Friday, November 20, 2009

Hot Wing Beer? FTW

So for the first installment of some pretty weird 1gal batches I will be putting together a hot wing beer. A hot wing beer you say? Yes, and I am using Franks Red Hot Sauce, vinegar, and butter in the batch. Whoa whoa whoa butter?!?! Fats are a big no no in beer, well technically fats are but I wont really be using actual butter fat in the beer. I will be using a technique called fat washing on the butter.

Fat washing allows you to extract the strong flavors out of flavorful fats/oils and use them in things like beer where lipids are a big no no. Basically what you do is mix a flavorful fat/oil like butter or sesame oil with alcohol. You then let the the mixture settle, and two layers will form. Take this and toss it in the freezer for a couple hours, the fats will freeze the alcohol will not. Drain off the alcohol and you'll have liqueur flavored like whatever oil/fat you used. From my experience with this I recommend freezing two or three times to make sure no fat makes it into the final product.

When I first started playing with the technique I began by using Everclear and the resulting extractions tasted just like the original oil, and generally were very clear. Unfortunately this time around I didn't have any Everclear handy so I went with Vodka. It shouldn't matter too much, but I will probably pick up some additional compounds due to the water in vodka (things that aren't very alcohol soluble). From my experiences making homemade vanilla extract I expected some color contribution from the butter due to the water soluble compounds (with vanilla the vodka is brown, whereas everclear extraction is yellow) and that's exactly what I got.

To make my butter extraction I took ~6-8tbsp of butter and melted it in the microwave. I allowed this to slightly cool and then added 2-3oz of vodka. I shook the mixture several times over the course of an hour or so, and then left the mix to separate. After ~30min it had separated pretty well so I tossed it in the freezer. The next morning I pulled it out, poked two holes in the fat and let the vodka drain out. It was very milky white and smelled just like butter! Of course I had to try it, and well that was probably one of the most disgusting experiences of my life...don't expect butter flavored vodka on grocery store shelves anytime soon. It was like eating melted butter and doing a shot of vodka, ugh. But this was what I was shooting for, nobody said it would be good. ......

To make the rest of the beer I will be using a pils extract base and hopping very low. After fermentation completes Franks Red Hot and vinegar will be added and allowed to ferment out. Finally when bottling the butter will be added to taste. Anybody up for some wings?

Hot Wing Beer
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
0.70Pilsner Extract (Briess)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.1Simcoe (13.2%)10
Amt (oz)NameAdded
TBDFranks Red Hot SauceSecondary
2-3 DashesMalt VinegarBottling
TBDButter ExtractionBottling
Yeast2nd Gen Nottingham
0.75gal BatchOG1041
Eff - NAIBU10
0.75bal BoilFG

Upcoming Batch - Ranch or Bleu Cheese Beer

Off the Wall 1gal Batches - Got any ideas?

Lately I haven't been doing much off the wall stuff with my brewing. Now while I still really enjoy brewing up a nice pale ale, a hefe, IPA, or whatever else you would want to brew, its just not as fun as brewing up something really crazy. Not to sound arrogant, but I think Ive gotten to the point in my brewing that just about whatever I make it will turn out to be a pretty solid beer. There just isn't that feeling of nervous excitement and anxiety anymore when I'm about to try my latest batch. I just dont worry anymore....Is it gonna be good? Is it gonna be a drain pour? Will anyone else like it? I guess I just miss that moment when I popped open a bottle eager to find out, and it turned out far better than I could've hoped.

This indifference hadn't really come to a head until a couple of recent threads on BA got me really thinking about some crazy beers to consider. In one of the threads a hot wing beer is mentioned, and half-jokingly a bleu cheese beer is suggested to pair with it.......I loved both ideas! I don't think these beers will turn out to be everyday or even every month drinkers, and yah its a bit gimmicky but I think it will be a lot of fun watching people try these beers out. I can't wait to see someones face when they are eating hot wings and chasing it with a ranch or bleu cheese beer! Ive really been missing that excitement in my brewing and these ideas have really revitalized my passion for brewing.

After the initial shock of actually considering a hot wing beer faded and I sat there sipping on an English Pale Ale(review to come soon), the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of doing a series of 1gal batches that are really out there. Things that no one else has tried, or even thought about trying, batches that will really try my brewing technique and creativity. In addition to the hot wing beer Ive got at least one more idea that I plan on brewing, but I'm open to trying out just about anything at this point. So if you have a crazy weird way out there idea for a beer, and your just not insane enough to try it yourself drop me a line and maybe I can brew it up for you, Id even send you one to try yourself!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soured Wit/Gose with Cherries Review

Appearance - Very red, reminiscent of a slightly pale strawberry soda, Moderate amount of head that dissipates to a thin ring around the glass. Small amounts of lacing on the glass, slightly hazy from yeast that was swirled before pouring.

Aroma - First whiff is very sweet and bready, followed by a strong phenolic finish with cherries throughout. I am actually surprised by how strong the spicy phenolic aroma is.

Taste - The beer is mildly tart with a strong cherry flavor. Just like it smells there is a nice phenolic note that is reminiscent of a witbier. Hops are non-existent, and the beer is not really dry but by no means is it sweet. Alcohol is very hidden. The version with salt added seems to have a much brighter cherry character and has a bit rounder flavor. Coriander is extremely sublte.

Mouthfeel - Highly carbonated, a bit prickly on the tongue, medium-low body that really feels bigger than it is from the high carbonation. Salt version feels slicker and has slightly more body.

