Thursday, September 20, 2007

Offbeat Yeast with Basic Brewing Radio

A few weeks ago James from the Basic Brewing Radio podcast invited me on the show to do a tasting of some beers I have fermented with things besides commercial brewers yeast. I sent him 10 bottles of my most interesting stuff, and last week we got to do a massive long distance night of drinking.

The first show covers making beer with bread yeast and with bread in it, kombucha culture, and Brettanomyces in the secondary.
The second episode (recorded at the same time, but being posted next week) will cover brewing 100% Brett beers. It was lots of fun, and I think at least somewhat informative for anyone looking to make something that will really surprise their beer nerd friends.

Feel free to send any comments or questions my way, I haven't heard the second episode yet, but I can only imagine how unclear some of the information may have become after the amount of "sampling" that we did.

Here is an episode guide with links to the recipes, pictures, and notes for each batch.

Neo Kvass: Split batch with WY1056 and Red Star Bread Yeast

Traditional Flanders Red: Using the Wyeast Roeselare Blend

Cherry Bourbon Brett Dark Belgian Strong: Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Brett C Mini-Saison: No aeration, hot ferment

Brett A Mini- Saison: No aeration, hot ferment

Brett C Mo' Betta Bretta: Aeration, cool ferment

Brett A Mo' Betta Bretta: Aeration, cool ferment. Plain, and Cherry/Pinot Noir

Bourbon Brett Cherry Dark Belgian

This is one of those recipes that helps you to pick out beer nerds they will start salivating merely the description of a Belgian Quad with Brett, cherries and bourbon. This is based on Pizza Port/Lost Abbey's Cuvee Tomme, again another clone attempt for a beer I have never had the pleasure to try. A full tasting should be coming soon.

Cherry Funk

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.45
Anticipated OG: 1.095
Anticipated SRM: 27.0
Anticipated IBU: 29.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 %
Wort Boil Time: 150 Minutes

5.00 lbs. Pilsener
3.00 lbs. Munich Malt
2.00 lbs. Maris Otter
1.14 lbs. Dark Candi Sugar Syrup
0.75 lbs. Muscavado
0.56 lbs. Aromatic Malt
0.56 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
0.19 lbs. Dark Soft Candi Sugar
0.13 lbs. Chocolate Malt
0.13 lbs. BLAM Caramel

1.50 oz EKG @ 120 min.
.50 oz Czech Saaz @ 15 min.

6 lbs Sweet Cherries for 48 Days
.5 oz Medium Charred oak soaked in Elijah Craig Bourbon for 210 Days

White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Wayland

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

pH: 7.00

Mash Schedule
45 minutes @ 154

Brewed 8/5/06 by myself.

The base is a retry at my recipe for Ambree 7, but darker and stronger. A chunk will be separated after primary and treated to mimic Cuvee Tomme.

Fly sparge collected 6.5 gallons of 1.068 runnings. Final runnings 1.020. Long boil to remove the excess liquid. Sugar dissolved in the kettle during the sparge.

Base Malts: 74.4% of fermentables
Total sugar: 16.4%
Specialty: 9.8%

Approximately 11 month old hops adjusted down to 5.5% AA from 6.5%

Washed second generation yeast from sugar experiment that got a bit of boiled wort into it to get the yeast going.

Chiller broke and sprayed some water into chilling beer. Gravity slightly undershot because of added volume. Pitched at about 70, put into 60 degree fridge.

Not much activity the next morning, so I turned up the fridge to 64 and gave it a shake, within a few hours full krausen was reached. Fridge dropped to 62. The following day there was some overflow, so I added a blowoff tube.

At about 48 hours I took the fermenter out of the fridge into a 75 degree ambient room. Hopefully this will boost attenuation and increase ester formation. Krausen subsiding so I put on an airlock. By the next day bubbling had slowed to a bubble every three seconds or so and the temp read 75 on the fermenter strip. 72 hours after pitching the gravity is down to 1.041 (57% AA) another 15-20 or so points to drop still. The temperature fell to 70 over the next 2 days, but bubbling continued slowly.

8/10/06 1 pint starter made with half a tube of Brett C and the dregs of an Orval bottle.

8/14/06 Still a small krausen, the gravity is down to 1.033 (65% AA) and looks to be about done changing. Good thing there is brett and some cherries going into most of this one, its way to sweet for a Belgian... but otherwise tastes good. Nice pellicle forming on top of the starter.

8/24/06 1.024 (75.5% AA) Glad it kept dropping, transferred to secondary for a bit of conditioning before I divide and add the brett.

8/27/06 Took the 1 oz of medium toast French oak beans that had been soaking in bourbon and charred it with a blowtorch for a few minutes to replicate the char of bourbon wood, then topped off with fresh Elijah Craig.

9/06/06 Transferred to a 3 gallon glass carboy with the funky starter, 1/2 gallon left over went into the fridge at 38 degrees.

9/10/06 Bottled the Brune 10, 2 small bottles 1 big. 1/2 tsp sugar per small bottle, 1 tsp for the big.

9/11/06 Put frozen cherries into better carboy to thaw after 3 hours I racked the beer on top and added 8 cubes of the bourbon oak. I can always add more wood in tertiary if the flavor doesn't come through.

9/13/06 Tried one of the bottles of the straight brune 10, I really disliked it harsh bitter coffee flavor. Should improve greatly with age and the other flavor agents.

