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Monday, August 26, 2013

Yin Part Three - Draining the Barrel

After seven months
A lot has happened since I first started talking about the large batch of Baltic Porter the Tao of Fermentation planned on aging in an used red wine barrel.  To start with, the beer became known as Yin with its brother Yang starting to take shape quite recently. I also started referring to the Tao of Fermentation as the Fellowship of Tao Brewers. Since putting the beer into the barrel in mid January (13.13.13 if you recall ;) ) I'd made it a point to taste it once a month to see how it was going.  In the May time frame I felt it was getting pretty close to being ready and my June I was convinced of it so we started talking about ways to get it out of the barrel.

One of the beers I opened
It was decided that we would set the date for exaction to occur at our August meet up.  Shawn had a long rod of stainless steal which he fashioned into a racking cane and Daniel procured a self priming pump.

In addition to collecting the beer I thought it would be fun to watch Beer Hunter the Movie while drinking some beer off of Shawn's beer engine in honor of Michael Jackson in addition to opening some Michael Jackson worthy beers.  Unfortunately the draining of the barrel, drinking of beer and general comradery was too load to really hear the movie so I'll have to check it out at a later time.

The beer itself came out really well and measured 1.014 FG. When you consider the overall group average gravity of was right around 1.095 SG we're looking at an ABV of 10.76% with an apparent attenuation of 83.82%, pretty outstanding.  The flavor was fantastic and we noticed there was some stratification that the different levels with the first pull being very different from the last pull.  

I ended up with three vessels pulled from the around the beginning, middle and end totaling around 11 gallons. I believe the extra couple of gallons kegged is really Shawn's as he only brought a single keg with him so I prepped a keg for him that was filled with the last couple of gallons.

The barrel crew and the fruit of our labor
Instead of leaving the beer how it is I plan on dividing what I have into three beers.  The batch I already have kegged I'll leave as is and rotate in as a spot on the crate becomes available. The 4.5 gallons I collected in a carboy I'm adding three vanilla beans to and will let it sit for a couple of months.  To the last keg I am also adding a vanilla bean and half a cinnamon stick, once this is done I planning on BeerGunning it to share with Shawn.

I'd like to see what everyone does in the next few months and try to organize a tasting where we can taste the different directions everyone went.  I'm also interested in see if a grand cru blend can be created.  

From here the barrel needs to be cleaned, sanitized and sealed until the next round.  In my head I'm torn between an imperial oatmeal stout (Imperial Rhino) or an old ale.   

Till then στην υγειά σας


Monday, August 5, 2013

Sour Citra Saison - Same Grain Same Style Different Brewers No.1

The OG beer signal 
A few months back Steve J and Daniel F came up with the idea for "a different kind of 'collaboration'". One that involved brewing the same style of beer and the same grist percentages.  After that, every other aspect (gravity, hops, yeast/bugs, spices etc) was up each brewer. The style for what I am assuming/hoping will be the first of many rounds was determined to saisons. The grist percentages were set at 86% Belgian Pilsner, 11% Spelt and 3% Rye As I've mentioned before saisons aren't my favorite style as they tend to have a wide range of flavor and aroma profiles considered to be "in style" however certain saisons, such as Fifth Element from Squatters, are among my favorite all time beers.

I knew right away that I wanted to team up with Shawn O on this one.  My idea for how I wanted to collaborate with Shawn was pretty simple, 1 mash and 2 kettles.  Basically do the mash for around 11 gallons of wort production and split it into two kettles.  This would allow each of us total control on hops, spices etc.   Initially I figured that he would brew a clean to version while I would sour it in some way.  It quickly became apparent that he also wanted to play around with some bugs, which I was in no way surprised by.  

After a couple of weeks of swapping ideas between each other over various conversations, calls, texts and emails we settled on plan of attack.  Each of us would do our own sour starter which we would combine and add to the mash when we got together.  I would take 6 gallons of wort and add 1.5 gallons of RO with a 60 minute boil targeting a 1.048 SG. Shawn would take the balance adding slightly more RO and do a 90 minute boil looking have 1.037/8 SG.

If you are going to brew a sour saison...
To prep for brewday I made a gallon starter with pilsner DME which I split between two vessels.  The first vessel was a quart mason jar with a half a cup of raw unmilled grain. This became my sour starter as lactobacillus is naturally present on the hulls of grain.  I tried my best to keep it at 120°F using an old Polystat Constant Temperature Circular I had rescued from the trash at work.  Unfortunately the reason it was tossed was that it couldn't cool, which at the time I wasn't concerned about, however as I learned this meant that it would continue to drift up over time.  I was able to remedy this by setting an upper limit which shut it off if it was above, this was accompanied however with a nice alarm. The remaining gallon became the start for an old pitch of ECY04 Brett Blend #1
ECY04 Brett Blend #1 - Three individual Brettanomyces isolates from lambic producers combined to give an aggressive brett presence in any beer. Vigorous, funky, and acid-tolerant, the blend can be added at any stage of fermentation and is excellent for priming or re-yeasting. Contains B. anomala, B. clausenii and B. anomulus
A new saison that I approve of
For the hops I decided I wanted a BIG Citra presence so I planned to hop burst with a good amount of at 20 and 0 while keeping the IBUs contrained (more pale ale level than IPA).  For the bittering hop I decided to go with some Cascade given it's dual use potential.

Brewday itself was a blast.  I headed over very early to find the mash water almost at temp and Shawn waiting for me to mill.  After getting everything set to go we tasted and tested our sour starters.  Both had a pleasant sour bite and combined for a 3.63 pH so we tossed the liquid into the mash.  My brother Ryan (who recently moved to Cali from MN) soon arrived to hangout and help me brew.

In the end we both beat our target gravity with me coming in at 1.051.  It was great to brew with Shawn again as every time I do I learn so much.  The beer is currently fermenting in a poor-man fridge and smells absolutely incredible, I can't wait!


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