Friday, April 22, 2011

Sauerkraut Gose - Full Batch Trial

In what seems like forever ago, I brewed up a simple extract 1gal gosebier to test the waters of my insanity. I had been thinking and reading a lot about the origins of gosebiers and it seemed to me that a plausible explanation for such an odd ball German beer was an accident. I thought at the time, and still do, that an accidental switching of barrel lees could have resulted in the first gosebier. Now whether or not this really happened or if instead it was due to the sanitation processes of the time, fermenting a gose with the dregs of pickles and sauerkraut sound like an interesting idea.

Well I ended up giving it a go with a small batch to see if this would be a terrible or amazing idea. I didn't have much to loose, after all it was only 1gal of wort. So back in September of last year I tossed in the lees from a homemade batch of sauerkraut. Luckily within a day or so the beer was vigorously fermenting away and a nicely tart aroma was burping out of the airlock! I was pretty excited, but with most of my brewing I stashed it away to give it time to really develop. Every now and then I would take a look at it, and after a month or so it developed a very thin pellicle. Fast forward to a couple days ago when I decided it was finally time to bottle it up and go full scale if it tasted good.

I was a bit nervous about how the flavor would come out. Would it be terrible? Too salty? Would it taste like pickle juice? To my surprise it was actually very good! It was nicely tart, somehow extremely clean tasting with just a wisp of coriander. This was what I was hoping for, but not what I expected. The mouthfeel was nicely slick and full feeling, and the FG was 1014. A bit low AA (~67%) but in line with some of the attenuation levels for beers in the region with similar profiles. (Uytzet, peeterman, etc). I bottled it up with a bit of sugar, I'm a bit worried about it carbonating though, as my attempts to wake up the yeast cake didn't seem to do much. Just to be safe I plan on giving it plenty of time in the bottle and may even warm it up a bit.

So, with the trial batch having worked out so well I decided to go full scale. I took the cake from the 1gal and added wort over the course of a week to it, hoping to get it to start up again. Unfortunately I didn't notice much in the way of activity by the time I had cooled the wort for the full batch. Still I decided to pitch it in anyway and see what happened. Two days past before really anything happened, worried I added some of the lees from a recent batch of pickles to get things going. Within 24hrs the beer was fermenting wildly, now I don't know if this was from the pickles or from the cake, either way though I have hope it will turn out the same, but only time will tell.

Eventually I plan to split the batch, half being bottled straight, and half getting racked onto some cherries. I'm hoping to recreate something similar to my Gose with cherries from a couple years ago. I would have like to made that beer with dregs from Calabaza Blanca, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find a bottle anywhere.

Sauer Gosebier
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
4.0White Wheat
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.50Mt Rainier (6.8%)60
Amt (gm)TypeTime
28Indian CorianderKO
Mash Schedule
170F1.75qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastFermented Sauerkraut Culture
89% effIBU11
6.5gal BoilFG1004

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Brett L Malty Brown - A Review

Appearance - Brownish Red, very clear at this point with compact lees in the bottle. Thin head that dissipates leaving small amounts of lacing. Ruby highlights when held up to light, kind of reminds me of slightly lighter Rodenbach in color

Aroma - Malty with a subdued bretty presence, its not barnyard funky though its kind of like fermenting fruit and hints of black cherry

Taste - Malty up front with a solid but not over the top phenolic brett flavor. The beer is very fruity but its kind of hard to put your finger on one type of fruit in particular its kind of like opening up a can of fruit cocktail and eating it all at once, the finish is phenolic and has a very distinctive Brett L taste. Its something that's not the easiest to describe but once you taste it you will never forget the flavor. Overall for a Brett beer this one has only hints of the brettiness that the WY Brux puts out and a ton of fruity flavors.

Mouthfeel - Medium body because the beer finished fairly malty, carbonation is moderately high and tickles the tongue as your drink.

Drinkability - I really enjoy this beer and while I brew Brux beers more often I think I prefer this beer over the others. Its something that you can grab and drink any time, as it pairs much better with food and snacks than other brett beers Ive had. I do think though that a tiny bit of acid in this beer really makes the fruitiness pop out at you. Luckily I blended a portion of this beer at bottling with some wort that I soured with JP dregs and a review of that will be coming soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dark Belgian Table Beer and a Rant

I'm still getting ready for my summer brewing hiatus and brewing like crazy. I decided that I wasn't quite done with the Ardennes yeast I had from my most recent table beer and thought it could be interesting to rework the recipe a bit. I decided that I wanted something a bit darker, but not roasty. I was a bit bored prior to brewing the beer so I thought Id post the recipe over on BA for some opinions, not that I was planning on changing the recipe, but thought that it could be interesting to hear what people thought.

Lets just say I think there are too many "experts" on brewing Belgian beers. Style guidelines were thrown around, ideas about maltiness, etc, etc. I really didn't know there was a guideline for a table beer, let alone a real one for most other Belgians. Seems to me just about any of the styles varies from dark to light, sweet to dry, bitter to malty, basically there really isn't a defining character other than a strong yeast presence. I also think that lately there tends to be a lot of "expert" opinions from people who read a few lines from Mosher, Jamil, Palmer, etc. Who while I would tend to think are good brewers, I have to disagree with many of the things they say (Palmer less so that the others). But reading a good brewing book and being an experienced, good brewer who can offer insightful information are two totally different things.

At the end of the thread I posted I decided that I needed to clarify my intentions for the beer and put straight some thoughts about IBU/OG ratios. I pretty much copied and pasted my last post in the thread below. I think it sums up my intentions for this beer pretty well, and includes a link to a much better way to think about the balance of a beer (hint its not and IBU/OG ratio). I don't mean to go on a long rant but for one reason or another this sorta struck a cord with me, but please let me know if I'm being crazy, everyone needs a reality check from time to time.....

