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Topics - unclebrazzie

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Beer Recipes / Blending: Black Sour Something + Bee Barf Brown
« on: September 10, 2015, 07:36:50 PM »

I have two brews I intend to blend.

Bee Barf Brown is a honey brown I brewed back in February. It developed a light pellicle so I left it to dry out.
65% Munich
16% Honey (got it from a bee-keeping friend, no specific variety)
11.5% CaraPils
4.5% Biscuit
1.5% Aroma 150
1.5% Chocolate malt
Bittered to about 25 IBU with ElDorado and fermented with Safbrew Abbeye

It's moderately dry, with Aroma, Biscuit and Honey vying for attention. Enough complexity to not just down it, but not enough to qualify as a sipper. Not sweet; the honey-presence is almost medicinal/homeopatic in that you can tell it's there if you know it.

Black Sour Something is the sour second running from an black wee heavy-ish thing I brewed in April.
50% Pale
20% Munich
26.7% wheat malt
3.3% roast barley
Hopped with Saaz to 10IBU and fermented with Yeast Bay's Sour Melange (Sacchs, Bretts, Lactos and Pediod in a proprietary blend).

It's quite sour (think lambiccy in its mouth-puckeringness), smells a bit like cold acidic coffee, with undertones of burnt toast and Bretts. Tastes somewhere between lambic and unblended Flemish Brown (Rodenbach Vintage), minus either one's maturity.

While each can probably stand on its own, both are lacking the (I detest the term but here goes nothing) balance to make them enjoyable.
I blended 3 parts of the BBB with 1 part of the BBS, which resulted in something...well...different. The sourness was still there, without overshadowing the delicate honey notes.

A 1:1 ratio resulted in the BBS overwhelming the BBB.

Anyone have any experience in blending, particularly where sours + non-sours are concerned?
I know one Catalunyan brew blends a pale ale with Cantillon lambic; maybe this can become something similar...

Ingredients / Wet hops: Omega, Brewers Gold, Phoenix
« on: September 02, 2015, 07:11:12 AM »

a friend of mine has a harvest surplus of fresh hops. Omege, Brewers Gold and maybe a bit of Phoenix. Being a generous chap, he'll be donating a bunch of them to me, so I'll be brewing later this week.
Ideas or suggestions for anything which might benefit from these hops (in their wet and green form), I'd be glad to hear them.

Beer Recipes / Green wild hop APA
« on: August 31, 2015, 10:17:03 AM »

I recently discovered a bunch of wild hops bines growing not 5' walking distance from my doorstep. I intend to capitalise on this discovery by brewing a green hops beer with it.

Specifics regarding malt bill aside, I intend to brew an easy APA (if not an even simpler SMaSH) to get a feel of this hops. I've absolutely no idea as to what cultivar it might be, nor about its brewing properties, so this is just to get an idea of its overall brewing potential.

The flowers smell very green when rubbed in the palms, with hardly any yellow lupulin to be seen. Green and pleasantly citrussy, but very very mild.

In 20l of 1.045 beer with a target of 20 IBU, I would add
100g at T-70'
75g at T-15'
75g at whirlpool

Dryhop unlikely to happen unless I find more green hops by the time primary fermentation ends. I'll freeze another 50g or so just in case.

My estimation is that the hops will be about 3% alpha (but with my luck, it may well be 18% and I'll be brewing a horrible mess in the end). I doubled all amounts I'd normally use if these were dried hops, knowing I'll still end up well below what my calculator says (I figure about 80% of the flowers is water anyway).

Any ideas or experiences to share?

Beer Recipes / Seabuckthorn sour
« on: August 20, 2015, 10:11:49 AM »
Hi y'all!

I'll be getting my hands on a quantity of seabuckthorn sometime soon.
I plan to brew a sour wheat beer with it, à la so:

For a batch of 1050 beer:
50% pale malt
30% wheat malt
20% Munich malt

Mash on the warm side (69°C) so the bugs have something to chew once the Sacchs are worn out.
Boil for 70'
with 15 IBU at t-70
and  5IBU at t-15
I'm planning on using Saaz because that's what I have lying about the place, but I reckon something more floral wold work nicely too.

Pitch bug blend: Sacch, Brett, Lacto and Pedio. Something à la Roesselare Blend or Sour Melange.
Once krausen subsides, add seabuckthorn and cranberries, both frozen/bletted for easier access to the sugars.

The idea is to end up with a sour ale just shy of Lambic complexity, with seabuckthorn addind a touch of orangey-berry flavours, and the cranberry adding something cosmopolitan-without-actually-tasting-of-cosmopolitan :).

The berries will also import tartness of their own.

