Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bière de Coupage - Beer for Cutting - Acid Beer

This is a beer that takes a lot of inspiration from Council Brewing Company's Beatitude Tart Saison and all the kettle sour/pre soured beers that folks post about on the Milk the Funk Facebook page.  I've only tried this a few times.  The first attempt came out ok, but not very tart or sour.  The second one was a no boil that smelled terrible and was dumped.  Maybe I'll have some better luck with this process.

Basically the purpose of this beer is to create an acid beer that I can repitch the yeast cake for more fast souring beers if needed.  This will create an acid beer for blending into my Saisons at various levels to achieve different beers.  I'm pulling a ton of inspiration from Jeff Crane's (of Council Brewing) presentation you can find here.  You do have to be a member of the NHC to hear the presentation but, there is lots of great info there.  Just click on the 2015 tab and go to the How to Brew, Blend, and Maintain an Acid Beer presentation.

Recipe:  Sour for Blending
Brewer:  Gus
Batch:  11
Date:  3-25-16

Batch Size:  6.5 gal
Boil Size:  6.88 gal (actually closer to 7 gals and Pre Boil OG of 1.042)
Post Boil Volume:  6.76 gal
Estimated OG:  1.042
Actual OG:  1.044
Estimated Color:  3.0 SRM
Estimated IBU:  Less than 3.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  70.00%
Est Mash Efficiency:  70.00 %
Boil Time:  5 Minutes

85.7%  Pilsner Malt (Avangard Malz)
9.5% Raw Wheat
4.8% Flaked Oats

Less than 3 IBUs of EKG at 5 min

GigaYeast Fast Souring Lacto GB110, Swanson's L. Plantarum, and Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Milled all the grain, including the flaked oats.

Super simple and quick brew day.  Mashing was the longest portion at 60 min at 150F for this beer.  I sparged and got approximately 6.95 gallons of wort at 1.042 gravity.  Looking like my efficiency is around 75% after using the equipment profile I built in BeerSmith.  I'm pretty sure that's what has been throwing my numbers off in the past brews.

I'm using 3711 for a quick and highly attenuated beer and the Plantarum and
and GigaYeast cultures to hopefully develop a clean sourness.

Short boil of 5 minutes just to pasteurize the wort and make sure nothing funky survived from the grain in the mash.  I added in enough EKG to get approximately 2.6 IBUs in the short boil.  I then removed the hop spider as soon as the boil was over to not get any more IBUs from the short whirlpool.  After about 10 minutes, I ran the wort through my plate chiller into the fermentor rather quickly to have the wort at 80F when it was all done.  I then pitched 5 capsules of the Swanson's L. Plantarum, the Fast Souring Lacto from GigaYeast and the Smack Pack of 3711.

Terrible picture but gravity of 1.044 after the 5 minute boil.

I'm leaving this beer in my kitchen at room temperature to take advantage of the Plantarum's effectiveness at room temperature.  Low IBUs, good pitch of Lactobacillus, and a good temperature are key to produce a clean lactic tartness.  Hopefully I have achieved that with this brew.  A short time will tell!


3-26-16:  Had to put a blow off tube in as the krausen was pushing through the airlock.  The good news is, it smelled really tart!

3-27-16:  Steady fermentation through the blow off tube.  Temperature ranging from 74-76F

3-29-16:  Fermentation slowed but activity still present with temperature sitting at 78F.  Will take a gravity and pH reading next week.

4-10-16:  Took pH reading and was shocked to see the beer at 4.51 pH.  Maybe I pitched the lacto too cool and the 3711 took off way too fast.  I'm going to let this one sit for a while and see if it drops.  Next time I'll pitch the Lacto first and use even less hops to see what happens.  Theoretically this should be much lower in pH.

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Day of Spring Brew Day

March 20th was the first day of Spring and I wanted to celebrate by brewing a Wheat Saison.  I know what most people are saying, "Isn't it just a Saison if it has wheat?"  Well that is definitely a regular ingredient in Saison recipes, yes.  But this time I wanted to kick it up to at least 30% of the total grain bill.  For this recipe it's just over 30%.  I'm using malted and raw wheat and fermenting with a Saison/Brett blend that I've been wanting to use for a while now, Omega Yeast Labs C2C American Farmhouse.  I've heard a ton of great things from this blend so I'm excited to see how it turns out.  I've heard that in 6-8 weeks you can get a great beer with apparent brettanomyces notes as well as Saison characteristics.

