Thursday, December 29, 2011

Belgian Single 100% Brettanomyces Fermented on Wine Soaked Oak

I bought a vial of Brettanomyces Lambicus from White Labs because my Dark Saison needs the brett to calm down the sweetness of the figs and to hit the terminal gravity I wanted. This gave me the opportunity to make a style of beer which I am a fan of: the west coast sour. Sours such as Temptation and Sanctification from Russian River have captured my imagination of what beer can be. Using those beers as an inspiration I am working to reproduce this idea at home with Hungarian oak cubes soaked in vodka and then in Cabernet Sauvignon. My design of this beer is a simple pilsner and aromatic base lightly hopped and fermented out with Brett yeast. My hope for the flavor profile is a light beer with a light fruity wine flavor and some funk. At the end of the fermentation I hope to have a nice yeast cake of Brettanomyces Lambicus and some oak cubes impregnated by it. My Belgian Single is good on it's own; the recipe is solid when fermented with Ardennes yeast. I imagine that it will be totally different and the answer might be some Ardennes yeast and some Brett.

Brett L's character according to Wyeast, "It produces a pie cherry-like flavor and sourness along with distinct “Brett” character. A pellicle may form in bottles or casks. To produce the classic Belgian character, this strain works best in conjunction with other yeast and lactic bacteria. It generally requires 3-6 months of aging to fully develop flavor characteristics."

(read more after the break.) 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Making Sodas

For a long time I've wanted to make soda at home. This started as a dream to make my own good tasting cola to replace the ever increasing cost of my major brand sodas. We had a product, a marketing campaign, and labels all ready to go if we could just figure out how to make soda. We never had the capital to invest in this dream as college students. We couldn't afford to buy force carbonation equipment or ingredients to make test batches of soda. This has changed in recent times as we've begun to assemble our own at home breweries and the at home brewing equipment is largely the same as soda making.

(read more after the break.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Working With Oak

Working with White Oak is really easy. It's sold plentifully for wine making as well as beer making. It can impart roasted flavors, vanilla flavors, tannins, resins, or spices. It imparts a terrior from where it is grown. It comes anywhere from raw to heavily toasted. Oak can also be used to intentionally carry microbes from one beer to another. Russian River occasionally distributes wood chips made from breaking up old barrels at trade shows, and through contests; sour beer fans snap these up trying to get the microbes in the wood for their own beers.
(Read more after the break.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dark Brett Saison w/ Candied Figs, Star Anise, Cinnamon & Sweet Orange Peel

My second Saison is based on an article in BYO with several saison recipes by Michael Tonsmeire who is the master mind behind the mad fermentationist. I'm going to make a Dark Saison with French Saison yeast and brettanomyces, flavored by candied figs, star anise, cinnamon, sweet orange peel, and candi sugar. If I have any czech saaz left over I'll bitter with that. My recipe will be different then his in a few ways but similarly spiced, bittered, and colored. The final gravity will vary slightly depending on the sugar content of the figs.

To design this beer I wanted to go with the traditional saison base malt, Pilsner. I also wanted to give it a touch of nutty sweetness to accentuate the fruit and spice flavors. I'm kinda counting on the brettanomyces to clean this all up and get the sweetness back in check; we'll see. To gain complexity and build the beer I wanted to include a bit of melanoidin malt for aroma and flavor(smells like fruity malt, wonderful), Caramunich for flavor(toasted nuts), Special B for flavor and aroma as well as color (black in appearance, dark fruit in flavor and aroma) Debittered black for color (dark 500-600 srm dark), and wheat malt for feel and head retention (it's Belgian after all). The yeasts should have these profiles: 3711 French Saison should have a profile of highly aromatic (estery), peppery, spicy and citrusy. This strain enhances the use of spices and aroma hops, and is extremely attenuative but leaves an unexpected silky and rich mouth-feel, and the brett should contribute a pie cherry-like flavor and sourness along with distinct classic “sweaty horse blanket” character flavors.

(read more after the break.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Citra Red Saison

America the bold, meet Belgium the wild. The classic tail of the steadfast American man falling for the impetuous European woman; it's like a romance movie beer. I got the inspiration for this from the home brew board at Beer Advocate. It made me start exploring the idea of saisons more. They are made with a few characteristic yeast strains one of which is the French strain which has a more balanced flavor then the Belgian strains offered by white labs or wyeast. This saison is designed to be a deep copper to red, the healthy dose of American hops should accentuate the fruity french saison yeast.

(Read more after the break.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saisons - More than I ever knew

Before the modern era drinking water was a dangerous proposition. Water contained many pathogens; a fact I first learned while playing Oregon Trail. I can't count how many fictitious children I had who died of dysentery. In French Belgium their solution to this was to ferment water so that yeast could create alcohol and kill all of the dangerous bacteria. As we know the keys to fermentation are yeast, water, and sugar. As avid drinkers we also know that high alcohol beers are more of a meal than they are refreshing. The eventual outcome from all of this knowledge was the Saison.

Farming was hard work. Long days in the fields in the hot summer without supplies of fresh water. So farmers fermented beer light enough to be refreshing and in high enough quantities to last the warmer summer months. This is what farmers drank and where saisons drew their roots. Beers were blended to achieve fermentation, or served still, adjuncts were added, or not. This was home brewing at it's earnest.

Saisons changed however as modernity came about, Adam Smith changed things with his revolutionary ideas about the division of labor. Once brewing became a more practical profession, and larger more modern practices were employed. Saisons became a pure culture product without the farm flavors they had before. The consistency increased, and later the clarity and classic Belgian head were added. What remained of the rather modest roots of this working man's favorite was a beer of modest alcohol, with a characteristically dry finish, and spiciness/fruit from the saison strains.

(Read more after the break.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Galactic Centennial Citra Imperial Red Ale

This is a 1 gallon re-brew of the STL Brown the way I intended it to be. I am tweaking the recipe because I have a lot of galaxy hops and am low on Amarillo. In truth I am not a huge fan of Amarillo(spicy/orange/citrus). Some people find it amazing, but for me I'd prefer: citra(citrus/tropical fruit), centennial(citrus/flowers), or simcoe(pine) to dominate. I've never used galaxy before so I am hoping that by using galaxy hops in the brew and then as a huge shot in the dry hops for added aroma that I'll be able to find out more.

Centennial and Galaxy are both hops I hope to profile in the future. The hop flavor I am hoping to get from this is a bold citrus flavor. The Citra hops should impart a strong tropical flavor and aroma, I have found it to be reminiscent of a fresh cut mango, but with that hop quality unique to beer. The Centennial hops are included to add to the depth of hop flavor. I am looking for their characteristic floral/citrus addition, similar to cascade. The Galaxy hops are new to me but I am hoping to have a unique citrus addition; Wikipedia suggests passion fruit.

(read more after the break.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Smoked Porter

Smoked, Oaked, & Maple Porter

Appearance: Deep brown and thin. Light permeates all but the deepest body. No head to speak of.

Aroma: It was smoky and hot with a lot of bourbon in the nose.

Flavor: Rich bourbon, heat, the aroma from the oak and the smoke come through differently in the glass, the oak is in the flavor, the smoke comes through in the finish.

Mouth: Flat, did not carbonate, not 100% sure why.

Overall: A huge disappointment this tasted so good at bottling, and I was really looking forward to the carbonated version of this. I am not sure what to do, I think I'll pop the remaining 4 bottles and put some yeast in them. I'll recap and if it carbonates I'll re review it. #fail.