Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strange Wit: Recipe

One of my favorite warm-weather beers is Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca. Since it's not always the easiest to find around DC and is fairly expensive at $12+ per bottle, I thought I'd do something similar. I'm going to brew a traditional witbier, with spicing on the low side, and then add some dregs from one of my sour program beers. Hopefully I'll get a bit of acidity and some moderate funk out of this, and it won't take nearly as long to finish out as my lambic-style beers.

Since I've never done a Wit before, I adapted Jamil's witbier recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I took down the spice additions a notch, as I generally prefer spicing on the lighter side in witbiers. I also lowered his recommended mash temperature a bit, as I generally prefer dryer, lighter beers. (Also, in this instance, I'd like for everything -- including the bugs -- to finish up quickly, so I don't need to leave many complex chains for the wild stuff to chew up.)

Batch Number: 34
Brew Date: March 25, 2012
Keg Date: TBD
Batch Size: 5 Gallon
OG: 1.045 (measured)
IBU: 16.4
SRM: 3.4

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 152 F.
Boil: 60 minute


4.5 lb French Pilsner
4.0 lb Flaked Wheat
1.0 lb Flaked Oats
0.25 lb Munich Malt
0.50 lb Rice Hulls


0.5 oz Centennial (8.8 AAU) at 20 minutes
0.5 oz Centennial (8.8 AAU) at 10 minutes


.25 oz Coriander (crushed) at 5 minutes
.25 oz Orange Peel (bitter) at 5 minutes
1/4 tsp Yeast nutrient at 10 minutes


Belgian Wit (WLP400)
Sour Program #1 Dregs


03.20.2012 Made a starter with White Labs Belgian Wit. I forgot to write down the date, but I think the package was 8-10 weeks old. Probably not a concern given the starter and fairly-low starting gravity. The volume is approximately 1.6 liters.

03.25.2012 Brewday. The starter is still quite hazy, but I'm still going to decant. Even if it's not 100% finished, I wouldn't mind selecting for the more-flocculant cells, as this beer could be served clear.

I mashed at 152 F for 60 minutes, infusing with 15 quarts of 167 F water. Initial mash temperature was 152 F. After draining, I batch sparged with 5.25 gallons of 180 F water. That led to 7.5 gallons of 1.036 runnings.

After a 60-minute boil, I was left with 5.5 gallons of 1.045 wort. The wort was chilled to about 75 F, then I used a funnel to transfer to a 6-gallon Better Bottle. I'll let it sit a bit after room temperature before pitching.

After pitching, I also caved and started the souring/funkifying early, after deciding that I'd rather it get a bit too much wild character rather than not enough. I added about a vial's worth of dregs from Sour Program #1, which is the most acidic out of the three "lambics" I've done so far. I also I also threw in the dregs from a 2011 bottle of Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, just to get things started. Finally, to keep this mildly authentic in my intentions, I added the dregs from a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca (Batch 810; 05.31.2011).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Farmhouse Mild: Recipe

Last fall, I made a Petit Saison with White Labs' Saison I strain. It was a 4% ABV beer with about 25 IBUs and an ounce of Sorachi Ace at flameout. That beer quickly took the place of my Kolsch as my favorite low-alcohol beer, not including, of course, my series of "American Bitters." For round two, I wanted to test out the Wyeast Farmhouse Ale strain. To match the peppery and earthy characteristics, I wanted a bit of fruit, so I went with small hop additions of Citra and Amarillo. My thought on this was that I might be able to capture something akin to very fresh Fantôme Saison, which has beautiful notes of peach and tropical fruits.

Batch Number: 33
Brew Date: March 24, 2012
Keg Date: TBD
Batch Size: 5 Gallon
OG: 1.037
IBU: 25
SRM: 3.0

Mash: Single infusion for 90 minutes at 149 F.
Boil: 90 minute


7.0 lb French Pilsner
0.50 lb Flaked Rye


0.5 oz Citra (12.4 AAU) at 20 minutes
0.5 oz Amarillo (6.9 AAU) at 20 minutes
0.5 oz Citra (12.4 AAU) at flameout
0.5 oz Amarillo (6.9 AAU) at flameout


1/4 tsp Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes
Whirlfloc tablet at 10 minutes


Farmhouse Ale (Wyeast 3726)


03.20.2012 Made a starter with Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale. I forgot to write down the date, but I think the package was 8-10 weeks old. I wasn't terribly concerned with the age, as I'm using this to make the second beer in my line of petit saisons. The volume is approximately 1.6 liters.

