Monday, August 20, 2012

Jelly Doughnut (My first 'wild'/sour beer!)

     After trying 4 Hands Brewing Company's Prussia Berlinerweisse on tap at 44 Stone Public House, I became fascinated with the style.  4 Hands' offering is not as sharply sour as some examples supposedly are, but it shows a beautiful balance of flavors: crackery pils malt, tart fruit, and a bit of earthy funk.  It's immensely refreshing and only 3.5% abv!  The perfect summer beer if ever there was one.  It's also one of those 'increasingly hard to find' styles, so when Wyeast released their 'Berlinerweisse blend' (Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces from a now-defunct German brewery, and Lactobacillus) I figured it was a sign. 

Supposedly a potentially problematic strain...hoping for luck!
     Fast foward to today.  It's been a long time since I've ordered a pre-packaged kit from either Northern Brewer or Midwest Supplies.  If anything, usually I'll look at their recipe, and tweak it a bit to use DME instead of LME and make other changes here or there.  But since I knew very little about Berlinerweisse in terms of recipe formation, and they were offering a limited-edition 'Kinderweisse' kit, I jumped on it.  I even went for the all-extract kit, knowing I'd be in school soon, and needing to save time.  It couldn't have been simpler, but I renamed it 'Jelly Doughnut'.  Kudos if you get the reference!

Jelly Doughnut (Ich bin ein Berliner!)

(5 gallons)

     -3.15 lbs wheat LME (65% wheat, 35% barley)
     -1 lb. Briess wheat DME (65% wheat, 35% barley)

     -1 oz Hersbrucker (2.8% AA) for 20 minutes

     -1 package Wyeast Berlinerweisse blend #3191

     Even though one of my kitties seems to have gnawed into the bag of DME, he/she must not have gotten much of it, because after 20 minutes (I extended the recommended boil by 5 minutes to make sure my wort chiller was sanitized) my OG hit 1.031 on the nose. 

I'm betting Quentin was the culprit, but who knows?
Now, we wait, and hope and pray that Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces don't decide to run amok in my brewhouse! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saison d'Etre (Week 5 Update)

     While brewing up Fuggles' Yorkshire Mild today, I took a gravity reading from my saison.  After five weeks, the yeast has fermented this down to 1.005.  We're looking much better, but I still think I'm going to give this a little time and see if I can't get a bit more attenuation out of it.  At this point, this is coming in at about 6.65% abv.  We'll see what another week or two does, and see if we can't dry it out just a bit more. The Dupont strain really is a strange yeast! At week four, this was only down to a paltry 1.024.  For some reason that extra week really dropped it down, even though fermentation looked for all intents and purposes to have screeched nearly to a halt.
    As far as impressions, this smells and tastes fantastic.  There's a bit more spice than last time, with that wonderful Juicy Fruit aroma, as well as some other vibrant fruitiness.  The bitterness is still firm, but not overpowering like last time.  The fact that this has dried out considerably, along with the increased alcohol, makes this very nicely balanced.  Refreshing, fruity and spicy on the palate, and a clean bitterness on the finish makes this a winner.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Gaffer--Update

     Curiosity finally got the better of me and I had to crack one of these to see how it was progressing (about two months after brewing).  The beer has cleared well in the bottle and the two ounce sample that I poured out was a beautiful dark amber hue with orange highlights.  It was still pretty hot (no surprise there, at 10.25% abv and only two months old), but there were nice red fruit flavors, along with caramel and a strong sweetness.  So far, so good.  There's one significant problem, however.  There's no carbonation.  And I mean none.  It's a well-known fact that strong ales take a lot longer to carbonate than their session- and regular-strength brethren, which can have good carbonation levels after a week or two.  Nonetheless, after some research on the Beer Advocate forums today, there is some chance that this may never carbonate.  I should have pitched a fresh packet of yeast at bottling time to aid carbonation, but (as several brewers pointed out) sometimes even that's not enough.  I look forward to the day when I have a kegging system and can force carb.  In the meantime, I rolled the bottles around to rouse the yeast, and we'll see what another couple of months and subsequent rousing does here.  For what it's worth, a couple of brewers mentioned their barleywines took 4-6 months to carb.  If this doesn't carb, I'll either a) drink it as is (hey, oftentimes aged barleywines have very little carbonation anyway, and this could easily be served in cordial glasses for a tasty winter treat) or I could b) attempt to force-carb in my Tap-A-Draft system.  I guess time will tell.