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Batch 55: Alpaca

This year I’m re-branding Alpaca from a pale ale to a British golden ale, as I’m simply better set up for success on that style versus the more hazy, hoppy version it’s been in the past. Targeting around 4.5% ABV with a malt profile that is very light and subtle, yet offers crackery crispness along with a touch of English character. I hope to achieve this with a blend of continental Pilsner malt and Golden Promise. A small amount of flaked wheat should help with crisp character and hopefully keep the body from being completely thin.

For bittering, I’m sticking with a trustworthy English hop, but for flavour and aroma I’m going with Citra and a touch of Simcoe to emphasize the new-world, citrus hop character popular with the style. It doesn’t hurt that this is also my favourite hop in such a beer as well.

OG: 1.042
IBU: 36

Batch Specifics:
75 minute boil
26.5L pre-boil target
24L post-boil target
21L into the fermentor

Mash volume 16.0L
Sparge volume 12.9L

Mash Profile:
Dough in 15 min at 131F
Raise to 150F for 75 min
Mash out 170F for 5 min

Water Additions: [Target profile: Bru’N pale ale]
4g baking soda
12g gypsum
3g calcium chloride
4g epsom

Boil 75 minutes

Grist:
60% Golden Promise
35% Bohemian pilsner
5% Flaked wheat

Hopping:
26 AAU of Nugget at 60 min [14g]
20g Citra @ 5 min [7 AAU]
5g Simcoe @ 5 min [3.5 AAU]
20g Citra @ whirlpool
5g Simcoe @ whirlpool

Other:
0.5 tablet whirlfloc @ 15 min
0.5 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min

Dry hop (5 days) – 30g Citra, 10g Simcoe

Fermentation: Imperial A01 House
Hold at 65F for 72 hrs
Raise 1F per day to 68F, hold 48 hrs
Let settle to ambient after that

Batch 57: Table d’Or

This is my first iteration of a Trappist single, using BJCP 26A as a guide. In addition to that characteristic Trappist yeast character, this should be a light-bodied and low-strength beer that exhibits pretty high bitterness and floral-spicy hop aroma and flavour. I am trying Weyermann’s Abbey malt for the first time. Based on its colour, I assume I should use a light hand with it, at least as I get to know it.

Target OG: 1.044
Target FG: 1.006
Target IBU: 38

Mash: TBD
Boil: 90 minutes

Water Profile: TBD

Grist:

86% Weyermann Bohemian Pilsener malt
6% Weyermann Abbey malt
4% Flaked wheat
4% Flaked oats

Hopping:

33 AAU German Tradition at 60 min (50g)
4 AAU CZ Saaz at 5 min (35g)

Fermentation:

White Labs WLP500

Batch 54: Alesund

Brewed: March 3rd, 2019

There’s been an impulse-bought package of Hordinal kveik in my fridge for several months, and I’ve become increasingly stressed out about its advancing age and lacked inspiration with what to do with it. I had an ah-ha moment when considering its high alcohol tolerance: I should brew a big barleywine with it. The high level of fruity esters that make it great as a replacement for English strains in IPA could potentially translate to English-style barleywine as well.

To compliment the yeast, I wanted to keep the grist simple/rustic and the hopping at a minimum. A little additional character was included via blackstrap molasses as well. I wanted this to be a big beer to take advantage of (or abuse the heck out of) the yeast. Therefore the specs are as follows:

OG: 1.115
Est FG: 1.035
IBU: 36
ABV: ~12%

To get better efficiency as well as the colour and character of a long boil, I sparged to provide a larger pre-boil volume and get all that sugar out of the grain. Batch size is tailored such that I can transfer to my 3.5 gallon brew bucket for secondary with minimal headspace, primary fermenting for approximately one week in the 7 gallon brew bucket with temp control.

Mash Schedule:
131F dough in, hold 15 minutes (26L)
150F for 45 minutes
154F for 75 minutes
161F for 30 minutes
170F mash out, sparge (4L)

Boil:  180 minutes

Grist:
7.50 kg Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter (95.5%)
0.35 kg Blackstrap Molasses (4.5%) – added @ 15m

Hopping:
25g Nugget @ 60 min (36 AAU)

Other:
1/2 tablet Whirfloc @ 15 min
3g CaCl, 1.5g gypsum in mash water

Fermentation:
Escarpment Labs ‘Hordinal kveik’ 180B pack, dated BB March 22
+ ~50mL vial of Hordinal from local brewery added @ 24 hrs
No starter; shaken only since out of pure O2. (really pushing my luck…)

Add 1/2 tsp Yeast Superfood & Energizer @ 24h

Fermented at 83F to start, increase of 1F per day over 6 days (88F maximum).

