Monday, September 8, 2014

Phenols and Brett - The Fruity and The Funky

The yeast and the acids.The science underpinning brewing can be a fascinating subject. However, rather than focusing on practical applications, academic brewing experiments are often stripped down (e.g., an isolated enzyme applied to a specific substrate molecule). This can yield interesting results and demonstrate specific cause and effect relationships, but may not provide a definitive answer on what occurs in real-brewery conditions. While lacking the process control and analytic tools of a laboratory, homebrewers have managed to produce some very interesting experiments (e.g., Brulosophy, BBR&BYO).

One of the topics covered during my NHC presentation, and the accompanying Zymurgy article, was the effect of phenols in the wort on funky-phenolics produced by Brett. I haven't seen or read evidence that "stress" or additional sugars cause Brett to produce more of its signature funky character. Additional fermentation of wort sugars results in more esters, which explains why 100% Brett beers tend to be fruitier compared to funkier mixed-fermentations. When I was asked to give a presentation at the Mid-Atlantic MBAA meeting November 7th, I decided to brew an experiment to serve to confirm(?) that phenols in the base beer are one difference (along with strain selection and pressure).

The start of the primary fermentation.
I brewed two nearly-identical worts with the same malts, and saccharification rest temperatures. The two deviations I made were starting one of the mashes with a ferulic acid rest (15 minutes at 113F) and changing from phosphoric to lactic acid for pH adjustment. The addition of lactic acid will allow the production of fruity ethyl lactate. There has been debate over the effectiveness of the ferulic acid rest, a traditional start to a hefeweizen mash, but in Brewing with Wheat Stan cites a study that found adding a rest for 10-15 minutes doubles the perception of clove (4 vinyl-guaiacol) in the finished hefeweizen. This would only be the case when fermentation is carried out by a brewer's yeast that is capable of this conversion (aka POF+). So I pitched the high-ferulic-acid wort with Belgian Ale (WLP550). To really highlight the difference, I fermented the single-infusion wort with English Ale (WLP002) to minimize phenol production.

Tasting both batches after primary fermentation revealed the pre-conditions of the test had been met; the batch fermented with Belgian yeast smelled distinctly of cloves, while the English ale lacked any spice. Surprisingly the two batches hit the same pre-Brett final gravity as well. Into each batch I pitched half of a starter of Brettanomyces bruxellensis (WLP650). Now I'm waiting for the science to happen, the conversion of 4VG to funky 4 ethyl-guiacol by the Brett!

The Belgian yeast unsurprisingly was a little more active.Influence of the Mash (Fruity)

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.00
Anticipated OG: 1.055
Anticipated SRM: 3.7
Anticipated IBU: 37.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain
-------
 90.9% - 10.00 lbs. American Pale Malt
 9.1% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat     

Hops
------
1.00 oz. Horizon (Pellet, 10.50% AA) @ 45 min.

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

Yeast
------
White Labs WLP002 English Ale

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

Mash Schedule
-----------------
Sacch Rest - 75 min @ 148F  

Notes
-------
Brewed 7/6/14 by myself

Add 1/4 tsp of 88% lactic acid to mash along with 2 g of CaCl.

Acidified batch sparge with 1/4 tsp of lactic acid.

Chilled to 85F, racked leave most of the break behind. Left at 65F to chill before pitching. Slow, smooth fermentation.

7/20/14 Down to 1.012. Racked to secondary with 200 ml of Brett brux (WLP650). Left at 65 F to ferment.

A bit into the Brett's fermentation.Influence of the Mash (Funky)

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.00
Anticipated OG: 1.055
Anticipated SRM: 3.7
Anticipated IBU: 37.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain
-------
 90.9% - 10.00 lbs. American Pale Malt
 9.1% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat     

Hops
------
1.00 oz. Horizon (Pellet, 10.50% AA) @ 45 min.

Extras
-------
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
Yeast
------
White Labs WLP550 Belgian Ale

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

Mash Schedule
-----------------
Ferulic Acid - 15 min @ 113F   
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 148F

Notes
-------
Brewed 7/6/14 by myself

No water adjustments for ferulic acid rest (works better at slightly elevated pH).

Added 3/4 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid and 2 g of CaCl to the mash at start of saccharification.

Added 3/4 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid to batch sparge water.

Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.042 runnings.

Chilled to 80 F. Racked to a carboy, leave much of the trub behind. Left at 65F to chill before pitching yeast. Explosive fermentation within a day.

