November 29, 2012

Dunkelweizen + Pumpkin Pie Spices = My New Pumpkin Beer?

I wasn't very happy with my last attempt at making a pumpkin beer and although I had wanted to give it another try this year there were too many other beers I wanted to brew and usually fall means Oktoberfest and lots of commercial pumpkin beers so not a lot of homebrew gets drunk in our house this season, anyway. Well this year we didn't seem to find as many oktoberfests or pumpkin beers as we had hoped. One excellent pumpkin beer we found was a brand new beer by local brewer Lakewood Brewing Co. called Punkel, which is a Dunkelweizen with pumpkin spices. Punkel definitely lived up to our own hype; it's delicious. Although there's not a lot of weizen yeast character coming through it is probably more of an American-style dark wheat beer in the same way American wheat beers sometimes call themselves hefeweizens.

A few weeks ago I looked around at my current bottled homebrew and realized we're actually running short on beers my wife will drink and since I had meant to brew a dunkelweizen earlier in the fall I thought it would be fun to make a proper German dunkelweizen and add pumpkin spices. We also have important friends coming into town in three weeks -- the feller who made we want to try homebrewing and his wife -- and I'd like to have some good beers for them to try since it's been a couple years since they tasted our beer. Three weeks is really fast to push out a beer but a weizen can definitely ferment fast and as a low gravity beer it should be ready in the bottle in a couple weeks. I've never pushed out a beer that fast so we'll see how it goes.

The recipe below is my standard dunkelweizen recipe, which I really like. I keep thinking about adding a touch of chocolate malt to give it a slight roast edge but my wife thinks it's perfect so I keep it as is for her. The pumpkin spices were selected by looking at a lot of recipes and figuring out which ones were described to have the same characteristics I like in pumpkin beers. I prefer the more earthy spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, than the more fragrant spices, like ginger and allspice, that can make pumpkin beers taste a bit like potpourri. As usual, this is a one gallon recipe.

This will be my first attempt using my new two gallon cooler as a mash tun for my smaller batches. I am using a bag to hold the grains, rather than rebuild the spigot, so it will be more of a BIAB technique but I'm really hoping it will hold a consistent temperature better than using a pot on the stove, which was getting cool too fast.

Pumpkin Dunkelweizen

Batch size: 1 gallon
ABV: 5.55%
IBU: 17.4
SRM: 12.4
OG: 1.056
Est. FG: 1.013

Water Profile - Munich. Started with RO water and added:
2 grams chalk
0.5 grams calcium chloride
1.5 grams epsom salt

1lb Wheat Malt
0.5lb Munich Malt
0.25lb C60L
0.25lb Pale Malt

Mash Profile - Double Decoction
Infuse 0.63 gallons at 119F for 113F rest for 25 minutes
Decoct 1.10 qt and raise mash to 148F for 30 minutes
Decoct 0.49 qt and raise mash to 158F for 30 minutes
Sparge with 1.58 gallons at 178F

Boil time: 60 minutes
0.25oz Saaz [4%] at 60
1/2 tsp spice addition at knock out (see spice recipe below)

Ferment at 66F with WLP300 for one week, bottle condition at 4 volumes for 2 weeks.

Spice recipe:

1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp clove

Mix together and add appropriate amount to beer. I only needed a very small amount of this spice blend but I didn't have an easy way to mix it in a much smaller quantity. You can scale the recipe up if you need to make a larger blend. Having extra on hand not only means you're ready for another batch but it also means if the spices are too weak before bottling you can make a spice tea and add in the bottling bucket until you are happy. Alternatively you could use the store bought pumpkin pie blend but I find it tends to be a little to floral for my taste.


Fermented four days at 66F, raised to 69F for two days, let free rise last day. Bottled with 1.25oz corn sugar in weizen bottles. Added a few extra ounces of water to the priming sugar to make up for excessive trub. Obtained 7.5 16.4oz bottles. Will carbonate for two weeks at room temperature ~70F.

