Saturday, February 16, 2013

A hearty snack

This is something I've made for us a couple of times, now, and 'tis easy and satisfying: lamburgers. There are plenty of ways to prepare ground lamb; I just had a really tasty sandwich at Fort Street Brewery that was topped with mint pesto and mild feta, mmm. I've been doing a more middle eastern take on it, mixing cumin, white pepper, and garlic into the meat before forming and grilling patties. (Direct fire strongly recommended.) The patties get topped with baba ghanouj and fresh tomato slices, maybe a bit of fresh spinach, and served on a bun. (A sesame bun would be particularly good.) Beer pairing is easy; we've enjoyed Vienna and dunkel, as well as the infamous pepper beer, and even a good American or English style pale ale makes a nice accompaniment.

Brew Day, Batch 385: Irish Stout

Mrs. C. has been rather forcefully noting that of late we have no beers pouring that are on the black end of the color spectrum, and further, that she expects SOMEONE to do something about it. Ahem.

'Tis a simple beer, pale malt with 12ish% each of flaked barley and roasted barley, and one kettle addition of hops to 40ish BUs. Target gravity is low 40s, and fermentation today will be carried out by the Essex ale yeast that we make most of our beers with at Grizz. I do love me a pint of fresh Irish stout, and we should be enjoying this in about 3 weeks, just in time for 'the wearin' o' the green.'

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brew Day, Batch 384: Altbier

Mmm, yes, altbier. That dry, bitter, but aromatic and flavorful ale from Dusseldorf. Or in  this instance, Michigan. This is a beer not widely available in the States, and it is rare to find it really fresh. Thus, we homebrew... Alt should be a coppery to light brown color, with a German malt nose and perhaps just a whiff of noble hop (Spalt, traditionally.) It meets your palate with melanoidin-rich German malt flavor and rather high bitterness, and then... poof- gone. It finishes dry and clean; even the hop bitterness hardly lingers. Mrs. C. and I have been lucky enough to get some fresh samples of the real McCoy, most recently thanks to our friends Jeff and Susan.

This is a beer I've fiddled with intermittently over the years, but never really gone at 'hammer and tongs' like some other beers. This time around, I've changed my grist up a bit, though it is still a blend of Pils (50%ish) and light and dark Munich malts, with a wee bit of roast malt (Carafa I) thrown in for tint. The mash was a two decoction affair designed to attain a very fermentable wort, mashing in at around 120F, sacch rest at 146F, and a mashout at 165F. Target OG was 1.045.

I decided that perhaps 'first wort hopping' might be appropriate for this beer. This is an old practice (and "alt" means "old" in German,) where a portion of the hops are added to the kettle as soon as it begins to fill with wort. I've always eschewed the technique, because it conflicts with my tightly reasoned thesis (read: half-ass speculation) about cleaning up my imprecise mashing habits. But many German brewers feel it lends a finer hop character to the beer, and this seems like a good vehicle to try it out, especially since there are no late hop additions to interfere with any subtle effect. My choice of hop to try this out was the aforementioned Spalt, which is only available to me in pellet form. I would love to use all Spalt hops in this beer, but my low-tech home brewery becomes badly constipated when I try to use pelletized hops. Thus, I must include a majority of whole hops in the kettle- in this case domestic Saaz hops at  a 3:2 ratio to the Spalt, for an estimated 45 BU.

Fermentation will hopefully proceed in the low-mid 60s, carried out by a generous slurry of the esteemed Wyeast 1007, which I have on good authority is sourced from Zum Uerige in Dusseldorf.

Owing to the fact that I've changed the recipe again, and am possessed of a somewhat childish sense of humor, we will henceforth be calling this beer, "Neue Alt."

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.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brew Day, Batch 380: Rye Peppercorn Pale Ale

I have a day off from the brewery... what to do, what to do...

Awww, yeah. Fermenters are filling as I write this; not much to add except my standard 'can't wait to drink this....'