Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Low Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Brewing Lager

Every few years there seems to be some radical underpinning of the brewing word that comes under assault. Remember olive oil instead of oxygen? Saisons fermented above 80F? Dark candi syrup the key to dark Belgian beers? Dry hopping during fermentation? After the debate calms down sometimes brewer's shift their process en masse, and sometimes most of them say it isn't worth the expense/effort/trade-off.

10 lbs of Weyermann Barke Pilsner Malt
Two things I love about homebrewing are the passion it stirs up, and the flexibility it allows for testing novel techniques. After my friend Trevor talked my ear off about it, I read the German Brewing Forum's collaborative treatise on low dissolved oxygen (Low DO) brewing, The elevator pitch is that to mimic the character of large/classic German breweries (who steam purge equipment and deaerate brewing water) homebrewers need to go to great lengths to limit oxygen pickup on both the hot and cold side. This includes pre-boiling water, dosing oxygen-scavenging sodium metabisulfite, underleting the mash, and spunding their kegs. The supposed payoff is a near mythic German “it” maltiness that Ayinger, Paulaner, Weihenstephaner et al. create that you never taste from craft-brewed examples of helles, dunkel, bock etc.

I decided it was worth a try!

The problem with the method is that, according to the authors, even slight deviations may render the rest of the effort worthless. As little as 1 PPM of oxygen for a few minutes is enough to destroy all of that hard work! I did my best, but didn’t have the effort to go entirely on-method. On the hot side, I used a copper wort chiller (cleaned with StarSan to remove most of the tarnish) instead of stainless steel. On the cold side, I did a more modern lagering method warming rather than cooling towards the end of fermentation to ensure complete attenuation.

The other problem was that I misunderstood the amount of metabisulfite to add. I executed a no-sparge mash as suggested to avoid the risk of aerating during the sparge. The problem was that I dosed my entire mash volume with the rate of campden that they called for (100 mg/L), without accounting for the lower rate (10-25 mg/L) suggested for the sparge. Apparently I wasn't alone because version #2 of the treatise suggests 55 mg/L metabisulfite for no-sparge brewing.

To throw another variable into the mix, I used Weyermann Barke Pilsner for the first time (a sample from BSG, thanks!). This is a new release, an heirloom malt that is lower yielding in the field, but supposedly fantastic to brew with. It is said to replicate some of that elusive maltiness that is difficult to capture for non-German brewers.

The recipe is somewhere between a Pilsner and a Helles (with the other half currently fermenting as a Brett/beet saison, more on that some other week...)

Low DO Pilsner-Helles

A finished glass of Low-DO Pilsner/HellesSmell – Mostly clean aroma, just a hint of gentle yeasty-apple-fruitiness. Nose isn’t especially malty, I might have confused it for an American Premium if I didn’t know what I was being served. Appropriate waft of sulfur, not out of place. Luckily a "peanut butter" aroma it had early in lagering is gone.

Appearance – Pretty white head, good retention and lacing. One of the palest beers I’ve brewed given the avoidance of Maillard reactions in both malting and brewing. Moderate haze, not off-putting.

Taste – First wort Saphir hops provided a pleasant bitterness with some faint herbal notes. The finish exhibits big doughy malt, more reminiscent of a no-boil Berliner than anything else I’ve brewed. Finish has a hint of chemical-bitterness.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, as expected given the low OG. Firm carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – A solid beer? Sure. Unique? I think so. Worth all the extra effort? Not for this batch anyway! It’s actually one of the lagers I’ve enjoyed least from my last few years of brewing. Not that I brew many, but the lingering flavor isn’t one that calls out for another sip.

Changes for Next Time – Adjust the sulfites to be more in line with the clarified suggestions reduce by 50%). Try going all-in on the Helles recipe, including some caramel malts to see if their flavor shines as noted.

Low DO Barke Pilsner Recipe

Batch Size (Gal): 11
SRM: 2.9
IBU: 21.8
OG: 1.043
FG: 1.009
ABV: 4.4%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63%
Wort Boil Time: 65 Minutes

100.0 % - 20 lbs Weyermann Barke Pilsner

The wort, super-pale!Mash
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 152 F

4.00 oz Saphir (Pellet, 3.00 % AA) @ First Wort

1.00 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 mins

Saflager W-34/70

Brewed 8/7/16

Boiled 18 gallons of water (half distilled, half filtered DC) added 12 g of CaCl and 1 tbls of 10% phosphoric acid. Chilled to 160F, added 15 campden tablets (6,600 mg sodium metabisulfite for 68 L, about the 100 mg/L suggested), crushed. Underlet mash after purging under false bottom with CO2.

Poorer than expected efficiency, likely thanks to a less vigorous crush, brief recirculation, and no sparge.

Chilled to 72 F and transferred 6 gallons out and pitched the Bootleg Biology "Mad Blend." Left at 65 F to ferment. Not aerated initially. 15 seconds of pure O2 after 3 hours, and 6 hours.

Chilled the remaining to 58 F (underestimated the amount of ice needed) and pitched 34/70 (rehydrated, then given an hour on a stirplate with 2 L of diverted wort, and then another hour in the fridge at 48F to acclimate. Not aerated initially. Left at 48F. 15 seconds of pure O2 after 3 hours, and 6 hours. Upped to 52F after 18 hours to ensure it starts quickly.

8/11/16 Moved Saison out of the cold room, to ambient ~75F to finish out. Super sulfury.

