Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Le Bâtard - a Petite Belgian Golden

Originally this beer was supposed to have pear juice mixed in at a relatively high proportion (2-3 gallons), but my normal source of pear juice no longer carries/makes it, leaving me with few options.

The only thing I could find locally was Knudsen pear juice, but it was unbelievable cloudy, and the ubiquitous Vinters Reserve bases.  I've used the Vinter's pear base before and found it not only lacking in flavor, but it fermented completely dry (~1.000) which shouldn't happen if its only pear.  Pear juice contains a high level of unfermentable sugars and should finish, in my experience, in the 1014-1020 range at a bare minimum.  The dry finish left me thinking something funny is going on with their "Pear" base.

I originally wanted to add the juice to emphasize the pear esters that the yeast I picked produces (WY1388).  Instead I guess I'll just rely on the yeast.  This is a relatively simple beer, single malt, single hop, little bit of sugar to dry things out.  Not quite what I originally intended, but I already had the yeast starter made and with the pending arrival of a baby I have to be on a schedule to get my kegs filled in short order.
This beer cause me a lot of headaches during the brewing session.  The day was a double batch day, with this beer the second of the day.

I re-gapped my mill for my first brew and got great efficiency, however for some reason the mill couldn't grab the Castle barely malt (maybe its plumper?) so I had to re-re-gap my mill, then then my manifold in my MT came loose......three times........but that was after the fiasco where for some reason it didn't look like I was getting conversion and the pH was somehow only 5.1??!!?! (cloudy and full of starch - ended up adding 1# more malt) so the mash turned into a 2.5hr mess.......This beer really was a bastard to brew

Once I find another source for quality pear juice/concentrate, I plan re-brewing this beer and mixing in the juice i at a high concentration, adding a touch of vanilla and finishing the beer with a bit of a roasted almond extract that I make using my fat washing process.  That sounds like an amazing beer to me, as I write this I'm thinking I might even use Sherry flor instead of 1388. Using the flor Im thinking I might be able to pull some nougat flavors out of it again like the last time I used it........

Le Bâtard
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
11.0Belgian Pils (Castle)
0.5Table Sugar
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Nelson Sauvin  (11.4%)20
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
153F0.8qt/lb60
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Strong Ale WY1388 (600mL starter)
Fermentation Temp66 ± 2°F - 7 days
Stats
5.5galOG1065
84% effIBU21
7gal BoilFG



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dark Days Dunkelweizen

Dunkelweizen is a style I absolutely love in the spring.  It has the great ester/phenol profile of a hefe, but it still has a strong malt backbone to back everything up.  In my opinion, the rich malt flavors mingled with the great yeast profile of a hefe yeast are the perfect combination for transitioning to warmer weather

Over the years I've brewed a few different versions of dunkelweizens, mostly relying on a flavorful base grain like Vienna or Munich, a crystal malt, and a touch of a roasted grain.  This beer doesn't deviate from those general guidelines, though I did change a few things up a bit.

In this beer I decided to use Dark Wheat instead of white wheat; went with an American crystal malt (C40), and instead of using Carafa special for color and a hint of roast, I grabbed some Midnight wheat.  None of these changes are too profound so I'm expecting basically the same beer I've brewed in the past, but I am really curious about the roast profile from the midnight wheat malt.  If it turns out as smooth as I've been told/read, I think that it will have a place in a grain-bill of an upcoming Eisbock I plan on making.

This brew session was during the playoffs and was a great distraction to the pounding both of my teams took, hence the name of the beer....Somehow I also took a pounding and only got a 66% efficiency from my mash as well (Lower than my first AG)......No pics this time either, I had absolutely no idea where my phone was all day, which was probably a good thing......

Dark Days
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
7.0Munich II - Weyermann
4.0Dark Wheat (9L)
1.0C40L
0.25Midnight Wheat
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Magnum (15.5%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
153F0.8qt/lb60
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBavarian Wheat WY3638 (1.2L Starter)
Stats
5.5galOG1054
66% effIBU12
7gal BoilFG1016



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vanilla Cream Soda Ale

I made nearly the same beer almost 7 years ago to the day and absolutely loved it as something a bit different in my line up.  I'm also a big time sucker for a vanilla creme soda, although I must admit with the commercial examples out there, I absolutely must cut with some soda water otherwise I cant handle the sugar level.  Once its cut with some soda water (~30-40%) you can taste soooo much more vanilla flavor in it.

For this beer I was going to brewing something nearly identical to the last one, with the exception of cutting the lactose in half, but when I went to buy ingredients I learned that my LHBS doesn't actually carry LME. Who knew?  So I changed it up a bit and decided to use more caramel malts and to do a first runnings boil.

I took the first gallon of runnings and put as much heat into it as my burner would allow.  While watching the wort boil, I just wasn't happy with the level of darkening I was getting, luckily the wheels started turning in my head and I realized that lactose is a reducing sugar, lucky for me!  So, I grabbed a bowl, added the lactose and mixed in a bit of wort so it wouldn't clump up when added to the kettle, voila! lots more darkening!!  I ended up letting the first gallon reduce enough that the remaining wort began to bubble and foam up much like I was making caramel. I tried to get a pic or two, but with the cold weather the steam was impossible to see through the steam.

The rest of this beer is fairly mundane. I did use a few more base malts that I normally do, but that was really just to use up the odds and ends of 50 lb sacks that I put into buckets for storage.  I wouldn't recommend doing this otherwise (no real flavor purpose).

I did one other thing before this beer. Lately my efficiency has been terrible, lower than even my first AG batch was.  So I thought I would re-gap my mill.  I hadn't done this in longer than I could remember, but it was obvious from looking at the mill that at least one side was more open than the other.  I ended up taking the gap down to 0.032" which did look a bit more fine than my crush normally (at least recently), the recirc and sparge went fine, a touch slower than normal, but I think that was not getting the mash out temp high enough initially (cold weather).

A Squiffy Virgil
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.0NW Pale
3.5Belgian Pils
3.5Belgian Pale
1.040L
1.075L
0.5Lactose
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Magnum (7.2%)60
Misc
Amt (oz)ItemWhen
0.6gCaSO4 - GypsumMash
1.5gNaCl - SaltMash
TBD Vanilla@ Kegging
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
153F0.8qt/lb60
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastUS05 - Rehydrated
Stats
5.5galOG1062
85% effIBU14
7gal BoilFG1016



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