Inspiration from this beer comes from some of the beers I've had and read about.  Hill Farmstead Florence is one of my favorite beers I've had from their brewery.  It's also way up in the top of my list for favorite Saisons overall.  Saison du Blé from Side Project is also a very prominent example of a wheat Saison.  While I have no idea of the recipes of either of these beers, I'm taking a stab at it with the below recipe for a beer I'm calling Fluffy.

Recipe:  Fluffy
Brewer:  Gus
Batch:  10
Date:  3-20-16

Batch Size:  6.00 gal
Boil Size:  9.26 gal
Post Boil Volume:  6.63 gal  (Ended up with right at 7 gallons)
Estimated OG:  1.050
Actual OG:  1.047
Estimated Color:  10.8 SRM
Estimated IBU:  30.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  70.00%
Est Mash Efficiency:  74.4 %
Boil Time:  75 Minutes

69.6%  Pilsen Malt (Avangard Malz)
23.9%  Red Wheat (Briess)
6.5% Raw Wheat

17.1 IBUs of EKG @ 60 min
9.5 IBUs of Amarillo @ 20 min
3.4 IBUs of Pacifa @ 10 min

Omega Yeast Labs C2C American Farmhouse

I added about a half pound of rice hulls to my mash just to help with the lautering of such a high percentage of wheat malt.  I definitely think this is a good idea even with my false bottom.  I've had some issues before at lower percentages so it definitely won't hurt.  I mashed for just over 60 minutes at 149F for this batch.  I did not do a mash out.

Rice hulls are a must.

I designed this beer to really play up the wheat in the Saison and give a great mouthfeel and just feel more delicate than other beers.  Going forward I may dial it back to a smaller beer but we will see.  I definitely have some ideas for blends with this beer.  I recently acquired a couple sanke kegs to use for blending and bottling as well as fermentation of larger batches.  I have a big idea in my head of pulling some Saison from the solera barrel and blending with different Batches of Kathleen and Fluffy to create different beers.  This will also lead to blending on different fruits I'm sure.  Lots of projects for the future!

It grows!  Hot break like crazy.

After the boil I ran the wort through the chiller into the other new Speidel fermentor and pitched the starter of the C2C.  The next morning I decided to pull it out of the fermentation freezer and just let it sit ambient in my dining room.  It was very active by that afternoon.  I haven't decided whether or not I'll dry hop this.  I'll have time to think in the 6-8 weeks it sits.

Hop additions:  EKG @ 60, Amarillo @ 20, Pacifica @ 10

I'm still coming up short on my efficiency with this new brew system.  The last few brews I've dialed back the boil to be less vigorous and as a result, I'm not hitting the target volume or the starting gravity.  I could have boiled longer on all of those brews but then I would have skewed the hops and IBUs to maybe a more bitter beer than I'm looking for.  I may also adjust my batch size to 6.5 gallons.  With the heat exchanger and hoses, there is significant loss off wort.  So if I were to up my batch size, I would make up for that.  All of this is part of dialing in my system.  It's much more complicated than the pot and cooler system I was used to.  In the mean time I have some pretty good brews to drink while I get everything figured out!

Edit:  In playing with the equipment profiles in Beersmith, I think that is my biggest issue.  I changed the parameters to match more of what my system does instead of using one of the standards and in doing that, my efficiency went up to around 77%.  So that's what I really need to do.  I've adjusted the boil off rate so that now I can dial back the boil and maybe be closer to my numbers without having to boil off up to 3 gallons at a time.  New recipes will reflect this going forward.

Always take good notes while brewing.  It also helps to drink a good beer
when possible.

Nothing too noteworthy in this post and nothing out of the ordinary.  Just wanted to brew with this blend and brew a beer I've been wanting to for a while.  I'll have some tasting notes on the, somewhat new, blend soon!!

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
@aaddkison on Twitter
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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
@aaddkison on Twitter
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