Tuesday, May 31, 2011

English Barleywine Recipe - DCHB Anniversary Beer

My rarely used large rectangular cooler mash tun.DC Homebrewers (now in its third year) quickly established a great meeting format, but we are still lacking activities outside of our monthly get-togethers.  After the success of the Smoked Stout brew day we had at my house last winter for the anniversary of the club, we decided to try something similar again this year.  This time around though the club decided to brew something a bit bigger and paler, an English barleywine. 

Inspired by JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale and Fuller's Vintage Ale which are each brewed with a single malt, our plan was to have Maris Otter comprise 100% of the grist for this batch.  Those English strong ales are darker and maltier than you might expect from just pale malt, so to replicate these characteristics we decided to borrow a trick from Hair of the Dog's Adam: boiling the wort down past the target volume and then topping off with water after the end of the boil.  The extended high-gravity boil concentrates the sugars and proteins which raises the boiling point of the wort and in turn causes the formation of additional melanoidins (these Maillard reaction products darken the beer and provide complex malty flavors).  When using this method you need to account for the lower efficiency caused by undercutting the amount of sparge water (we collected just 6.5 gallons of 1.084 wort).  Regrettably I only had 15.5 lbs of Maris Otter on hand and no one showed up with more, so we were forced to augment it with a few pounds of American Pale and German Munich.

Balance was provided by 1.75 ounces of homegrown hops that Sam and I contributed, combined with 2 ounces of commercial Styrian Goldings, all added with 80 minutes left in the boil.  The major problem with homegrown hops is that you don't know the percent of alpha acids they contain (which prevents the calculation of the IBUs they contribute), but for this beer we were willing to live with a bit more or less bitterness than my educated guess suggested.  This beer is primarily intended for aging so we skipped late boil hop additions since their aromatic character would have faded before the beer was ready to drink.

You can see how little wort was left in the 10 gallon kettle after the long boil.One other advantage of the concentrated boil method was that it allowed us to chill the top-off water before adding it to the partially cooled wort which helped bring it down below 70 F.  With the wort topped off we pitched one pack each of US-05 and S-04, both rehydrated in warm water for 15 minutes.  Rehydrating dried yeast is always a good idea, but it is an especially important step when brewing a high gravity beer (the osmotic pressure exerted by the high density of sugar would kill many of the dehydrated cells otherwise).  Ideally I would have used only English ale yeast, but I was more concerned about underpitching a 1.100 beer.

In a nod to the solera method we added half a bottle of last year's stout to the wort as well. We'll see if this turns into a tradition with future batches, but it was a good excuse to open up a bottle of the stout (which was drinking beautifully, with a muted smoke character that enhanced the charcoal character of the roasted grains).

It was a successful day of brewing (as well as eating braised pork and drinking homebrew) with my fellow DCHB members.  I was even talked into turning the second runnings into a low gravity lager, but more on that in a post next week.

DCHB Anniversary English Barleywine

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 25.00
Anticipated OG: 1.100
Anticipated SRM: 13.2
Anticipated IBU: 53.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 57 %
Wort Boil Time: 195 Minutes

Grain
------
62.0% - 15.50 lbs. Maris Otter
20.0% - 5.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
18.0% - 4.50 lbs. American Pale "2-row"

Hops
------
2.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 4.50%AA) @ 80 min.
1.25 oz. Cascade (Whole, 4.50%AA) @ 80 min.
0.50 oz. Mt. Hood (Whole, 4.50%AA) @ 80 min.

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

Yeast
-----
S-04 SafAle English Ale
US-05 Safale American Ale

Water Profile
-------------
Profile: Filtered Washington DC

Mash Schedule
-------------
Sacch Rest 75 min @ 154

Notes
-----
Brewed 5/8/11 with Brian(s), Josh, Martin, Bob, Raine, Sam, Henry, and Claire

No water adjustments. Mash was a few degrees cooler than I intended.

Collected 6.5 gallons with a batch sparge. Boiled down to ~3 gallons (not including the hops). HoTD method to boost mealanoidin production.

Chilled to ~85 F then added 2 gallons of chilled spring water to cool it the rest of the way. Rehydrated and pitched 1 pack each of US-05 and S-04 once the water was added to cool it to 65 F. Left at 66 F ambient to start fermenting.

