Monday, September 19, 2016

Wyeast De Bom "Quick" "Sour"

There is no reason a sour beer requires 12-36 months to acidify. Brewers have devised a  wide variety of methods to cut souring down to days or weeks: sour mashing, kettle souring, splitting the wort, lactic acid reactor etc. The issue is that extending a mixed-fermentation produces not only acidity, but also a delicate array of acids, alcohols, esters, and phenols from the waves of microbial actors. That is what no one has yet developed a "quick" method to replicate, although some are good enough for loading in fruit or dry hops!

I wasn’t planning to brew with Wyeast’s De Bom Sour Blend when they released it for July-September 2014, but Rebel Brewer tossed in an extra pack with an order. My friend Pete joined me for a test batch of saison on my then new 10 gallon system, and that made for a good enough excuse to pitch the free smack pack. However, when you split wort it often requires compromise. In this case, the result was more IBUs than Wyeast suggested because the priority was the saison. Ironically the clean half with Lallemand Belle Saison had a weird plastic flavor, so Pete and I pitched Russian River Beatification dregs to sour it (still working).

This half wasn't terrific when I bottled it 18 months ago, so I gave it a chance to improve, but to minimal avail. I achieved good acidity from Wyeast's Oud Bruin Blend (a similar blend released at the same time without Brett) in a Blackberry Beach Plum Rye Porter with 6 IBUs; I have no doubt this one would have as well if I had reduced the hopping-rate from 24 IBUs. The sour porter was one of the recipes featured in my October BYO Advanced Brewing article: Sour Beer from Extract (subscribe)!

De Bom "Quick" "Sour"

Glass of Wyeast De Bom fermented saison.Smell – Overripe tropical fruit off-the-bat (pineapple). Brett is intensely funky and over-the-top, really damp basement. Mild toastiness from the malt. Slight ethanol drinking it at cellar temperature.

Appearance – Clear gilded yellow with a soapy white head. Pretty good looking I'd say. Head sticks around for a couple minutes, unremarkable.

Taste – The hopping turned out to be high enough to inhibit the Lactobacillus, no acidity. The lingering flavor is strongly barnyard, smokey-nutmeg phenols. Saison-like underneath, bone dry.

Mouthfeel – Somewhat mushy, missing the acidity it needs. Strong carbonation isn’t enough to give it crispness.

Drinkability & Notes – In addition to acidity, this beer is missing the balance and subtlety that I want in a well-aged sour beer…. Not that that is what this was designed to be.

Changes for Next Time – If Wyeast ever releases this blend again, 15 IBUs or less and drink it younger… as they suggested. At bottling the Brett character was mellower, an aggressive strain to produce a noticeable character in a few months.

Mega Pot Test Saison

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 10.50
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.002
ABV: 6.7%
SRM: 4.2
IBU: 24.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 59%
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain
-------
95.2% - 25.00 lbs. Great Western 2-Row Malt
4.8% -1.25 lbs. Great Western White Wheat Malt

Hops
------
0.73 oz. Summit (Pellet, 14.50% AA) @ 60 min.

Extras
--------
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.

Yeast
-------
Wyeast 3203-PC De Bom Sour Blend

Water Profile
----------------
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
------------------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 150F

Notes
-------
Brewed with Pete 11/9/14

Initial mash pH with all mash water (15 gallons- no sparge) and 6 g CaCl was 5.9 added 2.5 oz of 10% phosphoric acid to lower to 5.6 measured at room temperature.

Topped off with 2 gallons of water in the kettle, lost more than I was expecting.

Chilled to 70F with the plate chiller. Pitched half with Belle Saison and half with Wyeast De Bom.

11/16/14 Put De Bom half on a radiator to raise temperature to hopefully assist the Lacto.

11/23/14 Racked the clean half to secondary in a glass carboy.

3/13/15 Bottled the De Bom half, about 4 gallons, with 88 g of table sugar. Clean half was a bit clovey-plastic-y, added Russian River Beatification dregs.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Right Proper-Inspired: Hoppy Sour Beer

One of the wonderful things about the skyrocketing count of American breweries, is that more can be specialists! Most areas no longer need another local brewery that focuses on pale ales or blondes for gateway drinkers. The key will be thinking like a restaurant, rather than a manufacturer. If we can support 600,000 restaurants, I see no reason we couldn’t support 1% as many breweries, but it’ll require finding niches, focusing on local (direct sales), and differentiation.