10/29/06 Transferred off cherries to 3 gallon fermenter with fresh bourbon oak, apparently I filled it up too high because when the Brett fermentation kicked off there was a bit of overflow.

5/19/07 Bottled with 1/4 cup white sugar. Yielded about 3 gallons. Tastes pretty smooth (with some rubbery note, not sure if it is the Orval dregs or the high fill next to the rubber stopper). Might take awhile to carbonate since I didn't add extra yeast as I originally planned.

7/06/07 Fully carbonated and very nice. Particularly after it warms up the cherries and dark fruit really balance out the funkiness. Final gravity is around 1.010. Ruby red color.

10/01/07 1st Tasting

Mo' Betta Bretta #2

This was my second attempt to clone Pizza Port's Mo' Betta Bretta. First attempt This time around I made two significant tweaks to my recipe.

First and most importantly I switched the strain of Brett from claussenii to
anomalus which is the strain used in the original. Claussenii and anomalus both have their origins in barrel aged English strong ales, and are both subtle compared to the Belgian Strains.

Second I doubled the amount of acid malt to increase the sourness and instead of adding it to the mash where the buffering capabilities of the mash may have canceled much of it out I mashed it separately and added it directly to the boil. The draw back of this method is that the pH of a mash of just acid malt is too low to allow for conversion, so some starch certainly got into the finished beer.

I also followed up my Pinot Noir and dried sour cherry version the first Mo' Betta batch, by doing the same thing but with fresh sour cherries. In 2 gallons I used 4 lbs of sour cherries from my local farmers market that I breifly froze to break up the cell walls. I added half a bottle of Pinot Noir from Bear Boat, which located in the Russian River Valley. In retrospect I think I added too much wine, the first batch used about the same amount but part of that was tossed out after it was used to rehydrate the dried sour cherries.

Mo' Betta Brett 2.0

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.50
Anticipated OG: 1.062
Anticipated SRM: 5.6
Anticipated IBU: 13.9
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

7.00 lbs. Pilsen (2 Row)
1.00 lbs. Munich Malt (dark)
1.00 lbs. Sauer(acid) Malt
0.75 lbs. Oatmeal
0.50 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
0.25 lbs. CaraFoam

0.25 oz Magnum @ 45 min.

1 Servomyces @ 15 min
.5 Whirlfloc @ 15 min

WYeast 5110 Brettanomyces anomalus

Water Profile
Profile: Pale, Low Hop

Calcium(Ca): 65.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 7.5 ppm
Sodium(Na): 15.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 50.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 96.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 23.0 ppm

pH: 8.25

Mash Schedule
60 minutes @ 152
Thin Decoction to reach 162 for 5 minutes

Brewed 7/04/07 by myself

Notched the barley crusher down a hair to try and combat the recent string of low efficiency.

Boiled the old fashion Quaker Oats in 1 gallon of distilled water.

Pulled a few quarts of liquid off the mash, brought to a boil and returned to raise the temp for a few minutes at the end of the mash. Nice long slow sparge to collect 5 gallons @ 1.053 (not sure if it was the smaller crush, or the mash out, but this is the best eff I have had in ages, 76% not including the sour malt)

The sauermalt was mashed on its own for 45 minutes @ 152, then drained through a sieve and sparged with a bit of the collected wort. It turned out pretty cloudy, but had a nice yogurt like tang to it. Ended up with 2 quarts after straining that I added with 5 minutes left in the boil. Not much evidence of its addition in the cooled wort.

Chilled to high 80s with chiller then placed in 60 degree freezer to get it to pitching temps.

After 6 hours I assumed it was cool, topped off with 1 quart of Evian water and hit it with 1 minute of oxygen. I then added about 2/3 of a mason jar of slurry from the Brett Pale Ale

After 24 hours I gave the carboy a shake and turned the temp up to 70. In the morning fermentation was pretty active, so I put the temp back down to 65.

7/11/07 Added 4 lbs fresh (frozen then thawed) sour cherries that I got at the farmers market to about 2 gallons of the beer. The rest got transferred to secondary in two 4L jugs.

7/16/07 Added 1/2 bottle of Bear Boat Pinot Noir to the cherry half. Took a sample and it was a light pink with a great soft cherry character and nice complexity, really looking forward to this one.

7/28/07 Racked off the cherries into 2 one gallon jugs. The wine tastes too intense, hopefully it will mellow.

8/01/07 Added a split vanilla bean to 1 jug of the cherry/wine

8/05/07 Bottled all 3 versions. Aiming for around 2.5 volumes of CO2.

Plain - 1.008
Cherry - 1.009
Cherry/Vanilla - 1.010

9/20/08 Tasted as part of the offbeat yeast episode of BBR

2/10/08 Tasting of the plain version.

6/23/08 Tasting of the plain version and the cherry vanilla.

7/29/09 Tasting of all three versions.

A poor quality video, but you can sort of see how violent a 100% Brett fermentation can get:

Sunday, September 16, 2007


The stopper/wood/airlock assembly on my Funky Pale Ale made it through its first real test. Fermentation kicked off again and bubbled up and out and through the airlock. With the original peg in carboy system enough pressure could have build up to cause some problems, but in this case it simply made a small mess. Luckily the wood was long enough that it is still in contact with the beer, so cleaning the airlock and refilling the airlock were the only necessary steps that needed to be taken.

I assume this was caused by my restrictive schedule which forced me to move the beer over to the secondary before it has completely finished fermentation, and not because of the wild yeast/bacteria that this was inoculated with.