Batch 58: Pandora

Continuing my exploration of other Belgian styles, particularly Trappist-style ales, I’m now embracing the dark candi sugars with a dubbel. The intent with this batch is to keep it pretty simple, and derive the colour and character primarily from dark sugars. I also wanted to use some Special B due to its great flavour contribution, as I don’t trust that I’d get enough complexity using only base malt and sugar.

OG: 1.066
FG: 1.009
IBU: 20

Grist:
84% Bohemian Pilsner malt
6% Munich II malt
2% Special B malt
8% D-45 candi syrup

Hopping:
18 AAU of Goldings at 60 minutes
2 AAY of Goldings at 20 minutes

Fermentation:
White Labs WLP500

Batch 53: Saison Dorée 2019

Yet another iteration of my house golden saison, this time using Escarpment Labs’ “Spooky Saison” blend which I can only assume is the Fantome strain (same as WY3725PC?). If this is true, it is a very well attenuating strain with pretty reserved ester and phenolic profiles. I will be accentuating this with a good dose of hops and bottle conditioning half the batch with brettanomyces. I have used this strain once before in ‘Old Lanes’ which was 100% Pilsner malt. I look forward to exploring it with both this and the malty house saison recipe, as I feel like it may be a good fit for my ‘house blend’ if I can get different things out of it at different temperatures.

Keeping the grist the same as the last batch due to its success, but tweaking the bitterness to be higher than previous ‘standard’ versions, but not as high as the extra-hopped version I made recently.

Stats:

OG: 1.045
FG: 1.003
IBU: 36
ABV: 5.5%

Brewed on the Grainfather, with the following batch parameters:
16L mash volume
15.5L sparge volume
26.9L target pre-boil volume
Target pre-boil SG 1.036 (73% BHE)
23.1L target post-boil volume
21L target fermentor volume

Water Adjustments:
6g Gypsum (2/3 in mash, 1/3 in sparge)
4g Calcium Chloride (2/3 in mash, 1/3 in sparge)

Mash Profile:
131F dough-in for 15 mins
145F for 45 mins
152F for 45 mins
170F mash-out

Boil 150 minutes

Grist:

78% Bohemian Pilsner [3.12 kg]
12% Vienna malt [0.48 kg]
8% Flaked wheat [0.32 kg]
2% Acid malt [0.08 kg]

Hopping:

30g German Tradition @ 60m [24 AAU]
10g Azacca @ 15m [8 AAU]
10g Nelson Sauvin @ flameout
20g CZ Saaz @ flameout

Dry hop: 10g CZ Saaz, 10g Nelson Sauvin

Fermentation:

Escarpment Labs ‘Spooky Saison’ 180B pack
No starter, pack dated best before Feb 22 (cutting it close)
Pitch temp 64F
First 48h set to 78F
Next 48h set to 80F
Next 48h set to 82F – activity rather abruptly subsided @ 5 day mark
Allowed to drop to ambient ~68F for 7-10 days

Bottle condition to 3.2 vols CO2.

Brew Day Notes: The 131F rest lasted about 25 mins instead of 15, and added a short rest at 161F on the way up to mash out. Hit pre-boil volume and SG perfectly – 27L and 1.036. 45 mins to go from mash out to boil; left the grain basket on until 196F.
Collected 21L into the fermentor of 1.045 wort, a bit higher than the 1.042 target.

Bottled March 3rd 2019 at 1.003.

Batch 52: Kombi

Brew date: February 3, 2019
Bottling date: March 11, 2019

This is one of those rare brews where I try to emulate a BJCP style properly. Well, at least with half of the batch: the other half will be conditioned for an extended period with a blend of brettanomyces. The style is 24B, Belgian pale ale. I’ve built out a blank page recipe based on some reading as well as the BJCP guidelines. As usual, I am going with Weyermann Bohemian pilsner malt for the base, and added in a healthy dose of Weyermann Munich II (9L) malt as well. I am not adding sugar, but instead targeting a very fermentable wort for a dry finish. I hope that the oats will allow the body to remain medium to medium-low with the dry finish.

For water profile, I went light on the salts using Brewer’s Friend ‘Light and malty’ profile as a starting point. My additions below should provide about 60 ppm Ca, 42 ppm SO4, and 75 ppm Cl.