My long-time friend and co-conspirator Nathan Zeender (now the head brewer at Right Proper) has done a fantastic job of just this! They brew beers that few others brews (e.g., Ornette/Ornithology a sub-4% ABV saison, The Lubitsch Touch a smoked pale lager, and Baron Corvo a mixed-fermentation foeder biere de garde), and are having wonderful results! That isn't to suggest they are catering only to beer nerds; walk into the Shaw brewpub on a Friday or Saturday night and you won't see many people checking into Untappd. The response has been so good that they opened a production facility and tasting room in Brookland earlier this year. They’ve carried many of the same beers forward, meaning that they are available at bars and restaurants in DC and now Montgomery county, MD.

Nathan venerating Russian River, De Garde, and Alu on his foeder

The series of beers that seem to have received the most attention from beer nerds are their quick sours. Rather than sour mashing or kettle souring, Nathan and Chris have developed their own house souring culture. It evolved from BSI's Lacto, and I think there were some other cultures added over the last few years. The key they learned was to skip kettle hopping. They pitch the culture at 110F and allow it to cool naturally. Nothing else is pitched, so there is yeast in the culture, but it must be heat tolerant given the clean flavors of beers like Kick Kick Snare and Diamonds, Fur Coats, Champagne. While it is quick, the process doesn't require the amount of time and resources that heating and cooling a beer twice (before and after souring). Nathan also prefers the method as it avoids committing "genocide on millions and millions of healthy Lactobacillus." Listen to a visit with Nathan on Basic Brewing Radio.

Quinoa overcooked, ready for the mash!Nathan was kind enough to pull a sample of the culture into a sanitized growler for me so that Alex and I, in a rare non-funky-dark-saison collaboration, could run it at home. We added 5% quinoa to the mash for extra protein - inspired by a few beers I've tried from Scott Janish. The local co-op didn't have flaked, so I went with standard which requires pre-boiling to gelatinize its starch. Otherwise a quick brew day with such a warm pitching temperature.

After fermentation, I dry hopped with a couple ounces of 007: The Golden Hop (a new hop variety). You’ll be seeing more new and experimental hop beers from me over the next few months thanks to a box of lesser known and unnamed varietals from Yakima Valley Hops. I finished off this beer with 24 hours on strips of grapefruit zest (removed with a vegetable peeler and then scraped with a spoon to remove the pith) the day before kegging. This was a somewhat twisted version of our collaborative Kodachrome Dream(ing), which has citrus zest and tropical hops (Citra and Galaxy) added at the end of the boil, and fermentation with their funkier farmhouse culture.

I recently submitted a feature article on hoppy sour beers to Brew Your Own (subscribe to support the blog). The last two issues this year will have a total of four articles from me including an update on Brettanomyces post-American Sour Beers, and Advanced Brewing articles about dehusked roasted malts and brewer's yeast fermentation in a low pH environment!

Strips of grapefruit peel, pith removed.With Pulp

Smell – Zesty grapefruit leads, but it has fallen off in the weeks since tapping. Behind that is the 007 hops: black tea and stone fruit (pretty much as advertised). Tangy yogurt Lactobacillus. No funk, no strong yeast character.

Appearance – Nice head retention for a 4% Lacto beer, leaving some lacing. Hazy peach body, likely thanks to all the wheat and quinoa.

Taste – Flavor is more herbal (almost a bit like Vermouth) than the nose, but the finish is pulpy grapefruit juice. Snappy acidity, easy bitterness, no sweetness. I could clearly smell the quinoa in the wort, but it is buried under all the intense aromatics at this point.

Mouthfeel – Airy without being thin. The is a beer that has a lot of bold flavors, and the base supports them. The finish is slightly seltzer. The quinoa helped I’m sure, but not a major shift in perception at 5%.