7/20/14 racked to secondary with 200 ml of active Brett B (White Labs) starter. Down to 1.012. Left at 65F to ferment.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Zealand Saison and Glycosides

Decoction bubbling in a three gallon clad stock pot.
Terroir is a fascinating thing. New Zealand white wines (chiefly Sauvignon Blanc) have gained worldwide attention for exhibiting exciting flavors and aromas (e.g., lime-zest and gooseberry) not produced when the same grapes are grown in Europe or the Americas. It is intriguing that New Zealand grown hops like Motueka (originally called Belgian Saaz) and Nelson Sauvin (related to Cluster by way of Smoothcone) have gained popularity for aromatics described with many of the same terms!

While shopping for beer a few months ago, I tried a sample of Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (from Marlborough, NZ). The idea immediately struck me to add the wine's citrusy flavors to a hoppy/tart/funky saison. In addition to a yeast blend harvested from ‘Merican Saison, I pitched Wyeast’s Lactobacillus brevis. Given the heightened IBUs I wasn’t expecting sharp acidity, but I wanted some tartness to enhance the grapefruit and lime.

Blending a sample of the saison with a small amount of New Zealand Sauvignon BlancThis was far from my first time combining wine to beer, for example a variant of my first Pizza Port Mo’ Betta Bretta clone was mixed with cherries rehydrated in Pinot Noir, a Russian River Temptation clone with Chardonnay, and my trials blending Oud Beersel Gueuze with Maison Trimbach Riesling. The quality of wine you can procure is usually better than the wine grapes you can source locally, and if nothing else combining them is a much simpler task. Mixing wine into a batch of commercial beer isn’t allowed (which is why breweries tend to turn to wine barrels and grapes); you have to appreciate the legal freedom homebrewing allows! When the base saison was finished dry hopping, I blended a sample with measured amounts of the wine for evaluation. I could have stood for adding more than 750 mL (~4.3% of the batch) of wine to the keg, I should have bought two bottles!

Some Brett strains are capable of freeing aromatic aglycones found in hops, fruit, and spices which are attached to sugars in molecules called glycosides. I have a few mentions of this in American Sour Beers, but the section about hop glycosides was dropped because more comprehensive/specific research is underway:

Certain strains of Brettanomyces (those that produce the enzyme β-glucosidase) have the ability to release aromatic aglycone compounds by splitting the glycosides provided by hops. Very few Saccharomyces strains can release aglycone, and those that do at a much lower rate than Brettanomyces.1
The amount of glycosides in hops varies widely by varietal, but the only extensive research into the actual amounts is the proprietary information contained in studies by Miller Brewing. Miller Brewing treated an extraction of hops with β-glucosidase and subsequently used a gas chromatograph to detect “benzaldehyde (almond, maraschino cherry), vanillin (vanilla), raspberry ketone, geraniol (floral, rose), linalool (floral), phenylacetaldehyde (honey, floral), and many other primary alcohols, ketones, and aldehydes which are also aromatic.”2 Methyl salicylate (wintergreen, minty, spicy) is another aglycone which has been shown to be released by the enzymatic action of Brett.3
Citations:
1. Luk Daenen, Daan Saison, Femke Sterckx, Freddy R. Delvaux, Hubert Verachtert and Guy Derdelinckx, “Screening and evaluation of the glucoside hydrolase activity in Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces brewing yeasts.”
2. Beer Sensory Science “Glycosides:The Hidden Flavors.”
3. Luk Daenen, “Use of beta-glucosidase activity for flavour enhancement in specialty beers.”

The New Zealand saison is keg conditioning to boost the Brett activity without extended aging that might compromise the vibrant hop aroma. The second runnings from it were turned into a Berliner weisse that will be receiving some citrus, most likely lemon, eventually. More on that batch later!

New Zealan' Saison

Recipe Specifics
--------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00   
Total Grain (Lbs): 16.50
Anticipated OG: 1.062   
Anticipated SRM: 2.4
Anticipated IBU: 37.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 % (w/ parti-gyle)
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain
-------
 66.7% - 11.00 lbs. Rahr Pilsener
 33.3% - 5.50 lbs. Wheat Malt  

Hops
-------
1.38 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 2.70% AA) @ Mash Hop
1.00 oz. Rakau (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 30 min.
2.00 oz. Motueka (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Motueka (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

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

Yeast
-------
The Yeast Bay Saison Blend
White Labs WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. Trois
Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. CB2 (Jason Rodriguez isolate)
Wyeast L5223-PC Lactobacillus brevis

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

Mash Schedule
------------------
Sacch I - 90 min @ 148 F   
Sacch II - 15 min @ 155 F (decoction)

Notes
-------
7/26/14 Made a 1L starter (50 g DME, Wyeast nutrient, chilled to 112F, put on stir-plate on low) with Wyeast L. brevis (two weeks from manufacture).  Strong activity by the next morning, already a bit tart. "Some even benefit, for example L. brevis yields 50% more cells when aerated." - ASB

Brewed 7/27/14

Added 3 g of CaCl and 1 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid to the mash (along with a couple handfuls of rice hulls. Same treatment for the 170 F sparge water.