Added ~12 oz of the 1st Anniversary Stout to give it a taste of Solera.

5/29/11 Down to 1.028 (72% AA).  Racked three gallons to a three gallon carboy, and 3 L each into two 4 L jugs.  The jugs each got a pound of defrosted Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

5/31/11 Added .5 oz of bourbon soaked American oak cubes to the larger fermenter and .375 oz of Grand Marnier French oak cubes combined to grape portion.

10/1/11 Bottled with a few grams of rehydrated Premiere Cuvee, and 3.5 oz corn sugar.  We blended the plain and grape portions back together after some taste tests.

11/29/12 Tasting notes are up, and while the beer isn't off other than being a bit too oaky, it doesn't have the complexity and depth of character that I expected in a strong ale. Next time I'd add some caramel malt, and maybe a hint of a dark malt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bourbon Barrel Sour Porter Tasting

I'm still shocked at how successful our group barrel project beers have all been.  We've made some delicious beers even without the benefit of having multiple barrels for blending, or the temperature control that many breweries employ.  In the the first round of the National Homebrew Contest this year (Tennessee region) the Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy (an Imperial Oud Bruin as I dubbed it) scored a 40.5 while the Red Wine Barrel Flanders Red scored a 38 (both made it to their mini-best-of-show rounds, but sadly neither advanced).

After the wee heavy was bottled in March 2010 we refilled the bourbon barrel with a big dark beer.  I'd place the base beer somewhere between the indistinct meta-categories of porter and stout.  With a second use barrel, the wood had already given up most of its bourbon flavor lending a more neutral contribution to the beer.  We did not rinse the barrel until after we bottled the porter, so it will be interesting to see how the intensity of the wood flavor in the third beer compares. The Bruery is releasing a soured stout (Tart of Darkness) of their own soon, I think we'll see more soured dark beers of over the next few years as people realize how good the combination of vinous tartness and roast can be.

A tulip of sour bourbon barrel porter.
Sour Bourbon Barrel Porter

Appearance – Pours pitch black, even when tilted to the light no photons get through. The dense tan head has great retention and trails coating lace down the sides of the tulip. Nice to see this beer have a good head, there is something about a stout that makes it seem essential.

Smell – Smells like a Flemish stout (if such a thing existed): cherries, vinous, coffee, hints of vinegar, musty basement wood. Wonderfully aromatic and complex. It is surprising how little barrel character it has compared to the first beer the barrel saw, which was saturated in vanilla and coconut notes.

Taste – The firm acidity is countered by a moderate residual sweetness. The coffee-like roast is there as well, but more subdued than it was in the nose. The sourness is assertive, but neither harsh nor sharp. The finish has some of that damp oak. There is a gentle alcohol warming, but as funk/sourness often do it is hidden well.

Mouthfeel – There is enough body to support the disparate flavors of sourness and roast. Carbonation is moderate-light, about right for a beer with this much going on. Either less body or more carbonation and this could have been harsh (we're lucky it stopped at the gravity it did).

Drinkability & Notes – The character is pretty close to mixing a Flanders Red with a Foreign Export Stout. I wish it had gotten a bit more barrel character, although as it stands it is pretty close to what I would imagine a porter made by Rodenbach (which is ironic because Alexander Rodenbach studied English porter before opening the brewery that bares his name).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Styrian Golding Special Bitter Recipe

Luke adding the last dose of hops to the Styrian Bitter.
English style beers tend to make for easy brew days because they rarely require anything more complex than a single infusion mash, don't call for huge quantities of hops, and use yeast strains that tend to have be easygoing (requiring a moderate fermentation temperature, fermenting quickly, and flocculating well).  In short everything they are everything that traditional German and Belgian brewing is not, and as a result English styles are among the favorites of brewpubs and homebrewers.  In fact so much so that most of the classic American craft beer styles, from pale ale to porter, are derivations of English beers. 