Spice blend tasted good at bottling. No potpourri flavors. Flavor begins with a clovey dunkelweizen flavor that is slightly muddled and then finishes out into a great pumpkin spice flavor. Aftertaste of spices remains with a slight tannin astringency on the tongue. Looking for the flavors to blend a little better after carbonation and expect carbonation will help scrub the remaining tannins off the tongue.
November 27, 2012

Motor Oil Belgian Stout

I brewed this beer almost a year ago in January of this year and although I was happy with the flavor, one thing I really disliked was that it seemed thin. (I know, smart people are going to scroll down to the recipe and point out that there isn't any flaked barley but not all stouts actually do use flaked barley and the oats and wheat is almost 20% of the grain bill, that is definitely enough body-adding grain.) It was what set me down the path of recognizing my stovetop BIAB method for one gallon batches wasn't producing the kind of beer I wanted. This second batch is getting mashed in my new two gallon cooler, which seems to be doing a better job of maintaining temperatures.

The first run of the recipe earlier in the year was just to see how it tastes in preparation for it's final destination. I like the flavor, it has some good roast character mixing with chocolate, raisin, oat-silkiness, some bready wheat character all over great Belgian yeast esters. However, it was not intended to be a stout all on its own. This beer is one half of a blended stout and sour beer based loosely on New Belgium Clutch, which is a blend of an imperial stout and the dark sour beer they use in their sour beers (most prominently seen in La Folie). It is a delicious blend of 80% imperial stout and 20% sour. So I began conceptualizing a more session-strength version of this blend, using a more moderate Belgian stout and a darker sour beer. The dark sour beer was brewed in the beginning of this year and innoculated with dregs from my lambic. I published the recipe for it under the name Battery Acid. I'm still considering the proper blending percentages. I've thought as high as 50/50% and as little as 75/25 with 25% sour. Since the stout portion won't be done for a few weeks I'll have time to lock down how sour I want it to be and how much of the sour portion I want to bottle straight. I'll write separately about that when the time comes.

So today I'll just post the recipe for a tasty, wheat-driven Belgian stout. It uses a lot of unconventional grains for a stout. I blended the concepts of the usual Irish and English stouts with new wave Belgian stouts, in particular Boulevard's Dark Truth, which I enjoy a lot. The recipe uses chocolate wheat, which is a fairly new grain and one that gets universal appreciation. It is smooth and chocolately and bready all at the same time. It's quite tasty. It's a good mix with chocolate malt to get those chocolate flavors but limiting the roasty character of chocolate malt. Although I haven't used it in a dunkelweizen it would probably be fantastic.

Anyway, here's the recipe for one gallon:

Motor Oil Belgian Stout
Est. ABV: 5.51%
IBU: 35.2
SRM: 54.3
OG: 1.054
Est. FG: 1.012

Water Profile: London
RO water adjustments:
Chalk: 0.5g
Calcium chloride 0.5g
Epsom salt 0.5g
Baking soda 2g
Kosher salt 0.5g

Mash water: 0.63 gallons at 170F -- mash 60 min at 158F
Sparge water: 1.57 gallons at 174F

1lb Marris Otter 49.26%
0.25lb Crystal 120l 12.32%
0.25lb Flaked oats 12.32%
0.13lb Chocolate malt (350 SRM) 6.4%
0.13lb Chocolate wheat malt 6.4%
0.13lb Wheat malt 6.4%
0.07lb Carafa III 3.45%
0.07lb Roasted barley 3.45%

Boil additions for 60 minute boil:
0.4oz EKG [5%] at 60 minutes

Pitch on cake of South Austin Golden Strong yeast at 75F, ferment at ambient for three weeks.

