Thursday, 1 January 2015

BIAB #13 - Dang!!! Lime Pickle IPA...

A few months back James Kemp, experienced brewer and blogger at Port66, tweeted a heads up to a video tutorial by Brooklyn head brewer Garrett Oliver. The basic premise of the 40 minute video was to create a beer recipe inspired by a particular food, with his example being a Mexican mole sauce, taking the prominent characteristics of a food and applying that to a beer. It was an interesting challenge so I signed up and created a project.

The decision as to which food to emulate was an easy one as I have had an idea in mind for a while. During the glorious summer Red Willow released a one off beer by the name of Shamefull (sic), a play on their excellent IPA Shameless, that was brewed with pineapple and chili. Both the fruit and the chili were subtly done and it turned out to be a superbly refreshing drop. This got me thinking about brewing with chili, especially in pale beer. A beer the immediately sprung to mind was Sirencraft/Mikeller/Hill Farmstead’s superb DIPA - Limoncello, not quite as subtle as Shamefull, but I wondered what it would it be like with just a hint of chili? The next step in my wandering mind was an obvious one, why not try and brew a beer with the characteristics of lime pickle - tart lime, coriander and hint of chili? The idea was jotted down in my moleskine book of beery brain farts to revisit another day - that day had arrived!

As half of the recipe was already set, it was just a case of filling in the blanks. For the base malt I went with my old favourite of Vienna, thinking that the bronzed colour will more closely resemble it’s foody inspiration (plus I had a load of that in stock!). For the hops I needed something that would compliment the citrus notes of the lime and coriander seed, what better hop to use than Citra! This recipe was writing itself!

For the yeast I was originally going to use one of Whitelab’s seasonal yeasts, Old Sonoma, which had been sat in the fridge for a few months waiting for an opportunity to be used. By the time I had a suitable brew slot, it was around 3 months past it’s best, so I figured it would just need a couple of step up starters to revitalise it. I went through the usual starter process, pitched the after 24 hours I was seeing no activity at all, but after a quick scan of the internet it turns out that not all yeasts will form a krausen, but to be sure I grabbed a sample to test the gravity. It had not budged! With brewday looming I didn't have time to persevere with it, so down the drain it went. I then remembered I had some half-used packets of US-05 that I had frozen, in the hope it would preserve them. I let them come up to room temperature, threw them in some cooled boiled water to rehydrate and then into the wort they went. Again after 24 hours there was no action! Thankfully I had two other vials in the fridge that were actually in date, a Whitelab’s Belgian saison and Yeast Bay’s Funktown, a blend of their own Vermont ale yeast with a dash of Brett. The latter seemed the best match for a lime pickle beer, so I let it get up to room temperature and dumped it in the FV. This stuff went off like the clappers, after around 6 hours it had a healthy krausen. Beer saved! I shall definitely endeavour to plan my yeast usage a bit better in the future.

After a week in the FV things were ticking along nicely and it was close to reaching terminal gravity. The flavours were really starting to shine through too, with the Citra really coming to the forefront with the lime backing it up, it was starting to taste like a great beer! The best news is that even before this had even been brewed it was chosen by Garrett Oliver as one of his fave projects on Skillshare and bagged me a signed copy of his Brewmaster’s Table book! Result!

As it had been fermenting away at 22 degrees for a week, keeping the Brett roused, it was still quite murky, if only I had some way of cold crashing it without a fridge! Thankfully I had a big wooden fridge built out the back of the house, we call it the brewshed, so I switched off the temp controller and transferred the FV into the chilly surrounds of the shed. The day before bottling I moved it back into the house to bring it back up to room temperature ready for priming.

The end result didn't quite turn out how I had planned, with the big lime tartness I had envisioned was somewhat lacking, but overall it turned out to be a tasty, refreshing beer with just a hint of chili in the background to keep things interesting. Despite the screwed up faces of disgust at the mere thought of a lime pickle inspired beer, the people who dared to try it so far have really enjoyed it. I shall also be holding back a bottle to see how the Brett develops over time.

Grain Bill...
5 kg Vienna (93%)
400 g Torrified Wheat (7%)

Hop Bill...
75 g Citra Leaf (11.1% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil) (3.6 g/L)
75 g Citra Leaf (11.1% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Boil) (3.6 g/L)
50 g Sorachi Leaf (11.8% Alpha) @ 0 Days (Dry Hop) (2.4 g/L)

Misc Bill...
20 g Coriander Seed @ 10 Minutes (Boil)
50 g Lime Peel @ 10 Minutes (Boil)
5 g Chili Pepper @ 0 Days (Day before bottling)

Single step Infusion at 67°C for 90 Minutes (dropping to 65°C)
Fermented at 22°C with Yeast Bay - Funktown Pale Ale

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.2%

It turns out there was a bit of a competition running on Skillshare where Garrett Oliver would choose his top 4 projects. Good news, my Lime Pickle was one of them! The prize was originally a signed copy of his book - The Brewmaster's Table, however after 5 months it hadn't arrived. I wasn't too fussed, the endorsement by such a respected brewer was enough for me, However, last week I received an unexpected FedEx package from New York! Inside was a copy of The Oxford Companion to Beer, a monster of a book that covers pretty much everything you'd want to know about beer and brewing and it was signed by the man himself as promised! So now I had the glory and a sweet prize.