Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bretty Claus & The Elf

Bretty Claus & The Elf

For my first blog, I would like to take y'all back in time to a brew day a couple months ago.  This particular brew day has taken me on the fun journey into the world of aging beers and Brettanomyces:

My wife and I are having a baby boy this October.  To say that this will alter our lives in ways we cannot even begin to imagine is certainly an understatement.  Some may think of this as scary, others may think of it as wonderful, and some may go running into the hills.  Me, I like to ponder and plan how to organize my brewing around it.

I remember the night that we found out we were pregnant.  It was a very crisp, cold, and still night in Vermont.  I was drinking a Lambic.  As they news of the pregnancy settled and the tears of joy dried up I came back to my Lambic and began thinking that this was surely a sign to begin making sour beers and experimenting with aging, oak, Brettanomyces, split batches, and the whole works.  My wife, and fellow foodie and beer nerd, was now on hiatus from libations and would need something waiting for her when she emerged on the other end of the pregnancy.  By the time my favorite tulip glass was empty I had determined, quite mater of factly, that I was doing this for her.  Or me.  It is still debatable I suppose.

When brewing beer, generally, I tend to think about what I want to drink and what had been inspiring me at my local watering hole lately.  This time around I forced myself out of that box and began thinking about when I would be drinking this beer and which beer would fit with that particular time.  I had a few things in mind for this beer before it even had a style, I knew that I wanted it A.) To be BIG, B.) To be as inky black as possible, C.) To try a parti-gyle for the first time, D.) To be consumed around Christmas, and E.) To be an experiment with oak chips, homemade Virginia rye whiskey, and Brettanomyces Claussenii.

When the dust settled I decided to brew up a big burly Porter that would turn into two very different beers.  The first runnings, aptly named Bretty Claus, would be what I would put most of my attention and research to and the second runnings, The Elf, would be a great session beer I would keg up and enjoy with friends fairly quickly.

Recipe, Details, & Notes:

Brewed 4/21/2012.  Brewed solo as wife was in Portland at Coffee Conference and brewing partner had to bail last minute for other important non beer related matters.
Rahr 2 Row: 19 lbs
English Choco Malt: 3 lbs
Fawcett Black Malt: 1 lb
Fawcett Dark Crystal 1: 1lb

 Mash and Boil Details:
Bretty Claus:
·         152 F for 60 min Sacch Rest
·         168 F 15 min Mash Out
·         Collected 9ish gallons of 1.072 wort
·         60 min boil
·         Aerated heavily for 45 seconds with oxygen

·         153 F for 45 minutes (while the Bretty Claus boiled)
·         Collected 5.75 gallons of wort.  Collected into kettle and let sit covered for remainder of Bretty Claus boil; only have one burner).
·         60 minute boil
·         No data on pre boil gravity
·         Solid shaking before pitching yeast

Yeast & Adjuncts:
Bretty Claus:
·         Primary: 1.5 liters Wyeast 1056 ( Or another neutral yeast strain such as White Labs 001) starter into each carboy.  Starter was going quite aggressively and didn't want to cold crash it and decant in case the extra volume was needed.
·         4/27/12: Racked to secondary and pitched vial of WLP 644 Brettanomyces Claussenii
·         4/27/12: 2 oz French Medium Toast Oak Cubes that had been soaking in Rye moonshine for a couple months; on whim added the liquid as well. 
·         6/7/12: Dregs from 3 Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura dregs.
   6/25/12: Dregs from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan White & Artisan Golden

·The Elf:
·         Wyeast 1332

Bretty Claus
·         1 oz Summit @ 60
·         1 oz Fuggles @ 30

The Elf
·         1 oz Simcoe @ 60
·         1 oz Columbus @ 15
·         1.5 oz Simcoe dry hop in keg for 24 hrs

Original Gravity:
1.091 for Bretty Claus
1.036 for the Elf

Final Gravity:
Bretty Claus: Anticipated 1.008
The Elf: 1.009


Bretty Claus
·         4/21/12- super inky black…blocked out the sun at pre boil tasting
o   Very aggressive and rapid fermentation
·         4/24/12- Gravity at 1.022
·         4/27/12- Combined into single carboy; gravity 1.017
o   Added adjuncts and pitched Brett
o   Very alcoholic and roasty.  Dry.  Afterburn of alcohol.  Coffee.  Reminded me of fresh roasted whole coffee beans.
·         6/30/12- Pellicle and secondary fermentation began ramping up
·         7/18/12- Dominant alcohol burn and taste gone!  Very funky, tart, and beginning to pick up some sourness.  Only the faintest hint of coffee/roast.  Gravity: 1.010.  Picked up the JP Obscura aroma for sure.

8/6/2012- Added dregs of Russian River Consecration

   9/1/2012- Had a bit of ECY01 BugFarm slurry leftover from pitching into my Sour Brown (Fletcher).  Dumped it right on in there.

The Elf
·         4/26/12- Racked to secondary; Gravity 1.008
o   Delightful.  Much darker than anticipated.  Almost inky black but when held to light almost tobacco colored.  Beautiful.  Hints of roastyness, but screams coffee.
o   Made tinctures to determine if should dry hop in keg with coffee or Simcoe.  Made decision to dry hop in keg with Simcoe.  Lucky enough to score the Simcoe from Matty O over at Fiddle Head Brewery in Shelburne, Vermont.
·         5/8/12- Kegged with Simcoe for 24 hours. Gravity 1.008
·         5/15/12- Wonderful beer.  Simcoe came through and blended with the now more subdued coffee notes.  Beautiful very lightly and thin tan head.  Almost an egg nog color to it.  Taste is much heavier on the tongue than expected for such a small beer. This beer went very fast.

More to come on the Bretty Claus as it develops.  I do not plan on touching it again until Thanksgiving.  From there I will decide how to proceed; whether that be more aging or bottling in the smaller 375 ml corkable bottles and then aging for a bit longer.  Here’s to having a baby boy this fall and a big oak aged Imperial Porter this winter!  Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment