Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Intriguing Beer Dinner

Rattlesnake Club is doing an all-IPA beer dinner next week on Thursday. A very interesting idea; check it out here. What other beer styles would you think might lend themselves to such an adventure?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brew Day, Batch 358: Gluten Free Ale

This'd be another example of "the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry." Excepting, perhaps, just how well my plans were laid. In my position as royal consort to the Queen of Beer, I have sampled many a gluten free "beer." The quotes are because some of the samples just flat-out didn't qualify as beer. I've had a few decent ones, ones that I've actually ordered multiple pints of- My buddy Doug periodically makes a "CPA," or Celiac Pale Ale, that is quite nice. The Belipago at Jolly Pumpkin Cafe is also quite a good beer. And the Green's beers are perhaps the most impressive of all. So naturally, finding out that my friend Terry, and possibly his brother Brian are experiencing gluten intolerance, I felt the need to reinvent the wheel.

So far, I think the new wheel may have some flat spots.

I had this idea to use sorghum syrup from Briess as the base, and augment it with a small amount of oats, half of which I toasted in the oven. I also planned to continue the oatmeal cookie theme by harnessing the curranty nature of Nugget and Goldings hops. The oat part was predicated on using a powdered amylase enzyme to convert the starchy oats into a sugary solution. This is where I didn't plan things out so well- the powdered amylase doesn't seem to be up to the task. I tried a wide range of temperatures over about 12 hours, and got a moderately sweet pot of oatmeal. Before I jettisoned the oats entirely, I had gooped up around 10 pots and strainers of various size and shape here at Chez Cicerone. (Nothing new....) Thus the entire fermentable part of the wort came from the sorghum syrup with a bit of dark candi sugar syrup for a little bit of color. I ended up going with Goldings, Goldings, and Goldings for the three hop additions, to a calculated 40 BU. The very dependable and neutral 1056 was given the job of fermenting.

By itself, the extract syrup resembles and tastes like pale malt extract. The wort was definitely a bit different than a malt based one, though I couldn't put my finger on a suitable descriptor(s) to explain in what way(s.)

Here's where we're at:

We'll see how we do. If this one doesn't do the trick, we'll figure out how to get the job done. The goal is not, "pretty good for gluten free," but "I'll have another!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Nice, Simple Meal

A favorite meal here at Chez Cicerone is edamame, sushi rice, and some grilled fish, usually rare tuna seared a bit on the outside. Tonight, though, we had a nice pair of mackerel filets, broiled with a little bit of salt and pepper. Such things are usually served with a little dish of soy sauce, which one can stir a bit of wasabi into, if one likes. Also on hand, typically, is gari, which is thinly sliced pickled ginger. Gari serves as a palate cleanser, or 'tongue Zamboni,' and is nice when you've a lot of different things on your plate. It really wasn't necessary tonight, as we were lucky enough to have some Bambic to serve that purpose, however. Bambic, from Jolly Pumpkin, is 30% "Lambicus Dexterius," and 70% Bam Biere, and is as tasty and refreshing as any gueuze. Also, though the gari wasn't required, an apres-tif of Winter Ginger Ale provided us with a different sort of pickled ginger altogether....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brew Day, Batch 357: Pils

Mmmm... Pils... I looove Pils.  When my yeasty buddies get done fermenting today's batch, I'ma give them another batch of Pils wort straight away. 'Cause if you Google the phrase "too much Pils," you won't get a lot of relevant hits. (Of course you will get some hits; you'll get hits on "butt nugget tuba.")(OK, the only hits you'll get for that will be for this post, but still....)

The recipe is simplicity itself:

(for 10 gallons)

15 lb. Weyermann Pils malt
1.9 oz. Perle 8.2%  for 60 min.
1.5 oz. Saaz 5.1%  for 20 min.
1.5 oz. Saaz 5.1%  for ~2 min.

I do a simplified decoction mash for this- dough in at around 125F, rest about 20 min, and pull about 40-45% thick mash, heat to around 155F, rest 10, boil 10, and return for a sacch rest around 148F. After conversion, I pull a similar amount of thin mash, heat to a boil for about 5 min, and return for mashout. There's no point to being too specific about amounts and temps, as what it takes will vary from one brewing setup to another.

I'm using my favorite lager strain, Wyeast 2308. The experts would probably pick something else, something that produces a crisper, drier beer, but I am brewing the beer for me and Mrs C. The beer will exhibit possibly too much pils malt character, little to no DMS, and the upper limits of hop aroma, bitterness, and flavor according to the all-important BJCP style guidelines, but will probably be just right according to the United Beer Drinkers of Harrison Street....

Ps. If you want a fresh, domestic commercial Pils that kicks ass, try Prima Pils from Victory, or Noble Pils from Boston Beer.

Who would have thought.....

 This bottle of Westvleteren 8 is 12 years old. AT LEAST. I purchased it at The Map Room, sometime between 1995 and November 2000, when I worked there, and when both 8 & 12 were available in the USA. We opened it last night, sure that it would we well past its prime, and kicking ourselves for letting it go "to waste" as it sat, hidden and forgotten, on the bottom shelf in the circus room, collecting dust.
Such was not the case! It was still nicely carbonated, and though it did exhibit a little oxidative character, it was not papery or carboardy, and was rich, malty and chock full of date flavour. Lucky us.