December 11, 2017

Throwback Imperial Stout + Pastry Stout Variants Recipe

What do you do when you're handed an imperial stout recipe from 2007 but expected to brew like it's 2017? A couple of pals started homebrewing not terribly long ago and over a fair amount of beer I suggested we should brew a recipe on our respective systems as a friendly competition. Over still more beer that became brewing an imperial stout plus a couple variants from each side. Eventually they plucked out a recipe (and brewed it weeks before me) from somewhere that has all the trappings of an imperial stout recipe from the last decade. Chinook hops, lots of bitterness, a load of chocolate malt. It fits in the Stone IRS, Great Divide Yeti mold that has lost favor to its sweeter, barrel aged, pastry stout younger sibling. While I could have brewed this recipe as intended and picked some adjuncts for the variants that fit 2007, where's the fun in that?

The real challenge in this beer is that I have about five weeks to brew, condition and carbonate a 10.5% beer. I'm fermenting it with WY1318 for maximum 2017 love but my culture is old and needs a couple step up starters to handle the volume. I'll pump the wort full of oxygen for a fast and healthy fermentation. To cut down conditioning time I will prepare adjuncts for the variants that I can add at bottling so I can maximize time in the bottle for good carbonation. 

Working 2007 stout into 2017 stout


The lesser challenge with the adjuncts is working that sweet on sweet pastry stout flavor on top of the base recipe. At 100 IBUs, even on a 10.5% beer is a firm amount of bitterness. It's the kind of stout that tastes good up front but really smooths out over a couple of years. Even the 9% imperial stout I brewed earlier in the year for the first run through my whiskey barrel was a mere 56 IBU. Great Divide Yeti is 12% and only 75 IBU. Yikes. Any adjuncts added to the beer risks exposing the bitterness. Adding cocoa risks turning into a mouth of bitter chocolate rather than the rich chocolate syrup of a modern stout. Coffee? Day old, thrice reheated pot of gas station coffee. 

To combat the bitterness I've opted for a few modifications to help improve the maltiness of the beer. First, I've opted for WY1318 over the recipe's Nottingham because WY1318 is great at teasing out malt flavor without making a beer flabby. (One of the reasons it is great for hazebro NEIPA.) Second, I've opted for a chloride-forward water recipe to accentuate malt and roundness over bitterness or dryness. Third, where it fit in the recipe I opted for specialty malts with fuller flavors over flatter American specialty malts. Fourth, I've opted to make my adjunct-laden variants with components that will add sweetness. 

I made a few switches in the hop schedule so I could use hops I had on hand rather than buying more. I left the hop schedule essentially the same but struck out the centennial and CTZ for my seemingly endless supply of belma and added back in a little extra chinook to keep the rougher bitterness of CTZ.

Pastry stout variants


Variant number one is a take on BVDL aka marshmallow handjee aka bourbon vanilla dark lord, which is among the sweetest beers I've ever had and therefore a perfect path for this beer. I have the necessary ingredients on hand to emulate this beer. I have a jar of Buffalo Trace that has soaked oak cubed for several years and some vanilla beans that I bought with no specific purpose in mind. The vanilla bean will soak in the bourbon while the beer ferments and then I will add it at bottling. 

Variant two will mix rye, oak and coffee. For this variant I emulated whisky barrel aged coffee by soaking unroasted Mexican coffee beans in rye whisky that soaked with oak cubes for three years. Then I roasted those beans, blended them with the same beans roasted without the whisky at a 2:1 (whisky:non-whisky) ratio. I then made a concentrated cold brew and added in more of the oak-soaked rye whisky.

Throwback Imperial Stout Recipe



Details
Batch Size: 2 gallon
Est. ABV: 9.7%
Est. IBU: 100
Est. OG: 1.110
Est. FG: 1.028
Est. SRM: 49
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter50365.40%
Simpsons Golden Naked Oats12109.80%
Thomas Fawcett Crystal II3652.50%
Briess Crystal 12031202.50%
Swaen Biscuit Malt12239.80%
Briess Chocolate Malt63505.00%
Thomas Fawcett Roasted Barley63005.00%
Water Profileppm
Modified Bru'n Water Black Malty
PH: 5.4
Calcium80
Magnesium5
Sodium22
Sulfate29
Chloride41
Bicarbonate219
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum
Epsom Salt0.5g00.2g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda0.7g
Calcium Chloride0.8g0.3g
Chalk1.2g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 9.55 qt
Sparge volume: 0.87 gal
Infuse 9.55 quarts at 172F15660
Sparge 0.87 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Chinook [13%]0.3ozFWH32
Opal [6.5%]0.13ozFWH7
Chinook [13%]0.37oz3027.6
Chinook [13%]0.33oz2019.3
EXP 4190 [3.6%]0.78oz2013.7
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: WY1318
Pitch 2l starter
Pitch at 65F1565
Bottle with variant additions2170

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 11.26.17

Preboil volume: 2.95 gal
Preboil gravity: 1.066
Mash efficiency: 70%
Postboil volume: 2.1 gal
Postboil gravity: 1.105

12.2.17: Gravity reading says the beer is down to 1.010 which seems unlikely. I think the refractometer is giving some wrong results due to the color of the beer. Definitely has the bitterness I expected although there are some nice chocolate and coffee flavors that have sweet roundness to them.

