Monday, October 8, 2012

Bottling Chardonnay Blonde Ale 10/05/12

Welcome, to yet another installation of my Brewing blog. I meant to make this post a few days ago, But had some other things to take care of. I am now sitting in front of my laptop, with a 16 oz glass of New Belgiums Shift, rambling on thus wasting more time!
So, a While back (August 8th, 2012), I brewed up a pretty basic Blonde ale. Used Pale malt for the Base, backed up with a bit of pilsener to give that nice Belgian/German characteristic to the Blonde ale. In addition to that I used a small quantity of Crystal malts and Torrified wheat, To kind of tweak the color a bit, and hopefully gaining some heading properties from the Torrified wheat.
The mash was also very basic. Just a simple Single Infusion mash, Sacchrification rest at 150F for 75mins. At the time I was having small troubles with efficiency so I employed a longer mash rest to make sure I had conversion. This worked. Then I used a basic Fly sparge around 175F, and collected my wort.
For the 65min boil, I used a single bittering addition of 1oz. Williamette (5.7%AA) at 65mins.
Post Boil I had 5 gallons of wort, OG: 1.054. I cooled the wort and Pitched one vial of WLP001 Cali Ale yeast for primary fermentation.
Once Primary was complete I racked the beer onto 5.44 oz of Oak I had soaked in Italian Chardonnay. The oak started out as an Oakboy I purchased from Northern Brewer. I then Sawed the Oakboy into 4 pieces and soaked it in the Chardonnay for somehwere around 2 months. At this time I let fermentation continue for a few days. Then threw it in the Lager fridge, Around 33F, and left it there for 38 days. 
On Oct. 5th, Last Friday, I took the fermenter out of the fridge in the morning, and set it out to warm up just a little and get to bottling temp. I used Northern brewers priming calculator for my amount of priming sugar. Andrew Hood from Tallgrass Brewing Co. suggested to use Cane sugar (sucrose), since it is 100% Fermentable and leaves very little residual sweetness once conditioning is complete.
2.69 oz of Cane Sugar for 4 gallons
Then boiled the sugar with 1 pint of water
Boiling priming solution
Once the solution was boiled, I cooled it down a bit in the sink, then threw it in the freezer while I made the rest of my preparations. At this time I gathered my Brettanomyces, my auto shiphon and tubing, as well as everything else I would need, and started my siphon. Quickly after I started the siphon I added the priming solution. The beer was amazingly clear.
Siphoning Blonde ale, So clear you can see right through it
In advance I had decided to bottle some of the beer straight, without Brettanomyces so I could drink some while the Brett bottles were conditioning, as well as taste some of the un soured beer. So I picked up a six pack of 22 oz bottles earlier that day, for this purpose.
Six 22 oz Bottles of Chardonnay Blonde Ale
That took up about a gallon of beer, and I was left with 3 gallons of beer. I then measured and added my brettanomyces.
I used Brett Lambicus from White labs. I had talked with Andrew Hood a week or so before I brewed this up, and He mentioned having success with using 6mls of Brett. Per Gallon. Which was the route I was going to go. However, I was not thinking and Let my Brett Sit out for a few hours before bottling, BAD IDEA. The vial exploded when I opened it, not literally but there was Brettanomyces spewing all over the place (This is the reason I prefer WYEAST to White Labs, Almost always have bad experiences with White Labs) and I ended up with 10mls of Brett Lambicus for 3 gallons of beer. Which is 1ml more then half of what Andrew Suggested. I am pretty bummed with the turnout so far, but who knows, Maybe the amount I added will be enough for my taste. Until then, Who knows.
10 mls of Brett Lambicus, Sorry for the blurry photo
I added the brett to the 3 gallons of beer, and bottled it up in Cork top Belgian Bottles, 375's and 750's. Plan to age the 750's and drink the 375's once they are ready. I am a huge fan of young Brett Conditioned beers. About a year or so from now I will post some tasting notes for the Brett Bottles. Maybe a review sooner for the Un Soured Bottles.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I enjoyed the experience, and have learned quite a bit. Hopefully next time my vial will not explode!
Thanks to Andrew Hood For all the help with Conditioning with Brett. and Thanks to my Girlfriend for helping me bottle this batch, as well as many others.
Until Next Time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lambic Brewday 10/02/12

Welcome, To my first blog post. As of late, I have been doing a lot of experimenting in my homebrewery, which sparked the thought of starting of my own blog.

Today I brewed my 4th Lambic style beer, Which seems like a great way to start off my blog. All in all the experience was great. Even though I was brewing by myself, and I mashed in at 5:30am, I had alot of fun during the 7.5-8 hours it took to brew.

Below, You will find The processes I used, as well as some photos from the Brewday.

First Off I must note, The Mash schedule I used is a Turbid mash method that I designed based off of a scaled down version of Cantillon's Schedule.

To start, I purchased 1 lb. of 3 year old Tettnang(US) hops from an online source. The cones were nice and aged looking, little bit of yellowing on the cones and a strong, aged, dusty kind of cheese aroma. Have a feeling these hops were exactly what I wanted.

The grist was made up of 6 lbs (66%) Belgian Pilsener Malt, and 3 lbs (33%) Raw, Unmalted wheat.

