Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Peach Lambic

I used up five gallons of lambic base on an experiment. I had a jug of relatively good tasting lambic style ale resting on the kitchen floor of my mothers home. It sat quietly developing from a mostly bland flavorless endeavor at first tasting to a sour one at blending time. pLambic #4 is now resting on top of peaches.

Why peaches? Because it's amazing.

I first experienced a peach lambic when Derek and I were on California Trip #2. It was here we had Fou' Foune from Cantillion. It was pretty magical. I still remember the duality of being both intensely sour with hints of funkiness and fruity with the apricot/peach flavors that were undeniable. 

Since then I've sampled other peach flavored sour ales and among them there were two stand outs. Cascade Apricot Ale which is a fine ale with nice sourness and a pleasant flavor of fresh fruits. How the beer maintains those flavors is pretty unexpected when you get your first nose full of sourness. The other standout was Upland Lambic: Peach, which like Fou' Foune had those lambic elements and a nice sour peach flavor.

When I blended white flame peaches with my sanctification clone I tried a fresh peach for the first time. I dunno why but my parents had only ever served me canned peaches floating in syrup and I thought that was the flavor of peaches. Perhaps their flavor was that of Peach Faygo, a guilty pleasure for Derek when he's in Michigan, a flavor I find cloying. I tried them at that point and found out that their flavor was totally different from what I had known. This peach season at Gavin's Orchards I've tried more peaches than I knew existed three months ago. The variety settled on to make myself a peach sour was the Blushing Star. Described as, "It has a unique wonderful distinctive full flavor of an extra sweet but slightly acidic white flesh peach plus a penetrating, pleasing aroma. Flesh is white tinged with pink and does not brown." I found it to be very easy to eat. The flavor is peachy without being too much, and the slight acidity of the peach balances that out pleasantly. Peach and acidity, who knew right?

This was mostly just my rinsing the skin of the peaches to clean off any dirt or other substances clinging to the outside, and then cutting them up. A few portions with deep bruising had to be tossed away but the peaches were in relatively good shape. Around 10 pounds of peaches were added, the amount would be 1/4 bushel or so, minus what I ate while I was working. Everything went well and after 12 hours there was minor airlock activity of the year old microbes getting a fresh start with their new food.

Fingers crossed that in four to six months this turns into a winner and that I have a real choice of what I should enter in the Siciliano's home brew competition.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Double Dry Hopped Imperial IPA


This was brewed as Derek's birthday present. We had it over his birthday weekend as both a lawnmower and palate cleanser. It was light for it's abv, balanced for it's IBU, the aroma burst from the glass, the hops filled the flavor, and it finished smooth. I had Derek review it for the blog (Thanks Buddy). It may have faded before Derek drank it because he reported less aroma than I remembered, or perhaps it was personal perception.

Appearance: (B) Nice copper color with slight haze, nice head with good retention, settles down to a foamy quarter inch

Aroma: (B) Light floral hop noted, fairly understated

Flavor: (A) Pine and floral hops with a mild bitter finish

Mouthfeel: (A) Medium bodied with pleasant carbonation

Overall: (B/A) Nice summer, good character and quite refreshing

Improvements: I might consider adding more hops. Add another charge to the aroma step and or layer hops known for their aroma into the beer to accentuate that. Also I'd use a Wyeast liquid culture instead of a packet. Possibly a good candidate for filtering if you were trying to win a competition.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Flood

Now that it's over I can talk about it. There was a flood in my apartment and I've been homeless for 21 days. That is the length of time my landlord took to undertake what should have been a simple cleaning up from a pipe that burst in their laundry room.

Several batches that were either aging or waiting on me for bottling have been lost. One batch is on wait and see.

I also think I have to move, how can I trust my landlords after this? No longer will I inhabit the same small space I've lived in since I started this blog.

I dunno what's next but I'm hoping to find out soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Expanding my brew day.

As if a six to eight hour brew day wasn't long enough this past brewday I wanted to do more. I wanted to try to make spent grain bread. You may have heard of this and thought, can I do it? The answer is yes. It's super easy!

To start with read this primer on the Home Brewers Association's webzone

I modified their recipe down to a more manageable size and removed the milk because I never have milk at home; it always spoils before I drink it all.

1.50  cups spent grain (wet, but drained)
0.75  cups warm water
0.25  cups sugar
2.50  cups all purpose flour (give or take)
0.50  tsp. salt
1.0   egg beaten
0.5   packet dry active bakers yeast

When I made this it was still sticky and wet at first so I added about a half cup more flower. This will depend on the water content of your spent grain. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky or wet. It should stay together and not stick to your hands. Find the right amount of flour for your batch. 
Side note on making bread: when you're adding ingrediants at the end to get it to the right texture and consistency add them a little at a time, kneed them in and see if you need more. If you dump a half cup of flour in because it's still a little wet it might become overly dry and break apart; this can be overcome by adding water, but if you add too much you are in a cycle of fail.
So you'll do a rise until it doubles in size, this depends on the ambient temp, in a cool kitchen it could take 2 hours or more, on a hot day with no AC your time will be less.

After the rise punch the dough down and form it into whatever shape you want your loaf to be, I usually make a boule. Let it rise again for about as long as you let it rise the first time. You want the yeast to create little CO2 pockets to keep your bread light and airy.

Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes, when the loaf is hard you should be able to bang on the bottom and should sound hollow, then it's done. The crust will be thick and rustic. Enjoy.


My Results

The bread was good, the crust was thick and dark perhaps a bit over cooked, but the inside of the bread was warm, moist and surprisingly sweet. The spent grains added texture as well to the bread. I'd make it again without hesitation and would enjoy trying bread made from a red or brown ale too.