Monday, April 24, 2017

Beet and Brett Saison

Brew a variety weird things, sometimes get weird results. While my first accidentally-double-sulfited attempt at a LODO Pilsner was meh, the other half of the wort (recipe) fermented with Bootleg Biology’s Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend was a terribly sulfry, eggy, farty mess. The Brulosophy LODO experiment ran into similar (less severe) sulfur issues even with the correct dosage of metabisulfite. What’s happening?

Shredded beets ready to go into the saison.Most of the aromatic sulfur compounds in beer are relatively volatile. Yeast are required to convert the other common fermentation off-flavors, like diacetyl and acetaldehyde, into relatively flavorless compounds. Sulfur aromatics can be carried out of the beer by CO2, either from the yeast or artificially by force-carbonating and degassing. Another approach is to precipitate the sulfur as copper sulfate. I’ve visited breweries that recirculate through a short length of copper pipe to accomplish this.

All beers contain sulfate (SO4) thanks to contributions from the water and malt. Sulfate doesn't taste like sulfur, although it can contribute a mineral off-flavor in excess. While some (especially lager) strains produce above-threshold sulfur aromatics normally, usually these blow-off on their own unless fermentation is abnormally cold, pressurized, or weak. When you add bisulfite (HSO3) in the form of sodium metabisulfite (SMB) as an oxygen scavenger it releases free sulfur dioxide (SO2) most of which oxidizes into sulfate or off-gases. What happens to the remainder? Well  at least some of it ends up as foul hydrogen sulfide (H2S). So in LODO Brewing, the SMB dosage has to be reduced if you are taste sulfur in the finished beer. Relevant research for wine making.

This is just a few minutes after adding the beets, instant color!Rather than turning to copper, or intentional oxidation, I decided to add three shredded beets (14 oz) to secondary. My theory was that beets’ sugar would cause the yeast to scrub the sulfur while their earthy flavor complimented the yeast hiding whatever sulfur remained. By sheer luck it worked! Not to say it is a perfect beer, but it is drinkable and the sulfur was gone after a few months... Not exactly a solution built for a commercial brewery with a sulfury lager. I could have added fruit to accomplish the same goal, but berry saisons usually fall flat without acidity or sweetness behind the aromatics.

I shared a growler of the beer with Todd Boera from Fonta Flora last week while he was brewing a collaboration at Right Proper. He gave some positive feedback (no sulfur, nice beet expression). I had loosely based my amounts and technique on the recipe for his Beets, Rhymes, and Life in Stan’s fascinating Brewing Local. I also got to share my Juniper Kviek with Marika and Aaron from Scratch Brewing, she said that it reminded her of their Sahti (not a big surprise given we cribbed the Eastern Red Cedar additions from that recipe in their Homebrewer’s Almanac).

The local NPR affiliate stopped by that day for a story on the collaboration and changes to the DC beer scene: Take Time to Smell the Beer

Beets by Drie

The finished beet saison!Smell – Earthy, loamy, beety. Still fresh, maybe a hint of cherry and spice from the Brett. The beet flavor isn’t overpowering, this is just a mild saison given the low gravity, 100% Pilsner malt, and lack of natural conditioning.

Appearance – Shocking magenta with a slight haze. Todd mentioned that they really see the color of beets dissipate in the bottle, but not in the keg. No idea what causes it though (pH? Fermentation? Doesn't seem to be oxidation). Head has just a hint of pink for the short time it stays around.

Taste – Mildly spicy yeast, fresh earthy beets in the finish. Minimal sweetness, pretty dry, clearly whatever leached from the shredded beets was fermentable. A hint of bitterness, but no other hop character. Just a touch of sulfur, thankfully!

Mouthfeel – Light and thin. Medium-plus carbonation. Not far from seltzer.

Drinkability & Notes – Bright, weird, and refreshing. A bit single note with the beets, but it is a remarkable improvement from the train wreck it was!

Changes for Next Time – Less SMB. A maltier saison would support the beets better. I’d like to taste it with a little citrus zest and/or ginger as well... so that's what I did!

With the keg half empty I shredded 70 g of ginger into a French press, steeping it with a cup of boiling water for an hour. It's a technique I used in the blog's infancy to make Ginger Beer. I added half of this intense tea to the keg along with the zest of one blood orange.

Ginger-Citrus-ified Beets by Drie

Smell – Assertive spicy fresh ginger layered onto the earthiness. Reminds me of a Reed’s Ginger Beer rather than Ommegang Hennepin (which has a touch of ginger). Citrus is in a supporting role.

Appearance – Nearly identical magenta, maybe a hair hazier. Head retention isn’t improved.

Taste – Ginger and citrus are there in the flavor as well, but they leave more room for the beet. The earthiness is mellower. Yeast character is the odd one out. Surprisingly brings out the sulfur a bit more in the finish, not objectionable though.

Mouthfeel – The ginger adds a tickle of heat at the end, but otherwise the same light quenching body.

Drinkability & Notes – A more crowd-pleasing beer, less of a study on vegetable beer - the topic of my most recently submitted BYO Advanced Brewing article (subscribe). The potent ginger makes me think cocktail more than beer. Less interesting, but more drinkable and food-friendly.

Changes for Next Time – Less ginger, or a bolder base beer. Interested to see if it calms down in a week or two.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Zealand: Beer and Hops on the South Island

It is always easier to say “No.” Every year I get a few invites for international trips combining speaking, judging, and/or brewing. With only so many vacation days each year, I can't go everywhere I'm invited. I love talking to locals with shared interests (and the free flight and hotel doesn't hurt), but it means a few days spent being on rather than relaxing. Sometime though an event, place, or people are enough to turn my answer into "Yes." Nelson, New Zealand and the 2017 NZ Home-Brewers Conference was the most recent thanks to organizers Karl, Ed, and Mike!

Drinking in Christchurch

Two flights at Pomeroy's PubWe left our house in Washington, DC on Thursday afternoon and after three flights and a total of 24 hours in transit we arrived in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon. The city was hit by an Earthquake in 2011 that killed 183 people and is still knocking down damaged buildings. We were surprised how quiet it was on the weekend, I guess when the area around it is so beautiful, why live downtown?

Our first stop between the airport and our AirBnB was Pomeroy's Pub for two sampler trays (one of theirs and one of other local beers). It set the tone for much of the beer on the South Island, lots of British-inspired, with some American craft beer leanings, and the foundation for emerging local trends. The next day we met with the Chch Homebrew Association at Volstead Trading Company (excellent beer bar) and then onto dinner at Twisted Hop Pub (a local brew pub) with a few of them. Both breweries we visited in Chrischurch had some excellent house beers (Pomeroy's English Mild and Twisted Hop Twisted Ankle) and some I'd rather forget... from their guest taps with overdone adjuncts.

A honey shack along the side of the road.We also stopped by FreshChoice for bottled beers to sustain us on the trip around the country. Despite being hyped in America, New Zealand hops aren’t especially played up. Almost all of the local IPAs that highlighted a particular variety used American hops (e.g., Liberty Citra Double IPA). It was actually the emerging New Zealand Pilsners style that usually showcased Nelson, Motueka, and Riwaka! In general I was let down with the lack of local adjuncts used (certainly a handful of honey, wine grape, and manuka-smoked beers) especially from the likes of Garage Project. Freshness was a big issue too, many beers are given long shelf-life (12-18 months) and still a good number were out of code.

