Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Induction of Another Home Brewer

Austin, Texas, March, 2010

I am happy to say that the home brewing ranks have been augmented by the addition of another brave soul who is ready to taste the best beer the world has to offer, home brew. His name is Rob Malone and he has been a steadfast member of the brewing team since 2006 providing such paramount tasks as beer tasting, critiques, and moral support. Rob has officially stepped off the sidelines and created his very own first batch of beer. To get off on the right foot we choose a Dunkelweizen for its versatility and ability to come out tasting great even as one’s seminal brew. For all of you soon to be brewers out there, I suggest choosing a first batch from a style that can take a little abuse. This would lead me to suggest a mild or dark ale as they have a wide fermentation temperature range and their darker color can cover up a bit of off tastes or final color/clarity variations. For this reason we chose a Dunkelweizen.

Remember it is of critical importance to have beer while brewing, preferably one related to the beer you are brewing. To that end we sampled some authentic European dunkelweizen and weizen beers along with an American version, Allagash White. Hacker and Pschorr is an excellent beer. If you can find it at your local liquor store, I recommend trying some. In my opinion it is best served ‘mit hefe’, or with the yeast by rolling the bottle prior to pouring.

Most home brewers, Rob included, start their brewing journey with an extract kit as they require much less time than all grain brewing and tremendously less equipment. As you can see by the picture all we using to brew this batch is a simple pot purchased at Wal-Mart for less than $20. The beer ingredient kits come with one or two containers of liquid malt, hops, dry yeast, and in Rob’s case, a bag of brewer’s malts to steep in the boil kettle as it heats up. While pure extract kits are much easier and potentially quicker, the partial mash kits that come with grains add a considerable amount of flavor and color depth to the finished product. For an additional 20-40 minutes, I think they are well worth the effort. In fact with the advances in liquid malt extracts and a wider variety of dry yeasts, one can brew a batch of beer in a quarter the time as all grain brewing and end up with an excellent beer. There are a lot of people out there that look down on dry yeast but they are still a cost effective way of producing beer. To prepare the dry yeast we mixed it with some warm water at the beginning of the boil. That preparation combined with a well aerated wort lead to a raging fermentation the next day; so much so that the airlock had to be removed prior to blowing the lid off.

I highly recommend starting home brewing with extract or partial mash kits and dry yeast prior to going for the gusto of all grain brewing and liquid yeasts. With less than $100 in the game you can get an idea of whether brewing is for you or not. For additional information on the starter equipment prices to brew your first batch of beer see the links below to my favorite online home brew store Midwest Brewing Supplies.

Midwest Brewing Supplies Equipment Kits

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beer Festival BREWFEST!!!!

We went a little crazy this weekend and brewed the rest of the beer for Maifest 2010. We brewed for 16 hours straight starting on Friday. From 4:00pm till 8:00am. We brewed 7 beers for the festival. All of our equipment worked flawlessly and all the fermentations started perfectly. All in all it was an awesome night. We are getting super excited for the festival and this only got us more pumped!

We brewed:
India Pale Ale
Brown Ale
California Common
European Pilsner
Bavarian Wheat
Belgian Wit

We decided to taste some inspirational beers while we brewed, we chose some real special brews from the cellar:
Dogfish Head: Red and White
The Lost Abbey: Inferno Ale
Brew Dog: Bashah
Alaskan Brewing Co.: Smoked Porter (2009)
Stone Brewing: Smoked Porter
Russian River Brewing: Temptation
Rogue: Dirtoir Black Lager
Stone Brewing: Arrogant Bastard Ale

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My favorite homebrew; Vindicated!

When I first had Saison-Brett from Boulevard Brewing, I LOVED it. It is still one of my favorite beers. After having this glorious concoction I was inspired to try and brew something with the little fungi we call Brettanomyces. When I first tried to put my recipe together, I had trouble finding the Wyeast/White Labs strains I was looking for around here. Most of the people I talked to about it only warned me how Brett will destroy every single beer I would ever hope to make again on the same equipment because of contamination! Apparently they have never used sanitizer!

Anyhow, I ended up with a farmhouse style ale. It is a fairly simple recipe using two-row, malted wheat, and flaked corn. Hops used are Magnums, Simcoes, and Williamettes. I came up with the name BrettanoFunky Farmhouse and loved it.

Recently I entered it into the 27th Annual KC Bier Meister's Homebrew Competition and won a GOLD medal for the Belgian and French Ale category (subcategory: Belgian Specialty Ale)! I was super excited and it made it even better that this is my favorite beer I brew!

The other medal is for a Pliny the Elder style super hoppy Imperial IPA.

Here is the recipe for the BrettanoFunky Farmhouse. Hopefully you have the patience to let it age! Also, it is hard to find the Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse and the Wyeast 5151 Brettanomyces Claussenii as they are special editions. Whoops!

Recipe: BrettanoFunky Farmhouse
Brewer: Thomas Sanford
Asst Brewer:
Style: Belgian Specialty Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (36.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.00 gal Boil Size: 4.08 gal
Estimated OG: 1.087 SG
Estimated Color: 5.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 29.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 63.49 %
4 lbs 12.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 30.16 %
1 lbs Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 6.35 %
1.00 oz Magnum [13.10 %] (30 min) Hops 20.0 IBU
1.00 oz Simcoe [12.00 %] (10 min) Hops 8.6 IBU
0.50 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (2 min) Hops 0.5 IBU
0.50 oz Williamette [4.30 %] (Dry Hop 7 days) Hops -
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
5.00 gal Kansas City, KS Water
1 Pkgs Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (Wyeast Labs #3Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs Brettanomyces Clausenii (White Labs #5151 Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs Farmhouse Ale (Wyeast #3726 PC) Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: Temperature Mash, 1 Step, Medium Body
Total Grain Weight: 15.75 lb
Temperature Mash, 1 Step, Medium Body Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Saccharification Add 19.69 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F
10 min Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 10 min 168.0 F

The carbonation level will be slightly higher than listed due to to attenuation capabilities of the Brettanomyces strains used. By letting the beer age for about 5 months before bottling, most of the residual sugars will have been fermented out by the Brett. Add the Brett strains after primary fermentation with the Farmhouse Ale yeast is complete.

Last December 19th (2009) I brewed a batch of this using the White Labs Clausenii and the White Labs Saison yeast.  After bottling it on the 15th of December (2010), we had a blind tasting comparing this new version to the original medal winner last night (Dec. 27th).  We decided that the original was much more funky relative to the new one.  Thus, the original version will be what gets entered into the MCAB competition which is accepting entries now.  I am up against a bunch of AWESOME homebrewers, so I don't expect to win anything.  However, I will certainly update this post with the results.  Have a good new year!!