Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No-Boil Berliner Weisse

I love Berliner Weisses, however the irony is that I have not had many of them. Locally I have loved Nodding Heads Berliner Weisse. It is beautiful, crisp and tart as can be. 1809 is the classic example and it is an amazing beer to use as a comparison against any. When I come to think about I have primarily enjoyed and had only locally brewed examples: Earth Bread and Brewery, Tired Hands, Round Guys and Dock St. Dogfish Head's "Neo" Berliner, Festina Peche is probably the most accessible.

So my Berliner was a shot in the dark. I went for the no boil method and single decoction. This was my first time decocting and I hit my target temp nicely upon return. However, no boil or not, this Philadelphia summer heat is killing me and cooling down with 10 pounds of ice isn't any easier. Getting below 90 degrees is the issue without an extra 20 mins of the hose/ice bath method. I do look forward to attempting a sour mash next time, but it has to be in the Fall or Spring. Berliners aren't just a Summer treat for me. 

I racked after 11 days. I used the White Labs Berliner Weisse blend. I eased into this batch. I read about a lacto starter and dry yeast in conjunction for those who have brewed before and didn't get the tartness that they were expecting. I am in no hurry, so with a few months at a nice basement temp, I have my fingers crossed. I threw in 8ozs of Acid Malt too. It was my first time using it and after noshing on the grains before cracking them, I am hoping that time will really take hold of it.

That Old Tart Spring Again
Rae Desmond Jones

Offering your usual false promises,
You have arrived early this year like a blousy aunt
In a voluptuous taxi of light,

Draped in those bright loose fashions -
Far too tight at your age,
Flashing your heels as you trudge the backyard,
flirting outrageously
As you sway indelicately between the stones.

Despite your long record of hypocrisy & corruption,
& still uninvited, yet you are welcome,

So croon your perfumed defiance into the bitter winds,
Flirt with the exhausted winter flowers
As they rise in rows from the dark trenched earth.

Despite ourselves we are cheered by your cheap rhetoric,
Anaesthetized yet again by your charm & certain of betrayal. 

Berliner Weisse
Pils, Wheat, Acid Malt
Tettang Hops
WLP 630 Berliner Weisee Blend

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tasting: Dark Farmhouse Funk

For months now I have referenced this "Dark Farmhouse Funk" beer that was brewed in a while back. I had all intentions on brewing up a Black Saison. Low and behold I popped into my LHBS and they were out of saison yeasts. It was a Sunday and I really wanted to brew on Monday night. I never write about homebrew stores or owners, but Barry's Homebrew in Fishtown hasn't let me down yet. Granted I did want a Saison yeast, but the recommendations I got back were a bit more up my alley and kicked off my funk and sour brews that I just haven't yet made.

So the Bastonge Belgian strain from White Labs was what I was offered. Read about it. It is the Orval Strain. As for the grain bill, I is fairly complex and fun. Pils malt, Special B, honey, late addition raisins and orange rind and the dregs from two bottles of Jolly Pumpkin during primary fermentation. I mashed low (150) and boiled for 90 mins. I just upgraded my mash tun when brewing this and the extra thick walls hold the heat nice without any insulation and mashing out is quite nice with a false bottom.

The beer itself is dark brown with a nice funk, horse blanket aroma and raisiny, dark fruit upfront taste. It's s lightly acidic with a sweet honey finish. Hops are virtually non existent. I added an ounce of Amarillo at 60 mins hoping that there would be enough funk to hold this beer up. I am pleased as punch for this first attempt.

Dark Farmhouse Funk 
Pils Malt, Vienna Malt, Crystal 60, Honey Malt, Special B, Carafa II
Orange Blossom Honey, 8oz Raisins, Orange Rind
WL520 Bastogne Belgian Ale , 1lt starter (Dregs from JP La Roja)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tasting: Imperial Black

Imperial Black Death. 11.4% ABV
I aimed pretty high when making this Imperial Black Ale. It was one of the bigger experiments that I have taken on. It was my first time attempting an ABV > than 10% without a pound of extract for safety. It was also my first time fermenting on a yeast cake. I didn't have a real comparison at what I was going for. What I ended up with is a rich, jet black, sweet and pungent ale.

The roasted grains are cut by the pound of Orange Blossom Honey. It wants to be astringent, at least more astringent, but the honey is a bit over powering. It is boozy. There is no doubt about that. It took  longer than expected to carbonate. It wants to be served above 55 degrees. Think red wine. Take it out of the fridge and enjoy something comparable before hand. I wasn't sure how much I enjoyed it until the temperature was right. The Galaxy Hops play a nice encore. Dark, dank beers and grapefruit need a something like Simcoe to roll hand and hand together. I would have enjoyed another two ounces of hops, preferably Simcoe during the dry hopping. The Motueka Hops get a bit lost. Before Dry Hopping it was a bit more mellow. You almost didn't believe that the ABV would climb over 10.5%, and if it did, you would encounter some trouble. It drank too easily. Plums and raisins and other dark fruits surface as it warms. Again, think red white or Imperial Stout. There is more going on then if it was extremely hopped.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tasting: Single Hop Citra Pale Ale

It is going on almost two solid weeks of above 90 degree days in Philadelphia. Every time I prepare to make a yeast starter, exhaustion sets in and the last thing I want to do is brew. It is pretty sad. Almost pathetic. What is even sadder is that in about a week, the Belgian Pale and Session IPA kegs are gonna kick.

The Citra Pale Ale that Tim and I made is now bottled, carbed and is down to the last few bottles. We split the batch and my other half has been indulging a bit too much without me. Writing this post has been the first time that I have been able to sit down and pick it apart. The hops play a huge part in both the aroma and backbone of this beer. The pound of White Wheat gets pretty cut by the 8oz of Victory. I like nutty Pale Ale when a hop like Citra is so dominant. It is a beautiful golden color, perfect against the room darkening shades to keep the sun out of the house. So it is pretty much a cave beer. We kept the ABV lower on this. 4.8%. A bit astringent, nice carbonation, but over all straight forward Pale Ale. It would benefit from another ounce hops (either late addition or dry hopped). It would be nice to age on any summer fruit. I am thinking peaches and I am thinking that this will happen during the month of July. A year ago I made a Peaches and Cream Ale aged on Vanilla Bean. It was a great beach beer that my non beer drinking family thought tasted like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.