03.24.2012 Brewday. This is the first brew at our new house. The starter has fully fermented and the yeast is dropped. Very clear beer remains.

I mashed at 149 F for 90 minutes, infusing with 12 quarts of 163 F water. Initial mash temperature was 149 F after adding a pint or two of filtered water. The final temperature in the mash tun was 147 F. After draining, I batch sparged with 6.5 gallons of 180 F water. The final yield was 8 gallons of 1.029 runnings.

After chilling to 70 F, I transferred the wort to a 6-gallon Better Bottle with a funnel, sending over the trub and all. It got some aeration during this time, and also as I sloshed it carrying the carboy down the basement stairs. Give this, and the fact that the OG only came in at 1.037, I didn't feel the need to blast with pure oxygen.

While I normally decant the starter wort, this time I did not, as I hadn't really introduced much oxygen over its course, and also because there was still some yeast left on top, so I thought I'd give it ago. After all, it probably won't affect the flavor much (if at all) and it means an extra 1.5 liters of beer for me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Demeter Vert (f/k/a Sorachi Lime Saison) (Batch 01): Recipe & Tasting Notes

Batch Number: 31
Brew Date: February 1, 2012
Keg Date: February 26, 2012
Batch Size: 5 Gallon
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.008
IBU: 32
ABV: 6.8%
SRM: 4.2

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 148 F.
Boil: 60 minute


8.00 lb Continental Pilsner
2.75 lb White Wheat Malt
1.00 lb Flaked Rye


1.0 oz Sorachi Ace (10.7 AAU) at 20 minutes
1.0 oz Sorachi Ace (10.7 AAU) at 5 minutes
1.0 oz Sorachi Ace (10.7 AAU) at flameout


2.0 Tbsp Lime Zest at 5 minutes


Belgian Style Saison Ale Yeast Blend (WLP 568)
Brettanomyces Claussenii (WLP 645)
Russian River Sanctification Dregs


At the end of the brewday, I had a Russian River Batch 5 Sanctification, and added the dregs from that to the carboy.

Fementation: Ambient temperature in a 6-gallon Better Bottle. Liquid temperature was approximately 72-73 F.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pours a moderately-hazy light apricot color with a nice, fluffy white head. Nice retention with some spotty lacing on the way down and a thin collar throughout. 2.5/3.

Nose: The first whiff brings in a bit of lime and citrus plus some backing yeastiness. The Brett may not have been entirely finished out when I decided to keg this one, and it shows in the nose. I was anxious to get this kegged for our moving date, probably at the expense of having a better final product. When I brew this again, I'll be sure to give it some more time. 10.5/12.

Flavor: The taste doesn't have nearly as much residual yeastiness as the nose does. Instead, there's a mild acidity to go along with some zesty citrus character. I think it actually comes through more as lemon, likely because of the Sorachi, though lime is present as well. There's also a slight touch of pineapple character in the background. Fairly complex and enjoyable. 16.5/20.

Feel: The flavor suffers because of the feel. The body is nice; it's quite light and crisp with minimal malt presence in the background. There's a light zest and faint acidity throughout. However, there's not enough carbonation. I let this one sit at 12 PSI for awhile, but that didn't quite give me what I was looking for. I'm coming to the conclusion that I probably need to start bottle conditioning saisons rather than just kegging them. One of these batches I'll need to split the batch by carbonation method and see the differences. With all that said, I really love the faint acidity and citrus character to the background, so probably no change in the recipe, just carbonation. 3.5/5.

Overall: I think this could be a much better beer if I were to give the Brett enough time to really work, and also boosted the carbonation up quite a bit, hitting somewhere around 3 or 3.2 volumes. I'd also boost the lime presence just a bit, probably to around 3 tablespoons. The hops are good where they're at. I think this could end up as a very nice beer with some minor improvements and/or changes in technique. 7.5/10.

Score: 40.5/50