Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New year, new website

I have been using blogger for documenting my brewing since 2010. It has served me well and I sort of get a kick going back and looking at those early posts. I started this blog to talk about the beers I was brewing, and their history. Overtime I have definitely changed what and how I brew significantly. Today the beers I am making are more likely to be experimental rather than classic styles. With the bigger focus on style fusions, experimental, and unique beer, I felt a more unique website was also in order. With this in mind I have decided to fully embrace the Rev Brew Labs and drop Revival Brewing.

If you would like to check out the site, the new address is revbrewlabs.com. So far there is no new content there yet. Everything from this site has been migrated over and restyled. I am working on  redirecting links pointing to my blogger site to the new one. Once that happens I will retire this site. Until that happens I will try to post to both locations.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sésquac, the Belgo-Russian Imperial Stout Returns!

It's been a while since I have brewed a Russian Imperial Stout. One of my all time favorites is Great Divides Yeti. These appear in a number of variations. The chocolate barrel aged version is quite fine. But of all of the variations, my favorite is the discontinued Belgian Yeti. There was something magical about how a belgian yeast could make such a big impact in softening the roast and hops this beer comes packing, but still make it a RIS. I tried it alongside the other variations when I was at the brewery while in town for GABF.  Of all the beers I tasted, this beer had the biggest impact on me and I had to try and recreate it. It was the first beer I brewed after I returned home!

The recipe was found online and seemed to have some backing. I believe it was published in one of the brewing magazines at some point. It was unknown which Belgian yeast Great Divide used so I picked French saison.

That first beer, brewed back in 2011 turned out incredibly well. As a home brewer it was one of the beers that makes you feel your beer can compete against any beer including the commercial versions. I loved ever single bottle of that beer. It went on to win a gold medal as a RIS in my local competition, the Beehive Brew-off.

This recipe was also used in my home-brew clubs first barrel fill. That beer used Cali ale yeast, but it picked up some brett along the way. The beer turned out pretty bad, but for some reason I refuse to dump the full corny keg still sitting in my basement.

This week I attempted to recreate the beer I made back in 2011. Things have changed in the brewery considerably since then and so I hope it doesn't change too much.

Here is the recipe:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Brewing with Amalgamation ( Brett Super Blend from The Yeast Bay )

As of 8/21/2014 this was all I knew about the super brett blend from The Yeast Bay:

Amalgamation is the union of our six favorite Brettanomyces isolates from our microbe library. Each isolate produces a unique bouquet of bright and fruity flavors and aromas, and the combination of all of them into one blend results in the coalescence of these unique flavors and aromas into something truly special.

Expect this blend to create a dry beer with a bright and complex fruit-forward flavor and aroma, accompanied by some funk on the palate.

Temperature: 65 - 78 ºF, Attenuation: 85%+, Flocculation: Low

This is the text from the Yeast Bay's own website. Google provided me with nothing more than this! Could this really be? 

I have two vials of what I hope will be an amazing blend of brettanomyces and I want to share my impressions of this yeast with all who are interested.

The plan is to brew my belgian farmhouse ale. The majority will be fermented as usual with my own Brux Trois and Saison yeast blend.  A gallon of the wort will be set aside to be fermented only with the super blend from Yeast Bay.

One Aug 20th I kicked off a small starter with two vials of Amalgamation. Unfortunately the amount of yeast in these vials is similar to the amount of brett that White Labs typically gives you, that is to say not very much. The key to any all brett beer is having plenty of the yeast on hand. After about one week I stepped this up to a full 2000 ml starter. 

Version 1: One gallon will go into a small carboy where it will be fermented with the Amalgamation. Think of this as way to get familiar with the yeast as well as another step up in the culturing process.

Version 2:  I have a bunch of Brux Trois on hand and will ferment 14 gallons of the 15 gallon batch with that as well as a smaller amount of Giga yeast Saison II. 

If all goes well, and the brett blend is good I will keep it going with 3 gallons of wort at all times in a brew demon.

