Posts Tagged ‘pacific gravity’

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…




may PG meeting, cider, belgian small beer, temptation notes

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

the third thursday of may was last week, which meant that I was headed to culver city for PG’s monthly meeting.

  • the monthly style was IPAs, which drew a ton of kegs (12+) and commercial bottles as well as a great crowd (the raffle was especially entertaining).  after resting my blown-out palate, I pulled the cork from a bottle of my cider, which had just turned the corner after being sick with pedio for several months (a good thing!).  I was pleased with the results and held a more detailed (and lupulin-free) tasting last night.
    • basque cider
    • appearance – pale gold, great clarity, very slight carbonation
    • aroma – earthy funk, sweet cooked apple, spice
    • taste – clean, light funk up front with a lingering apple finish, mellow acidity
    • notes – although not as funky as I would have hoped (aroma was stronger than actual taste), this is a great alternative to a standard cider and a good intro to the wild side for the uninitiated
  • I also had a chance to try out a small beer I had made in the parti-gyle method while sparging vizcaino II.  I collected around six gallons of wort at around 6 brix and pitched a starter of WLP500 that I decided to leave out of my main batch.  after adding about 1/3 gal of leftover sour cherry juice from cabrillo II, the beer finished at 2.8 brix for an abv of around 2.6%.
    • pinky (belgian small beer)
    • appearance – golden apricot color, fine effervescence, fluffy white head
    • aroma – light floral belgian yeast, clove spice, slight belgian phenols
    • taste – light and crisp with a dry, slightly bitter finish, palate scrubbing carbonation
    • notes – good budweiser sessionable alternative, lawnmower beer, could use during a tasting as a palate refresher
  • I also managed to choke down a three-year-old, delightfully bretty bottle of temptation (004X1) and pitch the dregs into vizcaino II.  it had been a while since I had tried that beer and I was somewhat surprised to find very little lacto or pedio sourness in the flavor profile – just a very assertive brett character reminiscent of orval that provided a fluffy, long lasting head and great carbonation.  hopefully some of that brett character comes through in vizcaino!



april PG meeting, bottling vizcaino

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

last thursday I headed over to culver city for the pacific gravity april meeting.

  • the keg of the month style was scottish/irish/english ales, and although I considered entering my “cascadian small beer” as a dark mild, I ended up chilling a variety of sour offerings to pour out during the meeting.  after seeing how quickly my ’10 lambic went to work on some apricots, I hoped my unblended lambic bottles would have some carbonation, so I brought one along to find out.  I was stoked to see a considerable amount of effervescence when I poured out some samples, and the carbonation really brought out the fruit and sourness of the beer, which was nicely complemented by some assertive funk.  I’m interested to see how this beer evolves over the next few years, and will periodically dust off a bottle (at least once every six months) to document the progression.

I also managed to set aside some time to bottle the next beer in my funky/sour pipeline – vizcaino.

  • vizcaino was somewhat of an afterthought – I had already brewed a golden strong and had set aside a gallon of wort to step up a vial of WLP655, but after bottling a few bottles of the unfunked expression (which actually scored quite well in a comp), I decided to combine the fermented out golden strong with the sour starter on top of 1.5oz of french toasted oak and a few pounds of local wildflower honey, along with some temptation dregs.
  • however, from a souring standpoint, I was entering the game with a few strikes – I had hopped the golden strong to over 30 IBUs, mashed pretty low, and had fermented with an attenuative strain (WLP570).  I also had pitched my bugs when the beer was at 1.02, at which point it was already at an abv of 7.1%, and the honey I added was easily fermentable as a simple sugar.
  • despite the aforementioned microbial adversity, the not-completely-exhausted gravity worked in my favor, and after a few months a decent pellicle had formed.  at bottling I noticed a downplayed sour aroma with hints of fruit and floral elements, and a sample I poured out had some smooth vanilla oak and funky subtleties that I hope will come out with carbonation (I primed the keg and bottles following my methods with cabrillo).
  • however, vizcaino II will be reworked for a more assertive sourness as follows – it will have a lower hopping rate (under 10 IBUs, likely under 5), a higher mash temp (low to mid 150s F), and a little extra wheat (1-2 #s) for body.  I’m also planning on pitching ECY09 abbaye and ECY01 bugfarm slurries simultaneously to give the bugs a head start, and will likely rack onto apricots, peaches, or another light stone fruit at a later date.



solera prep round 2, march PG meeting

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

this past saturday I managed to crawl back out to the garage and brew the remaining 30 gallons needed to fill my upcoming lambic solera barrel.

  • my recipe remained the same, and I managed to add the unmalted wheat component to the main mash without resulting in a stuck sparge during both of the last two brews by adding 2-3 handfuls of rice hulls to the unmalted mini-mash before adding it to the main mash, resting 3-5 minutes, and then backflushing the mash tun with boiling water before attempting to vorlauf and start the fly sparge.  this resulted in a consistent OG of 1.047 for the last two batches, and an average OG for all four of the combined batches of 1.047.
  • in anticipation of this brew day, I had previously kegged my first (turbid mash) lambic for future blending (and to open up a fermenter), and I pitched a liter of slurry from the old cake into each of the two new batches to kick off fermentation.  the hard part is over – now I just need to nab a barrel (stay tuned)!

last thursday I also headed over to culver city for the march PG meeting.

  • the style of the month was split between stouts and sour ales, so I brought along a keg of cuvee de cabrillo, which had recently carbed up and passed quality control.  even though I had the only sour there, it was a crowd favorite and I took home homebrew keg of the month honors for the second month in a row!  member feedback was very promising and helped validate the long wait (14 months) to enjoy this brew.  I just hope the other batches in my sour lineup fare as well…


monster brew at tustin brewing

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

last saturday I headed over to tustin brew co. to get in on a monster brew coordinated by pacific gravity.

