Saturday, December 24, 2011

Arizona Homestead Apple Cider

Ive really been diving into cider recently, and in my hunt for interesting flavors and apples I was able to source some very interesting local Arizona apples. Even though I'm very close to downtown, the part of Phoenix I live in is actually fairly rural, and horse ranches, cotton fields, and the mountains surround me on all sides. It wasn't until recently though that I realized what a boon that could be for me.

I have been endlessly hunting apple varieties to use in the cider experiment. Essentially what I am trying to do is get a handle on the flavors of many different types of fermented apple juices. I figure that when you understand each component it makes blending much easier. Strangely I really haven't been able to find anything in the way of detailed descriptions of flavors and aromas of different apple varieties once they are fermented.

Anyway, in my hunt for apples I came across a horse ranch less than 4blocks from my house that was selling local apples. These weren't just any apples though. They were from an old homestead in the mountains in eastern Arizona dating back to the late 1800's!  Talking with the owners, they believed the apples were golden delicious, and I must say that they do bear a strong resemblance to that type of apple. However the dates just didn't match up. Golden delicious apples didn't become a commercially developed variety until around 1915-1920. Grimes golden on the other hand was very prominent in the late 1800's and into the early 1920's. The strong resemblance for these apples to Golden Delicious is no coincidence either, as Grimes golden is a parent of golden delicious.

The final nail in the coffin that really makes me think that these are Grimes is the flavor. These apples are richer and have a hint of spiciness that Ive never tasted in Golden Delicious.

A couple more great things about these apples are that they are completely organic and no fertilizers were used on them. When apples are grown without any type of fertilizers the resulting juice is very low in nitrogen. The low nitrogen in the juice leads to a very long, very slow fermentation which helps to preserve apple flavors. This can also lead to a cider that ends up slightly sweet. If your careful about your process you can also bottle the cider in a way perfected by the French to produce a naturally sweet, carbonated cider. Some of my favorite examples of cider come from Normandy and use low N apples or a process called keeving that achieve the same results.

Now I'm not going to go that route, and I wont probably rack very often either (soon I will attempt that though) For now I'll be happy with just the normally fermented juice.

Arizona Homestead Cider
Amt (lbs)Type
52Grimes Golden? Apples (Haldi Farms)
5/8tspSodium Metabisulfate
YeastWLP775 English Cider (2L starter)
Notes: Yeast was added ~24hrs after sulfiting, fermentation took off rather slowly and has continued very slowly, a small nutrient addition ~1/2tsp was added 2days into fermentation.  Its been happily bubbling away at about 60F

Review - 2/3/2013 - Comparison with Gravenstein and Granny Smith Varietals

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kottbusser - Review

Appearance - A very hazy golden yellow, with a dense slightly off-white head (at first) that dissipates to nice lacing in the glass.

Aroma - Cloves! hints of banana, and a floral honey quality, not too much treacle in the nose unless your really really looking for it. Hops are very restrained as they should be

Taste - Just like a hefeweizen, with hints of oats and treacle, and a nice sweet honey-like finish. The cloves are definitely dominating in this beer, and I really like it that way. The treacle and honey provide additional layers of complexity to the beer and really round out the flavors. Its really great with a twist of lemon or orange in the glass, as the acidity really makes all of the flavors pop

Mouthfeel - This one has some legs on it. It is very milk-shake like due to the grain bill essentially being that of a witbier. Medium carbonation

Notes/Thoughts - This time I think I made something much better than my first attempt at a kotbusser. The change in yeast strain and different fermentation temps (cooler) really helped to blend the malt and phenolics better. I ended up adding the treacle and honey just before I kegged, and at first they seemed to clash with the beer. A few weeks in the keg and everything melded quite a bit.

Its not everyday you taste a hefeweizen with a substantial milk shake like body, but it really fits the cooler days in the fall/winter. Basically this is a heartier version of what you like to have during the hot summer months.

Brewday - Recipe & Notes - 11/5/2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011

Brown Porter Brewed with Korean Roasted Barley Tea

I should start with the fact that this beer ended up entirely different than I had originally intended. I was planning to squeeze in a nice brown porter over the weekend and really wanted to make something along the lines of the Toasty English Pale I brewed up a month or so ago. I really liked the subtle roasty notes that the coffee malt lent to the beer and thought that a slightly darker and maltier base would work well in a porter. However when I finally got around to digging through all of my specialty grains I realized that I didn't have any coffee malt or special roast, so I was a bit limited with what I could do.

Luckily though, earlier in the summer during one of my trips to a large ethnic grocery store here in town, I picked up something I had planned on using in a beer. A common summer and winter drink in Korea and other parts of Asia is roasted barley tea, or Boricha. To me Boricha is a very nice, nutty coffee alternative for cold days during the winter, or chilled during the summer. Essentially it's roasted barley, but it's not quite as dark as you would typically think. Boricha is probably somewhere around, and I'm purely guessing here, 165L. This is from eye-balling it and thinking about the recent coffee malt I used, which is roughly the same lovibond.

My options were now, use the Boricha in a porter-ish beer or just not brew. I think we all know the route I took. I had really wanted to try using this in a beer anyway, and this seemed to be a perfect opportunity. To balance out the flavor I added a bit of crystal malt, which I generally shy away from. I was worried though that the boricha might need a bit of sweetness to round out its nutty and coffee like flavors when it is in beer form. Finally to make sure that I had a beer that would actually be dark enough to be considered a porter I tossed in a tiny bit of Carafa III to get it dark enough.

Boricha Brown Porter #2
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
8.0Marris Otter (Muntons)
0.75Boricha Roasted Barley Tea
0.75Crystal 10L
3.0 ozCarafa III
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.00Sterling (7.9%)60
Mash Schedule
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastThames Valley WY1275
81% effIBU26
6.5gal BoilFG

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Toasty English Pale - Review

Appearance - Opaque light brown, very cloudy even after some time in the kegerator, 2 finger head that leaves very sticky lacing down the glass

Aroma - Like you would expect from any EPA, bready, slightly sweetish malty nose with a bit of caramel. Subtle earthy hoppiness rounds out the nose

Taste - Very balanced between the malt and hops with a lingering bitter finish. The beer has the great flavors you expect from a hefty portion of Marris otter, but the normal sweet malty taste is cut by a nice roasty flavor (the coffee malt). It doesn't taste at all like coffee malt though, it reminds me a lot of special roast, with out the tangy sour bread flavor. The roast flavor blends perfectly with the sweet bready flavors and balances them very well.

Mouthfeel - Silky and smooth, with medium-low carbonation

Drinkability - A very good EPA, and fairly distinctive from the hint of roast. The roasted edge cuts the sweetness every so slightly and makes it very easy to drink a lot of these.

Notes/Thoughts - I was unsure of what I'd get from the coffee malt in this beer when I put together the malt bill. Now that I've tried it I am very happy with the results. In many of my EPA's I like to use Special roast for its hint of roast, and the tangy sourbread flavors, coffee malt IMO is a slightly stronger special roast without the sourbread taste. I think its going to get a lot of use in the future....

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