Friday, July 22, 2016

Farmer in the Rye with Pluots

Whenever I walk through Whole Foods, or any farmers markets for that matter, I investigate the selection of in season fruits in hopes of finding something unique for my yearly fruited version of Farmer in the Rye. Having tried Peaches, Mangos, and Plum+Apricots in the past few years I wanted to find something I was a little less familiar with. When I came across Pluots they immediately caught my attention.
Who let that stem get in there? We're all gonna be poisoned!
I had actually never had Pluots before buying them for this beer, if I had they didn't stand out in memory, some quick research on my phone while I ate one at the store revealed they are a plum/apricot hybrid. Specifically, the variety I bought are called Flavorosa Pluots and are said to be roughly 25% Apricot and 75% Plum, with a deep purple plum looking skin and a pinkish-red flesh. Flavorosa's taste every bit what you would expect a hybrid of those two stone fruits would taste, they are sweet, floral, slightly tart and very juicy, you Could mistake it for a plum by sight but they are lighter in flavor than your everyday plum. I really liked the flavors of it and thought it was a perfect choice for the 2015 variant of this beer (2016 is already aging), with the success of the Plum+Apricot version of the previous year I was curious to see how different it might be. I won't even be mad if it turns out similar to that jammy beer, but after eating the Pluot whole I was sure it would be much different.
Looked like a blood spatter scene Dexter would enjoy.
This year's batch is a barrel aged version, and might technically be the Ocean Between the Staves recipe but they are very similar in the end. The beer was primary fermented in the barrel with WLP565 and aged there for 3 months along with a blend of Brett and Bacteria that has been cultivating in that barrel via dregs and other strains I've collected over the years. Once I emptied the barrel 5 gallons was racked right onto 6 pounds of the Pluots that I sliced into wedges and froze a few months prior, about 5 pits made their way into the fermenter. This is my standard practice for handling fruit in this type of beer, you can read more about how I handle it in the post about the 2013 Peach version. The beer was aged on the fruit for 8 weeks, it was done a little sooner than that but I have no problem being patient and letting the base beer plow through the new sugars that have been introduced by way of the fruit.


Lookin chunky, like Marshall's favorite hoppy beers :).

I bottled and primed the batch to 2.7 vol of co2 in heavy belgian glass bottles, as of the tasting below they have been in the bottles for 7 months. It took quite a while for these bottles to condition in spite of adding some fresh US-05 at packaging, the carbonation was soft until about 2 months in the bottle where it hit my desired level. I'm really liking the delicate balance between the fruit and fairly tart base beer of this year's variant (base beer was 3.3pH prior to fruiting), I am thinking the long bottle conditioning helped bring things together. Normally I go with a higher fruit:beer ratio closer to 1.5-2lbs/gallon, but this year I wanted something a little lighter and balanced. I do like the extremely fruit forward examples of these types of beers, but after having a bunch of Forest & Main's recent fruited Saisons I have taken a page from their book. targeting for a more balanced beer where the base beer and fruit are identifiable to the drinker. Something that I think has made this beer exceedingly drinkable. 

The 2015 Farmer in the Rye with Pluots:

Appearance: It's actually a little more pink than I had remembered when I bottled it, a very pretty looking beer with medium/high carbonation and a thin wispy white head that leaves lacing. Its hazy, likely from the fruit, but there are no chunks of fruit floating around, just a hazy pink effervescent beer.

Aroma: The fruit aroma isn't overwhelmingly huge but it's certain the star of the show. I don't know if it's more plum or apricot, but there is seemingly an interplay of aromas from the both. It's earthy, coriander and spice, plum skins, fruity ethyl acetate when I spin the glass with my hand on top then jam my face in. 


Flavor: The beer is soft on the palate with a silky smooth texture. It's not peppery but has a nice rye spice that lingers about, there is a slight carbonation tickle on the tongue which is then finished with some acidity and fruity sweetness I'd also contribute to the Rye. The beer is super dry, but you might not even realize it with how silky smooth the body and carbonation is. 

Final Thoughts: This beer is very drinkable, it's so smooth, complex and tart with fruit overtones dancing about. Its one of those beer that you look down and the glass is nearly gone and you barely realize because you've taken large sip after large sip. Pluots worked really well in this beer, but the base beer itself plays very well with the fruit. Some say Pluots are tart, but when compared to the base beer it actually does a great job to balances the tartness of the beer. If I see any hybrid fruits like Pluots, Plumcots, or Apriplums I will definitely use them again.



Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 7.80 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.70 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG

Measured OG: 1.052 SG
Measured FG: 1.000 SG 
Estimated Color: 5 SRM (Probably not after the fruit)
Estimated IBU: 30 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain:
76.0% - 8 lbs 8oz - Weyermann Pilsner 
19.6% - 2 lbs 3 ounces - Rye Malt
4.5%   - 8 ounces Munich 10L


Hops:
Boil: 75 min - 0.38 oz Magnum [14.20 %] - 17.3 IBUs
Boil: 30 min - 0.60 Saaz [3.60 %]
Boil: 30 min - 0.60 Strisselspalt [3.00 %]
Boil: 15 min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5 min - 1.55 oz Saaz [3.60 %] 
Boil:  5 min - 0.75 oz Hallertau Blanc [10.50 %]
15 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.50 oz Hallertau Blanc [10.50 %] 
15 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 0.75 oz Saaz [3.60 %] 

Yeast:
Brett and Bacteria resident to this barrel.

Mash:
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148 F 

Sparge:
Fly Sparge 5.50 gallons of 172f

Misc: The base of this beer came from batch # 3 of an Ocean Between the Staves, each subsequent changes as I add dregs of commercial beers and different strains of Brettanomyces. 6lbs of halved, frozen, Pluots in secondary for 8 weeks, pits and stems included. Water Profile: Ca-52, Mg-17, Na-35, SO4-107, Cl-100, HCO3-350

Friday, July 8, 2016

Brewing a NEPA with Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats

A few years back, while taking inspiration from Tired Hands Brewing Company, I started using rolled or flaked oats in all of my New England Style IPAs/Pale Ales (NEIPA/NEPAs) with truly great success. I experimented with many batches working with different percentages of Rolled Oats in the grain bill, some a little heavy and others just right, all the while adding a silky/creamy texture and a distinct oat flavor to the resultant beers that took them to another level. Through all that tweaking I feel like I now have a good grasp on how to use them for the character that I want, which as I said, is heavily Tired Hands inspired. But recently Jean from Tired Hands mentioned that they use exclusively Thomas Fawcett Oat Malt and not Rolled or Flaked Oats. My whole life is a lie.

The astute will find the fault in this orange photo.
He mentioned this tidbit on a recent episode of Steal This Beer, a pretty great podcast hosted by Augie Carton of Carton Brewing (Right on?). Augie and Jean went back and forth chatting about various Tired Hands-y things when Augie brought up the topic of using Oats in hoppy beers Jean revealed that their supplier was once out of Rolled Oats and asked if they wanted to try malted Oats from Thomas Fawcett. Jean says this was only a few months after they opened so basically I've been doing it all wrong? Maybe not wrong since I really like the character of the beers I brew with the Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oats, but could a beer like HopWards be better when using the malted oats?

On a visit to the Fermentaria in the fall of 2015 I saw a palate of malt and half the thing was loaded with Thomas Fawcett Oats. Around the same time a commenter on the blog said he heard Jean used them, but I hadn't heard anything concrete until now, and do I even care? I guess I do because I ordered some based on the rumors, and I'm a Tired Hands fanboyThe order of malted Oats ironically was delivered the day after I heard Jean on Steal This Beer, lots more great info in that episode other than malted Oats stuff by the way. Due to his endorsement using them got pushed to the top of my list.
Thermapen going strong after a few years of abuse.

