Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ousted Special Bitter: tasting

Pulled the sampler bottle of the OSB tonight, the day after I return from the UK. I still have the romantic notion and taste of the John Courage, Fuller's London Pride and Greene King 'IPA' on cask lodged securely in my brain.

Side note... the Audley was recommended as a place to get some great pints kept on well maintained casks, and some traditional British fare. The pints delivered, and the fare did live up to the unfortunate reputation for English food. Perhaps I should have been more wary as the recommendation came from a co-worker who's idea of the finest food is steak and chips...and only steak and chips. From, well... pretty much anywhere.

Anyhow, tonight's homebrewed version whisked me back across the Atlantic in one tilt of the head. Left out of the fridge for 15 minutes before pouring. A frothy, fluffy 2 inch head forms after an aggressive pour down the middle. Ruby color, slight chill haze, getting more clear as the beer warms. The pour likely knocked a descent amount of carbonation out, and the restrained (for me) CO2 probably ended somewhere in the 1.8-2.0 neighborhood, likely a full 1.0 volume step above where you usually find cask conditioned ales, which suits my American palate just fine.
The wonderfully expressive Burton yeast backed up and complimented the bready malt sweetness in an earthy and satisfying way. This beer starts sweet and full. Wonderful mouthfeel, but not cloying or stomach filling. Just enough backing, balancing bitterness and some woodsy Willamette flavor and aroma. A touch of drying roast from the chocolate malt on the finish? Asks for another big, full mouth of the brew. This certainly has more going on the stuff I had on cask, essentially it just seemed like more...which is exactly how this beer was formulated.

Makes for a full, layered beer that would make for a great session with friends and family, solo style as a one-and-done at the pub, or yes, even paired up well with a big plate of steak and chips.

Bottom line, I'd be very proud to serve this to a Brit who is searching for a real ale in the states.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bumble, Batch 2

I had originally planned to have the three 'wedding beers' re-brewed and available for the holiday parties and gifts (alot of people have been asking for bottles), but unfortunately, I couldn't get to all three. I got a surprise day off on NYE, so I promptly made a trip to the LHBS, and grabbed some pils base malt, a vial of WLP400 then to the grocery store for some chamomile and fresh citrus. Chamomile as the 'secret spice' that makes wits pop was reinforced through pouring through some of of homebrew books, so despite my impression that chamomile tea kinda smells like dirt (not earthy...just like dirt) I figured I'd give it a go.

Since Spanish grown clementines are in season, I went with those over the unripe looking sweet navels. I chose correctly, as the zest was very aromatic and left an orange oil haze on the plate I zested on. Couldn't find the indian coriander though, had to go with the packet of Brewer's Garden stuff I already had...that change will have to wait until the next iteration.

I've found that last minute brew sessions can be pretty pricey, as compared to good ol' planning ahead.
  • The pils base malt was 3 times the price as buying in bulk through the Boston homebrew club.
  • There was only one selection of 100% chamomile tea at the grocery store...most are blends. $9.99 for .79 oz. You gotta be kidding me. I wish I knew of a local herb shop that sells bulk herbs, but I suspect that I could do a little better than ~$202/lb for those little flowers. Hmmm...lets see: YUP. Oh, but you might have to suffer with an ugly utilitarian plastic bag instead of the oh-so-nice aluminum tin and gimmicky tea bag fortified with paper tea pot support scaffolding.

A few other changes from the first iteration that hopefully will impact the beer in a positive way:
  • 1000ml yeast starter made on a stir plate vs. swirling periodically
  • Chamomile
  • mid 60F fermentation temp
  • Use of rice hulls in the sparge
  • Mid-primary addition of 2lbs of eatlocalhoney
The only item I can talk about now is the big impact of the 1lb of rice hulls on the sparge. It slowed a bit toward the end, but in general, the sparge went just as quickly as an all barley beer, which is a welcome departure from some of the snail-like-sparges in the past.

A few notes about this beer...the last batch of bumble was actually the only time Ive ever had true success with the witbier style. I'd say that the biggest/majority of problems I've had with brewing have actually been isolated to this one style, except for the terrible attenuation I had with my quad. I've been plagued by stuck sparges, hot ferments resulting in severe off flavors, strange astringency issues, and other problems that stemmed from less than optimal ( was bad) process and technique. As with most things with life, I think I've learned the most from those mistakes, as nothing is harder for the proud homebrewer than to declare defeat and dumping each bottle, one by one, down the drain. The initial sniffs from the first bubbles from the fermenter (wheaty/spicey/ fusels) are telling me that all is well in witbier world.

Bumble, batch 2

Type: All Grain

Date: 12/31/2009

Batch Size: 6.50 gal

Brewer: JC
Boil Size: 7.44 gal Asst Brewer:
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
8.0 oz Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 3.64 %
4 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 32.73 %
3 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 25.45 %
1 lbs Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM) Grain 7.27 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 7.27 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 7.27 %
4.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 1.82 %
1.00 oz Hallertauer, New Zealand [7.00 %] (60 min) Hops 18.5 IBU
1.00 oz Hallertauer, New Zealand [7.00 %] (30 min) Hops 15.8 IBU
1.00 oz Mt. Hood [5.10 %] (10 min) Hops 5.4 IBU
0.25 oz Chamomile (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.00 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.50 oz Tangerine Peel (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
6.50 gm Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
2 lbs Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 14.55 %
1 Pkgs Belgian Wit Ale (White Labs #WLP400) [Starter 1000 ml] Yeast-Wheat

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.055 SG

Measured Original Gravity: SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity: SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.49 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: %
Bitterness: 39.7 IBU Calories: cal/pint
Est Color: 6.0 SRM Color:

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 11.75 lb
Sparge Water: 2.83 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, Light Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
75 min Mash In Add 14.69 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F
10 min Mash Out Add 9.40 qt of water at 200.2 F 168.0 F

Frozen Yeast Banking: Fail

Attempt at reanimation of ~6month old witbier yeast...failed.
Tried 2 vials, second was added after first showed no signs of activity ~36hours, both had ~20mls of slurry.
No activity in ~72 hours, just stinky oxidized yeast slurry/wort.

Maybe wyeast 3944 is particularly frost sensitive... Maybe there were the purported killing thaw/freeze cycles...I'll try again w/ the 1056 samples, to see if those guys are still viable.

The differences between the sucess w/ the 1056 and failed 3944 (in order of perceived/wild guess of impact)
  • Duration of freeze before reanimation attempt
  • Strains
  • Volume of slurry in 50ml vial.
  • Generations
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