The recipe for this special bitter (slightly stronger than an ordinary bitter, but not as strong/malty as an ESB) was heavily guided by my experiences with Golding Medal Bitter and Landlord Clone I've posted about previously.  The grist was very similar to Golding Medal except that I swapped out the amber malt for home toasted Maris Otter, used a darker crystal, and added some flaked barley for better head retention.  The hop bill was closer to Landlord, relying solely on Styrian Goldings for bitterness and hop aroma. Despite what their name suggests Styrian Goldings are Fuggles: "Styrian is thought to be Fuggle introduced to former Yugoslavia circa 1900."(although the different growing conditions give them more floral/citrus aroma than their earthier English brothers).

Wyeast 1968 London ESB has become my favorite strain for English beers because it accentuates the toasty malt, adds a bit of fruit, and flocculates quickly (often dropping bright within a week of pitching).  Other strains I've tried bring too much mineral character (WL Burton Ale, and WY Thames Valley Ale) or are painfully slow to flocculate (WY West Yorkshire Ale).  The only issue with 1968 is that sometimes it flocculates too quickly, sinking to the bottom before fermentation is complete; to help counter this tendency I swirled the yeast back into suspension once a day for a few days after fermentation slowed.

I keg conditioned this beer, partly as a nod to tradition, but mostly because I didn't have a spot for it to force carbonate in my kegerator.  As soon as one of the taps opens up I'll cool the keg down and see how this summer session ale turned out.

Styrian Golding Special Bitter

Recipe Specifics
-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.25
Anticipated OG: 1.044
Anticipated SRM: 9.8
Anticipated IBU: 49.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain
------
84.8% - 7.00 lbs. Maris Otter
6.1% - 0.50 lbs. Flaked Barley
6.1% - 0.50 lbs. Home Toasted Maris Otter
3.0% - 0.25 lbs. Crystal 120L

Hops
------
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet 5.15% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet 5.15% AA) @ 20 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet 5.15% AA) @ 15 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet 5.15% AA) @ 5 min.

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

Yeast
------
WYeast 1968 London ESB

Water Profile
--------------
Profile: Filtered Washington DC (plus 5 g gypsum)

Mash Schedule
----------------
Sacch Rest 60 min @ 150

Notes
-------
4/9/11 Toasted 9 oz of Maris Otter at 400 F for 20 minutes.  Made a 1.5 L starter with 6 week old yeast. Started very quickly. 

4/10/11 Brewed with Luke

Batch sparged with 180 F water. Collected 7.25 gallons pre-boil.

Added 5 g of gypsum to the boil. The last dose of hops was accidentally added too early so we ended up with a 15 min addition instead of a 10 min.

Chilled to 66 F, shook to aerate, and pitched the decanted starter (amazing how fast that happened). Left at 60 F to ferment. Solid fermentation by 12 hours. Rose to 65 F ambient over the next 48 hours. Roused several times to get the yeast back into suspension. At 48 hours moved the beer to 70 F to ensure that it finished fermentation.

Added an airlock when I was sure it was not going to overflow.

4/21/11 Racked to a keg, down to 1.012. Added 2.75 oz of cane sugar and left at 70 F to carbonate. Nice fruity/hoppy flavor, should be ready to drink shortly.

7/7/11 Tasting of the last glass of this batch, kicked much faster than I expected.  Solid beer, Styrians were a bit more potent than I wanted, but otherwise close to my ideal Best Bitter.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Goodbye Good Eats

With the last few episodes of the Food Network’s Good Eats slated to air in the coming months, I thought I'd take a post to reflect on the show. For its first half dozen seasons it was one of my favorite cooking shows, Alton Brown’s ability to weave cooking, science, and entertainment together not only taught me about food history/science/etymology/lore but also inspired me to cook interesting recipes when I was just starting to fend for myself in the kitchen during college.

On top of that, the homebrewing episode (Amber Waves of Grain) was one of the things that first got me interested in homebrewing. However, that episode was also one of the causes of my eventual loss of interest in the show. During the course of the episode, while brewing an extract beer, Alton makes numerous mistakes in both technique and terminology: he boils the steeping grains, doesn't rinse the bleach sanitizer, calls flame-out hops “dry-hopping” etc… A few years ago I read an interview in which he stated that his goal for  the episode was not teach homebrewing, but to get people interested enough to visit a homebrew shop (I realize you can’t explain everything about making beer in 22 minutes, but that is no excuse for incorrect information). I understand that he isn’t an experienced homebrewer and that the episode succeeded in bringing attention to homebrewing, but it made me think that if he could make such elementary mistakes with beer, who’s to say he wasn’t doing the same thing with sushi, ravioli, or science?  I mean he isn't an experienced sushi chef, pasta maker, or scientist either.