8/15/16 Slowly started warming the lager portion 3F each day.

8/20/16 Kegged (well purged) the lager portion with 5.75 oz of Light DME. Left at 65F with the spunding valve set to 30 PSI to carbonate to mid-2s volumes. FG 1.009.

10/8/16 Added 14 oz of shredded beets to the saison secondary. Still pretty sulfury, hoping this helps!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fresh vs. Frozen: Mango Tart Saison

June 2015 I found myself with an extra six gallons of low-gravity saison wort, so I decided to ferment it with a vial of East Coast Yeast Bugfarm 15. I was especially intent to trial this iteration of the annual super-blend because it included an isolate of Kloeckera apiculata, a microbe that Vinnie Cilurzo mentioned as a suspect for the citrus-forward character of the spontaneous fermentation of Russian River Beatification!

The result was certainly more lemon and pineapple than funk, but it lacked excitement or depth at a year old. I bottled two gallons as is to see how it evolves (tasting to follow eventually). I racked half a gallon onto wild prickly pears, a gallon onto muscat grapes, and split the rest between fresh and frozen mangoes. The fresh was 1.5 lbs of sliced ataulfo, the frozen was two pounds of 365 Organic Mango Chunks.

I have a pretty flexible palate. I'm generally not a fan of warm citrus or pineapple in savory dishes... but that's about the only thing I won't eat, other than fresh mango! I enjoy mango flavored and infused foods and beverages, but freshly diced mango often has an unmistakable turpentine flavor to me (and not just the "turpentine mango"). Luckily a few delicious mango beers (including Mango Mama from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, and a homebrewed pale sour brewed by my friend Seth using four mango varieties from his Florida neighbors' trees) convinced me to brew a batch for myself! I hoped to learn whether fresh or frozen imparted a better flavor.

A slice of fresh mango.Fresh Mango Tart Saison

Smell – Pleasant melding of perfume, earthy Brett, light pineapple, and mild toastiness. The Brett picked up in bottle conditioning. Doesn’t have a distinct mango character, even compared to some well-hopped Amarillo IPAs!

Appearance – Bright yellow with mild haze with a few strands of mango pulp. Dense white head exhibits OK retention, leaving a single line of lacing.

Taste – The flavor of the mango comes through more than in the nose, melding with more generic citrus and tropical notes. Mild acidity, dry, but with a perceived sweetness from the general fruitiness.

Mouthfeel – Medium light, slightly slick. Solid medium carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – Nothing wrong with it, it is nice to have a fruit character that doesn’t cover up the solid base beer… however buying and processing all of that fruit feels like a waste.

Changes for Next Time – I enjoy it, but not sure if the effort of skinning, deseeding, and slicing 10 lbs of mango (to produce 7.5 lbs of flesh) would be worth it for a 5 gallon batch!

The same sour beer with fresh (left) and frozen (right) mango!

A chunk of frozen mango.Frozen Mango Tart Saison

Smell – There’s the fruit! Like a mango popsicle, big leading juicy tropical fruit. Subdued Brett funk lurking behind as it warms.

Appearance – Same color without the haze or particulate (although there is plenty at the bottom of the bottle). Head retention is a notch lower.

Taste – The flavor is packed with mango, slight aspirin (or Vitamin C?). Bright acidity. Not nearly the depth and complexity of the fresh version, but deliciously refreshing.

Mouthfeel – Feels lighter and quicker, with similar carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The mango is so big and bright that the balance is closer to Florida Weisse than a mango-lambic. The base beer isn’t characterful enough to compete.

Changes for Next Time – This one could use something else (like dry hops) to play off of. Otherwise, I might cut the amount back to .75 lbs/gal to get a subtle mango flavor to enhance a characterful base beer.

Bugfarm 15 Tart Saison

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.25
SRM: 3.3
IBU: 29.1
OG: 1.047
FG: 1.003
ABV: 5.8%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 70 Minutes

82.8% - 9.00 lbs. Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
14.9% - 1.625 lbs. Grain Millers Soft White Wheat Flakes
2.3% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt

.635 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.80% AA) @ 60 min.

.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.
.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.

East Coast Yeast ECY01 Bugfarm 2015

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 75 min @ 148F

Brewed 6/21/15

7 gallons of water, 2 g CaCl, and .25 oz 10% phosphoric acid.

1.5 gallon cold sparge, filtered, untreated. Collected 7 gallons at 1.042. Mash pH 5.53 (room temperature).

Final wort pH 5.62.

Chilled to 80F. Pitched with ECY Bugfarm 2015, no starter. 45 seconds of pure O2, left at 68 F to ferment.

7/14/15 Racked to secondary.

1/2/16 1/2 gallon racked onto .5 lbs of prickly pears from Cape Cod (singed to remove spines, grated discarding skins). Clean acidity, lightly fruity.

4/5/16 Bottled 2.25 gallons with 2 1/8 oz of sucrose. Racked the rest onto 2 lbs of frozen mango, 1.5 lbs fresh ataulfos mango, and 1.5 lbs Muscat grapes from Chile.

7/2/16 Bottled mango, prickly pear and Muscat portions.

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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

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

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

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

Wyeast 3203-PC De Bom Sour Blend

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 150F

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%

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

Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 150F

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

3 Grapefruit Peels @ 1 day before kegging

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

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

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

Wyeast WY3068 Weihenstephan Weizen

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 154°F

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

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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