Drinkability & Notes – A bright, tangy, refreshing, citrusy beer. Really impressed with the Right Proper culture at home, it was quick, clean, and easy! You could likely get something similar by mixing Omega's Lacto Blend and HotHead Ale. The 007 did well with grapefruit, doesn’t seem like a hop that you want on its own out front, but adds herbal and complimentary fruity depth to what could have been a juice-bomb.

Changes for Next Time – Not much to change on this one, pretty close to what I was aiming for. I had considered adding some hibiscus, and I might next time with a more citrusy hop variety!

A glass of the finished hoppy/sour/citrus beer!

With Pulp

Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Vol: 6 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 5 gal
OG: 1.041
Efficiency: 82%
SRM: 2.6
IBUs: 0
FG: 1.008
ABV: 4.3%

Malt
------
42.9% - 3.4 lbs Briess Pilsen
42.9% - 3.4 lbs Great Western White Wheat Malt
9.5% - .75 lbs Quinoa
4.8% - .38 lbs Briess Carapils

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 150F

Hops
------
2.00 oz 007: The Golden Hop (Pellets, 10.20 % AA) @ Dry Hop

Other
-------
3 Grapefruit Peels @ 1 day before kegging

Notes
-------
Recipe above scaled from a 15 gallon batch to reflect this beer being tasted.

Brewed 7/17/16 with Alex

Boiled quinoa with 2 qrts of water for 25 minutes. Mixed into mash after the grain.

6 g of CaCl, filtered DC tap, .5 tbls of 88% lactic acid. Mash pH measured at 5.33.

Sparged with 1.5 gallons of cold filtered DC tap water. Collected 8 gallons at 1.041. Added .75 gallons of filtered tap water post-boil to dilute the gravity back to 1.041. No hops.

Chilled to 100F and pitched 1/3 cup of thick house Lacto culture from Right Proper. Left at 85F to ferment.

Same wort - Racked 3 gallons into 1 gallon jugs and pitched several kveik strains.

7/22/16 Moved to the basement to finish out, fermentation seems complete.

7/24/16 Added 2 oz of 007 pellets to primary.

8/2/16 Added the peels (vegetable peeler then pith scraped with a spoon) to the primary.

8/3/16 Kegged.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

BYO Boot Camp: Burlington and Santa Rosa!

Ever wanted to drink the beers I've posted about? Spend a day talking oak and disassembling a barrel with me? Learn to blend sours? Taste the difference between the same beer barrel-aged, aged on oak cubes, and infused with spirits?

You're in luck!

In a little less than two months, I’ll be flying to Burlington, VT for the Brew Your Own Boot Camps on November 4th and 5th (sign up)! The second round is already scheduled for Santa Rosa, CA February 24th and 25th (sign up). They really couldn’t have picked two better cities as far as I’m concerned (I’m excited to make it to Foam Brewers, Burlington Beer, HenHouse, and Russian River not to mention places like The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead, Fieldwork, Rare Barrel, and Cellarmaker that are close enough with a rental car).

This is an entirely new and unique concept for homebrewing, and I'm honored to be a part of it! You pick a session for each day that runs from 10:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M with a break for lunch. I can’t speak for what Chris White, Sean Lawson, Gordon Strong, Sean Paxton, Vinnie Cilurzo, Ashton Lewis et al. have planned, but my sessions will have a little of me talking, but mostly hands-on activities that can’t be experienced through a blog, book, podcast, or presentation!

The official descriptions for mine are below, but I wrote them six months ago and they don’t fully capture what I’m planning now. My slides and handouts are due this week, so I’ve included a better idea of the stuff we’ll be doing... I just need to figure out how to get all of the beer and equipment there!

-------------------

For Sour Beer Techniques (almost sold out in Burlington), you'll be participating in two blending sessions the first using three of my pale homebrewed sours and the second commercial sours with a variety of “other” ingredients. I'll guide you through selecting and refining a souring process suited to you. We’ll be capturing wild microbes, and you’ll get a sample of my house saison culture to take home!