I bought honey at a self-serve roadside honey shack, and Audrey tracked down thyme honey for me at a farmer's market. Regrettably I didn't get to come home with hops (I'll have to order some in a few months when the new harvest is pellitized).

Rippon Vineyards on Lake Wanaka.One interesting note is that bars are required to serve at least one low alcohol beer, which adds an incentive to brewers to brew them. The best of the ones we tried was White Mischief, a peach gose from Garage Project. The North Island, especially Wellington, is the center of the brewing industry, but there are still quite a few breweries in and around the cities on the South Island.

South Island Tourists

After a couple days we set out on a circuitous five day route to Nelson. We drove about three hours a day, but the scenery was beautiful and ever-changing. Down through Tekapo (a dark sky reserve) for stargazing at Mount John University Observatory, by Lake Wanaka (with a stop at Rippon Vineyards for beautiful scenery and serious natural fermentations), and up the West Coast with hikes to Franz Joseph glacier and onto Fox glacier by helicopter. We walked along the coast at Gillespies Beach, where there was no shortage of flat rocks, and a calm inlet perfect for skipping.

NZ Hops facility.
Hop Harvest

Our first day in Nelson we went on a tour of the New Zealand's hop growing infrastructure. Along with 20 local homebrewers we were joined by the other Americans (BJCP President Gordon Strong and Brulosophy Captain Marshall Schott).

We have top men working on it right now.We essentially ran the steps that hops take in reverse order. Starting at NZ ("N-Zed") Hops. This is the cooperative processor owned by the hop farmers. The guide noted that a few more farms were coming online this year and they expect a substantial expansion in acreage over the next three years. This is the building where your Nelson, Mouteuka, and Riwaka (if you can get it) are pelletized and packed for distribution. Harvest was well underway (an average year) and the place smelled intensely resiny. I would have loved to see the pelletizer in action, but the highlight was the storage room, it was like something out of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Up until now they have only done larger packages in-house, but starting this year they will be packing 100 g and 1 kg packages on a new machine.

Green Bullet hops being harvested at Mac Hops
Next we were onto Mac Hops, the largest grower in New Zealand. That day they were harvesting Green Bullet (the hop, as we were told several times, is the signature of Steinlager). They grow a variety of hops to stretch the harvest season. The machinery was fascinating, and we could get a bit closer than I would have expected. They dry and bale the hops on site and send them to NZ Hops where they are tested for moisture before processing.

I took a few videos of the various stages going from bines to dried whole hops (sorry for a few vertical shots mixed in...). They are basically in order from the bines hanging moving to have their hops plucked off, through the machines that remove leaves, and finally to loading dried hops into the baler. We didn't get to see into the oast, so the drying process isn't recorded. They are selling this 50 acre farm (to a private equity group that Modern Times has signed a bunch of contracts with) and using the proceeds to purchase 100 acres of land to build a new farm.



We had lunch at The Moutere Inn (the oldest pubs in New Zealand) where I tried Townshend Trial Hop 2 an subtly hopped beer brewed with an experimental variety (later I'd hear it was one of the breeder's current favorites, more herbally-balanced than the big tropical bombs they are known for). 

Nelson Sauvin hops, in Riwaka.Our final stop was at the New Zealand Hop Research Station. Our group started in their test brewhouse (for single-hop trial batches). Here promising hops are added to a simple standard base beer, something like a Pilsner fermented with US-05. They use a neutral bittering hop and load up the experimental hops at the end of the boil and in dry hopping. Regrettably they didn't serve us any samples!


Dr. Ron Beatson gave us a tour of the field, has been the driving force behind their breeding and selection programs. We didn't get to see the Nelson Sauvin "mother" (the one that all are propagated from) but we did see a few of her daughters. He cracked a few jokes about selecting the Cascades (now called Taiheke) for their breeding program in the 1980s. While some of their hops are bred manually, others are in secret test sites around the country with several female plants and a single male to pollinate. He said the same thing I had heard about Riwaka, beautiful hop (my Riwaka Hefeweizen), terrible agronomic properties. 

Our last stop was a tour of their chemical analysis lab where we got to smell samples of hops and some concentrated oils they had steam distilled. The lab also handles fruit analysis, and it was blueberry season.

Test brewery at the New Zealand Hop Research Station in Riwaka.Dr. Ron Beatson in a field of New Zealand hops.

Hop oil steam distillation rig.



One of our flights at BrewMania, four beers three votes.

BrewMania

The next night I was honored to be asked to judge at BrewMania. A bit less so when I realized all 100 homebrewers there were also judging. It is a really unique contest with less structured judging (and feedback) than the standard BJCP contest. To be eligible for the overall win each brewer is required to submit three beers. The 10 tables are each presented with four beers for each round with no stylistic consistency, and each judge gets three bottle caps to vote for their three favorite beers. The beer that receives the fewest votes is eliminated. If any of your three beers are eliminated, so are you!

For the final round of the night each table gets the complete flight from two remaining brewers head-to-head. This whittles the 20 remaining brewers down to 10. The goal is to showcase your range of brewing skill, so when picking between equally good flights the one with more variety (saison, Baltic porter, and coffee IPA) is preferred over limited range (APA,  IPA, and DIPA). The next morning I really was honored to participate in the best of show where along with Gordon, Marshall, and a few local judges to select the top three brewers. The winner didn't quite have the variety we were looking for, all were pale fruit beers (rhubarb Berliner, apricot sour, and raspberry saison), but they were of a higher quality than any of the other entrants.

MarchFest

Jaime sparging on the Grainfather.Saturday was another unique event, MarchFest: a beer and music festival at Founders Park where each of the 16 participating breweries releases a new beer at the festival. It included a few excellent hoppy beers (Eddyline Black IPA and Moa Riverside Recliner) considering their freshness. Rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd, although the full pint option for pours may have had something to do with that!

During the first few hours of the event I brewed a version of Nu Zuland Saison with Jamie McQuillan. He's a sour specialist, reigning NZ Homebrewer of the year (including the top beer with a 49 with his riff on my no-boil Berliner with plums), and as I found out the next day winner of BrewMania 2017! He's also in the process of opening a brewery (New Zealand is much less strict, so he'll be able to essentially sell homebrew at first).

It was my first time brewing on a Grainfather. Surprisingly compact, and a smooth brew day considering we were out of our element and people were coming up to ask questions. We did neglect to realize it had an automatic 60 minute boil shutoff timer which threw off our timing (not bad for the worst mistake the first time brewing on a new rig). Malt was mostly local Gladfield Pilsner, which was surprisingly toasty. Without a way to reseal the 100 g of Nelson Sauvin for late-fermentation dry hopping we opted for only two additions, hop-stand and brew day dry hop. We pitched Belle Saison along with the dregs from two bottles of each of our homebrew. Excited to hear how it turns out when they hold the tasting between our batch and the ones brewed by Gordon and Marshall!

