Sunday, June 22, 2014

#40 - Nelson Brett Saison ('Merica-ish)

Two things I've planned to brew many times but have not followed through on are a super hoppy Nelson Sauvin beer and a Brettanomyces spiked Saison.  Prairie Artisan Ales' 'Merica has been getting a lot of hype recently, and generating plenty of imitations and inspirations from homebrewers, with a recipe that combines Brett and Nelson.  While I haven't actually had the beer, it seems hard to go wrong with a SMaSH Saison using delicious hops and Brettanomyces.

One spin I decided to take on the beer is to use Fawcett Pearl malt for the grist in order to emulate another popular beer I haven't had a chance to try: Heady Topper.  With such a simple malt and hop bill one of my focuses for this batch will be the water chemistry with additions of 6g Gypsum (about the same amount per gallon as Ed Coffey's (Ales of the Riverwards) clone, 1g CaCl and 8 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid.  All of the additions were intended to both bring down the mash pH and emphasize the hoppiness.

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Wyeast 3711
Yeast Starter: 2L
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: 1.048
Final Gravity: 1.006
IBU: 30
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 4 SRM
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 @ 73
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 21 @ 75
Tasting Notes:

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Size: 6.5 gal
Estimated OG: 1.053 SG
Estimated Color: 4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU

11 lb Pearl Malt (2.0 SRM) Malt 100 %
8 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid
6 g Gypsum
1 g Calcium Chloride
0.25 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (60 min) Hops 11 IBU
0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (15 min)Hops 11 IBU
0.25 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (5 min) Hops 2 IBU
1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (1 min) Hops 2 IBU
1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (Hop Stand) Hops 2 IBU
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (4 days) Hops 0 IBU
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] (4 days) Hops 0 IBU

1 Pkgs French Saison (Wyeast #3711) Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion
Total Grain Weight: 11 lbs
Single Infusion
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 16.00 qt of water at 161 F 150.0 F
15 min Mash Out Add 8.00 qt of water at 212 F 168.0 F

Brewed this today and had a pretty good time of it.  Hops smelled surprisingly piney, less fruity than I would have expected on opening, but when moving the wort to the carboy I was blown away by the luscious, complex, gooseberry like aroma.  I split the "whirlpool" hops (actually more of "hop stands" thrown directly into the wort) into 3 groups to try and add to the complexity of bitterness/oils/other components extracted. I have high expectations for this more complex hop addition which is based on the lessons I learned from my last beer which only used flameout hops.  I also remembered to add Irish Moss, which I forgot in my last batch.

The negatives: I once again got a very low efficiency from the Morebeer milled malt hitting just 59% efficiency and 1.048 SG when originally planning for 65% and 1.053.  This likely throws the beer further into the bitter range than I would have liked but at 5.5+ abv and only ~30 ibu's it shouldn't be too far out of style. For future reference I'll need to either get my own mill or just anticipate this type of efficiency and plan recipes accordingly. I also spilled about half an ounce of Nelson Sauvin pellets on the floor trying to vacuum seal them...I'll still have ~7.5 oz. to use after this batch though so hopefully they taste as good in this batch as I expect and I have the desire to use that much again.

Added 1.5 oz. of Nelson Sauvin dry hops directly to the fermenter.

Racked 3 gallons to secondary with BKYeast C2 and Orval dregs. The remaining amount was bottled plain. I ended up with closer to a gallon than the 2 gallons I had expected due to a huge amount of dry hop sludge preventing further bottling. Taste was almost all hop derived with citrusy and tropical flavors, a surprisingly lack of spice from the saison yeast, though it may show more as the hop character fades in the next few weeks. The Brettanomyces spikes version will likely be bottled in 3-4 weeks.

Popped a bottle of the "clean" version open for an initial tasting.  Very hop forward with white wine, pine, lime, and tropical fruit flavors.  Very dry but not a lot of yeast character showing through.  Will do a more thorough tasting in a few weeks.
Brett version is showing tiny signs of secondary fermentation with a ring of krausen/pellicle around the top.