Also combined one Madagascar vanilla bean with 75ml of Buffalo Trace bourbon that sat on a load of medium American oak cubes for several years. Plan to let that ride for the week and add at bottling at a rate of 1ml/1oz of beer. Next Saturday I'll brew a condensed cold brew coffee.

12.10.17: Bottled beer to 2.2 volumes of CO2. Added champagne yeast at bottling to help advance carbonation.

Through the last week I ended up adding a total of eight grade B Madagascar vanilla beans to the bourbon. That bourbon was added at a rate of 20ml/22oz bottle of beer.

I used a combination of faux barrel aged coffee and unadulterated Mexican coffee at 0.50oz faux barrel aged coffee and 0.25oz regular. I made a cold brew of approximately six ounces and blended in 50ml of oak-soaked rye whisky. The combination was added at a rate of 16ml/22oz bottle of beer.

Beer is definitely old school imperial stout. Bitter but has a nice malt flavor. Neither of the additions were as potent as I wanted. Likely because the bitterness is fighting with the sweetness. I expect the flavors will become more cohesive over time.



November 2, 2017

Sombrero Saison: Mixed Fermentation Saison with Grapefruit peel, Orange peel, Prickly Pear and Lavender

While I consider myself among those who despise the way saison/farmhouse beers are treated like a dumping ground for unusual ingredients, I can't ignore my own hypocrisy. I've treated saisons to weird ingredients--but I treat many styles that way. It's not that I oppose the introduction of weird ingredients into saison (like Fantome's many mysterious but wonderful additions). I just dislike that when many brewers want to play with strange ingredients they turn to saison. It's unnecessary as Scratch Brewing and others following their lead fantastically prove with their unusual beers branching out across many styles. Unusual concoctions can make sense in any style when there's a clear concept.

Still, this beer seems kitsch, even for me.

Grapefruit and orange peels, prickly pear and tequila. It's an unnecessarily large pour of simple syrup away from a cheap Mexican resort cocktail. I can feel you judging. I get it. It's the kind of beer that I want to throw in the trash when it's a lazy remix of a cocktail or overly boozy. But if the flavors are threaded together correctly it could be a complex saison/farmhouse beer with an obvious Mexican feel. It's either great or gross. Hey, Fantome did a tequila barrel aged saison recently. Why can't I follow the ghost's lead?


Sombrero Saison's Not-So-Mysterious Origins


This beer's origins began five or six years ago when a waive of prickly pear saisons came in vogue. I decided I wanted to hop on that train but couldn't find reasonably priced prickly pears. I eventually found some, stuck them in the freezer and never put the beer into my to-brew list. As I started thinking about winding down my kitchen and brewing supplies in advance of next year's move to Denver I decided I should go ahead and use these prickly pears. I started thinking about what I already have available to avoid buying more ingredients. I already had some fruit peels in the freezer and tequila which has been sitting on oak cubes for several years now. These ingredients go together well so it's a good start.

I thought about how these ingredients might play with the predominately berry and hay flavors of my mixed saison culture. This still seems like a good idea. A good mix of flavors, especially with some late addition hops to add to the fruit flavors and some minor herbal notes. Still, it seems to lack some balance in the phenolic side of things. My saison culture with the right amount of age loses that brett barnyard funk in favor of the dried hay/old unused barn smell. So I started digging around for possible spices.


Here comes the lavender. 


I planted a little lavender plant among the ground cover in my yard intending to use it in a beer but never finding a home for that floral soap flavor I so rarely enjoy in beer. In Brewing Local, Stan Hieronymous mentions that a long boil on lavender causes it to lose the floral flavor in favor of a cinnamon-like spice flavor. A gentle spice is exactly what I want to help tie together all these flavors. I don't want to specifically taste this ingredient. I want it to help glue everything else together.

Sombrero Saison One Gallon Recipe


Details
Batch Size: 1 gallon
Est. ABV: 4.8%
Est. IBU: 35
Est. OG: 1.047
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. SRM: 3
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pils malt10257.10%
White wheat malt4214.30%
Unmalted wheat8128.60%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Yellow Bitter
PH: 5.4
Calcium50
Magnesium10
Sodium5
Sulfate110
Chloride46
Bicarbonate-36
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.2g0.4g
Epsom Salt0.2g00.4g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride0.2g0.3g
Chalk
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid0.1mL
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 2.19 qt
Sparge volume: 0.93 gal
Infuse 2.19 quarts at 167F15075
Sparge 0.93 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Aurora [8.1%]0.22oz6034.9
Lavender leaves0.6g600
Cascade [5.5%]0.25ozWhirl?
Fresh grapefruit peel4gWhirl
Fresh pink navel orange peel3gWhirl
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: Saison AF
Pitch 40ml yeast slurry
Pitch at 65F12065
Add 1.3 lb prickly pear 30Ambient


Brewday & Fermentation Notes


Brewed 11.2.17

First runnings: 1.063
Preboil gravity: 1.030
Preboil volume: 1.4 gal
Mash efficiency: 65%
Postboil gravity: 1.042
Postboil volume: 1 gallon

Pre-fermentation flavor is herbal, slight citrus, bready. May consider adding a second equal addition of fruit peels with the prickly pear. Not as citrusy as desired.