Gordon bashing on NEIPANew Zealand Home-Brewers Conference

My last full-day was spent talking and listening at NZHC. Nice to attend a homebrewing conference in English after Florianopolis, Brazil and Drammen, Norway (my Portuguese and Norwegian are not strong). I presented about the advantages homebrewers (BeerSmith podcast on the same topic) have over commercial brewers to the general session, and then about sour beers to a break-out (along with head brewers David Nicholls of Moa and Jason Bathgate of MacLeod). Good response, and glad that sours are taking hold! As several people mentioned, New Zealand is still a few years behind the US, but that gap is closing quickly!

It was nice to catch-up with my friend Sean Gugger, who took some time to come to Nelson in the midst of nine month working at Batch Brewing in Sydney (not to be confused with Bach Brewing in New Zealand). He met up with us at the after-party at The Free House where I had one of the best hoppy beers of the trip, Behemoth 6 Foot 5 from Andrew Childs who had sat on the Going Pro panel earlier in the day. Also had fun chatting with Annika Naschitzki of Tiamana, a passionate German brewer.

With our ten days spent we started the long trip home. With the International Date Line working in our favor we landed in San Francisco 8 hours before we took off from Auckland. As a weird side-note, being in the Southern Hemisphere for the vernal equinox meant that we'd been in all four seasons during a two week period: when we left DC it was winter and then arrived in New Zealand for the end of summer, by the time we left it was autumn and returned to spring.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Australian NEIPA: Spunding, and Dry Yeast

Vic Secret hops floating in the wort right after adding.Another hoppy beer... another New England IPA! My goal for this batch was a bright hop-saturated fruit-bomb, or at least a beer to replace the terrible, oxidized mess of an IPA I had on tap! Luckily passivating my Ss BrewBucket Brewmaster with 5X-concentrated StarSan solution (as they suggest) before this batch was successful. Neither the stainless steel nor beer discolor as they did during the previous IPA fermentation. Now that I know the fermentor can produce good beer, I'll say that I like being able to monitor/control the beer temperature via the thermowell, but wish it had an 8 gallon capacity instead of 7. Despite a few drops of FermCap S I still had to clean krausen and hops out of the airlock a couple times during the first two days of fermentation.

Hops and yeast in the airlock 24 hours into fermentation.To make this batch as New-England-y as possible I selected two fruity Australian varieties, Galaxy and Vic Secret. I've found Galaxy to be one of the least consistent hops (Bad: Galaxy-Hopped DIPA, Good: Galaxy Wit), but thankfully these smelled wonderfully of passion fruit on opening. This was my first time brewing with Vic Secret, and they struck me as a slightly milder version of Galaxy with more herbal notes. I didn't realize until after brewing that this is the same combination of hops in Avery Raja.

My usual process for NEIPAs is to dry hop around day three/four and then again post-fermentation cold in the keg. For this batch I dry hopped on brew day when I pitched the yeast and again under pressure by racking the beer into a flushed keg when it reached 65% apparent attenuation. I set my spunding valve to 13 PSI and allowed the keg to sit warm for 12 days while I was in New Zealand. I would have aimed closer to 25 PSI, but the markings on the valve are unreliable and I wanted to minimize the risk of over-carbonation. Dry hopping during conditioning has two potential benefits for hoppy beers. First, by holding pressure in the beer less volatile hop aromatics will bubble out of solution (carried by the same CO2 that we want to carry them up to our nose from the glass). The yeast will also scavenge any oxygen introduced during kegging, hopefully extending the life of the beer (although the longer time warm could sacrifice hop aroma). You could accomplish the same goal without a spunding valve if you were confident in what your FG would be... .001 drop from fermentation produces .5 volumes of CO2.

Hop-heavy krausen on the BrewBucket lid at kegging.The last unique feature of the recipe was the SafAle S-04 English ale strain (Whitbread?). I'd heard good results things about S-04 in NEIPAs from Ed Coffey. I also wanted to see if it was an option for brewers without regular access to liquid yeasts. Happy to report it does a nice job, a suitable choice even if you have access to 1318, but don't want to make a starter. There are a few other dried English strains that might be worth trying as well!

The other half of the wort is fermenting with my house saison blend and 10 oz of rosemary honey, minus the dry hops for now.

Queensland NE-Australian-IPA

Smell – A wonderfully saturated hop aroma with tropical fruit and a bit of resin. Really pushes fermentation-adjusted aromatics without the more forceful/raw aromatics of a post-fermentation addition. Despite 8 oz of dry hops the aroma doesn’t leap out of the glass (could be yeast or hop variety).

Northeastern Austraian IPA!Appearance – Hazy without murk or particulate, not far from a pale hefeweizen. Head retention is alright, but not as dense or thick as some previous batches of NEIPA.

Taste – Bitterness is soft, closer to 40 IBUs than 70 on my palate. Nice long finish of saturated hoppy goodness: indistinct tropical and light fresh pine. Slight yeastiness and doughiness of fresh bread. All the flavors I want are there, but the hop volume is lower than I expected. No diacetyl or other noticeable off-flavors.

Mouthfeel – Really soft mouthfeel thanks to the mild bitterness and lack of harshness from boil hops. Chloride, protein from the oats, and higher FG all contribute as well. Moderate carbonation, still climbing a bit as it sits cold and on pressure.

Drinkability & Notes – New England IPA taken to its softest and juiciest. Easy to drink with enough hop character to bring me back for a second pour, but it isn’t as intense as my favorite batches. The S-04 performed admirably, although it seems to get in the way a bit compared to 1318. It doesn’t pop with a unique character like Conan or Sacch Trois either. A solid choice, but not a new first choice.

Changes for Next Time – Despite the 70 (calculated) IBUs from the hop-stand, it could use 10-20 IBUs from an early-boil charge. Bitterness is a much more complex topic than it seemed when I started brewing, my friend Scott Janish posted a great summary of recent literature discussing how dry hopping tends to pull beer towards 25 IBUs. I could certainly see jumping the cold/carbonated beer to a serving keg with a third dose of dry hops…

Spunding valve in action on a previous batch.Recipe

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 69.2
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.018
ABV: 6.0%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Grain
-------
71.4% - 10 lbs Rahr Brewer's 2-Row
14.3% - 2 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
14.3% - 2 lbs Bob's Red Mill Quick Steel Cut Oats

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest: 45 min @ 156F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.8% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
2.00 oz Vic Secret (Pellets, 17.8% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
4.00 oz Vic Secret (Pellets, 17.8% AA) @ Primary Dry Hop
4.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.8% AA) @ Conditioning Dry Hop

Other
-------
8 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
5.5 g Gypsum @ Mash
1 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid @ Mash
.5 Whirlfloc @ Boil 5 min
.5 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ Boil 5 min

Yeast
-------
SafAle S-04

Notes
-------
Recipe scaled to be brewed as is.

Brewed 3/11/17

Mashed with 3 gallons distilled, 4.5 gallons DC filtered, 8 g CaCl 5.5 g gypsum, 1 tsp of phosphoric acid. pH 5.44. Sparged with 1.5 gallons distilled. Hops are 2016 harvest.