Sour Beer Techniques
Learn hands-on traditional European as well as newer American methods to produce sour and funky homebrews from Michael Tonsmeire, Brew Your Own’s “Advanced Brewing” columnist who also literally wrote the book on the subject with American Sour Beers. Michael will demonstrate the unique skill set needed to create your own delicious sour beers including wort production (extract and all-grain), growing alternative microbes, blending, aging on fruit, and sanitation. Our focus will be on practical topics difficult to convey by words alone, no biology or chemistry degree required! You will leave with a clear understanding of the processes to reliably produce sour beers suited to your palate and desired time frame. So get ready to roll up your sleeves and dive into the world of funk and bugs!

-------------------

For the Barrels and Wood-Aging session we’ll be evaluating and performing maintenance on barrels: installing “Vinnie” nails, removing and replacing the head, fixing leaks etc. I’ll be serving homebrews aged with different woods/barrels, and we’ll be tasting teas made from a variety of woods (then blending them into commercial beers).

Barrels and Wood-Aging
Learn how to choose, use, and maintain oak barrels – and barrel-alternatives - for homebrewing. Barrels are a significant investment in money, time and beer so understanding how to properly select and use them is essential. Learn hands-on from Brew Your Own’s “Advanced Brewing” columnist and American Sour Beers author Michael Tonsmeire. Michael will also cover options for barrel-alternatives and how best to use the broad variety of available products such as chips, staves, and spirals including both oak and non-oak alternatives. In this comprehensive boot camp, we will also cover special brewing and recipe considerations for making beers to complement the flavors of woods, spirits, and wines and take your wood-aged beers to a new level.

------------

Even if you don't attend one of my session, please find me and say hello at the craft beer reception or if you see me at one of the breweries around town! I'm planning to get into town a couple days early for both to ensure I have time to drink in the scenery!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

India Pale Hefeweizen Recipe

Banana Islands India Pale Hefeweizen.There are a surprising number of beer nerds who avoid “wheat beers.” In general it isn’t the wheat itself that is objectionable (plenty of these same people have no issues eating bread or pasta), but rather the banana and clove notes produced by the hefeweizen strains often associated with wheat beer. I have to admit, even though they are best fresh, I shy away from an average brew pub hefeweizen. Ferment too warm, and the subtle ripe banana aroma turns into banana runts or Now-and-Later: artificial, overpowering, and moving towards bubblegum.

My solution, borrowed from Eric Warner (now brewing  Karbach in Houston Texas) via his Classic Styles: German Wheat Beer, is to ferment cooler than most ale yeasts (he suggests pitching at 60°F and fermenting at 59°F). Jamil Zainasheff advocated this approach as well (62°F fermentation) in Brewing Classic Styles. I usually start fermentation around 58°F ambient, allowing the temperature to rise into the low 60s°F as the yeast slow. Despite the lore that a cold fermentation promotes clove-phenols, I've never seen research to support this. Rather, cooler fermentation reduces ester production allowing the clove to be more apparent. The amount of 4-vinylguaiacol (clove) is the result of the ferulic acid from the malt, and the yeast strain selected. The problem with this batch was that I underestimated the amount of ice needed for my recirculating immersion pump and only was able to bring the wort down to 75°F; I gave the beer six hours at 58°F in the fermentation fridge before pitching to compensate.

While I love a well-made traditional hefeweizen, I’m also a fan of introducing citrusy and tropical hop aromatics! My first attempt was based on New Glarus Crack’d Wheat, with Cascade and Amarillo, and my second was hopped with nearly-impossible-to-source Riwaka. For this batch I opted for the Modern Times Fortunate Islands combo of Citra and Amarillo. The Amarillo helps to temper the aggressiveness that can be a single-hopped Citra beer. The malt bill is reminiscent of Fortunate Islands as well, with Simpsons Golden Naked Oats in place of the CaraVienna. I couldn’t help but get a glass of the original on Monday at the Modern Times event at ChurchKey (and I'll likely have another Tuesday 9/30 at Meridian Pint).

Penthesilia on the left and Hippolyta on the right.I’m a fan of Commonwealth Brewing Co. Taonga (their New Zealand-hopped imperial hefeweizen) as well. Convenient, as I’ll be down there Labor Day weekend for the release of our collaborative oud bruins (brew day notes)! We re-fermented half the batch on cherries and dates (Penthesilia), and the rest on blackberries and figs (Hippolyta). Richer fruits to stand up to the darker malts. There is a Sour Beer Dinner on Friday 9/2 in their barrel room, and I'll also be at their first anniversary party the following day when bottles will be available!  Can't wait to try the finished beers!