This recipe is one of my more complicated recipes. I am usually an advocate of less-is-more when it comes to recipes because too many grains tends to produce a muddy beer when people try to add too many flavor components. I'll rationalize this one: MO is your base grain, which you need. The oats add body to the beer and if it wasn't oats, I'd add flaked barley. The chocolate malt, chocolate wheat malt and wheat malt should be thought of as two flavor components rather than three. The wheat and chocolate wheat malts produce body and breadiness. The chocolate wheat and chocolate malts come together as a blend of chocolate flavors with some roast but a bit smoother than chocolate malt on its own. The crystal malt and roasted barley are flavor additions and the carafa III was to get it over-the-top dark, there's no significant flavor addition there. So the resulting flavors you get are: raisin/caramel from the crystal, roast from the roasted barley, bready from the MO wheat and chocolate/coffee from the chocolate malts and mouthfeel from the oats. Those are four distinct enough flavors in a balance that isn't muddy but rather distinct. It's definitely on the edge of too much going on, especially with the yeast, but doesn't reach muddy. It may be too much with the sour beer added but we'll see.
November 23, 2012

Yeast Project Post #2

I decided to start the project by testing three strains: RAM-1 (WLP 300); RAM-2 (Stroh); and RAM-10 (Blatz). I figured the two probable lager strains would be good to test side-by-side and the WLP300 sample would be a good benchmark for my process, since I know what that strain should produce.

Overall Process

I first needed to grow the cultures in a small volume of wort, so each received 10ml of 1.040 wort with manual aeration (shaking). Part of the culture will then be moved to a 90ml solution of 1.030 to grow for a fermentation test. Once the 90ml starter is fermented, the liquid will be decanted and 13oz of 1.040 wort will be added. The fermentation will occur at 61F for five days, followed by one week at room temperature. The beer will be siphoned off, gravity-tested and bottled. It will be conditioned for three weeks as usual. The remaining cake will be rinsed and then stored for either further tests or addition to my frozen yeast bank. The beer will be tasted for flavor profile (the worst part of the project!).

Depending on the strain and results, additional small fermentations may be done to test the strains productivity at higher or lower temperatures. Lager strains may get a test at a higher temperature to test upper limits of usefulness but probably not lower. I hope to be able to identify the lager strains by esters produced in the low 60s due to their usual clean performance in the 50s.The ale strains will probably undergo testing at 61F, 68F and some in the mid-70s, depending on the strain and how it performs at lower temperatures. If it produces undesired esters at 68F, no reason to test it at 75F.

Notes for RAM-1, RAM-2 and RAM-10 -- 11/1/12

Since I just brewed the mesquite porter I was able to coax out some additional runnings from the grains and boil it down to a useful gravity. I went ahead and hopped the wort for convenience and minor bacterial defense. This same wort will be used in the final fermentation tests, too. It's not an ideal environment for any of these three yeasts but it's mild enough to allow yeast flavor to come through.

10ml cultures
Each culture received 10ml of wort at 1.040 with shaking for aeration. RAM-10 (Blatz) showed the quickest sign of reproduction with a small dusting of yeast on the bottom of the vessel and obvious CO2 production, roughly 24 hours after pitching. Both RAM-1 and 2 are lagging roughly 42 hours later but showing some signs of CO2 production (or just air venting back out of the liquid when I shake it). The worts in 1 and 2 are more clear, suggesting less yeast activity. My source says it may take as much as five days for solid growth to occur.

RAM-10 already smells like a drier beer with some light-struck character, like corona. Since it was showing positive signs of significant growth I removed roughly 4ml and added to a 90ml 1.030 starter, receiving shaking (I'm feeling like I have a lot of plates spinning now).

Notes for RAM-1, 2 and 10 -- 11/2/12

I woke up this morning to some happy looking yeast. Each vial, when shook for aeration, produced positive pressure in the vial, which suggests significant fermentation has occurred/is occurring. The RAM-1 smells like hefe yeast, as it should. RAM-10 continues to smell Corona-like. RAM-2 smells more clean with a slight fruity character.

The starter of RAM-10 is also showing signs of bubbling. There's a thin layer of bubbles growing on the top but it doesn't look like krausen, yet. I'm keeping an eye on krausen growth to try to determine if this is a lager or ale strain.