Collected 7 gallons of 1.060 wort.

Chilled to 68F.

Pitched 5.75 gallons of wort with S-04 directly (not rehydrated) plus 4 oz of Vic Secret, loose.

After 48 hours it reached 70F internal. Moved downstairs to 55 ambient to slow the yeast and help the hops drop out.

3/15/17 Kegged with with 4 oz of bagged/weighted Galaxy. Current gravity 1.022. Attached the spunding valve after purging and pressurizing the head-space.

3/27/17 Reached 13 PSI, FG 1.018. Chilled in kegerator and attached to CO2.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Milkshake IPA: Mango Vanilla Hopsicle

Despite the excessive amount of homebrew I have on tap and in bottles, I still drink commercial beer. It’s been years since I lined up at for a bottle release or bought a case of anything, but I buy singles and flights frequently. Rarely do I go out of my way for a hyped bourbon barrel Russian imperial stout or a classic double IPA. The code has largely been cracked for both of these. Made well they are delicious, but it is rare that I have one that is better than any I have had before. Not saying there aren't similar beers like a Spanish brandy barrel RIS or honey DIPA that aren't deliciously unique! What gets me excited is the interesting takes, surprising ingredient combinations, and passionate focus on a neglected style or process. If the results aren’t to my tastes, nothing lost, but sometimes I get to enjoy something that I wouldn't have brewed.

The “milkshake” IPA concept pioneered by Omnipollo and Tired Hands is just such an idea. NEIPA taken to the logical extreme with fruit and vanilla. The water treatment, hop varieties, yeast strains, and resulting biotransformation used for NEIPAs often produces a flavor and appearance reminiscent of juice. Occasionally a hint of vanilla from the yeast too (RVA 132 Manchester especially). That said, the concept seemed silly, luckily a sample of Tired Hands Mango Double Milkshake IPA at a tasting suggested otherwise. The fruit and hops worked together beautifully with a lingering tail of vanilla.

For the base beer I didn’t stray too far from my usual NEIPA routine, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to add honey malt. It was featured in an IPA recipe from Tree House head brewer Nate Lanie, and in this case the added sweetness and malty-oomph seemed like a match. I went up higher than I ever have on chloride (~200 PPM) to push body.

For hops I opted for Experimental Stone Fruit, which were hanging out in my freezer courtesy of Yakima Valley Hops. They didn’t provide a spec sheet, but the name and aroma both suggested peach and apricot (without that aspirin thing that often comes with Amarillo). I repitched Omega HotHead (from Summer Kveik) for orange aromatics, but tried to temper it by lowering the fermentation temperature. Fruit was frozen mango, the selection owing to my split batch on fresh and frozen. Finally half of a split vanilla bean three days before kegging. I debated adding a whole bean but I didn't want to overwhelm the other flavors.

I skipped flour and green apple puree in the boil. I have no issue with haze when it is created as part of the brewing process in the search for aroma/flavor/mouthfeel, but I didn't want to go out of my way to create murk. The original Milkshake was a tongue-in-cheek response to this review by Jason Alström.

Lactose is a common addition to this emerging style for mild sweetness and creamy body, but I wanted to share my creation with a couple vegan friends. I’d also been scared off by the intense sweetness of Aslin Mind the Hop with Passionfruit and Vanilla, one of the best aromas of any beer I've tried, but the flavor was too saccharine for me. If you want lactose, save it to add to taste at kegging. To replace the lost creaminess I’m pouring it on beer gas! Here's a homebrewed Orange Milkshake IPA with a pound of lactose from the fantastic Meek Brewing Co. blog.

The other half of this batch fell off a cliff, so I won't subject you to a full write-up/tasting. It was identical through run-off, but received WLP007 and three 2 oz dose BRU-1 for dry hops. The color darkened compared to this one and tasted stale two weeks after brewing. It was the first batch fermented in my SS Brew Bucket. I glazed over the fact that the “periodic” passivation was supposed to include before the first use... "[I]ron ions can catalytically promote oxidative reactions.Brulosophy had a positive assessment of BRU-1, so I'm not totally writing the variety off! I have my second batch fermenting in the fermentor now with loads of Galaxy and Vic Secret after performing their prescribed acid treatment and air drying.

Mango Hopsicle

Smell – Mango and hops are balanced, more a hoppy fruit beer than a fruited IPA. Mango creamsicle nose. The fruit and citrus from the hops and yeast keep it from being mango alone. Glad I didn’t add a third dose of dry hops in the keg, it doesn’t need the final hit of raw/green hop aroma.

Appearance – Of course it turned out nearly clear. This is the first pale beer I’ve served on beer gas with the stout faucet. The cascading bubbles don't pop like they do against a dark background, sort of goes from hazy to clear. Nice dense white head.

Taste – Plenty of mango, with the vanilla giving it an almost sherbet flavor. Hops and yeast are somewhat tame, peach and orange. Lingering bitterness, might be better balanced if there were lactose. The vanilla adds some perceived sweetness, but it still comes across as a pretty dry beer.

Mouthfeel – A bit light after the creamy head disappears, not the rich-full body that some other examples of the style have. Light carbonation, no surprise. Happy with carbonating and serving on beer gas alone at 20 PSI.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a fun beer. Despite skipping the lactose the vanilla plays surprisingly well with the fruity character. I’ll be revisiting something like this again eventually!

Changes for Next Time – Add lactose, up the vanilla bean (time or amount), and reduce or eliminate the bittering hop addition.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.5 gal
SRM: 5.4
IBU: 74
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.3%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 100 Mins

Grain
-------
79.2% - 10 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
13.9% - 1.75 lbs Briess Red Wheat Malt
4.0% - .50 lbs Gambrinus Honey Malt
2.0 % - .25 lbs Bairds Carastan
1.0 % - .125 lbs Weyermann Acidulated

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 157F

Hops
-------
.50 oz - Columbus (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 60 min.
.50 oz - Galena (Pellets, 11.00% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz - BRU-1 (Pellets, 16.00% AA) @ Whirlpool (30 min)
1.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Whirlpool (30 min)
2.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Dry Hop (Brew Day)
2.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Dry Hop (Day 3)

Other
-------
5 lbs Frozen Mangoes @ Primary (Day 6)
.50 Vanilla Bean @ Primary (Day 17)

Yeast
-------
OYL-057 Omega HotHead

Notes
-------
Brewed 1/21/17

Extended boil because my gravity was a bit lower than expected.

Chilled to 63F

1.5 L decanted starter of Omega Hothead pitched into half with 2 oz of Experimental Stone Fruit hops. Left at 67F ambient to ferment.

1/24/17 Added second dose of dry hops.

1/27/17 Added 5 lbs of frozen 365 non-organic frozen mangoes to the Hothead half.

2/7/17 Added half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise.

2/10/17 Kegged the Milkshake half.

