Friday, January 30, 2015

La Calamité (Sour Brown Ale) -- Brew Day

So, here's to hoping my wife doesn't read this one!

Sometimes, when all you want to do is have a nice, leisurely night at home brewing some sour beer when your wife is out of town things can go pretty wrong.  Not wrong in a beer sense, but more in a "fuck, if my wife saw this she'd never let me brew in the kitchen again" sense.  More on this later.

I've been continuing to build out my sour beer pipeline in order to make the patience required for these beers a little easier on myself.  It's really nice having a new one roll off every 2-3 months...the hard part is waiting that 12-18 months before the first one is packaged and ready to go.

My plan this time was to brew a sour brown ale (really almost in between a Flemish Red and and Oud Bruin).  The batches of sours I have going and the options for fruiting a beer like this really open the door for a lot of interesting combinations when this guy finally matures.  I was particularly excited for this batch as this was the first time I've been able to deploy some of the souring bugs from Al Buck's East Coast Yeast.

The grain bill for this batch fell roughly in line with what Jay Goodwin from The Rare Barrel indicated is their Flemish Red-inspired recipe when he was hosting an episode of The Sour Hour on the Brewing Network.  I decided to add just a touch more Carafa to darken it up a little bit more.  As far as hops go, I just added a touch of Willamette to keep the IBUs around 4 to ensure some decent souring from the Lactobacillus in the blend.  This batch did not get a starter as most blended culture producers do not advocate this in order to not throw the blend out of whack.

Now, on to the good part.  My chilling setup involves using a copper immersion chiller whereby I drape the input hose through my kitchen window to hook up to a garden hose on my pack patio.  The output of the chiller then goes through a vinyl tube into my kitchen sink.  Easy enough.

Except, I'm a moron.  This time, I didn't make any attempt to acknowledge the position of the output hose in my kitchen sink and did not realize that it was in fact pointing out of my sink and eerily towards my countertop.  Thus, upon going outside and turning my garden house on full blast -- followed my some ill-timed tinkering with some shit outside -- I returned to my kitchen to find my countertop covered with water, the output hose shooting said water dramatically close to my new laptop which then had the fortuitous path of draining into my kitchen drawers.  Thus, this beer will be known as La Calamité.

Let's hope his beer turns out better than the brew day would imply.

La Calamité (Sour Brown Ale)
Est OG: 1.063
Est FG: 1.007
IBU: 4
SRM: 13

69.0% Belgian Pilsner Malt
16.3% White Wheat Malt
4.50% Flaked Oats
4.50% Aromatic Malt
4.50% Caramel 60L
1.10% Dehusked Carafa III

0.20oz Willamette @ FWH (4 IBU)

1 vial of ECY20 Bug County

Mash @ 160F for 60 min

1/30/2015 -- Brew day went fine until I flooded my kitchen.  Gathered 5.5 gal of 1.063 wort.  Fermenting after around 24 hours at 67F.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Turncloak (100% "Brett" IPA) -- Brew Day

This beer is the last of the brews that I have planned to potentially send on to NHC if they pan out alright.  This is the third beer that I've done that has featured a 100% Brett fermentation, the second featuring Brett Trois.  Well...kind of.

Apparently, Omega Labs had the strain genetically sequenced and it appears that Brett Trois isn't actually Brettanomyces at all, but in fact it is Saccharomyces.  Seeing as the brewing community had been assuming this was a Brett strain that was cultured out of bottles of Drie Fonteinen, I imagine there are more than a few 100% Brett fermented beers that will need to be reclassified.  Not so wild anymore, eh?  Well, shiiiit.  I feel betrayed.  This beer has now been named The Turncloak because I just feel so fucking betrayed.

The thinking behind this beer is that I really liked the fruity character that my last Brett IPA achieved, although there are some aspects that I wanted to change up.  For one, I think a lower IBU and a blast of late hops really shine in an IPA like this.  The last Brett IPA had a touch of an astringent bitterness that didn't mesh wonderfully with the yeast characteristics.  Additionally, after nerding out to 2.5 hours of Chad Yakobsen talking about how to design Brett beers on YouTube, I'm adding a little bit of flaked oats to provide some mouthfeel as Brett is usually lacking the ability to produce glycerol during fermentation.

For the hop bill, I've decided to use some new-to-me hops, Ahtanum and Delta.  I wanted to anchor the beer with Galaxy, one of my all time favorite hops, and combine it with some hops that have some more complex, fruity flavors.  I plan to use a massive dry-hop on this one and then crash and fine with gelatin.  I've noticed that gelatin strips hop aromatics from the beer, also found here, so I'm going to compensate with a larger dry hop.

Although it may not be a Brett beer, I'm hoping it still makes a killer IPA.

