Sunday, December 19, 2010

Athos - A Biére de Garde fermented with Sherry Flor

So I've been slowly tinkering away with a couple recipes to continue in my series of Dumas inspired beers. And luckily with the holiday I've finally been able to start catching up on a good deal of my brewing and doing some of those odds and ends like racking/bottling/etc, so I thought it might be a good idea to actually getting around to using the sherry flor I tracked down.

When I started thinking about what beer I wanted to brew it didn't take very long until I knew I really wanted to brew a biére de garde for Athos. Something that was simple yet extremely elegant, and became more refined with age. I really dont think you could find something that fits that description better than a well aged biere de garde with its earthy cellar qualities. To be honest though, I wasnt really sure how to get that really earthy cellar quality that a very good biere de gardes has. It doesnt really taste like brett to me, or at least not any strain Im familiar with, so I wasnt really sure how I would get that type of flavor in there at first. Then a discussion about some of the various bugs in a lambic blend really piqued my interest in sherry flor.

Sherry flor is known to give off a nougat, almond or green apple flavors and I really think that could suit this type of beer, especially since I decided to add some dark muscovado to bump up the gravity a bit and round out the flavor. If you've never tried that type of sugar I really suggest you get your hands on some (its great for cookies), it has an amazingly rich rum flavor, and I really see that blending well with nougat and almond (hopefully)

There is one thing that worries me a bit though, sherry flor is generally added to the secondary where it oxidizes the wine it is fermenting, and it is extremely alcohol tolerant. So I'm not really sure how to deal with it. Is it like brett when its a solo fermentor? or will it still manage to munch through every last sugar in this beer? I guess Ill really have to keep an eye on the gravity of this one as fermentation slows.

It was quite a PITA to find the flor, Redstar used to make a dry version but it was discontinued a couple years back, and the only other version (Vierka) isn't sold at any store I know of in the US. After too much time on the internet searching I was about ready to give up and find something else to do in this beer, but then I came across a reference to White Labs offering sherry flor year round! Unfortunately again I had next to no luck finding someone who actually had it, although a few offered to special order it, they usually wanted 15-20$ for it...a bit more than I feel is fair for a tube of white labs yeast and roughly the cost of ordering it myself directly from white labs. Luckily though I was over visiting my parents on the other side of town when my dad mentioned a new homebrew store that had just opened up down the road. So without any expectations I stopped by to see what they had, I dunno why or how but they had a brand new fresh tube of the flor that they had just gotten in the day before! I scooped it up and in my fridge it has sat for at least a month before I finally got around to putting it to a good use............

Athos - A Biére de Garde
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
4.0Dark Munich (Global 12L)
0.5Dark Muscovado Sugar
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.5Crystal (3.3%)60
Mash Schedule
170F1.7qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastSherry Flor - White Labs WLP700
2.625gal (half batch)OG1074
84% effIBU30
3.5gal BoilFG-
Notes: Munich was added to bump up the grain flavor a bit (Pils is a tad bland on its own to me) Mash temp was slightly higher than if I hadnt included the sugar, Im hoping to have a moderate amount of body to the beer; sugar was added at KO; Sherry flor took awhile to get going (>24hrs) for a whole tube in ~2.5gal, I think if I did it again Id build up a decent size starter


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Interested to hear how this one turns out, should be interesting (whether or not it is tasty).

Jeffrey Crane said...

Did you ever post a review on this one?

And have you brewed any other biere de gardes? I want to try one this fall and I'm still researching recipes and techniques. So I'd appreciate your input.

Ryan said...

Jeffrey - I havent done a formal review yet, the beer has evolved quite a bit over the past year or so its been bottled. If you would like shoot me and email and I could send you a bottle to see what you think. Maybe we could swap some other brews as well?

dan mccue said...

Hey Ryan. I am about to brew a pale ale using flor yeast and a few red grapes. I will ferment one completely with flor and the other with an American ale yeast and flor in secondary to monitor the flavor profiles... I'd love to trade some homebrews if u r interested. I am in fort Collins, CO

Ryan said...

Dan - That sounds like it could work, Im crazy busy till late this year (finishing my PhD), and the AZ heat isnt friendly to bottled beers. Maybe later in the year when things cool down?

Michael said...

How did this turn out in the end? I'm quite interested in playing around with sherry flor in beer.

Ryan said...

Michael, this beer turned out extremely well, its actually on my rebrew ASAP list

I think I have one or two bottles stashed away in a corner, I will try and do a formal review for you in the next week or so if I can locate them

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