Friday, February 28, 2014

The Great EBY Brett Experiment: Round 1 Tasting Notes

A group of 12 of us met on December 19th in the back room of KnB Wine Cellars to taste the first round of bottles for the Great Brettanomyces Experiment. We had a very ambitious goal of trying all 20 strains in one sitting. It wasn't the optimal way of doing the tasting, but really the only practical way when trying to get 12 tasters together at one time (the free beer helped). Our palettes were definitely fatigued by the end and I think the ideal situation would be 2 sessions on back to back days if you want to taste all 20 strains. We had a nice mix of craft beer enthusiasts, BJCP judges, and sour/wild beer homebrewers. Well enough about the tasting lets get to the results.


Results:
These tasting notes and rankings were summarized from all the tasting participants.




Conclusions:
I think this experiment was a success (and we will continue to see how it goes). The base recipe really let the yeast strains shine (or not) while still providing enough substance to make the drinking experience enjoyable. I plan to use these results not as a these are good strains and these are useless, but as guidance to what beer styles or situations they may work well in.

Next Steps:
I'm going to follow-up in a couple different ways:
1. All the strains are going to get a second chance as a bottle conditioning yeast in a recently brewed Beire de Garde.
2. I'm going to create some custom recipes based on the flavor profiles of my favorite strains. I'll probably end up blending most of the strains together based on their flavor profiles.
3. I will also be compiling the results others are logging on the Google Form to compare and get a better idea of each of the strains

As always let me know if you have feedback or questions. We will be holding another tasting in a couple months, so let me know if you are interested.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Great EBY Brett Experiment: Brew Process and Bottling

This post was months in the making, so I'll do my best to keep it edited (Background info here). I tend to lean towards pictures for most of my explanation as I work better that way. And most of the focus for this post will be about the organization/logistics of a complex fermentation experiment. The brewing of the beer was uneventful.






I received the Brettanomyces strains from Sam at Eureka Brewing on August 29. They came in 1.5 ml vials that were all sealed with wax tape. All of the vials, but one were completely full. The one vial that leaked still had some starter liquid left in it (and eventually took off).
09/13/13 - The first step was to get a starter going to build these yeast up to pitchable quantities. I came up with an idea to do this very inexpensively. I used plastic water bottles. The bottles are probably already sanitized, if not sterile (I still soaked them in sanitizer) and the screw tops can be manually loosened to release CO2. I labeled the bottle and each cap with the EBY #. I filled each bottle with 2 oz of 1.020 wort, sanitized the outside of the 1.5 ml vial and then poured the vial into the bottle. I closed the cap and gave each a good shake.
09/24/13 - There was already obvious yeast growth that could be seen on the bottle of each bottle. No krausen that I can remember. Each bottle got 4 more oz. of 1.030 wort. The caps were burped each morning and I never had any issues with too much pressure.

09/30/13 Brewday -
Belgian Brett Single

IBU: 25       SRM: 4.5      Batch Size: 10 gal  (20 - .5 gal) 
O.G.:1.050              FG: Varied

Fermentables 
Name                            Amount 
Pilsner                          11.000 lb 
Munich Malt                    2.000 lb
Wheat Malt                     4.000 lb
Acid Malt                      12.000 oz

Hops 
Name                 Alpha      Amount      Use      Time
Styrian Golding   4.5%        2 oz       Boil     60 min
Saaz                   4.5%        2 oz       Boil     10 min

Yeast

Brewing Process 
Mash at 152 grain for 60 min

I decided to stay with my plastic water bottle method and purchased 1 gal water bottles with a screw cap. They cost me $0.89 each and I was able to use the water for this batch (I prefer soft water for my Saisons/Pale Sours - see profile below). This also worked very well as it was cheap and I can just recycle the plastic bottles and not worry about cleaning them or future contamination. (I don't need 20 stoppers dedicated to sours - and yes they become contaminated). The bottles were also burped everyday for the first week and every 2-3 (couple of two-tree) days after that. I definitely noticed a difference in lag time, fermentation vigor and pellicle formation between the strains. (One bottle got destroyed so I used a 1 gal glass container, which I then forgot to put on an airlock, sorry EBY 048 you got acetobacter bombed.)

