Thursday, 19 September 2013

Metric Infusion Ratios

Just a super-quick post; mostly so that I'll have this table handy for when I need it. Here is a table of for inter-converting between US (qt/lb) and metric (l/kg) infusion ratios. This is a simple calculation - multiply US units by 2.086345096 to get metric & vice-versa; you can multiply by 2 for simplicity...

qt/lb L/kg
qt/lb L/kg
0.75 1.56
1.65 3.44
0.80 1.67
1.70 3.55
0.85 1.77
1.75 3.65
0.90 1.88
1.80 3.76
0.95 1.98
1.85 3.86
1.00 2.09
1.90 3.96
1.05 2.19
1.95 4.07
1.10 2.29
2.00 4.17
1.15 2.40
2.05 4.28
1.20 2.50
2.10 4.38
1.25 2.61
2.15 4.49
1.30 2.71
2.20 4.59
1.35 2.82
2.25 4.69
1.40 2.92
2.30 4.80
1.45 3.03
2.35 4.90
1.50 3.13
2.40 5.01
1.55 3.23
2.45 5.11
1.60 3.34
2.50 5.22

Monday, 9 September 2013

Making Belgian Candi Sugar

The Belgian Candi Sugars
Left: Attempt #1, Right: Attempt #2
With the Krampus Kristmas Ale transferred to the secondary & spiced my thoughts have turned to the next big beer - probably not to be brewed for a few months (some stouts & porters are in my new future) - but I like to think ahead.

One style I've always enjoyed, but rarely brewed, are the strong Belgian (trappist-style) ales. With lots of fruity esters and spicy phenolics, these beers are flavourful & well balanced. Their high-alcohol & dry finish makes them easy to drink, with the dryness deceptively hiding their strength.

The key to making these beers strong (7-12% alcohol) with a dry finish is the use of Belgian candi sugar - beet sugar which is heated & otherwise treated to create a candi (or syrup). Depending on how it is prepared, this candi can be anything from a light-amber with little flavour through to near-black candis with flavours of coffee, chocolate and dark fruits (e.g. plums & dates). It is the cost (often over $16/kg), and difficulty finding this product in Canada which has largely held back my ability to brew & explore Belgian strong ales.

So imagine my joy when finding out that it may be possible to produce Belgian candi sugar at home. Armed with one youtube video & a short write-up I embarked on my first experiment. After nearly two hours of heating, with little colour formation, I started reading further. It turns out I - and many other brewers out there - are doing it wrong!

Below the fold is my attempt to fix my mistake, and perhaps establish a method others can employ...

EDIT: I have solved some of the crystalizaiton issues people have been reporting when making candi sugar. Details can be found in this blog post.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Krampus Kristmas Ale

Krampus probably should have
visited me more at xmas...
Its September 2nd, the time of the year the brewers thoughts turn to cool fall evenings, pints of ESB after racking the leaves . . . and Christmas. Yep, it is time to start brewing those over-strength ales that we all love to enjoy around yule-time.

Over the past 12 or so years I've brewed a variant of my "Bad Santa"; a light-coloured, light body strong beer with hints of honey, ginger & cinnamon. Every year I tweak it slightly, aiming to make it ever better. Around 2008 this recipe hit its peak and has been on a downward slide since. Indeed, last years batch was a mild disappointment, as chronicled over these posts: 1, 2 &3. Needless to say, it is well-neigh time for a new Christmas beer.

Enter Krampus Kristmas Ale - which is everything Bad Santa isn't. Instead of a light-colour, this beer should have a deep-red hue provided by a mix of melanoiden & caramunich malt. In place of a honey-induced dryness, this beer uses a hot mash to provide a thick, sweet, malty finish. In place of subtle ginger & cinnamon tones, this been has a kick-in-the-face spiciness provided by ample amounts of of cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg. What better name for Bad Santas darker brother than Krampus - the demon who drags naughty children to his lair for punishment?

Recipe & brewnotes below the fold...

Tasting Notes: Droit du seigneur Blonde

Its been a while since I brewed my Droit du seigneur Blonde. In fact, its been in the keg for over a month and the keg is nearly empty. While it may appear that I've been tardy in my tasting notes, this is not the case. Instead, I've been waiting for it to improve.

Yep, this batch is a rare miss. And a miss for two now-obvious reasons. But lets step back for a second and talk about what this beer is supposed to be. US-style Blondes are the homebrewers response to the "light lager" brews that are all too common (Bud, Molson, Coors, etc). Light in body, minimal maltiness and a mild hoppiness, these beers are nice for a hot summers eve, and are an entry point regular brewers into the world of home brewing. In many ways I achieved this end - the beer is light, clear, refreshing & has a soft but enjoyable hop character.

My problems stems from the light flavour of this beer - sadly, due to a renovation I'm performing in my basement, the usual 18C temperature my basement reliably stays at increased to over 23C. At these temperatures the yeast produced more esters than is appropriate to this style. The esters add a fruity note that is not unpleasant; but unfortunately it is accompanied by a stale/rubbery phenolic note - likely due to topping-up the fermenter with raw tap water. The chlorine in the water would make chloroamines, which have a rubbery flavour to them.

Lesson learned - pay more attention to volumes while brewing & control your fermentation temperatuers; doing so can save you a lot of headaches!