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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