Friday, November 13, 2015

Pomegranate Margarita Gose

For your health.
This summer I brewed a handful of Gose and had enough of it to play with some variants on the base beer that I've since dialed in. I had a couple delicious Margarita Gose's from a few homebrewers lately and that brought to mind a Pomegranate margarita I had at a Mexican restaurant way (way) back. With that flavor profile in mind I set out to try to emulate something similar. 

With the base of a Gose the flavor profile is already 90% there, it's dry and tart with a salinity that you might get from a salted rim I just needed to bring the Pomegranate in the right balance. This beer was in the keg so I didn't want to go with whole fruit, plus Pomegranates are kind of spendy. Similar to the use of the juice in my Tart Cherry Suburb-House beer  I picked up some of R.W. Knudsen's Just Pomegranate juice and just racked it into the keg of finished beer. This is another super flavorful juice so I went with the same 64oz per 5 gallon ratio as before. I also added the juice and zest of one Lime to try to bring it closer to the whole Margarita flavor profile. 

I let the keg hang out at room temp (68-72F) for three weeks to allow the juice to re-ferment in the keg. I didn't take a gravity reading after the juice addition, was a blind attempt at carbing with the juice. But it did get the carbonation level pretty close, just needed some additional force carbonation with co2 to finish it off.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: The addition of the juice didn't make the beer as reddish as I had expected it to but there is a slight pinkish hue to it that doesn't really show in the photo. It's pretty highly carbonated and pours pretty foamy, even as the glass settles down there is a pretty good head that sits on top, never fading like most kettle soured beers. Its pretty hazy, as are a lot of my beers, but with the light pink color, haze, and persistent head it makes for a pretty attractive pour. 

Aroma: The aroma is surprisingly subdued, you get the pomegranate that's for sure and maybe a slight spice but its distant. Pretty much only pomegranate.

Taste: Well, I nailed the Margarita character perfectly and if you've ever had a pomegranate margarita then you pretty much know exactly how this beer taste. It's a little bit surprising at first as the initial sip borders on being a little too salty but then the pomegranate and the sourness hits and cuts it right away. The finish is dry yet fruity with the pomegranate adding complexity but not overwhelming the drink and a nice saline quality that teeters on the edge of being over done. For real though, it's a straight pomegranate margarita and its pretty delicious. Crushable is a word the kids use these days, this fits the bill.

What is interesting is that the base beer was pretty light on the salt flavor wise, but after the refermentation of the juice it came more to the forefront. It is very close to being over done in that department and for some people it has been too much to get past, mainly my wife for whom I brew a lot of these kettle soured beers. She loves the berliners and Gose but not so much the funky sours so these work for both of us. When I do this one again I may forgo the salt in the boil and does it into the keg to taste to ensure Its not overdone, because this really toes the line of being too salty. I dig it though, and I'm really loving these juices.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Blending the Tart Cherry Suburb-house ale

Suburb House blending, this ain't
no farmhouse I live in.
I like to try out different yeast, both Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces isolates, in fairly simple Saisons to get a good grasp on their flavor profiles and how they work. Sometimes these simple beers turn out wonderfully and the yeast really shines but sometimes they end up one dimensional and boring, not bad beers at all just not particularly exciting to drink. These one dimensional Saisons actually serve me well as paint on a palette for blending as opposed to boring beer I don't want to drink. I may use one to blend back and overwhelming character in a new beer, or maybe use a really funky one to add complexity to a clean Saison. Its good to have a myriad of options around.

Recently I had three of these Saisons laying around and sat down to see if I could come up with an interesting blend. The three beers used in the blend aren't important really, two were FitR variants with dregs and another was an all Pils malt Wallonian beer. After sampling them and playing with blend ratios I wasn't able to really tie together a blend I was happy with. The blend I did like the most had a nice balance of fruity and earthy brett aromas with a decent peppery spice note but lacked a finish worth noting. It needed either a more dry or more acidic finish so I opted to blend in 64oz of Lakewood's Tart Cherry juice in hopes of getting that added acidity and a jammy cherry character. If you haven't used this juice before it is very potent and very characterful, claiming 3lbs of cherries per 32oz package. The juice alone is almost too tart to even drink but the depth of flavor is really amazing. 

