Friday, March 30, 2012

Saison w/ White Peppercorn, Orange Peel, Vanilla & Orange Blossom Honey

Wort, fermending on day 2
I came up with this idea while reading descriptions of other saisons which won medals at various festivals. Some of the popular saisons had peppercorns; pink, green, or a medley. One of my favorite peppercorns is the white peppercorn. I enjoy the flavor, and subtile spiciness. I find white pepper milder flavor than black pepper, the differences between the two have to do with ripeness at the time of picking and preparation methods. Additionally I'll be adding a bit of sweet orange peel to add a citrus note, and adding orange blossom honey at high krausen to up the gravity and add a bit of rich honey goodness.. The spices should add a complex depth to the french saison yeast, the honey should increase the citrus aromatics of the beer in a different way than is usual. At the last minute I decided to add a touch of ground vanilla bean. Ground beans have a spicier vanilla flavor than the caviar of the beans.

(read more after the break.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Brettanomyces Lambicus Pale Ale

Brettanomyces Lambicus Pale Ale

It looks the part.
Brettanomyces Lambicus Pale Ale
Appearance: Giant white head rises immediately out of the pour even chilled, It took me 3 or 4 minutes to pour the whole bottle. The body is murky yellow.

Aroma: Funky but not strongly so, this beer is still very young, it wasn't ready at 2 months.

Flavor: Meh, it was a lot like a normal beer with just a hint of funk. Certainly not the king of funk I was promised. I really think it was too young.

Mouth: Slick and sick still. Carbonation will grow over time as it bottle conditions.

Overall: Not ready yet. The Brett Lambicus contributed an earthy flavor, but no cherry pie tartness...yet. This beer is just 2 months old, I wanted to try it so that I could have a baseline for what flavors developed, how the mouth feel changed, and how the appearance changed. This is a journey of  more than a single step, sour beers take time. I have another single and 2 bombers of this beer, I'll probably attempt another tasting in May or June.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Choosing the Right Glass

Having the right glassware can enhance a beer. The fine people at the Boston Beer Company have raised awareness of this through a successful commercial campaign to sell the Sam Adams Pint Glass. A glass can change the way carbonation leaves the beer, the rate at which it heats up, it can disperse the aroma or keep it close. If you've had the same beer from two glass types you could swear they were two different beers. I first became aware of this phenomenon when I had Canadian Breakfast Stout from a tulip and it was absolutely amazing. The second time I had it was from a snifter and it was not as good. The third time was from an imperial pint glass with a more open top. The aroma makes that beer. It's best from glasses designed to help get that scent to your nose. The glass made all of the difference.

I want to detail the types of glasses I have. I want to detail which beer to drink from which glass. Please read on.

(read more after the break.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Belgian Single 100% Brettanomyces Fermented on Apple Brandy soaked Oak

I bought a vial of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis from White Labs to continue my quest to understand brettanomyces. This gave me a second opportunity to make a west coast style sour. My first attempt at this style was a success. I don't want to change too many variables so I'm just changing the brettanomyces strain and using Hungarian oak cubes soaked in Laird's 7 & 1/2 Year Old Apple Brandy. 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 apple brandy and some funk. At the end of the fermentation I hope to have a nice yeast cake of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis 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; the Brett L edition was good as well. I imagine that this version will be totally different than both the Brett L & the Ardennes. When it's all said and done I'll blend all of the variations and try to come up with a formula for a house Brettanomyces blend. 

Brett B's character according to Wyeast, "This strain of wild yeast was isolated from brewery cultures in the Brussels region of Belgium. It produces the classic “sweaty horse blanket” character of indigenous beers such as gueuze, lambics and sour browns and may form a pellicle in bottles or casks. The strain is generally used in conjunction with S. cerevisiae, as well as other wild yeast and lactic bacteria. At least 3-6 months aging is generally required for flavor to fully develop." White Labs eludes to it being the finishing yeast in Orval.