This is one green beer.

Bottled 4.7.18

Bottled with 1 oz table sugar to approximately 3.0 volumes.

At five months this is a little early for this beer because the mixed culture holds on to its weird sweet barnyard flavor for a lot longer; however, I needed to bottle beer ahead of the move and it can continue its slumber in bottles.

The beer is a shade darker than magenta, promising to stain anything it touches. You can see from this classically awful photo that it has a color a little lighter than a pinot noir but in smaller quantities it is a brighter, pinker beer. You can see the green color I discussed before is gone although I'm not sure if it would still be green if not for the overpowering color of prickly pear.

This is one weird beer--even for me. At this pre-carbonation, under-aged status it is just really weird. The aroma is a mix of that sweet barnyard that my culture throws early that will hopefully go away plus parsley, blueberry, orange, honeydew melon and a subtle floral and cinnamon. Kind of like a cheap berry juice drink for kids left out on the counter for too long.

That pretty well describes the flavor except it tastes more floral and vegetal. I know some of that is just the flavor of prickly pear but I can't help but feel the lavender is also flexing its muscles. The more I drink the more herbal-lavender it gets.

I opted not to add tequila as planned. I added some of the oak-soaked tequila to a sample but the tequila flavor was lost even at a fairly high ratio. It started feeling boozy but not much flavor. If anything, it made the herbal-floral flavor stand out even more. I did try adding a little lime juice to a sample which seemed to help round out the herbalness a little. After drinking four ounces the herbal flavor started to feel heavy. Also, my tongue is a little numb.

I'll leave these in bottles through the summer at which time they will be closer to ten months old which is about the time the sweet barnyard flavor cuts out completely. I'm interested to see where this beer goes but honestly it is probably not one I will brew again. An interesting experiment for sure.





September 8, 2017

Barrel Aged Americanized Oud Bruin Batch 2 Recipe

When I brewed batch 1 of this barrel aged Americanized oud bruin I planned to keep it in my tiny two gallon whisky barrel for about a year. That was March. I checked on the beer earlier in the summer I was both pleased with the flavor and concerned about the tannin content of the beer. The beer is progressing nicely but the tannins are already at the top end of my preference. I need to pull it early and age it outside the barrel or just bottle it. That leaves the barrel available for a new batch which brings me to this post.


Changes between batch 1 and batch 2 of the oud bruin recipe


So far I feel the batch 1 oud bruin recipe hits all the desired notes although I am continuing to learn and understand my sour culture. It's thrown a few acetic beers which I don't like. I am in the process of determining whether it is (1) my fault from underpitching and letting the beer sit too long without developing a pellicle to regulate air exposure; or (2) if it has too much lactic acid bacteria activity early on which is delaying pellicle formation and allowing acetic fermentation; or (3) the culture just has too many acetic acid-producing microorganisms. For this batch I hopped the starter to approximately 20 IBUs which should help knock back some of the LAB and make way for more yeast production early in fermentation. The culture has some de Garde dregs to it and I know at the time the dreg beer was brewed that was something de Garde dealt with as well. The starter smells cleaner, more yeast-forward. Not so much of the acid aromas as in prior starters with this culture.

Otherwise batch 2 will be identical to batch 1. I expect with the barrel having received now three beers the tannins will reduce and this batch will be good for a longer stay in its oaky home.

Barrel Aged Americanized Oud Bruin Batch 2 Recipe



Details
Batch Size: 2.25 gallon
Est. ABV: 7.3%
Est. IBU: 24
Est. OG: 1.071
Est. FG: 1.015
Est. SRM: 25
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pilsner malt40266.80%
White wheat malt10216.70%
Vienna malt63.56.00%
Crystal 804804.20%
Chocolate malt2.63502.70%
Aromatic malt2262.20%
Black patent malt1.45001.50%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Brown Malty Profile
PH: 5.5
Calcium60
Magnesium5
Sodium16
Sulfate50
Chloride60
Bicarbonate85
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.4g0.3g
Epsom Salt0.4g00.3g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda0.4g
Calcium Chloride0.9g0.7g
Chalk0.3g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 7.8 qt
Sparge volume: 1.5 gal
Infuse 7.8 quarts at 167F150F75
Sparge 1.5 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.25oz6024
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: Oregon Special
Pitch 300ml slurry
Pitch at 70F?Ambient
Bottle to 4 vol CO2 with 2 oz table sugar


Brewday & Fermentation Notes 

Brewed 9.6.17

Preboil volume: 3gal
Preboil gravity: 1.054
Mash efficiency: 75%

Postboil volume: 2.1 gal
Postboil gravity: 1.070
Brewhouse efficiency 67%

Aggressive fermentation--seems probable underpitching on prior uses of the mixed culture caused slight acetic character. Far more aggressive fermentation than other batches. 

August 12, 2017

Just the Tip Mixed Fermentation Saison Tasting Notes

If this isn't the weirdest beer I've ever brewed then it's definitely on the short list. I brewed this beer right at the beginning of 2017 using fir tips clipped off the in-laws' Christmas tree. I used my mixed saison culture which I am still in the process of exploring. I've figured out it really benefits from age. Very young it showcases some berry and tropical fruit. Then it takes on a cluttered, too-many-expressive-yeast flavor with a weirdly sweet brett barnyard funk. With some time the beer dries out with a lot of berry and hay with some tropical fruit in the background. This is exactly what I love in brett'd beers. I mean, I like Orval's barnyard funk but when it hits that really dry character where you can feel tannins on the tongue, that's when I really enjoy it. So that's why this review comes eight months after the brew day. 

