Monday, March 5, 2012

Easter Spiced Pomegranate Quadruppel

I tend to deflect most requests to brew a batch of beer for someone else’s event. So little of the cost of a batch is the ingredients, the real expense is the time and effort I spend both in brewing and planning. However, I’ve made a couple of exceptions recently. First there was the parti-gyle (should I say "combined grist brewing" as Ron Pattinson suggested in the comments) English Oatmeal Porter that I brewed with my friend Nate. However, I ended up with close to five gallons between the two batches, so not exactly an act of charity.

Quad waiting for the addition of water and pomegranate.A few months ago I bumped into my neighbor Dan. He remembered that I was a homebrewer and offered to start rinsing and saving empty bottles for me. Dan homebrewed while he was a grad student, but hadn’t made a batch since getting married, leaving grad school to become a reverend, and having kids. He hasn't lost his interest in good beer though, he and the reverends he works with hold weekly meetings at Pizzeria Paradiso (one of the three or four best beer bars in DC). It was at one of these meetings while planning their annual Easter Vigil that they struck upon the idea of brewing a batch of beer to serve to the several hundred attendees.

I kicked a couple of ideas around with him over email. My assumption was that they’d want something light and accessible for such a big group, maybe toss in some biblical spices? A couple weeks ago he and one of the other reverends came over to drink a few homebrews and plan the recipe. Dan and Tommy were especially intrigued by my Sour Cherry Bourbon Porter. In the end they decided on a Pomegranate Cardamom Quadrupel. We chewed on a couple malts, their favorites were CaraMunich, for dark fruit flavor, and just a touch of Carafa Special II, for darker roasted coffee aromas. Pomegranate is one of the few fruits mentioned in the bible, which is why He’Brew uses it in their beers so frequently. It is also suspected of being the fruit that Eve ate from the tree of knowledge (apples were unknown in the dessert of the Middle East).

I realize religion is beyond this blog's usual purview, so I apologize. I was raised Catholic, but haven’t been a religious person for the last ten years or so. Oddly I don't have a particular memory of losing faith, it was a gradual erosion until one day it was the only honest choice remaining. However, unlike many atheists, I still think that religion can be a force for good in the world, although that certainly isn’t always the case. My central concern is that having faith in something (including, but not limited to a god) makes a person an easier target to be taken advantage of or misled. That said, faith also makes it easier to convince people to help others or sacrifice for the benefit of society. Reverend Dan seems like the sort of person who is doing things the right way. In the hours we spent together brewing, he didn't ask me about my beliefs or suggest that I come to his church. When several of his young kids came across the street for awhile to watch the brewing, they were well behaved and inquisitive about the biology of fermentation.

After a standard mash and boil, at flame out we added a small dose of white cardamom. Not to be confused with the smoky turpentine notes of the black cardamom that Noah, Alex, and I used in the second iteration of our annual Dark Saison. White cardamom is most often associated with Scandinavian baked goods and coffee (previously I also used a pinch in my Scandinavian Imperial Porter). It is always easier to under-spice, and add more later rather than risk adding too much. For yeast we used the Belgian strain from the Westmalle Trappist Abbey, White Labs 530, naturally. The pomegranate flavor was contributed by tart, raisiny pomegranate molasses that Dan's wife procured from a local Turkish market. We added a total of one pound split between the secondary fermentors. Hopefully it will be enough to add a slight tartness, à la Ommegang Three Philosophers.

My payment for the time and effort will be a six-pack taken from the batch at kegging. Talk about a selfless act, especially considering how good the sample we pulled tasted!

Russell's Quad

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 10.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 39.38
Anticipated OG: 1.082
Anticipated SRM: 22.7
Anticipated IBU: 24.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55 %
Wort Boil Time: 80 Minutes

83.8% 33.00 lbs. American Pale Malt
5.1% 2.00 lbs. Beet Sugar
5.1% 2.00 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
5.1% 2.00 lbs. Pommegranate Molasses
1.0% 0.38 lbs. Carafa Special II

2.50 oz. Hallertauer Tradition (Pellet, 6.00% AA) @ 65 min.

0.50 Tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.
1.00 Unit(s)Whirlfloc @ 10 min.
0.5 g Cardamom Seed @ 0 min.

White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 152

2/2/12 Made a 1.5 l starter with 2 tubes of 530 on the stir plate.

Brewed 2/4/12

Batch Sparged with 180 F water. Collected 9 gallons of 1.092 runnings including 2 lbs of table sugar added to the boil, plus 1 gallon of final runnings (boiled separately on the stove).

