Posts Tagged ‘rayon vert’

brett pale ale variations

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

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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!

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imperial stout tasting, beer bargains

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

 

after being sidelined with a nasty head cold last week, I celebrated getting back on my feet by cracking open a bottle of my imperial stout for a tasting.

  • after experiencing some carbonation issues, I hit the bottles with some wine yeast and set them down for a couple of weeks.  the new yeast did the trick, eating up the residual bottling sugar I had added earlier and carbonating up the bottles in a heartbeat.  my latest gravity reading indicates that the beer’s FG didn’t shift (it stayed at 1.02), so hopefully I won’t have to worry about the wine yeast eating some unfermented sugars and overcarbing the bottles (I’m still planning on testing a bottle every week for the next month though).
    • appearance: pitch black, even when held to the light.  1″ tan head fades to 1/4″ after a few minutes but sticks around.  a great looking beer.
    • aroma: intense roastiness with a bit of booze on the back end, slight hint of sweetness
    • taste: creamy mouthfeel with a sharp, dry finish and carbonic bite.  great roasted malt flavors but not a ton of complexity.
    • overall: this beer still isn’t my favorite, but the champagne yeast worked great and really transformed this beer.  it’s amazing how strong carbonation can completely change a beer’s profile.  hopefully the finishing bite created by the wine yeast carbonation will mellow over time.  I’m looking forward to comparing this to the version I finished with brett in the keg.

 

while kicking back with the aforementioned brew, I got to thinking about the frenzy surrounding “elite” beers here on the west coast – beers that are either exceedingly hard to find locally or costly when they do come around.  I know I’m not alone in feeling envious of locals of prominent foreign breweries who can cruise by their neighborhood watering hole at their leisure and pick up some extraordinary beverages for a song.  however, I have also come across consistent beer “bargains” on a weekly basis that (in my opinion) match the quality and complexity of their elusive style counterparts, often for a fraction of the price.

 

 

  • for example, anyone even remotely interested in craft beer has at one time lusted after a bottle of westvleteren 12, a limited-availability belgian quad that is admittedly delicious.  however, instead of shelling out $20+/bottle online or booking a flight to belgium, I recommend heading down to your local and grabbing a bottle or two of st bernardus abt 12, an equally tasty quad that goes for $4.99/bottle around here.  the similarities between the two beers are striking, which makes sense when you consider their shared history.
  • additionally, it seems that everyone and their cousin has a hard-on for anything cantillon these days.  it doesn’t help that the van roy’s creations are nowhere to be found in the state.  I have to admit, they might be my favorite foreign brewery and put out some incredible beers, but instead of chasing down cantillon’s geuze and paying a mint for it, I recommend nabbing some bottles of drie fonteinen’s oude geuze instead.  in fact, although cantillon’s kriek is safely in my top five beer list, I have to admit that I prefer drie fonteinen’s geuze to its cantillon competitor (and I’m not the only one). plus, I can easily get 375s of it (seasonally) for just $9.99, which in my opinion might be the best beer deal out there these days.
  • further, I know of a ton of guys who love orval with a passion.  however, it’s kind of hard to get behind spending $5-6 a bottle for a session beer during a barbecue.  plus, I’m never too sure how long my bottles have been sitting in some hot truck or warehouse on their way over.  as an inexpensive local alternative I recommend checking out green flash’s rayon vert, which is less than half the cost and tastes to me what I would imagine orval would be like from the source.  I reviewed both earlier HERE. 
  • other beers I could generally label as “bargains” when considering quality, price, and accessibility would have to be rodenbach grand cru ($9.99/750mL), old rasputin imperial stout ($8.50/4 12 oz.), and bigfoot barleywine ($14/6 12 oz.).  again, this is only on the west coast, so your results may vary.
  • as much as I like hitting the road to hunt down an elusive regional favorite, it’s reassuring to know that many world-class beers from around the globe are readily accessible from my own back yard.  enjoy!

secondary brettanomyces addition analysis, tasting

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

after sampling an older bottle of temptation last week, I was inspired to delve more into secondary brettanomyces fermentations.

  • initially, I read up on temptation’s powerful effervescence and dry, earthy funk.  it turns out that although most all clone recipes for temptation call for healthy additions of lacto and pedio, the real star in temptation is the brett.  in fact, vinnie himself notes that he “like[s] the Temptation for its straightforward Brett character” and that “[o]ver time, some Lacto and Pedio have infused in the beer, but it is minimal.”
  • tasting temptation made me realize that having a brett-specific beer in the lineup could be a refreshing accompaniment to sour-focused beers.  in fact, although I only detected a mild acidity in the beer, the complexity of the oak, carbonation, and earth made for a great experience.  therefore, I compiled a group of beers that included brett-based secondary fermentations for comparison:
    • orval (~1 yr old based on label)
      • appearance: amazing fluffy head that keeps expanding after the pour, vigorous fine carbonation, darker golden color (likely from an extended boil)
      • aroma: subtle, rich earth with spicy european hop notes
      • taste: spicy hop back with subtle, balanced earthy brett notes, delicate esters when glass warms
      • overall: I can see why this brew’s reputation precedes it – there is a very well balanced interplay between the hop bitterness and brett
    • rayon vert (relatively fresh)
      • appearance: slightly lighter than orval, still a solid gold with great head and carbonation
      • aroma: fresh, vibrant earthy hops
      • taste: less bitter hop back than orval, more assertive funk, still well balanced
      • overall: a great west-coast twist on a classic, fresh, balanced, and drinkable
    • matilda (2010)
      • appearance: golden color, almost identical to rayon vert (orval is darker)
      • aroma: sweet, oxidized malt
      • taste: sweet (almost cloying), slightly estery, oxidixed like an old barleywine
      • overall: not in the same ballpark as the other two, no brett character at all (maybe earlier versions are more bretty?)
  • In the end, I walked away with some observations and a few ideas for the future:
    • I was amazed by how well the fresh earthy dry-hop character of rayon vert complemented the earthy funk provided by the brett.  it was my favorite of the bunch, and gave me a little insight as to what orval may taste like before its journey westward.  I definitely need to set aside a four-pack to see what some age does to the bottles.
    • as much as I enjoyed the “slight brett in the pale ale” profile, I preferred the overwhelming brett character provided by the long-term oaked secondary fermentation of temptation to the at-bottling brett dosage from orval and rayon vert.  as a compromise, I’m thinking of mashing high (~155F), fermenting out with a belgian sacc strain for a week (or maybe just 2-3 days), adding brett B and orval dregs, letting the brett work itself out for six months, then dry hopping for a week and bottling/kegging.  that, and darkening the grist to add a little more body.  stay tuned…