Friday, 25 September 2015

Tasting Notes - Brett'd Sour Opprobrium

Enjoyed on the last
day of summer
Back in July I brewed a kettle-soured Berliner Weisse, which I split into two batches - one fermented straight with German Ale (Wyeast 1007), which was kegged and carbed within 10 days of brew day. The second half was fermented with the same yeast, but then underwent a secondary fermentation for ~2.5 months with a blend of Wyeast & White Lab's B. claussenii and Wyeast's B. lambicus. Those familiar with those brett strains will see that my goal was to add a nice fruit character to the beer, with a hint of funk.

The non-bretted version turned out pretty good - not quite as sour as I was hoping, but it was very quaffable. So what did the brett do to this beer?

Appearance: Its a Berliner - hazy (although not as hazy as the non-bretted version, likely because of its longer ageing), very pale in colour, and pours with a nice, long-lasting head.

Aroma: A tropical fruit character is apparent, as is a bit of lactic acidity. The bread notes of the unbretted portion are very muted - I don't think I'd notice they were present if I didn't know to look for them.

Flavour: The hoped-for fruit character has come through. The mix of bretts produced a nice fruitiness, although a specific fruit character has not been achieved. There's a bit of citrus and some stone fruit. In addition, a bit of leathery/earthy brett funk has emerged, giving this beer an additional interesting edge. Not only has the brett enhanced the flavour profile, but it also seems to have increased the acidity - I suspect this is an apparent change (rather than more actual acid), likely due to a lowering of the maltiness by the activity of the brett. The acidity balances nice with the fruit and funk, making for a wonderfully balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, dry and acidic. Very refreshing. After taste is lactic with hints of fruit.

Overall: A huge improvement over the original - more apparent acidity, a more complex flavour profile, and a more pleasing mouthfeel. While the base recipe could use a little tweaking (in particular, a step-mash to get a more fermentable wort, replacement of some gravity with sugar, and a more aggressive Lactobacillus for the sour-ketteling), the addition of brett was a great way to improve on the beer. I've brewed bretted Berliners in the past, and while this one is not the best of them, it remains a very good beer.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Happiness is a Full Test-Tube Rack

Twenty-six new yeasts for the yeast bank!

Thank you fellow yeast farmers.

Top: 6 bottle cultures
Middle: 14 wild & 6 commercial yeast strains
Bottom: Cryovials to store them all

Friday, 18 September 2015

Dammit . . . err, tasting notes

Didn't take a picture of the beer, so here is a
photo of some of its ingredients instead.
Woe is me - a few weeks ago I brewed a pretty basic rye Saison. The good news is its one of the better beers of 2015; the bad news (and hence the woe) is the keg is now empty, meaning I'm effectively out of kegged beer (although, in my hour of need, I did keg the bretted portion of this years Berliner Weisse...2 months early).

So, how did the saison taste? This is from memory, so hopefully its correct.

Appearance: Pale yellow, almost white. Slightly cloudy, with a thick white head that leaves traces of Belgian lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Classic saison fruitiness + earthyness. Coriander aroma is present, but in the background.

Flavour: Wow - crisp, earthy, fruity. Pretty much the character you'd expect from a classic European saison. Coriander doesn't come through as a clear taste, but rather complements the yeast spiciness. Rye adds a nice crisp flavour to the beer.

Mouthfeel: Because of the rye, this beer has a thicker body and slick mouthfeel which is somewhat off-style - even with a final gravity of 1.004. I gave this beer a higher carbonation level (nearly 3 volumes), which lightened this up somewhat and gave the beer an almost champaign-like acidity which faded as the beer warmed and lost carbonation.

Overall: Overall this was a pretty good beer for the end of the summer - crisp and refreshing, and light but with a lot of flavour. I cycle to work, and this beer was always a welcomed finish to the ride home - especially on the hot and humid days that rounded out August. Aside from the rye this is about as classical a saison as you can make, and had all the character you would expect of a lower-gravity saison. If I were to re-brew this I'd drop half the rye for wheat, but leave the recipe otherwise unchanged - that should retain th rye character, while removing the out-of-place slick mouthfeel.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Teaser - Révolte des Anges

Normally, I like to provide all the details of a brewday - recipe, brew notes, etc - on my blog. But today is an exception, as among my blog readers are a number of people whom are also on my Christmas beer-list &/or in my brew clubs advent exchange. And, as you may have guessed, this means I'm brewing this years advent brew today.

True to this years theme (Murphy's law, or perhaps angry weather gods), the second I try a difficult beer nature works against me. My 20% beer brewed last winter took place - of course - on the coldest day of the year. It was so cold that I couldn't get the propane to flow, and ended up performing an ~6 hour boil on my electric stove top. Today's brew is going the other direction; today may be the hottest day of the year, with a humidex of ~40C. While that isn't going to stop me from brewing, it is causing me to lose a lot of sweat.

Blackened raisin puree, orange zest, rosemary
and some good hops.

Any way's, the purpose of today's post is more a teaser for those on my xmas/advent lists than a recipe/brew day. This years xmas/advent beer has some unique elements to it - blackened raisins, orange zest & rosemary to be exact. It's also a funky beer, being brewed with a mix of Bier de Guarde yeast and my house blend of Brettanomyces - a mix of 6 commercial and wild Bretts.

This should be a good beer, and if I recall I'll post the recipe & tasting notes around Christmas-time.