Friday, August 24, 2007

Funky Pale Ale Recipe

As promised, here is the recipe for my next sour beer.

Sour Belgian Pale Ale
Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Wort Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.00
Anticipated OG: 1.046
Anticipated SRM: 4.3
Anticipated IBU: 18.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 62 %
Wort Boil Time: 115 Minutes

7.50 lbs. Franco-Belge Pilsener Malt
3.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
0.50 lbs. Carahell Malt

0.75 oz Whole Czech Saaz 6.4% AA @ 100 min.
0.50 oz. Whole Crystal 4.6% AA @ 100 min.
0.25 oz. Whole Mt. Hood 2.7% AA @ 100 min.
0.25 oz. Whole Cascade 4.3% AA @ 100 min.

Toasted oak chair legs, half used half fresh.

WYeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes

Water Profile
365 Spring Water with 1 tsp CaCl added to the mash

Mash Schedule
Mash Name: Step infusion
25 min @ 125
60 min @ 146
15 min @ 158

Brewed 8/11/07 by myself
Loosely based on Beatification from Russian River, a Belgian Pale/Single (Redemption) aged and inoculated with wood previously used in a Flanders Red (La Folie).

Hops were about a year old so I adjusted their IBUs down accordingly.

Used spring water and added 1 tsp of calcium carbonate to the mash. Adjusted 4 gallons of sparge water to a (cool) pH of 5.5 with 1.5 tsp of phosphoric acid. This was my first time adding acid and measuring pH, the hot break certainly seemed more intense than normal.

Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.048 runnings. Boiled down to 4 gallons of 1.065 wort. I forgot how much faster wort evaporation is when you are boiling outside on a propane burner.

Cooled the wort then pitched a smackpack of yeast (no time for a starter). Fermented in the mid-60's with a brief period colder when I forgot to turn off the fridge (I was trying to manually control the fridge), fermentation seemed to carry on sluggishly after that.

8/18/07 Transferred to secondary with a 4 inch piece of oak chair leg saved from my Flanders Red that had been soaking in some Flanders Red and the dregs from a bottle of RR Depuration for a week. I then topped up with bottled water in a 5 gallon Better Bottle, and affixed a fresh chair-leg/stopper/airlock assembly. Planning on letting this one age for 1-2 years depending on how it tastes.

12/23/08 Nice krausen formed, decent Brett flavor, not much sourness.

Planning on priming/bottling half in August, and aging the other 2.5 gallons on some Pluots. I have no experience with Pluots, so to get some more info I sent an email to Vinnie at Russian River and got this response:

"We add about anywhere from ½ a pound to one pound per gallon of beer, we are always experimenting. We’ve used a Pluot that is 50/50 mix of apricot and plum and one that was 60% apricot and 40% plum. The more the apricot the more tart the beer will be. The beer sits in the barrel on the fruit for 9-12 months."

8/11/08 Bottled half of the batch with 3/4 cup of cane sugar (aiming for high carbonation) along with 1/4 pack of cote de blanc wine yeast to speed carbonation. Racked the other half onto 2 lbs of quartered and pitted pluots, pictures/details. The fruited half will be bottled summer 2009.

8/26/08 Good carbonation already, even a bit of foam over. Flavor needs a bit of time to smooth out, but it shows promise.

11/03/08 First Tasting 

6/28/09 Bottled the pluot half with 1/3 cup of cane sugar and a touch of Roeselare blend to aid in carbonation. The fruit had mostly broken down and lost its color.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A fun week in Massachusetts

I got plenty of interesting stuff done during my week off work while visiting my parents in Massachusetts.

First off I bottled half of my one year old batch of Flanders Red:

I aimed for a medium low carbonation of 2.3 volumes of Co2. The sample I tasted at bottling was not as sour as the best examples of the style (La Folie and Rodenbach Grand Cru), but it is still clean and pleasantly tart. I'll have a full tasting in a couple of weeks once its carbonated.

The half of the Flanders Red that I did not bottle was racked onto 4 lbs of blackberries that I bought at a local farmers market the week before. I froze the berries to break their cell walls, and then let them thaw (on the drive) before putting 2.5 gallons of beer onto them.

In the picture you can already see a thin pellicle forming just a few days after I added the fruit. I plan on bottling this the next time I am up in Massachusetts, which probably won't be for a couple months. I am hoping the the combination of the sour fruit and additional fermentation its sugar will enable will make this half considerably more sour than the "plain" half.

I also brewed a new beer to funkify. The idea was based on the original Beatification from Russian River, which was Redemption aged in used La Folie Barrels from New Belgium. The new version of Beatification is a lambic like beer that is sour mashed and then spontaneously fermented in the Russian River barrel room.