Notes for RAM-1, 2 and 10 -- 11/3/12

RAM-10 has developed a nice, thick layer of yeast at the bottom of the starter. At the end of the day both RAM-1 and 2 were showing good signs of fermentation so I added them to their own respective 90ml starter. The RAM-10 starter lost the skunky smell and is starting to exhibit a slight fruity-ester character and some of the smell of well, a lager.

Notes for RAM-1, 2 and 10 -- 11/4/12

RAM-10 has a very thick layer of creamy white yeast. It appears to be ready to be stepped up. RAM-2 is showing some signs of fermentation in the starter. RAM-1 is showing some, but slightly less than RAM-2. I will probably hold off on stepping up RAM-10 so I can do all three at once and put them in the fermentation chamber as the mesquite porter is coming out.  

By the end of the evening the starters looked inactive so I put them in the fridge to cold crash and expect to get fresh wort in there for a fermentation test tomorrow. 

Notes for RAM-1, 2 and 10 -- 11/5/12

Poured out the starter liquid today and added fresh wort of 13oz to each starter. Will ferment at 65F for three days, then let rest at room temperature for a week. Added 13oz of 1.040 wort with aeration and yeast energizer at 1pm.

Tasting notes on starters: RAM-1 tasted like light struck porter with hints of banana and clove, just as should be expected from a hefe strain. RAM-2 had strong caramel and apricot flavor, slightly reminiscent of steam beer. RAM-10 was similar to RAM-2 but with less caramel, more apricot and a slight skunky character like the initial starter.  

Roughly six hours after adding fresh wort there is a thick layer of foam in each vessel. Perhaps each yeast actually is an ale strain and it is krausen on each. Could still just be escaping CO2 crowding into a foam.

Notes -- 11/8/12

After three days at 65F I let the temperature rise to 69F with the intent of letting it rise to 75F (or as warm as it will get at room temperature). I will let it stay at these temperatures for seven days and then test the FG and bottle. RAM-1 looks fairly clear with a good compact cake of trub with lots of yeast. RAM-2 also looks clear but with a little less yeast. RAM-10 has very little yeast in the cake but the walls of the jar are lined with yeast. I wish I could get them to fall off into the cake to try to keep a larger volume from the batch.

Notes -- 11/15/12

Today I bottled each beer as a sample. I ended up with around 8-10oz in each bottle because I was trying to leave as much yeast behind as possible. I haven't quite decided how I am going to try to wash the yeast down to an amount I can put in my frozen yeast bank but I have plenty of time to figure it out and for now the cakes are sitting in mason jars under sterilized water in my fridge. The leftover runnings I used from the porter didn't make a great test wort because there's a lot of unfermentables in it and I added way too many hops so it's pretty bitter. I'll just buy some DME at the homebrew shop next week and make my life a whole lot easier.

I tested the beers for gravity and sensory perception. Results were not too surprising:

  • RAM-1 (WLP300): pretty much what was expected, some clove and banana underneath the porter and hops. Hefe yeast does not belong in a porter. FG was 1.012.
  • RAM-2 (Stroh's): strong caramel aroma, some yeast esters, slight diacetyl. Tasted same as it smelled. FG was 1.011.
  • RAM-10 (Blatz): intense aroma apricot and caramel, sort of an apricot cobbler aroma. Taste was less apricot-y with slight skunky character. FG was 1.012.
November 19, 2012

Hop Garden Follow Up

This year I had committed to building a nicer garden and making a more serious attempt than I made last year to grow hops. (The build appears here.) Overall I was dissatisfied with the development -- I got no hop cones -- but I am holding out hope that I have some good root crowns in the dirt for next year.

I planted four varieties: cascade, sterling, nugget and mt. hood. The cascade never made it more than a few inches before it died off. The sterling actually had some great bine growth for a while but once the locusts set in early summer it struggled to grow back from that terrible plague. The mt. hood also had some decent growth but never got more than four feet off the ground. The nugget also performed poorly, getting only about eighteen inches off the ground.