These 3 gallon Brew Demon carboys are great for storing brett. Whenever you pull yeast from it, just replace it with fresh wort from that same batch for which you are pitching. Always keep it as full as possible.

By doing this you can keep this yeast going for a very long time. Brett can sit dormant for at least 6 months and still be good. If your ever in doubt you can always pull some out and do a starter to make sure it is still active.

The Farmhouse recipe

Update 9/1: Brew day went off as planned and my Amalgamation starter went into 1 gallon of wort. Visible fermentation started up about 8 hours after pitching. The wort from the starter was quite sour, but most likely was due to the constant aeration.

Update 9/6: At six days into fermentation a gravity reading/tasting was in order. 

The Trois/Saison is sitting at 1.006

Nose is full of spicy phenols, alcohol, and yeast. No funk
Taste is more subtle than the nose. Fruity, spicy, and sour

The Amalgamation super brett is at 1.004

Nose is med light funk/sour, bready
Taste is very nice! funk right up front, followed by big fruitiness, and a mild acidic finish.

left is Trois, right is Amalgamation
Right now the super blend is much more drinkable. However I should note that it is also fairly well seperated from the yeast since I sampled from the top of the carboy. The trois version is in my conical so it was sampled from closer to the yeast. I believe this has a huge impact on the taste so far.

The next step is to cold crash both and sample again.

Update 9/8: Both of these beers are now in kegs. I will update this weekend with some more in-depth tasting notes. The Amalgamation was immediately re-pitched into another beer yesterday. We went for a Biere de garde. Most will be fermented cleanly with french ale yeast, but about 3 gallons was pitched with just the amalgamation. Fermentation started very fast. This is the carboy after about 5 hours. 

Update 10/20: It has been about 5 weeks since I have bottle up this beer. Sadly I only ended up with a handful of bottles. 

Amalgamation #1 (Le Fric base) tasting notes:

Aromahay, earthy, subtle brett, sourness

Appearancelight and hazy, nice big fluffy head that dissipates, but never fully drops. Nice lacing left in the glass.

Flavor: peach, apricot, juicy fruit, again very subtle brett funk coming through. Very nice level of sourness kicks in near the end. I very much like the balance of the fruit and sourness. Brett ands a nice additional layer to the beer, but in no way does it come close to the level of fruit and tart, which I like a lot.

Mouthfeel: Carb level is high, mouthfeel is helped somewhat by that fact but the beer never feels thin.

Note: The base of this beer did have 10% acidulated malt, but this beer has a much more pronounced tartness when compared to the version that had only Trois and Sasion yeast.

Amalgamation #2 (Biere de garde base) tasting notes:

Aroma: cherry, tartness, some subtle hints of funk

Appearance: amber reddish hued, medium clarity. head dissipates pretty quickly but a lacing persists throughout.

Flavor: dark fruit flavors, plum, cherry. Some acidity, but it is still background to the ripe dark fruitiness. Some rather bitter sensations end the flavor over the palette.

Mouthfeel: Carb level is high, mouthfeel is medium

Both beers are good. I liked the #1 better. The flavors are well blended, and the beer is somewhat approachable for those just finding their way into sour or funky beer. For those that already desire these types of beers, this one is highly drinkable... pretty much sessionable (at least flavor wise) in that it is not going to pound your palette into submission as quickly as other examples might.

The flavors are not as well blended in the #2 version. They are also all much stronger than the first. I also think that right now the hops are messing with this one. I do think over time this one will get to a point where it really kicks ass!

Unfortunately the one bottle of #1 that I still have will probably not last long enough for a side by side with #2 in the future!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

24 Hour Sour IPA (closed system kettle sour mash)

What if you could make a very sour beer using bacteria in 24 hours? Would you be interested in that?

One of the great things about home brewing is the ability to do whatever the hell you want. The cost of failure is practically nothing at this scale. Even if the beer ends in complete failure, the few dollars wasted on ingredients is well worth the knowledge gained. The beer brewed in the lab this past week falls squarely into the experimental (otherwise know as fuck it if it doesn't work) category.

