Feb 22, 2012

Belgian Pale

We had a holiday in Seattle in September last year. Seattle is one of the dream destinations for someone who's into craft beer. There are apparently around 150 microbreweries in Washington state and with Portland just a few hours down the road it was really difficult to try everything we wanted to in 3 short weeks.

The highlight for me was Fremont Brewing. I bumped into Matt, the owner, standing out the back and he was great. He showed me around the place, gave me a taste of all of his delicious beers and gave me a bottle of their Bourbon Barrel Abominable Ale. I managed to fit it into our luggage for the trip back and it's now waiting for a suitable occasion to be consumed. 

The Pacific Northwest is obviously famous for doing obscene things with hops. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to open a brewery there unless you offer an IPA. It was great. So the first thing I did when we got back to Tasmania was brew a session IPA and a Black IPA. The session or Baby IPA was like a chainsaw. There was nothing subtle about that one, it was face meltingly bitter and had a huge, raspberry and passionfruit aroma. I think it may have caused lasting damage to the tastebuds of everyone who tried it. In a good way. The Black IPA was delicious and probably had slightly wider appeal, probably my best brew to date.

However, the longer lasting impact of our US holiday was that it pushed me in the direction of Belgian beers in general and farmhouse styles in particular. I had my first ever saison courtesy of Fremont Brewing and I had a Monk's Flemish Sour Red Ale on tap at Beveridge Place. I also tried a couple of beers from Upright Brewing (on Matt's recommendation) that left me wishing I had more time in Portland. We have very limited access to these kinds of beers in Tas (it's only thanks to Cool Wine that we have access to any of them) so if I want to drink these kinds of beers I'm going to have to brew them myself.

So, after all that preamble, my first step in the direction of brewing some interesting Belgian-style beers is a simple Belgian Pale. The recipe is a small, 11.5l batch adapted from Brian Strumke's (of Stillwater) recipe posted here. Due to a mix up with the yeast I had Wyeast 3725 Biere De Garde on hand instead of the 3522 I was planning on using. I'm not too sad about that, I'm quite excited to see how the 3725 turns out. 

Recipe on Hopville. 

OG: 1.048
FG: 1.010
IBU: 24

2kg Pilsner malt 
250g Wheat malt
90g Munich malt

7g Saaz @ First wort hop
7g Hallertau @ 60 min
16g Saaz @ 10 min
5g Saaz @ 0 min
5g Hallertau @ 0 min

Wyeast 3725 Biere De Garde

8/2/12 - Brew day. Bron's first all grain effort, she did it like a pro.
9/2/12 - Pitched the yeast, there was activity within a few hours. The temps were on the low side (~20'C) but the bulk of the fermentation was done in 2 days.
13/2/12 - Fermentation nearly finished, sample smells/tastes delicious, spicy, clove, tiny bit of banana, light and reasonably dry. Noticeable bitterness. Very cloudy.

Feb 16, 2012

Berliner Weisse

I've never had the chance to drink a commercial Berliner Weisse. It's an old German style: low alcohol, sour wheat beer. To be honest, I'd never heard of it until sometime last year. However, thanks to the internet I have not only heard of it but also managed to brew one. It was a fun brew, my first all grain effort and first go at doing a sour wort.

I mashed it at about 68'C in the hopes of giving this low alcohol beer some body. The grist was 50-50 pils and wheat malt. Then the wort went into a spare eski at around 40'C. I chucked in a handful of grain and placed gladwrap onto the surface of the liquid to keep air out and closed the eski. It sat and festered for 2 days as the bacteria on the grain went to work on the wort. Then I boiled it, hopped it very lightly (~8 IBUs) and fermented it with US-05, aiming for a clean yeast profile and sourness as the star.

Berliner Weisse, 3.2% alc.
Brewed 12/11/11.

Aroma: Wheat, citrus and a pretty obvious lactic aroma.

Appearance: Pale straw, very pale and very clear. It pours with a large fluffy head that dissipates over 5 minutes leaving only a thin ring around the edge of the glass.

Flavour: Sharp sourness is the first impression along with prickly carbonation. There's a hint of citrus and wheat, lots of wheat. The finish is all about the malt, particularly the wheat.

Mouthfeel: Moderately high carbonation. Relatively thin body but still has some body. Doesn't finish too dry.

Overall: Not a complex beer but then that's not the point of this one. It's refreshing and easy to drink. It's worked well on hot days while watching the cricket. I tried it with some plum syrup which cut the sour and left the malt and sweetness of the fruit to do their thing. Worth a try. I'm happy with how it turned out although I'd really like to have something to compare it with. I'd like to try it again using Wyeast 3068 or using their Berliner Weisse blend and see how that goes.

Feb 13, 2012

Extra Special

I've had glandular fever and been bedridden for the past two months. Not so much fun. In my current state I'm unable to brew but my wife Bron volunteered to brew for me. That's true love right there.

The first beer she did under my direction was an ESB. My favourite ESB, actually one of my favourite beer experiences ever, was at Redoak. Everything was perfect, it was a warm day, I was dodging class with a good mate and I was just discovering the possibilities of craft beer.

That ESB was a revelation to me, one I'll probably be chasing for the rest of my life.

For the brew I was limited to a partial mash because I don't yet have a pot big enough to do a full 23l all grain batch. I was aiming for a deep copper colour, assertive bitterness and some restrained fruitiness. I've used East Kent Golding hops a bit before so I went for Fuggles for something different. I went for a liquid yeast this time and propogated the yeast on 'slants' so I can bring my costs down. I'll post about that another time.
The Hargreaves Hill ESB. Delicious.

Recipe on Hopville.

OG: 1.055
FG: 1.017
IBU: 47

2kg Marris Otter
2kg Light DME
200g Crystal 120 EBC
100g Crystal 270 EBC

50g Northern Brewer @ 60 min
40g Fuggles @ 20 min
40g Fuggles @ 0 min

Wyeast 1968 London ESB

5/2/12 - Brew day. Went off without any drama.
6/2/12 - Pitched the yeast. Ferocious fermentation.
12/2/12 - Airlock is still, I'll leave it a few days and then get it into bottles.

Feb 12, 2012

The beginning

My 'Baby IPA', low alcohol & stuffed full of hops
Welcome to my blog about brewing and beer related shenanigans in Tasmania.

I've been brewing on and off for quite a few years using kits but began getting into it more over the last 18 months, first with extract, then going on to all grain and coming up with my own recipes.

Over this year I'm keen to experiment by brewing styles and using techniques I'm not familiar with. I'd like to try my hand at sour and funky beers, saisons and messing with some other unusual styles. This blog is primarily meant for me to distill the things I'm learning and keep a record of the beers I've brewed. There's so much I want to learn and try out.

I'd also like to check out some of the best Tasmanian microbreweries and learn more about how they do things.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...