Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Harpale; Pale Ale Tasting Notes

Harpale Ale; Wyeast 1272 version

I was not sure quite how to face this beer.  I almost felt guilty for not paying as much attention to him as I did his split batch twin I dumped brettanomyces in.  This beer was really born into life as a control for the experiment I was doing in this batch to test out a yeast strain I had yet to use.  Maybe it is the new parent side of me coming out but I wish I would have given this beer a bit more attention during secondary fermentation.  Maybe he would have turned out to be a better finished beer than he did.

In all seriousness though, I do enjoy this beer.  There are a couple things I would do differently if I were to brew this entire 10 gallon batch again but I think I learned a lot of valuable lessons during this process.  Namely that I need to gain better control over my controls if I am to do something similar to this again.  To help with that I would likely do a 6 gallon split batch into two three gallon carboys instead of a big 11.5/12 gallon batch.

Look: This beer, much like it's brett counter part, is a bit higher on the SRM scale than what I was going for.  Beer pours a copper color with some lighter hues around the sides.  Beer is also pretty clear as this flocculates pretty well.  Good carbonation with a thick white head that quickly dissipates and leaves a nice thing white head throughout the duration of the glass. Minimal lacing.  I like the look of this beer.

The Nose: Nose is predominately simcoe when it pours mixed in with some light bitterness.  I was expecting and would like to have it be mostly Simcoe on the nose.  I have had good luck in the past with only an ounce for 24 hours or so and getting good results.  As the beer warms I get an ever so distant hint of what I think may be butterscotch (bummer).  I haven't been able to get that confirmed with anyone else who has tasted the beer, but then again, I also think the fermentation temp spiked a bit high during the final days of secondary.  Overall, when you put your nose in there you get Simcoe right up front, that fades a bit to some maltiness that is balanced out when you sip it.

Taste: Nice bitterness to balance out the malt. Finishes pretty dry.  Still has a nice malt body. Also get that nice citrus in the cheeks from the Amarillo.  Taste compliments the nose quite well.

Mouthfeel: Balanced. Dry but not so much so that you lose the body from the malt.  I think it may be a bit more swayed toward the malt body as I sip it.

Thoughts on moving forward: Good beer.  I am ok giving it to my friends and being excited to talk about it.  Would I enter it into a  It is easy drinking, not too high in ABV, and has a pleasant nose so that I will be drinking the bottles till they are gone as my daily after work beer. Very refreshing on the back porch as we watch the seasons change up here in Vermont.  Very nice indeed.  In moving forward I would like to up the late addition hops in weight to give it a bit more umph.  I could also likely accomplish this by upping the dry hop amount as well.  Next time, I'd give it as much as three ounces of Simcoe.  I am excited about this beer but wish I had ramped it up a bit on a couple fronts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harpale; Brett Brux Trois Tasting Notes

Harpale Ale; White labs 644; Brettanomyces Bruxellenis Trois Version

I haven't made a beer in a long time that I have been this excited to drink, share, and write about.  The bulk of the work came long before brew day.  I knew that I had wanted to brew a 100% brett fermented beer but did not know exactly which strain to use.  I had done some great secondary brett projects (Saison De Posey is a good example) in the past with WLP645 and some other East Coast Yeast  strains but I wasn't sure I wanted to do something in primary with those; and in the case of ECY, getting a hold of it up until recently was too difficult to plan around.

I have been brewing this recipe for quite some time as a good ol fashioned stand by that pleases me, my friends, and is relatively inexpensive to make and can be put together using mostly the bulk malts I keep around the house.  As the hops are usually the stand out in this recipe I knew I could back those back a bit and play with them in order to best compliment the hops.

There are a couple things that I would change about this beer the next time I brew it but, overall, I am very happy with this beer.

Appearance: The beer pours a deep copper color.  In the sunshine or up to a light you notice it is lighter and has more marmalade around the outer edges.  Beer pours hazy.  I imagine that is due to the brett as its' counter part is quite clear.  Big white head that stands tall but dissipates fairly quickly and is left with a bit of lacing and a thin white head that stays as the beer drinks.
I also would like this beer be a tad lighter.  It is still in the ballpark of where it should be for a Pale Ale but my preference is the lower end of the color scale for this style.

The Nose: This is where the beer really appeals to me.  The nose really hits you with tropical fruit with mango, a bit of pineapple, and peachyness comes through.  The hops really play into this and I am not sure exactly what percentage of the smell is what.  My wife gets a strong sense of papaya in the nose and ripe peaches.  She also feels a bit of coriander is there. There is also some nice spicy brett finish in the back end of the nose which would play nicely with a variety of hops.  I do not really get any/much malt on the nose.  I think I can pick it up as the beer warms but I may be wrong there.