I'm a pretty bad gardener, so I'm not too surprised I didn't do well. I should have done a better job of keeping them fertilized and I need to figure out a better method to keep the locusts away from the plants. Next spring I will probably try to enclose the garden with mesh. My rosemary bush did well and my pepper and tomato plants did ok initially but once the summer heat set in they stopped producing to then start up late summer. Now we are reaching cold weather and I have all these half-grown tomatoes that are probably not going to make it all the way to maturity. The bell pepper and hatch chiles produced a little but the cold is sapping their strength so what's on the plants now will likely be the end. Only the jalapenos are proudly giving the cold nights (upper 30s) the cold shoulder (terrible pun) and growing tall and proud.

Next year I will take another stab at cascade and replant some more peppers early in the season. I debate back and forth with myself about leaving out the peppers so the hop plants have unfettered access to the sun but once it hits triple digits in the summer I think the ground shade is important to keeping the roots cool. By that time the hops should be several feet in the air and should have no problem getting sun on the leaves.
November 15, 2012

Wild Ale 2.0 -- Four Months

It's been a couple months since I checked in on this beer. I try to ignore it because I'm expecting a two year aging process before bottling. The aging process isn't particularly exciting but it's interesting to peek my head in every once in a while and see where things are.

The last update in September only showed a very thin pellicle. Today the pellicle is thicker with some big bubbles. It is still fairly loose, it doesn't have that tight appearance pellicles often get although it is more opaque and dense. The beer is still extremely clear beneath. I know the description is much less interesting than a picture but it's hard to get a really good picture in the mouth of a gallon jug and the sides of the fermentor in the headspace has all the junk leftover from krausen so I can't get a great picture from the outside.

Right now my plans haven't changed for this beer, I still expect to let it ride out two years. I expect to wait to taste it until twelve months have gone by and then most likely give it another six months until I start thinking about bottling it. If the flavor is good at eighteen I'll probably go ahead and give it a bottling but I'm not opposed to letting it go all twenty-four months. I am still holding on to hope that the beer will develop into something excellent and I will want to commit another two years to a larger five or six gallon batch.
November 12, 2012

Yeast Project: RAM-4

RAM-4 is identified as a "super-attenuative" saccharomyces strain cultured from spoiled beer from the UK. Although I suspected the strain might actually be brett, on further research tracking down what little information is available about the strains I obtained (at least to my non-biologist, non-scientist resources) it is a saccharomyces strain. It's just not saccharomyces cerevisiae var. cerevisiae. It's something else.

It's saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus, or sometimes referred to simply as saccharomyces diastaticus. I had never heard of this strain before but by deploying some late night google-fu I found that it is actually discussed in some brewing literature, less so in homebrewing literature, and some scientific work. One article referred to it as a "ninja yeast". Let me tell you why: Saccharomyces diastaticus has a power that saccharomyces cerevisiae usually lacks: the ability to metabolize dextrins and starches. While saccharomyces cerevisiae var. cerevisiae strains can only ferment certain sugars, this ninja yeast can absolutely dry a beer out. Even more than those badass saison strains like 3711. Ok, I thought that was pretty cool. Ninja yeast sounds badass. So why isn't this yeast deployed by brewers, especially those trying to make low calorie beers?

When Boston Beer Co. and Weihenstephan got together to create Infinium beer, one of the goals was to create a very light, dry beer. They contemplated the use of saccharomyces diastaticus, as Weihenstephan has an extensive yeast bank and includes this ninja strain; however, Weihenstephan rejected it because the flavor was unpleasant. (Ultimately, they developed a mash method using un-kilned malt with more enzymes to dry out the wort better. They were limited in options due to the Reinheitsgebot that applies to Weihenstephan. For more information and a look at the patent application, see here.) Further research, including some writings by the well known Charlie Bamforth, explained saccharomyces diastaticus does a great job drying out a beer but produces a lot of phenols, particularly of the medicinal-flavored variety.