Appearance: Pilsner yellow with a snow white head. The beer is a little undercarbonated for the style so the head comes out thick but with large bubbles. Over time it mellows into a thinner but lasting layer of white foam. Fairly hazy which is likely why it appears so light in color.

Aroma: Overripe blueberries sitting in a barn recently full of goats. It's funky and fruity. An herbal but earthy and slightly cheesy aroma like an aged blue cheese. Damp forest. Minor notes of tangerine, cherry, dried wild flower, gravel. As the beer warms an herbal and licorice aroma emerges.

Flavor: Berries, hay, sweet cherry, ripe tangerine, oregano and subtle licorice. Aftertaste is long, lingering and complex. Lemon, blue cheese, pine, black tea, grapefruit pith. Fades into a lasting lemon, blueberry, black tea flavor. Hops are nowhere to be found. Grain struggles among the mixture of flavors. Sort of a bland malt in the background if you go looking for it. There is grain somewhere in there but it's covered up by a lot of disparate flavors. As the beer warms a little of the sweet brett funk emerges.

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness but thicker than most saisons. Slightly slick but a lot of drying tannin feeling on the tongue. Prickly with slight acidity. Tongue is left feeling both dried out and slightly slick. Slight numbing sensation. Unusual. As it warms the numbing reduces dramatically along with the slickness.

Overall: In tree tip beers I've had in the past I've always tasted herbal and citrus notes. Here, that's mostly missing. Perhaps this is because the tips from the Christmas tree were extremely young or maybe my mixed saison culture is just weird like that. I think this beer is still a few months away from getting from like to love on the fermentation character. It's an unusual beer which I'm glad I tried brewing but one I'm not sure I would rebrew. There's something fun about the weird mixture of flavors but it's definitely not a beer I would race to drink all night. 

July 18, 2017

Azacca single hop NE pale ale recipe

I always try to start a blog post with a brief discussion of the style or something about the following recipe to make the post slightly more interesting to read than a bare recipe. For the NE IPA or pale ale style I'm not sure there is much more to be said that isn't currently part of a polarized discussion thread on one of the many brewing and beer forums around the internetz. You hate or love the style. Local breweries are either great or awful at them. You love the $60 can trade market or think it's the worst. I'm somewhere in between on the style but find the trade market one of the worst parts of craft beer right now.

I guess if I had anything unusual to say about the style it's that I hope it finds paths to stretch beyond just trying to be as murky as possible. I think paths exist using hops and other grains other than the small number that dominate the style that may breed completely new beer styles. Not just for more murk or fruit flavor. Why can't the style's smoother mouthfeel apply to darker beer styles? What would happen if a brewer lent the style's mechanics to a lower ABV pale ale with noble hops? 

Today's recipe does not answer these questions. It's a basic NE style pale ale with just azacca hops. The ingredient choices fell on utility; it's just ingredients I need to use up in the house. I opted for the NE style over a drier west coast pale ale because I still want to explore understanding the water profile that makes the style work. It's a nice summer beer to brew. It will feed my free party pig as something to sip through July. 


Azacca Single Hop NE Pale Ale Recipe



Details
Batch Size: 2.25 gallon
Est. ABV: 5.1%
Est. IBU: 41
Est. OG: 1.050
Est. FG: 1.011
Est. SRM: 5
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pale malt30270.60%
White wheat malt8211.80%
Flaked oats8111.80%
Crystal 204205.90%
Water Profileppm
NE IPA Profile
PH: 5.5
Calcium100
Magnesium12
Sodium29
Sulfate67
Chloride134
Bicarbonate55
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.2g0.2g
Epsom Salt0.7g00.8g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda0.6g
Calcium Chloride1.7g1.8g
Chalk0.3g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid0.6ml
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 6.38 qt
Sparge volume: 1.74 gal
Infuse 76.38 quarts at 167F152F60
Sparge 1.74 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Azacca [10.30%]0.3ozFWH31.6
Azacca [10.30%]0.5oz59.5
Azacca [10.30%]1.2ozWhirl?
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: WY1318
Pitch 40ml yeast slurry
Pitch at 65F1465
Dry hop 2 oz azacca hops3Ambient
Package in party pig

Brewday and Fermentation Notes

Brewed 6.17.17.

First runnings: 1.080
Preboil volume: 3.4 gal
Preboil gravity: 1.038
Mash efficiency: 82%

Postboil gravity: 1.050
Postboil volume: 2.25 gal
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%


June 7, 2017

Barrel Aged Americanized Oud Bruin Recipe

Having passed a couple clean beers through my two gallon wheat whiskey barrel (imperial stout and adambier) it's time to turn the barrel over to sour beer. For the whiskey barrel I wanted to do something different from my other sour projects that could stand alone as an interesting beer distinct from the other beers shaping up in my sour beer blending project or my lambic-inspired spontaneous beers. I settled on an American rendition of oud bruin, which is among my favorite sour beer styles and the only one I haven't brewed yet. My sour blending project includes an oud bruin recipe heavily adapted from the Goudenband-like recipe in Wild Brews but I wanted something in the vein of Americanized oud bruins which tend to be darker and favor a combination of roasted and caramel malts instead of letting crystal malt do all the heavy lifting. The small amounts of roasted malt brings out a different set of flavors that plays really well within the darker sour style.

