Archive for the ‘brewing’ Category

brett pale ale variations

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

IMG_5030

as you may have guessed from my earlier posts, I have a thing for pale ales that have brettanomyces added in secondary.

  • as a result, I was motivated to create something in the same vein as beers like orval, rayon vert, brux, etc.
    – beers that are somewhat sessionable yet earthy and spicy, with a rocky head and a funk that grows over time in the bottle/keg.
  • I was also intrigued by beers such as the historic ballantine IPA that was supposedly aged for a year in oak and aroma hopped with hop extract, and wanted to incorporate some of those unique characteristics as well to create a unique “wood aged brett pale.”
  • I ended up going with a grain bill of maris otter, vienna, crystal 80 and 40, and wheat for a solid malt backbone, with a starting gravity of 1.062.  I bittered with columbus and added late aroma additions of chinook and simcoe for layered pine notes and a smooth bitterness (~55 IBU).
  • for fermentation purposes, I split the batch between ECY17 burton union and WLP510 bastogne.  I had originally planned to go with ECY10 old newark (one of the original ballantine strains) but my starter was so violently active (after less than six hours) the majority of top cropping yeast blew out of my erlenmeyer flask and my leftover pitch didn’t go anywhere.  east coast yeast is the only provider whose vials I will directly pitch into wort without stepping up (the ECY17 vial took off in only an hour or two after pitching).
  • after two weeks in primary at a controlled 65F, the WLP510 fermentor was at 1.01 and the ECY17 fermentor was at 1.013.  I racked both into corny kegs, primed with 2.5oz. sugar, and pitched orval bottle dregs into each.  I was planning on adding an american oak cube to each keg as well, but didn’t have any lying around.  I am also tossing around the idea of dry hopping them before serving (which might be challenging now that I primed the kegs).
  • I’m planning on tapping the kegs after three months and seeing which version works better with brett.  the base beers both tasted great during kegging, so hopefully they’ll keep improving!

IMG_4884               IMG_4899

IMG_4919               IMG_4931

IMG_4962               IMG_4979

IMG_5002               IMG_5048

 

 

saison nouveau

Monday, January 14th, 2013

racking the wort

has it really been six months since my last house saison went in the fermentor?

  • as I had mentioned during the last house saison brew day, even though I was more than pleased with how my house saison line had evolved (and had gotten very positive feedback from the tasting public), I felt that the beers themselves were a bit redundant.  more specifically, I feel as though my house saisons had become dark and light versions of a “wild” beer instead of a “saison,” and I also considered white and banning to be superior to their house saison equivalents (e.g., they had a more balanced acidity, a more complex/deeper funk, etc.).
  • as a result, I decided to rework my “house saison” six-month fermentation lineup by focusing on a rustic, somewhat high gravity base beer finished long-term with brettanomyces:
  • 23 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 80.7 %
    3 lbs Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.5 %
    2 lbs 8.0 oz unmalted spelt, cereal mash Grain 3 8.8 %
    4.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 24.4 IBUs
    1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 5 3.0 IBUs
    1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 6 0.0 IBUs
    1.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
  • I ended up with an OG of 1.067 and initially fermented at 69F with a stepped up starter of WLP565.  hopefully the saison yeast will stall in about week (as this strain is prone to do), at which time I will add a vial of WLP650 (as well as an oak cube or two).  I also mashed at 155F to slow down the sacc and help give the brett a foothold.  the relatively high mash temp (and use of unmalted spelt) should counteract any thinness caused by the serious attenuation of my yeast blend.
  • during the main mash, I performed a cereal mash on the unmalted spelt addition, following my earlier unmalted wheat mash method.  to avoid a stuck mash, I added copious amounts of rice hulls to the cereal mash before adding it to the main mash tun (it worked like a charm).  the spelt should add some depth and mouthfeel to the finished product, as well as some complex fermentables for the extended fermentation.
  • after six months in the fermentor I’m planning on dry-hopping this batch with 2 oz. of EKG and 1 oz. of saaz for a week before bottling/kegging.  then it will be time to formulate its dark house counterpart!

boiling the spelt               adding the rice hulls

the cereal mash               sparging

 

rye bottling, bkyeast brett tasting, bottle waxing

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

tasting the all brett trio

during the last couple of weeks I set aside some time between the lights and action of the holiday season to finish up some projects from the last few months.

