Monday, September 19, 2005

It's a Small World

I've been lagging way behind on housekeeping here...among other things, I've been meaning to add links to some more beer blogs (especially those that have been kind enough to link to us). I may not get to that for a while yet, but I do want to give nod to Hunahpu, a fellow Tucsonan who has a very good beer and wine blog at The All-Grain Evangelist. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

There's a new record...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Matrimoniale Update

Day 16 (9 days after second yeast addition):

SG is 1.020. ABV is 9.0%.

And still'd think I was paying these guys by the hour...

I was really hoping to bottle tonight, but that's just not going to work. I'll probably have to wait until the weekend, which means it'll have only been in the bottle a week by the wedding. Nuts.

Anyhow, tasting notes: surprisingly smooth...definite estery flavor, very similar to a hefeweizen. Mildly spicy notes that I imagine will become more prevalent with carbonation and age. Finish is quite dry with a pretty assertive alcoholic presence (hopefully that will mellow a bit.)

Anyway, I hope my yeast finish their job before this weekend, because if it doesn't get bottled then, it isn't getting bottled for a while...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hefe Update

I didn't know it, but apparently my yeast love me. As in too much love. No, not in some sicko way, or even in some type of infectious way, but man are those guys really happy right now. So happy in fact that I've had my first case where the krausen foam has managed to overflow into the airlock located at the top of my fermenter. It looks absolutely putrid, but surprisingly it's actually a good thing.

Fermentation is still chugging along so I probably won't get to move into the secondary until Friday evening or Saturday after a good ass whippin' down at the glorious Grant Field.

Moved into secondary on Friday night. No, really. I had nothing better to do. Plus the plan was to get up early Saturday morning to tailgate our asses off, which we did. And there was much rejoicing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hefeweizen II

My first attempt at a hefeweizen was at the beginning of last summer (2004). It turned out great and I ran out very quickly, mostly consumed by my wife much to my personal benefit. The only problem I had with it was a bit too much sulfur byproduct and not quite enough banana ester from my yeasties. Nice apricot smell, though.

I was planning on going straight for either an Oktoberfest style or a German alt for the fall season but a friend of mine pretty blatantly requested a wheat beer. Her personal favorite is Hoegaarden but I'm not quite ready for a Belgian white. I'll try that one in the early spring.

So, I went back with the recipe I started last year and decided to use a slightly different strain of yeast. Go figure that almost the exact "problems" I had with the last batch were exactly what the strain I used was supposed to do and it was still a tasty beer. I just figured there's always a bit of fun trying to tweak an old recipe. Besides, the old recipe is still in the book if it turns out to be the true winner.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe. I tried to stick to German purity laws, but I don't know if using malt extract counts against that. (I'm still working out the kinks on my lauter tun)

I'm assuming that you know general brewing terms. I've included links for some of the terms I've found decent info on.

Hefeweizen II: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Yeast

Date: 4 Sep 2005

0.5 lb. Simpson's medium crystal
0.5 lb. Weyermann Pale Wheat
4 lb. Munton's wheat DME
1 lb. Munton's extra light DME
1.5 tsp. gypsum
2 oz. Hallertauer hops (leaf)
  • 1.5 oz. boiling
  • 0.5 oz. finishing
1 tsp. Irish moss
Hefeweizen Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP300)

-Heat 1.5 gal water to 150 F
-Add grains and steep for 30 min
-Strain grain water
-Sparge grains with 0.5 gal water
-Bring to a boil and remove from heat
-Add malt extracts and stir well
-Add 1 gal water and bring to a boil
-Add hops and gypsum
-Boil 45 minutes
-Add finishing hops and Irish moss
-Boil 15 minutes
-Strain into primary fermenter
-Sparge hops bag with cold water
-Add water to 5 gal total volume
-Cool to 75 F and pitch yeast

Original gravity: 1.047
Estimated IBU: 28.9

I got ambitious with the hops. It came in a 2 oz. pack and I figured why waste it? The style is traditionally about 8-14 IBU but I've felt like I lost a little too much during fermentation in the past.

Today, fermentation was happily chugging along. It'll probably get moved into the secondary in a day or two when initial fermentation pretty much nears its end.

