I have a beer loving colleague, Erik who comes from the Skåne region of Sweden, the southern tip, just over the bridge from Copenhagen. Unfortunately Erik hates sour and hoppy flavours so he has yet to have one of my beers. There’s a great brand of grocery store coffee from Sweden called Zoega’s that I usually pick up whenever I’m over. Erik hordes the stuff, so I brewed him a breakfast stout using this coffee in exchange for a package. I used their Skåne roast specifically a way darker roast than you can even get in Denmark, aside from Starbucks. To make sure I didn’t fuck this up, I again used Michael Tonsmeire’s expertise, and brewed a pseudo-clone of Modern Times’ Black House using the homebrew recipe that awesome brewery provides for free. Nothing particularly special about the brew day, the coffee went straight into the primary for the final 24 hours before the beer was racked off and bottled.
To be up front, I got busy around the house and while my brewing hasn’t really slowed, my blogging obviously has. This brew day was done on November 25th. It is a pseudo clone of Michael Tonsmeire’s 100% Brett Trois IPA, with a different hop schedule due to a lack of Citra and a lack of a hopback. Of course, the big news that happened while I was fermenting this is that WLP644 may not be Brettanomyces at all. You can read all about that here, here, and just about anywhere else homebrewing is discussed. Bottom line is that this is still an awesome yeast to use, and a change of classification doesn’t change it’s properties or flavour contribution to an awesome tropical IPA.
I started with a stepped starter way back on November 5, pitching into 350 ml on the stire plate and letting it go for 5 days before stepping up to 1.5 litres, for another week. I reserved 500ml of this for future use, but I think I should have done an additional step as will be revealed later, as I did not pitch enough cells.
The hops for this were Chinook, Centennial and a huge amount of Mosaic in a 20 minute steep for a target of 90 IBUs. I also added aciduated malt to the mash because according to Tonsmeire it aids the Brett in creating fruity esters, specifically ethyl lactate. Due to some small astringency/tanic issues in Don Juan IPA I think that my mash PH is getting north of good as well. Recipe after the break.
My Gingerbread Saison got a taste last week while I was checking to see it had hit its FG. It tasted like a rather bland saison, and looked kind of murky and awful. The spices I had added were subtle to the point of not existing and there wasn’t much about it that seemed very Christmassy at all. I did stick it outside for the last 5 days to cold crash it the ghetto way (might as well get something good out of the turn in the weather.) In the meantime I pondered what to do with a beer that had not gone wrong in anyway, but wasn’t offering anything right either. My first realization was that for the last 9 days I’ve been stepping up a Brett Trois starter to use in a Mosaic-instead-of-Citra version of Michael Tonsmeire’s Brett IPA which will be brewed on Tuesday. That meant I could safely forget about a beer I had basically lost interest in for a long time because I was going to bottle condition with Brett, and make it one of next year’s Christmas beers. Continue reading A series of fortunate events, a festival of brett.
Here in Denmark, Christmas beers are a big deal. I’m not entirely sure the entire history but they tend to be all released on one day called J-Dag (Juleøl, or literally Christmas Beer, and Day.) I believe that the entire tradition was started by Tuborg, the National shit beer of Denmark to release their Christmas Beer, which they send reps out to hand out for free on the street. Also, the entire idea of their Christmas beer actually originated with a cute add:
Denmark’s myriad of small breweries have since co-opted the holiday and J-Day events happen in almost all beer-friendly establishments, usually featuring mostly Danish but also Belgian and American Christmas beers. I have gone to J-Day every years since I lived here. I can’t say I really like Christmas beer, even though there’s no established style. My first year here Horn Beer released a pretty good “Christmas IPA” that had some very mild spicing and I stuck with that for the whole season. Usually, it’s something brown with too much added sugar and too heavy a hand with the spices. Last year I had one with a distinct dog-poo nose. Even The Bruery’s version of Danish Christmas Beer doesn’t do it for me.
So what did I decide to brew to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus and the eternal darkness of Danish winter? A brown beer with spices and molasses. I guess I’m a sucker for punishment, or at least staying out of my comfort zone. Continue reading Christmas Beer – Gingerbread Saison
Well, two things to take home from this beer. First, I need to spend more time with crystal malts. This beer is excellent. Second, after having written off Safale US-05 just one day before, while trying a slightly experimental IPA, I think it is the perfect yeast for this beer. The other beer I refer to is an IPA that I brewed with my 5 gallon partner to use up all our hops. It had Belgian Pale malt, a significant amount of Munich Malt and Wheat. That beer tasted “hollow” for lack of a better description. It was all hop bitterness and nothing to hold it up. I think that US-05, being so clean, almost anonymously so needs some crystal-derived sweetness to support the hops. Mitch Steele has strongly discouraged the use of a lot of crystal in IPA, and for our all-Citra beer it worked- the WLP-007 provided a lot of character for the hops to interact with. This Amber had aroma malt, crystal 60 and a little Special B, and I feel like it’s a beer that shares a soul with Sierra Nevada. It has just that classic west coast flavour. If I were to change anything about this beer, it would be to dryhop with Cascade. I specifically avoided dryhopping and thus made a beer that is really exactly what I was hoping for. That feels good. However, this beer would be next level with an extra hit of grapefruit in the nose. I will be making this again.
Update, 15/11/2014 My homebrewing partner with whom I make 5 gallon batches finally got to tatse this over the weekend and declared in the best beer either of us had ever made!
Back to basics as it were. One of the main impetuses to start homebrewing in Denmark was that the freshness of American IPA was unreliable to say the least, and in general, I don’t think Europe has produced really spectacular hoppy beers with consistency. IPA was the first recipe I brewed here, and even though my love for Saisons and sours is growing, IPA is my first love so to speak, and fresh, it is unbeatable. After reading IPA by Mitch Steele, and listening to him on the Beersmith Podcast I wanted to take this fresh information and apply it. Firstly, this is a dead simple malt bill, 86% Maris Otter, 10% wheat and 4% simple sugar for dryness. No crystal, nothing to distract from hops. This recipe will use 7 hop varieties in total, including 2 massive dryhopping sessions, the first with American hops, the second with Australia and New Zealand. It is the second in a series of beers using Conan yeast. It is meant to kick ass, and I’ve wanted to name a beer after a piece of classical music. (I am an orchestral musician by trade.) This is named after Richard Strauss’s orchestral poem, Don Juan. It’s in your face, unapologetic and something I’d like any time.
My wife and I have hosted a large (American, even though I’m a canuck) Thanksgiving gathering every years since moving to Denmark. This year will be the first in our own house, and therefor a beer brewed for the occasion was definitely in order. I am a pumpkin beer hater, and also think that the beer should compliment the food, not mimic it. This beer has no spice additions or gourds. It is a rich, Ron Swanson-brown and generously hopped with an American classic, Centennial. A nice dark base goes with the season (and the lack of daylight at this time of the year) while the ~50 IBUs and copious dry hops will keep the beer refreshing, I hope, while people partake in the great American tradition of eating way too much and then going for seconds. Notably, this will be the first of two beers I am currently brewing with The Yeast Bay’s Vermont Ale Yeast, the legendary Conan. Continue reading American (Hoppy) Brown Ale – Taksgiving