11/7/13 - Bottling Day(s) (close to a month later) - Well, this sucked. Once I got my system laid out (see below) it wasn't too awful. I decided to only bottle 3 - 12oz bottles of each strain. I probably could have squeaked out 4, but it was pushing it. I poured myself a taster of each while bottling and then I have a bottle to taste 1 month after bottling, 6 months and 1 year. Since I was bottling I took brief notes and compiled them in the table below. I will note that a majority of these except a few tasted pretty similar.

And the first official tasting is scheduled for this Thursday night (12/19/13). So expect a follow-up post in the not too distant future.And I'll be filling out this form:
Brettanomyces Score Sheet - Google Doc Version


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sour Beer: 2013 Flanders Red - 4th Annual

Now that I look back on it, Flanders Red is the only beer that I've re-brewed. I guess that says a lot about me as a homebrewer. This batch will be my 4th generation (and still using the same Roeselare blend). I've learned a good bit about this style and sour beers since I've started. I'll try my best to give commentary on my changes over time.

Historically, here have been my changes:

2010 Flanders Red to 2011 Flanders Red
  • 30% Pilsner Malt swapped with 25% Maris Otter
  • 3% Wheat Malt swapped with 13% Flaked Corn
  • San Diego (hard) tap water to Soft Water Profile
  • WLP001 +  Roeselare yeast (No Starter) to  Roeselare yeast cake and US-05 after 3 days
  • 2 oz of French Oak Medium Toast to 1 oz of French Oak Medium Toast
  • 25% Maris Otter scrapped in favor of more Munich and Vienna
  • 13% Flaked Corn swapped for 16% Flaked Wheat
  • All Specialty Malts increased 2 oz
  • Mash Temp from 154 to 158
  • Roeselare yeast cake and US-05 after 3 days changed to  Roeselare yeast cake/WLP530
2012 Flanders Red to 2013 Flanders Red
  • More Munich Malt (44% to 51%), Less Vienna (28% - 20%)
  • All Specialty Malts increased 1%
  • Switching from 1 oz oak cubes to 1.5 oz oak cubes added at 6 months
As you can see, I'm narrowing in on my recipe. The only changes were to help the malt bill stand out more. I've found on my system that my actual color is always lower than calculated, so my finished product should still be very much in style. I'm very happy with my fermentation plan of using WLP530 being pitched at the same time as my ongoing Roeselare yeast cake. I like the high mash temp, as it keeps plenty of sugar after the WLP530 yeast does it work and it leaves enough residual sweetness after a year to balance the sourness. (I like most of my sour beers pretty dry, but the Flanders styles (Red and Brown) work very well with some sweetness.)

I also brewed a couple extra gallons this year so I could try some ECY20 that Ed at Ales of the Riverwards sent me.

Recipe: 2013 Flander's Red

Batch Size 8.0 gal        O.G.-1.062              F.G.-TBD      IBU-15                           SRM-18.5               ABV-TBD   


Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
9 lb  Munich Malt 10L (51%)

3.5 lb Vienna Malt (20%)
2.5 lb Flaked Wheat (14%)
14 oz Aromatic Malt (5%)
14 oz Caramunich I (5%)
14 oz Special B (5%) 

1.5 oz of Hungarian Oak cubes @ 6 months


Hops:1 oz Golding, 5.5%, pellet, 90 min 15.3 IBU

Yeast:4th pitch of Wyeast Rosealare


100 ml White Labs 530 Abbey Ale from Belgian Blond
Brew Day:Brewed: 8/4/13
Mash Details:
Mash Volume: 5 gal 
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 158F @ 60min
Sparge Volume: 6.25 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F 
Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 9 gal
Boil Time: 90min
Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.062
Ferment Temp: 70-75 Water bath in garage
Length: 10 days and then ambient in garage

 Even with the changes I've made over the years, I have still concluded to make a great Flanders Red, you really should do some blending. The last batches have been great on their own, but I can always find an area in the beer that I would like to improve (lactic acid level, oak level, Brett level, acetic acid level, color, malt complexity...)

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