This post could have been a complete reworking of my HopHands clone recipe, but I thought I put that to bed a few months ago, not to mention the beer is great the way it is. I did; however, stick with a similar grain bill for my first try with these Oats, going with an all Thomas Fawcett line up with 81% Floor Malted Halcyon and 19% Malted Oats. The hoping, though, is totally different. It's been a few years since I used Azzacca and I really loved how it paired with Citra in an IPA that never hit the blog. While going heavier on those two I rounded it out with Centennial, Simcoe, and Columbus. Quite a trendy lineup of hops which I came up with by way of a Tired Hands Alien Church clone recipe I have been working on slowly. Of course it was then fermented out with Wyeast 1318 London Ale III fast becoming the quintessential New England IPA/Pale Ale yeast of choice, remember when we used to Conan?
The uncrushed floated right to the top towards the end of runoff.
If you take anything out of this post it should be this, milling Thomas Fawcett Oat Malt might take some mill adjustment or double milling. The husks are almost like rice hulls by touch, they are long and relatively thin, as light as a feather when compared to 2-row. I mixed the Oats and my Pale Malt together and began to mill, as I always do. After a pound or two I checked on the crush, another SOP of mine, and to my surprise there were tons of uncrushed Oats in there. What's more, there wasn't anything I could do about it as everything was all mixed together. I suppose I could have tried to double mill the whole bill but that would have been throwing good money after bad as I already mill really tight. Plus some of the Oats did get cracked open, just not all of them. My target OG was 1.055 for this beer, I hit 1.050, which is a big miss for me as I have things well dialed in at this point. But some of those kernels just weren't crushed. Don't make the same mistake I made, mill the oats separately and combine after.
Beautiful looking cold break, no?
I am pretty excited to see what these can lend to the final beer, my next batches of HopWards will also have the Oat malt. But if I am honest I was hoping I couldn't tell the difference between Oat malt and trusty Bob's Red Mill rolled, since it's so easy to go to Whole Foods and pick up a bag, also cheaper. Well, I can tell the difference...maybe Jean Broillet IV is on to something here.


Tasting Notes: Hopped Up Oat Jawn:

Appearance: straw yellow, hazy but not murky at all, the perfect level of haze imo. A pillowy bright white head that sticks around and leaves significant lacing.

Aroma: I've dug into this aroma so many times but cannot put my finger on precise descriptors. It's a huge aroma that I can best describe as a tropical fruit medley, I get some peach, some guava, orange zest, nectarines...just a nice balance of fruit here. What I don't get is a malt aroma, specifically the oats, when I use the rolled oats they have a distinct aromas that melds with the fruit character. For better or worse.


Haze, not murk.


Taste: medium light body, nice and smooth with a subtle bitterness that balances the smooth body well. Carbonation is medium low, just enough to waft notes of crackery malt, fruit and enhance the silky texture across the palate. The finish leaves you with a subtle bitterness, something that I miss in some HopWards batches but it's something that makes you want to grab another sip.


Overall Impressions: This is supremely drinkable,which is something I strive for in all my hoppy beers, the hop character is a great mix and the oats are mild but play well. It's interesting because I think this is more in line with how Tired Hands beers are right now while HopWards is a throwback to the early days of the brewcafe due to the rolled oats. I wonder really how early they switched to the malted Oats. Either way, these Oats are going to get you super close to Tired Hands style of hoppy beers.

At 18% rolled oats come through in the flavor fairly significantly, while the malted oats (keeping in mind half were not crushed) are a balancing yet contributing factor to the drink. I think you can really push the limits with these oats and go high percentages with them where I wouldn't recommend more than 20% rolled oats. I quite like these, but the body is a tad lighter than with rolled, possibly due to the crush. I think that pairing both rolled and malted might be the ticket to a balanced yet creamy, juicy NEPA. But for now I'm going to immerse myself in the world that is malted Oats. Who knows, a 100% malted Oat beer might be in my future, Forest & Main has already begun theirs.


HopWards


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: 1.055 SG
Measured OG: 1.050 SG
Measured FG: 1.010 SG
ABV: 5.2%
Estimated Color: 4.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: ~65 IBUs (Pfft, please, not even)
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


Grain:
81.0% - 8lbs 12oz - Thomas Fawcett Floor Malted Halcyon (3.1 SRM)
19.0% - 2lbs 11oz - Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats

Hops:
First Wort Hop - 0.61 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 16.3 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %] - 11.6 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] - 10.9 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 0.75 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 7.1 IBUs
Boil:  5min  - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 2.6 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %] - 1.8 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] - 1.6 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.75 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 1.2 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.75 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 0.8 IBUs
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %]

Yeast:
Wyeast 1318 - London Ale III - 500ml of slurry

Mash:
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.0 F 

Sparge:
Fly Sparge 5.50 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.32, Water Profile 2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ratio ( 127ppm Ca, 6ppm Mg, 10ppm Na, 150ppm Cl, 75ppm SO4). Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 65f for 8 days, at which point I bumped up to 70F for 5 days and added the first round of dry hops in Primary. After a total of 13 days in primary I kegged and dry hopped in the keg for 5 more days. Tapped 20 days from brewday.