Monday, August 25, 2014

New Zealand Saison and Glycosides

Decoction bubbling in a three gallon clad stock pot.Terroir is a fascinating thing. New Zealand white wines (chiefly Sauvignon Blanc) have gained worldwide attention for exhibiting exciting flavors and aromas (e.g., lime-zest and gooseberry) not produced when the same grapes are grown in Europe or the Americas. It is intriguing that New Zealand grown hops like Motueka (originally called Belgian Saaz) and Nelson Sauvin (related to Cluster by way of Smoothcone) have gained popularity for aromatics described with many of the same terms!

While shopping for beer a few months ago, I tried a sample of Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (from Marlborough, NZ). The idea immediately struck me to add the wine's citrusy flavors to a hoppy/tart/funky saison. In addition to a yeast blend harvested from ‘Merican Saison, I pitched Wyeast’s Lactobacillus brevis. Given the heightened IBUs I wasn’t expecting sharp acidity, but I wanted some tartness to enhance the grapefruit and lime.

Blending a sample of the saison with a small amount of New Zealand Sauvignon BlancThis was far from my first time combining wine to beer, for example a variant of my first Pizza Port Mo’ Betta Bretta clone was mixed with cherries rehydrated in Pinot Noir, a Russian River Temptation clone with Chardonnay, and my trials blending Oud Beersel Gueuze with Maison Trimbach Riesling. The quality of wine you can procure is usually better than the wine grapes you can source locally, and if nothing else combining them is a much simpler task. Mixing wine into a batch of commercial beer isn’t allowed (which is why breweries tend to turn to wine barrels and grapes); you have to appreciate the legal freedom homebrewing allows! When the base saison was finished dry hopping, I blended a sample with measured amounts of the wine for evaluation. I could have stood for adding more than 750 mL (~4.3% of the batch) of wine to the keg, I should have bought two bottles!

Some Brett strains are capable of freeing aromatic aglycones found in hops, fruit, and spices which are attached to sugars in molecules called glycosides. I have a few mentions of this in American Sour Beers, but the section about hop glycosides was dropped because more comprehensive/specific research is underway:

Certain strains of Brettanomyces (those that produce the enzyme β-glucosidase) have the ability to release aromatic aglycone compounds by splitting the glycosides provided by hops. Very few Saccharomyces strains can release aglycone, and those that do at a much lower rate than Brettanomyces.1
The amount of glycosides in hops varies widely by varietal, but the only extensive research into the actual amounts is the proprietary information contained in studies by Miller Brewing. Miller Brewing treated an extraction of hops with β-glucosidase and subsequently used a gas chromatograph to detect “benzaldehyde (almond, maraschino cherry), vanillin (vanilla), raspberry ketone, geraniol (floral, rose), linalool (floral), phenylacetaldehyde (honey, floral), and many other primary alcohols, ketones, and aldehydes which are also aromatic.”2 Methyl salicylate (wintergreen, minty, spicy) is another aglycone which has been shown to be released by the enzymatic action of Brett.3
1. Luk Daenen, Daan Saison, Femke Sterckx, Freddy R. Delvaux, Hubert Verachtert and Guy Derdelinckx, “Screening and evaluation of the glucoside hydrolase activity in Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces brewing yeasts.”
2. Beer Sensory Science “Glycosides:The Hidden Flavors.”
3. Luk Daenen, “Use of beta-glucosidase activity for flavour enhancement in specialty beers.”

The New Zealand saison is keg conditioning to boost the Brett activity without extended aging that might compromise the vibrant hop aroma. The second runnings from it were turned into a Berliner weisse that will be receiving some citrus, most likely lemon, eventually. More on that batch later!

New Zealan' Saison

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00   
Total Grain (Lbs): 16.50
Anticipated OG: 1.062   
Anticipated SRM: 2.4
Anticipated IBU: 37.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 % (w/ parti-gyle)
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

 66.7% - 11.00 lbs. Rahr Pilsener
 33.3% - 5.50 lbs. Wheat Malt  

1.38 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 2.70% AA) @ Mash Hop
1.00 oz. Rakau (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 30 min.
2.00 oz. Motueka (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Motueka (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

The Yeast Bay Saison Blend
White Labs WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. Trois
Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. CB2 (Jason Rodriguez isolate)
Wyeast L5223-PC Lactobacillus brevis

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch I - 90 min @ 148 F   
Sacch II - 15 min @ 155 F (decoction)

7/26/14 Made a 1L starter (50 g DME, Wyeast nutrient, chilled to 112F, put on stir-plate on low) with Wyeast L. brevis (two weeks from manufacture).  Strong activity by the next morning, already a bit tart. "Some even benefit, for example L. brevis yields 50% more cells when aerated." - ASB

Brewed 7/27/14

Added 3 g of CaCl and 1 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid to the mash (along with a couple handfuls of rice hulls. Same treatment for the 170 F sparge water.

