Friday, 25 April 2014

Easy as 1-2-3-4: a Rye Berliner Weiss

Last summer I prepared a fantastic sour-mashed Berliner Weiss. It was so good that I swore I'd brew at least 2 batches of it this summer, so its time to get going. But with a lot of changes. The last Berliner Weiss was as basic as you can get - 1:1 barley:wheat, sour mashed, and fermented with 1056. This year that is all going to change.

A big part of this change was motivated by a Berliner Weiss brewed by Justin, a fellow brewer in the London Homebrewers Guild. He used a bit of rye in his Berliner Weiss, and it worked incredibly well; the dry/crisp character of the rye fit in perfectly well with the sourness & dryness of the Berliner Weiss. The second big change I am making is the use of multiple yeast/bacterial cultures; instead of getting my lacto from a handful of uncrushed malt, I'm using an innoculum of lacto from my yeast bank (#91, Lactobacillus buchneri). I am doing this in the hope of avoiding some of the harsher bacterial tones I got last summer (likely from enterobacteria) - they eventually faded, but were unpleasant while they persisted. After boiling, I will be fermenting with a mix of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces (yeast bank #111, 133 & 134) ; all three strains having been isolated from a commercial Berliner Weiss.

This unusual approach is also meant to deal with another issue - between starting the yeast cultures and the planned brew day - Saturday - SWIMBO and I decided to go camping. I'm hoping that the pitching of ~50ml of active lacto culture Tuesday night will sour things enough to finish the brew on Thursday...I'm hoping it will work, but either way this is the plan.

Why 1-2-3-4 you ask?  Its easy - 1:2:3 is the rye:wheat:pilsner malt ratio of the beer, and it took 4 microorganisms to ferment it out!

Recipe & Brewing Notes Below the Fold...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tasting Notes: African Queen

A few weeks ago I brewed an experimental stout for a brewing challenge offered by my brew club. The challenge concept was simple - Iron Brewer; brew a beer using two ingredients drawn from a cap. I was lucky and got amaretto and grand marnier; almond and orange liquors which I worked into a stout.

The vision for the stout was a digestive; much like the liquors going into the beer. As such I wanted something bold, silky smooth and with a robust flavour and a balancing sweetness.  This led to a stout recipe which had a lot of dark malts (60SRM's worth), was mashed high to provide body, and which had equal amounts of each liquor added twice - at flame-out & at kegging.

I almost got what I wanted - the liquor balance could be better; instead of the 1:1 ratio I would have used 2:1 orange:almond, as the orange is too subtle and the almond bitterness is too strong. I would also increase the amount of total liquor by as much as 2-fold. In addition, I would add the lactose I had meant to add (but forgot to order) - the body is nice, but the silkiness of lactose would be a fantastic addition.

Nitty-gritty below the fold.