Saturday, 1 November 2014

BIAB #11 - Black Forest Stout 2 (Re-brew)

Just under a year ago I designed my first all-grain beer recipe, a Black Forest Stout. My skills were still pretty green and despite ending up with a perfectly drinkable beer, it fell short of what I had in mind. However, one surprising thing that came out of it was the unexpected attention it received. Jim from Beers Manchester took a shine to it, as did Steve from The Beer O’Clock Show which resulted in me sending them both a bottle by way of thanks for the support. As if to mark the anniversary of this brew, Steve invited me to participate in their occasional homebrew special podcasts and suggested that I re-brew the stout to feature on the show. I wouldn't normally repeat a brew as there’s a wealth of beers out there I’d like to explore, but as my brewing skills have come a long way since those early days, I liked the idea of attempting to produce the beer I was aiming for originally. I was planning on making it bigger in every way possible - up the ABV, increase body and head retention, use real cacao nibs and double the amount of cherries. My vision was to brew a luxurious, rich, dessert beer.

Having already researched, planned and prepared what seemed to be a decent recipe, I decided to change it at the last minute, all because I had sampled an excellent chocolate stout at the Homebrew Camp. Instead of adding cacao nibs I put a couple of milk chocolate bars in there! Bad move! It resulted in a messy wort, full of debris and a nasty looking film caking the surface (I obviously didn't consider the amount of fat that would be in the chocolate!). Also, worried that there wasn't enough cherry flavour coming through, I threw some more cherries in during the conditioning and also the remaining kirsch during bottling. This was an even BIGGER mistake! The result was an severely alcohol heavy beer (we’re talking barley wine territory) that was extremely overcarbed, these things were dangerous! Whilst dumping them down the drain, one particular bottled decided it was time to redecorate the kitchen! This shit got everywhere! The rest were opened in safety, under water in a bucket. So I shall not be doing a full write-up of this disaster, instead I shall be re-brewing in the next week or so, this time sticking closely to my original recipe and definitely not changing things at the last minute! Important lessons have been learnt!

BIAB #10 - Wallonian Pale Ale...

After having such good success with my Sorachi Saison and with the weather being as warm as it had, it made sense to take advantage and brew another saison. Being all out of Sorachi, but wanting those sharp citrus notes, I checked my hop pantry. Thankfully I still had a substantial amount of whole leaf Citra and Summit pellets left and I was confident that combo would hit the mark. Around the time I was formulating the recipe Malt Miller Rob tweeted that he had just received a shipment of vials from Yeast Bay. I’d heard of these guys in passing, but wasn't really aware of their work so I decided to check them out further. It turned out these artisanal yeast wranglers have isolated and harvested a range of yeast strains that aren’t commercially available and then used the expertise of White Labs to culture the yeast into sellable quantities. Their Saison Blend sounded absolutely delicious, but sadly by the time I placed my order, the Malt Miller had already sold out. Thankfully, there were a few vials of the Wallonian Farmhouse still available, described as “the funkiest ‘clean’ yeast we have in our stable”. It sounded interesting so I dropped it in my basket (along with a vial of their Funktown Pale). I really wanted to get to know the flavour profile of the yeast so I kept the grain bill pretty simple, using only Vienna and a bit of torrified wheat. Checking out the information for the yeast on the Yeast Bay website it warned that it “exhibits absurdly high attenuation, resulting in a practically bone-dry beer”, so to counteract I upped my mash temp a little to around 76°C to throw some unfermentables into the mix. This looked to have worked a treat as it fermented out bang on 1.010. Well, once again I got to sample the beer before I got around to writing this article. I found the end result quite surprising and was expecting massive amounts of farmhouse funk. What I ended up with was a subtle saison that was indeed very clean, more of a pale ale saison. It was certainly an interesting yeast to work with and I will probably look at grabbing a vial of the Saison Blend I originally had my eyes on at some point. I chose to throw this in a couple of EasyKegs to take to the recent Homebrew Camp meetup, where the chaps there seemed to enjoy (or they were just being polite!).

Grain Bill...
5 kg - Vienna (96.15%)
200 g - Torrified Wheat (3.85%)

Hop Bill...
50g - Citra Leaf (11.1% Alpha) @ 20 Minutes (Boil) (2.4 g/L)
5g - Summit Pellet (17% Alpha) @ 20 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 g/L)
50g - Citra Leaf (11.1% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil) (2.4 g/L)
5g - Summit Pellet (17% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 g/L)
50g - Citra Leaf (11.1% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Boil) (2.4 g/L)
5g - Summit Pellet (17% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 g/L)

Single step Infusion at 67°C for 90 Minutes.
Fermented at 20°C with YeastBay - Wallonian Farmhouse

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.2%