Monday, March 6, 2017

HotHead, Juniper, and Right Proper Hyperborea

Closeup on Easter Red CedarI hope that people get something from my talks at homebrew festivals around the world, because I certainly benefit from the arrangement! My trip to Norway for the 2016 Homebrewers Weekend in Drammen was enlightening on many fronts, but it was the introduction to kveik that has proved the most valuable. Kveik is true farmhouse yeast, with the now commercially available strains passed between local brewers up until only a few years ago. While I enjoyed the test batch with the cultures I brought back, I wanted to try the traditional combination of kveik with juniper and smoke. With the light acidity of those test batches, I decided to buy a fresh pitch of the orange-scented heat-loving Stranda culture from Omega Labs, HotHead.

Traditionally (as Lars Garshol extensively documented) juniper branches, not just the berries, were an indispensable and underappreciated component of traditional brewing across Europe. This is annoying as berries are easy to buy and store, while branches are not. As fate would have it the Eastern Red Cedar in my backyard is in actuality Juniperus virginiana, Virginia juniper! Not the first time I've turned to one of the four trees on our property (mulberry, the others are oak and sour cherry).

I loosely based the amount of Eastern Red Cedar tips on the Sahti recipe in Homebrewer's Almanac (written by the brewers and foragers of Scratch Brewing). It is one of the most inspiring brewing books I've read in years! I enjoyed samples of their beers at GABF a few years ago enough that I'm considering making the four hour drive down to Ava, Illinois when I visit Indianapolis for the next BYO Boot Camp in November 2017. I backed down on their flame-out addition to leave room for the yeast and smoke.

It got pretty steamy in Blane's garage.Anytime you forage for brewing ingredients (or anything) make a positive identification of what you are harvesting. I contacted a local arborist to confirm what I had growing. Given the pictures and ranges I saw online I was pretty sure, but pretty sure isn't something to risk your health on!

I'd been looking for an excuse to hang out with Blane, who is opening Sinistral Brewing in Manassas, Virginia. We brewed on the 15 gallon electric system in his garage. He was into the weird idea despite not loving smoked beers, and luckily enjoyed the results. We'll see if it was enough for him to ever brew something like it commercially! We were joined by his friend Carlos, who had foraged for local juniper before to brew sahti (not to mention malted quinoa, and had strong opinions on brewing with corn and chiles - someone I need to brew with again!).

Summer Kveik

Smell – When it was young, orange from the yeast was the primary aroma. Over the last couple months stonefruit has overtaken with the citrus. "Peach gummy rings" as a couple friends described it. Fresh juniper has a less singular more green aroma than the berries, a little more spruce than gin. Smoke is smooth and woody, not phenolic or sharp.

Summer Kveik tastingAppearance – I’ve been jokingly calling this one New England Kveik given the glowing cloudy orange-juice body. Head retention is decent, not great. Given some experiments with juniper teas I was expecting more color, but the lower ratio of tree to liquid prevented that.

Taste – Zesty orange, apricot, and fresher herbaceous juniper. I was going for a winter beer… clearly I missed on that! The smoke is firm but fleeting, which works well with the bright fruity flavors. Balanced, smooth, minimal bitterness, but enough to keep it from tasting candied (like my Spruce-Grapefruit India Pale Gruit). I don’t pick anything distinctly rye, but it has a rounded malt flavor likely contributing. Mellow sweetness in the finish.

Mouthfeel – Lighter body than I intended, partly because we undershot the gravity by .010. Medium carbonation keeps things moving.

Drinkability & Notes – It is weird for a smoked tree-flavored beer to be quenching and crushable, but it is! One of the strangest and most intriguing beers I’ve brewed. Authentic? Likely not, but I enjoy adapting flavors and ingredients rather than slavishly recreating.

Changes for Next Time – For a more authentic result I’d move all of the juniper to the HLT and do a longer infusion. I’d opt for a Bohemian Dark (or Munich) for the entire base in place of the Golden Promise. I would also go darker on the Carared maybe CaraMunich II, and add a touch of Carafa as I was originally planning. Not that it would be a better beer, just more in line with my original target. Also makes an interesting blend is the citrusy gose with smoked sea salt on tap next to it.

Jacob smelling the overnight juniper-infused hot liquor.I brewed Kodachrome Dream(ing) with my friend Nathan at the Right Proper brewpub in Shaw a couple years ago. For our second collaboration (and the first at the Brookland production house) we wanted to brew something in the same vane, although more inspired by Alu by Norse (a small amount makes it to the US). Jacob McKean the founder of Modern Times was planning a trip to DC, so we roped him into the plan.

After tasting my batch, Nathan wanted to tone down the assertive fruit flavors from the yeast. As a result he blended the HotHead (harvested from my batch - strangely trusting) with US-05 and lowered the fermentation temperature to 70F. In search of increased maltiness and color, he added CaraAroma and Carafa. He also wanted a more traditional juniper flavor, so we added juniper berries near the end of the boil in addition to 15 lbs of juniper branches at 190F in the HLT overnight for 24 bbls.

Nathan named the resulting beer after a mythical people of the article circle, the Hyperborea. Kegs will be available in DC, Virginia, Maryland, and New York! If you try it, let me know what you think! Sunday March 12 Nathan will be brewing a Nordic IPA with Stone, Pen Druid, and metal band Sunn O))), feel free to stop by the brewery around 1 PM and say hello! Both beers should be on tap through CBC next month!

Hyperboarea next to my juniper tree.Right Proper Hyperborea

Smell – Brighter than you’d expect for a dark/smoked beer. Mild generic citrus and green-herbal. Light phenolic smoke, the Briess Cherrywood Smoked gives it some sharpness. Touch of toast. Not distinctly juniper from the berries.

Appearance – Fantastic head retention, at least partly thanks to the flaked oats. Really dense, off-white. The body is reddish-brown, and pretty cloudy… likely again partly thanks to the oats.

Taste – Balanced depth between the combination of toasty-smoke and yeasty-juniper fruit. The Munich and dark malts serve as a malty bridge between the smoke and the fruit in a way that my beer is missing. Minimal hop bitterness. Nice lingering herbal-smoke melding.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, light tannic drying. Carbonation seemed a bit higher in the growler than it was on tap at the brewery.

Drinkability & Notes – For a beer with so many components it really falls into place. Doesn’t quite hit the oomph and richness of Alu, but not far off! Nathan was right to temper the Hothead with US-05 to prevent it from crushing the malt and juniper.

Summer Kveik Recipe


Batch Size: 16.00 gallons
SRM: 5.6
IBU: 14.5
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.3%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Grain
-------
32.3% - 10 lbs Simpsons Golden Promise
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Dark
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Rye Malt
16.1% - 5 lbs Weyermann Beech Smoked Barley Malt
3.2% - 1 lbs Weyermann Carared


Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 50 min @ 156F

Hops/Juniper
----------------
60 g Juniper Tips @ Hot Liquor Tank
60 g Juniper Tips @ Mash
60 g Juniper Tips @ 60 min
2.25 oz Mixture (Pellets, ~4.50% AA) @ 60 min
60 g Juniper Tips @ 30 min
1.00 oz Hallertau (Pellets, 4.50% AA) @ 15 min
90 g Juniper Tips @ 0 min

Run-off from Blane's electric brewing systemOther
-------
None

Yeast
-------
OYL-057 Omega HotHead

Notes
-------
12/14/16 4 L stir-plate starter with 3 month old HotHead.