Banana Islands 


Smell – The banana and tropical hop punch have both settled down after some early clashes. The banana is still a little more assertive than in my ideal balance though. I wanted 1a-1b in favor of the Amarillo/Citra, this has it reversed. The hop combo works nicely, providing the fruitiness that a hefeweizen needs without any dankness or pine.

Banana Islands India Pale Hefeweizen, five minutes later.Appearance – Hard to make any argument against that being textbook hefeweizen! Hazy gold body, translucent as it should be. Big, dense, white head, still sitting two fingers high nearly five minutes after pouring. Sticky rings of lace.

Taste – Banana leads with the orange and melon of the hops surging in and then disappearing, leaving a lightly citrusy hefeweizen in the finish with hints of clove. Bitterness is moderate, more than a traditional hefeweizen, but not approaching current American pale ale. Even a hint of vanilla as it warms.

Mouthfeel – The head adds a luscious creamy texture with each sip (reminds me of the substantive foam on cocktails shaken with egg whites). Once that dies down the beer itself is light, but the oats and chloride prevent it from tasting as light as it is.

Drinkability & Notes – If the banana was dialed back 20% it would be a real crusher. As is it is nice, but the hops aren't as showy as I want, and the banana is tiresome by the end of the glass.

Changes for Next Time – Back to my usual method of buying a few bags of ice at the store rather than trying to rely on ice packs...

Banana Islands Recipe

Recipe Specifics
--------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.25
Anticipated OG: 1.049
Anticipated SRM: 4.9
Anticipated IBU: 31.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73%
Wort Boil Time: 65 Minutes

Grain
-------
43.9% - 4.50 lbs. Rahr Brewers Malt
43.9% - 4.50 lbs. Briess Red Wheat Malt
7.3% - 0.75 lbs. Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
2.4% - 0.25 lbs. Gold Medal All Purpose Flour
2.4% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidualted Malt

Hops
-------
0.63 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 12.60% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 20 minute Whirlpool
2.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 9.00% AA) @ 20 minute Whirlpool
2.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 9.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.00 oz. Amarillo  (Pellet, 9.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

Yeast
-------
Wyeast WY3068 Weihenstephan Weizen

Water Profile
----------------
Profile: Washington DC, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
------------------
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 154°F

Extras
--------
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

Notes
-------
Split batch: hoppy hefeweizen with WY3068 and Citra/Amarillo, plus a Nelson/Mosaic NE-ish APA with Sacch Trois 644! The grains and hops listed are for this batch alone.

6/30/16 2 L stir-plate starter of 3068.

7/3/16 Minimal sparge with 50% dilution with distilled water 6 g each CaCl and gypsum, plus 2 tsp of phosphoric acid.

Chilled to 75°F with ice-water recirculation. Chilled to 75°F, left at 58°F to cool for 6 hours before pitching mostly decanted starter. Up to 60°F after 48 hours.

7/6/16 Dry hopped with 2014 Citra and Amarillo pellets. Upped temperature to 62°F, then 2°F every other day.

7/14/16 Kegged (with bagged/weighted hops) and put on gas in the kegerator.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Juicy Sacch Trois NE Pale Ale

Nice shot at the main Wicked Weed from Tedd from Asheville Brewers Supply!

I was in Asheville, NC for the second annual Asheville Homebrewers Conference this weekend. It was a fantastic excuse to talk and drink beer with some brilliant brewers. Stan Hieronymus was there speaking about his new book: Brewing Local. While we were talking brewing at the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, he mentioned that he rarely brews IPAs other than to trial new hop varieties because there are so many great IPAs to drink in St. Louis. For me New England-style IPAs are a good argument to keep homebrewing them because they are so delicate, even compared to West Coast variants! Mike Karnowski of Zebulon Artisan Ales (and the highly informative Homebrewing Beyond the Basics) was speaking about NEIPAs and included pictures of a dramatic darkening with only a few weeks of bottling. I bottled one from this batch off tap for a friend and he didn’t have a chance to open it for two weeks… big mistake.