Essentially I made a Belgian Pale Ale (nothing beats brewing outside on a beautiful cool summer day when you normally have to brew in your cramped-hot DC apartment). I went with a pretty simple recipe because I want to showcase the fermentation character.

I bottled/transferred the Flanders Red on 8/11, but didn't want to add the wood to the Pale Ale until 8/18 so I saved the wood in a glass of the Red. I also dumped in the dregs of a bottle of Russian River Depuration (Funky Belgian Pale with Grapes).

I secured a piece of tin foil over the mouth of the glass, but you can see that despite that a thick pellicle quickly formed.

After primary fermentation wrapped up I racked the beer to secondary and topped up with about a gallon and a half of spring water. I then added the funky piece of wood (left) and topped the whole thing with a fresh piece of oak (below).

I am hoping that the wood along with the Better Bottle and rubber stopper will let a bit more oxygen than the wooden peg did when wedged into the neck of a glass carboy. For more info on the construction

Monday, August 20, 2007

Drying Hops in the Microwave

I recently read a section of On Food and Cooking that described the microwave as the most effective way to dry herbs at home because it is quick and preserves the essential oils. I decided to give this method a try on this years crop of my homegrown hops. So after picking all of my second year cascades I put them into a plastic colander and put them into the microwave.

Every 30 seconds I tossed the hops to make sure they dried evenly. After a total of 3 minutes in the microwave the hops seemed completely dry. After a few minutes to cool I put them into a Ziploc bag for storage.

The dried hops have a pungent American hop aroma. In addition there is a slight seaside aroma, I have no idea where this perceived aroma came from. Hopefully this aroma is either in my head or it won't transfer to the beer. I used these hops in a batch of American Pale Ale, and I am pleased to report that it tuned out very well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Neo Kvass: 1st Tasting

Bread Yeast
(Right in Photo)

Appearance -
Pours with a huge white head, that prickly settles down into a very cloudy tan/orange. It is hard to tell if it would have been as cloudy if

Aroma -
Yeasty, a bit spicy with some lemon. The yeastiness doesn't smell like rising bread (as the fermenter did for the first few days) or like noxious sulfur (like the fermenting beer did for a week after the middle of

Taste -
Pretty clean, with a bit of yeast. A bit dry, but not overly so with no apparent bitterness. Definitely "bready" but no more so than some British ales. It has a slightly spicy flavor, similar to a Belgian ale (probably a phenol).

Mouthfeel -
Medium bodied with a strong carbonation.

Drinkability/Notes –
Really easy to drink, yet still plenty of interesting flavor. Bread yeast really did a good job on this one. I'll certainly try using this in another beer sometime soon, maybe a Wit.

(Left in Photo)

Appearance -
Mildly cloudy tan/orange. Thin white head that dies down very quickly.

Aroma -
Malty/toasty, very clean.

Taste -
Actually reminds me more of a loaf of bread than the bread yeast version, toasted with a bit of rye. Almost has a hint of vanilla. Not much yeast or hop character.

Mouthfeel -
Medium bodied with medium-light carbonation. Seems like the bread yeast either ate down further once bottled or it produces more CO2 from an equal amount of sugar.

Drinkability/Notes –
A solid session beer, without as much rye bread character as I expected. I'm glad I have this “clean” version so I can see exactly what the bread yeast contributed.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Funky Old Ale: 1st Tasting

Aroma - Fruity Brett funkiness right off the bat (cherry primarily, and maybe a hint of something tropical ). Has a strong toasted maltiness, lots of complexity in this.

- Deep rich brown with ruby highlights. Thin creme head that lasts for a few minutes. The beer is pretty clear when it is thin enough to see through.

- Mild chocolate flavor with toasted notes ( I'd guess from the pale chocolate malt). Strong cellar (classic English "stock/stale") character, tastes like a combination of wet oak and mildly funky Brett. The funk has really calmed down since I tried the first bottle of this about a month ago. There is a mild bitterness, which comes through more than I would expect for 35 IBUs, I assume because the beer is pretty dry (87% apparent attenuation).

-Medium body with low carbonation. There is a minor dry/tannin quality on my tongue. Certainly not the big syrupy body that you often find in big beers.

- Despite being almost a year since I brewed this one, it is still relatively young. For a beer this high in ABV it is very smooth and drinkable, which I credit to the long duration in secondary and the low finishing gravity. It is missing that dark fruit character that I love in an Old Ale (that may develop with some additional age), but this is still a very tasty beer.