This is one of the lessons I’ve tried to take for my blog, if I’m not sure of something I try to make that clear. I’ve always been hesitant to post on subjects that I’m not experienced with (that is to say pretty much anything besides beer). Most of you don't get to try what I make, you have to take my word for how good they are, so I’ve worked over the last few years to build trust, and I don’t want to blow it by writing something uninformed about a subject I don’t know well.

Alton's endorsement of Miller Lite was just about as bad as Todd English's endorsement of Michelob. The other nail in the coffin was Alton's endorsement of Miller Lite. I know, I know, if Miller drove a dump truck of money up to my house and asked me to endorse their new sour beer I'd probably go for it… but it still reflects poorly on a man who often preaches the value of eating local, interesting foods.

I still watch Good Eats when I happen to flip by it (which is rare these days since I don’t have cable), but when I do it seems to have lost a step over the last few seasons. During that time Alton often rehashed the same 4-5 general scientific concepts that had been covered in previous seasons using new models/demos (e.g. emulsions, brining, starches, yeast, and coagulation) without exploring new more complex ideas. I’m not sure if that stagnation speaks more to Alton, or the current environment of the Food Network. It is a shame to see the network that once had real chefs making interesting food reduced to countless shows about cooking quick n’ easy (or just eating).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

IRA - India Red Ale Tasting

I do like West Coast style hoppy beer, that is to say hop saturated with minimal malt character, but sometimes it is nice to have a hint of caramel sweetness along with the hops.  With this India Red Ale I wasn't trying to balance the hop bitterness with malt sweetness, just complement the citrusy hops with some darker fruit and toasty flavors. 

So far the pellet keg hops have not contributed a grassy flavor even after more than a month in contact with the beer.  I had suspected that my previous experiences with keg hopping worked so well because I used whole hops, but it turns out pellets work just as well in terms of flavor.  The disadvantage found with pellet hops was that for the first two weeks I was pouring beer with suspended hop particles (despite the fine mesh hop bag holding them).

It is amazing how much the glass can affect the color of a Red Ale.People often complain about not being able to get the RED color they want in their beer.  If you end up with a beer that is a bit too light or dark try serving it in different glasses.  In the picture you can see the color difference I get from serving my red ale in a thin sample glass instead of a pint glass. 

India Red Ale

Appearance – Beautiful clear red body (when served in a pint glass). The retention of the off-white head is terrific, sticky, coating, with tight bubbles. The combination of crystal malts and loads of hops did their job. It took a few weeks cold for it to clear, but it is a stunner now.

Smell – Big citrusy hop nose: grapefruit, orange, pine, and strawberry. There is a touch of caramel/toffee malt as well, but the hops are the primary aromatic. As it warms the fruity yeast character adds some additional complexity.

Taste – Firm tongue coating bitterness. The toasty malt melds with the raw fruity/citrusy hoppiness in the mid palate before the hops win out. About three seconds after I swallow I get the slightest hint of coffee, trailed by a lingering bitterness. I'm not sure if it is the color or the caramel flavors of a hoppy red ale that always makes me think that the hops are a bit more berry-like than in a normal IPA/APA.

Mouthfeel – A bit fuller than I tend to like in my hoppy beers, but I think it works well with the richer malt flavors of this beer. Medium carbonation, enough to lift the aromatics, but not enough to get in the way. 

