Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quick Sour Beer: Spring Gose with Cranberries

This was supposed to be my Winter Seasonal Gose, but turned more into a Spring Gose. The aim for this beer was to play off of traditional cranberry sauce served at Holiday meals. I follow a blog called Indirect Heat and his recipe for Holiday Cranberry sauce sounded perfect. I like the combination of different citrus zest and I think it will go very well with the tartness in this beer. The other thing with cranberries is that they will provide their own tartness, so keep this in mind when you are deciding how to sour this beer.

I decided to try a new souring method that I read about in Zymurgy March/April 2011 issue. It is a very simple process and I totally agree with the logic behind it. It is similar to how I did my first Gose, but it involves making a smaller portion of wort and waiting for the bad organisms to be killed by the lowering pH and alcohol.

As suggested in the article, I used honey for my starter. I did a 12 oz starter (~.1 gal) so I added 1.5 oz (~.1 lb) of honey (40pts/1lb/gal) to get a 1.040 starter. I try to keep my math as simple as possible and for a starter the gravity does not need to be perfect. I boiled the 12 oz of water for a few minutes, poured into the glass container, added the honey and swirled the bottle. I covered the starter with foil and let it cool down to 100F  or body temperature. I then pitched in a "handfull" of grain. I purged the jar with CO2 (lacto does not need O2 so to limit growth of other organisms it is good to have a anaerobic environment) and then placed it in the Crockpot on the "Warm" setting (~115F). The article says about 3 days, I was right around there. Basically, you just want to make sure that by the time you use the sour starter that Lactobacillus is the dominant organism and most of the Enterobacteria, and Acetobacter have been destroyed by the low pH.

Recipe: Gose with Cranberries
O.G.-1.040  F.G.-1.008   IBU-7
SRM-5  ABV-~4%   Batch Size - 2 gals

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency):
28 oz White Wheat Malt (56%)
20 oz Belgian Pilsner (40%)
2 oz Acid Malt (4%)
8 oz (2 cups) frozen cranberries (Boil)
1 tsp lemon zest (Flame-out)
1.5 tsp orange zest (Flame-out)
6 g Indian Sea Salt (added at bottling)

.1 oz US Goldings, 4.9%, pellet, 60 min 7 IBU

1/2 packet of dry Nottingham Yeast (pitched Day 2)

Brew Day:
Brewed: 3/25/10
Bottled: 4/28/10

San Diego (Alvarado) Filtered Water

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.33 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 1 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 149F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 160F
Batch Sparge Volume: 2.5 gal

Sour Mash Details:
O.G.: 1.040
Sour Mash Temp: 115-120F (keep warm setting on Crock-Pot)
Length: 4 days
Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 3 gal
Boil Time: 60min
Post Boil Volume: ~2 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.040
Ferment Temp: 70-75F
Length: 10 days in primary
F.G.: 1.008

I decided to measure the pH of the starter. It actually looks like its under 3 which would be very low. These strips are not really the right ones to use, but they are what I had on hand. The wort from the main batch looks to be in the 4 range. This seems low but it does have a .5 lb of acidic cranberries already added. I was surprised that the color wasn't more pink. We'll see what it looks like after fermentation and carbonation.

I bottled this with 2.2 oz of corn sugar for the 2 gal. shooting for just under 3 volumes. Since this was boiled and uses Sacc. yeast I am not concerned with bottle bombs.

Tasting to Follow...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Undercover San Diego: National Wildlife Refuge

The full name of this place was too much to put in the title, San Diego NWR (National Wildlife Refuge) -Otay-Sweetwater Unit. As most government websites, the website for this Refuge is a bit confusing and doesn't have much information. So hopefully the below description will help you get a good impression of the place.
I participated in a guided hike with "Ranger Lisa and native plant experts from RECON Environmental, Inc.". One of our good friends works for RECON and was an expert, so that made it even more enjoyable. See the map below or to find a good trailhead just map "3570 Par 4 Dr, Jamul, CA". Park at the end of the Cul-de-sac and you will see the trailhead.