Apparently there is 6lbs of cherries in these two bottles.
While adding the cherry juice it reminded me of a tidbit of information, the real topic of this post, that I gathered from a homebrew swap I did back in 2012-13 on the Babble Belt. We all mailed each other the same beer and got in a chat room to taste them together and chat. We also each sent a beer to a surprise guest/pro taster and that ending up being Shaun Hill and Dan Saurez both of Hill Farmstead at the time. One of the brewers sent an amazing Kriek that was so good infact that Shaun compared it to some of the classic examples from Belgium, here is the brewers blog post about the exchange. I wish there was a chat transcript I could link but the site didn't allow archiving and it's a shame that blog post didn't quote what Shaun mentioned next because I found it invaluable. We got talking about how he made this lovely Kriek and mentioned he blended in an English Mild. Shaun was quite excited by that and said that when they age sour beers on cherries (and I think he said some other darker fruits) they like to blend some portion of a darker/maltier beer to add some complexity and rich malt backbone to prop up the fruit character. For some reason that really stood out to me as unique.

Juice first of course.
With that long story in mind I remembered I had some older Russian River Consecration clone that might work in place of the Mild or Stout Shaun mentioned. That beer was another one that turned out fine but due to some under-attenuation I never really fell in love with it. But for the addition of something more malty and dark this might fit just do the job. The addition of the bugs from the Consecration Clone will be a welcome addition over the aging of the beer as there was no bacteria in the Saisons. I popped open three bottles of it and poured them straight in, added benefit is the carbonation should do well to purge the headspace of o2 until re-fermentation of the cherry juice starts. 

I should have chilled the bottles of Consecration clone before opening them, spewwwww.
The beer was aged with the juice for 2 months after which things settled down and a terminal gravity of 1.004 was reached. I had over 5 gallons so I packaged up 4x 750ml green champagne bottles and the rest went into a keg with priming sugar the night before my club organized mobile canning run, so the cans will be naturally carbonated. Below is my thoughts on the beer after 2 months in the can.

Don't be a D-bag, drink from the can.
Tasting Notes:

Appearance: You get a decent psst sound when you pop the can, could be a little more carbonation but it's solid as is. The color is a striking deep red mahogany like color with an off white head. The beer is really murky, not the most beautiful looking beer in the world. Moderate carbonation leaves a ring along the edges of the of the glass throughout. Could be due to this dirty ass glass Im drinking from :)

Aroma: Dark fruit cherry nose, some spicy bits but mostly dark fruits. 

Taste: Cherry hits right up front and a spiciness on the tip of the tongue on first sip. Then the acidity hits that is then balanced with a small bit of maltiness. Finish is dry and tart, with tons of ripe tart cherry character.

Overall: Super good, restrained but complex. I think the addition of the Consecration clone achieved the malt backbone that this needed, granted I don't have a control to compare it to but there wasn't much for maltiness in any of the components that were blended in. I think this will continue to improve with a little bit of age, but I don't want to age out too much of the cherry character because it is truly rich and complex. These cans will go really well with Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks. 
I tried to crush this can over my head but I'm not that strong.
I will definitely add some darker malty beer to any dark fruit beers I age going forward. I could even get away with adding a few bottles of a commercial stout or porter if I don't have anything homebrewed around, assuming I don't plan to enter it into any competitions of course. I'm glad I remembered that tidbit that Sean and the Dank Brewer shared during that funky beer swap, what a shame that conversation is lost to the internets.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tasting Notes: From End Table to Aging Vessel "An Ocean Between the Staves"

I'll take my barrel fermented farmhouse in the can thank you very much.
It's been six months since a friend of mine handed me his end table (a dry Dad's Hat Barrel) on the steps of his South Philly home. It took quite a bit longer than I had expected to swell the barrel enough to hold beer, then brew that beer, then package it and finally let it condition. But I can now tell you the wait and the amount of work put into it made it all worth it once I poured out that first can. CANNED BEER!

A nice little surprise at the end of this project (its on going, was the packaging of this beer coincided with the day that Philly Homebrew Club brought out a mobile canning company once again to can our beer. I chose to does my kegs, I canned 2 beers, with priming sugar and naturally condition in the can as you would if bottling. A can conditioned, barrel aged, funky, Suburb-house ale is what I'm calling it, also known as...

An Ocean Between the Staves: *Listen to these smooth jams while you peruse the site*

Appearance: Hazy, light bronze-ish in color. Medium carbonation, pouring with a bit of head and significant lacing. Without a doubt picked up some color from the char in the barrel.

