Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Brew Day, Batch 383: Cream Ale

Well, here it is, my day off from work at the brewery. What to do, what to do...

I guess we all know the answer to that one. Today's brew will not be an exactly "by the book" cream ale as dictated by the Keepers of the Style Guidelines, but as brewer, I can call it what I wish. A classic cream ale is a hybrid beer, fermented warm like an ale, but then lagered, giving a beer with some fruity esters like an ale, but the clarity and crispness of a lager. Traditionally it is made from pale malt, supplemented with some adjunct, usually corn, in the manner of a standard American lager, but today's beer is made with just Pils malt. I'm also going a bit high on bitterness, a whopping 24ish, and a bit high but not too much so with late hop additions, as well. The late hops are the very distinctive Sorachi Ace, which has interesting notes of lemongrass and dill. This beer would actually fall solidly in the American Blonde Ale category, according to the KotSG, but I like the idea of calling it Lemon Cream Ale, so there!

The recipe for 10 gallons, such as it is:

13 lb. Weyermann Pils malt
1.4 oz. Saaz 4.5% AA for 60 min.
3/4 oz. Sorachi Ace 15.1% AA for 15 min.
3/4 oz. Sorachi Ace 15.1% AA at end of boil.

Mashed with 1 quart/lb. at 150F for 45 minutes.

Yield was 10-1/2 gallons of wort at SG 1.040, chilled to 69F and pitched with a starter of Wyeast 1007. Truth be told, one of the main reasons for this brew was to serve to grow lots more of the 1007 to pitch into an upcoming batch of altbier. Mmmm, alllltbeeeeerrr....

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Fabulous Brewers Night


Brewers Night at Grizzly Peak is the 1st Tuesday of each month, 6-9 in the evening, when Brewmaster Duncan Williams hangs out and talks beer with interested parties, gives tours of the brewery, and pours a special cask of beer. (This last one was on the second Tuesday, owing to New Years Day.) Though it's my day off, I made the trip out with Mrs. C., and made it just a bit more fabulous with my erm, spiffy new shirt gifted to me by Skip and Cat, who KNOW I will have my revenge....

Brew Day, Batch 381: Buster 2012 (Delayed Post)

Today, I am racking 2012's Buster, which was brewed 2 weeks ago. I skinned out a typical "Brew Day" post, but with all of the brewing, noshing, and drinking I and co-conspirator Skip were doing, it kinda fell by the wayside. This year's Buster took a while to gel as a concept; I started with the idea of something on a line between English-y barleywines such as Thos. Hardy's, and Scottish wee heavy, and then thought maybe some non-traditional or archaic seasonings might be in order. Earthy herbs like sage and thyme were considered but ultimately left behind. As well, we thought that some heat-bearing spices like various kinds of peppers such as cayenne and Sichuan peppercorn might be interesting. After a bunch of tasting, smelling, and cogitating, we settled on these things:

Mashed 55# Hugh Baird Pale Ale malt at 153-155F for 90 minutes, with 1 quart/lb. of liquor, collected about 13-1/2 gallons of sweet wort in the kettle, boiling well as the kettle filled. When the kettle volume reached 12 gallons, we started timing; after 30 minutes, the kettle hops were added. We used 2.4 oz. of Northern Brewer at 10% alpha, selected for its notes of wood, mint, and tea. With 20 minutes left, we added 2 oz. of Fuggle, and 1t of dried ground ginger; Fuggle for its simple woody, earthy spice, and ginger for some earthiness and heat/zing. With 5 minutes left, we added 3 oz. of crushed Sichuan peppercorn for its subtle zing, and its exotic, sweet aroma. Our target BU level was 50, compensating for the high gravity wort.

Everything went fine until we chilled down and tried to drain the kettle into the fermenters. It seems that despite using low protein British malt and thus having a quite moderate kettle break, and using plenty of whole hops in the boil, the kettle simply would not drain faster than a trickle unless someone dredged a spoon across the drain strainer the whole time. Tiring, to say the least. Our leading hypothesis is that the cracked peppercorns were just the right size to evade the hop filter bed and lodge in the drain. Eventually, all the wort was in the fermenters at an impressive 1.113 density, and given over to a hefty slurry of Grizzly Peak's house ale yeast. After two weeks, it is still at 1.044, but steadily bubbling away; if it hasn't attenuated significantly more in a week I'm bringing in a 'relief pitcher.'

Having not yet had enough, I added 1-1/2 lbs. of British 60L crystal malt to the top of the mash, and sparged to collect another 12 gallons of sweet wort. This was bittered to an estimated 35BU with US Goldings in the kettle, plus 2 more oz. at 20 minutes. This yielded 11 gallons of wort at 1.042. At racking today, it is clear and clean at 1.011; we will be drinking this as soon as it is carbonated.