Your thoughts very appreciated.

Beer Recipes / Gotlandsdricka-saison-ish hybrid
« on: August 10, 2015, 07:43:16 AM »

I'm expecting a delivery of freshly picked juniper twigs (like many things, harvesting wild juniper is bery much verboten in Belgium so I'm having mine imported from the French causses) so I'll be brewing something with Juniper soon.

Here's something loosely based on Jester King's Viking Metal (which I haven't tasted because Belgium doesn't know jack s*** about foreign beer).

For 20l (5.2 gallons) of 1.074 OG beer:

4 kg pale
1 kg lightly peated whiskymalt
1 kg wheat malt
1 kg rye malt

Mash at 67°C (154F) for 60' in water infused with juniper (branches, needles, berries). Use the discarded branches to line the mash tun.
Should yield 25l of 1.058 wort.

Boil for 70' with
40g EKG                                       @T-60'
5g   sweet gale                             @T-5'
5g   dried crushed juniper berries     @t-5'

Should yield 21l of 1.074 wort.

Pitch with French Saison (3711), starter using harvested cake from previous brew. Let rip at ambient temp.

Optionally (depending on how advenurous I'm feeling at this point), inoculate with lactic culture and age on wood chips (infused in either gin or Vlaamse jenever) for half a year or so.

The aim here is to get the rustic, "historic" character of juniper and gale, with a mild smokeyness from the whisky malt (note that it really is a very lightly peated malt, which was barely noticeable in a more robust Scotch-like brew I made earlier this year).
I was tempted to add some honey to dry out a bit, but I'm no big fan of honey flavours in beer so I decided against it.

Your thoughts, oh Forum Overmind?

Ingredients / Roasted bell peppers
« on: May 28, 2015, 01:34:50 PM »
Anyone have any experience with roasted (bell or other) peppers?

What I'm looking for is the meaty, sweet-roasted flavour of freshly roasted peppers to complement an imperial stout already spiced with (very) hot peppers in the boil.

Racking to freshly roasted bell peppers seems like an idea, but I worried that
  • they would impart vegetable flavours (ratatouille stout doesn't sound like anything anyone besides me would want to drink)
  • roast peppers exude an oily juice which I fear is a real head-killer

Beer Recipes / Sprucey rye saison
« on: May 28, 2015, 08:45:40 AM »

another commission brew. My cousin-in-law requested a neighbourhood-get-together festive beer, and after tossing ideas around we settled on "something with spruce tips from the trees in the surrounding woodsy parkland".

Here's what I've come up with so far. Your thoughts greatly appreciated.

For 20l of  1.059SG beer:
4kg pale           80%
1 kg rye malt    20%
.5 kg oat husks to prevent the rye from gumming up my mash bed

15' @ 40°C (b-glucanase rest)
50' @ 65°C
Batch sparge.

Boil for 70' with
20g Chinook @ T-60'      ~30IBU
100g spruce tips @T-30'

Cool and pitch with Wyeast3711 French Saison. Ferment @ 23°C

Never brewed with spruce nor Chinook before.
I'm aiming for a dry beer which will showcase the (reported) citrussy flavors of the spruce, combined with the spicyness of both rye and 3711.
The Chinook is there mostly for bittering and an undercurrent supportive to the piney resins of the spruce. I've heard it descrived as "Saaz in a pine forest" which fits the bill as far as I'm concerned.

What this would taste like in my mind is a beery interpretation of a mildly assertive retsina wine.

Things about which I am in dubio:
  • 30' boil of 100g of spruce (~4oz) is about mid-way of what I've found here and there with reported good presence of spruce without the beer becoming a resin-laden puddle of creosote. Too much? Too little?
  • would it benefit from a mild late dose of hops (Chinook or other) without stealing the spruce's thunder?
  • instead of (or in addition to?) boiling the spruce, I could go Sahti on it and infuse the mash water with it. Choices choices...

What say ye, y'all?

Ingredients / Cocculus indicus substitute
« on: April 29, 2015, 08:41:40 AM »
In the pursuit of something resembling historic porter (I know, I'm chasing rainbows here but it keeps me young and happy), I came across references to Cocculus indicus as an adulterant. This poisonous berry was used to render beer more potent and give it inebriating qualities not derived from the fermentation process.

I can only shudder at the hangovers those 1780s porters must have caused.

Does anyone here know what Coccculus indicus would taste like and what I could use as a substitute? I'm not looking for narcotic properties per se; just curious as to what its flavour contributions might have been.

