Monday, October 17, 2016

Tasting Notes for Avant Garde style Bière de Garde

This beer took inspiration from Lost Abbey's Avant Garde but I added a bit of my own things into the brew as well.  I've been trying to nail some of the flavors that are often familiar with commercial examples of Bière de Garde.  I've said many times that I believe this beer gets the signature musty cellar aromas from a hint of brettanomyces and not just from long storage with a cork.  I wanted to simulate those characters in my beer.  I may be way off but, in the same regard, I may come out with something quite enjoyable.  You can find the brew day notes and recipe here.

ABV: 7.35%
SG:  1.060 or 14.74°P
FG:  1.004 or 1.03°P
Apparent Attenuation:  93.33%
Actual Attenuation:  75.97%

Appearance:  Dark amber in color with some golden hues.  Pours slightly hazy but could have been a touch of chill haze.  Head was white with tight bubbles but it immediately dissipated.  No lacing at all but there is a good bit of carbonation visible.  From time to time I see beers with brett not have much in the way of head retention.  I'll work on that going forward in my Bière de Garde brewing.

Aroma:  Malt up front with a hint of fruitiness.  Nothing really stands out in the nose but as it warms there is definitely an earthy funk in there.  Almost mushroom like when I think about it.  Maybe a touch of grain and that's pretty much it.

Flavor:  Just a touch more malt character in the flavor than in the aroma.  That's what I'm looking for.  The earthiness is also there.  This is more of the yeast earthiness that I've gotten in WLP072 before.  It may be a touch higher with the addition of the brett but not really pronounced.  The beer does finish dry like I wanted it to. 

Mouthfeel:  Medium mouthfeel and a spring of carbonation as you drink.  There is more carbonation than in the appearance since there is no head retention.

Overall:  I think my girlfriend said it best when describing this beer.  She said, "I mean, I'd drink it."  It's somewhat of an uneventful beer but it does have the makings of a good beer and actually did get a bit of the earthiness I was looking to get out of it.  Otherwise, it's not really special but it definitely isn't bad.  I think the lack of head retention really throws me off too.

I think this beer is on the right track.  I'll swap to a different yeast next time to maybe get a bit more character.  I think if there were some esters created by the primary yeast, the brettanomyces may have more to work with.  I believe this strain of brett is well suited for the style so I'll be experimenting with it more.  Maybe adding some oak to it for some time will bring up the complexity.  I'm still very interested in figuring out Bière de Garde and what all it entails.

*Sorry for the lack of photos on this one.  But in all honesty, it wasn't a super interesting beer to photograph!

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 Dark Saison

I've been looking forward to this year's dark Saison for a while.  I've had some ideas come and go of what I want to do with this one and I've finally settled on what I think will be a nice entry for 2016.

Last year's beer was pretty good but it never really developed any significant tartness.  That was most likely due to the higher IBUs more than anything.  I plan to do things a little differently this year by dialing back the IBUs and using some different souring microbes.  There wasn't a ton of funk in the 2015 beer either.  That, again, was due to the blend I used.  Gigayeast described the blend as big cherry notes and that's exactly what I got.  I want this year's beer to be a bit more funky and definitely more sour.

Recipe:  Dark Saison 2016
Brewer:  Gus
Batch:  18
Date:  10-1-16

Batch Size:  6.5 gal
Boil Size:  8.63 gal
Post Boil Volume:  6.76 gal  
Estimated OG:  1.051
Actual OG:  1.055
Estimated Color:  31.7 SRM
Estimated IBU:  9.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  74.60%
Est Mash Efficiency:  74.60%
Boil Time:  75 Minutes

77.7% Vienna Malt (Avangard)
7.8% Malted Oats (Thomas Fawcett)
7.8% Caramunich III (Weyermann)

3.9% Midnight Wheat 
2.9% Chocolate Rye (Weyermann)

9.1 IBUs of EKG @ 60 min
Obsession Blend (C2C and ECY-08), White Labs WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend, Bootleg Biology Sour Weapon

Mash Schedule:
Temperature mash of 151F for 75 min with a 10 minute mashout at 168F

The Obsession Blend, as I'm calling it, has really been great for a ton of beers for me so far.  I'm not really sure what the ratios of each yeast and the brettanomyces in the blend are anymore but I'm not really worried about that since I like the outcome of the blend each time.  I decided to bump it up a notch with this brew and use another favorite yeast blend and by adding some pediococcus into the mix.  I'll be using the WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend from White Labs that I've used in a few beers now.  I am also adding in the Sour Weapon from Bootleg Biology.  Jeff from Bootleg Biology does recommend using Sour Weapon as a kettle souring bacteria but also states that it will work over a period of time like the standard pedio on the market

 I took some inspiration from some Bruery Tart of Darkness recipes I've seen and lowered the IBUs and subbed in some other malts to get what I am looking for.  I also adjusted the OG a little lower to fit my idea of what I wanted.

I use BeerSmith to create my recipes but when it comes to mashing, now I really go with feel and look for a certain consistency instead of using what it recommends.  That's something I encourage others to do as well.  Find out what works for you and go from there.  With my system, I usually have to add more than the recommended amount due to the false bottom.  I know I can correct that with BeerSmith but I've been getting better and better efficiency going on the consistency.  This mash was semi thick but I ended up adding a touch more water to get the temperature I needed and make up for the lost wort during recirculation.

Everyone loves a recirculation shot.

I collected just over 8.5 gallons and started my 75 minute boil.  The preboil gravity was higher than expected at 1.042 with a target of 1.039.  My extraction is better now that it has been in the past.  I've adjusted my grain mill and now I'm getting a very consistent crush for all the grains.  As a result, my efficiency is going up.  I was around 82% for this beer.  Up from my average of around 75% and from my last brew that was around 78%.

Dark, delicious wort. Dark fruits, malty and a touch of roast.
I boiled for 75 minutes and added my small amount of bittering hops at the 60 minute mark.  When the boil was complete I ran the wort through my heat exchanger to hit a temperature of just under 90F.  Then I pitched the starter of Sour Weapon and covered the fermentor with sanitized aluminum foil.  I made the starter with 600mL of wort and kept it in the oven with the light on.  The temperature stayed at 95-98F the entire time.  Definitely smelled tart and a little sweet when I pitched it.

That's not krausen, it's from pumping the wort into the fermentor.
After 24 hours I pitched the vial of WLP670 and the Obsession Blend from a starter.  The next morning there was definite activity.  I'll be letting this ferment at room temperature (around 72-74F) for the entire time.  I've been getting great results at these temps with no airlock.  When the fermentation slows, I'll add the airlock for it to finish working.

Around 8 hours after pitching.

I'll post back with some updates soon!


10-2-16:  18 hrs after pitching the yeast, full krausen and really active fermentation happening.

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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