Dribs and drabs

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, I haven’t been brewing a lot, but there are a few things I wanted to get down on paper, and it’s a good way to kill time on this airline fought.

The golden ale was a success! I enjoyed it a lot when it was fresh, it’s not so good now though and Hendo reckoned he could pick up green apple in it, which is obviously now all I can taste. That’s just a fermentation fault, perhaps I underpitched, or my temperature control wasn’t quite right. Nevertheless, the recipe is good and I’ll probably rebrew in the future when it warms up again.

I grabbed a fresh wort kit from work, since I was running out of stuff in my kegerator, last chance for this Belgian Saison yeast but it seems to have done ok. Started it hot and kept it hot, but it still stalled at 1.020. It’s finished and carbonation as I write this, but it has taken a month of fermenting at 35 degrees to get to this point. Blending the uncared beer with my golden ale results in deliciousness though, so that’s good. Started at 1.051 and finished at a very pleasing 1.004!

My quest for a brewing job was foiled again recently where I just missed out on a position at Bridge Rd Brewers in Beechworth. Bittersweet really, I didn’t want to move to Beechworth, but I would have for a foot in the door. I found out just today that a friend of mine, Stefan, beat me out for the job and I’m sure he will kick ass, I’m honestly just glad I don’t have to move! Even though the brewery itself is fantastic, and Beechworth is quite pretty, it’s in the middle of fucking nowhere. I highly recommend a visit though if you’re in the vicinity or passing through, the pizza is great and they have a big selection of nice beers on a tasting paddle. The bergamotto IPA blew my mind! It’s meant to have some of the aromatics of Earl grey, which is not a favourite of mine and I don’t like it in beer either (see gunnamatta IPA) but bergamotto was awesome and floral in just the right way. Check it out.

I have a few ideas bouncing around in my head on what I want to brew next. In no particular order, I want to brew:
– Smoked brown ale using the most delicious malt ever, Briess Cherrywood smoked.
– Belgian Dark Mild,  something around 3%abv with lots of special b
– Smoked Imperial Baltic Porter inspired by the Porter Baltique by Les Trois Mousquetaires. Fantastic beer.

Looks like instead of all these, I’ll be putting down my Flanders Red since the sooner it’s souring the sooner I can drink it. There should be a blog post about it up this weekend if I can get my thumb out of my ass.

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Hoppy Golden Ale

If you’ve heard me wax lyrical about Boneyard Brewing’s Golden Ale before, you know I really love this beer. It’s a hoppy light golden pale ale, very citrusy and refreshing. I could drink it all summer, thus I decided to try and make something similar. Between wrangling part of the recipe out of the brewer, Brendan O’Sullivan and reading about the beer on the Boneyard website, I put this recipe together:

3770g Pilsner (74%)

1020g Wheat Malt (20%)

310g Carapils (6%)

50IBUs of American Hops.

For the hops, I used 10g of Galaxy and 10g of Mosaic in first wort hopping. This gives me a base of 32.3 calculated IBUs and the other 18 or so came from 30g of hops that I chucked in the whirlpool for 30 mins, split equally between Galaxy, Mosaic and Simcoe.

My efficency on this brew wasn’t as good, I attribute this to putting my sparge water in all at once instead of two additions, and to not dialing in my sparge water temperature so it might have been a little cold.

I didn’t repeat my Belgian Saison mistake, and fermented my starter at 18 degrees, the same temperature that I planned to ferment at. This thing is fermenting now and is smelling amaaaaaaaaaazing. I can’t wait to dry hop this!

Speaking of dry hops, I have a LOT of hops to chuck in here. I haven’t decided exactly what I want to use, but I have:

20g Galaxy

20g Mosaic

30g Simcoe

60g Amarillo

30g Motueka

Sitting in my freezer. Do I dare just use it all? 😀

Belgian Rye Saison

Woo! A revisit of my favourite beer I’ve brewed to date. This is a super dry, spicy and fruity saison. It’s nice and well-rounded and very easy to smash on a summers day. Last time Julian and I brewed this, we used hoppy American hops, but they didn’t really come through (probably for the best). This time we used more traditional hops, we’ll see how it turns out. The recipe:

4kg Dingeman Pilsner (Belgium) 71.4%

1.6kg Rye Malt (Germany) 28.6%

30 IBUs of Noble Hops (Saaz is traditional, I used Styrian Goldings and Hallertau)

Wyeast 3724 (Belgian Saison)

This was a fun brewday, but I ran into a small problem. The Styrian Goldings I had was only 2.2% AA! This meant that I had to use over 100g of hops just to hit my IBUs in the boil. I also boiled 90 minutes because of the pilsner malt to try and reduce DMS in the final product, which gives me slightly better hop utilisation.

For the last batch of this beer, I started it really hot and ran it hotter. I pitched at 25 and ran it up to 30 really fast, this yeast loves the hot temperatures. It’s the strain that Brasserie Dupont uses for their Saison which is pretty much the definition of the style, and according to (possibly apocryphal) stories on the internet, they ferment at 35 for 3 days(!). This time I wanted to get a more rounded yeast character, so I started fermentation at 19 and planned to ramp it right up to 32 over 5-7 days. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan my starter very well, and fermented it at ambient temps – probably 23 degrees. This meant that when I pitched it into 19 degree wort, it mightn’t have been as happy as I would like it. Despite having vigorous fermentation initially, the yeast stalled at 1.040 before dropping a bit and sticking at 1.032. This is very typical for this yeast, even though I didn’t get a slowdown last time I used it (I suspect the hot tempteratures helped). Even running it up to 32 for a week didn’t budge it, so I decided to pitch some Brett B on it to dry it out and resigned myself to waiting a few months to try the beer. It’s now sitting out in a better bottle at ambient temperatures and burbling away to itself, hopefully it’ll taste good in a bit.

