The Latest

2 new brews in the past 2 weeks - a smoked dry stout and a further iteration on the honey-chilie-cocoa beer.  I finally got to try out my new 40-qt kettle on the stout batch, and it considerably shortens my brew day by allowing me to perch it over two burners on my stovetop.  Strike water heats in about 20 minutes, and bringing the work to a boil after the sparge is about the same.  Only problem is that it heats my kitchen up so much that it's pretty unbearable to be in it.  Three burners with 6.5 gallons of boiling wort leads to a nice, tropical atmosphere.  I checked the thermometer sitting on the counter, and it read 105 last weekend... I can see why summer is not a classic brewing season.  In any case, three batches in three weeks, two kegged, and one in bottles.

The saison with Brett C. is amazing - an immediate spicy hop presence moves quickly into a tropical tartness (sour pineapple?), and ends with the characteristic saison yeast flavor tempered nicely by a creamy wheat texture.  Slightly hazy, pale straw, and spritzy on the tongue, this is a saison I will definitely re-brew.

As for the stout, I took a simple dry stout and replaced a quarter of the base malt (UK pale ale malt) with cherrywood smoked malt.  The remaining 9% was good ol' roasted barley for that classic stout dryness and jet-black color.  Finished off with some US Nugget to 32 IBUs and brewed to an OG of 1.047, this is a classic style with just a little twist.  I can imagine sipping this one around a campfire, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, talking about the day's catch out on the lake...

Yesterday I brewed my second attempt at a honey-chilie-cocoa beer, inspired by Dogfish Head's Theobroma.  My first batch had some flaws - too thin, the chilies were a little astringent from soaking in vodka too long, and the honey and chocolate were nonexistent.  This one I treated a little different.  I used 12 pounds of 2-row, a pound of dextrine malt for some body and head retention, and a half pound of crystal 90 for color and a little sweetness.  I added a couple ounces of cocoa powder at the end of the boil, along with an ounce of dried ancho chilies and let them both steep while cooling, filtered out when racking into the fermentor.  I pitched a packet of Nottingham dry yeast, sealed it up, and today am listening to it bubble away.  I plan to add three pounds of honey when fermentation slows down a little bit.  Last time I added the honey at the end of the boil, so it scrubbed away all the aroma, and the cacao nibs had little to no effect on the taste.  Good thing my girlfriend likes the first batch, because it's one that I'm not counting as one of my successes.  The new batch had a nice chocolatey flavor with a hint of chili, and the honey will be a nice addition as well.  Here's to hoping it comes out alright!

Two-weekend brewing hiatus coming up, as I'm heading back to Minnesota for the 4th of July.  It'll be great when I get back though, as I'll have an additional 2 batches to bottle up.  Mmmmmm... beer....

40 quarts...

Of awesome just showed up on my doorstep in the form of a brand-new stainless steel kettle.  Hells yes!

Roggenbier and Other Stuff

Having never had a Roggenbier, I thought I would give it a whack.  Roggenbier is very similar to German wheat beer, just with the wheat replaced by malted rye.  Rye adds a spicy, dry character to a beer, and I can only imagine it pairs very well with continental hops like Saaz and Tettnang.  The yeast is the same, lending notes of banana and clove.  

Brewday went as usual, although the lauter was tough because of the gummy rye.  I even threw a half pound of rice hulls into the grist, but still I got a crummy 65% efficiency.  Oh well - session roggen!  

Tip: Never leave your mash tun to clean the next day.  I just about barfed back into it when I opened the lid and was smacked with a warm gust of sour, barn-nasty air.  

Also accomplished on brewday: I transferred the Hoodlum saison to secondary and gave it a taste - that's going to be one tasty beer when carbed and cold.  A little tangy, super-dry, the right amount of belgian yeastiness, and a hoppy nip make it a refreshing one.  The honey aroma was very slight, and might even get scrubbed completely out by the yeast, but it was worth a shot.  My Not-So-Thai Witbier was a bust.  When I tasted it a few weeks ago looking to enter the Sam Adams Longshot, it was so peppery from the coriander that it was pretty much undrinkable.  I sealed it back up hoping the coriander would mellow a bit, albeit not in time to enter the contest. When I opened it yesterday, a huge citrus smell hit me, but my heart fell when I saw the fuzzy white mold sitting on top of 5 gallons of wit.  It smelled so good while I poured it down the drain!  I guess I can take solace in the fact that this was the first infection in the 20+ batches I've brewed.

