Sunday, November 25, 2012

Barley Wine 2012

One of my favorite styles of beer is Barley Wine. When the weather starts to get cold outside and the snow starts to fall what could be better than a beer full of malt, balanced with hops, and with a touch of warming alcohol. A beer that you can sip on for hours and explore the complexity of its malts, the depth of the hops, and the subtly of the yeast flavors from a long fermentation. As the beer warms through the course of the session the flavor and depth will rise from the glass.

When I first started brewing one of my goals was to brew a barley wine each year, some for drinking that year and some for aging for latter. So far I have brewed a barley wine each year but nothing else has gone according to plan. The first year I brewed a huge beer that was all extract, with an original gravity of 1.092. It was the 5th beer I had ever made and I went big. I added candi sugar, orange peel, and ground corriander. The beer finished at 1.025 and despite 60 IBUs was unbearably sweet and just really a mess. I was only able to drink a few of them and the rest slowly made its way down the sink. So ended my Barley Wine 2010.

The next year I was more prepared.  I had already brewed several all grain beers and had purchased a book on the style. I planned another huge beer with 15 pounds of grain and 85 IBUs. Despite terrible efficency (original gravity 1.080) the beer turned out awesome. I dry hopped it in a keg for two weeks (which I had just gotten) and got ready to bottle it. I did not know that I needed to vent the keg or that the beer had dropped in gravity. When I went to open the keg the beer exploded out of the keg and shot hops everywhere, by the time the beer stopped flowing out of the keg there was only 3 gallons of the original 5 left. To make matters worse the beer dropped in gravity even more in the bottle and all the bottles were overcarbonated- so I spent a night slowly bleeding of the carbonation from all the bottles. Despite all these problems the beer was truly delicious with a huge malt body and a very nice hop finish. The beer never made it past 2 months though because I quickly drank it down.

This year I plan to learn from my mistakes, I will be patient and let the beer finish all the way before I bottle it, I will vent a keg before I open it, and I will remake that beer from last year because it was damn tasty!

Here is the recipe that I am following for my 2012 Barley Wine.

13 pounds of Rahr- 2 row malt
1 pound of Caramel 90 L
1/2 pound of Caramel 120 L

1/2 pound of Special "B"

Mashed for 1 hour at 149 F

Boiled 3.5 hours

90 Minutes 2 oz Challenger 8.8 %
25 Minutes 0.5 oz Cascade 6.6 %
15 Minutes 1 oz Cascade 6.6 %
5 Minutes 1 oz Cascade 6.6 %
Dry Hopped 2 oz Cascade 6.6 %

Added a yeast cake of 1056 and fermented at 65 F

10/6 Final Gravity 1.009
ABV ~10.5%
Bottled 3.5 gallons with 65 grams table sugar.

Beer pours a cloudy amber brown color with wonderful red highlights. A rocky head of tan foam sits above the beer constantly being replenished from the nucleation site on the bottom of my snifter.

The aroma is dominated by the cascade hops, pine, some grapefruit notes.

Flavor is at first semi-sweet with a mix of malt, toffee, caramel. Then comes some raisin and dark sugar/rum, finished with a refreshing bitterness that cleans the pallate for the next sip.

The body is full and big.

Overall this beer turned out wonderful. It is still pretty green and will certainly develop well with age.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Labels for WIld Brewing

More exciting news!!!

This is what our labels are going to look like on our Wild Brewing Beers!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wild Brewing Update

Hello Everyone!

I have some exciting news. Our Oud Bruin is moving along nicely and will be ready to bottle any day now. The other three beers are not far behind and come February-March we will be planning our tasting events.

We also just updated our logo so that it would fit better on pint glasses and bottle openers for all of our awesome sponsors. Here is what it looks like!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Brettanomyces Beers,50,57&pageid=70
I had the opportunity last night to visit Coors and AC Golding to listen to a talk by the master off "All Brett Beers", Chad, who is the brewer/ owner at Crooked Stave, which specializes in all Brett beers. As it turns out AC Golden has a barrel aging program and I was able to taste a couple of the unique brews that they have done including a lambic called "Colorambic" and a golden ale that was soured and mixed with either blueberries or plums (the plum version was mighty taste).
After a few beers Chad gave a rather detailed talk about brewing with Brett and I wanted to share a few of the highlights that might help home brewers with their own Brett creations.

  1. Brett can eat/breakdown/modify glycol which in beer provides mouthfeel. This often causes all Brett beers to have a dry finish or not have a nice mouthfeel. To counteract this use oats, rye, or spelt. All of these grains add proteins that will help boost the mouthfeel.
  2. Brett may also by able to modify compounds contributed by spices and fruit, so these additions may add additional complexity to the beer.
  3. Brett works well in dark beers as it highlights coffee and chocolate flavors, however it can also lead to increased perception of astringency so don't go crazy.
  4. Brett has the ability to modify some phenolic compounds. This may be the cause of many of the off flavors associated with Brett (Goat, Band-Aid, Horse, Cat piss). If you can keep the precursors low in the base beer than they will not be present to be modified into off flavors (this is more for using Brett as a secondary yeast). (So take note that Belgian strains produce these initial compounds when using all Brett, may be why Orval has some of these flavors)
  5. When using Brett the first 10-14 days should see a very large drop in the gravity. However, after that times Brett slows down. It will take an additional 2-3 weeks for Brett to finish.
  6. Brett is excellent at scavenging oxygen. This means that you can but it in a barrel and not have to worry so much about oxidation as Brett will continue to use up all the available oxygen as it makes its way into the barrel.
  7. Fermentation should be conducted around 68-72 F.
  8. More oxygen in the initial wort will lead to more acetic acid, which is rather pleasant in low levels and is present in all beer. (Yes, even when using just Sacch. It is below threshold)
  9. Pitch in a quantity equal to what you would use for Ale yeast. 1 million cells/mL/degree plato.
  10. When bottling with Brett you may be able to calculate just how much more the gravity will drop and use that change to condition the beer.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pumpkin Ale Tasting

Tasting of my Pumpkin Ale

Beer pours a brilliant orange with a lacy white head, a gentle swirl quickly brings the head back to life. Tiny bubbles rise from the nucleation site at the bottom of the New Belgium globe glass.

Aroma really captures "pumpkin pie" if there was not the alcohol in the background it would pass as pumpkin pie itself.

The beer is very well balanced, not too malty and not too bitter. The finish is a mix of pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin. Spices are present but not overpowering.

Overall the beer just turned out perfect. The alcohol may be a little too present and maybe I should cut back a little bit. That being said I designed it to compete with the wine that is the typical offering at my Thanksgiving so maybe that is just fine!