Sunday, 25 October 2015

Well, There Gose Christmas!

Nearly 2 months ago I blogged a teaser post on the brewing of my 2015 Christmas brew that would be entered into my home brew club's advent event, and given to my beer-loving family and friends.

This post is not about that beer.

Rather, this post is about another winter-holiday themed beer that is both a product of long planning (and fantasizing), plus a bit of last-minute brew-wizardry to make the brew-day happen. Sadly, I have no images of this last-minute brew, as I've recently taken a page from a fellow home-brewers book (hi, Devin!) and begun brewing late at night. Yep, 7 PM - midnight brew "days" do get you around all those irritating day-time things (jobs, family, friends, etc), but make for crappy photo-shooting conditions.

I wish I could claim this recipe as my own, and to some extent it is, but I received a lot of help on this one. The initial motivation for this beer is the table of Gose recipes by Cascade brewing in American Sour Beers; specifically, the all-to-brief mention of the winter gose featuring cinnamon, orange, hibiscus and cranberry. While a gose is a pretty straight-forward sour-ketteled beer, the balance of orange & hibiscus came from a very helpful set of  private messages and public posting of a similar gose recipe by BigPerm over at HomebrewTalk. The remaining balance of cinnamon, cranberry, hops and salt are from my previous brewing experiences with gose and those particular ingredients.

Despite that, there was (of course) a bump in the road. I had planned on souring using Lactobacillus isolated from a bottle of Hottenroth. Unfortunately, the lacto culture got "infected" with yeast (you know you're not a normal brewer when the yeast is the infection), so I was forced to preare a last-minute lacto starter using 1.040 wort @ pH 4.5, a handful of grain, and a "homebrewed" incubator to keep the cultures at 44C. The last-minute starter worked, so the brewday(s) was/were saved.

Additional details and recipe can be found below the fold.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Yeast v Bacteria

I occasionally get e-mails (and forum posts) asking questions about identifying yeast versus bacteria in microscopy images. I'm just posting this here as an example of what an average yeast looks like compared to an average bacteria.

At the top of the image is a cluster of a normal yeast strain - Wyeast 1007 (German ale). They are slightly out-of-focus as I was trying to get the bacteria into focus. At the bottom of the cluster are two budding yeasts, in the middle is another budding yeast which is budding upwards (hence why the small bud is in-focus) and there is a non-budding yeast in the upper-left corner of the cluster. The "strand" extending upwards is a clump of trub.

The bacteria is an 'average' bacteria (E. coli, which you hopefully will never see in your beer), but which I added to this sample as a comparator.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Happiness is a Bubbling Carboy...Training Wheels CPA

Go yeast go!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to teach my SWIMBO's uncle how to brew. Because teaching a new brewer the ropes makes for a busier brew-day I didn't have time to blog the here is is a week late.

This recipe is pretty straight forward - a Canadian Pale Ale, which much like history, is a blend of English and American influences. Namely, it incorporates the more interesting malt profile of an English ale, but hopped with "new" American-style hops at a modest (modest, how Canadian!) rate. Hopefully a beer I will enjoy, but not too crazy for a new brewer/light beer drinker.

The Recipe:
The recipe is dead-simple, for 40 L (10 US gallons):

  • 8 kg Canadian pale ale malt (Maris Otter would be a good substitute)
  • 0.45 kg Caramunich I
  • 0.45 kg Caramunich II
  • Enough bittering hops (14.8 g of Northern Brewer @ 8.5%) at 60 min to get to 36 IBU after late additions.
  • 28 g of a 50:50 mix of Citra + Centennial whole hops at 15, 10, 5 minutes before the end of the boil + a final 15 min whirlpool addition (i.e. 112 g total)
  • Irish moss, 15 min before the end of the boil
  • Safale US-05 (2 packs)
Mash @ 66.7C (152F) for 60 min, then sparge & boil for 60 min. If everything goes right, the beer should come in at 36 IBU, SG of 1.049, ~9 SRM.

Ferment started in my pantry, which sits at ~16 C (~60 F) for 5 days, followed by moving it next to the furnace for the final 5 days at ~20 C (~68 F). As you can see above, even at 16 C the ferment was pretty active. The expected FG (1.010) was hit in 4 days, but there is still some bubbling going on, so it may drop a little lower.

The Brew Day:
Brew day was completely, totally and utterly uneventful. Which, given this was a brewday where I was teaching someone how to brew, was exactly what I was hoping for. We slightly exceeded our expected gravity (1.051), and hit our planned volume dead-on. The beer was chilled to 25 C, and then split between 2 x 23L (6 US gallon) carboys fitted with blow-off tubes which were transferred to my pantry where it cooled for 5 hours to 17 C, prior to adding the yeast. Five days later I fitted the carboy's with air locks and moved them next to the furnace to ensure diacetyl reduction and complete attenuation. As of today we're 6 days away from brew-day and 5 days prior to kegging. Hopefully, tasting notes will be posted in about 2 weeks!