Monday, March 28, 2011

New 10 gallon Peach Brandy Barrel!

I was happy to receive an email the other day from the owner of Aeppeltreow Winery where I occasionally help out with bottling. Charles turns out some very good ciders and recently started releasing brandies as a distillery as well.

I had asked awhile back about the availability of any barrels when Charles was done with them. He just got done using a 10 gallon Minnesota oak barrel that had been filled with his first, small batch of Peach Brandy. I was happy to give it a new home. Now my dilemma is what to fill it with! I'd really like to go with an oak aged mead of some sort, but I'd like to fill it sooner than it will take to turn out a mead from the primary. My preference would be to do a mead and/or cider prior to any beer, but it may have to be a beer. Eventually, I hope to turn it into a 10 gallon sour beer solera with a Flanders or something similar. Charles thought the first batch or 2 to go through the barrel would pick up some of the brandy character, and future batches would just pick up oak. Maybe a big beer is best to soak up the brandy character first anyway. Time will tell.

(Photos will be added soon!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

'Historic Influenced' Porter w/ Brett

In an effort to use up the last few packs of yeast waiting for attention in the fridge, I was debating what to do with a smackpack of Wyeast Old Ale blend, a special release from last year. A few friends had been doing historic, or historic influenced porters of late, and I figured something along those lines would be fun with this brew. I was considering a Whitbread Porter recipe from Whitbread in 1811. However, the more I played around with the recipe, the more I was convinced that the brown malt I have is nowhere near the malt they referred to as "brown malt" in this article. Mine is too light, so I adapted and went with something closer to a modern porter recipe. I added some crystal (Carastan, in this case) and some pale chocolate malt. Both ramped up the color into the dark range, rather than mid-brownish 18SRMs I was getting before. They should add more complexity too.

Porter (w/ Brett)

brewed on: 3/20/2011
expected OG: 1.048

Expected IBUs: 27 IBUs
mash temp: 154F


6.5 lbs Marris Otter
2 lb Brown Malt
1 lb Carastan
12 oz Pale Chocolate

1.2 oz Fuggle @ 5.1% - 60 minutes
0.5 oz Fuggle @ 5.1% - 10 minutes

Decanted 1 liter starter of Wyeast Old Ale blend

Added 0.3 oz House Toast French Oak cubes to primary.

3/28/11 - SG - 1.015. Chocolate notes, slightly roasted flavor. Body is on the thin side, but ok for a brown porter. Besides, the brett will chew the body up when it kicks in anyway.

Wine Barrel Rye Porter

Awhile back, our local barrel group filled a Zinfandel barrel with English barleywine. At last tasting (which I could not attend) it was pronounced to be pretty oaky, so it's time to refill with our next beer, a Rye Porter recipe from fellow homebrewer Eric Wolf. He did a non-oaked 5 gallon batch of this, along with several other rye beers, that we all liked and thought would take on the oak well. This was my first time brewing with rye. I've heard it is very gummy and can lead to stuck mashes easily. I added 1+ lb of rice hulls to my mash and it was one of the easiest I've ever had to run off.

Wine Barrel Rye Porter

brewed on: 3/18/2011
expected OG: 1.065

Expected IBUs: 59.9 IBUs (I had to tweak my recipe a bit, so was a tad over the planned 58.4 for the group)
mash temp: 154F


4 lbs US 2-row
4 lbs Rye Malt
3.5 lbs Munich Malt
1.25 Caramunich 
8 oz Chocolate Malt
8 oz Special Roast
0.4 lbs Pale Chocolate Malt

1.25 oz Mt. Hood @ 5.5% - First Wort (calculated as 20 minute addition)
0.9 oz Columbus @ 14.4% - 60 minutes
1 oz Mt. Hood - flameout
1.5 oz Columbus - dry hops (we will each do this on our own after barrel aging)


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saison for Beer Fests

I recently volunteered to brew up a keg of saison for the upcoming Kenosha Beer & Cheese Fest going on next month, as well as a keg for the Milwaukee Firkin a few months later. I figured I might as well get it all out of the way now and just brewed up a 10 gallon batch. I stuck with my base recipe for this one. With Spring in the near future, I'll be back to brewing more saison variations this year soon enough though! This was a good kick off. I've gotta say it's really nice having a few hundred lbs of grain on hand, and 9 lbs of hops! The only thing I had to pick up for this batch was yeast! I don't have a lot to say about this one. It went smoothly and I cooked some good Thai papaya salad while mashing & boiling. The only changes I made from past batches was that I ran out of Franco-Belgian pils malt after the first 4.5 lbs, so I made up the difference in MFB Pale malt. Also, I had a spare ounce of Crystal hop pellets in the freezer, so I added those at flameout. I was shooting for 11 gallons, but boiled down a tad too far and ended up with 10. Not a big deal. My normal OG for this recipe is below the minimum BJCP guideline, not that I follow those for everything. There was definitely room for higher gravity though. The IBUs were toward the low-middle range. They are still within the suggested range.

In other news, my pomegranate mead got the thumbs up from Annie today and will be bottled soon! 

Saaz Saison

brewed on: 3/6/2011
expected OG: 1.044

Expected IBUs: 32 IBUs
mash temp: 150F
10 gallon batch
90 minute boil


12 lbs Belgian Pils (subbed Belgian Pale malt for 7.5#)
3.5 lbs German wheat malt
8 oz acidulated malt

2oz Saaz @ 5.5% - 60 minutes

2 oz Saaz @ 5.5% - 15 minutes
3 oz Saaz @ 5.5% - flameout
1 oz Crystal - flameout

3711 French Saison - 1 pack per 5 gallon bucket

3/28/11 - OG 1.002. Dry hopped each 5 gallon batch with 1 oz Crystal (3.2%) whole leaf.