Friday, 29 August 2014

Got Brett?

Wyeast 5526 (Brettanomyces lambicus) fermenting my all-brett
Russian Imperial Stout Imperium Brettania 

A thing of beauty

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Double-Header Brew Day!

Believe it or not, it is already time to start the Christmas beer! This years brew - Imperium Brettania - is an inky-black 100% Brettanomyces lambicus fermented Russian Imperial Stout, aged on French oak. Yep, those of you on my xmas exchange list have something to look forward to!

As with my other all-brett dark beers I've made efforts to reduce the amount of grain-derived phenols, in order to limit the production of unpleasant levels of 4-ethylpheol (burnt plastic) and other potentially unpleasant phenols by replacing half of the dark malts with their de-husked equivalents (i.e. carafa special II and III in place of some of the black and chocolate malts). This is combined with a lower-end hop schedule (BU:GU of 0.66), which I hope will keep things balanced once the Brett drys out the beer. This is topped off with a cherry-flavour producing yeast (B. lambicus, Wyeast 5526). This is about as big a beer as I can brew - the 11kg of malt plus 28L of water fills my mash-tun to the lid!

The downside of brewing all-grain big beers like this is that your efficiency usually sucks - its not unheard of for 30% of the fermentables to remain trapped in the mash-tun. I'm fixing this by partigyling this batch - once I've collected the first runnings (Imperium Brettania), I'm doing a second sparge to gather the residual sugars, after which I'm going to hop the runnings with some Willamette hops left over from an older batch, and if needed I'll add a bit of sugar to up the gravity and dry the beer out. I'm not certain what this is going to yield - a sessionable stout, or perhaps a summer mild? Either way, its being named 50,002. Why you ask? That's how many views this blog has recieved as of this morning!

Recipe and notes below the fold.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Pink Beer

So the Cranberry Wit is done and kegged - after 10 days in the primary, and 14 days on 600g of frozen/crushed cranberries. Its hard to capture in a picture, but this beer is pink. Even the head has a hint of pink!

This beer did not turn out as I was expecting, based on the cranberry beers I have tried and read about. I was expecting that astringent flavour that only cranberries create, without much additional berry character - indeed, that seems to be the dominant flavour I've experienced in other cranberry beers. That is present in this beer, but its mild and in the background. I'm not sure if its the yeast or the cranberries, but there is a notable berry note to the flavour.

Quite to my happiness, I did not make the beer I was expecting - I made something better!

Appearance: Pink-toned beer with a light pink head. The head retention is not as good as I'd normally expect of a wheat beer, but I suspect this may be due to the cranberries (cranberry seeds have a lot of oil).

Aroma: Bready, like a wheat beer should be. A lot of fruity notes - whether from the yeast or the cranberries I cannot say.

Flavour: Front of the sip is your typical wheat-beer breadiness layered with fruity flavours. There is a bit of a sweetness to the beer as well. This fades into the typical cranberry astringency, with the sweetness coming out a little more. The aftertaste is a mild cranberry astringency and a fair bit of fruitiness. Hop bitterness and flavour is present, but in the background.

Mouthfeel: This is a very refreshing beer - it whets the mouth and the astringency of the cranberry acting more to balance the whetting sweetness then it acts to dry the mouth. The body is a little thin for a wheat beer - perhaps due to my use of an overnight mash - but works well with the otherwise very refreshing character of this beer.

Overall: This has not been one of my better summers of brewing - I had my first dumper in nearly a decade, my brewing output is less than half of normal, I have a sour solera project planned that I just cannot get off the ground, and if that wasn't enough - the weather this summer has been shit. This beer makes up for all of that - better tasting than planned, and perfect for the odd day when we actually get a bit of sun. This beer is definetly going into the rebrew pile! If I could change one thing it would be...nothing!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Your Home Yeast Lab Made Easy - Streak Plates

The fourth of my "Your Home Yeast Lab Made Easy" series is now up on youtube. This video covers an advanced topic - streak plating. I was not planing on covering this topic so early in my video series, but I was streaking yeast for another project and decided to take advantage of the situation.

Streak plating is used any time you need to purify a strain of yeast (or other microorganism). This method allows you to pull single, genetically pure strains of a microorganism out of a mixed culture. This mixed culture could be any number of sources - an old strain of yeast whose characteristics are starting to drift, a contaminated batch of yeast, a mixed culture (e.g. those made by Wyeast, or from a bottle of sour beer), or even from a wild ferment you started using yeast from your back yard!

The principal of streak plating is simple - a small amount of the source yeast is spread across an edge of a petri dish. The yeast/bacteria/etc concentration in this streak are at a high density, so you swipe a sterilized loop across the first set of streaks, picking up a small number of the organisms, and then streak over another portion of the plate. You repeat this two more times, each time diluting out the yeast/etc further.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Your Home Yeast Made Easy - Aseptic Techniques

The third of my "Your Home Yeast Lab Made Easy" series is now up on youtube! This video is the most important video I will produce as part of this series. The skills I discuss in this video are central to keeping yeast samples uncontaminated - are key and indispensable skill for any brewer interested in taking their yeast culturing activities beyond making starters and washing yeast. You must master these skills if you want to slant or freeze yeast, purify yeast strains, or engage in any form of advanced yeast culturing. In the world of yeast culture, these skills are the your tricycle - until you learn to "ride" these techniques you are not ready to ride the two-wheeler.

I've been trying to keep these video's short, and broke that rule with this one, but the length is for a good reason - these skills are critical for any intermediary or advanced yeast-culturing method, and a 5 minute video simply cannot do this topic justice.

I know my video's are not everyone's cup of tea, so here are some other good resources for those needing additional information, or who get put to sleep by me droning on for 10 minutes...