Id say ~80% of the beers I brew are Belgians, and I'm getting a bit tired with the let the yeast shine or let the syrup flavor the beer, Ive been there and done that several times over, however what you don't ever see is a Belgian beer with a strongly flavored base malt being used (pils alone has gotten kinda boring for me, as has pils + syrup)

I've found that WY3522 (Ardennes aka Achouffe) really accentuates malt profiles in beers, so I thought it would be a natural pair for using a bit more robustly flavored base malt like Maris Otter. However, I was worried that it could be too thick so I added in the D2 syrup, which is very fermentable and will help to lower the FG a bit all the while adding some chocolatey notes of its own. The syrup will also help the beer distinguish itself from other table beers Ive brewed in the past. Im hoping it will have a nice dark fruit/chocolatey flavor from the syrup but will not be roasty, I also plan it to be a bit more malt driven than hoppy as Ive done in the past.

As far as the IBU's go, I think this beer will be quite balanced. I really think that the use of the IBU/OG ratio on its own a a bit misleading and Ive often said this. However I do believe there are better ways out there one in particular is using the anticipated FG and IBU's in the recipe. I think is a much better approach to understanding beer balance, a better description is here. Now this isn't without its own faults as it is a bit tricky accurately predicting a FG, but if your careful when using whatever brewing program you use, its possible to get close (e.g. do not include lactose etc in the recipe for FG calculations)

Using the referenced technique, for this beer Im expecting it to finish around 1.009 or lower, using the guidelines for sweetness in the link(and actual #'s from beersmith) I end up with

RTE:15.3 (real terminal extract)
AA: 77%

Bittering Value = 1.15 (BV = 1.0 = a perfectly balanced beer)

A saison has a BV value of 1.16 (using bjcp #'s), so I don't think this will end up very sweet by any means, contrary to what many have said. I think in general the notion of IBU/OG ratio for determining beer balance is a bit out of date, and the fact that many brewing programs report this ratio gives it a credence it doesn't deserve.

Black Friar - Dark Belgian Table Beer
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.5Marris Otter
1.0D2 Dark Candi Syrup
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.5Williamette (4.5%)60
Mash Schedule
170F2.2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastArdennes WY3522 (yeast cake)
86% effIBU23
7gal BoilFG

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Buckwheat Braggot - Second Tasting

Appearance - Light brown with dark orange highlights, slightly hazy with a thin head that is gone almost as fast as it appears, small amounts of lacing as you drink

Aroma - Honey! The honey is very strong now in the nose, still earthy and nutty but the aroma is very subdued compared to the first tasting. There is also a very small hint of alcohol in the finish

Taste - Very strong honey flavor, much of the buckwheat earthiness has faded which is a bit of a disappointment. Tends to be fairly sweet tasting, the bitterness is definitely there but very low at this point. Still a bit of alcoholic warmth in the finish but there should be with how strong it is (11.5%)

Mouthfeel - Very creamy and slick feeling, carbonation is relatively low but shows itself just as you swallow.

Drinkability - I think I'm enjoying this braggot much more now that its aged a bit. I still think it would pair well with a meat dish, but now I think something like roasted lamb would really play well with the earthy notes of the buckwheat honey

Notes/Thoughts - It has changed a bit, and the changes aren't really good or bad. I really enjoy how flavors evolve through time in bigger beers, and this one has been a please to have around. Its not an everyday drinker due to the strength but if anything it really showed me a new great way to add a thick creamy mouthfeel to just about any type of beer/braggot, Buckwheat!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hoppy Fragrant Wheat

I don't know exactly why this sounded so good to me but it really did when I threw the recipe together. Ive been brewing a lot of beers recently to get ready for my normal summer brewing hiatus (way too hot during June-Sept to brew). I was thinking about all the beers Ive either brewed or will brew to have on tap this summer and I really didn't have one with a stronger hop presence. Most all of the beers Ive brewed or have planned are dominated by the yeast profile. Now while they all sound really good individually, drinking too much of one type of beer profile and my palate gets a bit bored, so I thought this would be a good beer to change it up a bit this summer.

During the summer I really like keeping the gravity down to no higher than mid 1040's. I also really like the creamy wheat/oat bodied beers as they really are refreshing on a hot day. Now I normally don't really like wheat malt, I find it to be a bit strong for my taste in most beers (Hefs are an exception), so I avoid it, and generally use unmalted wheat. However in this beer I really thought that just a hint of wheat malt could really provide some depth of flavor, so I added in a bit and rounded it out with some spelt berries for added body.

I must also say that the name of the beer might be a bit misleading. It really isn't supposed to be that bitter, I really wanted to highlight the hoppy aromas in this beer. I guess the difference between this beer and the others Ive planned is that the hop aroma and flavor will be the defining characteristic with a very clean yeast profile. Im also playing with a new hop to me, Pacific Gem. Ive never used them before but Ive heard very good things. I'm particularly interested in the blackberry flavor that its supposed to have as well as the hints of oak its said to give off. Both are flavors that I see melding well in a lighter summer style beer.

Basically what I'm hoping for is that this beer is sort of akin to an American version of a Belgian Enkel or table beer. Much more hop presence, restrained bitterness, cleaner yeast profile, but a big creamy refreshing body.

Hoppy Fragrant Wheat

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.5White Wheat
1.0Spelt Berries
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Mt Rainier (6.8%)60
0.5Pacific Gem (14%)20
0.5Pacific Gem (14%)5
1.0Pacific Gem (14%)0
Mash Schedule
170F1.9qt/lb15min - vorlauf
87% effIBU22
7gal BoilFG1012

Review - 8/27/2011

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