The Turncloak - 100% "Brett" IPA
5.5 gallon batch -- 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.066
Est FG: 1.005
Est ABV: 8%
IBU: 71
SRM: 4.4

11.25lb 2-Row Malt
3.750lb White Wheat Malt
1.000lb Flaked Oats

1.50oz Centennial @ FWH (45 IBU)
2.00oz Ahtanum @ Steep 10 minutes (5 IBU)
2.00oz Delta @ Steep 10 minutes (5 IBU)
2.00oz Galaxy @ Steep 10 minutes (15 IBU)
0.50oz Centennial @ Steep 10 minutes (3 IBU)

2.00oz Ahtanum @ Dry Hop 5 Days
2.00oz Delta @ Dry Hop 5 Days
2.00oz Galaxy @ Dry Hop 5 Days

1250ml starter of White Labs Brett Brux Trois

Mash @ 152F for 60 minutes

1/19/2015 -- Brewed by myself.  Hit 84% mash efficiency.  Gathered 5.5 gallons of 1.072 wort.  Fermenting away at 65F in my basement.  Blew the airlock and sprayed some crap all over.

1/21/2015 -- Raised temp to 75F over a couple of days.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Feast (Maine Beer Co. Dinner "Clone") -- Brew Day

Is it really possible to "clone" a beer that you've never had?  I'm guessing that this will come nowhere close to Maine Beer Co's new, incredibly well-received foray in the DIPA category, but seeing as how much I love their offerings, even something close would be an accomplishment.  Their new beer, Dinner, has a score of 100 on Beer Advocate and to my knowledge can only be purchased the brewery.

I've always been a huge fan of the Maine Beer Co lineup since I met the brewers at a dinner here in Philly for Beer Week a couple of years ago.  That same year, we ended up taking a min-vacation up to Portland, ME (a truly beautiful place) and we had the opportunity to stop by their then new facility in Freeport.

MBC truly excels at brewing hoppy ales with their Peeper, Mo, Lunch, and Another One.  Given the score for Dinner on Beer Advocate, I can only imagine that they continued on with their track record of crushing hop-forward brews.

Maine lists the ingredients, both malt and hops, for all of their beers, along with starting gravity and ABV.  The brewery does not list any IBUs which they say "they don't calculate" which leads to me to believe they utilize a substantial whirlpool addition of hops and aren't comfortable with the whirlpool addition IBU estimates that the industry is tending to use.

Given some of the vitals, it is quite obvious that they use a very attenuative yeast.  I"m not going to attempt to match their attenuation, and in fact I'm actually going to be using a yeast that seems to be less attenuative than what I would normally use.  Around 2 weeks ago, I was lucky enough to log onto FB at the same time that Love2Brew offered up a new batch of East Coast Yeast products.  So, naturally, I snagged some ECY29 Northeast Ale (Conan) yeast along with some Bug County that I'll hopefully be putting to use sometime soon.

For the malt bill, I deviated somewhat from what they had indicated.  Their bill leans heavily on 2-Row, but I'm opting for a blend of Maris Otter and US Pilsner for a little bit of complexity and crispness.  According to their website, they also use C40, Carapils and Dextrose.  I'm assuming both of the crystal malts are used in a low proportion and the dextrose is added to further dry out the beer.  I'm also upping my OG a little bit to hit the ABV target with the less attenuative yeast.

For hops, none of those listed were obviously bittering hops, so I opted to throw some Citra in for that purpose as I've had decent results with Citra single-hopped beers.  Falconer's Flight seems to be a favorite hop of MBC, but I've never particularly liked it -- probably because its a proprietary blend of hops already on the market and something about that irks me.  The rest of the hop timings were basically a shot in the dark with the hop bill increasing quite a bit for a whirlpool addition.

Brew day went flawlessly, with me hitting the targets at every part of the brew day.  I'm pretty excited for this one.
Crazy weird pre-fermentation separations
The Feast (Maine Beer Co. Dinner "Clone")
5.5 gallon batch -- 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.075
Est FG: 1.012
ABV: 8.33%
IBU: 79
SRM: 7

7.50lb Maris Otter
7.50lb Pilsner Malt
0.75lb Caramel 40L
0.50lb Carapils
1.00lb Corn Sugar (add at end of boil)

1.00oz Citra @ FWH (37 IBU)
1.00oz Falconer's Flight @ 10 min (10 IBU)
1.00oz Simcoe @ 10 min (13 IBU)
1.00oz Citra @ Steep 10 min (6 IBU)
1.00oz Falconer's Flight @ Steep 10 min (6 IBU)
1.00oz Mosaic @ Steep 10 min (6 IBU)
2.00oz Mosiac @ Dry Hop 4 Days
2.00oz Simcoe @ Dry Hop 4 Days
1.00oz Citra @ Dry Hop 4 Days

1200ml starter Northeast Ale (Conan) ECY29

Mash @ 149F for 60 minutes

1/14/2015 -- Brewed by myself.  Hit all targets perfectly.  Finally getting the system dialed in post-purchase of the new grain mill.  Gathered 5.5 gallons of 1.075 wort.  Beautiful orange-golden color.  Fermentation began within 6 hours at 63F.