Americanized Oud Bruin Recipe Design

Having settled on a style it was time to formulate the recipe. I knew my target was a beer that leaned more into the roasted malt flavors than the crystal malt. I wanted to capture the dark cherry, raisin, dark chocolate and cola flavors found in some of these beers like two of my favorites, Oud Bruin from Funkwerks and River North Oud Bruin. The color should be like the oozing center of a molten lava cake.

Working with roasted malt in sour beer is tricky. Too little and it's just a color adjustment. A small amount with a fair amount of crystal malt gets closer to the burgundy-type sour beers, like those brewed by Crooked Stave. Too much and the beer becomes ashy and in my experience lends itself to that terrible tire fire flavor. 

I sketched out an initial grain bill and then set out to check my work against more established recipes. I looked at the recipe for this style in American Sour Beer and the Rare Barrel recipe floating around online. I also checked what I know about La Folie (which is pretty much within this style) and the two mentioned above. I realized my initial recipe was pretty close to the Rare Barrel recipe (maybe I already had it floating around in my head) minus its use of spelt malt. I felt like I was on the right track and made a few minor adjustments. The rest of the recipe is pretty much in line with other beers in this style. IBUs around 25 and fermented out with my Oregon Special mixed sour culture.

My plan is to brew this beer every year in the barrel for as long as the barrel continues to produce good beer. If the time comes where the barrel gets acetic and I can't restore it then I'll probably take off a head and convert it into a small mash tun. 


Barrel Aged American Oud Bruin Recipe



Details
Batch Size: 2.25 gallon
Est. ABV: 7.3%
Est. IBU: 24
Est. OG: 1.071
Est. FG: 1.015
Est. SRM: 25
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pilsner malt40266.80%
White wheat malt10216.70%
Vienna malt63.56.00%
Crystal 804804.20%
Chocolate malt2.63502.70%
Aromatic malt2262.20%
Black patent malt1.45001.50%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Brown Malty Profile
PH: 5.5
Calcium60
Magnesium5
Sodium16
Sulfate50
Chloride60
Bicarbonate85
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.4g0.3g
Epsom Salt0.4g00.3g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda0.4g
Calcium Chloride0.9g0.7g
Chalk0.3g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 7.8 qt
Sparge volume: 1.5 gal
Infuse 7.8 quarts at 167F150F75
Sparge 1.5 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.25oz6024
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: Oregon Special
Pitch 300ml slurry
Pitch at 70F?Ambient
Bottle to 4 vol CO2 with 2 oz table sugar

Brewday and Fermentation Notes


Brewed on 3.26.17

First runnings: 1.070
Preboil volume: 2.9 gal
Preboil gravity: 1.053
Mash efficiency: 70%

Postboil volume: 2.25 gal
Postboil gravity: 1.069
Brewhouse efficiency: 70%


Racked to barrel on 4.2.17

Racked onto 1/2 pound Turkish figs in glass on 10.8.17. Out of the approximately two gallons that went into the barrel I recovered approximately 1.75 gallons. Beer is a touch acetic. I probably left the beer in the barrel a little too long given the size of the barrel. Probably need to target racking in new beer every four months and replenish the angel's share after a couple months with some fresh wort. Intend to bottle this batch in one or two weeks depending upon how quickly I see fermentation activity from the figs.

Bottled 10.17.17 with 2.6 oz priming sugar, targeting 4 volumes of CO2.

May 9, 2017

BA Mebier -- Whiskey Barrel Aged Adambier Recipe

This is beer #2 for my two gallon whiskey barrel after a seemingly successful imperial stout made its way into the barrel. The imperial stout just made its way into the barrel yesterday so I wanted to brew this adambier to get into the barrel as soon as the stout is ready to get out. This adambier recipe is based upon my non-barrel aged adambier recipe which itself closely tracks the early Hair of the Dog Adam recipe found in the Barleywine book. In my opinion it's not too close to HOTD Adam mostly because it lacks the peat malt. It's more of an amorphous strong ale with some German-ish ingredients. I liked the first rendition and felt like it would be a good candidate for another clean run through the barrel.

For the barrel version I dropped the gravity slightly but otherwise maintained the recipe. I want to avoid a beer that is too boozy but at the same time has enough heft to avoid turning thin and hot after extracting whiskey from the barrel. I know high gravity BBA beers are still all the rage but I'll take a well executed barrel aged beer at 8% over 18% almost any day. Additionally, I expect I'll need this beer ready to go into the barrel in a couple weeks and don't want to worry about coddling a double digit OG beer along and have to decide between too much whiskey in the stout and racking the adambier too early. Otherwise the only other meaningful change is subbing out the yeast for London Ale III which did a nice job with the stout.

