days and tasting each side by side, to see if there is a flavor difference, and Ill post the results

Homemade Caramel

0.5 lb Sucrose (Table Sugar)
0.5 lb Fructose Granules
0.5 C Water

Heat the mixture over high heat until the solution begins to boil
When boiling begins, reduce heat to medium and hold at ~260F, adding water to maintain temp
When you just about reach your desired color, raise to hard crack (340F), then cool

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