Archive for June, 2012

june PG meeting, house saison IV, thrashlab visit

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

last thursday was the third thursday of the month, and as with all third thursdays, I headed up to culver city for pacific gravity’s monthly meeting.

  • I brought along bottles of my imperial stout and vizcaino for some sensory analysis – vizcaino’s bretty/fruity aroma and golden strong characteristics were well received, and the consensus regarding the imperial stout was that lack of carbonation and high finishing gravity hindered the overall package.
  • as a result, after kegging my clean portion of belgian amber and dosing the other portion with brett b, I individually opened each bottle of my imperial stout and re-yeasted them with red star premier cuvee dry wine yeast.  I contemplated trying a dry ale yeast first, but the beer’s high abv made me doubt that method’s success.  I plan on trying a bottle next week and chilling the bottles once adequate carbonation has been achieved to reduce the risk of overcarbonation.

I also got around to brewing the fourth iteration of my house saison after bottling the third batch last week.

  • keeping with my previous strategy of alternating light and dark variations, I strayed slightly from last year’s recipe with a few modifications, including the use of dark, pungent liquid candi sugar and low-alpha hops early in the boil (12 gal recipe):
    • 18 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 2 72.7 %
      1 lbs 8.0 oz Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 6.1 %
      1 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 4 6.1 %
      1 lbs 4.0 oz Carafa II (412.0 SRM) Grain 5 5.1 %
      1 lbs Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 6 4.0 %
      1 lbs Candi Sugar, Dark (275.0 SRM) Sugar 7 4.0 %
      3.00 oz Saaz [1.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 4.1 IBUs
  • I also mashed higher than normal at 156F and hit my target gravity of 1.059 (14.5 brix) exactly due to a smooth sparge/lauter.  I gave my house slurry a couple days head start and then pitched a single vial of WLP566, which took off in a few hours.  after brewing this batch I came to realize that what was once a slight riff on a saison has evolved into sours somewhat comparable to blanc and banning.  as a result, after this batch has been kegged and bottled, I plan on returning to brewing a standard saison (likely with a high finisher like WLP565) with a simple post-fermentation brett addition (maybe some WLP644?).
  • also, during the start of my brew day the crew from thrashlab (specifically, the subculture club derivative) stopped by to film a general homebrewing how-to as well as to interview me about my process/brewing history.  everyone involved was a consummate professional, and filming went fairly smoothly.  it was definitely neat to share my love of homebrewing and hopefully turn some more people on to the hobby.  stay tuned for a link to the final video(s), and be sure to scrutinize all minutiae and call me out on any mistakes…




house saison bottling, vizcaino notes, fixing barrel leaks

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

last week, while topping off airlocks in the fermentation room, I noticed that yet another six months had passed since my last house saison started fermenting.

  • after grabbing some bottles and other goodies from south bay brewing supply, I cleaned out a corny keg, blasted everything with sanitizer, and got to filling.  the saison finished at 1.004 for a final ABV of 7.5%.  the beer is light gold, crystal clear, and has nice acidity as well as a strong tropical fruit aroma.  I’m considering serving this through a randall stuffed with bright citrus hops or blending some of it with a standard saison.

I also got around to tasting my first batch of vizcaino that had been in the bottle for two months:

  • appearance: pale gold, fine but thorough effervescence, 1/4″ head that manages to stick around as the beer warms
  • aroma: fresh cut fruit/melon with slight esters and brett in back
  • taste: vanilla oak with a warming alcohol finish, slight bit of earthy brett funk in there as well
  • overall: although this beer lacked significant sourness due to a low mash temp and late lacto/pedio additions, the fruit and funk brought in by the brett do complement the overall package, although I’m not sure it was worth a year’s worth of aging…

I also noticed a slight leak at the bottom perimeter of one side of the head in my solera barrel that had slowly worsened to the point where a few ounces of beer had escaped (much to the delight of some fruit flies).

  • instead of waiting for some barrel wax in the mail, I tapped into some homebrewer ingenuity and rolled a small piece of warm water surf wax into a cylinder, which I then pressed into the seam of the barrel head with a pen tip and smoothed out by running the head of a small allen wrench along the seam.  worked like a charm!




three pours in the city

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

last week AP and I headed up to SF to celebrate her birthday.  the food and drink were great, but three pours in particular stood out:


  • location: city beer store
  • beer: ’10 oerbier reserva
  • comments: AP and I hadn’t been to city beer since their recent renovation/expansion, so we headed over to check out the new layout.  despite doubling in real estate, the place was packed on an early thirsday evening.  craig grabbed this bottle from their “store only” cooler and executed a perfect pour of this well-balanced malty/sour oud bruin while we discussed the recent increase in bottle shop/beer bar combos.






  • location: CB’s backyard
  • beer: ducato’s beersel mattina
  • comments: CB and I shared this bottle while waiting for the barbecue chimney to heat up some lump charcoal.  the sun was setting, the weather was perfect out, and this effervescent, aromatic blend of saison and lambic was a great accompaniment.  it’s a shame it had to follow up CB’s earlier pour of dupont’s cidre reserve, a spontaneously fermented cider aged in calvados barrels that absolutely blew me away and is now top on my cider list.






  • location: social kitchen and brewery
  • beer: house pils (a belgian brown was being poured while I took the shot)
  • comments: the last time AP and I were in this building, it was wunder brewing and the service and beers were all over the place.  social kitchen changed things up for the better and now provide great food and some tasty beers.  the bartender was very attentive and let us sample through the available brews before making a decision.  their pils was clean with a pleasant hoppy finish and went well with the burger and brussel sprout chips I ordered up.  this is a great option for everyone out in the inner sunset.








belgian brett amber

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

after pondering secondary brett additions last week, I put some ideas into production by brewing 12 gallons of an amber variant of the pales I had tasted:

  • 16 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.0 %
    2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 2 8.8 %
    2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.8 %
    1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.4 %
    1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 5 0.4 %
    1 lbs Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 6 4.4 %
    4.00 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 26.1 IBUs
    1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 8 5.7 IBUs
    1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 1.9 IBUs
  • the recipe was inspired by my previous amber ale batch, which was a great drinker but lacked a little yeast complexity and could have used some dry hopping.  MS stopped by and took some great shots of yours truly in action.  coincidentally, he also brought along a 750 of commons brewery’s flemish kiss, another pale with brett in the secondary, from up in portland.  thanks again!
  • I decided on three separate fermentation schedules for different portions of the batch: five gallons were fermented out with WLP575 belgian blend and will be dry hopped with an ounce of fuggles; five were fermented out with WLP575 and will be racked off the yeast cake into secondary, where WLP650 will be added with some bottle dregs and left to percolate for six months or so; and two gallons will be fermented entirely with WLP650.
  • After twelve hours or so, the 575 had gone to town, blowing out both airlocks and streaming down the sides of the carboys.  The 650 took a bit longer, but after three days a pellicle had formed and after a week a healthy krausen has taken over.  The straight belgian will hit the keg in a few weeks, but the waiting game begins for the other two…