Taste: The first thing I pick up is a slight brett tang in the cheeks that is very light and quickly takes second stage to the fruit you pick up in the nose.  It is nicely balanced though and one does not over power the other.  The back end is warm with a bit of alcohol, has hints of bitterness, and a tad of maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Dry. Not really any pucker that can come with some bretts.  The carbonation is great and isn't too effervescent.

Thoughts about moving forward:
This beer is really fun to drink.  It is complex enough to make you take a sip, swirl the glass, take another sip, and then smell it some more to get to the "bottom of it."  However, it isn't too complex that you can't drink a few in a row.  In moving forward, I think I would like to try this yeast with a less hoppy beer like a kolsch to get a really good idea of what this yeast can do.  As mentioned before, I would like to this beer be a tad lighter for my next go round with it.

Fletcher; Sour Brown

Fletcher; A Sour Brown

Granite bird bath & gear bowl
Last weekend was a busy weekend for me in terms of brewing.  I was able to bottle up a Pale Ale experiment I did with a couple different strains of yeast; both regular brewers yeast and Brettanomyces.  This was the clean version of Harpale Ale. I also brewed another Pale Ale for a competition here in New England this coming October.  Wish me luck.  Both the tasting notes from the Harpale Ale and the write up from the other brew day will be write ups this week.

This was also a big weekend for me in that my son, Harper William Parcell, was born shortly after this brew day was completed.  Talk about close timing.  He was 2 months early and is doing very well.  This beer will be special in that I will be drinking one every year on his birthday, starting with his 2nd birthday, with his mother till they are gone.  That will give it a couple of years relaxing in the carboy until bottling.  I was planning on doing this even before he came out shortly after pitching they yeast but now it seems more appropriate than ever.

As of late, I realized a while back, I have been consistently stepping out of my comfort zone with lots of things.  I got married about a year ago, started my family up, and am trying new things with brewing that could easily go wrong and negate a lot of hard work.  I really like the invigoration that it has caused me.  I haven't felt so motivated to research, sample, and try new things since I began piecing together information from lots of sources to begin all grain brewing some number of years ago.
Little sour treat for brew day

This journey into wild/sour beers, aging, oak, and other such things has been great.  I have met lots of new people who are just as passionate about the subject as me and who love to share information and experiences.  They are also helping me out by tasting my beers and providing me with great constructive feedback and criticism when necessary.  The home brew community is a wonderful place.

P.S. The beer is named Fletcher after Fletcher Allen Children's Hospital, the place where he was born and is still hanging out until he is ready to come home.  Those folks there are truly amazing, caring, calm, and wonderful people.

Recipe, Notes, & Details

·         7 lbs German Pilsner
·         .5 lbs Flaked Maize
·         .75 lbsCaramunich
·         .75 lbsSpecial B
·         .25 Black Malt

·         152 for 60 min

·         75 min

·         1 oz Tradition at 75 min

Yeast & Adjuncts:
·         Primary Fermentation done with White Labs 001, no starter.
·         Added corn sugar to boost up gravity before ending boil
·         Secondary: vial of ECY01, 2 ounce medium toast oak that have been soaking in Pinot Noir for a few months, and the Pinot Noir.

·         Pre Boil: 1.035
·         Original Gravity: 1.042
·         Collected 6.5 gallons pre boil

·         30 seconds pure oxygen.

8/18/2012-  Brew day went fairly smoothly.  Very windy so the flame blew out a couple of times.  Caused the boil to be longer than expected, although actual time the wort was boiling was 75 minutes. 

My old road sign "wind screen"
Had to add corn sugar (not sure how much) to get gravity up to where I wanted it during the last 1o minutes or so of the boil.  I would dump some in and take a refractometer reading until it got where I needed it to be.

8/28/2012- Fermentation took off sometime after midnight on brew day.  Not sure when.  Has been fermenting well at about 69 degrees since then.  As soon as gravity tells me it is done, I'll be transferring to secondary and pitching the bugs, oak, and wine.

9/1/12- Racked to secondary. Gravity at 1.008.  Beer is beautiful.  Light brown with some hints of burgundy around the edges.  This beer is surprisingly clear right now considering the sacch yeast wasn't completely flocculated out.  The aroma was very malty.  You could really pick out the black malt and pils.  I already adore this beer and it has inspired me to take another go at a brown ale.  It has been about 2 years since my last brown ale brew.  Whew.  There is no aroma of hops when you get your nose in here but you can definitely taste the bitterness and how it balances out the malt character/body.
Pitched starter of ECY01 BugFarm into secondary as well.  I would estimate I pitched two vials full...not including the beer...that is just the yeast slurry.

9/5/2012- Racked 3lbs 10 ounces of cherries and 2 oz medium toast oak chips that had been soaking in some nice Pinot Noir (Pinot pitched too; about 12 oz).  Should be interesting.
Pellicle had already been forming from the ECY01 I pitched 4 days ago.  Not much head space left in the carboy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Perdue; Spelt Saison

Spelt Saison

This summer has been pretty warm here in Vermont.  This has certainly effected my brewing in that I do not brew less beer but brew more of a certain variety of beer.  This summer has been the summer of saisons.  I have brewed 5 saisons since April.  When I write that down it seems slightly outrageous b/c not too many of my friends like saisons enough to have a few every night or so. I suppose that means I am drinking a lot of saisons in addition to brewing a lot of saisons.  That, I like.