Added dregs from a Prairie Ale. It wasn't my favorite beer (nor was the Orval) but should put this one close to the real thing in terms of Brett and wine yeast added.

Tasting of the straight version.  Great flavor with tons of the Nelson Sauvin character.
Plan to bottle the Brett version sometime this weekend.

Monday, June 9, 2014

#38 - American Rye Tasting

The idea of brewing a citra and rye beer has been with me for a while now an the idea of a citrusy, light, summer beer is an idea I've played with in a few ways over the years.  This beer is decent but is also a learning experience in a few ways.

Aroma- pours a very cloudy khaki color with just a small layer of head that sticks around for a while. The beer appears to be cloudy from the rye proteins, but hop particulate is also visible.  Looks a little like a hefeweizen though the cloudiness doesn't seem to be from the yeast as much as the other factors.

Smell- Big citrus character: fresh grapefruit and candied lemon peel. There's also a dank melon smell and a little crackery graininess.

Taste/Mouthfeel- Surprisingly disappointing giving the huge nose. Up front offers very little flavor on the tongue with a watery, light grapefruit and grainy flavors that fades to moderately high bitterness on the back of the throat leaving a lingering grapefruit impression. 

The beer seems a bit watery but this is likely as much or more from the low carbonation than any real issues with the body. That said, I did miss my target OG and a slightly higher starting gravity and finishing gravity may have helped.

Overall- the beer goes down pretty easily (as it should at only 4.5% abv) but isn't nearly as flavorful or exciting as it should be. The low carbonation likely plays a part in the lack of hoppy "pop" on the tongue.  In the end it tastes like a more citrusy and less fruity British Bitter due to the low hop flavors, moderate body, and bitterness and lack of carbonation.

Were I to attempt this beer again I would either cut or raise the rye amount to make it more of a back note or dominant flavor rather than standing out but not taking over as it does here. I would also use a more traditional hop schedule with some hops added in the last 10-15 minutes in hopes of upping the hop flavor, while also moving some of the flame out hops to dry hop to further diversify the hop character and keep bitterness levels relatively tame. A slight raise in the carbonation level might also help with the perceived hoppiness.  Lastly, this is a beer that could really have used Irish moss as it just doesn't seem to be clearing at all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spontaneous Fermentation Experiment

After brewing my latest lambic batch I boiled down some of the extra second runnings with a little bit of aged hops and stuck the pot in my semi-enclosed sunroom.  The room is almost entirely enclosed with glass but with a few openings to the outside that air/water/bugs can easily come through.  I've tried setting out second runnings a couple times before and always ended up with mold so I wasn't too optimistic but thought it worth another try.

I managed to entirely forget about the pot for a week and just happened to see it again when I walked into the room to water some plants.  Bringing it inside I saw that it appeared to have a little gunk on the bottom but nothing growing on top and it smelled vaguely fruity and a bit cider-like.  I made my standard starter addition size (1/2 cup DME in 1 pint water) and added most of the pot to the starter in a 1 gallon carboy while reserving a vial's worth in case the starter had issues and I wanted to be able to try stepping it up again later.

The starter hasn't seemed to change at all in a few weeks so I decided to give it gravity and taste tests.  Gravity is down to 1.004 (from approximately 1.040) and tastes and smells slightly sweet, fruity and lightly tart, giving the same cider impression as when I first pulled the pot inside.

It's hard to tell what I really have on my hands or what to do with it.  There is clearly yeast and there doesn't seem to be any other bugs but what strain(s) of yeast I'm dealing with is hard to tell without doing some streaking and testing (even then I wouldn't know much more about the strains than very high level info without using them individually), which may or may not be worth doing in the end.

One use might be to toss this in with other commercial bugs and let it do its thing alongside them for a lambic. Another option would be to brew a straightforward beer (probably Saison) and see how it plays out on its own.  For now I'll probably just hold onto it until something comes to me.

Still pretty sweet and fruity, decided to add it to my lambic to give it a little more complexity and sugars to chew on.