Target OG: 1.050 Target FG: 1.009
Actual OG: 1.047 Actual FG: 1.012
IBU: 28 ABV: 4.7%

Batch size: 19L (into fermentor)
BHE: 73%

Water Adjustments (add to mash):
4g CaCl
2g gypsum
2.5g 88% lactic acid to each mash & sparge waters

Mash steps:
131F dough in with 16L water
148F for 45 min
152F for 25 min
161F for 20 min
170F mash out, sparge 13.5L of 170F water

Boil 90 minutes

Grist:
3.00 kg Bohemian Pilsner (Weyermann) [69.4%]
0.80 kg Munich II Dark (Weyermann) [18.5%]
0.20 kg Flaked oats [4.6%]
0.16 kg Victory malt (Briess) [3.7%]
0.16 kg Caramunich II (Weyermann) [3.7%]

Hopping:
18.3 AAU Hallertau Tradition @ 60 min [28g]
7.6 AAU Czech Saaz @ 15 min [28g]

Other:
1/2 tablet Whirfloc @ 15 min
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min

Fermentation:
Imperial Yeast B53 – Precious
Pitch @ 57F
First 48 hrs at 66F
Next 48 hrs 68F
Next 48 hrs 72F
Condition 50F for 2 weeks

Bottle condition to 3.0 vols

Brew Day Notes:

Mashed in @ 3:55 pm, much later brew day than usual. Held 131F until 4:10 then increased to 148F and headed out for groceries. Raised to 152F at 4:50, started heating sparge water. Added 1/2 tsp CaCl and 1/4 tsp gypsum to mash water, half those volumes to sparge water. 2.5ml 88% L.A. into mash water, none in sparge water. 161F setpoint at 5:25, 170F at 5:45. Mashed out with 13.5L of 170F water, drained pretty quick – sparge took about 15 mins. Collected just a hair under 27L of 1.042 wort. After 1h 20m volume was still a tad high at 24L so let go an extra 10 minutes.

Bottling Notes:

Despite being a few points shy of my target OG, it still finished 3 points high on my target FG. I attribute much of this to the unfamiliar yeast, as my mash schedule should have produced a pretty fermentable wort. If I go with this yeast again, I’ll likely add a small amount of clear sugar along with a longer rest in the 146-148F range.

Bottled March 11 after a couple weeks in secondary with 85g table sugar for 10.5L (about 3 vols CO2). Instead of my usual technique of pouring the boiled/cooled sugar water into the bottling bucket then racking the beer on top, I bottled direct from the secondary vessel and poured the boiled/cooled sugar water into it (letting sit for 10-15 min). We’ll see how that pans out in terms of even mixing of the priming sugar – I’m a little nervous.

2019.01.15 Buckstock Tasting

Buckstock is my Burton ale recipe aged for nine months with Brett C. It was brewed in January 2018, bottled in September. It’s 9.6% ABV and theoretically 80 IBU, but that is not at all apparent. There is traces of the hops in the aroma with a touch of citrus and herbal character, but the taste is all dark fruit and caramel with that typical brett C musty fruitiness. There is some leather on the finish as well. There is light carbonation, finally, which took about 4 months to develop as no fresh yeast was pitched upon bottling. Believe it or not, this is 100% maris otter pale malt – the colour is from the extended boil as well as the higher gravity.

2019.01.15 – Pomebic Tasting

This is the most drawn out, and perhaps convoluted beer I’ve made to date. It’s only been bottle conditioning for five months, but it was brewed in 2016. It was a turbid mashed wort made up of Pilsner, malted and raw wheat similar to a Lambic style grist and I racked it onto the yeast cake from a spontaneously fermented cider. After a few days without activity, I accepted that my fears that these yeasts would not be able to ferment maltose and picked the US-05 I had in the fridge. Over the next few weeks I added bottle dregs from a few sour beers I was drinking and left it to sit for over a year. It developed a nice clean acidity but lacked in character otherwise owing to the rather neutral primary fermentation.

My choices were to fruit, or to add honey. I decided to go with honey, and added 800g of orange blossom honey which bumped the theoretical OG up from 1.045 to 1.065.

Anyway, onto the task at hand here: tasting this creation. Thankfully, the end product is palatable. It pours full gold, with a fizzy head that dissipated to lacing fairly quickly. Not surprising, given the acidity. The aroma is largely floral, with rose and chamomile type notes, and an acidic, citrusy bite. Acidity is the first thing you notice when taking a sip, with sweet lemon and tart white peach flavours. It’s otherwise quite clean but with a bit of a lingering lactic acid thing on the finish I can’t quite place, but often experience with sour beers. The honey is also noticable on the finish, with a floral mead-like quality.