There are some interesting mineral analysis of finished NEIPAs. The question is how reliable are the amounts of chloride, sulfate in the finished beer as targets for brewing water? It turns out that the grain are altering the profile considerably. For example, an observant viewer of this video noted that The Alchemist's water starts around 10 PPM chloride and they adjust to 30 PPM, but target hardness is 750 (requiring a huge gypsum addition). However, finished Heady Topper tested at 339 PPM chloride and 468 PPM sulfate. Tree House Alter Ego finishes at 421 chloride and 336 sulfate in comparison (according to an analysis emailed to me). A good reason not to worry about a few PPM one direction or another in your brewing water.

Drained mash from the NEAPA lots of oats and wheat.There are three English-origin strains that ferment most examples of the style (Whitbread, Boddington’s, and Conan). There are almost certainly lots of other strains that could work well, like my friend Scott Janish’s California Lager version (delicious!). I wanted to put my standard water profile and hop-timing and apply them to a beer fermented with WLP644 Sacch Trois (which I  used in a West Coast IPA back when it was still named Brett Trois).

As it is for summer drinking, I kept the alcohol low, but did everything I could to bolster body and mouthfeel by adding malted wheat, Golden Naked Oats, and mashing towards the mid-high end of the saccharification range, and sulfate-to-chloride at 120:100 PPM. Then I loaded up with Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic for the hop-stand and two rounds of dry hopping!

For the other half of this batch I fermented with WY3068 Weihenstephan Weizen and hopped with Citra and Amarillo, sort of a Fortunate Islands variation I’ve been threatening for a few years… tasting notes for that later this week!

Juicematic 4.6

Smell – Distinct Nelson comes through: fruity-catty white wine. Tropical fruit (mango and pineapple) likely a synergy of yeast and hops. Juicy, bright, fresh. Not especially deep, but an enticing mixture of fruit without being one-note.

Appearance – Hazy yellow, just about perfect for this emerging style. Fantabulous head retention, floating above the rim. A bit of hop powder at the bottom of the glass (maybe the knee-high has a tear...).

Taste – The dank-fruitiness of the hops successfully tempers the tropical-fruitiness of the Sacch Trois. Moderate bitterness lingers for just long enough to clear the perceived sweetness (not nearly as sugary as the 7-8% ABV examples tend to be). Has held up pretty well, but has gotten more pineapple and less Nelson/Mosaic over the last few weeks since kegging.

Mouthfeel – The creamy head helps to bolster the body, but for a sub-5% beer it still has that pillowy-softness. Moderate carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – Crushable. NEIPAs have a tendency to be sweet between the reduced IBUs and juicy fruit, so I tend to prefer them at or below 8% ABV. This one hits almost everything I want at 4.8%, time for another one.

Changes for Next Time – This isn’t the full-on orange-juice that slightly stronger and more of a Citra-Amarillo-Galaxy thing would bring, but I find it every bit as delicious! The Sacch Trois performed admirably in this role, I’m really interested to see what else might work!

Glass of NEAPA with Sacch Trois, Nelson Sauvin, and Mosaic.

Juicematic 4.6

Recipe Specifics
--------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.25
Anticipated OG: 1.049
Anticipated SRM: 4.9
Anticipated IBU: 31.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73%
Wort Boil Time: 65 Minutes

Grain
-------
43.9% - 4.50 lbs. Rahr Brewers Malt
43.9% - 4.50 lbs. Briess Red Wheat Malt
7.3% - 0.75 lbs. Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
2.4% - 0.25 lbs. Gold Medal All Purpose Flour
2.4% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidualted Malt

Hops
-------
0.63 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 12.60% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Mosaic (Whole 11.50% AA) @ 20 minute Whirlpool
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 20 minute Whirlpool
2.25 oz. Mosaic (Whole 11.50% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.25 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Mosaic (Whole 11.50% AA) @ Keg Hop
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

Yeast
-------
White Labs WLP644 Saccharomyces "bruxellensis" Trois

Water Profile
----------------
Profile: Washington DC, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
------------------
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 154F

Extras
--------
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

Notes
-------
Split batch: hoppy hefeweizen with WY3068 and Citra/Amarillo, plus a Nelson/Mosaic NE-ish APA with Sacch Trois 644! The grains and hops listed are for this batch alone.

