Sunday, October 24, 2010

Berliner Weisse - Sour wheat


This is an historical style. It was a hugely popular style in 18th and early 19th century Northern Germany. It had many brewers and was referred to as the Champagne of the North by Napoleon. Today it is a living dinosaur with just 2 breweries around Berlin still making it.

Nowadays it is almost unheard of to drink it without Schuss, or a shot of flavored syrup. Typical choice is red (raspberry) or green (woodruff). Also most Berliners if they drink it at all drink it from a straw.

In it's more natural form Berliner Weisse is almost colorless. It normally consists of 50% pilsner malt and 50% malted wheat. It is very low alcohol (~3.0) and very low hop levels (<8 IBUs). It gets a tart flavor from using lactic bacteria along with yeast during a long fermentation.

This Berliner Weisse took 3rd place in the Belgian specialty/Sour beer category of the recent Beehive brew off. It is 60/40 mix for pilsner and wheat malt and is notable for the short 15 minute boil rather than the standard 60-90 minutes. I created a starter for the ale yeast, but pitched it 1 day after pitching the lactobacillus. I pitched those bugs at around 95 degrees.

Aroma- White grapes, flowery, sourness, no hops
Appearance - straw, no haze, head dissipates but still clings
Flavor - Tartness, low wheat character on finish, white grapes, ends with good balance, no hops.

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 4.00 gal     
Boil Size: 4.26 gal
Estimated OG: 1.033 SG
Estimated Color: 2.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 5.7 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Time: 15 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
3.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)             Grain        60.0 %       
2.00 lb       Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM)                 Grain        40.0 %       
0.50 oz       Tettnang [4.50%]  (15 min)                Hops         5.7 IBU      
1 Pkgs        European Ale (Wyeast Labs #1338)          Yeast-Ale                 
1 Pkgs        Lactobacillus Delbrueckii (Wyeast Labs #53Yeast-Ale

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bruery's Black Tuesday stout: now on eBay

Bruery's Black Tuesday stout: now on eBay

Just thought I would post this since it crosses into both of my worlds (beer & work)... I would love to try a bottle of this stuff, but not for that price.

From LA Weekly:

It's a bit ironic that Black Tuesday, a beer named after the day that marked the start of the Great Depression back in 1929, is on pace to reach an eBay auction price point generally reserved for iPads and Italian shoes. But in yet another sign of the growth of L.A.'s craft beer culture, the O.C.-based Bruery has earned 22 bids and a $450 price at the time of this writing for two tickets to its Black Tuesday release party next Tuesday. (The tickets include three bottles of Black Tuesday to take home.) According to local beerhound and past X Questions subject Jason Bernstein of Golden State, the Imperial stout and its 19.5% alcohol volume are worth tracking down: "Strong caramel notes with a lingering vanilla finish (no doubt from the [bourbon] barrel aging) and remarkably smooth given its terrifyingly high alcohol content," he wrote on LA Weekly. If that sounds like something you can't pass up, we suggest getting your bids going -- the auction still has three-and-a-half days left. Proceeds will go toward the Falling Whistles charity to support peace in the Congo, so hey, that's one thing to feel good about while your wallet and liver recover.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Braggot/Belgian Ale project update #2

Yesterday I kicked off one of my most ambitious brew sessions to date.  21 pounds of barley, 11.5 pounds of honey, and 1 pound of candi syrup. Not to mention the assortment of hops, yeasts, and specialty herbs. At the end of the day I had created 5 gallons of 1.081 Belgian specialty ale, and 2- 2.5 gallon carboys of 1.117 braggot.
The day started by brewing up 13 gallons of wort. I split that into two kettles and started on the beer first. You can see the entire recipe below.
I guess the main thing of interest here is the caramelized honey. I know many people think caramelizing honey is a sin, but I just wasn’t looking for a real strong honey presence. I used honey malt for that flavor. I hope the caramelized stuff will add some interesting flavors beyond just caramelizing up some sucrose. It should be interesting to see how it works with the Belgian candi syrup.

The braggot started out with an outline of what I wanted to accomplish, but no concrete plans. I had 2 oz of chamomile, 4 oz meadowsweet, and an assortment of hops. I don’t really have a ton of info on using these herbs so the plan was to taste as I went.

I have seen the chamomile wheat recipe in Sam Calagiones extreme brewing book. In that recipe you add it at the start of the boil. That seems like the opposite of what you might do with a fragrant and flavorful herb. But I went ahead and added half an ounce at 45 mins. I also added 2 ounce of meadowsweet and half an ounce of magnum hops at that time. Once this got to boiling the kettle smelled wonderful.

Warming up the honey

At 30 mins I was planning on adding 1 ounce of pearle hops and the other 2 ounces of meadowsweet. Before adding I gave it a taste and it was not very pleasant. So I skipped adding anymore meadowsweet and just put the hops in. With 5 mins left I added the 1.5 ounce of remaining chamomile. The 9 pounds of honey went in at flame out.