Drinkability & Notes – I'm really pleased with how this beer turned out. The malt and hops strike a perfect balance. With the weather warming, I wish I'd dropped the gravity .010, but hopefully this one won't last much longer anyway.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Buckwheat Sour Amber Ale Recipe

Buckwheat has oddly triangular grains.
Barley provides the bulk of the fermentables for just about every beer style (even "wheat beers" are often close to 50% barley malt).  The other grains commonly included in beer fall into two categories: those that contribute flavor and body (oats and rye), and those that lighten flavor and body (corn and rice).  While those six grains cover (guessing here) 99.9% of the beers brewed in America and Europe there are a few other grains that are used sporadically: spelt (I recently sampled a spelt wine from SixPoint's Mad Scientist series), sorgum (used mostly for gluten-free beers), amaranth, and today's subject, buckwheat (which isn't technically a grain biologically, but I'll use the term anyway).

The only exposure most people have to buckwheat is in pancakes, but it is also toasted and sold as kasha (especially popular in Russia).  The flavor is in the same general category as rye; it is a bit more rustic, grainy, and flavorful than the routinely used grains.  Part of that character derives from buckwheat's caprylic acid content (capr- comes from the Latin for goat, so you can guess what flavor it adds).  The great thing about some "off" tasting fatty acids is that they provide appealing aromas after Brettanomyces combines them with a molecule of ethanol to form an ester.  In this case I'm hoping the Brett will create ethyl caprylate, an ester which Wild Brews describes as "Waxy, Wine, Floral, Fruity, Pineapple, Apricot, Banana, Pear, Brandy".

A 6 quart pot was barely big enough to hold the two pounds of buckwheat and water.
I bought two pounds of whole (hulled) buckwheat from the bulk bins at the local COOP (all those fatty acids oxidize quickly, so freshness counts).  I ran it through my mill and then boiled it with a generous amount of water to gelatinize the starches.  The rest of the grain bill was inspired by Russian River's Supplication.  The bulk of the grist is comprised of German pils and Vienna, with unfermentables from crystal 40, and color from Carafa Special III.   Once the buckwheat porridge was thick and gooey, after 15 minutes of boiling, I added it to the main mash along with enough hot water to boost the temperature from the protein rest up into the saccharification range.  The first runnings had an odd viscosity that looked almost identical to the ropy "sickness" that our Sour Red experienced, but by the end of the boil it seemed like normal wort.

I used a lower conversion temperature to test how well a lower level of unfermentables would work with Jolly Pumpkin bottle dregs, which tend to be more viable/aggressive than those from other breweries (since their beers are mashed cool and bottled young).  Hopefully this beer will be ready to bottle by next winter, but I'll wait for the gravity to stabilize before doing anything with it.  Eventually it will be interesting to compare this beer to our Dark Saison #3, which was brewed with a small amount of buckwheat honey (that provided an earthy, farmyard aroma when the beer was young).

Chilling the wort post boil.
Buckwheat Sour Amber

Recipe Specifics
----------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.44
Anticipated OG: 1.056
Anticipated SRM: 14.5
Anticipated IBU: 17.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain
-------
48.1% - 5.50 lbs. German Pilsener
21.9% - 2.50 lbs. German Vienna Malt
17.5% - 2.00 lbs. Raw Buckwheat
10.9% - 1.25 lbs. Crystal 40L
1.6% - 0.19 lbs. Carafa Special III

Hops
-------
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 4.75% AA) @ 60 min.

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

Yeast
--------
SafBrew T-58 Specialty Ale
Jolly Pumpkin Dregs

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

Mash Schedule
-------------------
Protein Rest 15 min @ 125 F
Sacch Rest 45 min @ 149 F

Notes
--------
Brewed 3/6/11

Ground grains and whole/raw buckwheat separately.

Mashed in the grain while I boiled the buckwheat for 15 min. Added the buckwheat (really gloppy) and stabilized at 140, then added 180 degree water to get the mash temp up.

Slow sparge, even with a few handfuls of rice hulls. After 90 minutes 7.5 gallons of 1.048 runnings had been collected.

Chilled to 70. Shook to aerate, pitched T-58 without rehydrating. Dregs from a 9 month old bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca and a 6 month old La Parcela. Left at 64 F ambient to start fermenting.

Good fermentation after 12 hours, threatening to blow-off after 24.  Visible fermentation ceased after 3 days.

4/21/11 Racked to secondary, down to 1.012.  Already nicely tart, pretty fruity/yeasty still though.  Took a bit longer than I intended to get around to it.  No oak added yet.