6/30/16 2 L starter of 3068. .5 L starter of 644.

7/2/16 stepped up the 644 to 2.5 L.

7/3/16 Minimal sparge with 50% dilution with distilled water 6 g each CaCl and gypsum, plus 2 tsp of phosphoric acid.

Chilled to 75F with ice-water recirculation. Pitched Left at 68F to cool for five hours before shaking to aerate and pitched a decanted 3L stir-plate starter.

7/6/16 Added first dose of dry hops, bagged and weighted.

7/13/16 Kegged with another dose of hops hanging in the keg. FG at 1.012 (75% AA, 4.6% ABV)

Trillium Cutting Tiles, Aslin Mind the Hop, and Alchemist Focal Banger.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Rhubarb Berliner Weisse... Again!

Slices of green and red rhubarb.If you want to brew outstanding beer, no matter what the style, the single most important key is practice. Simple repetition is one of the biggest advantages craft brewers hold over homebrewers. My brain gets more involved researching, planning, and brewing a new recipe, but the best results usually come from tweaking, adjusting, and honing a recipe I already know!

Cherries and raspberries make for delicious sour beer, but they are distinct, overpowering, and ubiquitous. Rhubarb on the other hand is elusive, subtle, and rare in both beer and cuisine. I used it once previously, in a Rhubarb Berliner Weisse and it worked out so well I couldn't think of a better base beer to add it to!

The wort itself was diluted NEAPA wort (from one of my ugliest batches ever). The grain bill contained nearly 50% wheat and oat malts; I accidentally ran the recirculation too fast, compacting the grainbed, and pulling grain into the kettle. Once the wort hit 185F, I ran three gallons through my plate chiller, added two gallons of water to drop the gravity into the typical Berliner-range (1.030), added 13 g of 88% lactic acid to lower the pH, and pitched US-05 plus Brett/Lacto slurry from Atomic Apricot!

This is an entirely hop-free beer. Hops interfere with Lactobacillus (whether isolmerized or not), and you won't taste 3 IBUs, so why add them at all?

Six months of aging later, I racked onto about five pounds of sliced rhubarb, straight from the local farmer's market (not frozen and thawed as I did previously). I would have loved the color and slightly fruitier flavor from red rhubarb, but 95% green was all they had available. After six weeks I racked off and into a keg and for force carbonation. I tend to bottle condition Berliners, but I wanted to make sure it was ready for summertime drinking and while the rhubarb flavor was still potent.

A glass of Rhubarb Berliner, next to the blackberry bush.Rhubarb Berliner Weisse #2

Smell – Remarkably clean for containing 12 strains of Brettanomyces! Rhubarb’s fruity-green-apple-berry flavor comes through distinctly, leaving room for a wheaty almost-pie-dough graininess thanks to the no-boil.

Appearance – Bar none the best head retention I’ve ever seen on a Berliner weisse… maybe any sour beer! Thick, dense, creamy, sticky, stark-white! Body is lightly hazed, much more attractive than its fraternal twin. With mostly green rhubarb, no stunning pink color, although there is a hint of peach.

Taste – Zippy lactic acidity (likely some oxalic as well), no acetic. About right. Rhubarb fruitiness comes through nicely meshed with light Brett fruitiness. The wheat flavor is sweeter than the nose, less raw. Doesn’t have the lemony-funk that my favorite batches have had, but it has everything else I wanted!

Mouthfeel – Light without being thin thanks to loads of protein, elevated chloride, and pre-acidifying. Carbonation is as high as I can take it in a keg with a reasonable pour, but is a bit less fizzy than if I’d bottled.

Drinkability & Notes – Timed this one perfectly for the summer! Tart, restrained/unique flavor from the stalks. Refreshing and interesting, my ideal.

Changes for Next Time – Red rhubarb would have been nice… otherwise nearly perfect as is! I'll probably go back to a less-complex Brett selection, much like adding 12 different hops or malts, 12 strains of Brett doesn't add complexity.

That beautiful foam on the Rhubarb Berliner, 5 minutes after pouring!

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