The flavor in the finished wort was really nice; the bad flavor I had tasted earlier had been covered up or changed with the addition of the honey and chamomile. The IBUs might seem high, especially since one goal was to try to keep this authentic to the period. However I got to thinking about how long this will be aging, and with standard hop degradation I figured this level would work out ok.

The results

Bee Juice (working title)

Type: All Grain
Date: 10/17/2010
Batch Size: 5.00 gal

Amount ItemType % or IBU
7.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM)Grain37.5 %
1.50 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)Grain7.5 %
1.00 lb Honey Malt (25.0 SRM)Grain5.0 %
0.50 lb Special B Malt (60.0 SRM)Grain2.5 %
0.50 oz Magnum [15.00%] (45 min)Hops26.0 IBU
1.00 oz Pearle [7.6%] (15 min)Hops15.0 IBU
0.50 oz Chamomile (Boil 45.0 min)Misc
2.00 oz Meadowsweet (Boil 45.0 min)Misc
1.50 oz Chamomile (Boil 5.0 min)Misc
9.50 lb Honey (1.0 SRM)Sugar47.5 %

Split 5 gallons into two carboys
1 Pkgs Edinburgh Ale (White Labs #WLP028)Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs Old Ale Blend W/Brett (Wyeast #9097)

Beer Profile
Measured Original Gravity: 1.117 SG
SGMeasured Final Gravity: ??
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: ~13 %
Bitterness: 41.0 IBU
Est Color: 11.0 SRM
Belgian Black Honey Strong Ale
(Belgian Specialty Ale)

Type: All Grain
Date: 10/17/2010
Batch Size: 5.00 gal

Amount ItemType% or IBU
7.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM)Grain 55.6 %
1.50 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)Grain 11.1 %
1.00 lb Honey Malt (25.0 SRM)Grain 7.4 %
0.50 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)Grain 3.7 %
0.50 oz Magnum [15.00%] (60 min)Hops 24.5 IBU
1.00 oz Glacier [7%] (30 min)Hops 20.5 IBU
2.00 lb Caramelized Honey (60.0 SRM)Sugar 14.8 %
1.00 lb Candi Syrup, Dark (80.0 SRM)Sugar 7.4 %
1 Pkgs Abby Ale (White Labs #WLP530)Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile
Measured Original Gravity: 1.081 SG
Measured Final Gravity: ?? SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: ~7.8 %
Bitterness: 45.0 IBU
Est Color: 27.1 SRM

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Honey project update #1

I have started to finalize the plans for this project. I purchased some of the ingredients today.

The malt base will be
15# Belgian pale malt
3# Vienna malt
2# Honey malt
1# Special B

Braggot specifics

I want to produce something that Chaucer might have quaffed while writing Canterbury Tales. I will use herbs for flavoring and bitterness that were used back in those times. I am also going to ferment using a special Old Ale Blend (w/ Brettanomyces) This blend will bring the characteristic sourness that was inherit in brewing beers in wood and aging them in wooden casks. This will be aged for at least 12 months in order to bring out those characteristics.

Chamomile - Mainly used for tea these days. This flower has a history in brewing. It is fragrant with a sweet aroma that is reminiscent of juicy fruit chewing gum and will add fruitiness.

Meadowsweet - An aromatic herb that has a traditional association with honey, and widely used in bronze age beers. This is considered a bittering herb and does have some preservative properties, but not as effective as hops.

Hops - So hops were not really used during this time, but I will use some anyway. It will be a low alpha hop used for it's preservative properties and not for flavoring.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homegrown homebrew- Harvest ESB

I grow a small amount of hops in my backyard and this year I had a decent 2nd year cascade hops harvest. I thought I would use them to brew up a SMASH beer. SMASH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop beer. Not only do these types of beers teach the brewer and drinker about the  flavors of certain malts and hops, they can also taste amazing!

I decided to brew an ESB (Extra Special Bitter).  ESB is a type of English style Bitter that's brewed with an ABV above 4.8.  So in addition to Cascade hops I used UK grown Maris Otter malt. Maris Otter is a unique winter harvest barley that comes out of the UK. I have read somewhere that it is the only malt used in the commercial UK beer Fuller's ESB. Although Cascade is an American hop, it's one of my favorites and  just sounded like a great combination.

8 ounces of wet hops went into the kettle about 2 hours after harvesting. I used 1 ounce of cascade pellet hops at 60 minutes for the bittering. This was my first wet hop ale and most people suggest using wet hops for finishing only. So that's what I did. I think next year I will brew this again but use wet hops for bittering and finishing.