5/31/11 Added .75 oz of Meyer's Rum soaked American oak cubes.

10/15/11 Blended some, racked 1 gallon onto 1 lb of sour cherries, and bottled the remaining 2.25 gallons with 1 5/8 oz cane sugar.

1/29/12 Solid beer, complex funky nose, bright acidity, overall very pleased. Sadly the tropical notes from the Brett/buckwheat have not emerged, although maybe it will will extended aging?

4/20/12 Bottled the gallon that was on cherries with .7 oz of table sugar and a small amount of rehydrated champagne yeast.

2/28/13 Tasting of the cherry portion, the fruit really covers up the funk. Balanced, drinkable, fun, but not exciting.

----------------------------
Vinnie on Supplication:

There is a good amount of C40-Crystal, around 10%, we also get color from Vienna Malt, it is about 15 or 20% of the grain bill and also we use Carafa 3 Special malt from Weyermann (sp) to get color, this leaves a cleaner flavor but the special B and chocolate will certainly work.

We ferment in the primary with Abbey 530 Yeast and remove the yeast post fermentation and hit the beer with Brett and the cherries (25 pounds to a 60 gallon wine barrel) in the wine barrel and let it sit for 2 months. After that we add the bacteria and more Brett, it normally ages for 12 months in the barrel.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How much of the beer you drink is homebrew?

DFH World Wide Stout is a hell of a drug.100% - 2%
90% - 18%
80% - 15%
70% - 14%
60%  - 8%
50% - 14%
40% - 6%
30% - 7%
20% - 4%
10% - 5%
0% - 0%
(600 Votes)

The majority of those who voted drink mostly homebrew (at an average of 60.75%).  I'll add myself to that group as well (maybe 70%?), especially now that I own a kegerator and put more of a focus on brewing session beers.  When I buy bottles to drink at home it tends to be special releases or strong beers I want to age.  The craft beer industry (including the beer stores that specialize in it) has reached the point where there are so many bottles available that it is hard for me to trust the freshness of any beer that isn't date labeled (or recently released).  With homebrew I know when it was brewed, and that it has been stored correctly.

One of the reasons I still buy as much beer as I do is the gap between when I get an idea of what I want to brew and when said beer is ready to drink.  While the beer is fermenting I'll often pickup a six-pack of something similar to tide me over. I wish homebrewing was more like cooking and when you were done brewing at the end of the day the beer would be ready to drink.

It's not just my homebrew I enjoy, I also like drinking my friends beers.  It is enlightening to sample a beer and then be able to talk to the person who made it.  So often when I drink a great commercial beer it is hard to find much information about the ingredients/techniques that went into brewing it (although it is great to see breweries like Deschutes posting recipe info for homebrewers).  Thank you to all of the people who have shared their beers and knowledge with me over the last few years (either through the mail or in person).

Monday, May 2, 2011

American Lambic - Spontaneous Fermentation

My turbid mash setup, from left to right: turbid wort, hot liquor, mash tun.It is hard enough to brew a great sour ale when you know what microbes you are pitching, so why did I want to take on the additional challenge of souring a beer with unknown local microflora?  I think it was some combination of the romance and curiosity of brewing a beer that gets its unique character from the area it is brewed (terroir).  Some people suggest trying a smaller test batch first, but if I have to wait more than a year to see how the evaluation goes I might as well have five gallons to show for it. 

Propagating the wild yeast I captured in my backyard and barrel room boosted my confidence, the starters had a surprisingly clean flavor with a hint of lactic tartness.  Judging souring microbes after a few weeks can be dangerous since there are strains that may not have made their presence known by this point; I'll be interested to see how the flavor develops as the beer slowly ferments.

Aged hops, brown and crunchy.
The brew day was very similar to the one for my third Lambic (lots of details/pictures on the process in that post).  I applied what I had learned from that batch to the turbid mash I did for this beer.  Despite the complexity and extra attention required (it helped that a few friends stopped by) a turbid mash only takes about 2 hours (it is the long boil to reduce all of that wort that kills most of your day).  I adjusted my efficiency down from my previous attempt to hit my target OG (despite the long boil and scalding sparge my efficiency was similar to my standard brewing process).  The only change I made to the mash schedule was to hold the turbid portion of the runnings at 190 F (instead of 176 F) to ensure that it would raise the mash to 170 F when it was added to reach mash-out.