  • in short, the head brewer over at tustin brewing, jon porter, is a PG member who occasionally lets the rest of us pipe dreamers help out (and chip in) on a 16 barrel (~500 gallon) batch that is then split up amongst interested parties.  the mash changes with each session – this year the recipe called for roughly 1/3 pils, 1/3 vienna, and 1/3 rye:
    • Monster Brew #4
      Recipe for 16 Barrels (496 gallons):
      300 lbs 2-Row Pilsner  Malt
      300 lbs Vienna Malt
      300 lbs Rye Malt
      20   lbs 65oL Weyermann’s CaraRye Malt
      36 Oz Chinook  11.4% First Wort/Boil
      40 Oz Saaz 2.5% at 15 minutes
      40 Oz Saaz 2.5% at flame-out
      Vital Statistics:
      OG:  1.056 (if I recall correctly, the actual OG was more like 1.064)
      Color:  6 SRM
      IBU: 17
  • brewing started around 6am, although with a half hour drive to tustin the earliest I could manage was 8, and I arrived just at the start of the sparge.  killer beers such as tustin’s groundwork coffee porter and smog city saison were being poured left and right, and guests were free to roam around the brew premises and help out when needed.  having already had my fill of emptying commercial mash tuns over at san pedro brew co., I was more than happy to defer that and other jobs to my compatriots – in fact, my only tangible contribution to the brew day was flipping the switch for the boil kettle.
  • after a great lunch accompanied by a surprising pour of cuvee de tomme, I nabbed my 10 gallons of wort and headed home, where I pitched a healthy starter of ECY09 belgian abbaye into five gallons and wyeast 3711 french saison into the other five.  both fermentations took off vigorously, and the ECY09 batch managed to blow krausen out the top of the fermenter even with the use of foam control.  I plan on dry-hopping the saison and kegging both in a week or so.  I also plan on returning to tustin brew co. with AP in the near future to get in on some more great beers and food.  thanks again to everyone who helped make this happen!





averting brew day disaster, feb PG meeting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

last thursday I headed back to culver city homebrew for my second monthly pacific gravity meeting.

  • belgian and french ales were the style of the month, and both local and international varieties were popped open to try out.  surprisingly, my favorite commercial brew of the night was ommegang’s hennepin, a beer I often overlook but was pleasantly surprised by its effervescence and drinkability.
  • I also brought along a keg of my winter house saison, and was stoked to see that it had won homebrew keg of the month by the end of the meeting!  it was very validating to see fellow club members appreciate the beer as much as I did.
  • I also started a flickr page for my pics of PG meetings and events – those interested can check it out HERE.

on saturday I fired up my keggles and embarked on what I thought was going to be a simple, straightforward brewday.

  • the plan was to put together a simple kolsch (recipe for 12 gals, 80% efficiency):
    • 15 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.2 %
      5 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 26.8 %
      2.00 oz Pearle [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 26.5 IBUs
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 4 3.7 IBUs
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 1.5 IBUs
  • after mashing in at 152F, things started to fall apart.  noticing that my plate chiller wasn’t cooling as well as it had during earlier batches, I decided to disassemble it and take a look.  what I found blew my mind – despite backflushing and thoroughly rinsing my chiller after each use, nasty gunk was caked inside the chiller and fittings (likely a result of a couple sessions of chilling wort without filtering pellet hops).  I immediately soaked the chiller in PBW and power flushed it with scalding hot water numerous times, then filled and boiled the chiller on the stove, soaked it again, and flushed it an umpteenth time.  I can’t believe I had dodged infection for so long!
  • with my paranoia kicked up to a frenzy, I turned to my march pump and attempted to remove the fittings so that they too could receive a thorough cleaning.  in the process, I managed to crack off all but a single thread on the pump’s output port.  since I still needed to both sparge and chill my wort, pump failure was definitely not a favorable turn of events.  luckily, with a little thread wrap and a delicate touch, I managed to bootleg the pump operation just long enough to get both jobs done.  now I just have to choose between a plastic or stainless replacement pump head
  • to top it off, my kolsch slurry didn’t take off, and after three days with no activity, my kolsch became a saison with the addition of WLP568 and wyeast 3724.  when it rains, it pours…



pacific gravity, lost abbey swag

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

one of my new year’s resolutions was to be more socially active in the homebrew community.

  • even though I frequently peruse (and occasionally post at) homebrewtalk and BBB, most of my homebrewing posse is up north, so the vast majority of my wort boiling is now conducted solo.
  • furthermore, with 12+ gallon batches being the norm these days, even with four beers on tap in the basement, some kegs of “non-standard” (hoppy, sour, strong, etc.) brews take many months to kick.  getting significant feedback on my brews is also difficult, with many tasters providing a binary “like/dislike” response when asked for their opinion.
  • after getting a taste of competition at the OC fair, and reading positive reactions from fellow blogger club members like BT, I decided to join pacific gravity, a well-established local club with a strong membership.  in fact, PG just won homebrew club of the year for the fourth time in nine years.
  • I attended their first monthly meeting of the year, and was thoroughly impressed with its organization and execution.  over the course of a few hours kegs were tapped, bottles were circulated, minutes were read, and a club competition was conducted, with a raffle topping off the night.  everyone was friendly and approachable, and my keg of rye saison was warmly received.  I’m definitely looking forward to many more club meetings, as well as festivals and competitions.

in other news, my spoils from the lost abbey comp arrived, and included a set of stemware and a lost abbey hoody.  thanks guys!