Aroma: Light oak, fruity Brett bouquet, a nice faint phenolic note as I swirl the glass. The aroma is very soft, very inviting, and really well balanced.

Flavor: Dry right up front with a tingling pepper note hitting the tip of the tongue. Lingering spice throughout the sip with a slight acidic note on the finish. The oak is light on this beer with some vanilla coming along with it which is balanced with a fruity Brett character and some pepper and spice in the finish. There is a v
ery faint fruity/ethyl acetate note in the beer, some might only find it fruity but I am very sensitive to that. It isn't off putting or distracting at all, it actually adds a depth and complexity to the beer. 
My kids playground makes for a good lighting spot.
Overall: This is a super enjoyable beer, I'm actually surprised at how good this has turned out considering the shape the barrel was in at one point. There isn't really anything I feel like I should be concerned about with subsequent batches, I will monitor that ethyl acetate note I picked up in this can to see if it gets worse with each batch. Other than that I would call this a resounding success. 

Don't be too quick to trash those malnourished barrels out there, there may be life in it yet. Batch #3 is in the barrel now, we will see how long I can keep this series going. I will update on each batch as they are drunk.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How I Dry Hop: Maximizing aromas on a homebrew scale.

I've tried virtually every dry hopping method imaginable in my hoppy beers over the years, in the early days I learned quickly that throwing loose pellets in carboy wasn't ideal. But over the last year or two I've cobbled some ideas from other folks to create a process that keeps o2 exposure limited resulting in a super aromatic hoppy beer. My process is pretty similar to what Derek at posted excep you don't have to modify a keg and there are really only a few pieces of equipment you need. It's so similar in fact that I considered not posting it and just directing people to his site, but I like the no modification part enough that I wanted to share. As you'll see, the prerequisite for my method is that you are kegging your beers, it's really the only way to get commercial quality hop aroma on a homebrew scale. Here is the equipment you will need, if you're kegging you likely have most of this around...
The key here is reducing o2 exposure, which is something that's very difficult to control when you're not kegging. It’s not only about the beer being fresh, cold storage and keeping the beer away from o2 are keys to preserving and maximizing your hop aroma. We've all picked up an old poorly store IPA at the store that tastes like carboard, its miserable. This is why I cringe when I see people racking to secondary in a glass carboy and dumping in some loose pellets. You might get a decent short term result but the beer is going to drop off a cliff quickly after being exposing to that much o2. 
Pushing sanitizer from one keg (dry hopping keg) to the next (serving keg), sanitizing my racking equipment
in the process. The outsides of the tubing don't touch the beer, fret not.

Get started by cleaning and sanitizing your kegs using whatever methods you employ, the second (serving) keg won’t be used until the dry hop is done but you should have it ready ahead of time. Tie some unflavored dental floss to the drawstring of your nylon hop bag and boil the bag and a few pieces of stainless (they are used as weights so the bag doesn’t float in the keg) for a few minutes to clean and sterilize, then soak it all in Star-San to sanitize.
Plenty of space in this bag to fit 6oz with room to spare.
Fill the nylon hop bag with all of your dry hops and the stainless weights then suspend it in your dry hop keg with the dental floss tied to one of the keg posts. The floss is thin enough that the keg O-ring can still make an airtight seal and yet strong enough to handle the weight of the bag and its contents. With the bag suspended in the dry hop keg, seal it up and purge with co2 sufficiently leaving a bit of head pressure to ensure a tight seal. I rack the beer to the keg using a similar process as the Brulosphy method but the beer is pushed via co2 into the keg through a ball lock disconnect connected to the beer out post for a fully closed system transfer. I push co2 into the headspace of the Better Bottle (I would never do this with glass, but do pressurize my Speidel and BB's) then pull the pressure relief pin on the dry hop keg and watch the beer flow. Once the keg is full you can purge it again to be sure and pressurize, then store at room temp (68-72F) for 5 days. 