Wet hops at the bottom of the kettle
OG: 1.064 SG
Estimated Color: 5.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30.3 IBU ??? (total guess)
Batch size: 6 gallons 

Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
13.00 lb      Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)         100.0 %      
1.00 oz       Cascade [7.50%]  (60 min)                  20.8 IBU     
4.00 oz       Cascade (wet) [5.50%]  (15 min)         6.8 IBU 
4.00 oz       Cascade (wet) [5.50%]  (5 min)            2.7 IBU     1Pkgs            SafAle English Ale (DCL Yeast #S-04)    Yeast  

This took awhile to taste good. The first time a pulled a pint I was not a fan. I felt that it would probably improve with some time in the kegerator. This evening I decided to give it another shot and man am I happy. The flavor has really improved. It is an interesting brew, the wet hops give it some favors I am not accustomed to, but it is still very tasty.


I got plans honey!

I want to do some experimentation on this honey project. I was going to do a mini batch of Braggot but then though whats the point... it will still be about the same amount of work. So I have a plan to brew 3 beers in one session. Here is the plan in a nutshell:

1) Brew 10 gallon malt base (SG ~1.060)
2) Split wort into two kettles with 5 gallons in each
3) Brew one kettle as a standard Belgian ale, use a small amount of honey (and maybe some honey malt), and ferment with a Belgian yeast strain.
4) Brew the second kettle as a Braggot by adding 8 or 9 pounds of honey and a lot more hops.
5) Split and ferment this in two 2.5 gallon batches and use a medium intensity Brettanomyces strain in one and something fairly neutral in the other.

One brew session, three beers, and all with different timings. I will be drinking the ale after two months, the regular Braggot around six, and the lambic style at twelve.

I plan on documenting this project every step of the way here on the blog. More details to come...

Monday, October 4, 2010

What to do with 60 pounds of honey?

This is fresh, raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized honey crafted from a blend of floral sources native to the sage, alfalfa, and orchard filled lands surrounding Tooele County. It is light in color but has a pretty complex yet pleasant taste. This came directly from the bee keeper himself. I think the more natural and pure the honey you buy is, the better your final product will be.

Ok, first thing, straight mead is out. Sorry mead lovers, but it is just is not my thing.

I am thinking a Braggot... sort of a mead/beer cross might be interesting. Basically it’s a beer with at least 50% of the fermentables being honey. It that was popular in medieval times. References to it have been found dating back to 12th century Ireland. I would probably add in some fruit or herb to keep things interesting.

I also have plans for a deadly Imperial honey Porter of 10.5 ABV. I would take half of the honey and add it near the end of the boil. The other half I would cook down until it was a dark amber color then add it right at the end of the boil. 

That will only make a tiny dent in this stuff. I need more ideas on what to do with it all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This is another style of beer that originated in Germany, this one near Düsseldorf. It is truly an ancient style, but only got its current name when the Pilsner revolution hit in the mid 1800s. Alt literally means old, and the name was given to distance itself from the new lagers that were sweeping Europe at the time. It is argued by some that this is the oldest continuously brewed style of beer in existence.

Alt is copper or amber in color with a white to off white creamy head. It is usually brewed with Pilsner malt base and smaller amounts of Munich and Vienna malts. It is fermented on the cool side (55°F - 65°F) which gives it lager like qualities. Also contributing to the lager quality is longer than normal conditioning at lower temps. However, a top fermenting ale yeast is used. One key characteristic of an Alt is a higher than average hop rate. The style range is 30-60 IBUs.

This alt was brewed using a traditional 2 step decoction mash. This was how brewing was done before the invention of the thermometer and malting of barley was less consistent. It is essentially the removing and boiling of portions of the mash (the mixture of crushed grain and water). When the portion of boiled mash is returned to the main mash it serves to raise the overall temperature. Knowing the volume to pull out and boil brought consistency to the mashing process and lead to repeatability in brewing even though they had no idea what the temperature of the mash was.

This beer leaves out the pilsner malt and uses munich malt and pale malt in almost equal proportions as well as a tiny bit of debittered black malt for color. It uses all German hops and yeast for an authentic recreation. The IBUs are on the low side so the next time this gets brewed I plan on making sure I get them much higher. All in all a clean ale that can be compared to a very smooth amber ale.

Recipe: OctoberAlt
Style: Dusseldorf Altbier
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.50 gal     
Boil Size: 7.44 gal
Estimated OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated Color: 14.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 34.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
6.50 lb       Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        55.3 %       
5.00 lb       Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)          Grain        42.6 %       
0.25 lb       Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                     Grain        2.1 %        
1.00 oz       Pearle [7.50%]  (60 min)                  Hops         21.5 IBU     
2.00 oz       Tettnang [4.70%]  (15 min)                Hops         13.4 IBU     
1 Pkgs        German Ale/Kolsch (White Labs #WLP029)    Yeast-Ale                 

Mash Schedule: Decoction Mash, Single
Total Grain Weight: 11.75 lb
Name               Description                         Step Temp     Step Time    
Protein Rest       Add 23.50 qt of water at 126.6 F    122.0 F       35 min       
Saccharification   Decoct 9.96 qt of mash and boil it  155.0 F       45 min       
mash out dec       Decoct 7.15 qt of mash and boil it  170.0 F       15 min       
sparge             Add 23.00 qt of water at 170.0 F    170.0 F       10 min