Whiskey Barrel Aged Adambier Recipe


Details
Batch Size: 2.25 gallons
Est. ABV: 8.4%
Est. IBU: 42
Est. OG: 1.088
Est. FG: 1.025
Est. SRM: 12.6
Expected Efficiency: 65%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pale malt612280.90%
Munich malt0593.70%
Roasted barley0.73000.50%
Caramunich II9346.70%
White wheat malt1128.20%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Amber Malty Profile
PH: 5.5
Calcium56
Magnesium5
Sodium10
Sulfate57
Chloride67
Bicarbonate18
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.9g0.2g
Epsom Salt0.7g00.1g
Canning Salt0.3g0.1g
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride1.4g0.2g
Chalk0.4g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid0.3ml
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 3.4 gal
Sparge volume: 0.42 gal
Infuse 3.4 gallons at 169F156F75
Sparge 0.41 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
90 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.37oz6030.5
Opal [6.5%]0.42oz2012.3
Irish moss0.5tsp150
Opal [6.5%]1.13oz00
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: WY1318
Pitch 1 cup slurry from imperial stout
Pitch at 70F2070F
Age in barrel until flavor is right
Bottle to 2.3 vol CO2 with 1.3 oz table sugar

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 2.9.17

First runnings: 1.077
Preboil gravity: 1.075
Preboil volume: 3 gal
Mash efficiency: 73%

Postboil gravity: 1.083
Postboil volume: 2.25 gal
Efficiency: 61%

Sent to the barrel on 2.24.17. FG ? The beer is murky from movement and my refractometer reading says the beer is stalled at 3.5%. Impossible because it doesn't taste sweet and the alcohol is definitely present.

Bottled on 4.2.17 with 2 oz table sugar.

April 24, 2017

Diabeetus Juice barrel aged imperial stout recipe

Does the world need more barrel aged imperial stout? I suppose it does if I need to pull out the whiskey character out of this whiskey barrel I bought. This barrel is a mere two gallon barrel from a young distillery near Dallas that produces a wheat whiskey and vodka. It's a solid barrel; not one of the thin barrels retailed to bars and consumers to age cocktails and spirits countertop. The long term plan is to use the barrel for aging sour beer but it needs at least a couple runs of clean beer to strip out most of the liquor and more assertive oak character. Imperial stout is a good first run because it's heavy flavors hold up.

My goal with this imperial stout is to balance the extreme attributes of the beer. I quickly tire drinking the super sweet, diabetes juice BA imperial stouts that are all the rage right now. I like the more bitter chocolate and coffee flavors over fudge and Starbucks mocha found in the sweeter variants that goes overboard in sweetness with the oak and whiskey draped assertively on top. I want the oak and whiskey present but just as I like the sweetness under control I don't want the stout to taste like a cocktail. So this recipe is lots of roasted malts and sits on the lower end of the ABV for the style so it further attenuates. 

But first, the barrel needs preparation.

Preparing the whiskey barrel

Soaking the barrel in water
Due to the size of the barrel and my plan to put to use for sour beer I needed to prepare it appropriately. That means prepare it initially for any kind of beer and second to restrict oxygen ingress. 

The distiller told me he emptied the barrel about two months prior and it probably didn't need to be soaked to swell the staves but I didn't want to take a chance. I gave it a quick soak to the heads for four hours on each side. The result, a nicely soaked barrel. I let it dry out on the exterior for a few days so I can wax it.

Once the barrel was dry on the outside I set out to wax it. Like many homebrewers I opted for the cheap route of parrafin wax. The wax melts down easily on the stove and I painted it on with a paintbrush after using masking tape to block off the portion I wanted unwaxed.

Given the small size of the barrel I knew I needed to wax most of the barrel to properly regulate air ingress. I don't find a compelling reason to allow even more airflow into the beer just because it's in a barrel. The barrel wax calculator here affirmed my idea. I ended up waxing the entire barrel minus a square around the bung hole.

I thought I had some pictures after waxing but I guess I didn't take any. It's sort of a messy look because I didn't flame the wax to melt in down. I might do that after the barrel is full. Putting a flame to a sealed cask full of alcohol vapors seems like a really dangerous thing.

The picture to the left is the barrel after waxing and wrapped in saran wrap. I wrapped it in saran wrap for a couple reasons. First, if it managed to leak after swelling and waxing the saran wrap would help keep a leak from turning into a mess too quickly. Second, the wax is crumbly and the saran wrap would help keep that from making a mess while moving the barrel around. I don't expect it to add any oxygen barrier nor do I think it is necessary beyond the wax.

I don't have a stand for the barrel but it sits comfortably on a folded bath towel. I added a rolled towel on each side on the counter to keep it from rolling over. It's janky and looks janky but I'll worry about finding a nicer support after I move it to a permanent location. 


Barrel aged imperial stout recipe


Details
Batch Size: 2.25 gallons
Est. ABV: 9%
Est. IBU: 56
Est. OG: 1.089
Est. FG: 1.021
Est. SRM: 55
Expected Efficiency: 62%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pale malt64268.00%
Munich malt12912.20%
Roasted barley93006.10%
Flaked barley513.40%
Crystal 12041202.70%
Chocolate malt63504.10%
Black malt35002.10%
Aromatic malt2261.40%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Black Malty Profile
PH: 5.5
Calcium59
Magnesium5
Sodium21
Sulfate29
Chloride41
Bicarbonate156
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.2g0.1g
Epsom Salt0.6g00.2g
Canning Salt0.6g0.2g
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride0.2g0.1g
Chalk1.5g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 3.1225 gal
Sparge volume: 1.01 gal
Infuse 3.1225 gallons at 166F152F75
Sparge 1.01 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
120 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.6oz6056.7
Irish moss0.5tsp150
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: WY1318
Pitch 1 smack pack
Pitch at 70F2070F
Age in barrel until flavor is right
Bottle to 2.3 vol CO2 with 1.3 oz table sugar

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 1/28/17.