The initial mash-in took place around 5:30 am on brewday. I started off by Heating 2.5 quarts of water to around 146F, then slowly mixed that into the grain in the mash-tun. With such a thick consistency you have to mix the mash very well at this point, make sure there are no dough balls or clumps of flour in the mash. Below is a photo of my mash thus far in the process. Overall mixing should take about 10 mins, then employ a 15min rest.

Very Thick mash, photo taken just after mash in
Next, I brought 3.8 quarts of water to a boil. As soon as my 15min rest was complete, I added the whole 3.8 quarts into the mash, stirring very well to make sure I obtained an even temperature of 136F, which I hit spot on. At this stage the mash will have some excess liquid but not too much, let rest at 136F for 10-12mins. During this rest, I pulled 1.2 Quarts of liquid mash and heated to around 176F. The portion I pulled off of the main mash was very cloudy and thick, milky/dirty looking.
Now is also a good time to start boiling more water. From the Grain/water ratio I calculated that I need to boil about 5.5 quarts water to reach my next Mash Rest.
1.2 quarts of liquid mash, run off into kettle #2
 Once heated the liquid should clear a bit with bits of hot break forming (Photo below), unfortuantely you cannot see it too well.
Clumps of hot break forming around 176F
Set the pulled portion ^ (above) aside and let it rest.
Over the next 10 mins, add 5.5 quarts of Boiling water to the mash making sure to stir very well. After mixing, the mash should be somewhere in the 148F-153F Range, which will work just fine for our purposes. Boil another 5.5 quarts of water, Let The mash rest for 30mins in this Range.
After the 30min Rest, Pull 4 quarts of Liquid from the main mash and add it to Kettle #2, Heat this solution again to make sure you maintain a temperature around 176F.
Add the 5.5 quarts of boiling water to the main mash, stirring well. This will bring your mash somewhere between the 159F-162F Range. Once this temperature is acheived let Mash rest for 20-25 mins.
After this rest is complete, Run off all the liquid from the main mash into a 3rd kettle, and heat to a boil. Once boiling this solution will be very dark colored with alot of coagulated protein on top (Photo Below)
Thin mash once heated to boil.
At this point, add all The wort from Kettle #2 (176F), back into the main mash to reach a temperature between 165F-167F. Once this temperature range is reached, Allow mash to rest for another 20-25 mins.
During this mash rest would be a good time to start heating your sparge water. Since we are brewing Lambic, We will use sparge water at about 190F. This temperature is not too Normal, Seeing as how Tannins and grain matter are drawn out in this temperature range, However this is exactly what we want for Our Lambic.
After our 20-25 minute Rest, It is time to Recirculate the main mash in order to clear it, This will take anywhere between 15-30 mins depending on your system.
Recirculating the Lambic Mash
Once clear, start running off the Wort and Begin sparging. Sparge until your runnings reach 1.008 or Lower, In a sense the more tannins the better, seeing as how the yeast/bacteria strains we are using thrive on grain material, Tannins and proteins.
Once your Wort is collected, It is time to start the boil. Once the Wort starts boiling, add 4oz Aged Hops, In my case 3 year old US Tettnang. Sometimes your wort will end up being 10 gallons at 1.009, or 7 gallons at 1.030, etc.. You never know, So based upon your system, Boil the wort down to anywhere between 1.040-1.054 or higher, or to a final volume of 5 gallons.
Beginning of the boil
Halfway through the boil
Personally, I had poor efficiency this day and I wanted to have a full 4 gallons of Lambic for blending. So I ended up with a 90min Boil, and an OG of 1.032. If I would have boiled for 3-4 hours as Suggested, I probably would have been more in the gravity range, but only had about 2-3 gallons of wort. I am comfortable with the outcome seeing as how I plan to blend a Geuze in a few years, So 1.032 OG is fine for a portion of the blend.
Prior to Brewing, I boiled 1.30 oz of French oak cubes, replacing the water as needed until there was no visible color being extracted from the wood. I then carefully poured the water down the drain, leaving the oak cubes behind. I was able to dump them directly from the saucepan into my fermenter just before running off the wort.
After the boil, Use your method of choice for chilling and/or Innoculation. You can Let the wort Cool Overnight and allow spontaneous fermentation if you feel the need. Personally, I used a wort chiller, and Pitched multiple yeast strains. I cooled the wort to about 80F, Racked it into the fermenter and pitched Wyeast 3278, as well as the dregs from a bottle of Tilquin Geuze, and a bottle of Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze, Roughly 50mls of Each. I saw signs of Fermentation within 8 hours, though this may take a bit longer.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. I very much enjoyed this brewday and
am very happy to have shared it with you all. If you have any feedback or input, feel free to send me an email! -
!IMPORTANT! - When using spontaneous fermentation, you should forget everything you have been told about homebrewing, Including the fact that nothing harmful can live in your beer. Great beer can be made with the use of spontaneous fermentation, However, 9 times out of 10 when you spontaneously innoclulate wort, you end with a live culture of E. Coli. DO NOT TASTE your Lambic beers until at least 6 months into the process. But make sure there has been alcohol production before you taste. Alcohol will kill the E. Coli, and at that point there is nothing to worry about. The longer you wait. The better.