Thursday, February 24, 2011

Solera Project

Move day is tomorrow. Once I get settled I'm looking to procure a barrel from one of Texas' many wineries and then have a massive brew day to fill it up. I'd like to do it as a solera, get my hands on a couple smaller barrels and remove/blend/fill every six months to a year. What I don't know is exactly what style to brew. Whatever barrel I manage to get my hands on I'm hoping for it to be neutral oak, so I don't need it to be a beer that can stand up to massive oak character.

The few styles I have in mind are; flanders red, Belgian golden strong, Belgian stout, Tripel, Saison (possibly a dark saison) or a Wheatwine (like a barleywine but with a crapload of wheat).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Supply Lines are meant to be kept full.

I haven't got much in the way of brewing related material at the moment as I'm in the midst of moving to San Antonio.

I bottled the dry hopped saison. Those hops are very intense. They remind me of amarillo sans the grapefruit. Extremely intense but more focused on passion fruit and mango instead of citrus. I'm doing this one bottle conditioned and carbing it to 3 volumes. The higher amounts of Co2 help with the overall dry impression of the beer.

Anyway. Since I'm moving the most important thing to do is to make sure all of my beer and brewing gear is packed and accounted for. I got the majority of my beer together. There's still some in the beer fridge and no kegs are shown. But here's a picture of the supply line.

Beautiful isn't it?

Once I get settled in San Antonio I'll be brewing a mild. And I'll have more notes on this one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nelson Sauvin Saison

A little over a week ago I brewed this saison with nelson sauvin hops. Today I took a gravity reading/tasting. Here are the results.

O.G. 1.050
S.G. 1.010
Apparent Attenuation 80%

Tasting Notes: Aroma is very fruity. Lots of orange and lemon. Nice subtle spiciness. Taste is fruity and spicy. Very dry... but a very full and silky mouthfeel. All of the things you'd expect from the awesome Wyeast 3711 French Saison. The hop bitterness is mild. There's a tad of nice hop flavor. Noble character from the willamette... just a smidge. I'm getting some passion fruit as well. That can only be the NV hops.

I added 1 oz. of NV hops for dry hopping. Going to leave those in there for 1 week. I'm hoping the gravity will drop a shade too in that time. I think it may be nice with a little acidity. I'm considering make a sour mash, boiling it to sterilize then adding it into the saison or possibly throwing in some bugs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Tasting: Hairy Little Monster

Not too long ago I brewed this funky rye hop bomb. And I'm drinking the first bottle now.

Appearance - Golden reddish in color. Pours a creamy frothy white head. You can't tell it from the picture because I accidentally over - poured and the foam went over the side.

Aroma - Nice noble hop notes, but I could use more. I probably should have dry hopped... oh well. Smokey and in a big way. There's no smoke malt in this beer, that's a total function of the brett l. Hints of sour cherry and some pepperiness (from the rye).

Taste - Big rye spiciness. There is some definite bitterness to it, but not from the hops so much as it is carbonation astringency. That malt is toasty as well... almost bready. I'm also getting the smokiness that was in the nose, and in a big way.

Mouthfeel - Very VERY full for such a dry beer. I'm not sure exactly what that's a function of... but I like it.

Overall - I think this ended up being a successful beer and pretty close to what I was hoping to achieve; which is a low gravity ale with tons of flavor. However I think that the brett character could stand to be more restrained, maybe use it as a later fermenter and not during primary along side a sacch. strain like I did. I also think I nice dosage of dry hopping would really be neat.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When breweries do nice things...

My favorite Texas brewery is hands down Real Ale Brewing Co. in Blanco Texas. These guys don't make a bad beer. One of their more notorious brews is Sisyphus. It's an awesome barleywine that's not too Americanized. Most American barleywines are just a stones throw from an Imperial IPA, but these guys do it right.

Back in December I got word from a friend that they would be giving away 5 gallon portions of the late runnings to homebrewers. I couldn't make it down there due to work, but my brother was on break from college so I sent him to pick some up for me.

The runnings were at 1.055. I decided to hop it like a pale ale. After the boil the gravity was 1.062.

Here's my hop schedule.

IBUs 43

1 oz. Galena 30 minutes
1 oz. Willamette 20 minutes
1 oz. Cascade 20 minutes
1 oz. Willamette 10 minutes
1 oz. Willamette 0 minutes

The late hop schedule kept the bitterness smooth with the flavors bright. I fermented it with dry Nottingham yeast. The one thing I didn't initially think about was that their mash profile was for a barleywine, so I ended up with something sweeter than I intended. The F.G. was 1.018.

I fermented cool at 66 degrees to keep the alcohols warm and smooth while still allowing for some ester production. I carbonated to 2.25 volumes.

Over all this is a very nice and drinkable beer. While it is a tad on the sweet side the alcohols are warm enough, and the hops bright enough, to keep it balanced. It's really great when breweries give back.

Nelson Sauvin Saison

I've never brewed with them before, but I got my hands on some Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. I was interested in them because the flavor has been described as passion fruit and mangoes. I thought it would be a nice flavor for a pale ale, but a more interesting Saison... honestly I'm just a total whore for Saisons.

The grist for this is pretty straight forward. Lots of Belgian Pils. I add a little two-row for some breadiness. Followed by a touch of wheat. And then some Special B Crystal for a nice golden color. I also added some sugar to help dry this sucker out.

For the hops I used the Nelson Sauvin and a little Willamette. I did only late hop additions to keep the flavors bright and fresh, and then I intend to dry hop with a little more of the NV hops.