Drinkability - Very easy to drink, has a soda-like quality from the high carbonation and strong cherry flavor, but unlike soda it doesn't become cloying and too sweet after more than one. The salted version is a much richer beer and has more of a dessert quality to it, it really is remarkable how different the two beers are. This beer is definately not a session type beer, the flavors are a bit too strong, but it is a nice after dinner drink.

Notes/Thoughts - I'm surprised by how much of a difference there is in the bottles that had salt added. In fact I wish I had added salt to more of the bottles, I haven't tried yet but plan on adding some salt to the glass to see if I can get a similar effect. Initially I was a bit disappointed that the beer didn't turn out a bit more tart, but after adding some lactic acid to the glass I was surprised how all of the subtleties in the beer were overpowered.

If I do the beer again I think I will do the following

1. Cut back on the wheat and add some oats
2. Add a touch of a light crystal malt to help round out the cherry flavor
3. Add salt to all of the bottles!
4. Up the amount of coriander used to emphasize its fruit flavors

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Neo-Berliner Weiss

So, after my last berliner weiss didn't turn out nice and sour like I was hoping, I decided to brew up another. The problem with the previous batch was that the yeast culture I had received from Al on BBB had sat in the Arizona heat for ~12hrs in my mailbox, and while it fermented nicely there was next to no sourness well, that was until the rhubarb was added. Luckily Al was kind enough to send out another vial of his Berliner blend, this time when it wasn't as hot as Hades.

While I was very appreciative of Al sending out another vial of yeast/lacto, I wasn't very keen on having another batch of Berliner sitting around (Ive got ~5gal in bottles still), so I thought I'd change up the malt bill a bit to keep things slightly more interesting.

In the Berliners I've brewed the wheat flavor is always very strong, and while it does fade it takes a considerable amount of time. Now your probably saying, this is a wheat beer! why all the complaining? I'm not! I just wanted something a bit different, something that would set it apart from all the other berliners Ive brewed. So I decided to use a nearly all pils malt bill with a bit of acid malt thrown in (I split the batch and wanted that in for the other beer). I pitched the lacto/yeast mix when the wort cooled to ~70F and I'm letting the temp fall a bit. Thankfully this time around the starter smelled nice and sour, so Ive got a lot of hope for this one turning out nicely. I'm hoping the lacto will go to town on this beer because Ive promised some of the culture to a buddy whose brewing up a Lingonberry Sour next weekend.

It took some time but I finally brought him over to the dark side aka sour brewing. So this weekend he's gonna try his first sour beer, and while a lacto beer is pretty tame as far as wild brewing go, it is a baby step in the right direction. It would be nice to have another sour brewer around, it can be eye opening to try someones beers whose influences are leading them down a slightly different path than your own.

Neo-Berliner Weiss

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
0.25Acid Malt
Amt (grams)TypeTime (min)
5Simcoe (12.9%)10
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastAl B's Berliner Blend
2gal+0.5gal top upOG1042
85% effIBU6
2.5gal BoilFG
Notes: 0.5 gal of top up water was used to dilute the OG down to suitable levels for a berliner, higher than normal mash temp was used because the wort was split between a number of on-going projects, and this one was the lowest priority, I guess I'll find out in a couple weeks if that's gonna be a deal breaker

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Caramelized Apple Cider

So, I was about to brew up another batch of apple cider for next year, and I started reading about some other peoples attempts at cider. I hadn't really thought about it, because I like a very dry cider, but a lot of people like their cider a bit sweeter. I'm not big on artificial sweeteners, don't really like the flavor of stevia, and I didn't want to bottle off of a keg. That's when I remembered a post by the madfermentationist about blending some of his eis-cider with a caramel cider from SteveG on BBB.

It seems Steve's cider turned out far too sweet for his liking, so they blended the two making something that was better than either alone. There wasn't too much info on Mike's blog about Steve's cider so I started digging on BBB. I found a thread where Steve described his entire process. Essentially he had too much cider on his hands so he did a ~ 10:1 reduction, added this syrup to another cider reduction (16qt boiled down to 9qt) and fermented this out. Overall he used 6.5gal of juice and ended up with 2.25gal in his fermentor! I really like caramelized sugars, wort, etc, the flavors are always amazing and they really add depth to a brew. In fact in many of my beers I try to boil down a bit of the first runnings into a thick syrup that gets added back into the rest of the wort.

Now I'm not as lucky as Steve to have an apple tree in my yard, so I went the normal route and bought some Treetop apple juice at the grocery store. I then took 1.5gal of the juice and boiled it down to about 16oz. The syrup tasted amazing, the apple flavor was very strong and while sweet it was quite tart. The color difference was amazing, it started a typical golden apple juice color and ended up being a beautiful red. I added back enough water to get the syrup back to 0.5gal. This was added to another 0.5gal of straight juice. I will ferment this out, and as activity dies down I will add more juice, until I reach a total batch size of 2.5gal. Adding the juice incrementally like this I believe helps to preserve more of the delicate apple flavor. Hopefully this method will give me a nice cider that has a bit of residual sweetness to balance the alcohol.

Caramelized Apple Cider

3.5 gal Apple Juice
1.0 tsp Fermaid K
Nottingham Yeast

1. Boil 1.5gal of Juice down to ~16oz
2. Add water to the syrup to bring volume back to 0.5gal
3. Boil Fermaid K in a small amount of water and add to syrup
4. Chill reconstituted syrup
5. Mix reconstituted syrup with 0.5gal of juice and put in fermentor
6. Ferment out with Nottingham
7. Add an additional 0.5gal bottle of juice each time fermentation dies down until you get to 2.5gal in the fermentor.

2.5gal: OG 1072: FG 1008

Just a tid bit of extra info, TreeTop apple juice has an OG of 1.052

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