Monday, September 19, 2016

Sour Beer

I like sour beers.  There, I said it.

As a bit of side note, I had a chat on Facebook recently with Phil, the kind gent with whom I collaborated with for the EverLong IPS (still have a few bottles left).  Our discussion centered around requirements for boil times, as I'd been doing some reading recently and wasn't sure I was fully understanding everything I was reading.  The end result is that I did (understand, that is), and I'll be making a move to shorter boil times. As I'm not trying to get a lot of bitterness from the hops (even when I brewing an IPA), and using DME, I don't need to worry so much about having to boil off dimethyl sulfide (DMS).

Okay, so back to the sour beers.  I reached out to Jake (of Crooked Run Brewing), who has been producing some fantastic sour beers.  I had his gose a bit ago, and not only enjoyed the flavor, but enjoyed the conversation with my wife as she marveled at a "0 IBU" beer.  Recently, I enjoyed the Nepotism, a sour beer made with peaches that was quite delicious and very enjoyable (I also enjoyed the peach-habanero IPA, as well...).

From the good folks at Crooked Run Brewing:

I would recommend using Goodbelly probiotic drink, available at Whole Foods and Wegmans. You don’t need to make a starter on that scale, just use one or two shots of Goodbelly. It contains pure lactobacillus plantarum. It works best at 85-95 degrees. You should achieve a PH of between 3.2-3.4 in 48 hours. We typically get to our target PH in less than 24 hours.

According to GoodBelly, I can get the StraightShot product (unflavored) at a local WholeFoods.  I visited the Whole Foods in Fairfax recently, and while they had a number of GoodBelly SuperShots in different flavors, they didn't have any unflavored.  According to one source on the Milk The Funk wiki, the mango flavor might turn out okay.  However, I made a trip to Leesburg and stopped at the WholeFoods in Ashburn, and found the StraightShot product, and purchased a couple of 4-packs (they were on sale).

Okay, so as a small batch brewer, I'm thinking, how do I get the temperature up and maintain it consistently over, say, 2 days?  Well, Northern Brewer has a good option for a heating mat.

Brew Day: 19 Sept 2016

Earlier in the day, set out (2) GoodBelly StraightShot shots to reach room temperature, and start the heating mat warming.

Partial Mash:
14 oz white wheat
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

After the boil is complete, cool the wort to approx: 100 deg F (it will cool further during transfer).  Transfer the wort to a sanitized fermenter, leaving room for the bacteria.  Add (2) StraightShot shots, transfer to heating mat.  Let the wort remain on the heating mat (monitoring regularly) for 48 hrs.

The image to the left shows the wort and lacto on the heating mat, where it will remain for at least 48 hrs.  I'm letting it set that long based on information provided by others regarding the time it takes for this to work.  I don't have the necessary equipment at the moment to check the pH on a regular basis, but to be honest, for the batch size, I'm not sure that I really need to do so.

Phase 2, 22 Sept:
This is actually kicking off a bit later than I would have liked.  I wanted to move on to this phase after just 48 hrs, but due to scheduling, it got pushed off to today.  Something I did notice that I wanted to document is that after sitting on the heating mat, the particulates in the wort settled considerably, and the wort was actually pretty clear.  However, agitation in transport, as well as returning the wort to the brew kettle disturbed some of that particulate matter.  I'm sure that it will settle out again, though.

I took the wort off of the heating mat, and into the kitchen.  As I poured the wort out of the fermenter into the kettle, I noticed that it smelled like warm apple juice...that's the best description I could come up with.  As I was heating the wort to boiling, I noticed that it continued to smell the same way.

I boiled the wort for 20 min, adding 4 g of Glacier hops (AA: 5%) halfway through the boil.

Once the boil was complete, I cooled the wort and pitch the yeast  (Safale US-05) as per usual.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Bottled today with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got two 22 oz bottles and 7 regular bottles.  Tasted the beer before adding it to the priming sugar, got some sour!

Addendum, 18 Oct: Chilled and tried one tonight.  Wow!  Pours with a light yellow/straw color, a bit hazy as you'd expect from the wheat malt.  Almost no head, but decent carbonation.  Very minimal lacing.  The important thing is that the flavor is definitely sour, not funky or cheesy.  Good body, light, drinkable beer.  Definitely a success for a first run at a sour beer, many thanks to Jake at Crooked Run for the tips.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hop Bomb

I should call this one my "dregs IPA", as the partial mash is made up of a bunch of small portions of different malts I had sitting around.  For example, I'd get a pound of Munich for a recipe and only use 10 oz, or I'd have some other malt sitting around.  It turns out that when I combined the small portions, I had a pound of malt, so I just added 2 oz of CaraPils to that and now I have a partial mash ready to go!  Admittedly, it's a bit more malt than I usually use, but this time, I'm going to hit the hop stand with a pretty massive amount of hops (for the batch size).  And to do that, I decided to use up the rest of the LemonDrop hops I had from the EverLong IPS I brewed a bit ago (which is still very good, by the way).

Brew Day: 18 Sept 2016

Partial Mash:
6 oz Munich
4.5 oz Vienna
3.5 oz red wheat
2 oz 2-row
2 oz CaraPils

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 20 min)
4 oz table sugar (@ 20 min)

14 g LemonDrop (AA: 4.4%, @ 20 min)
1.5 oz LemonDrop (10 min hop stand @ flameout)
14 g LemonDrop (dry hop)

Yeast: Danstar Belle Saison + 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

Addendum, 30 Sept: Dry hopped today, with 14 g LemonDrop hops.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Bottled today with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  I got 8 good bottles and one partial fill out of it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Melon Hops

I haven't brewed in a while and I need to get back to it.  That said, I've got some melon hops I want to try, given that they're described as imparting melon and strawberry.  This time, however, I'm going to try a couple of different things.  First off, I'm reducing the boil time, and as such also reducing the amount of water I add to the brew kettle to get things going.  Second, I'm going to try a bit more aggressive to the hopping, using a hop stand.  Actually, this second part really isn't new, as its very similar to what I did with the Summer hops, and boy did that ever turn out good!

Brew Day: 16 Sept 2016

Partial Mash:
14 oz 2-row
2 oz CaraPils

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

7 g HBC-438 (AA: 15.7%, @ 20 min; bittering)
1.5 oz Huell Melon hops (AA: 4.5%, 10 min "hop stand"/steep, @ flameout)
14 g Huell Melon (dry hop)

Yeast: Safale US-05 + 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

*I followed all of my usual processes for partial mashing, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 28 Sept: Dry hopped the beer today with 14 g Huell Melon hops.  Will bottle on Fri.

Addendum, 30 Sept: Bottled today with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles and 1 generous partial fill.  I'm really looking forward to trying this one in a couple of weeks.

Addendum, 14 Oct: Tried my first one tonight...very good.  Pours with a full, pillowy head, lots of lacing (think Bell's Two-hearted).  Fruit in the nose, and fruit with maybe a very tiny bit of pine or cedar on the tongue; this will likely dissipate with time.  None of the harsh bitterness typical of commercial American IPAs, but a very fruit-forward flavor.

As a side note, when I went to get one of the bottles to chill, I noticed that one of his 'brothers' had exploded.  This was my first bottle burst, and thankfully when I started home brewing almost 2 yrs ago, I got one of those storage tubs from Target and I keep the bottles in that while they're conditioning, just in case this sort of thing would happen.