Thursday, January 11, 2018

10 Year Old Courage RIS Clone

A torch passing of sorts. With the bottles of my 2007 batch of Courage Russian Imperial Stout clone running out I rebrewed the recipe (with a few tweaks) in 2015. I’ve labeled the caps from 2017 to 2050, so this marks the extension of my now decade-long Christmas tradition!

Watch me drink the two beers, or read my thoughts below. If you've got any comments on the videos (other than my microphone induced v-neck) let me know!



Courage RIS 2007

Smell – Fantastic mixture of deep/dark Port-like fruitiness and rich caramel. Roast is subdued, more coffee than a Quad or Belgian Strong Dark, but not by much. Brett provides subtle leathery notes, but it isn’t obvious with everything else going on. I could pass it off as "age" if I hadn't brewed it.

Appearance – The head is soap-sudsy, the bubbles are larger than expected. Nearly pitch-black body. When I returned for a second pour it came with hard bits of desiccated yeast. Should have poured it all to start!

Taste – Similar to the nose, rich and full of plums, figs, caramel, and light roast. The Brett lingers softly in the finish. Leather, and maybe a little cherry. Harmonious, really balanced thanks to the added attenuation by the Brett. Minimal hop bitterness thanks to the aging. Still tastes remarkably fresh compared to big stouts I’ve brewed more recently, thanks to the metabisulfite.

Mouthfeel – Smooth and full, without being sticky. Low carbonation, perfect for a big dark beer.

Drinkability & Notes – Would have opened another bottle if it was an option. One of my favorite batches of homebrew to date.

Changes for Next Time – As close to perfection as I can imagine creating in a big-dark-funky-fruity-historic stout! I don’t know what Courage Russian Imperial Stout tasted like 100 years ago, but I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t this good!

Courage RIS 2015

Smell – Fresher and more apparent English-maltiness. That brown malt provides a coarse toasty note that clashes with the bolder Brett funkiness. Comparatively mild caramel and dark fruit.

Appearance – Darker, denser, creamier, longer-lasting head. Part of that is higher carbonation, and the rest is likely freshness.

Taste – Coarser, with burnt toast, Brett-funk, and oak competing for attention. There are some nice flavors there, and the fresher-brighter-cleaner biscuity and roasty notes are pleasant. Hopefully with time the oak will mellow and the Brett and malt will balance.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation disrupts the smoothness, especially when combined with rough tannins from the oak. Hopefully the latter will mellow, and swirling helps with the former. Not sure if I was unsuccessful at killing the Brett, or if I simply over-primed (or had attenuation from the bottling strain).

Drinkability & Notes – It’s OK, but still young, rough, and discordant. It has a lot of time to improve, and I'll be disappointed if it doesn't!

Changes for Next Time – Hopefully time is all that is needed, but would be hard not to revert to the original recipe if I were to brew this again… especially on a larger scale!



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fresh Juniper Saison with El Dorado

Eastern Red Cedar tea.I really enjoy beers brewed with local ingredients, but local grains and hops have never been at the top of that list. In both cases local usually doesn't mean fresher, higher quality, or more variety. Often the opposite is true, and for double the price. Conversely, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs are naturally advantaged over their nonlocal competition. They are at their best immediately after harvest and include varieties not suitable for shipping. Buying fresh in these cases is often less than the shelf-stable versions (although that means more processing for the brewer).

For this batch of rye saison I opted for a blend of hops and grains from around the world, paired with freshly harvested juniper (Eastern Red Cedar) from my backyard. This was my second batch using trimmings from that tree, after the more traditional Summer Kveik earlier in the year. The other half of this batch went on to be a rye pale ale, dry-hopped with Galaxy and I didn't want juniper in that beer. To avoid splitting the boil I added the juniper as a tea, rather than directly to the mash or wort.

I wanted a more complex and substantial malt backbone to counter the aromatic hops and juniper, so pale malt and rye made sense. Big quality-of-life upgrade from my old Barley Crusher to my new Monster Mill 2Pro-SL. Not far from this saison brewed a few years ago, but with spelt flour replacing the wheat malt. Fermentation was carried out by my house saison culture.

It was also my first batch using the Genesis Fementer that Brewcraft USA sent for me to try out. It features a pre-santized bag to ferment the wort in. It made clean up easy, but I found the bag annoying to work with otherwise. It took some effort to get it fluffed up enough to get the tubing down into it for run-off. I also found it difficult to see where my auto-siphon was for racking. In the past all of my fermentors had either been clear (glass and plastic carboys) or had a wide opening to allow me to see down into the fermentor to know when to tilt or stop to avoid sucking up trub.

This batch also has my second video, a bit abbreviated compared to the first and with slightly better audio thanks to a new microphone!



Fresh Juniper Saison

Dry-Hopped Brett Saison with Fresh Juniper.Smell – Nice mixture of generic American-hop-fruitiness and saison yeast pepper. Mild Brett-pineapple, but still fresh. Juniper comes across more naturally piney, no big apricot as I’ve tasted in a few beers brewed with boil-addition Eastern Red Cedar. Maybe has to do with an interaction with the malt? Seasonal flavor-change?

Appearance – Nearly flawless saison; glowing gold with a luscious white head. Leaves rings of sticky lacing with each sip.

Taste – The hops and juniper meld beautifully, reinforcing each other. Slight maltiness in the finish, thanks to the rye malt. Juniper comes out most in the finish, especially towards the bottom of the glass. Woody, green, not like toasted oak (no vanilla or toasted nuts).

Mouthfeel – The extra proteins and beta glucans from the rye and spelt combine to provide some substance to the body. Carbonation is a little low, would have been fun bottled. At first it had sort of a resiny harshness to the finish, thankfully that has dropped out.

Drinkability & Notes – Weird, but not too weird. Surprisingly drinkable with a good balance of hops, herbs, and funk.

Changes for Next Time – Would like to try it with juniper in the mash/boil to see how it changes the expression.

Monster Mill 2Pro-SL on the left, Barley Crusher on the right.Recipe

Batch Size: 5.75 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 36.3
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.008
ABV: 5.9%
Final pH: 4.12
Brewhouse Efficiency: 79%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
68.2% - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
22.7% - 2.5 lbs Weyermann Rye Malt
9.1% - 1 lbs Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 154F

Hops
-------
1.50 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 6.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
1.50 oz Citra (Pellets, 9.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
1.50 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 10.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
0.50 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 11.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 15.00% AA) Dry Hop

Water
-------
7.00 g Calcium Chloride
5.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
1.50 tsp 88% Lactic Acid

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
130
100
170
15
10
90

Other
-------
1 Pint Juniper Tea:
    1 gallon of Water
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 60 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 30 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 10 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 0 mins

Yeast
-------
Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
All DC Filtered water for mash and sparge. Mash pH 5.29 at mash temp. Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.050 runnings. 1 gallon of distilled water added pre-boil reduced gravity to 1.045.

For the juniper infusion, brought a gallon of water to a boil with 40 g of Eastern Red Cedar. Boiled for 60 minutes with 40 additional grams at 30, 10, and flame-out. Allowed to chill naturally with the juniper still in there. Added 2 cups to the saison half (~25% of the resulting amber liquid).

Amarillo/Citra/Simcoe in the boil was all 2014. Galaxy was 2016.

Saison with my house culture, directly from fridge (honey saison).

Left both at 68F to ferment.

11/26/17 Dry hopped the saison with El Dorado. Still in primary. Warmed to mid-70s ambient.

12/7/17 Kegged the Saison and started force carbonation in kegerator.

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