  • first up was the bottling and kegging of the three variations of the rye amber I brewed a month ago.  the five gallons of all-brett B (FG: 1.008, ABV: 5.83%) and standard saison  (FG: 1.005, ABV: 6.3%) each went into kegs, while the two gallons of saison/brett blend  (FG: 1.006, ABV: 6.14%) were bottled.  after some thought, I primed with brown sugar for a little extra depth in the finished product – the molasses in the sugar seemed to complement the nuances of the saison in particular.
  • upon tasting samples of each variety, the saison predictably produced the most assertive aroma and flavors, while the brett B variety was somewhat neutral.  however, after recently tasting a matured version of my all brett B blonde,  I’m confident that the brett complexity will develop in the rye amber (the blonde had a very refreshing, funky, and dry brett character after a month in the fermentor and another in the bottle).

I also set aside part of an evening to review the three bkyeast variations I had bottled up about a month ago.  here are some thoughts:

  • WY3191 brett isolate: decent carbonation, clear gold, transparent; lemony, tart aroma; clean taste with a slight bretty lemon back; mellow and drinkable
  • cantillon iris isolate C2: very little carbonation, amber gold, transparent; funky fruit nose; floral earthy taste; pretty good depth/complexity, may add something interesting to a saison or wild beer, seems like it would take a while to fully develop
  • cantillon iris isolate C3: very light carb, amber gold, transparent; light stone fruit, characteristic brett finish; like C2, would make a good complementary fermenter, like C2, may have to wait a while for all the flavors to round out here

in addition, I finally got around to waxing a bunch of bottles for the long haul.

  • I waxed up my mead, banning, and apricot lambic bottles with dark grey wax, which represented the last of this year’s vintage.  I hit my bottles with a different color wax for easy age identification and display consistency.  I also buy my wax in big bulk chunks that I melt down in a larger coffee can over the stove and then pour into a small tomato paste can for bottle dipping so that the melted wax can reach further down the neck of each bottle.

bottles waiting to be filled               kegging

adding brown sugar to the bottles               waxed up and ready for the shelf

 

rye amber ale three ways, blonde tasting

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

last weekend I decided to rehash my all-brett amber ale with a couple of variations.

  • first, I decided to spice up the mash with the addition of 20% malted rye.  I also went with some spicy/earthy hop additions late in the boil to impart those aromatics into the finished product (12 gal, 80% efficiency):
    • 14 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 58.1 %
      5 lbs Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 2 20.7 %
      2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.3 %
      2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4 8.3 %
      1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.1 %
      1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 0.4 %
      2.00 oz Palisade [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 22.2 IBUs
      2.00 oz Palisade [7.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 8 10.3 IBUs
      4.00 oz Williamette [5.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
      2.00 oz Tradition [6.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
  • I mashed in at 154F and had a post-boil OG of 13 brix (1.053 – I blame my extensive use of rice hulls for the loss of a couple of gravity points).  Once the wort was chilled to 71F, I oxygenated by shaking the fermentors (my oxygenation stone is all gummed up at the moment) and fermented the wort three ways – 5 gals with a stepped up vial of WLP566, another 5 with a stepped up vial of WLP650, and another 2 with a blend of both yeasts (I transferred some wort from each fermentor once they both reached high krausen).  although both yeast vials had been sitting in my fridge for quite some time, they took off without any hesitation on the stirplate and had the wort going within ten hours.

during the mash I used some down time to taste the three all-brett versions of the blonde I bottled a week ago.

  • I’ll save an in-depth review for a couple more weeks to let each of the beers fully develop, but after just one week I was excited to find that the WLP644 trois strain had carbed up nicely and left a dense white head in the glass upon pouring.  its overripe, earthy guava aroma and flavor really impressed me, especially for a brett beer just under a month old.  I’m really happy with this strain and am looking forward to using it a lot more in the future (maybe in a citrus-hopped pale or IPA?).

              

 

brettanomyces project updates, mead bottling

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

I wrapped up a long weekend of turkey and football with an intense bottling session down in the basement.