Sour beers are all the rage these days. I have long been a fan of these beers but I do have a limit on sourness. More and more it seems some brewers have tried to take sourness to the extremes. To each their own, but sourness for the sake of sourness is not drinkable at all for me. I want to taste layers of flavors in my sour beers, not just sourness. 

I have done a few sour beers over the years. The big issue I have with brewing them is that many of the techniques either produce unpredictable results or take a very long time. These are things I have little patience for. One of the techniques I have used is making berliner weisse by pitching lacto and ale yeast. There are theories abound as to when to pitch the lacto and when to pitch the yeast. In my experience it is still always a crap shoot as to what you will end up with.

A friend and I have been thinking about doing a sour beer for some time now. To get around the issue of unpredictable pH and or long timelines we decided on a sour mash. Sour mashing is a technique where wort is soured pre boil, and then finished as you would with any other beer. This way you get an idea upfront on the level of sourness and it is very fast. The other thing to note with this method is that the beer will never really get any more sour over time.

Over the last few months we have refined the concept to try to keep the souring as clean as possible. What that meant was not doing the most traditional method in which wort is left in contact with grains in the mash tun. Sour mashing gone bad can result in many unpleasant vomit inducing smells.

The closed-system soured mash procedure

The first step is mashing and sparging as normal. Once all the wort makes it into the kettle a quick boil is in order. This was mainly done so we could use the boiling wort to sanitize the plate chiller we used to cool the wort down. This could also be beneficial for killing anything that made it through the mash process. However you could simply let your wort chill on its own to ~120 degrees and probably still be fine.

The next step is to move the wort it into a 15.5 gallon sankey keg (you could use a corny keg as well). The idea/benefit around moving to this vessel is that you can purge all oxygen. The nasty bugs that are possibly going to make your sour mash smell and taste terrible all need oxygen. Luckily our Lacto doesn't need that.

There are a number of ways to inoculate the wort. One is to add some crushed grain. It's cheap, but it is also somewhat unknown as to what all is on that grain besides the lacto. It may not matter much in this closed system, but you never know. Another fine option is to buy a lab produced lacto. Can't really go wrong there. However with this beer we used plain yogurt to introduce the souring bacteria we needed. I went with a brand called Siggi's as it had multiple cultures including the delbrueckii strain.

At this point you have a keg filled with wort that is ideally around 110 - 120 degrees and ready for your bug pitch. After pitching the keg is purged with co2. An hour or so into the process pressure was beginning to build again so released it and placed an airlock on the keg (Remove your gas in post and place a short piece of 1/2 inch silicone tubing on it with an airlock) This is the closed system. It took only 24 hours for the pH to drop to 3.1. The other great thing is that the wort had no strange smells or flavors. It tasted like a pilsner lemonade since the wort was sour, but also still sweet.

The last step is to finish the boil. This will also kill off all of the bacteria. When using yogurt some extra filtering is needed. The yogurt seemed to curdle so in order to keep those solids out of the kettle I threw some cheese cloth into a strainer and drained the wort through the strainer. From there a 90 minute boil was kicked off.
The eDrometer reading

Hot break

This method can be used for any style of sour beer. This version happens to be designed as an sour IPA. A sour IPA would not be possible without utilizing some sort of sour mash, or adding lactic acid after fermentation completes. This is because Lactobacillus cannot handle hop levels much over 10 IBUs. Most people would say bitterness and sourness are a bad combination. Maybe it will be terrible, but I have had a sour IPA from Trinity Brewing called Red Swing line that was amazing. This is an attempt at brewing something similar but is not in any way a clone of that beer.

One other issue you will need to consider when pre souring is the fermentation. The low pH is going to be stressful to the yeast. The lower the pH, the harder the time the yeast will have. You should still be able to use ale yeast into the mid 3's, but you will want to use a very large and healthy pitch. The other option, and the one I went with is to use brettanomyces. It has some additional tolerance when it comes to pH levels.

