Saturday, 31 May 2014

Shipwrecked - more way then one.

The third attempt to dissolve the sugar - still
visible in the bottom of the jar. The original
sugar was somewhat darker than this.
This post is going to be a quickie - I'm brewing while doing chores, so there isn't much time for me to write.

Its time for some summer beers, so on the docket today is a classical saison. Because I'm pressed for time I didn't formulate my own recipe, and instead I am brewing this the "Shipwrecked Sainson" from HBT. No changes were made to the recipe, other than I'm using cultured Dupont Saison yeast and I once again made my own candi sugar - this time amber instead of dark.

If you've followed my older posts on homemade candi sugar (Posts 1, 2) you'll know that the usual product of this process is a block of candi sugar. This time I tried to make a syrup by adding ~400ml of water (for 460g sugar) at the end of the process; but instead of a nice syrup I instead ended up with a jar of half syrup and half solid sugar - sugar which was almost impossible to re-dissolve. Instead of being a time saver, this has instead become a time-suck. It took a few rounds off adding boiling water and heating/scraping to get it all in the brew (picture to left).

Making the amber sugar was quite easy, and produced a product similar in flavour to pancake syrup, but without the butteriness. The process:

  1. 400g of sugar was dissolved in water and inverted, as per my prior posts
  2. After inversion the sugar was warmed to 135C and 15ml of 1M lye was added
  3. Within 1 or 2 minutes colour/flavour development hit the desired level.
  4. 400ml of water was added to make a syrup, which as mentioned above, failed miserably...
Anyways, that's all I have time to write today. I'll be sure to follow up with some tasting notes in a month or so.

Now, off to clean the truck...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Tasting Notes: Black Mamba Rye IPA

A pint of Black Mamba
The Black Mamba IPA has been brewed, carbed and is already at its prime. This black IPA was formulated to highlight the last of last summers home-grown Cascade hops. I am very, very happy with this beer; it is one of the better IPAs that I've put together lately, with the debittered dark malt and rye adding a wonderful accent to the beer.

Appearance: Dark, dark and dark. Pours with a fluffy white head that dissipates over a few minutes.

Aroma: Cascade dominates the aroma. I'm not sure if its the beer's formulation, or because the hops were home grown, but the dank aspect of the hops comes through much more than the citrus/grapefruit character.

Flavour: Cascade plus hop bitterness is in the fore - a grapefruit & resinous hop flavor dominates, balanced with a smooth but strong hop bitterness (the smoothness, I think, is due to the use of first wort hopping). The dark malts and rye are in the background, but are noticeable and create an interesting mix or rye crispness and chocolate flavours. The use of dehusked Carafa Special II creates a unique flavour profile - roast notes, chocolate-like in nature, but without the astringency that normally comes along with the use of classical dark malts. This beer used the legendary Conan yeast, and while the yeast worked well with the beer none of the notes I was expecting are apparent - perhaps they ended up buried behind the strong hop schedule and rye/roasted malt character. That's not to say the yeast have detracted from the beer, but rather that the yeast character I was expecting is somewhat subdued.  The after taste is a mostly hop bitterness plus a lingering dank/citrus flavour from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Light in body, like an IPA should be, and effervescent. Crisp & refreshing; no drying astringency or any other detractors. If this wasn't 7% alcohol it would be a great session beer.

Overall: A fantastic beer which is a real pleasure to drink. Black IPAs may just have become one of my favourite beer styles...

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Holy Pellicle, Batman!

The 1-2-3-4 is brewing away strongly, and the huge brett pitch combined with the use of a semi-open fermenter has led to the formation of one heck of a pellicle (click picture for the full-resolution glory). I wish I had grabbed a shot a few days earlier - flocks of Saccharomyces were duelling for space with Brettanomyces  doing its best to setup shop on top of the beer.  Primary fermentation is complete, so the Saccharomyces lost the battle as it always does, but it fought a valiant fight!

Some may wonder why I'm using a "semi-open" fermenter for this (by semi-open I mean a large bucket with a loose fitting lid). The reason is simple - many of the wonderful esters made by Brett require the presence of oxygen - the loose lid and large surface area will ensure plenty of oxygen makes it to the pellicle.