(As an aside, part of my research reflected that it is not uncommon to see Torulaspora delbrueckii bacteria used to promote clove flavor in wheat beers. I had never heard of that but I'll probably do some follow up reading on that.)

In fact, saccharomyces diastaticus is a major beer spoiler. Since it can chew up what our average saccharomyces cerevisiae var. cerevisiae leaves behind it almost always has an opportunity to turn your beer into a meal. It is likely the "wild yeast", or one of them, commonly infecting homebrew. I know personally I have had some infected beers that didn't turn sour but did dry out with terrible phenolic character. Saccharomyces diastaticus was probably getting nasty in my beer. Of course, this really goes back towards the argument I frequently make about infections and some of the homebrew folklore that, "the only things that can live in beer is saccharomyces, brett, pedio and lacto." That just isn't true. There is a lot of yeast, mold and bacteria that can survive at different times in the brewing process and many enjoy the anaerobic conditions of a sealed bottle or keg.

Rather than make a lot of medicine-flavored beer, this strain is being looked at for fermentation in ethanol production for industrial/transportation uses since it is able to consume more than other saccharomyces strains but unlike brett, will not take as long or metabolize the ethanol into acid. So that's pretty cool but it doesn't help out my brewing unless I'm brewing beer to run my car -- and I am not.

So bringing all this full circle to the yeast project, I do not intend on experimenting with this strain, at least not yet. I already know what infected beer tastes like, I'm not really in the mood to deliberately make more. So there's really no value in popping this yeast out and letting it loose. I'm not a believer that once a strain gets free in your house it will take over but there's just no value in producing bad tasting beer for the sake of making bad tasting beer. (Your house, equipment and body are constantly covered in a nice layer of yeast and bacteria anyway.) Maybe at some point I will get bored and give it a try but for now the culture will sit lonely in the back of my fridge. I thought the research was far more useful to myself and other brewers so I wanted to share that and explain why there is no test batch for this strain.
November 7, 2012

Beer Cellar?

Like most beer snob/connoisseurs I have a small collection of beer I've accrued but haven't drank yet. I don't get into all the trading because I don't have time to track down beers to be able to trade (we don't get a lot of trade-worthy beers in the DFW area) but I do have some stuff I've acquired in other parts of the country. Some of this stuff is beer I bought purposely to age, some I bought with the intent of drinking right away but haven't and a few beers just got forgotten about for a while and haven't made their way into the fridge. So I thought I would just share what I'm sitting on. I know this isn't homebrewing-related but I'm putting in a lot of time on the yeast project (I'm currently fermenting three of the strains and organizing notes along the way) plus gearing up for my last round of law school finals.