You can kind of see the dental floss tied to the post, hanging in there is the tied off bag.
This setup works decently well, sometimes the orange cap doesn't make a great seal so I have to wire
 tie it tight. This was a 100% Brett IPA by the way. This is the part you need to crew in the co2 line, 
I also have a tailpiece connected.
Transferring in a closed system, minimizing o2 exposure prior to dry hop.
Some professional breweries, Tired Hands being one, will rouse the hops during dry hopping by bubbling co2 through the bottom of the conical tanks to get more uniform contact with all of the hops. This also helps in scrubbing any o2 that came along with the addition of dry hops. At home that’s tough to emulate without a conical, but I have gotten great results from giving the keg a light shake once or twice a day during the dry hop. With the keg being fully purged there is no risk of introducing o2, the shaking will rouse those hops that are hanging in the bag loosening them up enough to get the most aroma extraction possible. It might sound like a small step but in my experience it makes a huge difference.
Sanitizing the jumper while emptying the serving keg of the sanitizer.
Once the 5 day dry hop is through I set up to transfer the beer to the (cleaned\sanitized\co2 purged) serving keg, leaving the spent dry hops, bag, and some settled yeast behind in the dry hop keg. This is where you will need the keg jumper, which is just two beer out ball lock disconnects joined via beer line linked above. Connect the keg jumper to both the dry hop keg and the serving keg via the beer out, we will drain via the dip tube and fill the serving keg via the same, nice and gentle on the transfer. With the jumper in place, connect co2 line to the dry hop keg and set the regulator pressure to 2-3psi and pull the relief valve on the serving (receiving) keg and watch it fill. We want to keep this transfer nice and gentle and o2 free so be patient and do it slow so as not to blow off all those aromatics we've worked so hard for. Once transfer is complete you can force carbonate and serve the beer as usual, and clean out the dry hop keg of course. 

If you want to simplify this even more you can actually forgo the transfer to the serving keg and leave the dry hops in the keg for the duration of that beer's life. So long as you suspend the bag high enough that once you have drank a gallon or more the bag is suspended above the beer and no longer in contact with it, it shouldn't be an issue. I have a few friends who use this method and their beers are great, based on older posts I think Mike Tonsmeire leaves the bag inside as well. For me though I like to remove the hops to be safe in case I need to move the keg and something ends up getting clogged or caught in the dip tube. Not to mention I'll need to own 3-4 dry hop bags as I will always have them tied up in kegs since my beers stay on tap for 2-3 months. 
Close up of the jumper while the beer is being transferred. Serving keg in the foreground, dry hop keg in the back.
Hoppy beers like HopWards and Riverwards IPA are so heavily reliant on the late hop and dry hop aroma that care needs to be taken to maximize it. Whether you perform that final transfer or not I assure you this process will take your hoppy beers to the next level, especially with the shaking. However you go about it, be gentle with the transfers and keep the o2 exposure at a minimum.

Friday, September 4, 2015

From End Table to Aging Vessel: Reconditioning an old barrel.

The beer world has been hungry for barrel aged beers for quite a while now, clean or funky, and we homebrewers are no different. However, not all barrels come in pristine ready to be filled condition which is something I learned when a friend very kindly gave me (actually I still owe him Pho lunch) an old dried up Dad's Hat barrel he had been using as an end table. I have some experience with these barrels, one of which is mine and another I have helped a friend fill, but they have always been water tight and ready to receive beer. This one was far from that, so I set out to see if I could breathe new life into this barrel and actually get some good beer to come out of it.
I reached out to a few brewers via Milk The funk for advice as well as refer back to the two great posts on Embrace The Funk regarding barrel maintenance, so I had a plan in place. When I first got the barrel home I pulled the bung and took a look inside to see if I could find any mold or anything else nasty in there, but it was completely dry and clean from what I couled tell. In hindsight I wish I had popped the head off because I couldn't see the top inside by the bung hole, oh well. Things looked clean but the gaps between the staves were so big you could see tons of sunlight shining through, I knew it was dry but wow. I attempted to fill it with water but it would drain as quickly as I filled it. See this fancy video below.

Since I needed it to swell and couldn't get it to retain water I resorted to floating it in a big Rubbermaid tub for a day or two until the staves swelled up enough that I felt I could try to fill it again. This time I filled it with 170F water in hopes that the heat would help melt the barrel wax that's already in there so it would then dry and harden over some of the holes. Another tip I got from a MTF'er was to use a mallet and hammer the hoops back into the middle of the barrel as it swelled. Good thing I did because they were very loose and everything really tightened up as I did this. After all that the barrel was nearly watertight save for a small leak in one of the heads which I sealed up with melted down paraffin wax that I painted over the leak. As seen in the video below, still in the plastic tub.