Wood/Casks / Cubes/chips as carriers
« on: April 28, 2015, 12:28:25 PM »

say I've a friend who's got a few bottles on hand whose dregs I'd love to harvest.
Say this friend also live too far away to guarantee my inclusion to the guestlist when he decides to open them bottles.
Would it be a viable strategy to hand him a couple of small mason jars containing some oak chips, with the instructions to just pour the dregs in there when he decides to drink them beers, store them somewhere safe, and just hand them over when we meet again?

My reasoning is that at least a small percentage of the  bugs would survive in the wood chips, allowing me to benefit at least partially from their imparting properties.

Sounds solid?

Wood/Casks / Soaked or dry?
« on: April 28, 2015, 09:58:59 AM »

I was chatting with my brother the other day. He's as crazy about wine as I am about beer, and at some point, I asked his advice about which particular Pinot Noir wine I should be soaking my oak cubes in for a sour beer I'm brewing.

He was fascinated by the idea that I'd want to flavour oak with wine instead of "the normal way" which means flavouring maturing wine with oak.
As far as he was concerned, almost all the flavour I'd be getting from soaked cubes (and i'm not talking spirits here, just wine) would be oak and tannins, with hardly any actual wine coming through. He also voiced his concern that what little wine I'd be getting would actually be oxydised, and that in this light, it wouldn't matter much wether I'd be using a quality Pinot Noir, or a low-budget WhateverGrapeTheyHave.

His take then, is that I'd be better off just using "naked" cubes, and use the wine for blending (preferrable whilst bottling). This would leave most room for the wine to actually make a difference.

Any thoughts on this from y'all?

Beer Recipes / Der Rudi! Super Alpha lager
« on: April 09, 2015, 07:52:07 AM »

I intend to brew a lager hopped with DrRudi sometime soon.

First time with this hops, and also the first time I'll be brewing a lager. I purchased a pack of Wyeast 2000 XL Budvar for this purpose and here's what I had planned:

For 20 liters of 1.050 SG wort:
2    kg pils
2.8 kg munich

Mash at 67°C for 1 hour or until converted.
50g of DrRudi in mash
10g of DrRudi in FWH

Boil for 70'
30g of DrRudi at t-5'
40g of DrRudi in hopstand
80g of DrRudi in dryhop for 5 days @5-2°C

Cool to 10°C and pitch activated contents of 1 smackpack.
Ferment at 10°C for three weeks.
Increase temp to 13°C for another week (D-rest)
Cool gradually to 2°C over the course of another week (this is where I add the dryhop)

Rack and bottle.

Brewing software estimates 35 IBU but I bet it will be lower as mash hopping tends to give far lower bitterness levels than most brewing software expects.

The result should be a crisp, intensely hoppy lager. Munich should provide a bit of backbone, and I'm wondering if I shouldn't add a bit of carapils to support it some more.

No idea what to expect from that Budvar strain but hoping it won't class with the piney/lemongrassy notes DrRudi's supposed to contribute.

Any thoughts/advice?
Are lager yeasts as harvestable/reusable as ale yeasts?

Ingredients / Peated malt
« on: April 07, 2015, 11:24:17 AM »
Finally used this in a scottish gruit hybrid and was surprised by the amount of love/hate this malt seems to get from brewers.
Some hate it so much they'd discard it altogether, in any brew whatsoever.
Others love it so much that they'd happily go 100% with this.

Me, I like peat, me. While I've still to ascertain the level of peatiness in that scottish bastard beer of mine, so far I'd say that anything below 10%, in a strong (say 1.080 SG and beyond) wort is hard to detect. Notes, perhaps, depending on your tolerance, but certainly not overwhelming.

That being said, peated malt reminds me of chili powder in a way. I see TV chefs toss it in by the spoonful, "to get a bit of kick". The chili powder I buy in Belgian supermarkets, while certainly not plutonic, is still nothing to use more than a pinch of.
What I mean is that there's quite some variability between products and manufacturers, and malt is no exception. "Lightly peated whisky malt" could mean anything, depending on the maltster/smokester.
The peated malt I can obtain doesn't list a ppm value for the peat, which would have helped a lot during recipe formulation.

Any experiences/thoughts on peated malt?

Beer Recipes / Batch-sparged duo: Wee Heavy - Sour Deflowered
« on: April 02, 2015, 09:36:03 AM »
In this thread I've outlined the way in which I've calculated wort densities for a parti-gyle/batch-sparge project I'm going to udnertake on Monday.