Batch 51: Aurea

Brewed: Jan 19, 2019
Bottled: Feb 3, 2019

This is my first batch of the bière de miel I have given the name ‘Aurea’, but it has been a long time in the making. I’ve spent a lot of hours thinking about what has ended up being a very simple beer on the surface. The idea behind this beer is to showcase the honey addition in a significant way, so there is a significant amount of honey added, and the rest of the recipe is designed to support rather than overshadow the honey’s delicate flavours. Malted wheat and flaked oats are used in place of my typically favoured raw or flaked wheat to offer a little more perceived sweetness to balance the extremely dry finish and light body expected from all that honey. Water additions are kept minimal and balanced.

Target OG: 1.052 (Theoretical)
Target FG: 1.000
IBU: 25
ABV: 7%

Brewing on my Grainfather system (~73% BHE)
19L batch size (24.5L pre boil, 21L post boil targets)

Water adjustments:
2g CaCl
2g Gypsum

Mash schedule:
Dough in 131F for 15 min
Raise to 153F for 20 min
Raise to 161F for 20 min
Mash out, sparge at 170F

Boil 90 minutes

Grist:

45% Bohemian Pilsner malt [1.60 kg]
15% Malted wheat [0.60 kg]
5% Munich II [0.20 kg]
5% Flaked oats [0.20 kg]
5% Cranberry blossom honey @ flameout [0.20 kg]
30% Cranberry blossom honey @ 72 hours [1.20 kg]

Hopping:

20 AAU of German Tradition at 60 min
5 AAU of Saaz at 15 min

Fermentation:

Escarpment Labs ‘Old World Saison blend’ 180B cell pack
Pitched at 72F, free rise and hold at 78F 72 hrs

Brew Day Notes:

Brewed on the Grainfather, fermented in the 7-gal Brew Bucket and first time using the FTSs temp control setup.

Mashed in with 15L @ 131F at 11:40am. Since the mash needed to be thin to avoid pump cavitation, added 4 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH. Still not great pumping and the drain pipe was a bit too tall; better to use 16L as a minimum. The mash temp reading was all over the place once I raised set point to 153F – spiked to 158, then dropped to 144 when I switched from the 1500W to the 500W element. back up to 158 again when I switched back – I think the lower water volume and lack of fluidity of the mash was leaving the probe out of the water, possibly. Settled in on the 500W element after a bit more time.

Gravity check at one week, down to 1.004 despite having added honey just a few days prior. Taste is promising, the saison yeast character is good and there is a noticeable young mead-like flavour which should hopefully round out. I realized I forgot to add nutrient when I added the post-fermentation honey, which was a pretty poor error to make, but I’m hoping the yeast was healthy enough at this time that I got away with it.

Batch 50: Woodstock 2019

Brew Date: December 30, 2018

More or less an annual tradition, I’ve made Woodstock for three of the past four years. The idea is that it is a dark old ale, primary fermented with English ale yeast and aged with brettanomyces. The first iteration was 90% Maris Otter, 6.5% C40, 3.5% C120, and 1.5% Chocolate malt. I’ve varied the recipe each time based on specific ideas for that vintage and haven’t concerned myself with any semblance of consistency from year to year other than that it is dark-ish and aged with brett.

This batch of Woodstock is loosely based on historic porter, with all Thomas Fawcett malts. The plan is to primary ferment it for about 5 months, then bottle without sugar and allow slow attenuation to build slight carbonation over time. I’ve gone a bit lighter on gravity than previous vintages (which typically finish around 12% ABV). I suspect I’ll go the other way next year.

OG: 1.076
FG: TBD
IBU: 63
ABV: TBD

Batch size: 10L (into the fermentor)

Mash: 155F for 75 minutes; mash out 170F
Water adjustments:
– 5g Calcium Carbonate (chalk)
– 3g Gypsum
– 1g table salt

15L mash water in Grainfather
4.5L sparge (all water adjustments made in mash water)

Boil: 150 minutes

Grist:

85% Golden Promise (3.40 kg)
12.5% Brown malt (0.50 kg)
2.5% Pale Chocolate malt (0.10 kg)

Hopping/etc:

63 AAU Nugget at 75 minutes (20g)
50g medium toast boiled American oak cubes added at pitching

Fermentation:

30 seconds pure O2 added to fermentor
Safale S-04 + Yeast Bay ‘All the Bretts’ slurry
Pitch temp 61F, held at 68F for the first 48h, then let rise to 71F.

Notes: Activity picked up around the 12 hour mark. Despite decent head space, blow off started at 24h and continued for another 36h. Kept temp using water bath with ice blocks; thus temp ranged from 67F to 70F during significant fermentation. Once fermentation slowed, allowed to free rise to ambient of ~71F.

[Feb 12, 2019] Gravity sample from primary; 1.021 SG. Aroma is caramel and oak, taste includes some dark fruit as well. This brett blend has exhibited a lot of cherry pie and leather and I’m seeing that build here.