Friday, October 30, 2009

Scratch the Chardonnay

Also, I’ve got a Temptation influenced hybrid wine/wild ale in development. This beer will feature fresh chardonnay grapes from a hands-on harvest effort that will occur next month at Saltwater Farm in Stonington, CT.

The Chardonnay grapes have already been harvested and hauled off to the fermenter for processing, so tomorrow I’ll instead participate in the Cab Franc harvest at SWF. Such are the vagaries of New England weather and agriculture. Despite my initial disappointment to learn I missed the Chardonnay, this is actually a great surprise, as I thought I had missed the harvest entirely.

But, given the late audible, I put out the call for help/feedback on the BA homebrewing forum to help with recipe and process formulation. Its copied and pasted below for my ease in reference at a later time.

image credit:

Cab franc grapes

While there are now several commercial examples of beers aged in wine barrels, it is not often that you see a beer actually fermented with grapes (save for a few examples like the bruery's white zin, which is actually a blend of ale fermented w/ zinfandel grapes + lambic).

...anyway, I'm going to saltwater farm vineyard in connecticut to assist in the harvest tomorrow, and we'll toil away on the cabernet franc vines. Originally I had hoped to be able to get some chardonnay grapes to have a go at a style similar to russian river's temptation...but those were plucked while I was out of the country.

their cab franc (unblended) is has a mellow softness to it, with prominent earth and subtle spice, and an even but firm and balancing fruitiness to it. Just enough tannic dryness to snap it clean at the end. Of course there will be year to year variation, but this is what I'm getting from their 2007 bottles. It was aged in stainless. could maybe benefit from some very subtle french oak character.

I would like to showcase the grapes...still thinking of a belgian style base beer, but I really don't want any kind of roasted grains to get in the way of the grapes.

pilsner base, caravienne, flaked wheat, (no sugars, no spicing), OG ~1.070.
wyeast 3944
rack on to ~5-8 lbs of cab franc, picked through + de-stemmed, quick spin through the food processor to break open the fruit. Use large 7.9 gallon fermentor to allow ease in punching down the cap. not planning any acid blend or tannin additions.

wondering if it would be entirely necessary to sulfite the grape must w/ campden before racking the beer on to it. or will I/can I get a suitable/interesting wild character from wild yeast on the grape skins? I understand a lot of wineries do not add yeast to their must, they simply will allow the wild yeasts to ferment their wine out. I'll ask what they did with their 2007 cab franc.

Primarily looking for anyone's practical experience with either wine grapes in a beer or simply wine making.

oh, and just enough IBUs, around 25ish,
subtle spicy flavor + aroma hops. EKG to bitter, hallertauer, saaz aroma/flavor

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kevin's Lemon: Label brainstorm

Well, my sleep circadian rhythm is totally out of whack due to a recent return from a trip to the Netherlands.

So, instead of just lying there awake, in anticipation of busting out Kevin's Lemon in earnest at Kevin's Friday night, I brainstormed a bit on a possible quick non graphic designer software composed label. I want it to be a wide band that sits low on the champagne style bottles, nearly full wrap. maybe I'd get ~3 labels out of the 8.5x11 paper.

I'd use some natural paper (left over from various crafts for the wedding). It has a nice subtle cross hatch texture to it. I'd cut it with a worn out straight edge paper cutter to leave natural/rough edges (enhanced by the cotton in the paper, which is actually resume paper) on the top and bottom. Use double sided tape to stick to the bottles.

Still playing around with the fonts, whether to include the image, use color...
... or possibly go grayscale with it, or almost completely fade it out, and scale it up, then throw it in to the background.

Hmmm, I should go to bed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teach a man to brew...

When people show an interest in beer/brewing, I will sometimes offer to them to join me for a brew session, as I'm always happy to show someone the process and possibly help inspire a like-minded person to this passion of mine.

I (re)met such a guy last week: Dan V, a friend of my sister Chelynn from Zon's (he is now co-owner of VeeVee in Jamaica Plain) at the Gallia Belgica dinner last week at Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. (that has to be the most densely peppered hotlinked sentence in my blog so far...)

My sister mentioned him from her days at Zon's, as someone who had the same level of interest in craft beer as me, so its no real surprise that we happened to be at this beer dinner on the same night. Shortly after the dinner, he saw my blog, and mentioned how'd always been interested in giving homebrewing a shot.


He's coming over tonight to brew an american ale that straddles the line style lines between an american pale ale and an IPA. Planning to tear in to the glut of American hops I just received from through the latest worts group buy. I'm going to hop burst the hell of this thing with 2 oz of hops at 10 min and another at flameout. She'll also get 2oz of dry hops as well.

I'm not sure if I should up the base grain (using Scottish Golden Promise) to push the expected abv in to the 6% range
...that'll likely be a gametime decision, which usually involve me shrugging my shoulders, saying, 'eh, why not...' and tossing in more grain ...'just in case'.

Going to collect the first 2 quarts of first runnings and caramelize a bit to add a little richness and complexities (on top of the crystal 60) to balance what I expect will be a very hoppy beer.

I smacked a pack of the american workhorse Wyeast 1056 last night, and made a 1 gallon starter. I'll pitch the majority of the yeast tonight, and throw some fresh wort on top of the remaining yeast culture to build stock for my fledgling frozen yeast bank.

