Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Beware the Ides of March

As my brewing has progressed over the years, I've gone through different cycles.  I've long been on the brew different recipes every time train.  While that is fun, I'm now moving towards perfecting and recreating beers each time I brew them.  One thing I have always loved is the seasonality of farmhouse brewing.  This means two different things for me.  Using seasonal ingredients in the beer and brewing beers around the same time each year.  I've already done this with a dark Saison and I plan on doing it with many more.  This time with a Bière de Mars I'm calling Perenna.

Since I was young I've always been enamored with Greek and Roman mythology.  They have such wonderful stories.  Anna Perenna is the Roman Goddess of long life, renewal, health, and plenty.  Searching on the internet I learned her two names both make reference to the year:  anna means "to live through a year", while perenna means "last many years" (still seen in the English words annual and perennial".  She is often described as both young and old depending on what story you read about her.  She had her own festival that took place on the Ides of March, the 15th, or the midpoint of the month.  In the Roman calendar, March was the first month of the year.  Festivals were held, people camped out, brought food and drink, and what was even more awesome about it was that even the common folk were involved.  It was a great way to start the year.

In the same light, I plan to brew this beer every year to be ready around the Ides of March.  Biere de Mars translates to "beer of March" or "March beer".  With this first brew, I plan to ferment in primary with White Labs WLP072 and then put it in cold storage for 6-8 weeks.  After that period I will add a mixed culture of LAB and brettanomyces.  With this first brew, I'll be creating the mature beer to use in the Bière de Coupage process next spring.  I'll brew the same beer (or similar) and use the mature portion to cut the fresh and package.  I'll then add the remainder of the fresh into the mature and have a solera of sorts for my Bière de Mars.  Each year I can repeat the process and use some of the beer from previous years.  This is my idea at least, hopefully I will be able to create something nice out of it.  The goal is to have a beer that is a more complex Bière de Garde.  I'm hoping the malt flavors will remain even after all the microbes have done their job.  If not, I'll extend my boil each time to see how that effects the overall flavors.  The fresh portion will refresh the old beer and it will be fun to see what comes of them.  I'll brew the fresh one around January and after the cold storage I'll be able to blend and dry hop before packaging.  I may or may not make minor tweaks to the recipe each time.  We will see when I get there.

Read more on a detailed solera project here at the Ales of Riverwards.

Recipe:  Perenna
Brewer:  Gus
Batch:  9
Date:  3-13-16

Batch Size:  6.00 gal
Boil Size:  11.36 gal
Post Boil Volume:  6.63 gal
Estimated OG:  1.054
Actual OG:  1.050  (post boil volume was much closer to 7.5 gal, still working on the system)
Estimated Color:  5.1 SRM
Estimated IBU:  19.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  72.00%
Est Mash Efficiency:  76.5 %
Boil Time:  135 Minutes

81.6%  Pilsen Malt (Avangard Malz)
14.3%  Golden Naked Oats
4.1%  Dark Wheat Malt (Weyermann)

18.1 IBUs of Bramling Cross (or whatever I have on hand at the time) @ 60 min

White Labs WLP072 French Ale for Primary

I mashed the grains for 60 minutes at 150F and then raised the mash to 168F for a mash out of 10 minutes.  Very smooth on the mash and the lauter so nothing much to report here. 

Sparge arm recirculating the mash.

Single tier system in action
Boil was a longer boil than I have done previously.  I bumped it up to 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I liked the color change over the boil.  There have been talks as to whether or not the long boil effects the color.  I am in the camp that it does.  Others believe that it is simply the concentration of the sugars by driving off the liquid that changes the wort and makes it darker.  Having brewed a few Bière de Gardes and seeing how the flavors of a longer boil change, I still believe that it is the caramelizing of the sugars that is giving the darker color.  

Coming to a boil at the full volume.  Lots of wort to boil off!

Recently I acquired 2 new 30L Speidel fermentors.  I was going to go with some SS Brewtech Brew Buckets, and I still may, but these were priced right and I had been eyeing them before.  There have been a few folks recommending them to me so I thought I'd give them a try.

From one of my saved vials, I made a 1200mL starter a few days earlier and it was in the fridge over night.  I decanted the beer from the top and pitched the entire starter into the Speidel.  I'll harvest the yeast cake from this brew as it was very clean going in.  If it doesn't look promising, I'll be moving to a different yeast going forward for my BdG brews.  I still want to try WLP029.  I set the fermentation freezer to 66F and placed the Speidel in.

There she rests in my one of my new Speidel fermentors.
Excited about using these!

I'm really looking forward to brewing beers like this multiple times and blending different generations of them.  I'm still not positive on what I want to add into the secondary for this beer.  I do have a couple vials of mixed cultures I need to use soon.  It could be The Yeast Bay Melange or I may prop up the Sour Solera from Bootleg Biology.  That would be a fun aspect for this beer.  I won't be using the Speidel for the solera.  Just a Better Bottle that I can use their trap airlock on to keep from having to remember to keep the airlock topped up.

I'll post back with the updates as this project moves along.


3-14-16:  Checked at 5:45PM and fermentation was steady.

3-30-16:  Fermentation seems to have finished.  Will transfer and add the secondary microbes soon.  thinking about using some of Tired Hands Emptiness culture that I received from Daniel Rohm of In Search of Saison.

5-15-16:  Removed the beer from cold storage and transferred to secondary.  I build up a starter of White Labs Pedio, Fall Sour Solera from Bootleg Biology, and Funk Weapon #1 from Bootleg Biology.  I pitched that into secondary with the beer.  I may add more microbes as this goes a long.

9-16-16:  Aroma is funk town with great fruit notes and good levels of acidity.  Should be brewing the fresh batch at the end of this year or beginning of next to blend and be ready for packaging. 

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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