Update: After some adding this beer turned out to be great! It will be brewed again!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sauvignon Saison-brett [A split fermentation and re-blend with Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces]

More and more I have been successfully using brett as a primary fermenter. I have been very impressed by the fruit forward character  and restrained or non-existent barn flavor that a beer fermented only with Brux trois can deliver. I want to keep playing with this, but also want to try new things as well.

A mixed fermentation is a pretty typical way in which both brett and sacch yeasts are used. Think of the commercially available blends of these yeast such as American Farmhouse. I have used that particular yeast and found it to be good, but it is unknown what the ratios are. It is most likely that the sacch is by far the dominant fermenter and the brett is only there to provide a bit of flavor complexity as it would if you pitched sacch, attenuated, and then pitched brett.

I wanted to do a mixed fermentation, but I wanted something a little different than using a pre-formulated yeast blend. I still wanted to bring in the flavors associated with an all brett fermentation. What I proposed was a split fermentation with 50% of the wort fermented with saison yeast and the other 50% fermented with only brux trois. Then blend the two beers back together in some ratio yet to be determined.

I started with a base of imported pilsner, domestic pilsner and 2-row. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but I also had other things to consider because I was fermenting with brett.

One thing I wanted to do was bring in a low but perceivable amount of acidity without the use of any bacteria. I am trying to turn this beer around in 30 days and bacteria just wasn't really an option. It is also difficult to ensure you get the pH level you are looking for with bacteria. To the mash I added 10% acidulated malt to bring that nice brightness I am looking for. Lastly I wanted to add a level of mouth feel and body that the brett version would not have. To do that I used a small amount of flaked wheat and golden oats. A touch of special b was used to add some color. The mash temp was kept at a low 148 to help the saison yeast bring the gravity of the beer down to what I hope to be about 1.004.

For hops I wanted to continue to play with and compliment the fruit forward nature of the brett. The main hop used is Nelson Sauvin to provide it's well known citris, fruit, and white wine notes. For bittering I used Rakau, another NZ hop that is well known for it's soft bitterness when used early in the boil. Planned is a dry hopping with more nelson, but that could always change based on how the beer tastes after blending.

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color

Measured Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Measured Final Gravity: ? SG (estimated 1.005)
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.8 %
Bitterness: 27.9 IBUs
Est Color: 6.6 SRM

Update 6-17
The brew day went very smooth and I produced 16 gallons of this wort. 8 gallons was pitched into my conical with a 2000ml starter of French saison at 70 degrees. The other 8 gallons was pitched into a sankey keg that I use as a fermenter. I left about 1 gallon of a highly aromatic all brett trois pale ale in the sankey to kick off the brett fermentation. I could have tried to wash or decant the yeast it in, but it seemed unnecessary when the contents within were still so amazing.

48 hours after pitching the 1.052 wort, the trois version was already down to 1.012. It is super aromatic with tropical fruit, mainly pineapple and mango. The flavor is like that of amazing unsweetend pineapple juice.

The French saison version is sitting at about 72 degrees now and is down to 1.026 after 48 hours. While it still has some sweetness, the french saison esters are there in both the aroma and flavor.

In the next few days I plan on pushing the trois version into the conical. There I expect the saison yeast to go to work on the left over sugars the brett version is not going to touch in the hopes of getting the gravity down even more. It's an interesting concept to think that the sacch yeast is the one drying out this mixed sacch/brett blend.

Update 6/22

The two batches have now been a blended back together. On the 21st the saison fermentation was down to 1.003. The blend was not quite 50:50. I saved 1.75 gallons of the all brett version before adding the rest into the conical with the French saison version. Today the airlock is showing activity once again as the yeast works on the sugars introduced with the Brett version. Still undecided on dry hopping at this point.


I just received a new order of hops. One of them was 2014 Galaxy. The smell of that one was amazing! One of the most amazing smelling hops I have ever obtained. So of course the idea of dry hopping with more Nelson went out the window. Instead I added 3 oz of Galaxy. I will add a few more oz of Nelson in a few days.


I entered this beer and the brett only version into my local home brew competition the Beehive Brew off. They did not place, but they got good scores.

