Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dark Saison with figs, pumpkin and spices

Brewed this on 10/10/2012.  This a dark farmhouse ale that I came up with when I couldn't decide whether I should brew a saison or a pumpkin stout.  I added two cans of pumpkin to the mash.  At the end of the boil, I added 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (this is plenty) and 1/2 oz dried Lemon Verbena.  I also caramelized some Turkish figs and Thompson raisins in Port wine until it turned into a thick syrup.  Judging by the taste of the wort, this beer may benefit from cocoa powder in secondary.

Had a big scare over the final gravity.  My first reading had the wort at 1.040, rather than the 1.069 that I was expecting.  I freaked out, but then realized that some water had gotten into my sample jar.  I was relieved to know that I got around 65% efficiency, and not 35%.

Fermenting this with the 3711 French Saison yeast. It should turn out really nice and will be ready just in time for the holidays.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tasting of belgian dubbel ipa

So, I've been taking sips and samples from this keg since probably the third or fourth day and now, nearly two weeks later, I'm calling this beer ready to drink.

And it is really good.

the story behind this beer is that I was having trouble thinking of what I was going to brew after my Brettanomyces Belgian Pale Ale (tasting soon).  I'd been wanting to brew a Belgian dubble for quite some time; I'd been sussing out a rye-heavy Scandinavian farmhouse beer; and I'd been drinking a lot of hoppy ipa's like Racer 5 and Hop Stoopid.  I had a Bastagone yeast cake left over from the Brett Pale, and seeing as this is a yeast that is only available for a limited amount of time each year, I decided that I would use this yeast in this beer.  Not sure if I wanted to try too much rye with this yeast, I based the grain bill off of one of my favorite beers in recent years, a hop-bursted pale ale with a vienna malt base and a 2lbs of Rye malt. To further complicate things, I added 1lbs of Belgian Candy Syrup to boost the alcohol while adding flavors reminiscent of chocolate, fig, and raisin.

Hop-bursting is a technique that involves adding a ton of hops within the last 20 minutes of the boil, rather than spaced throughout the entire boil.  This results in a softer bitterness and a huge hop flavor, as the volatile oils from the hops are not boiled off.  I hop-bursted with 2oz of Simcoe and 2oz of Amarillo.  These hops are well known for their huge fruit flavors and aromas.  Try Racer 5 for an example of how these hops play together.  At the end of the boil, I added 2 oz of pungent and piney Chinook hops.  Chinook are rumored to be the primary hop in Arrogant Bastard and, while somewhat harsh as a bittering hop, they add an amazing musty pine aroma to hoppy beers.

Here is the recipe, if you are interested
mashed in at 145 F  (lower than I wanted, honestly)
60 min boil
Gypsum in the mash (don't remember the amount.  around 2 teaspoons)

10lbs Vienna
1lbs Biscuit
2lbs Rye malt
1lbs D180 candy syrup  (added at the end of the boil)

Hopburst blend: 2oz Simcoe, 2oz Amarillo.  thrown in a bowl and divided up into five additions
1/5th at 20 mins
1/5th at 15 mins
1/5th at 10 mins
1/5th at 5 mins
1/5th at 0 mins

2oz Chinook at flameout *
Whirfloc at 15 mins

Bastagone Yeast

*  I don't cool with a chiller, I use my bathtub and ice.  I added hops when I placed the pot in the bathtub as a way of simulating a technique called a "hopstand" where hops are added at flameout and allowed to sit for a number of minutes before chilling begins.  Since chilling in a bathtub takes longer, I thought that simply throwing in some hops as soon as I put it in the tub would be very similar

Keg hopped with 1oz Simcoe, 1oz Amarillo, 2oz Columbus

Tasting notes

Appearance: dark reddish-copper.  Thin head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: juicy hop aromas.  Peach, orange, pear,

Taste: much like the aroma up front, but with more complexity.  There is peach, orange, pear, hints of caramel, sweet bread flavors from the malt, a little bit of rustic spice from the rye.  I get a hint of fig in there.  The Bastagone yeast is best known as the yeast for the Trappist beer Orval.  This yeast didn't add the big, bold "Belgiany" flavors that Belgian beers are known for.  This yeast has a very subtle flavor profile that adds a slight tartness and a slight lemon spice characteristic that lingers on the tongue after the flavor fades.  If I wasn't familiar with other beers that have used this yeast (including my own Brett Pale Ale) I probably would attribute these flavors to other things, but I have been able to pick them out in several beers that employ this yeast and I really like it.

Mouthfeel:  This could stand to be more carbonated.  Hopefully, more C02 will dissolve into solution in the coming weeks.  The hops and the yeast leave you with quite the bouquet of flavors on the pallet, while the rye adds a certain silky, creamy mouthfeel that sort of slips around your tongue.

Overall:  this is a great beer.  I'm really impressed with how this turned out and I hope to rebrew this soon.  If I ever start a for realz brewery, this will be in the starting line-up.  One thing I would like to play around with would be upping the Belgian Dubbel influence.  Possibly adding a small amount of Belgian Special B malt, or doubling the amount of Belgian candy syrup

Come by and have a pint some time!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beers in progress and current brewery to do list

Beers in progress
  1. Orval-style Belgian pale ale with brettanomyces.
  2. A hybrid Belgian Dubbel/ Rye IPA with dark candy syrup, rye malt, hopbursted with Simcoe and Amarillo hops
  3. Sour trippel fermented with Roselaire Blend, soon to be aged on oak cubes soaked in Bulleit Rye whiskey
  4. a sour brown ale
Brewing to dos
  1. Transfer sour triple, add oak and bugs
  2. Dry hop, brett pale;  .75oz cascade, .75oz wilamette
  3. Dry hop dubbel IPA (keg hop?)
  4. Set up fridge
  5. Bottle brett pale; half with brett at bottling.  8/26/12; save brett slurry for 100% brett IPA
  6. Keg dubbel IPA

Brewing projects (long term)
  1. What to do with 2 gallons of sour brown: brew blending beer?  Age on fruit? Dryhop?
  2. Set up kegerator: buy temp control, add taps, etc
  3. Move up to 10 gallon batches: finish keggle, make larger cooler MLT, buy/make chilling system (plate chiller? Counterflow? ), Hop Spider?
  4. Teach brewing class
  5. Set-up brewing schedule and budget
  6. Hold a speakeasy night at Hothhaus

inaugural post

I'm starting this blog, primarily as a way of keeping track of recipes and general upkeep of my homebrew operation. I'll post tasting reviews of beers, how-to stuff on brewing and creating brewing equipment, and general beer interest stuff.  DBC started with the intention of creating a brewing community that is grounded within the East Bay punk/metal/DIY scene.  My hope was to create a cooperative of established brewers, aspiring brewers, and dirty drunks to learn, share, and experiment upon.  I have taught classes on cider-making and ginger beer making, and I intend to begin holding classes again.  With a blog, I will be able to document these classes and post the info for future reference.  I am also hoping to start having "speakeasy" parties, brewery tours, homebrew trades, tastings, maybe even a homebrew "CSA" subscription if I can get enough brewers involved.  

This blog may evolve into a more mainstream "audience" blog, like the Mad Fermentationist, or Bikes, Beer, and BBQ, but for now I am using it as an organizational tool and a place to collect my thoughts on my brewing operation