First runnings: 1.083
Preboil volume: 3.1 gal
Preboil gravity: 1.072
Mash efficiency: 69%
Post boil volume: 2.2 gal
Post boil gravity: 1.087
Efficiency: 59%

Racked to barrel 2.9.17. Flavor is great. Nice mix of sweet malt, caramel, coffee, chocolate, roast. Strikes right balance. Sweetness and roastiness balanced as hoped. Picture below of my fancy AF racking.



Bottled 2.24.17. Tasted two days ago and it was lightly barrel-y with a strong vanilla flavor. Let it ride and tasted today. Firm whisky/barrel flavor without being overwhelming. Another day and it's probably undrinkable. Tastes firmly of whisky, coffee and chocolate. Very happy with this. After racking out sent an adambier into the barrel.

Bottled with 2oz table sugar and added KV-1116 to bottles to ensure timely carbonation.


April 11, 2017

Robot Geisha Belgian Pale Ale Review

This is a long delayed review on this beer with the tasting notes flowing from early bottles on both the version with and without the Ethiopian coffee. This Belgian pale ale was primarily an experiment on multiple fronts:

  • Putting to use the jarrylo hops that have sadly sat in my freezer for too long;
  • Seeing what a light roasted coffee would bring to a beer;
  • Checking out how a Belgian pale ale would taste with a fruitier hop profile more in line with popular American pale ales than the typical Belgian pale ale with more restrained hop character;
  • Keeping my culture of WY1214 going.
So let's see how I did.

Robot Geisha Belgian Pale Ale (no coffee)

Appearance: Predictable copper color one expects in a pale ale. Slight haze. Head is huge, slightly off white with big, rocky bubbles. The head hangs around to the end of the glass with sticky lacing. It isn't the prettiest lacing, like Duvel, but leaves behind a huge archipelago of lacing.

Aroma: Mellow fruit is first to arrive but doesn't go on the attack like an American pale ale. The banana is there along with an Orange Julius-like orange aroma followed by honeydew, pear, lemon and strawberry. There's a little pepper in the finish if you're looking for it. Very little grain aroma but it has a lot of competition.

Flavor: Like the aroma the hops are first to strike. Banana is more prominent and slightly more banana candy than real banana. Orange is next with a really sweet and smooth orange flavor, like orange creamsicle. Melon salad, lemon, pear. Just a hint of grassiness that acts as a bridge between the fruity hop flavors and the rest of the beer. Grain hits in the middle with wheat bread, caramel and a touch of honey. The yeast make an appearance at the end with some pepper and clove. As a whole, it's kind of like your mom gave you a piece of really soft wheat bread with Dole fruit cocktail--minus the cherry--poured on top. But less sweet.

Mouthfeel: Moderate body a touch thicker than really dry west coast pale ales. The finish turns really dry which helps evade the sweet fruit flavors from giving the beer illusion of a heavier body. 

Overall: I was led to believe the jarrylo hops would be all fake, plastic-y banana. I was pleasantly surprised to find very little of that here--although there was some. (As the hops faded in the bottles over months the fake banana dropped off and very little banana flavor remained. The orange marmalade flavor of triple perle remained.) This beer was better than expectations but not necessarily something I would be wowed by ordering blind. I wasn't in love with the jarrylo hops and wouldn't acquire more but the beer itself could easily be a good base for a nice Belgian pale ale or saison either with a different hop or adjusting the other hops to accommodate for its absence. 

Robot Geisha Belgian Pale Ale with Ethiopian Natural Processed Coffee

Appearance: Same appearance as the coffee-free portion with a slight haze.

Aroma: Similar aromas with a soft mixed berry aroma in the mix. Aromas are less distinct and the grain-based aromas are slightly more prominent.

Flavor: Like the aroma, the same flavors are present but less distinct. Citrus outweighs the softer fruit flavors from the hops. Under the fruit cuts a smooth coffee flavor and an earthy blueberry flavor not unlike mosaic hops. There is tartness at the end provided by acids from the coffee.

Mouthfeel: Slightly heavier than the non-coffee portion with slight prickly acidity.

Overall: An interesting but not preferred beer. The coffee flavor is nice and adds an interesting element to the flavor profile. The problem is the acidity in the coffee. It's not a strong acidity in the flavor but the change to ph definitely mutes a lot of delicate flavors. A washed Ethiopian coffee would have been a better choice for this beer. A natural processed coffee might sit better in a sour beer where the acidity would add acid complexity.

March 28, 2017

Ground Cherry Pale Sour Recipe

Here's a sour beer I've wanted to brew for the past three or so years. It harkens back to a time where I was more enamored with the idea of brewing sour beer with fruit and especially fruit that didn't come from generic supermarket varieties. That's a problem because I'm a terrible gardener and to procure enough fruit for beer requires a bush or tree that would require years of development. I went on the hunt for fruit that would survive Texas summers without too much coddling and wouldn't require years of development before I could even get close to fruit.

