Monday, April 27, 2009

Les Fleurs du Mal

This is an all grain adaptation of the Hoppy Belgian that I brewed last Spring with excellent results. The grain bill is simple to let the yeast and hops shine. I brewed several batches of this last year and aimed for similar hop additions to the one that has aged best.

10 lbs Dingemans Pilsner malt
.6 lbs 20 L Crystal malt
1 lb sugar, inverted*

60 Minutes - 0.88 ounce Nugget, 14.6 AAU
15 Minutes - 0.25 ounce New Zealand Hallertau, 7 AAU
15 Minutes - 0.5 ounce Cascade, 9.3 AAU
0 Minutes - 0.25 ounce New Zealand Hallertau, 7 AAU
0 Minutes - 0.5 ounce Cascade, 9.3 AAU
Secondary – 0.5 ounce Cascade, 9.3 AAU

Mashed 113 F – 145 F – 160 F
1.067 OG
75 % Efficiency

*Heat 1 lb sugar with 1 cup water and 1 tspn lemon juice. If I had a candy thermometer I would aim for certain temperature.

5/5/2009: Racked to secondary with 0.5 ounce Cascade flowers. 1.020 SG.

5/29/2009: Bottled 5 gallons with 4 oz local blueberry blossom honey. 1.010 FG. 7.5% ABV.

7/1/2009: Tasting posted.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BBeer* Tasting

I bottled four gallons of the all Brett beer just over a month ago. One gallon was combined with sliced Gala apples and put away to age. Worried about over-carbonation and exploding bottles, I only added 1 ounce of sugar at bottling. My worries have been unfounded as an aggressive pour gives no more than a weak head that immediately falls apart. This color is a cloudy orange.** Lots of fruit in the aroma; green apples, cherries, oranges. The flavor is more of the same with some tartness developing that was not present at bottling. There is also some fresh oak character in the aroma and taste like you would find in white wine.

Overall, I have yet to make up my mind on this beer. It seems very young so I will slowly drink my through the batch. I tasted it with three different cheese, Brie, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Vermont cheddar. All three were an excellent match.

*The extra 'B' is for Bbrettanomyces Lambicus.

**I keep a single clear bottle in rotation to monitor color and clarity. The flocculation has been so slow that there is a visible difference between the fine and murky parts of the beer. Oddly enough, the portion that I mixed with apples is brilliantly clear.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lovibond Porter

Bottled after 7 days (4/7/09) with 2.5 ounces white sugar.

The pour produces a tan head that quickly recedes into a ring of foam around the edge of the glass. The color is black with brown-red higlights. There aroma is sweet and roasted malt with a bit of yeasty fruitiness and hops in the background. Just enough residual sugars and carbonation to give a full mouthfeel but remain suitable for quaffing, which the 3.7 % ABV suits as well. Still a bit green but has a nice sweet malt and roasty flavor balanced by just enough hops.

As a bonus, here are some numbers for several porters from just after the turn of the century. For comparison, mine has a 1.022 SG, 3.7 % ABV and absolutely NO adulterants.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Anniversary Guinness

A bottle of Guinness Bi-Centenary stout at the storehouse
at St. James Gate. They keep all the bottles in a glass
case ensuring than any pictures will be crap.

Guinness has announced today that they will be unleashing a limited 250th Anniversary Stout in the United States. From the write ups I cannot tell what to make of this new stout. MSNBC has a convenient comparison between Guinness Draught and the Anniversary Stout. (The date section for plain draught provides amusement. "Sometime after 1799.") There are reasons for optimism and cynicism. My inner optimist's and cynic's dialogue whilst reading the article:

Optimist: A stronger, maltier stout sounds encouraging.

Cynic: Hardly Foreign Extra Stout though.

Optimist: At least its not nitrogenated.

Cynic: But carbonated for more refreshment and zing!

Optimist: No two part pour, that should be refreshing.

Cynic: Don't forget the "double brew stream that combines two types of malts, ale and stout."

Cynic: Oh, oh it also has "triple hops" just like Miller Lite!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brewing Historic Porter

Over at Barclay Perkins, Ron has written a bunch times about mid 19th century porter grists. Recently he posted about a particular porter found in the Lovibond Brewery logs. According to W.L. Tizard, a porter consisting of only amber malt and black malt resulted in an exquisite beer. A fan of dark beer and historic beer I had to brew for myself.

This beer presented a couple challenges with regards to malt choice and mashing. Finding Amber malt proved to be harder than I had anticipated. I needed a lightly kilned pale malt that retained most of its Diastatic power. [source] While reading the Dingeman's malt descriptions I noticed that they alternatively call their Aromatic malt "Amber 50" and the description matched the historical description. As an added bonus, Dingeman's Aromatic malt is widely available. I declare it good enough. I hope Ron reads this so he can tell me why that is a stupid declaration.

Without a true base malt I tempered my expected efficiency down to 70% from my usual 75+%. Turned out not to be enough as I ended up at 60%, so I added a half pound of brown sugar to raise the OG to range I was shooting for, 1.05-1.06. For hops, .5 oz Nugget boiled for 60 minutes and another .5 oz Nugget boiled for 10 minutes. Kent Goldings would have been more likely but I like Nuggets, so much for historical accuracy. At least I used Whitbread yeast.

After 20 hours of fermentation, yeast was cropped. The gravity had fallen to 1.042 from 1.051. The taste already attained an excellent balance of big malty flavor and an obvious but not overpowering roastiness. After 6 days the measured gravity holds steady at 1.022 (1.027 real SG, a paltry 47% attenuation and 3.7% ABV) and is ready for bottling. Never mind the terrible attenuation, this tastes great!