Not So Thai Wit

So Sunday was the big day, the day I was planning on brewing my Thai Witbier with kaffir lime leaves and zest, ginger, lemongrass, and coriander.  Alas, the asian grocery store in Allston was out of Kaffir lime, lemongrass, and ginger, so there went that idea.  Instead, I stopped by the co-op and picked up blood oranges, ruby-red grapefruit, conventional limes, and some chamomile, and I went the more traditional route, albeit with different citrus.  The boil smelled awesome when I dumped all the spices and zest in at 5 minutes, and the 1L starter of WLP400 Wit that went in started munching right away.  Hopefully this one is different enough to qualify for a category 23 in the Sam Adams Longshot!

Calculated in BeerAlchemy

OG: 1.048
ABV: 4.6%
IBU: 18.9
Color: 3.3 SRM

Grain Bill
4.25 lbs. Belgian Pils
4 lbs. Flaked wheat

0.75 lbs. Flaked oats
1 lb. Rice hulls

Hop Schedule
Hallertauer Hersbrucker 3% - 1.3oz @ 60 mins

Citrus Zest (5 blood oranges, 1 ruby-red grapefruit, 3 limes) - 5 minutes

Coriander (pulsed in coffee grinder briefly) - 0.6oz @ 5 minutes
Chamomile (2 teabags) - 2.6g @ 5 minutes

1L starter of WLP400 Belgian Wit

Single-step infusion @ 152°F, 60 mins, batch sparge

75% efficiency

Longshot Brewing Competition

It's here... the Samuel Adams Longshot Competition, in which homebrewers across the country will submit their best to be judged by the brewers at Sam Adams at the mother-brewery in Boston, MA.  Two winners will be awarded a one-time royalty of $5,000, as well as the honor of having their beer brewed and released by Sam Adams in a special edition Longshot variety 6-pack with the other winner and the winner of the internal competition in the brewery itself.

The category this year is the BJCP category 23 - Specialty Beer.  This is pretty much anything that doesn't fit into the other 22 style categories, and includes beers with unusual ingredients or brewing techniques.  For example, a beer brewed with juniper berries or boiled with white-hot rocks would fit in this category.

I've been thinking about what I would like to try - smoke beer?  Something spiced?  I've always like Thai flavors in food, especially soup.  Tom Yum soup carries flavors of lemongrass, kaffir limes, chiles, and coriander (in the form of cilantro - I know, not the same, but shut up it's my beer).  The coriander lit off a flashbulb for me - witbier.  Wits are a belgian wheat beer, with a slight lemony tang from the grain, a lactic tang, and a subtle spiciness from coriander and other spices, which taken all together seemed like the perfect canvas for a Tom Yum Wit.

But shhhhh... don't tell anyone...

'Tis the Saison

With the Goldings Pale Ale still in the fermenter with a couple ounces of dry hops, I felt the need to brew again, just so I can fall asleep to the burping of the airlock.  I got a shipment of yeast this week, with a couple packs each of Wyeast 3711 French Saison, 3638 Bavarian Wheat, and the limited release Pacman (Yay Rogue!).  Since saisons are one of my favorite beers, I thought I'd give it another whack - last time I made a saison, I accidentally made it imperial by not knowing my new all-grain system, resulting in a thicker, denser brew, almost a belgian golden ale instead.  Still tasty, and great to make mussels with, but definitely not the spicy, refreshing beer I was looking for.  I've really gotten to know my system since, so I formulated up a recipe based on Jamil Zainasheff's Raison D'Saison from Brewing Classic Styles.  The malt bill is pretty much the same, but I substituted the 3711 French Saison for the 3724 Belgian Saison called for in the recipe to really drive the FG down and give it a nice clean pepper note.  This time, I hit all my numbers within a gravity point or two, and this morning, I woke to the sweet bloop blip blip of fermenting beer.  

Calculated in BeerAlchemy

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.007
ABV: 6.3%
IBU: 29
Color: 6.1 SRM

Grain Bill
7 lbs. German Pilsener
0.5 lbs. Wheat
0.5 lbs. Munich I
0.5 lbs. CaraMunich III
1 lb. sucrose

Hop Schedule
Hallertauer Hersbrucker 3% - 2oz @ 60 mins
Hallertauer Hersbrucker 3% - 1oz @ knockout

1 packet Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Single-step infusion @ 147°F 60 mins, batch sparge

Dogfish Head Aprihop

A beautiful, sunny, 90 degree spring day really makes me want to drink a brewski or two, so I stopped by the store and picked up a 4-pack of Aprihop, their spring seasonal.  It's an American IPA brewed with apricots, topping out at 7% ABV and 30 IBUs.  I'm not a big fruit-beer guy, but Dogfish head rarely disappoints, and certainly didn't with this one.

This clear orange ale pours with a thin white head that stays all the way down the glass.  Being Dogfish Head, they dry-hopped the crap out of it, this time with Amarillo, so a blast of citrus with a whiff of apricot hits you.  The taste is immediately of crystal maltiness with a bit of sweetness from the apricot, followed by a pleasant hop bitterness and a lingering fruity flavor.  Not being over-sweet, a body light enough to quench your thirst but heavy enough to have some presence, and an appropriate level of medium carbonation makes this a perfect beer to sip on the porch while reading a book.  

Allagash Fluxus 2009

I picked up a 750 mL of last years Allagash Fluxus, a beer which the friendly counter guy informed me is released every year on the anniversary of their new brewery, and is something different every time. For some reason, I'm not usually one to purchase Allagash on your average night.  I feel like it's always available, so there's no hurry to grab it, unlike, say, the newest Mikkeller.  This one is brewed with sweet potatoes and black peppercorns, both unusual ingredients which piqued my curiosity.

I cracked the bottle when I got home - unfortunately, it was a little too chilled for the style, which seems to be based on a saison.  The beer pours a hazy orange with a pillowy head which dissipates within a few minutes to a light lacing on the surface.  A spicy aroma, full of fruity Belgian esters and a touch of pepper, hits the nose.  In the mouth, an initial sweetness from the malt and  is immediately followed by a hop bitterness and a bit of spicy heat from the peppercorn.  The finish is a hint of rich, caramelized sweet potato.  The carbonation is light, and the beer is refreshing despite the 8.3% ABV.

Overall, I liked this beer quite a bit - too bad it's a one-off, because this would be a fantastic Thanksgiving libation!

Empty Kegs

Big weekend - finished off a keg of ESB and a keg of mild.  Good thing I have a batch of pale ale finishing up this week, because I am definitely out of beer.  I'm thinking about doing either a saison or bier de garde next weekend...