It took me ten days and 4 fills\dumps to get this fella sealed enough that I felt comfortable filling it. But since I wasn't going to get around to filling it with beer for another 2 weeks I filled it with a holding solution of 56 grams of Citric acid and 112 grams of Potassium Metabisulfite (2g\L of Potassium Meta, 1g\L of Citric Acid). The barrel smelled great prior to this but the holding solution should keep the barrel clean of unwanted bacterias but also help kill off nasties that may have grown in the barrel while it was an end table. When the time came to fill the barrel I dumped the holding solution and rinsed it well, REALLY well and let it fully drain. You don't want any of that stuff lingering in your next beer.
I should have been using this thing years ago, oh and more wood.
There was still a strong oak aroma coming from the barrel so I figured I wouldn't be aging beers in there for terribly long so my plan was to use it as a pseudo-Foeder. No sense in aging a clean beer in this one, since it's kind of a crap shoot anyway. So I brewed up a 15 gallon batch of The Farmer in the Rye with some late addition Hallertau Blanc for fun with loads of Brett strains and no intentional LAB pitched. A Suburb House ale as I have been calling it, I can't pass this garage off as a Farmhouse you know? I pumped the cooled wort right into the barrel, pitched a healthy Wallonian Farmhouse slurry and practically every Brett strain I had in my bank and hoped for the best. 

Didn't even have to use sanitizer that day.
Only 13 gallons went into the barrel for fear of blow off and the rest went into a Better Bottle to use as top off. There wasn't much of a blow off so I was able to blend the two together quite early and age in primary in the barrel for the duration. After 8 weeks I pulled the first sample and gravity was already 1.000, a lot can be said for well seasoned cultures. The aromas were of the fruity Brett variety which played well with the late addition Hallertau Blanc. There was a nice subtle oakiness in the middle of the palate and balancing acidity in the finish, but with as much Rye as was used the body was silky smooth. Great results thus far but we will see once it's packaged. I pulled the batch out and brewed a second batch straight away and right into the barrel that second batch went. Some of batch #1 was kegged, some was canned by a mobile canner (more on that in the tasting notes post), and the rest was racked onto fruit for this years fruited Farmer in the Rye.

Tasting Notes: 10/16/2015

An Ocean Between the Staves:

Brew day: 6/1/2014
Packaged: 8/4/2014

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 17.80 gal
Post Boil Volume: 15.70 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 gal
Kegging Volume: 14.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Measured OG: 1.052 SG
Measured FG: 1.000 SG 
Estimated Color: 4.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

76.9% - 20 lbs Weyermann Pilsner 
15.4% - 4 lbs Rye Malt
3.8% - 1 lb Munich 10L
3.8% - 1lb Turbinado Sugar

Boil: 75 min - 1.00 oz Magnum [14.20 %] - 20.0 IBUs
Boil: 30 min - 1.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [7.20 %] - 11.2 IBUs
Boil: 15 min - 2 Whirlfloc Tablet + 2 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5 min - 1.55 oz Saaz [4.00 %] - 1.9 IBUs
Boil:  5 min - 1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [7.20 %] - 1.9 IBUs
15 Minute Whirlpool 185f - Hallertau Blanc [10.50 %] - 2.1 IBUs

500ml of 3 week old The Yeast Bay Wallonian Farmhouse Slurry propagated in a 1L starter 
Lot's of Bretts including - Brux, Claus, Lambicus, Custer., Drei, Vrai, 4x The Yeast Bay Beta strains, BBY009, BBY031

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148 F 

Fly Sparge 13.10 gallons of 172f

Misc: Small adjustments for mash pH with Lactic Acid and some Gypsum to approximate Markowski's Saison profile, very approximate. Markowski's profile is...Ca-52, Mg-17, Na-35, SO4-107, Cl-20, HCO3-350

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tired Hands HopHands "Clone" Revisted

Call it murky or hazy, this beer is like a fruit juice cocktail.

It has been over a year since I posted my recipe for the Tired Hands HopHands "clone", and since that time I have re-brewed the beer somewhere between 10-12 times with small tweaks here and there. In light of some recent subtle recipe changes that myself and some others have made to the recipeand with that post being the second most popular one on my site, I thought it was time to revisit and post an updated (finalized?) HopHands inspired recipe (clone?).

