Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trillium Brewing blog moving

As vaguely referenced in past posts, we have had increasingly burgeoning aspirations to take Trillium more seriously and see if we can make it in to a bigger part of our lives. Over the past ~2 years, we have been busy preparing ourselves for the moments that are upon us now. Esther and I have never been people to limit ourselves to one major life event, so in addition to her building her own business, having our first child, and moving to a new place (that's suspiciously close to a nice place we'd love to be able to buy our own beers one day), we also signed a lease on a 2300SF space in Fort Point in January.
This is probably not particularly new news for those that have found us over on twitter and/or facebook. We've even given a few sneak peeks at the interior of the space, and shared our excitement about the first few shoots of (unofficial) BSA barley grass leaping from the Concord, MA spring soil. Of course, as the fall weather sinks in, we are reminded this all happened well before we had a good appreciation for just how long the 1st building application, community hearing, zoning variance hearing, first facade/design review, second facade/design review and 2nd building permit application processes were going to take--going on 10 months now!

Other than the need to rally some support (which has been truly humbling) for the community hearing, we've tried to stay pretty quiet here. Of course, we've been pretty busy preparing Trillium behind the scenes. Loads of test batches and recipe formulation work that left my laptop keyboard a bit lupulin stained from time to time.
Kevin, Kaity and I cranked out the bones of the website ...but we have held off launching it (until right...now!), because we've been waiting for our building permit from the city. Well, I'm sorry to say we don't have that piece of paper in our hot little hands as of today, but I'm confident we are pretty close.

That, plus I figure the 7mo+ of silence here has gone on for far too long to be fair to those that have been regular readers over the past few years. The good news is that its while we are retiring the homebrewing blog, it'll take up new life here.

We've been giving away so much beer, that 5-10 gallon batches brewed up in a condo kitchen with an even less powerful electric kitchen range just didn't make sense any more. I'm not really a gear head, but experiencing the slumbrew lab was fairly emasculating.

So, that brings us to this past weekend, where a yet-again humbling experience was had when we took our own Trillium Laboratories brewing set up for a test drive. We landed on the Blichmann top tier based system to crank out ~20 gallon batches at Greentown.

Brilliant, kind and inspiring group of people. Honest, too. As one of the engineers strolling by noted as I was struggling to slide Plate C in to Slot 48, "Oh, its like the Ikea equivalent for homebrewing, right?" Yes, complete with the 8 hour assembly time and day after embarrassingly sore hamstrings.

Anyhow, we needed to prepare a bit before the first brew day. One of the very generous greentown companies helped us design, build and dialed in the thermoelectric powered temperature control system for the conical fermenter. Some turbo yeast and about $20 worth of table sugar and continuous data logging made me very confident we would have the all too critical tight temperature control over our ferments.

In the preceding week, I had mentioned to a few friends that we were finally going to fire it up, and we had another humbling show of support. And so glad they did, because there was loads of trouble shooting to tackle that anyone should expect on the first run of any system, homebrew scale or otherwise.
Once we did fire up the burner to heat the strike water, things went amazingly smooth. So much so, that the group even took a few moments to indulge the brewer to drone on about the beers he brought to toast the group (a wild variant of the trillium saison, black currant aged cuvee de tetreault)
Really enjoyed the convenience and efficiency of some higher end equipment (triclamps instead of barbed fittings, counter flow chiller instead of immersion...but yeah, mostly the propane vs electric burner).
So, Esther, Luc and I raise a glass to Jason, Ross, Mitch, Heather, Sorin, Mike, Chris and everyone at Greentown for their generosity and enthusiastic participation. Really feeling the Innovation District love. Also feeling simultaneously guilty and jealous that you are now dealing with the distraction of 20 gallons of Fort Point fermenting away just steps (arm's reach for Ross!) from your workspace! Promise the first keg is all yours, guys.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Brewing sugar experiments: Part 2

EDIT 09Feb2012

For some more advanced thinking/experiments w/ DIY candi sugar on par with commercially produced stuff, check out the post on over at Ryan Brews.


Its been a bit tedious making all these sugars and only doing forced ferments with them...I really am kind of skittish to a entire batch to the experimental sugars, without knowing more. Though others report nice results, I needed a little more empirical data about fermentability.

The first round was like running in to a brick wall...none fermented at all with beer or bread yeasts. Ultimately, I attribute the lack of fermentability to the temps running too high, creating a very high percentage of caramel and maillard compounds.

I did save a bit of the stuff to see what would happen if I let the house bug blend run wild. Knowing how slowly they can work with anything but simpler sugars, I gave it 2.5 months to ferment out.
Sugar 1 (tartaric acid, 300F x 3) SG: 1.050 FG: 1.014 (71%AA)
Sugar 2 (tartaric acid, DME, 300F x 3) SG: 1.052 FG: 1.030 (41%AA)
Sugar 3 (Yeast Engergizer, 300F x 2) SG: 1.060 FG: 1.058 (3% AA)

...side note, did get some mold growth on Sugar 2, I would expect that drove down the FG a little more than the intended bugs alone would have on their own.

So, the data suggested that with more nitrogren in the cooked sugar, and resultant maillard compounds, results in reduced fermentability, even with the enzymatically superior wild bugs.
Before having these results, I decided to modify a single variable (temperature) to see if I could improve the fermentability, but retain the rich complex flavors found in the D2 syrup. Same quantities as Sugar 3 from the first round, but cooking steps reduced to the following:

B2, Sugar 1: 255F, 245F SG: 1.068 FG: 1.028 (57%)
B2, Sugar 2: 265F, 255F, 245F SG: 1.066 FG: 1.040 (38%)
Significant improvement in fermentability, but I also noticed that the flavor and aroma compounds didn't approach the levels of Sugar 3 from Batch 1. They were pretty similar to one another, actually, and somewhere between the amber and regular dark syrup from Dark Candi. Also noted, after about 1.5 weeks of storage, sugar crystals began to form in Sugar 1 (the more fermentable of the 2),
I did perform a control this time to clean up the results a little more (water + sugar + tartaric acid + just enough heat to dissolve the sugar). Cooled, diluted to 1.040. Fermented to 0.990 (126%AA).
I do have an as yet unfounded theory that the D2 (and perhaps the other darker syrups) are really just various combinations of some smaller percentage of very dark (thus, unfermentable) maillard syrup that's created from cooking unrefined beet sugars and a higher percentages of very lightly cooked inverted sugar (100% fermentable) to get the targeted flavor, color and fermentability profile.
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