  • I kegged and bottled each of the three versions of my all-brett blonde.  after three weeks in the fermentor, the WLP644 trois strain finished at 1.006, the WLP653 lambicus strain finished at 1.011, and I was surprised to find that the WLP650 brux strain finished highest at 1.012.  the brux batch finished high enough that I placed all the brux bottles in a cooler to carb up (these should get consumed pretty fast, but you can never be too safe!).  I’m planning on trying a bottle of each variety in a week for a comprehensive tasting/comparison.
  • I also bottled each of the bkyeast half-gallon test batches that had been fermenting for about a month.  each half-gallon batch yielded four 12oz bottles and about 10oz of slurry.  the C2 cantillon isolate finished at 1.010, the C3 cantillon isolate finished at 1.012, and the wyeast berliner isolate (which had a pretty impressive pellicle and was crystal clear) finished at 1.008.  each sample had a unique and exciting flavor profile that I will elaborate upon in a week or two once the bottles carb up and I can get a proper tasting in.

after bottling and kegging the cornucopia of brett variations, I tossed some corks in my bucket of sanitizer and jumped right into bottling the last iteration of my mead, which entered the fermentor sixteen months ago.

  • mead is great for the holidays – it can be substituted for white wine at the dinner table and it also makes a great gift that can be stashed away for decades.  after a long secondary in a keg, my mead turned out crystal clear and managed to finish at 0.997 for an abv of 13.59%.  my sample had an intense honey and wildflower aroma.  I think my next mead will be a melomel (fruit mead) – maybe I can make use of some of my persimmon stash

               

               

 

 

all brett blonde, LACBB summit at beachwood

Friday, November 9th, 2012

last weekend I kept rolling with the funk and put together an all-brett blonde split three ways.

  • I based my grain bill on various recipes for brett blondes (which all seemed pretty homogeneous), but kept to a 60 minute boil and mashed at 151F (in hindsight, I could have kicked it up to around 154 or 155F, since all-brett beers tend to finish a little thin).  my starting gravity was 1.055 and I kept the IBUs to around 27.
  • after cooling the wort to the mid-70s, I divided it up into three fermentors (two 5gal and on 2.5gal), aerated, and pitched a different isolated brett strain into each fermentor.  a vial of WLP653 went into five gallons, my ramped-up starter of WLP644 went into another five, and a vial of WLP650 was pitched into the smaller 2.5 gal better bottle.
  • the 644 took off vigorously within hours, while the slightly underpitched WLP650 took a day or so to get going.  I had read that the 653 was a notoriously slow starter, which rang true – it took three days to see visible activity, but by that time the airlock was churning and there was a healthy krausen.

after hosing down my brewstand, ML and I headed for beachwood BBQ long beach to meet up with the LACBB crew for our monthly summit.

  • julian shrago (brewer), gabe gordon (owner), and daniel drennon (writer) all spoke at the event, although I arrived late and was admittedly distracted by a killer brisket sandwich and tasty house IPA.  kip’s article over at bierkast summarizes the event nicely (and includes a pretty unflattering profile shot of me at the bar).  not a bad way to spend a sunday!

               

 

 

banning II, bkyeast

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

last weekend I put together the second incarnation of banning, my wild blonde that I bottled the week before.

  • the grain bill was the same as last year’s batch, but I switched up the hop additions toremove later hops that I feel would be underrepresented anyway after a year in the fermentor (13 gal batch):
    • 26.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 94.55 %
      1.50 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 5.45 %
      3.00 oz Aged Saaz [1.00 %] (60 min) Hops 3.7 IBU
  • I also added a pinch of raw wheat berries, mashed higher (158F), and hit an OG of 1.068 (16.5 brix).  after a few days on just the slurry from the previous batch I pitched a single vial of WLP655, which took off shortly thereafter.

while I was brewing, the mailman delivered a much anticipated package from the east coast.

  • a few days earlier I had come across bkyeast’s blog via a post off embrace the funk’s facebook page.  dmitri, the man behind bkyeast, is a cell bio PhD student who isolates and banks yeast strains in his spare time.  he was generously sending out brettanomyces isolates as a community service, and I managed to score two isloates from cantillon iris dregs and one from WY3191.
  • after finishing up banning, I split two gallons of the wort into four sanitized gallon jugs, and each was inoculated with a different bkyeast isolate (I pitched my vial of WLP644 into the fourth jug).  banning’s neutral character, low hopping, and diverse sugar chain makeup should make it ideal for comparing the performance of the four different yeasts.  check in soon for an update!