Here are the recipes. All that's missing is your thoughts on them :)

Wee Heavy
15 liter
OG 1.090

60% Maris Otter
25% Munich 15L
11% lightly peated malt
4% roasted barley

This is the blend of
  • wort 1 (MO, Munich & roasted barley): 10 liters à 1.108 SG
  • wort 3 (peated malt): 5 liters à 1.055

Yields 15 liters à 1.090.
Boil for 90'
20 IBU of EKG @ t-60'
5 IBU of EKG  @ t-15'
30 g of dried heather tips @ t-15'
.5 g of gale @ t-15'
2-3 bay leaves @ t-15'

then dilute back to 1.090.
Ferment cool (18°C - 64F) with Safale S-04
Possibly drygale in secondary.

I realise 11% of peated malt is polarising and maybe a stupid thing to do. As are the herbal additions. Convince me ;)

Sour Deflowering
upwards of 15 liter
OG 1.054

55% Maris Otter
22% Munich 15L
10% wheat malt
10% flaked oats
3% roasted barley

This is wort 2 from the batch sparge, but instead of just collecting second runnings, I'm remashing with an extra kilo of wheat malt and a kilo of flaked oats. This will bring my pre-boil OG from 1.054 to about 1.067, giving me ample armspace for dilution.

Boil for 70'
8 IBU of saaz @ t-60'
Depending on delivery of my [url]lacto-blend[/url], ferment etiher with safale S-33 first, then with lacto-blend, or skip the s-33 altogther.
Ferment at room temp either way.
Rack onto fruit as soon as I've decided on which fruit that might become.
Add oak cubes soaked in Pinot Noir.
Forget about it for a year or so.

Looking forward to this :)

I'm planning another parti-gyle / split-batch brew day.
My aim is to brew a 1.090 OG wee heavy from first runnings (plus extras), and a 1.054 OG sour from second runnings.

Since I'm brewing on a primitive 30 liter rig (double plastic filterbucket mash tun, 30 liter kettle), parti-gyling seems like a good way to achieve a good, strong wort for the first, with enough yumminess in the last.

Here's my approach.

Using Randy's tables and taking the 50/50 approach, I decide I need a 1.081 theoretical brew, which will yield 1.108 in the first half, and 1.054 in the second. 10 liters each, so a 20 liter 1.081 mash should yield all the fermentables I need for both brews.

Result: 10 liters at 1.108 (Wort 1)
          10 liters at 1.054 (Wort 2)

I'm about .010 SG over my 1.090 mark, because I want the scotch to be peated, without peating the sour second runnings, so I'm doing a small second mash of just whiskey malt, yielding 5 liters of 1.055 wort.

Result: 5 liters at 1.055 (Wort 3)

Combine worts 1 and 3 to yield 15 liters at 1.090. This will be the wee heavy.
Wort 2 is pretty much good to go, but I might decide to add some extra wheat malt and/or starchy grains to the mash tun and actually mash again instead of just sparging. This'll yield a denser wort, which I can then dilute to have more wort at the desired gravity.

Couple of sidenotes:

*) gravities are all calculated pre-boil. Post-boil, they'll be higher (especially the wee heavy which I intend to boil for about two hours). Dilution at the end of the boil will be necessary to get them where I want them.
*) I'm complicating things by wanting peat in one but not the other. It'd be easier if I could just re-use the same grist, but where'd be the fun in that?
*) another reason I'm going through the trouble and mathematical calistenics of parti-gyling is that I'm going to be using a lot of malt to get the wee heavy at 1.090. I could brew more than 10 liters, but then I'd need a bigger mash tun to be able to mash and sparge properly. It's a balancing act between malt, mash tun space, and yield volume.

Any thoughts on the above?
I'll be posting recipes for both brews later on.

Beer Recipes / Hibiscus - ginger saison
« on: March 06, 2015, 02:44:58 PM »
Got a bottle of re-used Wyeast 3711 French Saison in the fridge since laste January which I'd like to stretch its legs for a while before it grows old and grumpy.

SG 1.050
20 liters, est. 5.3% ABV
25 IBU calc.
13EBC exp.

4.1 kg Pale (90%)
  .5 kg flaked wheat (10%)

Single step infusion mash @ 65°C (149F) for 60' or until converted.

70' boil.

40g Centennial @ t-10' (20IBU)
40g Centennial @ t-5'  (  5IBU)
40g Centennial @ t      (whirlpool)

50g dried hibiscus flowers @ t-10'
20g home made candied ginger in secondary: chopped ginger, boiled and coated in sugar.
possibly add more hibiscus in the form of tea when bottling

Cool to 20°C, pitch starter made with reused yeast cake of Wyeast 3711.
Ferment warm (28°C-82F or higher) for 2-3 weeks or until done.
Rack to secondary onto the ginger. Leave for at least a week or until ginger is just slightly too much.
Rack off and bottle with sugar; aim for 2.5 volumes. If necessary, add hibiscus tea or macerate to bottling bucket to amp the flavour/colour.


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