Archive for January, 2011


Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I just read this article on BBC travel about the patagonia beer pilgrimage.  seems like another reason to visit an incredible location.  it’s definitely worth the quick read.

hybrid stout: disaster strikes!

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

last friday I dropped by san pedro brew co. to sample some brews with JW and watch him rack his wit (or was it a hef?) to one of the bright tanks.

  • we tasted the black lager and ale next to the version JW brewed for the brew co. as well as some commercial examples.  I was really happy with how the brew turned out – the lager was clean and dry with a subtle roast back that made for a very sessionable holiday beer, while the ale ended up as a smooth roasty mild.
  • we also tried JW’s bohemian pils and his wit, which were both on their way to becoming solid draft options at the brew co.
  • the tasting got me excited for the hybrid stout brew day that JF and I had planned for the weekend.  little did I know that my brew day luck was about to run out.
  • the grain bill for the brew was based on a dry irish stout, with some added flaked oats and a little black patent:
    • 11.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 60.27 %
      4.25 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 23.29 %
      1.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 9.59 %
      1.00 lb Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 5.48 %
      0.25 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.37 %
      3.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 28.0 IBU
      1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (30 min) Hops 7.2 IBU
      1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale
  • I hit my mash temp of 154, held it for an hour, and then started the sparge.  this is where some brewday lessons were learned:
  • don’t crush flaked grains, and use tons of rice hulls to balance them out. the sparge turned out to be a no-go, as the mash was seriously stuck.  I had added a few (3-4) handfuls of hulls when I mashed in, but I immediately regretted not adding a pound or more to the mash.  also, I had carelessly tossed the flaked barley and oats into the crusher with the rest of the specialty grains, turning them into dust that plugged the keggle’s false bottom like cement.
  • if the false bottom clogs, replace with braided hose and batch sparge. after removing the entirety of the mash and clearing the false bottom tube, I added a pound of rice hulls and a couple gallons of hot water and dumped the mash right back in.  wort flowed freely for about a minute, then slowed to a trickle as the pulverized barley and oats again plugged up the false bottom tube.  I ended up removing the entire mash a second time, replacing the false bottom with my old cooler mash tun braided hose, and massaging out 10.5 gallons of wort through an impromptu batch sparge.
  • watch your back and take it slow.  I’m not gonna lie, the sparge sucked.  in my haste to get the boil going, I deadlifted a partially full keggle and bent over a thousand times to empty and refill the mash tun.  by the time the wort was cool and ready to rack, my back was seriously tweaked and I was hunched over like an old monk, which effectively killed the rest of my weekend.
  • despite the above mishaps (in addition to a broken thief, one overflowed keg, and a painful cleanup), JF and I actually hit our numbers spot on, with an O.G. of 1.047.  I added a healthy starter of 1056 and in less than 12 hours vigorous fermentation was observed.  after all the work that went into it, this brew will likely taste spectacular to me, even if there is a slight aftertaste of sweat and tears…

cuvee fermentation update

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

when AP and I packed up to head for big bear this weekend, the two corny kegs of cuvee had me worried.

  • neither showed any signs of activity (read: visible blowoff), and although this was the first time I had fermented in cornelius kegs, I knew something was up.  I also remembered that my roselare pack was from an older batch (early ’10) and my sour mix vial didn’t show as much activity as earlier vials had (after warming to room temperature, they usually gush down the vial sides into my wort – this one seemed pretty tame in comparison).
  • I vowed to take quick action if conditions hadn’t changed by the time we returned on sunday.
  • after unloading our gear sunday afternoon, I dropped by the cellar for a status check.  what I saw was disheartening – still no visible activity.  after popping the lid of the sour mix keg, I was relieved to see a strong krausen, and after sealing the keg gasket with some lube, the blowoff started bubbling away.  however, when I cracked open the roselare keg, I was greeted with nothing but the sweet aroma of unfermented wort.
  • luckily, when I initially racked the wort into the kegs, I was left with about a gallon extra, which I had fermented out with a dry pack of safbrew T58 (PDF link!), effectively resulting in a gallon starter.
  • after reading up on the pros and cons of the yeast, I decided to pitch a significant amount of the propagated slurry into the roselare keg.  the T58 doesn’t seem to be that attenuative, so there should be plenty of sugars left for the bugs to get at over time (assuming that the alcoholic environment doesn’t hinder too much activity).
  • in less than 24 hours the T58 keg was violently blasting CO2 and krausen, much to my relief.  my long term plans for this brew include a primary fermentation in kegs for six months, then blending the two kegs over a large amount of sour cherries and the yeast cake slurry from my (hopefully bottled) saison for another six.
  • as a side note, when in big bear, check out their only local brewery – big bear mountain brewery.  it gets rocked on beeradvocate, but their pils and dopplebock were pretty tasty and go well with some fried green beans.
  • also, FYI, the SF beer week calendar has been posted, so get ready.

cuvee de cabrillo

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I have definitely been on a funky/sour brewing kick lately.

  • now that my lambic and funky saison are quietly chugging away in the basement, I figured one more sour in the pipeline couldn’t hurt.
  • after debating a multitude of beers ranging from sour golden strongs to funky sessionable wild ales, I came across a general guideline in wild brews for a sour strong/quadrupel inspired by lost abbey’s cuvee de tomme, one of my favorite sour strongs.
  • after tweaking the recipe for my setup and changing a few variables, here’s what I came up with:
    • cuvee de cabrillo
    • 22.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 66.07 %
      2.00 lb Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 6.01 %
      2.00 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 6.01 %
      2.00 lb Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 6.01 %
      2.00 lb White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 6.01 %
      0.65 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 1.95 %
      0.65 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.95 %
      2.00 oz Northern Brewer, .3 oz Tradition (120 min) Hops ? IBU
      1.00 oz US Fuggle (2 min) Hops ? IBU
      2.00 lb Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 6.01 %
  • I ended up with 11 gallons with an OG of 21 brix = 1.085.  I then split the batch into two 5 gallon corny kegs, fermented one with sour mix 1 and cascade apricot dregs, and hit the other with the roselare blend and ’09 drie fonteinen kriek dregs.
  • I am planning on racking on top of sour cherries in about six months and then blending and bottling after six more.  first things first though – the yeast needs to get going!  it has been almost three days and I have yet to see activity in the blowoff tubes.  I know these yeast blends take their time though, so I guess it’s time to RDWHAHB…