 

bottling banning and apricot lambic

Friday, October 26th, 2012

I finally managed to set aside some time to bottle both banning (my wild blonde) as well as my turbid mash lambic that I had aged on local apricots.

  • for a wild beer aged for over 14 months with multiple varieties of lacto, brett, and pedio, banning finished surprisingly high at 1.01, for an abv of 7.08%.  it is deep gold in color with a complex funky aroma and an assertive farmhouse brett flavor with plenty of smooth acidity.
  • I kegged five gallons, bottled another five with rockpile yeast as per my earlier method, and racked another two onto the leftover apricots in my 2.5 gallon better bottle once I had racked and bottled my lambic (to see how much flavor and aroma can be extracted from second use fruit).
  • speaking of lambic – after six months on a pound and a half of apricots, two gallons of my original batch had dropped to a final gravity of 0.99(!) for an abv of 7.19%.  upon examining my gravity sample I was greeted with the most amazing aroma I have ever experienced in all of my brewing days – fresh, ripe, sweet apricot melded perfectly with a background of complex earthy funk.  the sample was a crystal clear pale gold with a clean acidity and subtle, complex funk and apricot.  I can’t wait for this one to carb up for a special occasion, and will definitely be aging more of my sours (and especially my lambic) on fruit in the future.

               

               

 

BAM fest, bottling the homegrown saison

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

last saturday I headed over to santa monica for the annual beer, art, and music (BAM) fest.

  • a comprehensive beer selection accompanied a friendly crowd and a great music lineup at the 18th street arts center parking lot.  standout taps included a fresh hop beer from pizza port and a barrel aged imperial stout from smog city.  I got caught up talking shop with a bunch of brewers at the event and only managed to get a couple shots off, but bernie over at friends of local beer took a great set you can check out HERE.

the next morning I found some time to keg and bottle my homegrown saison.

  • the beer finished at 6.5 brix (1.006) for an abv of 6.63%.  since it finished so low I decided to skip the brett b addition and just keg up ten gallons straight.  initially, a loose-fitting siphon hose introduced some oxygen into the beer line and eliminated suction when racking the beer, but after a quick fix with some zip ties and CO2 pressure the kegs were topped off for carbonating.  the gravity sample had diverse and intense spice and fruit notes – it seems the yeast really liked the high fermentation temps.  I’m definitely looking forward to the finished product in a few weeks!

              

 

brett secondary and all-brett amber tasting

Friday, October 5th, 2012

although a round of weddings kept me from firing up the brew kettle these past few weeks, I got around to tapping both my belgian/brett and all-brett versions of my amber ale for a little side-by-side review.

  • to recap, I brewed one base beer (an amber ale) and fermented it three ways – five gallons with only WLP575 belgian blend, five gallons with WLP575 and WLP650 brett brux in secondary, and two gallons with only WLP650.  I dry-hopped all three with an ounce of fuggles for a week before kegging.  below are my reviews for the belgian/brett and all-brett versions.

 

    • belgian/brett amber (brett b in secondary)
    • appearance: dark copper color, effervescent with lasting head that drops but does not disappear
    • aroma: light estery belgian notes with a slight malt presence
    • taste: malt-forward with an estery belgian finish
    • overall: very drinkable but somewhat ordinary, could use more spicy/herbal hops earlier in the boil*

 

    • brett brux amber
    • appearance: dark copper, slightly turbid (from fresh carbed keg with hop residue), great creamy, fluffy head that sticks around
    • aroma: spicy/earthy hops with an earthy brett funk in the back
    • taste: creamy mouthfeel with a dry, slightly funky finish
    • overall: refreshing and easy to drink, but could use a little more kick – maybe sub in 10-20% rye and up the boil hops*?

 

  • *it should be noted that I believe the lack of substantial bitterness was the result of my use of an old steeping bag with mesh clogged with proteins and oils from enduring dozens of boils.  the use of a new bag should overcome this issue.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the significant differences between the all-brett fermentation and the other two versions.  based on my results, I plan of further developing my all-brett amber with a small rye addition and better hop utilization (and maybe adding more earthy/spicy hops such as saaz, willamette, and cluster at 15 mins and flameout).