Funky Old Ale


Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.25

Total Grain (Lbs): 14.39

Anticipated OG: 1.082

Anticipated SRM: 23.1

Anticipated IBU: 34.3

Brewhouse Efficiency: 80 %

Wort Boil Time: 130

12.25 lbs. Maris Otter
.63 lbs. Dark Soft Candi Sugar

.52 lbs. Crystal 120L

.50 lbs. Crystal 60L

.50 lbs. Pale Chocolate Malt



2.00 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 115 minutes

.25 oz. Czech Saaz @ 115 minutes



.50 Oz Medium Toast French Oak Beans soaked in wine for 210 days



Danstar Windsor and US-56

Water Profile


Calcium(Ca): 31.0 ppm

Magnesium(Mg): 6.2 ppm

Sodium(Na): 20.0 ppm

Sulfate(SO4): 36.0 ppm

Chloride(Cl): 25.0 ppm

biCarbonate(HCO3): 61.5 ppm

Mash Schedule


Sacc Rest I 20 minutes @ 152

Sacc Rest II 60 minutes @ 156



Brewed 8/6/06 with Jason, Eric, and Mat.

I didn't like the crush, so I ran it through the mill again and it looked a lot better.
Some mash issues: missed initial strike temp of 156, got 152. Pulled a small decoction which raised the temp too much to 160, then added cold water to correct back down to 156. 10 minutes later it read 154... who knows. Fly sparge, collected 7 gallons.

Soft dark Belgian candi sugar added at start of boil, I think it maybe close to traditional British brewer's caramel? If nothing else it will taste good.

11 month old hops adjusted from 6.5% AA to 5.5%
1 tsp yeast nutrient added with 10 minutes left in the boil.

1 packet each Windsor and US-56 used so no starter needed, just rehydrated with warm water before adding to wort.

Put into fridge at 62 degrees. Full krausen by the next morning. By 24 hours I needed to add a blowoff tube, I also dropped the fridge to 60 to encourage lower attenuation to leave a nice meal for the Brett. The following day I raised the fridge temp to 62 to help the now slowing yeast. 1.030 (63% AA) After another day I dropped the temp to 58, to keep the temp low on the Flanders red in the same fridge.

8/10/06 1 pint starter made with half a tube of Brett Claussenii.

8/14/06 Down to 1.025 (70% AA) about where I wanted it, should be ready to rack and add the Brett soon. Temp raised to 65 to let the yeast finish their thing. Nice pellicle forming on top of the starter.

8/20/06 1.020 (76% AA, 8.2% abv) racked into 6.5 gallon better bottle, pitched Brett C starter and slapped an airlock on it.

8/27/06 A bit of Brett on top of the 65 degree fermenter and I added the .5 oz oak which had been boiled in three changes of water and dried in 150 degree oven and then soaked in Lazy Lizard Merlot for a few weeks.

9/6/06 Still not much Brett krausen and the airlock is just barely moving, hopefully the 65 degree fridge is warm enough for the Brett C to work its magic.

12/24/06 Pretty good scummy Brett krausen and a nice funky aroma, wish I had a smaller carboy than the 6.5 gallon better bottle.

5/19/07 Scum on top looks about the same as it did in December. Bottled with 1/4 cup + 5 tsp white sugar (no scale available). Yielded about 4 gallons. Tastes pretty smooth, but it is hard to tell with some sediment and without carbonation. Aroma of cherries and thick toasty malt.

6/30/07 FG reading from a bottle is around 1.011 Nicely carbonated. It needs to be served on the cold side to subdue some of the rougher funkiness.

6/12/08 Second tasting

5/05/09 Blended with equal parts of the Liquor Spiked Barleywine, entering the SoFB as an Old Ale.

12/20/10 Pretty stable in terms of flavor and carbonation. Nice vinous character, dry, musty.

1/26/13 Tasting of the last bottle. Still good, sorry to see it go!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

First Brett A Beer: First Tasting

I did this tasting on August 1st, but it took awhile for me to get around to typing it up and posting it...

Smell - Nice spicy hops layered with a complex citrus/lemon character. There is also a bit of rubber, not too much but enough to be annoying.

Appearance - Lemonade yellow with lots of haze. The head is big creamy and white, perfect.

Taste - Smooth up front, with a slightly bitter edge in the back. Complex funk, with hints of banana. A hit of harshness (fusels?), but overall very balanced and mild. Like the Brett C version of this recipe the malt is barely detectable.

Mouthfeel - Medium-low body with a firm (but not aggressive) carbonation. It could be more carbonated without it being a distraction.

Drinkability/Notes - Refreshing, but the mild rubber and fusel components really detract from it. I think the harshness is from pitching too hot, hopefully the Brett will be able to smooth this one out over time.

Here is the recipe.