Upcoming aspirations include kegging homebrew (thanks to the household addition of a nifty kegerator) and my very first all-grain batch.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Homebrewing Update

As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm making my first foray into the world of Belgian style beers.

After outlining the extract/grain bill, calculating how much of what kind of hops for bitterness, and deciding on a modest slate of "extras" (orange peel, coriander, and candi sugar), I had to figure out the what yeast to use.

I don't want to speak ill of my local brewshop, which is excellent 95% of the time (and one of the places I will truly, deeply miss when I leave this town), but the truth is I got some bad advice there this time around. It happens; the place is staffed by mostly part-time hobbyists--which is really the point of the store to begin with--and I should have done my homework. A visit to White Lab's very informative webpage would have sufficed.

To make a long story short: I described the beer I wanted to make to the guy working at the store, and he suggested that I use the Saisson yeast. Now according to this chart, this strain will work well at the temps I have to work with (I figure the average ambient temp in my house these days is about 78), and it does emphasize the spicier notes I was looking for, but the attenuation and alcohol tolerance are just too damn low for the beer I'm trying to make.

The result: after 24 hours of "off to the races" fermentation, it stopped dead. As in no pressure on the airlock whatsoever. I sampled a bit and found that it had only fermented to about 2.9% ABV, which considering I started at 11.8% potential ABV, was not good at all.

I gave it a couple of days, hoping to see a second phase of fermentation. No luck.

Time to call in reinforcements.

So on Day 7, I added the White Labs Trappist Ale Yeast, and it seems to be working well (it's now Day 9). I'm pushing my luck a bit on the temperature (hopefully it will end up much more "fruity" than "solvent"), but it's worth a shot. The Saisson certainly wasn't going to cut it.

On a positive note: the color is exactly what I was aiming for. And even in it's mostly unfermented state, I really did like the direction in which it was going.

Without further delay, here's the recipe. As always, this assumes a rudimentary knowledge of homebrewing techniques and terminology, but please don't hesitate to ask for clarification in the comments section.

Also, you might want to wait for me to see how this tastes before trying it at home.


4 lbs. plain pale malt extract (Munton's)
4 lbs. plain extra pale malt extract (Munton's)
1/2 lb. 20L American crystal malt
1/4 lb. Belgian Caravienne malt
1/4 lb. Belgian biscuit malt
1 lb. clear Belgian candi sugar
1/2 oz. sweet orange peel
1 oz. coriander seed (not cracked)
1 oz. U.S. Saaz (all hops are pellets)
1 oz. U.S. Hallertau
1 oz. German Hersbrucker

Grains were steeped in ~2 gallons, 150 degrees F, 30 minutes. After sparging, the pot was brought to a boil, extract and candi sugar were added, and brought to a boil again. Saaz were boiled for 60 minutes, Hallertau and Hersbrucker for 30 minutes, corander and orange peel for 15 minutes. After removing from heat and cooling, the wort was diluted to 4.5 gallons, specific gravity 1.085 (pot ABV: 11.8%).

The S.G. of the boil was 1.107, ~ 3 gallons. Estimated IBU (per Daniels, "Designing Great Beers") are 24.4.

Saisson Yest (White Labs WLP565) was pitched; vigorous fermentation occurred for about 24 hours, followed by rapid attenuation and "stuck" fermentation. Racked to secondary on Day 4, added Trappist Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP500) on Day 7. Fermentation resumed at a moderate rate ~24 hours later.

Wow--I just realized how much this reads like the methods section of one of my papers!

Update (2.21.06): Not to toot my own horn (which is to say, to toot my own horn), a friend writes:

Sweet nectar of the gods -- it was amazing. Absolutely fantastic. Clean yet strong. Not overpowering. The kind of beer you want to drink for the rest of your life if you only could pick one. Kind of like the marriage that inspired it -- go figure.

I'm blushing.

*The beer's name should be a pretty obvious reference to friends--Marsha and I are getting married on September 24, about the time I expect this beer to be ready. Also, "matrimoniale" happens to be the French word for "matrimonial", which is appropriate for a Belgian beer and because we are honeymooning in France. This also seems appropriate for a beer made with two yeasts instead of one, though I didn't plan it that way. Anyway, screw you if you don't think this is clever, because it is.