I don't know about everyone else but I prefer a saison to be sessionable. If you've never had Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere, you should give it a try. It's only 4.6% ABV but tons of flavor. Most commercial examples today are pretty high in alcohol and not that traditional to the style.

For the yeast this beer currently chugging away with some Wyeast 3711 French Saison. This is my go to saison yeast. It doesn't sputter out at 1.020 like most saison yeasts do. Plus the flavor profile is great. The mouth-feel is somewhat silky, with nice pepperiness and slight fruitiness. I highly recommend using open fermentation to allow the yeast flavors to develop... also it makes one of the chunkiest, funkiest krausens I've ever seen.


6.5 Gallons
76% Efficiency
O.G. 1.050
F.G. ????
ABV ??%
Color 7 SRM
15 IBUs

Malts and Fermentables

5lbs. Belgian Pils
3lbs. American 2-Row
2lbs. White Wheat Malt
1lb. Table Sugar
.25lbs Special B Malt 180L


1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 20 minutes
0.5 oz. Nelson Sauvin Hops 12.4% AA 10 minutes
0.5 oz. Nelson Sauvin Hops 12.4% AA 5 minutes
1 oz. Nelson Sauvin Hops 12.4%AA Dry Hop - 7 days


Wyeast 3711 French Saison 750ml Starter

I would like this beer to have some acidity (as is the style), so I'm considering finishing it out with a bit of Brett L.

Hair Little Monster - Funky Rye Hop Bomb

What I wanted to make was something light and sessionable with tons of flavor. My grist was a lot of two row and malted rye, a touch of wheat and some 60L crystal malt. I hopped it with only late hop additions to keep the bitterness low but the hop flavor big. For the hops I used mostly Willamette and some Target.

The fermentation was done by pitching both Dry Nottingham yeast and Brettanomyces Lambicus (for tha funk).


O.G. 1.050
F.G. 1.008
5.6% ABV
Color: 8 SRM
19.1 IBUs
73% Efficiency

6.5 lbs. American 2-Row
4.25 lbs. Malted Rye
.75lbs. American Crystal 60L
.5 lbs. White Wheat Malt

1 oz. Target Hops 8.6%AA 20 Minutes
1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 10 Minutes
1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 5 Minutes
1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 1 Minutes

Dry Nottingham
Brettanomyces Lambicus

Mash at 149 for 90 minutes. 75 minute boil. Collected 5.5 gallons of wort. Ferment relatively cool at 66 degrees for 15 days. The brett can take some time to clean up and finish drying it out. Cold crash for 4 days before bottling. Carbonated to 2.5 volumes. Tasting notes to come.

Brewed on January 14 2011.
Bottled on February 2 2011

Joie de Vivre - Soured Saison

This is another beer I brewed not too long ago for a friends wedding. I have the advantage of living in a house with a peach tree in the front yard. And when life gives you peaches... you ferment them. Earlier in the year I made a peach saison that was very nice and refreshing but somewhat lacking. For this batch I decided to sour it a little bit. I wanted to control the souring as much as possible so I went with a partially soured mash, in lieu of adding bugs.

This beer ended up being quite exceptional. The first bottles I opened were very funky on the nose... smelled a lot like vomit. However three months later, by the time the wedding rolled around, the smell had been down-graded (to as the guests called it) "feet". I saved a few bottles for myself and as they aged (6 months was perfect) the fruit in the beer came out quite well and the lactic smell degraded immensely. The acidity of the souring accentuates the fruit in a big way. The taste is very fruity without being sweet, in fact this is a very dry beer.

The grist is primarily Belgian pilsner malt to provide a sense of sweetness with a little bit of Vienna malt to add some body and then torrified wheat to fill out the body. The 40L crystal is to add a little color.

For the fruit I used some of my homegrown peaches that I blended into a puree and then froze. I threw those into the wort at flameout (great way to help chill the wort). And then after primary fermentation I added some under-ripe plums. I went with under ripe to add some tartness.

I went with two different yeasts. The WLP 530 is for the nice fruitiness and spiciness, and then saison is for the great silky mouthfeel. Plus the 3711 is a fast fermenter.

I wanted to keep the sour to a minimum. As dry as this beer is, too much souring could be overwhelming.

Here's the recipe.

9lbs. Belgian Pils
2 lbs. Vienna Malt
1 lb. Torrified Wheat
8oz. C-40L

2 oz. Willamette 5.5%AA - 45min.

6.8 lbs. Homemade Peach Puree
5 lbs. Underipe Plums

Sour - 1 lb. belgian pils 1 lb. Light LME.

The day before brew day prepare the sour by adding the LME to 2 quarts of water and heat to 130 degrees. Pour the water in a bucket and add the 1lb. of pils. Do everything you can to keep this as warm as possible. In the central Texas summer heat I just left it outside, but you can wrap it in a heating pad too. Within 24 hours it should smell like satan's anus.

Mash the grains at 152 with 4.25 gallons of water, along with the sour. This may seem like a high mash temperature for a saison, but the fruit in this beer is 100% fermentable and will be enough to dry it out. Do a 10 minute 168 degree mash out, then batch sparge with 4.5 gallons of water.

Boil for 90 minutes to drive off the DMS. At the end of the boil add the frozen peach puree.

I pitched a 750ml starter of WLP530 Abbey Ale and a vial of Wyeast 3711 French Saison (love this yeast). Ferment for 2 days at 68 then ramp up to 75 over the course of four days. Once the krausen has dropped add the plums to the fermenter and let set for two weeks. Final gravity for me was 1.005. Rack and condition to 3 volumes.