I shared the original recipe on Homebrewtalk to see if others had tried it, or had any additional input. A bunch of people brewed it, some more than once, with great results and even lending their opinions on how to get it even closer to the original. The two most hotly debated parts of the recipe were the yeast strain and percentage of Oats in the grain bill, most felt the hopping was pretty solid. I've tried batches ranging from 12% up to 20% Oats in the grain bill with varying levels of success. As I brewed it more and more I was missing the distinct Oat flavor at the lower volumes as opposed to just a slightly higher percentage. I then hit on 18% Oats and it really started to come together, the body was creamy and full and there was no mistaking the Oats flavor contribution in malt character.

There has been tons of speculation on what yeast strain Tired Hands uses for their hoppy beers (their Saison strain is a bit of a mystery to) and with Jean being tight lipped on the matter its all still mostly speculation. But the rumor with the most traction is in support for Wyeast 1318 London Ale III being what both Tired Hands and Hill Farmstead use, with posts like this driving the speculation. The same batch I brewed with 18% Oats was the first batch I tried London Ale III, and it was a bit of an epiphany. The attenuation was near perfect, the ester profile supported the hop aroma beautifully, and the oats popped more than ever. London Ale III really took this recipe to an entirely different level, it's been a few batches now but I am totally hooked on the strain. For me it's like Conan without having to deal with how finicky that strain can be. Beware though, 1318 is a big time top cropper and the krausen can linger for quite a long time. You're going to need a blow-off tube as well.

There is one final component that has really brought this beer together for me and that is the water profile. I don't claim to be a water expert, and might be exposing myself a bit here, but after playing with a bunch of different profiles and reading what other folks are trying I have found that a nearly 1:1 Sulfate:Chloride ratio is pretty crucial. This is something that Shaun Hill has spoken about before, and I've seen posted on other blogs. This may not work in a Pliny the Elder clone, but for this creamy\lowly bitter beer it works perfectly.

This recipe is also very versatile, I've done batches with all New Zealand hops, newer American hops like Mosaic, or any other aggressively aromatic hop you find. The versatility really comes into play for me when using it in 100% Brett fermentations. The Oats make up for the loss of body due to Brett's inability to create glycerol and the hops in the current recipe go great with strains like B. Brux Var Drei or B. Claussenii. What I normally do is brew a 10 gallon split batch, half clean and half 100% Brett fermented. This way I get a beer to drink fresh and hoppy and another that I can play with a new strain or condition a little longer for added weirdness. 

I suppose that it's possible that HopHands uses a different percentage of Oats, or even a different yeast strain (kinda doubt it at this point) but this recipe here is without a doubt the closest you're going to get to recreating one of Jean's flagship beers. Creamy, tropical and pungent, it has been a staple on tap at my house for quite a while now. With London Ale III now in the mix it's better than it's ever been. 


Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.82 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Measured FG: 1.012 SG
ABV: 4.8%
Estimated Color: 4.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

81.9% - 8lbs 8oz - CMC Superior Pale Ale Malt (3.1 SRM)
18.1% - 1lbs 14oz - Flaked Oats

First Wort Hop - 0.50 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 16.3 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 0.5 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] - 3.1 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 0.5 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 3.6 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 0.5 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 4.7 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 0.75 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] - 1.4 IBUs -
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 0.75 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 1.7 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.75 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 2.2 IBUs
Dry Hop: 5 days - 2.00 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 2.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days - 2.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]


Sacch rest - 60 min @ 150.0 F 

Fly Sparge 5.50 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.35, Water Profile ( 132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 147ppm Cl, 146ppm SO4). Some acid malt and some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 66f for 7 days, then kegged and dry hopped in the keg for 5 days. Tapped 14 days from brewday.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lactobacillus Plantarum Gose: Sourcing Lacto from Probiotics

There is seemingly a never ending parade of new strains of Saccharomyces, and the last few years Brettanomyces, being released on a consistent basis to both the professional and home brewing world. But the diversity of Lactobacillus species on the market has been sparse to say the least. As sour wort\kettle souring with pure culture strains of Lactobacillus has become even more popular, folks (myself) have been looking for some different cultures other than Delbrueckii and Buchneri which White Labs and Wyeast have carried for years. Especially with the White Labs L. Delbrueckii culture having a reputation of being cross contaminated with cells of Saccharomyces resulting in very little lactic acid in finished beers. 