12/16/16 Crashed starter. Harvested Eastern Red Cedar from the tree in my backyard.

12/17/16 Brewed with Blane on his electric system. Dosed 60 g (three 12" twigs) into the HLT and then again into the mash, 60 min, and 30 min. 50% extra at flameout. Hops @ 60 min were a variety (Hallertau Tradition, EKG, Tett, Hallertau).

Chilled to ~95F and pitched half of the decanted starter into 5 gallons (my share). 5 gallons additional for Carlos, 5 gallons with the Voss culture from Norway (slightly lactic) for Blane.

Fermentation by 6 hours on the radiator insulated in a sweatshirt.

1/3/17 Kegged with 3.5 oz of table sugar into flushed keg.

Blane's version tested at 5.68% ABV.

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My first glass of Hyperborea at Right Proper BrooklandBack-lit sight glass at Right Proper

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bootleg Biology: Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Bootleg Biology Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend logo.I love my House Brett-Saison culture, and for $10 now you can try Bootleg Biology's The Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend at your house (or brewery)! It's a good deal for me as I get a small cut, and the knowledge that if I kill my mother culture I have off-site backup: Order

I met Jeff Mello (Bootleg Biology's founder) while he was living in the Arlington, VA. Shortly after, he moved to Nashville where he moved his small yeast lab to a commercial space. Jeff sent me a few isolates to grow for the Modern Times souring program. In 2014 he floated the idea of isolating and packaging a blend for me, but at the time I didn't have any microbes that I thought of as mine. We could have pulled something out of a solera barrel, but honestly I never loved the fermentation character of either of them. After running a cobbled together saison blend through my sour gear 10 times over two years, sometimes harvesting from kicked-kegs, I don't know which yeast and bacteria thrived or mutated, but it makes great beer!

It has been interesting to have Bootleg Biology pull out the component microbes and put them back together. I've brewed a couple test batches with pre-release cultures with promising results (see below), that were good enough to release it and see what other brewers think! If you do buy a pack, please leave a comment here to let me know what you brewed, fermentation temperature, and the results!

You can use the blend in any saison recipe, but here are my three of my favorite batches to get you started:

Saison 'Merican
Nu Zuland
Alsatian Saison

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Culture streaked on a plate.Bootleg Biology is proud to announce: The First Official Mad Fermentationist Culture!

Fine tuned over two years, this blend morphed over time to become an elegant powerhouse of classic Saison spice, stone-fruit Brett, lactic tartness and a dry but well-rounded body. The final master blend consists of Saison yeast, wild Saccharomyces, rare Brettanomyces and an opportunistic Lactobacillus culture.

At temperatures as low as 68F (20C) The Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend exhibits a relatively clean primary fermentation profile and high attenuation. Traditional saison temperatures (around 80F/27C) bring out citrus and elevated phenols (pepper and clove). The Brett character shifts depending on wort composition, as maltier beers emphasize cherry and stone fruit qualities.

This blend integrates beautifully with fruity and tropical hops, with the unique Brett culture keeping hop aromatics crisp and bright for an extended time. For best results use a highly fermentable wort, dry hopping during the tail of active fermentation, and carbonating naturally.

----------

Here are the tasting notes and recipe from the batch I brewed with the second test-pitch from Bootleg Biology. I bottled it more than three months ago, just three weeks after brewing. One of my favorite things about this blend is that it dries out beers quickly, leaving little for the low-attenuating Brett to ferment. The result is a beer that you can bottle young and enjoy as it morphs from bright saison into wild ale!

This batch was actually Audrey's first on the big system after a couple 2.5 gallon batches. I acted as assistant brewer. She was aiming for, "a dark Belgian wheat, with maltiness between a dunkelweiss and an English dark mild." She used an experimental hop supplied by Yakima Valley, ADHA-527, which they describe as: "floral, citrus, huge mint, herbal, mellow spice, thyme, Saaz-like, cucumber, sage, touch of lemon." Seemed like some good and bad, a nice pairing with funk!

Finished beer, on my microbe shelf.Europa Lander

Smell – Fermentation leads with toasty malt following. Still has some underlying Belgian spice and pear, but Brett is beginning to takeover. It is a really approachable leather-cherry funk though. Nothing over-the-top or too animalistic. Maybe a hint of anise and a little clay, hard to place the source.

Appearance – Clear, perfectly not a hint of haze. Pretty light-brown beer-bottle color. White head exhibits solid retention.

Taste – The caramel malt plays with the funk. Chocolate rye provides more toasted bready than harsh roast. Still a fresh maltiness despite the layer of leather and cherry from the Brett. No acidity thanks to the hint of hop bitterness. Dry, but with enough left to support the malt. Subdued hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel – Firm carbonation, nothing excessive. Glad this blend retained the ability to dry out a beer quickly and stabilize. Doesn’t taste as thin as the FG would suggest, but it’s no milkshake!

Drinkability & Notes – I can’t think of a beer to compare this to. Really balanced between malt, hops, and fermentation in a Belgian sort-of-way, but not in a combination I’ve tasted from a Belgian or Belgian-style beer.

Changes for Next Time – Not a blow-you-away beer, but I can’t think of a tweak to suggest that wouldn’t changing what it is: a unique malty, funky, subtle, drinkable beer!

That is one clear beer.Recipe

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 16.5
IBU: 25.4
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.002
ABV: 6.8%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72%
Boil Time: 65 Mins

Grain
-------
46.0% - 10 lbs Briess White Wheat Malt
32.2% - 7 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
13.8% - 3 lbs Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner
4.6% - 1 lbs Briess Caramel Malt - 60L
3.4% - .75 lbs Weyermann Chocolate Rye

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 148F

Hops
-------
0.5 oz ADHA-527 (Pellets, 15.80% AA) @ 30 min
2.0 oz ADHA-527 (Pellets, 15.80% AA) @ 20 min Hop-Stand

Other
-------
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min

Yeast
-------
Bootleg Biology The Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
Brewed 10/23/16

Filtered DC tap water, no other treatments. 3 gallon cold sparge.

Chilled to 70F with IC.

Half fermented with WLP510, four month old pack, no starter.

Half fermented with Bootleg Biology Mad Blend #2, super-fresh, no starter.

11/12/16 Kegged the WLP510 half. Down to 1.011.

Bottled the "Mad Blend" half (4.25 gallons at 1.003) with 3 5/8 oz of table sugar. Looking for 2.6 volumes of CO2.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Extract Lambic Tasting (Plus Peaches)

Drinking malt-extract-based lambic outside.Over my first 10 years of brewing "lambic-inspired" pale sours, I found that the more authentic my process became, the more authentic the flavors produced. The balance and aromatics improved as I turbid mashedaged hops, introduced local wild microbes with gueuze bottle dregs, etc. I wondered what the beer would be like if I stripped back the sugar-extraction to the basics? I'd brewed sour beers from malt extact before (but with beach plums, blackberries, and dark malts). This lambic recipe was nothing but dry malt extract (Pils and wheat) and maltodextrin to provide carbohydrates brewer's yeast is unable to ferment.