It is something about being out in the yard and working in the garden that really makes me feel proud to drink a saison.  Not only do I jokingly tell my wife that I am earning it by working so hard but I am getting in touch with history by drinking it while I toil away in the sun and dirt.  Quite frankly, I think I am playing a major part in the historical preservation of how and when a saison can be enjoyed.  So there, guilt is no longer an issue.

Another reason I have been brewing so many saisons is that they are so fun to play with.  I have been experimenting with a couple variables this year that I haven’t before.  First and foremost I have been adding less spices, zests, and such to my boils and focusing on letting the natural flavors of the yeast shine through.  I have also been playing with dandelion additions in the mash and boil as well as new yeasts.  I was lucky enough to pick up multiple East Coast Yeast saison strains from Love2Brew.  I acquired 3 bottles of ECY08 Saison Brasserie Blend and a couple of ECY03 Farmhouse Brett Blends.  Being a member of the Malt of the Month Club through Valley Malt also keeps me supplied with various specialty offerings.  My first pick up included some lightly malted spelt and some maybe 40-60 lovibond malted spelt. 

Todd Haug from Surly Brewing said once that they don’t brew to style very often but their Cynic Saison is the only beer that really fits into a style… “but that is great because saison is one of the most open and variable styles.” And one of the reasons I love saisons so much is that they are always different.  Different spices, different hop aromas, different SRMs, and almost always brewed with something fun and interesting added to the boil.  The consistent piece about them that always get me excited is that effervescence they have in the mouth feel.  I still remember the first time I had Saison DuPont…it was the beer that tipped me over the edge with Belgian beers.  I just did not understand them before then.  So with that being said, I always like to try something new when I brew a saison.

This brew was pretty mild in experimentation so I could really get a sense of what the ECY08 could do for more adventurous saison brew days.  I was also interested to see what the spelt would so I kept the rest of the grist pretty simple.

Recipe, Notes, & Details:

·         9 lbs of Belgian Pils
·         Approx 1 lb of very lightly malted spelt
·         Aprrox 1lb of crystal spelt (40ish based on outcome of beer)

·         Overshot my mash in temp. Mashed at 150 for 60 min.

·         60 min

·         .25 oz Stryian Golding @ First Wort Hop
·         1 oz Columbus @ 60
·         1.75 oz Stryian Golding during chill, added @ 170 F

Yeasts & adjuncts:
·         East Coast Yeast ECY08 Saison Brasserie Blend.  Super fresh so starter took off in a hurry
·         Pitched at 69 F
·         OG 1.048
·         FG 1.008
·         Attenuation: 80%

·         Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.036 wort

Aerated with Oxygen for 45/60 seconds

6/16/2012- Gravity at 1.048.  Explosive fermentation within a couple of hours.  Had to add blow off system and quickly filled the growler with blow off and had to another.  Holy smokes. Seemed to be lots of protein moving around in there from the spelt? Color is much more creamy than I have seen before.  I imagine this is due to the spelt?

6/20/2012- Gravity at 1.010/1.011.  Deep sulphory smell.  We hay, wet grass.  Thick and dank smell.  No brett in this one but according to Al this strain produces those smells when in the initial stages of fermenting, much like a lager strain.

6/26/2012- Gravity 1.009/1.010.  Previous aromas are gone.  Starting to flocculate some so the color is becoming more of the typical saison yellowish/orange. The color was very creamy before and during fermentation settled down so I was wondering if the spelt really had that much to do with it.  Sample was dry tasting and a bit peppery; more so than before. Has some tartness to it.  Aroma is that of ripe fruit, mango, peaches.

7/2/2012- Gravity 1.009. Mango aroma. Bit of pepper in there too. Keeping in primary until flocculation clears it up a bit.

7/12/2012- Gravity 1.008.  Cooler temps helped to flocculate this bad boy out.  While it still isn’t as clear as I’d like it, it is much better than before.  Color is also where I expected it to be now with it becoming more yellow.  Transferred to secondary.

7/25/2012- Kegged and purged with Co2. Has developed into a bit more pronounced spice in the nose and taste.  I wonder if that is from the spelt or the yeast.  Also has some very mild warm alcohol notes in the aroma.  Has also developed and refined the mango/peach notes from before.
Won’t be hooking this up to gas and carbing for a while as fridge is broken and gas is almost out.  When it rains it pours.

Full tasting notes will be updated once the beer is fully carbonated and ready to rock.

10/7/2012-  Took second place in Category 16 (Sub cat E; Belgian Specialty) Belgian and French Ales in Southern New England Regional homebrew competition.