Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black Color without Roast Flavor

So, going back through some of my earliest posts I came across a technique first used on a schwarzbier back in Jan '09. Many schwarzbiers that Ive tried, either homebrewed or craft, seem to be far too roasty, almost porter-like in their flavor. When I was brewing up mine I really wanted to limit the roast flavors in the beer. Even using dehusked carafa, it can be tricky to keep the roast flavor to a minimum if you really want a black beer.

Now you could try using Sinamar (essentially extract from Carafa) but to my palate it seems to leave an unpleasant taste in the finished beer. So to avoid going that route I decided to try capping the mash with finely ground Carafa Special. I gave this a shot because Ive done a few parti-gyle brew sessions and the ones that I cap the mash with dark grains always seemed to be quite a bit more reserved in the roast department than I would have expected. So I thought what the hell, why not try it out on a schwarzbier, the worst thing that happens is I have a lager porter!

Well it worked amazingly well, the beer turned out absolutely black and gorgeous. In the picture to the left you can see the difference in the color of the runnings before and after the carafa cap. There was barely a hint of roast flavors, the beer tasted like a pilsner but was black! This is a great way to get lots of color into a Black IPA without the roasted flavors. Anyone brewing up any beer that they want a lot of color in without any roast flavors should give it a shot I think you'll be surprised with the results.

Black Color without the Roast Flavor

  1. Formulate your recipe as usual - However, use only Carafa Special as a color malt (make sure you buy the Special, regular Carafa has a much stronger roast character)
  2. Grind the Carafa Special very finely using a coffee grinder (milled grain doesn't impart as much color)
  3. Mash and recirculate as you would normally.
  4. Sprinkel the finely ground carafa on top of the grain bed and sparge as you would normally

Note - Recently it has come to my attention that some people are also trying out cold mashing of the roasted grains to bring out the color without the roast flavors. I've yet to try this method myself, although it does seem it could work well. However, it also requires another step and piece of equipment to clean, whereas capping the mash requires very little extra time or mess (no separate straining of roasted grains is needed)

Beers that Used the Technique

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Techniques and Crazy Ideas

Every so often during a brew session I seem to try out a new technique or idea that I have been thinking about. Sometimes they work very well, others not so much. However, one thing that always seems to happen is that those techniques and ideas seem to get lost as the post I used them in gets a bit older. Even I forget about them occasionally! Which is too bad, because some work really well.

So, I thought I would rehash some of the techniques and ideas that I have done in the past that have produced interesting results. This way I can have a single post just for that idea or technique that wont get lost in the shuffle of things. I'm also hoping that it will be easier for people looking for new techniques or ideas to find. I also plan on linking to all the recipes I try the technique/idea in so that there is some review of how it worked on different beers.

Some of the older techniques will probably only have a short blurb on what/why I did what I did and will heavily reference the original posts. Eventually I hope to give a bit more detail and insight on the post of each technique itself. This first post here is to kinda get the idea out there while I work on a couple short posts about techniques and ideas Ive used in the past. I'm also putting a new link in the menu for techniques that will bring you here.

There's also quite a bit of off the wall, hairbrained, just plain crazy ideas out there as well, so if you have something youve tried that worked out well let me know Id love to link to it!
Monday, November 15, 2010

D'Artagnan - An Oak Aged Homebrew Perry

A lot of things have been conspiring against me doing much in the way of brewing or posting the past two months or so. Somehow I managed to get a stomach parasite, drinking too much water and not enough beer I guess, it really knocked me for a loop and I haven't been able to be lifting and moving full kegs and kettles. So, I decided to finally get on brewing up the first in a line of theme beers/ciders.

A couple months back I came across a couple beers that were brewed by someone over on HB Talk. I really like the idea of the beers, named the The Muse, The Minstrel and The Bard. Now Ive never been one to get too much into naming my beers, but Ive also started having problems keeping straight all the long aging sours/wild beers I make. The simple to the point names can be a bit too close to one another for easy distinction a year or two down the road. So Ive decided to try naming some of my longer aging brews.