Fun fact #32: One theory about Saison yeasts and why they’re so different to other beer yeasts is that they’re actually a wine yeast that has mutated to be able to metabolize Maltose. The more you know!

Tripel.

Tripel is to a Blonde as an Imperial IPA is to an IPA – it’s bigger in every way. The grain bill is larger, and there’s a larger percentage of sugar used so that the beer still attenuates low and dry. I was pretty excited for this beer, since I feel like there’s a lot of potential there for a really lovely beer, and a lot of the commercial examples I’ve had have not been amazing – a lot of them are way too sweet, so I was determined to get this as dry as possible. The malt bill was as follows:

6.4kg Dingemans Pilsner (Belgium)

1.4kg Sugar

50g Hallertau Mittelfrueh (60 mins)

30g Hallertau Mittelfrueh (15 mins)

As you see from my last post, I lost my cultured yeast, so this was with a new batch of Wyeast 3787, with a 2L starter to increase my yeast count.

Brewday went super well, except because I didn’t use a hop bag my brewhouse efficency was lower than usual, losing some beer to trub at the bottom of my kettle.

Fermentation? Not so good. I pitched at 18 and left the beer to free rise from yeast and ambient temp to 20 at which I was planning to ferment and promptly forgot about changing the temperature. When I went to check on the beer, it had spent 20 hours fermenting at around 27 and tasted like a Banana and Fusel alcohol bomb 😦

At this stage, it’s probably going down the drain but I’ll try it in a couple of weeks and make another decision then.

Next writeup? Belgian Rye Saison 2!

Disaster!

So this Belgian series I’ve been doing, I was planning on harvesting the yeast for re-use from each batch. According to plan, I had the yeast sitting in an erlenmeyer flask in my fridge under a layer of beer, ready to be washed and pitched into a starter to rouse it to eat a beer. 

I spent a couple of hours today washing the yeast through successive iterations and finally had it to a point where I could boil up a yeast starter and pitch it all, after sanitising my stirbar and dropping it in. 

All I needed to do was sit it on my homemade stirplate and I was ready to go! Until I dropped it…

onto my carpet…

where it shattered…

shit. went. everywhere.

 

I guess I’m using a fresh pack of 3787 for my Tripel on Sunday!

Belgian Dubbel

The next beer in the series is a Belgian Dubbel. It’s a much more complex, darker beer than the Blond that I brewed previously to this. The recipe I used was as follows:

4000 g Pilsner

250 g Aromatic Malt

250 g Caramunich Malt

250 g Special B Malt

400 g Munich Malt

650 g Dark Candi Syrup

45.00 g Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min

Quite a complex recipe, and I wish I’d done a little research before I bought it, as just Pilsner and Dark Candi Syrup would be more accurate to the samples we get from Belgium, but you live and learn. 

Brewday went super smoothly! I have a new pot (showcased in an upcoming brewday with pictures) with a tap which makes everything 1000 times easier. Target OG was 1.062, with first runnings 1.081 which felt a little low, until Julian reminded me that the OG included the Dark Candi Syrup, so I cheered up again. Pre boil, we were at 1.045, and after an hour boil where we included the sugar at the end we hit the target dead on! This is because we finally have our process down, and know that while our brewhouse efficiency of 67% is on the lower end we are batch sparging after all and can’t expect miracles. Grain is cheap, so I’m not too worried.

I have a nifty photo! I took careful gravity readings as fermentation progressed:

It’s now racked and cold crashed, ready for bottling. I’m not able to lager it as long as I would like, since my fermentation fridge will be needed for my Tripel on Sunday, but it can’t be helped.

It does look pretty though:

Image

On Sunday is a Belgian Tripel! Very excited for this one, should be good. I’ll hopefully post up a writeup about the recipe and techniques I’m planning on use for the brew tomorrow, see how motivated I am!

Belgian Blond

The first in my series of Belgians to build up my 3787 yeast is actually already fermented out and sitting in my fermentation fridge awaiting lagering/bottling. It’s a Belgian Blond (not Blonde as I just found out!).

I took the original recipe from Brewing Classic Styles and decided to brew that, as I’ve never had trouble with those recipes before. However, after reading the great book that is Brew Like A Monk, I’ve realised that belgian beers are perhaps one of the styles that the book doesn’t cover very well. This is because the recipes are more complex than necessary, the beers that are the exemplars of the style from Belgium are extremely simple. Compare the recipe I used for my Dubbel with an example from Brew Like A Monk (a book I highly recommend btw):

Brewing Classic Styles Dubbel:

4810g Pilsner

450g Munich

227g Aromatic

227g Caramunich

227g Special B

340g Dark Belgian Candi Syrup

227g Cane (Beet) Sugar

OG: 1.065

Brew Like A Monk eg Westmalle

Pilsner

Caramel

Dark Malt

Dark Candi Syrup

OG:  1.063

As you can see, the Dubbel from Brew Like A Monk has 5(!) different malts, whereas the Belgian only has 3 and that is almost entirely Pilsner in most cases, with Dark Candi Syrup for flavouring and colouring.

I regret not doing a little more research into my grain bill, but now I know and can alter my recipes for my Tripel and Quadrupel in the future.

Recipe quibbles aside, the beer took off like a rocket when I pitched my starter of 3787 into it. I had to replace my blowoff tube three times during fermentation, but the result is worth it. The beer dried out to 1.010 and is tasting fantastic. I’ll leave it a little while longer in the hopes it’ll dry out a little more, but I doubt it will happen.

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