.5 grams of ground white cardamom added in the last few seconds of the boil

Chilled to 67 F, 60 seconds of oxygen for both halves of the wort. Pitched half the starter, not decanted, into each half. Left at 63 F to ferment.

2/20/12 Fermentation appears complete, racked to secondary.

2/17/12 Racked both halves to secondary.

3/1/12 Added 10.6 oz of pomegranate molasses to one carboy and 5.3 oz to the other. Added one gallon of distilled water between them to top-off to the target volume.

3/22/12 Kegged, the half with more syrup had more trub. Good flavor, hint of sweetness and tartness.

Dan said the beer got excellent reviews at the Easter Vigil, glad the beer was ready in time!

7/23/12 The bottles ended up a bit over-carbonated, but otherwise the beer is very good. Fruity, spicy, slightly tart. Substantial, but well balanced.


Tom said...

FYI, since you seem like the kind of brewer who'd like to know, white cardamom is merely green cardamom that has been bleached for appearance reasons only.

Flobo said...

Do you have to worry about sanitation concerns with adding molasses to secondary?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Interesting, hadn't realized that green and white cardamom were the same thing.

For a beer this strong I wasn't worried about introducing microbes from the molasses. The sugar content is high enough that nothing should be able to grow in it (like molasses or honey), but that doesn’t guarantee that it is sterile. If you were worried you certainly could dilute it with some water and boil it for a minute or two.

HornyDevil said...

I made a pomegranate quad in early January and it is evolving quite nicely. Initially it had a lot of earthy pomegranate character. I didn't like that, but since it has shed that character almost completely and offers, instead, a sweet and sour character. For the pomegranate component I made pomegranate molasses from a gallon of juice and 4 cups of sugar (or something like that). I reduced it on the stove until it was 3/4ths of the original volume. I let it cool and added it to the secondary. It was approximately the consistency of honey. FWIW, this was my third or fourth attempt at using pomegranate and certainly my most successful.

Andy said...

What kind of flavor profile and attenuation are you seeing with fermenting WLP530 at 63?

In the big westy 12 clone thread on HBT, most people are fermenting this yeast into the low 80s to get down to the desired FG (i've heard it's finicky at low temps). My clone attempt a few months ago went from 1.089 to 1.013 (~85% AA) over the course of a few weeks with temps peaking around 82.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The 63 is ambient, so it was probably close to 70 F during the peak of fermentation. At that point I put it next to a radiator to keep it warmer. Anything under 70 can certainly cause issues with 530 in my experience. I haven't take a gravity reading yet, but it tasted pretty dry and seems to be fermenting nicely after the addition of the fruit.

Caleb said...

Any idea what the sugar content on that Pomegranate syrup is? Tempted to add some to a sour I have going, and would like to know what I can expect in terms of a ABV boost.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I assume it is similar to other thick sugary syrups. ~1.038. However, if you want to check just dilute 1 oz (by weight) of the syrup with enough water to make 1 cup and take a gravity reading. I think it would work well in any sour red or darker.

Unknown said...

What was the final gravity of this quad? (obviously it dropped a few points since your last reading since it was a gusher)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't taken a reading of it from the bottle, but I'll try to remember to the next time I open one.

Jengum said...

We're more than a few years on...but in case you recall, were you happy with the cardamom dose, or would you adjust it next time? Any other adjustments?

We're thinking of brewing this in nine days.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I was happy with it as a subtle addition. If you wanted to really taste the cardamom you could up the dose. The safest option is to start low, and then add a tea or tincture if it needs a boost after sampling.

Best of luck, let me know how it turns out!

Jengum said...

Sir Mike...we're happy with the results too. It was rowdier young (brewed in Oct '17), but flavors are starting to round out. I'm pouring one keg, and aging another. I think this will develop well over time, and it is probably a good candidate for barrel aging. I've also enjoyed blending this with lighter beers. Thanks again for publishing this.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Cheers! Audrey recently picked up ingredients for a batch inspired by this one scaled to dubbel-strength.

Unknown said...

This recipe looks fantastic! I stumbled upon it when doing research on how to add pomegranate to a sweet chocolate stout. I think I will incorporate the same pomegranate molasses at kegging. Given the roast characters of the stout, do you think this would be a good way to incorporate the pomegranate or - based on your experience - are there better ways?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds good to me flavor-wise, roast often pairs best with cooked/dried fruit rather than fresh in my experience. The only concerns I have are that the acidity of the pomegranate will make the roast turn acrid (be sure you've got enough carbonate in your water to buffer). The other issue is that adding to the keg could restart fermentation if you aren't planning to store cold until it is kicked.

Let me know how it turns out!