The brux only version actually brought the highest score I have ever received with a 45. The saison was well liked, but some of the judges felt there was not enough spicy phenolics for the style. It got a 32 which is pretty good considering they felt it was out of style.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recap: Lauterday brewers pour at the Mountain Brewers Fest!

On Saturday June 7th the Mountain Brewers Festival in Idaho Falls was crashed by home brew hooligans, The Lauter-day brewers! Formed in Salt Lake city in the fall of 2012 the Lauter-day brewers or LDB are the newest home brew club in the state of Utah. Since that time the club has grown to more than 35 active members and held many cool events all while helping each other improve brewing knowledge and skill. Just prior to the brew fest the club brewed and filled a red wine barrel and brewed a collaboration beer with Epic Brewing that will be on tap at The Annex soon.

With the Mountain Brewers Festival they turned their attention to educating the public that home brew is not what it used to be, and great beer can be brewed at home. Armed with what had to be the biggest selection of beers at one table the festival has ever seen, LDB showed up with 17 distinct beers that were served throughout the day. Many of these beers were very unique styles and might have been completely new to many of those tasting them. The feedback throughout the day was fantastic and many were taken by surprise to find out LDB is not a commercial brewery somewhere in Salt Lake City.

Just a sample of the beers served: Gose, DIPA, Black DIPA, Saison Brett, Cask hopped pale ale, brett pale ale, honey blonde, Roggenbier, and a number of other pales, IPAs, and others I can't recall at the moment.

It was a great experience for all, and was a great way to increase the exposure of the club! A huge thanks to all the LDB members that participated!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My first Commercial Brew day with Epic Brewing and The Lauter-day Brewers

A few months back my home brew club got an invitation to do a collaboration beer with Salt Lake Citys Epic Brewing for their gastro pub The Annex. The club decided to turn the collab into a competition.  With close to 40 members it would be difficult to come to any consensus so we randomly created 5 groups. Each group was tasked with coming up with 2 beers to submit to a testing panel made up of Epic brewers. The rules were to use ingredients from their inventory, keep it at 4% or under (Utah draft beer law). and turn it all around in just over 30 days.

It was a really fun event and my group ended up brewing 7 beers in a single day! We brewed 3 different variations of a wit and 2 variations of white IPA.  We also did two all brett pale ales. The wits turned out being too experimental and needing some refinement. The white IPAs were both pretty good. One of the brett beers was not good, and one was excellent. My group ended up presenting a white IPA and an all brett pale ale with Citra and Amarillo.

Epic narrowed it down to two beers, the brett pale with citra and amarillo and a hibiscus wheat from another team. Epic's head brewer, Kevin Crompton, liked the hibiscus beer a little more, but due to the non-beer ingredient the beer would need approvals and that would have pushed out the brew date too far. So the brett pale ale is what was brewed.

It seems to me that this beer will have much more appeal and will give many people their first taste of an all brett beer like this. Most of the time when people think of an all brett beer they think of funk, barn, dryness, and other things that are present in beers that have used brett in some portion of the fermentation or conditioning of a beer. This type of beer is not like that at all. When Trois is handled just like it's sacch yeast, it produces a beer that has almost none of the flavor traditionally associated with brett. Instead there is a flood of ripe tropical fruit flavors and aromas.

About the beer

I have done a number of all brett beers using the super tropical brux trois. This is probably my favorite beer I brew,  but I have never done one at 4% and I normally put little to no hops in the boil. For this one we went for a more traditional pale ale. The grain bill we used is from another non-brett 4% pale I have brewed The only change was made because of the low ABV and brett's inability to produce much if any glycol. We we added 10% rye malt to help with the perception of body. In my other brett pales I use white wheat which also really works well. Water was adjusted slightly to increase bitterness and we mashed at 157-8 to create our own dextrins.

For our brew day at the annex we followed the recipe very closely. The big difference was the use of 25% RO water, and no other mineral additions. A 45 minute mash instead of 60, and the use of BSI Brux Drie instead of the white labs Brux Trois.

The beer should be getting dry hopped right now and will be ready to be served at the annex in a week or two.

Here is a link to the original recipe