Brewed the day of Super Bowl 49, I opened the last bottle of the base lambic right before kickoff of Super Bowl 51. Didn't look like it had much luck in it for Tom Brady until a couple hours later... I served most of the batch at the BYO Burlington Boot Camp, the folks at the Santa Rosa edition in two weeks will be tasting and blending homebrewed dark sours. Not sure what beers we'll be using in Indianapolis this fall!

Golden Boy Lambic

Tom Brady deserves a beer.Smell – Overripe fruit, mild Brett funk comes across as hay (or is that the aged hops?). Overall mellow, but nothing off (e.g., vinegar, nail polish). At two-years-old it is still bright and vibrant.

Appearance – Crystal clear gold. Towards the darker end of gueuze, but not outside the range. White head stays around for a couple minutes, before falling completely.

Taste – Nice little lemon brightness. Mellow lactic acidity. Brett is similar to the nose, hay, mineral, and fresh soil. Relatively clean and approachable. Not much depth.

Mouthfeel – Medium carbonation, mouthfeel is fuller than usual, maybe the lack of oak tannins.

Drinkability & Notes – A lambic with training wheels both in terms of production and flavor. Not convinced those two are correlated.

Changes for Next Time – One of the nicer straight lambic blends I’ve used. Closest to Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René, very approachable. Like many other blends Yeast Bay Mélange would benefit from some dregs from whatever “fresh” lambic you enjoy.

I love splitting batches, so when the above was ready to bottle summer 2016, I racked 2.5 gallons onto peaches... lots of local white peaches from the farmer's market. They were "ugly," so I was able to get 8 lbs for $8. There is something about peaches that translates so perfectly to sour beer (as I've found previously). While the aroma is delicate compared to most berries, peaches doesn't require nearly the rate I used to shine through.

White Peach Lambic on my new 24mm lens.White Peach Lambic

Smell – White peaches, unsurprisingly. Bold, fresh, juicy. Little hits of lemon and hay underneath, but stonefruit is first, second, and third.

Appearance – Similar color to the base beer, but not as clear. A few particles of peach flesh in the glass. Head is low and doesn’t last long, a sign of lacking carbonation in this case.

Taste – Snappier acidity than the base, thanks to the acids and nutritive sugars contributed by the fruit. Has a malic acidity, brighter and sharper than lactic. Lingering in the finish are the clearest signs of lambic, earthy, citrus, mild yeastiness, and maybe a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel – Light body, carbonation is low even for my preferences. It allows the peach to linger though. Glad it's gotten here, I was considering reyeasting the bottles a few months ago.

Drinkability & Notes – It is amazing that peaches purchased last summer and allowed a controlled rot rather than preserved (canned or frozen) can still taste so fresh! Fantastic true-peach flavor and aroma, but the base beer wasn’t up to the challenge in assertiveness. Delicious as a peach beer, a letdown as a peach lambic. Still a good fruit choice over cherry or raspberry that would have completely dominated the delicate Brett character.

Changes for Next Time – This one didn't carbonate as quickly as I would have liked, my fault for reyeasting with ale yeast rather than wine yeast. Similar to the notes on the base beer, a more assertive culture would create potent flavors to poke through the peaches.

Not as ugly as you’d expect for $1/lb at the farmer’s market!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gose: NEIPA Principles for Coriander

Hot-dog-water, celery, hammy… these are all descriptors I’ve heard for coriander-flavored beers. Nearly essential for wits, sometimes an accent in other Belgian beers (like those from Rochefort). Coriander, the seeds of cilantro, sometimes seem more at home in a taco than a beer, but there are two things brewers can do to ensure it imparts more pleasant aromatics like lemon, lime, and floral.

Close-up of Indian coriander.First is one I’ve touched on in previous gose recipes, use Indian coriander. It has a slightly oblong (i.e., more football than basketball) shape than the typical supermarket variety and a much fruitier aroma – Fruity Pebbles. Indian markets are also inexpensive compared to supermarkets and specialty spice stores, a 7 oz bag set me back $1.99 (compared to Amazon for $10).

Second allow coriander-yeast interaction. Glycosides and biotransformation are hot topics in hoppy beers, but they may be even more interesting for beers with fruit and spice. Coriander contains linalool and geraniol, compounds also found in hops. While unexciting in its standard form (floral and rose), yeast activity converts geraniol to B-citronellol which provides a flavor similar to lemon or lime.

"From the screening of various hop cultivars, Citra hop was selected as a geraniol-rich cultivar. In addition, it was observed that coriander seed, which can be used in beer production as a flavourant, contained not only linalool but also geraniol at high levels." The Contribution of Geraniol Metabolism to the Citrus Flavour of Beer

Wellfleet Smoked Sea Salt In the past I’ve added crushed coriander near the end of the boil or to the whirlpool, allowing it to infuse into the hot wort. That is also what was done in the study linked above. However, for this batch I drew off wort for this beer pre-boil, adding the coriander directly to the fermentor at the same time as the yeast. The rest of this batch became Loral-Hopped Funky Saison. I've found that dry hopping during fermentation is essential to the "NEIPA" character. I was hoping the same might apply to coriander!

I pitched the Right Proper house lactic culture harvested from my Quinoa Grapefruit Hoppy Sour. I didn’t have access to the high temperatures (October vs. July), and as a result sourness didn’t kick in until keg conditioning. I was recently at Right Proper brewing a collaborative smoked, juniper-infused, Norwegian farmhouse ale with Modern Times! More on that batch later...

Sodium chloride is sodium chloride, but there is nothing wrong with a story. I grew up spending summers on Cape Cod (where I still have a crate of Cranberry-Orange mead buried). Originally I’d planned to make the trip to collect bay water to dose in for salinity… but the timing didn’t work out. I had a jar of smoked sea salt from Wellfleet from my mother, close enough! Between the low dosage and low smoke-intensity I wasn’t expecting a perceptible smoke character in the beer, but sub-threshold complexity can’t hurt.

Golden Gose

Smell – Bright zesty citrus aroma. Mild graininess. Slight sulfur. I don't detect anything I would identify as coriander.

Appearance – Cloudy golden yellow. White head disperses rapidly. Not intentional, but it could pass for a NEIPA (other than the poor head retention).

Taste – Zippy lactic acidity, without the funkiness of Brett. Lots of bright fresh citrus, especially lemon (without being artificial or furniture polish). The finish has a little no-boil grainy-wortiness that I don’t mind, but it may not be for everyone. Maltiness from the Munich isn't as pronounced as I expected.

Mouthfeel – Slightly fuller than the classic versions thanks to the oats.

Drinkability & Notes – The best gose I've brewed! Refreshing and unique. The citrus from the coriander is outstanding! Sulfur aroma is the only detractor.

Changes for Next Time – Seems like this mixed culture really benefits the warmer fermentation temperature. The acidity hit its mark with extra time, but the fermentation wasn't vigorous enough to blow-off the sulfur. With the maltier grist the no-boil flavor was more assertive when young than similar all Pils/wheat beers that I've brewed - I might go for a 60 minute boil.