(read more after the break.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oak Staves

Barrel Staves
There are many reasons to use oak in beer: to get an oaky flavor, to mellow and round out other sharp flavors, and to carry bugs between batches. I use it for all three. When you make a beer with bugs you can use oak to retain the bugs by giving them a home and a habitat. The oak can be reused over and over to reinfect worts with souring organisms. This is why I keep my oak, if the sour beer turns out I'll have a starting point to replicate it. To this end I bought a barrel...well, part of a barrel...I got 10 staves.

(read more after the break.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review: Citra Citrus Light IPA.

Light Citrus Citra Pale Ale

Light Citrus Citra Pale Ale

Appearance: Straw yellow with a nice yellow head. The head rises from the pour and sets after a few sips, the beer is reasonably carbonated and I can see bubbles rising in the glass. Fairly clear, not quite as clear as desired but alas. The cold conditioning work fairly well.

Aroma: Light and bitter, Not too much oomph like I was expecting.

Flavor: Unexpected, It's nice but it has a touch of zesty bite on the tip of the tongue. Like licking a battery.

Mouth: really good, it's prickly with carbonation and light from having a low finishing gravity.

Overall: Interesting, the zest added a unique and prickly bitterness that sticks around in my mouth

Rating: I am going to say B/B-, the zest is odd, the flavor is quite bitter and the aromatics are not there. Not sure where this went off course. Maybe it needed to be dry hopped. I think the zests would work better in a fuller IPA with more oomph from the hops to accent the zestiness. Kyle really liked it, said it was his favorite of my beers. So I think this could be a polarizing beer with some people liking it, some hating it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Blackberry Pacific Gem Pale Ale

Blackberry Pacific Gem Pale Ale

Appearance: Deep red and clear, minor issue with floaties(solvable), nice head, stark white providing a good contrast. The head was taller but fell quickly as I tried to find my phone to take the picture.

Aroma: A strong scent of hops, an amalgamation of the pacific gem and black berries. The accidental dry hoping might have contributed to this.

Flavor: The blackberries provided a refreshing tartness but overall the hops were too strong, I'll dial back the hops next time. Not accidentally dry hopping might be enough so I won't dial them back much.

Mouth: Good carbonation but I want more from this beer, my vision is a spritzy mouth feel that prickles with active carbonation and citric acid from the blackberries.

Overall: A flawed beer build from a good concept. Blackberries and Beer are a good mix, I think the Pacific Gem will be a winner in this beer. I'm going to add this to the rebrew schedule and consider adding a portion of raspberries in with the blackberries to add fruity depth to the flavor, maybe 2:1. To grade this beer I'm going with a C-. The beer is good, I like it, but it's flawed, improperly dry hopped, floaties, and a touch too much hop flavor/aroma. I already have the frozen fruit for the re-brew.

Ewww... Floaties!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Saving A Beer - Under Carbonation

It doesn't take much yeast to carbonate.
So my smoked porter was a huge let down. It didn't carbonate so the flavors were the flavors flat and dull. It had no carbonation to bring it to life. There is a reason beer isn't served still, it's better carbonated. So what can you do? Well the sugar drops I put in there are still in there somewhere. I am counting on their being enough fementable sugar that a 1/8 tsp of dry champagne yeast does the trick. The yeast must have been tapped out by the long secondary on bourbon soaked oak cubes and the higher alcohol of this beer. This is a dynamic I'll have to watch in my other beers.

Step 1: Pop the Cap
Step 2: Add the Yeast
Step 3: Recap and Agitate

This saved the beer; I had 4 undrinkable bottles of beer. If you see my original review you'll read that they were not good. With carbonation the beer was pretty good, the alcohol was still a bit too hot, the rye whisky and smoked malt really came through with carbonation. The mouthfeel was spot on. A real re-review will happen in a few months when I think the alcohol and other sharp flavors mellow a little bit.