  • Piraat 750ml acquired 12/10 (just forgot to drink when I bought it, now I'm just seeing where it goes)
  • Boulevard Brett Saison 750 ml acquired 7/09 (also bought and forgot to drink, now I am saving for next summer to break open against a 2013 bottle)
  • Rahr Barrel Aged Winter Warmer 2x22oz acquired 12/11
  • Franziskaner Dunkelweizen 16.9oz acquired 9/11 (also forgot to drink at the time and keep forgetting to just drink it)
  • Maui Brewing Coconut Porter 12oz acquired 9/11 (left behind and forgotten from a four pack)
  • Liefman Cuvee Brut 750ml acquired 9/11
  • Russian River Damnation 12 acquired 12/11
  • New Belgium Frambozen 6x12oz acquired 12/11 (bought last winter and forgot to drink it, probably past its prime)
  • Stone Collaboration Cherry Chocolate Stout 2011 12oz acquired 12/11
  • Lindemans Kriek 750ml acquired 10/11 (also a bought and forgot beer)
  • Blanche de Namur 750ml acquired 10/11 (also bought and forgot, the spices are probably a bit faded)
  • Liefman Goudenband 750ml acquired 11/11
  • Ommegang Aphrodite 750ml acquired 11/11 (early reviews said to age so that's what I'm doing)
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers 750ml acquired 12/11
  • Ommegang Hennepin 750ml acquired 12/11 (bought and forgot)
  • Ovilla Dubbel 750ml acquired 12/11
  • Leffe Blonde 750ml acquired 5/12 (bought and forgot)
  • Real Ale Sisyphus 12oz acquired 3/12 (I want to buy another bottle next year and taste vertically)
  • Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout 12oz acquired 3/12 (bought and forgot)
  • New Belgium La Folie 16.4oz  acquired 5/12
  • New Belgium and Lost Abbey Brett Beer (NB Version) 22oz acquired 7/12
  • Deschutes Collage 12oz acquired 7/12 (I acquired two bottles, the first was very rough, aging this for at least a year)
  • Great Divide Hoss 12oz acquired 8/12
  • Great Divide Hades 12oz acquired 8/12
  • Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire 750ml acquired 8/12
  • Dry Dock Vanilla Porter 22oz acquired 8/12
  • Lost Abbey Carnavale 750ml acquired 8/12
  • Goose Island Pere Jacques 22oz acquired 8/12
  • A'Chouffe McCouffe 750ml acquired 9/12
  • DeProef Zoetzuur 750ml acquired 9/12
  • Great Divide Wolfgang 12oz acquired 9/12
  • Ranger Creek Small Batch No. 1 12.7oz acquired 9/12
  • Ranger Creek Small Batch No. 2 12.7oz acquired 9/12
  • Ovilla Saison 750ml acquired 6/12
  • New Belgium Tart Lychee 22oz acquired 6/12
  • Widmer Kill Devil 750ml acquired 6/12
  • Ommegang Art of Darkness 750ml acquired 6/12
  • Left Hand Smoke Jumper Imperial Porter 22oz acquired 6/12 (need to drink before the smoke starts to fade)
  • Ranger Creek Mesquire Porter 22oz acquired 6/12 (also need to drink before smoke fades)
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru 2x750ml acquired 9/12
  • Schneider Weisse 500ml acquired 9/12 (will go into the fridge soon)
  • Schneider Aventinus 500ml acquired 9/12
  • Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero 22oz acquired 9/12
  • St. Arnold's Pumpkinator 22oz acquired 10/12
  • Full Sail Wassail 12oz acquired 10/12
  • Pike Place Brewing Naughtie Nelly 22oz acquired 10/22
  • Boulevard Yorkshire Stingo 750ml acquired 9/12
  • Eel River Raven's Eye 22oz acquired 9/12
  • Wasatch Devastator 12oz acquired 9/12
  • Le Petite Prince 750ml acquired 9/12
  • Wittekerke Winter White Ale 750ml acquired 12/11 (bought and forgot)
  • Great Divide Espresso Yeti 22oz acquired 7/12
  • Avery Nineteen Tripel 22oz acquired 9/12
That's a very rudimentary  list and I did a poor job of listing them in any fashion other than how I wrote them down as I tried to catalog them on paper some time ago. If you notice the acquisition dates tend to clump around certain months. That's usually when some new beer place has opened or somewhere was running a sale or I took a vacation. My wife and I really went on a tear buying beer this year but that was because we found a lot of great stuff we really wanted to try and it's always cheaper to buy a bottle and bring it home than buy a pint or half pint at a bar. Plus, we don't go out too much since we're both in school. We try to drink one bottle from our reserve each week and right now I'm trying to enjoy some of the beers that will decline with age, such as the smoke beers, so we can enjoy the full value of the beer. We'll probably scout out some winter beers in December but we're running really low on room for beer in the house so we'll need to drink down our reserve for a bit before we bring in another haul.
November 5, 2012

I got new yeast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After a few weeks of work, I've been fortunate enough to obtain samples of several strains of yeast generally not available to the homebrewing public (I'm not even sure these strains are available to most commercial breweries, either). I am unbearably excited about them. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to say how I obtained access to these yeasts, except to say it was completely legal. I'm fairly confident my source would prefer I do not name names or share future generations of the yeast but I haven't been explicitly told not to.