Golden Gose, finished beer

Recipe

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 5.3
IBU: 0
OG: 1.041
FG: 1.005
ABV: 4.7%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74%
Boil Time: 0 Mins

Grain
-------
65.9 % - 7.5 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
27.5 % - 3.12 lbs Weyermann Munich I
6.6 % - .75 lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 152 F

Hops
-------
None

Other
-------
0.5 oz Indian Coriander Seed - Fermenter

Yeast
-------
Right Proper House Lacto Blend

Notes
-------
Recipe adjusted so this can be brewed as a single batch.

Brewed 10/10/16

Water was all filtered DC tap with 2 g of CaCl and 1.5 g of gypsum. Added 1 tsp of lactic acid. Mash pH measured at 5.12.

Ran off 5.5 gallons of 1.041 wort once the wort hit 180F. No hops or whirlfloc. Chilled to 95F with the plate chiller. Added .5 oz of crushed Indian coriander to the wort. Pitched Right Proper house culture, woken up with 1 L of wort 24 hours prior. Added 2 tsp of lactic acid to lower pH to 4.5. Left at 70F to ferment.

10/23/16 Kegged (still no salt) with 3.25 oz of table sugar.

1/7/17 Dissolved .5 oz of Wellfleet smoked sea salt and added to the keg.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

LODO Festbier: Split Batch Experiment

Running off the HighDO wort.My first attempt at low dissolved oxygen (LODO) brewing was lackluster... generously (I dumped the last gallon of that Pilsner). I wanted to try the intensive process again, replicating both wort production and fermentation as close as I could to what is prescribed in the second version of On Brewing Bavarian Helles. Rather than brew ten gallons of LODO festbier, I split the batch pre-boil aerating half of the wort as a control. I boiled this "HighDO" wort harder and with a copper immersion chiller. The LODO half I gently simmered and then chilled through a stainless-steel Blichmann plate chiller (although it was brazed with copper). Post-chilling I treated the beers identically from cold fermentation through spunding.

At the start of the January meeting I roped 20 members of DC Homebrewers into a blind triangle tasting of these two beers (poured from growlers I had counter-pressure filled 90 minutes prior). Only 7 of 20 (P=.52) correctly selected the odd (LODO) beer out of the three samples. That is a number perfectly consistent with random chance, suggesting that my LODO and HighDO beers were indistinguishable to the average beer nerd. Of the seven who correctly identified the aberrant sample, only one preferred it (four preferred the HighDO, and two had no preference).

After a month of drinking the two beers, I was able to select and identify the beers in my single attempted triangle test. They are similar, but the LODO does have an ever-so-slightly maltier aroma to my nose. Flavors are nearly identical.

As a disclaimer, I intended this test to explore whether my kluged-process LODO made an incremental improvement to this pale lager. I'll say "yes" if you know what to look for, but in the barest of terms. What I’d love to see is someone with a dialed-in system try the same experiment!

A single experiment can’t prove or disprove anything. That's why replication is an essential (if unsexy) part of science. Even under rigorously controlled conditions statistics like this only provide a confidence interval that suggests that the results are not due to chance. Compound this with variability introduced by brewer, brew house, tasters, conditions etc. and you sometimes produce false positive and negatives. That said, blind taste tests are the best way to insulate results from expectation and bias. Triangle tests are a pain to conduct, and put a target on you from people who can swear they can taste the difference. I have a lot of respect for what the Brulosophy folks put themselves through for data (especially after participating a couple times)! Looking forward to hanging out with Marshall in New Zealand in a couple months between talks at NZHC 2017!

Tube ringer for White Labs.As a side note, Audrey got me this tube wringer for toothpaste, but it works perfectly to extract the last few billion cells from PurePitch packages. White Labs should probably license it and sell an official version!

LODO Festbier

Smell – Clean bready malt aroma. Pleasant waft of sulfur, although a few tasters felt it considerably stronger than I do. Faint grassiness of noble hops.

Appearance – Slightly-hazy deep yellow. Dense white head sticks around until the bottom leaving patches of lacing down the sides of the glass.

Taste – Malt flavor is well rounded. Crisp, but the 5% crystal malt adds a mild honey-like sweetness. Pleasant herbal hop flavor in the finish. Clean balancing bitterness. Retro-nasal brings the appropriate lager-light-egginess back. It had a flavor that reminded me of the doughiness of a no-boil Berliner weisse when it was young, but that has faded.

Mouthfeel – Medium body with moderately prickly carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – One of the better lagers I’ve brewed. Malty without being heavy. The sulfur is at the top of the my range, likely a result of the cold fermentation and spunding rather than the sulfite.

Changes for Next Time – Unlike my first attempt where the primary issue was double-dosing metabisulfite, this is a pleasant beer! Next time I’d reduce or eliminate the Carahell, and save the effort and brew it with the standard wort production (and warm up the fermentation towards the end)!

The LODO FestbierFestbier Recipe

Batch Size: 10.00 gal
SRM: 5.3 SRM
IBU: 17.5 IBUs
OG: 1.055
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.5%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65%
Boil Time: 65 Mins

Grain
-------
75.5 % - 17.1 lbs Weyermann Pilsner
17.5 % - 4 lbs Weyermann Vienna
5.4 % - 1.2 lbs Weyermann Carahell
1.7 % - .4 lbs Weyermann Acidulated

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 152F

Hops
-------
4.40 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh (Pellets, 2.00 % AA) @ 60 min
1.60 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh (Pellets, 2.00 % AA) @ 10 min

Yeast
-------
White Labs WLP833 German Bock Lager

Notes
-------
Brewed 11/14/16

Recipe above is the ingredients for the entire 10 gallon batch.

Made a 5L stir-plate starter. Fermented at room temperature for 36 hours, then crash chilled.

Boiled 18 gallons of water (8 distilled, 10 filtered DC) added 12 g of CaCl. Preboiled water, then added 7 crushed sodium campden tablets. Underlet mash after purging with CO2.

Mash pH 5.28.

Collected 7.5 gallons of wort as is, 4.5 aerated and left in an aluminum pot until the remainder came to a boil.

Adjusted 2.4% AA hop pellets down to 2%. Bagged.

LODO, 2.75 oz @ 60 min. 1 oz @ 10 min. Plate chiller. 1.056. Slightly sweeter, maybe could pass for maltier. A shade lighter.

Aerated, 1.65 oz @ 60 min. .6 oz @ 10 min. Immersion chiller. 1.054.

Chilled both to 46F, shook to aerate, pitched the decanted starter. Left at 48F to ferment.

11/20/16 Down to 1.032 (43% AA).

11/21/16 Started dropping 1F per day. Until it reached 43F.

11/24/16 1.024, still pretty yeasty with a small krausen.

11/27/16 1.019 (66% AA). Kegged into quadruple-purged kegs. Purged and pressurized head space. Left at 48F to carbonate. Both have some sweetness, so hopefully drops below 1.015 (73% AA).

12/3/16 Good pressure on both, 15 PSI. Removed spunding valve and began dropping 2F per day.

12/18/16 Attached to gas and dumped yeast from both. FG 1.013 (76.8% attenuation) on the LODO, 1.012 (77.8%) on the HighDO.

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