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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fifth Element

The Fifth Element can refer to a lot of different things; a crazy comedy-science fiction film, a mythical element, the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere, even a Finnish hip hop band. These days however, when I hear the name Fifth Element my mind first goes to a crazy-delicious beer from my hometown brewery, Squatters. I fell head over heels for this beer since I first vanquished it during a 3 hour layover in SLC.  I quickly knew I needed to obtain more and am currently the top drinker of this wonder on Untappd.

750ml bottle into Bruery tulip. Thanks Heather for the bottle!

According to the Brewery - 
Fifth Element is a delightfully complex and rustic "Old World" style Belgian farmhouse ale. Aged in American oak barrels for a year and bottle conditioned, this artisan Belgian ale is sure to refresh.
You never forget your first
Appearance: Pours a wonderful pale cloudy yellow orange color with a nice thin white head. Minimal head retention but that is something I've learned to expect in this style of beer.

Aroma: You've probably heard of love at first sight, well this beer had me a first smell. I knew as soon as I picked up the barnyard funk that this beer occupied the small 5% corner of saison / farmhouse Ales I truly love. Definitely more farmhouse than saison. Besides the wonderful layer of sour funk I get a ton of citrusy lemon with a light oak note

Mouthfeel: Slick bodied with a medium level of carbonation adding to its dry and puckering taste.

Taste: This is completely on the border of being more a sour than a farmhouse something I am completely fine with.  The citrus sour dominates the mouth but other flavors (oak, light spice, brett, tart tangerine) are very recognizable if you allow it to sit on your palate. This is a very palate refreshing beer, prefect to break up a barrel aged stout tasting.

Overall: Damn! How do I start stockpiling cases of this beer. I loved this beer so much when I first had it that I asked to keep the bottle, which I then treked home to Orange. Every time i have had it since it has continued to live up to that first moments, something few beers can do.  This is one of those beers that gives almost every other farmhouse a bad name as few can live up to the name farmhouse better than this one. For me it also exemplifies the need to continue to explore styles that you have been let down in the past because if I didn't I never would have found this beauty of a beer...



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Souring Halvtreds Part 3

The continuing quest for a sour beer
The ongoing chronicles of Halvtreds (my sour red lager that I brewed as my fifty batch of beer) continues.  It's been about 8 months since my buddy Daniel came over to help me drink a series of sour beers whose dregs were collected, built up and added to Halvtreds which had been waiting in secondary since December 2011.  In that time it had taken on a pleasant sourish aroma but the taste seemed to be primarily brett driven.  It needed something else in the flavor realm that could pair nicely with the aroma and help to round off the overall beer.

Getting ready to go into the oven
Back in the development phase of this beer I had planned on adding fresh huckleberries to it.  I figured it would be an interesting choice as I'd not seen a huckleberry sour and they happen to be one of my favorite fruits.  The problem I ran into with them really came down to price.  They're not really available locally, as they are more of a Northern wild berry, so to procure them I'd have to buy them online which is when cost became an issue.  I found a multitude of sites online that sell frozen huckleberries, even fresh berries during the season, but to buy enough to give the beer a good flavor was going to set me back $50-60. Unfortunately the flavors I was getting didn't justify that level of expense.

Coming out of the oven
I still wanted to do it so I needed to come up with a plan B for fruit.   To do this I took a hand bottle of the still (meaning flat vs not in a state of transition from liquid to solid/gas) liquid to a meet up of fellow brewers at The Globe Dine Bar in Garden Grove. 

The general consensus was that it needed more acid to give it a more sour bite.  To obtain this it was decided I needed to introduce additional souring agents with something for them to chomp on.  I decided that I wanted to go with some stone fruit given that they were in season.  Originally we formulated a plan calling for 6-8 peaches and 8-12 apricots which I would grill plus a sour starter.  I changed this up slightly to 3 large white peaches and 4 white nectarines (this mostly had to due with available head space in the beer).  

For the sour agents I opted for White Labs' WLP655 - Belgian Sour Mix 1 which is an unique blend that includes Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, and the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.

See you in 6 months
To process the fruit I decided to oven roast it at 400F degrees for 25 minutes.  Which the oven was preheating I cut the fruit into 6th and 8th so that they could easily fit into the neck of the carboy.  I left the skins on during the roasting removing them as soon as they came out of the oven (I love my temperature rated Blichmann gloves) and right before they went into the beer.  After the hot fruit was given a chance to cool in the beer I added the vial of WLP655 and gave the whole batch a good shake.

That's it for now but check back in another 6 months to see where we are at (damn sours sure do take time)


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