Type: All Grain

Date: 10/21/2009

Batch Size: 5.00 gal

Brewer: JC
Boil Size: 5.72 gal Asst Brewer: Dan V
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: My Equipment
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00
Taste Notes:


Amount Item Type % or IBU
11 lbs Golden Promise (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) Grain 91.67 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4.17 %
8.0 oz Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 4.17 %
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (Dry Hop 10 days) Hops -
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (Dry Hop 10 days) Hops -
0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (Dry Hop 10 days) Hops -
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 23.6 IBU
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops -
0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (10 min) Hops 6.1 IBU
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (10 min) Hops 7.9 IBU
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (10 min) Hops 5.2 IBU
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (10 min) Hops 8.5 IBU
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1 Pkgs US-05 Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.060 SG

Measured Original Gravity:
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SG Measured Final Gravity:
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.59 % Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 51.3 IBU Calories:
Est Color: 8.6 SRM Color:

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body Total Grain Weight: 12.00 lb
Sparge Water: 1.31 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Medium Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 15.00 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F
10 min Mash Out Add 8.40 qt of water at 196.6 F 168.0


Collect 2 quarts of first runnigs, reduce/caramelizing sugars for 30 minutes, return to boil.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New post series: Sneak Peek 3

How many sneak peeks can one get away with before it becomes gauche to not just put up some substance?

I figure I'm stretch this out for at least another one (ok, maybe two more. c'mon, I'm posting videos!)

password: mikesbees

eatlocalhoney_shrinkwrap from JCTetreault on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Russian Imperial Stout-2009

Jason and I whipped through a semi-impromptu brewday yesterday. We are focusing on brewing RIS' that attempt to simplify and improve upon prior attempts, dialing in the recipe and techniques that will hopefully generate bottles that we feel compelled to paradoxically both hoard from and shove in to the hands of fellow beer nerds.

Cutting out the maltodextrin, lactose, flaked barley and carapils. Going to get the sweetness/mouthfeel by tweaking other aspects of the recipe:
Increasing the oats and not using debittered black patent this time. More high SRM grain. Using Special B to compliment the D2. Adding some crystal80 to provide a rounder caramel/ sweetness flavor profile. Using a larger bittering charge for a higher IBU, as this was lacking a bit in the last iteration, and I suspect will continue to fall too far in to the background over the years. Oh, and did all grain vs. partial mash.

Our goals for this beer: beefy viscous mouth-coating body that would easily satisfy with a ~6 ounce pour. Rich french roasty/espresso coffee with malty background of dark stewed fruits, complimented with (an american medium toasted oak cubes provided) vanilla smoothness. Thinking about adding espresso beans in the secondary with the oak. Want this to be drinking great at 1 year, even better at 2-5 years.

Used a whopping 2 3/4 lbs of steel cut oats that had been slowly cooked for 1.5 hours to proper gelatinize the starches. Allowed to cool to ~145, so as to not throw off the mash temp too wildly.

I definitely overextended the proper capacity of the 10 gallon mash tun, and got a super slow trickle out of the tun after recirculating about 1 gallon of wort. Had to remove some of the grain, add in about 2 gallons of 180F sparge water, stir, stir, stir...finally got her to open up and start flowing, but by then, I suspect that only a portion/one side of the bazooka tube was actually cleared. Once the good flow was established, and the levels dropped back down enough in the mash tun, I then added the grain back. So, not an ideal sparge, at all. Took over an hour.
Seems that the oatmeal can turn to absolute glue when the temperatures run lower than 150F.

I will stick to 5 gallon batch of higher gravity brewing with my 10 gallon tun from now on.

Given the intention of extended aging, we made only bittering additions with relatively high alpha hops from the stash in my freezer for the ~90 minute boil. Where I don't think anyone would have any qualms with the simcoe or amarillo additions, I hope hope hope that the anecdotally resilient sorachi ace lemon-y aroma/flavor will have boiled off as it really doesn't have a place in a RIS.

The Nottingham yeast has served me well in the past with the wedding oatmeal stout and hopefully will allow the malt and complimentary bitterness to stand in the foreground, provide proper and full attenuation. Used two 11 gram packets in 7.25 gallons of collected wort. The wort was chilled down to 72F, and then continued to cool to 68F in a cooling water bath overnight. We will do a mid-primary fermentation addition of the D2 (boiled in 2 quarts of water to sanitize, then cooled) in the hope that this will help assure attenuation.

Imperial Stout

Type: All Grain

Date: 10/12/2009

Batch Size: 7.50 gal

Brewer: JC
Boil Size: 9.03 gal Asst Brewer: Jason
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: My Equipment


Amount Item Type % or IBU
20 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 66.12 %
2 lbs 12.0 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 9.09 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz D2 Belgian Syrup (200.0 SRM) Grain 4.96 %
1 lbs Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 3.31 %
1 lbs Black Barley (Stout) (500.0 SRM) Grain 3.31 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 3.31 %
1 lbs Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 3.31 %
1 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt (400.0 SRM) Grain 3.31 %
1 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 3.31 %
2.00 oz Sorachi ace [12.30 %] (90 min) Hops 38.4 IBU
1.50 oz Simcoe [12.90 %] (90 min) Hops 33.5 IBU
4.00 oz Amarillo Gold [9.30 %] (90 min) Hops 64.5 IBU

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