Parti-gyle batch sparge.

Swapped wort back and forth to achieve 7.25 gallons @ 1.052, and 5.5 gallons at 1.034.

New Zealand Saison with first runnings - L. brevis, and saison/Brett blend from keg, loads of NZ hops, New Zealand Sauv Blanc. Pre-dilution OG = 1.070. Added 0 min hops and allowed to steep for 20 minutes before chilling. 8 g of 88% lactic acid. Added 1/2 gallon of distilled water (cold) to help it chill the rest of the way at the same time as the keg dregs (~6 hours after pitching the Lacto). Left at 65F to ferment

Lemon Berliner - Brought just to a boil, added yeast nutrient, chilled to 85F, pitched Lacto, added 7.5 g of 88% lactic acid (aiming for 4.5 pH), left at 65F to ferment. OG 1.030. L. brevis and Saison Brett dregs for the first 24 hours - activity by 12 hours, then US-05 (11 g, not rehydrated) (down to 1.024 at that point).

7/30/14 Both batches moved to ~75F ambient after three days to ensure complete fermentation.

8/7/14 Dry hopped saison portion.

8/17/14  Kegged the saison (1.008, 87% AA, 7.1% ABV. Light acidity, nice hop aroma) with ~750 ml of Fernlands 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and 3.5 oz of table sugar. Flushed keg twice before and after filling. Left at ambient basement to condition for a couple weeks before tapping. 7.3% ABV including the wine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blonde Ale on Coffee Beans Recipe

Modern Times Black House - Nitrogenated!There are many tropes in brewing. Ingredient and flavor combinations that brewers often select because of their reliability. Pale/dry/hoppy, sour/cherry, and maybe most prominently dark/coffee. I’d wager that 98% of coffee beers are located somewhere on the porter-stout continuum. There is nothing wrong with that; roasted malts and grains help to enhance the coffee character in the appearance, flavor, and aroma. Heck I helped design Black House for Modern Times (which I finally got to drink at the brewery on nitro last week, what a revelation!). There are a few breweries that have experimented with adding coffee to other beer styles; two I’ve enjoyed are Mikkeller Koppi IPA and Stone’s collaborative Dayman Coffee IPA. The combination of citrusy coffee with citrusy hops works surprisingly well in both!

I wanted to borrow that basic concept, with Cascade and Ceremony Thesis Blend in my case, but produce a beer where the hops accentuate the coffee (rather than the other way around). My goal was not to brew a “blonde stout” which I regard as a gimmick (although I'm told it can be a very tasty gimmick). The base beer for my batch is an American Blonde, with a touch of Golden Naked Oats for body, and a pinch of crystal 60 for caramel.

Over the weekend I coincidentally had the opportunity to try Hill Farmstead Walden for the first time (thanks to my friend and kickass homebrewer Sean Gugger). It was remarkable, like so many of their beers, especially that mouthfeel for a 3.9% ABV blonde ale (thanks in part to the 1.014 FG we measured).

Ceremony is a roaster in Annapolis, MD that does a variety of interesting coffees. Thesis Blend was a big help many weekend morning (and afternoons) as I churned away on American Sour Beers. Audrey is a big fan as well. They describe it as possessing: "Cocoa butter and raisin aromatics. Muscovado sugar and tobacco with clementine acidity in a balanced cup." I always suggest brewing with coffee you like to drink. For a similar recipe I’d opt for a light to medium roast, something with bright flavors to mesh with the grapefruity hops.

A very pale coffee bean, a quaker it appears.
As an interesting side note, apparently one often overlooked aspect of coffee quality is quakers. These underdeveloped beans are identified by their paler color post-roast and peanut-like flavor. Apparently "according to Steven Diaz, quality director at Expocafe S.A in Colombia, 'just one quaker bean among the beans that go into one cup can affect the flavor dramatically.'" I only spotted one for removal in the two ounces destined for the beer.