Ok, so I'm not just trying to brag that I took down eleven rare strains, I fully intend to explore these strains and see how they perform at different temperatures. Since all the strains came from breweries I expect they will all make good beer and eventually find their way into several of my beers and into my frozen yeast bank. I'll start up a new page in the toolbar to the right to collect the experiments. I'll give you the breakdown of the strains I received and what little info I have at this point (I'm still trying to track down some history on these strains). I will identify the strains based on my own catalog numbers identified as RAM-# (RAM being the abbreviation for my usual interweb nom de plume on beer sites).

RAM-1 is actually a homebrewing strain; it is the White Labs Hefeweizen Ale strain (WLP300). This strain will act as sort of the control strain for the process. Since I know how it operates and what flavor/aroma it produces I can use it as a comparator for other strains to make sure my process is producing healthy yeast (and beer).

RAM-2 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain identified in origin from Stroh's Brewery in Canada. Since Stroh's is known for lagers, I suspect this strain is a lager strain.

RAM-3 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain identified in origin from Whitbread Exchange Brewery in Sheffield England, now defunct. I do not know if this strain is related to the Whitbread yeast sold as S-04/WLP007/Wyeast Whitbread.

RAM-4 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain either housed at a brewery or cultured from a beer brewed in the United Kingdom. The only notes available was that it came from a "super-attenuated beer" but since it was genetically verified as saccharomyces cerevisiae it is not brett, despite the notation.

RAM-5 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain originally from Pabst Brewing Company but identified as "Pabst Ale Yeast". I do not know if this strain was ever used to produce the Pabst Blue Ribbon Ale or another Pabst product.

RAM-6 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain of unknown origin but cultured from a trappist cheese. It may be a trappist strain in normal use or some other unknown or currently-unused Belgian saccharomyces cerevisiae strain.

RAM-7 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain identified in origin from the Pschorr Brewery in Munich, Germany. I do not know if this strain is an original Hacker Brewery strain or a different one used by Pschorr Brewery before it was merged with Hacker in the early 70s. I also do not know what products the strain may have been used to produce.

RAM-8 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain from an unknown brewery in Surrey, England. Not knowing what date it was cultured or preserved, I have no way of guessing the source.

RAM-9 is a saccharomyces bayanus or pastorianus strain identified as originating from the Whitbread Exchange Brewery in Sheffield, England. This strain may have been used to ferment lagers but guessing by the location and common use for these strains it is likely the strain was used to ferment cider and/or mead.

RAM-10 is a saccharomyces cerevisiae strain identified in origin from Blatz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I don't know if this is an ale or lager strain but since Blatz is a lager manufacturer, my suspicion is it is a lager strain.

RAM-11 is a dekkera anomala strain from an unidentified brewery. The only note I have is that it is isolated from lambic. Dekkera is a spore-forming version of brett. Nobody seems to produce any anomola strains at the homebrewing level but Wyeast used to (apparently they found out it wasn't really an anomola strain and quit selling it?).

Last, RAM-12 is a brettanomyces custersianus strain originating from Bantu Brewery in South Africa. This brett type is sold by East Coast Yeast and ol' Al B at ECY says this strain produces a lot of fruit flavors with no funk and an increasing amount of acidity over time. My initial research suggests this strain will produce a lot of acetic acid if you give it the oxygen to make it happen. I do not know if this strain is the same as ECY's.

Well, that's all for now. I was offered many other beer and non-beer originating strains that I declined at this time. It will take me a lot of time to break down these strains and do some testing on them. Maybe in the future I will take another look at those other strains. I'll probably keep passing on the saccharomyces cerevisiae harvested from vagina and human feces and the lactobacillus harvested from a baboon's tooth. I could have said yes to the lactobacillus from a baboon's tooth but I declined. I mean, I am curious what flavors are available from that strain but I'm even more curious about who looked at a baboon and said, "I wonder what bacteria is in there and yes, I would like to get my hands in there and find out." Inquiring minds want to know...