1/23/2015 -- Added dry hops.

1/27/2015 -- Cold crash.

1/28/2015 -- Added gelatin.

1/29/2015 -- Finished out at 1.013.  Bottled to 2.4 vol.  Great aroma.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Le Chien Bourgeois (Biere de Garde) -- Brew Day

I've always had an interesting association with Biere de Garde.  Somewhere around 8 years back when I was out to dinner with my wife (then girlfriend) and her parents (my later in-laws), I had a wonderful beer with a great amber color, noteworthy rustic qualities and a taste that can almost be described as an ale with slight apple/pear undertones.  That beer was Jenlain Ambree.

Now, granted I was barely 21 then, so I had no idea what I liked or did I realize how into beer I would one day get.  I barely remembered the brewery name, but it was a beer that I casually searched for whenever I went to the liquor store, but I was never able to really find again -- I realize that this beer is basically everywhere now.

Fast forward to present day.  My wife and I went out to a nice dinner here in Philly for our annual Christmas date, and the restaurant had Jenlain Ambree on the bottle list.  When I ordered it up, it really tasted almost exactly how I remembered it.  When I think of a well-cellared, malt-forward beer, this is really the beer the comes to mind.  And, seeing as I love to play around with new-to-me brewing styles, I figured I had to cook up one of these.

This style is one that has a ton of misconceptions around it.  For one, a lot of people use a saison yeast.  This beer really DOES NOT have the peppery, phenolic characters of its Belgian brethren.  In fact, this beer isn't even from Belgium, but instead is from northern France.  Like saison, this is a beer that was traditionally produced in artisanal farmhouses in the spring for drinking in the warmer summer months.  It is usually lagered for a period of time, in my case this will hopefully be around a month, although I would love for it to go longer.

The grain bill that I chose was, as usual, cobbled together from a variety of sources.  There are several Jenlain Ambree clones floating around, but I didn't feel like the malts in the bill would really hit on the flavor notes that I was picking up.  For the yeast, I decided to go with the Wyeast Kolsch.  I've used this yeast in the past for malt-focused beers and it has performed admirably when fermented on the cool side of it's temperature range.  There is a seasonal BdG strain from Wyeast that is rumored to be the Fantome yeast, but it wasn't available at this time, nor do the flavor descriptions of it really sound all that like Fantome's beers, so call me skeptical.

I'm brewing this one by myself, quite a bit more lonely than when we had friends over for the last one.  My mash efficiency came out to a ridiculous 86%, so I imagine I might have to dilute a little bit of this with some water before I ferment it out.

This beer, along with my latest Wee Heavy, my Brett Saison and some more brews down the line will all be submitted (provided I get all the slots I want) to the 2015 NHC.

So, in all honesty, this brew day got a little fucked up.  As soon as I got the boil going, I realized that I had neglected to put in the Amber malt.  My bad.  I ground it up and tried to mash/steep it on its own, fully realizing that there's no diastatic enzymes in Amber malt.  Anyways, then I added the brownish liquor that came out of that.  Then, later on, when I went to go chill the beer, I came out to find that my hose had frozen over the previous night.  Luckily there was some snow on the ground here still, so I used mother nature to chill this batch.  Let's hope I didn't completely fuck this one up.

Le Chien Bourgeois (Biere de Garde)
5.5 gallon batch -- 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.080
Est FG: 1.013 (but probably lower...hopefully?)
Est ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 23
SRM: 13

13.5lb Pilsner Malt
2.75lb Munich Malt
1.00lb Aromatic Malt
0.63lb Caravienne Malt
0.25lb Amber Malt
0.10lb Dehusked Carafa III

0.40oz Magnum @ FWH (14 IBU)
2.00oz French Strisslespalt @ FWH (7 IBU)
0.75oz French Strisslesalt @ 20 min (2 IBU)

1250ml starter of Kolsch WY2565

Mash @ 147f for 60 minutes

1/10/2014 -- Brewed by myself.  Fuck up abound (see above).  Mash efficiency came in quite strong.  Gathered 5.5 gallon of 1.080 wort.  Bubbling away at 58f in the fridge.

1/13/2014 -- Upped temp to 62f.