Parti-gyle batch sparge.

Swapped wort back and forth to achieve 7.25 gallons @ 1.052, and 5.5 gallons at 1.034.

New Zealand Saison with first runnings - L. brevis, and saison/Brett blend from keg, loads of NZ hops, New Zealand Sauv Blanc. Pre-dilution OG = 1.070. Added 0 min hops and allowed to steep for 20 minutes before chilling. 8 g of 88% lactic acid. Added 1/2 gallon of distilled water (cold) to help it chill the rest of the way at the same time as the keg dregs (~6 hours after pitching the Lacto). Left at 65F to ferment

Lemon Berliner - Brought just to a boil, added yeast nutrient, chilled to 85F, pitched Lacto, added 7.5 g of 88% lactic acid (aiming for 4.5 pH), left at 65F to ferment. OG 1.030. L. brevis and Saison Brett dregs for the first 24 hours - activity by 12 hours, then US-05 (11 g, not rehydrated) (down to 1.024 at that point).

7/30/14 Both batches moved to ~75F ambient after three days to ensure complete fermentation.

8/7/14 Dry hopped saison portion.

8/17/14  Kegged the saison (1.008, 87% AA, 7.1% ABV. Light acidity, nice hop aroma) with ~750 ml of Fernlands 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and 3.5 oz of table sugar. Flushed keg twice before and after filling. Left at ambient basement to condition for a couple weeks before tapping. 7.3% ABV including the wine.

10/29/14 Tasting notes. Not much I'd change, delicious blend of citrus and funk, from the hops, wine, and Brett.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blonde Ale on Coffee Beans Recipe

Modern Times Black House - Nitrogenated!There are many tropes in brewing. Ingredient and flavor combinations that brewers often select because of their reliability. Pale/dry/hoppy, sour/cherry, and maybe most prominently dark/coffee. I’d wager that 98% of coffee beers are located somewhere on the porter-stout continuum. There is nothing wrong with that; roasted malts and grains help to enhance the coffee character in the appearance, flavor, and aroma. Heck I helped design Black House for Modern Times (which I finally got to drink at the brewery on nitro last week, what a revelation!). There are a few breweries that have experimented with adding coffee to other beer styles; two I’ve enjoyed are Mikkeller Koppi IPA and Stone’s collaborative Dayman Coffee IPA. The combination of citrusy coffee with citrusy hops works surprisingly well in both!

I wanted to borrow that basic concept, with Cascade and Ceremony Thesis Blend in my case, but produce a beer where the hops accentuate the coffee (rather than the other way around). My goal was not to brew a “blonde stout” which I regard as a gimmick (although I'm told it can be a very tasty gimmick). The base beer for my batch is an American Blonde, with a touch of Golden Naked Oats for body, and a pinch of crystal 60 for caramel.

Over the weekend I coincidentally had the opportunity to try Hill Farmstead Walden for the first time (thanks to my friend and kickass homebrewer Sean Gugger). It was remarkable, like so many of their beers, especially that mouthfeel for a 3.9% ABV blonde ale (thanks in part to the 1.014 FG we measured).

Ceremony is a roaster in Annapolis, MD that does a variety of interesting coffees. Thesis Blend was a big help many weekend morning (and afternoons) as I churned away on American Sour Beers. Audrey is a big fan as well. They describe it as possessing: "Cocoa butter and raisin aromatics. Muscovado sugar and tobacco with clementine acidity in a balanced cup." I always suggest brewing with coffee you like to drink. For a similar recipe I’d opt for a light to medium roast, something with bright flavors to mesh with the grapefruity hops.

A very pale coffee bean, a quaker it appears.As an interesting side note, apparently one often overlooked aspect of coffee quality is quakers. These underdeveloped beans are identified by their paler color post-roast and peanut-like flavor. Apparently "according to Steven Diaz, quality director at Expocafe S.A in Colombia, 'just one quaker bean among the beans that go into one cup can affect the flavor dramatically.'" I only spotted one for removal in the two ounces destined for the beer.