Besides being lazy about naming, another reason I never put much effort into coming up with names is that I always felt a bit uninspired. However, I just recently finished reading the entire catalog of one of my favorite authors (Alexandre Dumas) and thought I could do something in tribute to that. For my beginning names, I plan on sticking with relatively well known characters (D'artagnan series) but there are a lot of much better books he wrote as well and I really suggest checking them out.

Anyway, I sat thinking about what I could make for each character for quite awhile. D'artagnan, was actually quite hard, he really didn't like beer.... However he was actually quite fond of an Anjou wine, and while it might be a stretch to take this to a Perry the first thing I think of when someone says Anjou is D'anjou pears, and then perry! To top it off Ive been thinking of making a perry for quite some time now, and Ive become more interested in ciders in general.

The first problem to making a perry is locating the basic ingredients. It took quite awhile to find a source for pear juice, its really not all the common of a thing. The first place I came across it was actually in the infant section of the grocery store. Gerber makes a 100% Pear juice that they sell by the quart, unfortunately there is absolutely no flavor to the juice. Essentially its a slightly sweeter less flavorful apple juice, and can do a number on your stomach if you drink too much ;) Luckily I came across a company called Natures Flavors. They make a wide assortment of natural juices, flavorings and other necessities for cooking/baking. Ive tried a couple of their juices and concentrates now and have been nothing but pleased with them. I will say that they can be a bit slow with getting the juice out to you, but from what Ive gleaned from talking with them its because a lot of what you order is made only when its ordered.

After all my searching I ended up ordering their pear juice concentrate (they also have a pear juice concentrate with added pear extract but I avoided it) After it arrived I added a small bit to a glass and tried it out, I was actually quite surprised with how strong the pear flavor was! In fact it made me a bit unsure of my original yeast choice. Originally I decided to use a yeast that would complement as well as produce its own pear flavor (WY 1388) In the end I just ran with it (starter was already made)

The juice ended up being a lot more concentrated than they indicated. They suggest diluting at a ratio of 3:1, well this ends up with a OG of 1092! (17.4 Brix), so I diluted down with another 1.5gal of RO water to get to a more reasonable 1067, I tend not to enjoy higher gravity ciders as they take too long to smooth out due to the high alc and acidity. However from what I read pear juice contains quite a bit more unfermentable sugar than apple juice does, so I'm hoping that it finishes out somewhere around 1015-1020 (6.8-6.1%abv)

D'Artagnan - An Oak Aged Parry - pun intended
Malt Bill
1 galNatures Flavors Pear Juice Concentrate
4.5 galRO Water
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.5Dark Toast Oak ChipsTBD
0.5Light Toast Oak ChipsTBD
2 tspFermaid K-
YeastBelgian Strong Ale WY1388 (1.5L starter)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Witbier Part Deux - Review

Appearance - A light golden color, moderate head that dissipates leaving significant lacing on the glass; beer is only slightly hazy at this point (a bit aged) but when young had quite a bit of suspended yeast

Aroma - Subdued spiciness, strong malt/bread aroma, hints of orange and coriander in the finish

Taste - Stronger spicy wit esters/phenols than in my previous wit (warmer ferment), nicely malty and bready, sweetish finish with a nice hint of orange lingering on the palate

Mouthfeel - Thick and luxurious, for how thick and velvety the mouthfeel is the beer is deceiving light, lower carbonation, but Ive found I really prefer the style this way, it really lets the flavors shine more than the carbonation

Drinkability - Quick to go down, a tad sweeter than previous attempts, but it seems to fit the stronger yeast profile. The only reason the keg has lasted as long as it has is because Ive been out of town most of the summer.

Notes/Thoughts - Between the two attempts at witbiers Ive posted, its hard to pick a winner; Both had pros and cons, and neither seems better than the other, just a different take on the same style; One thing I did prefer on this version though was the stronger orange aroma and flavor, its still subtle but quite a bit stronger than last time

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