As with my usual process for coffee beers, I added whole beans loose to the fermentor (without sanitizing them). We pulled a sample after 28 hours, and it already had enough coffee to proceeded with kegging. It’s amazing how much character comes through thanks to the extraction by both alcohol and water. I also find that this technique produces a longer-lasting coffee aroma compared to cold brewing in water alone, although that likely won’t matter too much for this batch.

This coffee blonde has been on CO2 for a few days already, still waiting for a spot on tap to become available. I may add a small dry hop addition depending on how it tastes cold and carbonated.

Spent coffee beans after 24 hours soaking in beer.Blonde Coffee Blonde

Recipe Specifics
-------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.75
Anticipated OG: 1.044
Anticipated SRM: 5.3
Anticipated IBU: 27.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 64 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain
-------
46.2% - 4.50 lbs. Rahr Pilsener 
23.1% - 2.25 lbs. MFB Pale Ale Malt
23.1% - 2.25 lbs. Great Western Pale Malt
5.1% - 0.50 lbs. Golden Naked Oats
2.6% - 0.25 lbs. Briess Crystal 60L

Hops
------
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 20 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 10 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 5 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 0 min.

Extras
--------
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
2.00 oz Thesis Blend Coffee Beans - 1 day

Yeast
------
SafAle S-04 English Ale

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

Mash Schedule
-----------------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 155F

Notes
-------
Brewed 8/3/14 with Audrey

2 g CaCl added to the mash and sparge. 1 tsp of phosphoric acid added to the mash. Batch sparge with 175F water with 1 tsp of phosphoric acid. Collected a total of 7 gallons of 1.038 runnings.

Adjusted hops alpha acid down from 7.3%, from Freshops 2013 harvest.

Let sit with 0 min hops for 10 minutes before chilling. Chilled to 65F with water then recirculated ice, topped off with 2/3 of a gallon of spring water, shook to aerate, sprinkled yeast on the surface, left at 65 F ambient to ferment.

8/17/14 Added 2 oz of whole bean Thesis Blend from Ceremony. Picked through to remove "quakers" and  small beans.

8/18/14 Kegged. Plenty of coffee flavor already. Put in kegerator on gas to carbonate while waiting for a tap to open up.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

American Sour Beers Book Tour!

Keeping checking back to this post for the latest on where I'll speaking and signing copies of American Sour Beers!

August 10 in San Diego, CA - Sour tasting and presentation at Modern Times (Sold Out)

August 14 in San Diego, CA - Book Signing at Modern Times

September 4 in Boston, MA - Book Signing at Trillium Brewing

September 13 in Elmsford, NY - Book Signing during Sour'd in September at Captain Lawrence Brewing

October 2-4 in Denver, CO - Book Signing at Great American Beer Festival
 
October 18 in Houston, TX - Presentation at Dixie Cup

November 7 in Ashburn, VA - Presentation during MBAA meeting at Lost Rhino


Photo (c) Brewers Association

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Solera Pull No. 2 - Straight and on Flowers

One of the great skills of the lambic brewers and gueuze blenders is identifying which barrels are best blended, fruited, dry hopped, saved, or served straight. It isn’t that the “best” beer is used for one application and the second best for another, they’ve learned what flavor work best for each application (or specific fruit). Instead of deciding on brew day what ingredients you’ll add to a batch of sour beer, try drinking a sample and imaging what flavors might enhance its positives and conceal its flaws (if either is required).

Here is a tasting of two versions of the second pull from the wine barrel solera in my basement!

Tasting the second pull from the solera Nathan and I started back in 2010!Solera Pull #2

Appearance – Slightly cloudy, appears to be yeast particulate (clearly I didn’t stop the pour early enough). Vibrant golden-yellow body. The white head is unremarkable, sinking to a thin ring after a few minutes of inspection.

Smell – Despite an additional pitch of Wyeast B. bruxellensis this wine barrel has consistently produced beers been less funky than most of my batches. It shares many similarities with Petrus Aged Pale rather than a lambic or gueuze. The vinous barrel shows through nicely, really the star of the aroma.

Taste – The flavor starts and ends with bright acidity. Very lactic, and firm while sidestepping harshness. There is a rounded malt flavor that compliments and even balances the acidity successfully. Fruity, faint Granny Smith? There just isn’t as much character here as I’d expect from the second pull from a solera fermented with ECY Bugfarm, I need some funky, earthy, citrusy something!

Mouthfeel – It has a medium-light body with moderate carbonation. Not light and spritzy enough for a lambic, which further enhances the Flemish-pale vibe.