Labs like Omega and Gigayeast have stepped to the fore with some great blends of various Lactobacillus Species but after reading Matt Humbard's comprehensive research on Lactobacillus I was really interested to try some them on their lonesome. The species that stood out the most to me from Matt's article was Lactobacillus Plantarum. It has a few redeeming qualities that I have been searching for, its Homofermentative, acidifies very quickly and does not seem to need a ton of heat to achieve that acidity. Make sure you read through his article as I couldn't do half as good a job as describing L. Plantarum, among other species, as he can. 

I couldn't locate any labs that sold a pure culture Homebrew sized pitch of L. Plantarum, although there may be for pro brewers. After chatting with some folks on Milk the Funk  I came across these Probiotics from Swanson.  Each capsule is reported to have 10 billion cells of dry L. Plantarum and at that price its hard to beat, so I figured they were worth the try.

Reading post fermentation.

Using the same short brewday sour wort method, and recipe as in the previous post, I brewed up another Gose for further summer enjoyment. I cracked open 3 of the capsules of the Swansons L. Plantarum and got them into 750ml of starter wort, left unstirred and held at 105F for 36 hours. The starter reached a pH of 3.3 in that time, then the whole starter was pitched into 100F wort in a Better Bottle. I held the sour wort at only 95F, since I read Plantarum can acidify a little cooler than other species. After 48 hours of sour worting the pH was 3.31 and it was very tart, I made the mistake of not taking a gravity reading here but have on more recent batches and the gravity drop has been minimal. I pitched some US-05 and fermentation was done about 48 hours later (4 days total) at 1.003 and 3.31pH, the beer was kegged on the 12th day of fermentation. 

This batch was 5 IBUs and L. Plantarum had no problem at all acidifying the beer quickly. In recent batches I have used 8 IBUs and 10IBUs (calculated) reaching pH levels of 3.35 and 3.40 respectively. I plan to test it out at some high IBU concentrations but it's looking like a fairly IBU tolerant strain that suits my boiled, hopped, sour worted method. I will update later on in the summer after I play with some high IBU worts and how L. Plantarum worked. Below are tasting notes for this batch, recipe after the notes.

Nobody Gose there anymore, it's too crowded: with Probiotics.

But do you Milk the Funk?

Appearance: The beer is almost white in color, the photo doesn't do the color justice, extremely pale and hazy. Soapy bright white head, it fades but not as fast as you might think, and there is a decent ring of head that hangs on top the entire glass. Usually head retention in these beers are awful due to the low pH, not in this beer and not in any of my sour worting beers. Not sure why that is, I guess I'm doing something right.

Aroma: Raw malt aromas, like sticking your face in a bag of Pilsner. Slightly bready, a bit rustic, lemony and and noticeably acidic. A bit of funk and spice from the coriander, some Belgian-esque esters that I wasn't expecting.

Taste: Acid upfront as expected, prickly as it crosses the tongue due to the acidity and some carbonic acid but this isn't a highly carbonated beer. Cleanly lactic, subtle Belgian-esque spice following the nose, maybe that's the coriander though. The salinity is very low, and finish is dry and acidic with a slight pucker in the back corners of my mouth. 

Overall: Very refreshing summer crusher, as compared to the last batch it's more sour and light on the salt and coriander character but I dig it. It has a really nice grainy character, like uncrushed raw malt, it's dry and perfect acidity wise, for what I want not as a classic example.  The ease of these L. plantarum tabs make this a real winner for me. I'm wondering it the Lacto added the raw character to the beer, maybe the esters as well. 

I most certainly use these tabs again, I may use them blended with other species of Lacto like Omega does with their blend but just to see how things differ. Its a great cheap source of aggressive Lacto that's readily available to anyone.  

Brew day: 5/25/2015
Multiple fermentations in the dark.
Kegged: 6/6/2015

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.80 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.035 SG
Measured OG: 1.036 SG
Measured FG: 1.003 SG
Beer pH: 3.31
ABV: 4.2%
Estimated Color: 3.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 2 Minutes

50.0% - 3lbs 11oz - Weyermann Pilsen (1.5 SRM)
50.0% - 3lbs 11oz - CMC White Wheat (3.5 SRM)

Boil: 2mins - 0.75oz  Strisslespalt [3.9 %] 4 IBU
Boil: 2mins -  0.50oz Sea Salt
Boil: 2mins -  0.50oz Coriander, freshly ground seeds.

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148 F 


No Sparge, full volume of water in the mash, 7.10 gallons.

5ml lactic acid in the mash, Mash ph 5.35.