With 8.5 gallons of wort collected I started the 225 minute boil.  I added three ounces cheesy 2007 Willamettes near the start (a generous addition of aged hops is helpful for a beer like this to slow the growth of spoilage microbes).  When I tasted the wort I was surprised how little bitterness the hops imparted (although looking at them I shouldn't be too surprised), luckily none of their funky aromas carried over either.

Spontaneous fermentation 24 hours after pitching.After force chilling the wort I pitched about one quart from each of the two starter.  While there was some yeast(?) that had flocculated to the bottom of the starter vessels I did not want to decant them because there were most likely numerous organisms that had not dropped out.  Visible fermentation took about 24 hours to commence.  During the first week I held the ambient temperature at 65 F to give the yeast the best chance to complete a healthy/calm primary fermentation, letting it rise slightly after that.  The krausen was primarily composed of large, delicate bubbles (a sign that the strains at work are probably less flocculant than standard brewer's yeasts).

My plan is to leave this beer in the primary fermenter for the next 12-18 months.  At that point, assuming it doesn't taste terrible, I'll bottle half of it as is and add a few pounds of (extremely bland) mulberries from the tree in my backyard to the remainder.  If this batch is successful I may use it to start next year's Lambic, heading down the road to a truly wild house culture.



DCambic (Lambic #5)

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.50
Anticipated OG: 1.050
Anticipated SRM: 3.6
Anticipated IBU: 14.7 (estimated)
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 225 Minutes

Grain
-----
65.8% - 6.25 lbs. German Pilsener
34.2% - 3.25 lbs. Raw Wheat

Hops
----
3.00 oz. Willamette (Whole, ~1.25% AA) @ 195 min.

Yeast
-----
Washington DC Microflora

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

Mash Schedule
-------------
Acid - 25 min @ 113 (Infuse)
Protein - 5 min @ 136 (Infuse)
Sacch I - 30 min @ 150 (Infuse)
Sacch II - 30 min @ 162 (Infuse)
Mash Out - 10 min @ 169 (Return turbid portion)

Notes
-----
3/24/11 Started spontaneous fermentation starters. 1.030, .5 oz aged hops, and 1/4 tsp nutrient: upstairs, backyard, and in the barrel room. Did not force chill, and put them in pots covered with cheesecloth. The next morning I moved them all inside and put them in growlers with airlocks.

Minor activity after a few days.

3 weeks later I tossed the upstairs (black mold) and stepped up the other two.

The outside had the best aroma and most active/flocculant yeast. The barrel room smelled a bit off, but seemed to be Brett (pellicle?).

Brewed 4/23/11 With Jaime, John, Brian B, and Martin

Wheat was whole/unmalted from the COOP, Pils was Best Malz.

Held the turbid portion @190 F before adding it back for the mash out.

Collected ~8.5 gallons of 1.032 runnings. Added 1 qrt of water with 30 min left in the boil since I was lower on volume than expected.

Ended up with 4.5 gallons post boil/chill/strain (surprisingly smooth, low bitterness), 1 qrt each of both ambient starters (light lemony tartness). Pitched at 70 F, only aeration was straining. Left in 6 gallon better bottle at 66 F ambient. No oak yet.

Good fermentation by 24 hours (big bubbles). Ambient had creeped up close to 70 F so I moved it to a 65 F fridge.

5/1/11 Moved the fermenter out of the fridge and attached an airlock. Still a bit of krausen, odd funky/yeasty smell.

10/29/12 Racked two gallons onto about two pounds of mulberries from my backyard. Bottled the rest with 1.75 oz of table sugar. No extra yeast, so it may take awhile to carbonate. FG 1.002.

3/21/13 Bottled the fruited portion, 2 gallons, with 1.5 oz of table sugar.

4/25/13 Tasting notes on the plain portion. Given where I live, the results are remarkably reminiscent of a Belgian lambic!

6/6/13 Tasting notes on the mulberry portion. More fruit character than I expected from eating the berries straight. Very drinkable, despite the crazy process.

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