Drinkability & Notes – A solid beer, but I think this one excels as a base for other flavors (with fruity dry hops for example it was transformed into one of my favorite beers). It doesn’t have the complexity that a sour needs to stand on its own. It’s probably passed time for another pull, or a decision that the solera has run its course.

While brewing the classics is always fun, I think most homebrewers enjoy venturing off the well-trod path occasionally. When Nathan (now a "savant" according to the WaPost) and I started our two soleras a few years ago we decided to use it to experiment with some of the more interesting concepts we could come up with: roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, and nutmeg; infused with elderflowers; aged on Cabernet Sauvignon wine grapes etc.

This is the same beer as above, but this five gallon portion was aged on one ounce each of dried chrysanthemums and jasmine flowers. We racked out of the barrel in May, 2013 into a carboy with the flowers and bottled a few weeks later.

Flora Solera

Gorgeous pour of the solera aged on chrysanthemums and jasmine flowers!Appearance – A bit more careful on the pour on this one and it has a stunningly clear golden body (thank you protein-munching bacteria). Head retention is actually pretty good for a sour beer, better than the plain portion.

Smell – While it might look like a lager, it certainly doesn’t smell like it. The mums lead with their weird-floral-herbaceous character. I don’t pick out the jasmine distinctly, but I suspect it is keeping the beer more towards the floral than the herbal. Relatively straight ahead sour beer behind that, it projects a touch of acetic/vinegar.

Taste – Big acidity leads. No vinegar, but loads of lactic. The result is a firm acidity, but none of the sharpness I get in the finish from vinegary beers. The jasmine adds a juiciness to the mid-palate, while the mums contribute an interesting almost toasty finish. The flowers combined to add some interest to the relatively bland base.

Mouthfeel – Medium-light body, works well with the slightly elevated alcohol. Firm carbonation, but nothing disruptive.

Drinkability & Notes – Intriguing, but not likely an experiment I’d repeat. The jasmine and mums don’t blend harmoniously with the base beer, they stick out too much. So many interesting flowers available, this likely won’t be the last time Nathan and I brew something “weird” like this!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Priming Barrel-Aged and Blended Sour Beers

In the Packaging chapter of American Sour Beers I included formulas designed to estimate the amount of carbonation that will be produced by the microbes when blending similar sour beers of different gravities. While I believe it is important to understand the logic behind the math, it is certainly much easier to simply plug in the numbers rather than solve equations by hand. A few weeks ago someone emailed a question about the formulas, which sparked me to put together an easier method. I finally found time to refine it, so here I present my Blending Priming Calculator spreadsheet! Unlike the formulas in the book, it can determine carbonation for a blend of up to five beers.

These formulas are only exact if the wort for each component is identical. Having the same carbohydrate profile ensures that the remaining dextrins in one batch would be fermentable by the bacteria and Brettanomyces present in another. You’d expect the final gravity of the blend to approach the final gravity of the driest component, which is why this component must be entered in a specific position in the spreadsheet. Even then there is no way to guarantee the accuracy of the calculation because more attenuative microbes could be "hiding" in a younger/sweeter component.

To use the spreadsheet, start by selecting the number of component beers you will be blending from the drop-down list. This selection controls which formulas are used from the hidden Calculations tab.


Input the peak temperature the beer reached after the gravity stabilized (this is the same as all other priming calculators). If you ferment a beer through a warm summer and it continues to ferment into the fall, but stops before winter, you’d note the temperature it was when you stopped seeing the gravity drop (assuming it didn't get warmer after that). If the beer fermented all winter, but aged into the hot summer, you'd note the hottest temperature it reached during the summer.

I’ve noticed anecdotally that long-term aging in a barrel knocks about half of the assumed residual carbonation out of the beer. The "Residual CO2 Volumes" in red will calculate automatically. If you happen to own a capable CO2 meter (aren't you lucky!), you could override these calculation and simply enter the measured volumes of CO2 in row 5.


At this point enter the current gravity reading for each component and the volumes of beer that you plan to include in the blend. With those pieces of information entered you can see how much residual carbonation the blend will contain at bottling, and after it completes bottle-fermentation (assuming no priming sugar).


Input the target volumes of CO2 desired, and the formulas will display how much table or corn sugar would be required to carbonate the beer to that level. As we are assuming the fermentation of dextrins from the blended beers, it may take 6-12 months of cellaring to achieve full carbonation (as is carried out by traditional Belgian gueuze blenders).









I’ll certainly update this spreadsheet as I think of improvements (and hear your suggestions). At a minimum I'll add a metric tab as the metric formulas are already presented in the book.

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