What I found was something called a ground cherry.

WTF is a ground cherry?

Ground cherry is a small fruiting plant similar to a tomatillo. It grows like a tomatillo plant and develops small fruit that grow in husks, like a tomatillo. There are a few varieties around the world but the two most common are Aunt Molly (which have a citrus-y flavor) and Cossack Pineapple (you can figure that out). It's most similar to a gooseberry in both appearance and flavor, although it is less acidic (and not actually a gooseberry).

Picture of the plants--not mine
It grows across a wide range of environments. With some watering it survives into the triple digits during summer and hangs on until temperatures drop to 40F like tomatillos and tomatoes. The plant gains its name from the way the fruit grows and drops. Midway through maturity the stem supporting the husked fruit gives and the fruit drops to the ground. It takes an additional few weeks for the fruit inside to reach maturity. The green half-mature fruit is full of solanine, which is the poisonous compound in tomato plants and other related plants. This goes away as the fruit matures into a brighter color, orange for Aunt Molly and goldenrod yellow for Cossack Pineapple.

The fruit is interesting for sure. I opted for the Cossack Pineapple, which at full ripeness has a pineapple and vanilla flavor with a hint of tomatillo. When it's still a little green the vanilla is less present with more of a pineapple-tomatillo-green tomato flavor. Culinary applications range from use like tomatoes or tomatillos in salsas or salads to berry-like applications like pies and tarts.

The fruit grow to between green pea and marble size; that means to procure a decent volume of fruit you need a lot. The good news is that this plant has a high yield of fruit, even with moderate growth. The challenge is that it grows and drops fruit the entire growing season which means collecting fruit and probably freezing to get a decent yield. It's taken two years to collect one pound but that is one plant the first year and two plants the second year, minus the volume I ate instead of setting aside for beer. To obtain enough in a single year for a five gallon batch I would need several healthy plants and keep from eating too many. 

The inside of the fruit contains a lot of seeds which may be an issue for beer. I'm slightly concerned that the seeds risk bleeding excessive tannins into the beer. I could try pureeing the fruit but I'm concerned that will tear up the seeds and straining them out would be an absolute PITA. Instead I plan on giving the fruit some pulsed chops in the food processor to break them apart and then plan to avoid long contact time with the sour beer.

Ground Cherry Sour Beer Recipe Design

Nothing to exciting about the recipe design. I wanted to keep the beer pale and fairly neutral to let the fruit flavors shine. While some fruit play nicely with darker sour beers, the flavors of these ground cherries are more compatible with the flavor profile of a pale sour beer with little to no specialty malt. 

I am also still trying to use ingredients on hand so the grain bill was mostly built out of a "what can I sling together to get in the vicinity of what I need to brew" than trying to craft the perfect recipe. I have a clump of white wheat malt which will make up the bulk of the grain bill. Of all the beers I've had with a strong pineapple flavor, they all seem to have a large portion of wheat so I felt this was a good fit. The rest of the recipe is designed to keep on the path of a lighter beer with low IBUs and only a little munich malt to add a little maltiness around the pineapple and vanilla flavors.

Ground Cherry Pale Sour Beer Recipe


Details
Batch Size: 1 gallon
Est. ABV: 5.3%
Est. IBU: 15
Est. OG: 1.052
Est. FG: 1.011
Est. SRM: 4.7
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pilsner malt14246.80%
White wheat malt12239.90%
Munich malt4913.30%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Yellow balanced Profile
PH: 5.5
Calcium50
Magnesium7
Sodium5
Sulfate75
Chloride62
Bicarbonate1
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Gypsum0.2g0.3g
Epsom Salt0.2g00.2g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride0.2g0.4g
Chalk
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single infusion mash
Mash volume: 0.58 gal
Sparge volume: 0.9 gal
Infuse 0.58 gallons at 167F150F75
Sparge 0.9 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.06oz6014.9








Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: Oregon Special
Pitch 100ml slurry
Pitch at 70F?Ambient
Add 1lb ground cherries
Bottle to 4 vol CO2 with 1 oz table sugar

Brewday and Fermentation Notes


Brewed on 3.26.17.

All that wheat turned into a stuck mash. Not fun.

Preboil volume: 1.4g
Preboil gravity: 1.035
Mash efficiency: 79%

Postboil volume: 1.00 gal
Postboil gravity: 1.043
Brewhouse efficiency: 60%

Yikes to that efficiency. I'm not terribly worried about this batch having too low of gravity because it's mostly a vessel to test out the ground cherries, otherwise I would have hit it with some DME at the end of the boil.

6.13.17: Tasted beer, already pretty sour and flavorful so time for some fruit. I had the fruit frozen so I gently warmed in a pan before transferring to the food processor to puree. That turned one pound of tasty whole ground cherries into this puree.





Not the best looking puree but it tastes pretty good. They held up well to freezing. I could only fit about 12 oz. of the puree into the fermentation vessel. I'll let it ride for a few weeks and then taste. If it needs more fruit I'll have to rack over to another gallon jug with the remainder. Not my preferred course of action though.