Recipe: Roggenbier
Style: 15D-German Wheat/Rye Beer-Roggenbier

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.00 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG
Expected OG: 1.054 SG
Expected FG: 1.013 SG
Expected ABV: 5.4 %
Expected ABW: 4.3 %
Expected IBU (using Rager): 19.5
Expected Color: 13.1 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 74.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

German Rye Malt 4.38 lb (42.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 2.45 lb (23.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Pilsner Malt 2.10 lb (20.5 %) In Mash/Steeped
German CaraMunich I 0.70 lb (6.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Rice Hulls 0.50 lb (4.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Carafa Special II 0.13 lb (1.2 %) In Mash/Steeped

German Tettnang (4.0 % alpha) 28 g Loose Pellet Hops used 60 Min From End
Czech Saaz (3.5 % alpha) 9 g Loose Pellet Hops used 15 Min From End

Other Ingredients

Yeast: Wyeast 3056-Bavarian Wheat

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (68C/154F)
Step: Rest at 154 degF for 60 mins

Recipe Notes

Saison Deux (Hoodlum)

So I'm giving saison another shot, this time with a new recipe and a few twists.  I've been sampling a lot of Brettanomyces-fermented beers lately, and one I really enjoyed was Wild Devil from Victory, an american IPA fermented entirely with Brett C.  The Burgundian Babble Belt homebrew board is a good resource for wild, spontaneous, and brett fermentations, and an article posted to the board about beers fermented entirely with Brett cultures was particularly interesting.  I really enjoy the tart, dry, tropical flavors of a brett beer done right, and so I decided to try a saison with a Brett C. culture added in the middle of fermentation.  

I formulated a new saison recipe since my last one had a bit too much residual sweetness despite the bone-dry 1.000 finishing gravity.  5 pounds of Belgian pils, a pound of wheat for cloudiness and tang, and a pound of munich I for color and a bit of maltiness.  To really dry it out I added a further pound of table sugar, and just for shits and giggles a pound of honey.  I figure a saison is traditionally a farmhouse beer made with whatever ingredients the brewers had handy, and I can't imagine that honey never made it into a farmhouse beer somewhere in Belgium.  I used a blueberry varietal and added it with 5 minutes left in the boil to keep a bit of the aroma, though I'm guessing most will be scrubbed out during the fermentation.  I also hopped this one a bit more aggressively to a total of about 38 IBUs.  

I used the same saison yeast as last time, Wyeast 3711 French Saison, but I made a 2L starter this time.  The last few batches I've brewed I've used a starter, and I've definitely noticed a difference in the vigor of the fermentations, as well as the length - less than 12 hours after pitching, it was burping away, and by the second day after brew-day, the krausen had fallen back.  I figured that was a good time to pitch the Wyeast Brett C culture (no starter, just straight from the packet), which kicked fermentation back into high gear for another two days.  As I write this, 5 days after brew-day, the gravity is sitting at 1.004 and tasting pretty damn good.  An initial slight sweetness with a hint of honey aroma is followed immediately by a hoppiness, then a tart fruitiness, and finally a long finish of grain and good ol' saison ester.

Overall, I'm very excited for this beer.  Going to bottle this one in 12-oz longnecks, and I really look forward to watching this one change over the coming months.  

Regarding the name - Hoodlum is what I called my first all-grain beer, also a saison, though it finished out more like an imperial saison due to unexpected mash efficiency (I calculated for 65%, but ended up with over 85%!).  To really get high attenuation and that characteristic saison funk, I wrapped it in a black hoodie sweatshirt and set it on the table in the sunny kitchen.  The next morning, after a night of hanging out with some good friends (read: heavy drinking), I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water (and down some Advil) and nearly crapped my pants when I saw a hooded person standing across the room.  I quickly realized it was my beer, and decided to name it Hoodlum.  So Hoodlum this one is as well - not as strong, but just a little bit wild.  

Recipe: Saison Deux
Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.00 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.028 SG
Expected OG: 1.048 SG
Expected FG: 1.003 SG
Expected ABV: 6.0 %
Expected ABW: 4.7 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 39.0
Expected Color: 3.4 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 93.3 %
Mash Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 80 degF

Belgian Pilsen Malt 5.00 lb (55.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
US White Wheat Malt 1.00 lb (11.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 1.00 lb (11.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
Sugar - White Sugar/Sucrose 1.00 lb (11.1 %) Start Of Boil
Sugar - Blueberry Honey 1.00 lb (11.1 %) End Of Boil

US Nugget (12.0 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Whole Hops used 90 Min From End
German Hallertauer Hersbrucker (2.4 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 30 Min From End
German Hallertauer Hersbrucker (2.4 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 5 Min From End

Wyeast 3711-French Saison (2L starter)
Wyeast 5151-Brettanomyces Claussenii (at 2 days after pitching)

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (147F)
Step: Rest at 147 degF for 75 mins

Recipe Notes