As with my usual process for coffee beers, I added whole beans loose to the fermentor (without sanitizing them). We pulled a sample after 28 hours, and it already had enough coffee to proceeded with kegging. It’s amazing how much character comes through thanks to the extraction by both alcohol and water. I also find that this technique produces a longer-lasting coffee aroma compared to cold brewing in water alone, although that likely won’t matter too much for this batch.

This coffee blonde has been on CO2 for a few days already, still waiting for a spot on tap to become available. I may add a small dry hop addition depending on how it tastes cold and carbonated.

Spent coffee beans after 24 hours soaking in beer.Blonde Coffee Blonde

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.75
Anticipated OG: 1.044
Anticipated SRM: 5.3
Anticipated IBU: 27.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 64 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

46.2% - 4.50 lbs. Rahr Pilsener 
23.1% - 2.25 lbs. MFB Pale Ale Malt
23.1% - 2.25 lbs. Great Western Pale Malt
5.1% - 0.50 lbs. Golden Naked Oats
2.6% - 0.25 lbs. Briess Crystal 60L

1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 20 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 10 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 5 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 6.20% AA) @ 0 min.

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
2.00 oz Thesis Blend Coffee Beans - 1 day

SafAle S-04 English Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 155F

Brewed 8/3/14 with Audrey

2 g CaCl added to the mash and sparge. 1 tsp of phosphoric acid added to the mash. Batch sparge with 175F water with 1 tsp of phosphoric acid. Collected a total of 7 gallons of 1.038 runnings.

Adjusted hops alpha acid down from 7.3%, from Freshops 2013 harvest.

Let sit with 0 min hops for 10 minutes before chilling. Chilled to 65F with water then recirculated ice, topped off with 2/3 of a gallon of spring water, shook to aerate, sprinkled yeast on the surface, left at 65 F ambient to ferment.

8/17/14 Added 2 oz of whole bean Thesis Blend from Ceremony. Picked through to remove "quakers" and  small beans.

8/18/14 Kegged. Plenty of coffee flavor already. Put in kegerator on gas to carbonate while waiting for a tap to open up.

10/6/14 Tasting notes, nice blend of hops and coffee. Hop aroma could have been slightly more intense (from say one ounce of dry hops) and the malt bill could have been reduced to just Pils and wheat to get out of the way and ensure a paler color.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

American Sour Beers Book Tour!

Keeping checking back to this post for the latest on where I'll speaking and signing copies of American Sour Beers!


February 24-25 in Santa Rosa, CA - BYO Boot Camps

March 25-26 in Nelson, NZ - New Zealand Home-brewers' Conference

April 11 in Washington, DC - Craft Brewers Conference (Book Signing at 11 AM)

November 4-5 in Santa Rosa, CA - BYO Boot Camps

Photo (c) Brewers Association


August 10 in San Diego, CA - Sour tasting and presentation at Modern Times (Sold Out)

August 14 in San Diego, CA - Book Signing at Modern Times

September 4 in Boston, MA - Book Signing at Trillium Brewing

September 13 in Elmsford, NY - Book Signing during Sour'd in September at Captain Lawrence Brewing

October 2-4 in Denver, CO - Book Signing at Great American Beer Festival
October 18 in Houston, TX - Presentation at Dixie Cup

November 8 in Ashburn, VA - Presentation during MBAA meeting at Lost Rhino

November 22 in Washington, DC - DC Craft Beer Festival


March 28 in New York, NY - Bitters and Esters @ 4 PM

March 29 in Massapequa Park, NY - Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts @ 9 AM

May 1-2 in Florianopolis, Brazil - I Congresso Técnico para Cervejeiros Caseiros

June 11-13 in San Diego, CA - 2015 National Homebrewers Conference

August 10 in Washington, DC - 3 Stars Brewing Co. from 6-8 PM

October 31 in Fargo, ND - Hoppy Halloween

March 5 in San Diego, CA - Festival of Funk

April 23 in Drammen, Norway - Hjemmebryggerhelgen 2016

June 11 in Baltimore, MD - HomebrewCon

June 25 in Lansdowne, VA - Brew LoCo

August 13 in Asheville, NC - Asheville Homebrewers Conference

September 3 in Virginia Beach, VA - Commonwealth Brewing Co's First Anniversary Party and Collaborative Oud Bruin Release

November 4-5 in Burlington, VT - BYO Boot Camps