View San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in a larger map

I learned a good bit from walking with these experts and it is a very fun way to take a hike. I'd say it was more like a stroll because it's just so easy to stop and ask questions. I have posted a few photos of some of the more common plants.

 Everlasting - I used a similar plant (the bi-color species) in my Native Gruit. Smells wonderful, some people think it smells like maple syrup.

 Funnel Web Spider
 Miner's Lettuce - edible, we found from testing that the bigger the leaf the less bitter.
 Native Morning Glory - these are very easy to identify due to the leaf shape (arrow-head)
 Wild Barley - look for a future post, I am looking into malting my own for beer.
 Wild Honey Suckle
 Yellow Yarrow - This was used in my Gruit

I sent this picture off to my insect expert friend, Jordan. Check the response.
"Beautiful!! That little caterpillar is infested with endoparasitic wasps. I am not sure what the parasitoid is (i.e., the animal that laid the eggs in the caterpillar), but I would guess it would be from the family Braconidae ( The animal inserts its eggs into the caterpillar with its long ovipositor, then after the eggs hatch and the larvae eat the animal from the inside, they make the cocoons that you see there. Then they will emerge as beautiful little adult wasps and the females will mate and then search for another caterpillar to start the whole process again. The circle of life.....isn't it beautiful!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Experimental : Cherrywood Smoked IPA

Long Post Warning.
This idea started because my homebrew club, QUAFF, was having a contest for Unique IPAs. The winner's beer will even get brewed by a big commercial brewery. There were a good amount of guidelines so that this beer could easily be reproduced on the commercial scale. I think I figured out a a pretty unique beer that still fit all the guidelines.
The other big reason to brew this beer is because my friends are starting to get into the brewing process with me and this is what they like to drink. I have actually never made an IPA before. And once constructing the recipe I figured out that the hops in this batch are equal to what I normally use in 6 months.
Let me take you through our brainstorming process. How do we make a beer that is different but still has all the great qualities that make an IPA great? These were my requirements:
  • Big Hop Aroma
  • Big Hop Flavor
  • Dry Taste
  • Light and Crisp Mouthfeel

I wanted to keep the yeast profile very clean and that was a requirement for brewing on the commercial scale. So by checking this part off the list it narrowed down the choices.

This was an area that we could really get creative. The big focus in an IPA is to let the hop flavor shine through so we can't get too bold. The malt should really be a background flavor in this style in my opinion. So we started looking through our possibilities for strange malts to use in an IPA. And my friends were very excited about Smoked Malt. I really wasn't sure how well it would work, but it is worth a try. That meant time for experimenting. So during a brew session with a few friends we did some tasting. I bought 2 oz of 3 different kinds of Smoked malts. I poured in 170 degree water into coffee cups and let the malts steep, then put them in the fridge to get down to beer temperature. Then we used Titan IPA as our test beer.
Peat Smoked Malt - Very strong rich smoke flavor, need extremely small amounts, very phenolic
Rauch Malt - Also peat smoked, but to a much less degree, also rich and high in phenols 
Cherry-wood Smoked Malt - the lowest of the 3 on intensity of smoke, also contributes more wood or fruit notes (not cherry though), more complex
We started with very low doses of each "smoke tea" until we had a level we thought would work. My original intention of the tasting was to figure out the amount of malt needed and then scale it to my recipe. I decided against this since the "smoke tea" method seemed to work pretty well and would guarantee that I didn't end up with 5 gals of undrinkable beer.
Another malt addition that I really like is Honey Malt. We added a decent amount of this because when we were doing the "smoke tea" test some of the malt converted so there was some sweetness in the smell that I really liked.

First, I had to make the choice between American, English or Noble hops. During our taste test we liked the combo of the citrus hops with the woodsy, fruity smoke. In hindsight, we should have tasted the smoke in several different IPAs. I am also not an expert in hops and especially the high alpha hops used in IPAs. So I got myself educated on cohumulone levels and hop acid levels. Basically, the lower the ratio of cohumulone to alpha acid will give you a less harsh bitterness. (The thinking behind this is the amount of cohumulone in you beer will determine harshness (less is better), so if you can use less hops by using a high alpha acid hop then the total cohumulone amount will be less. See below for some great charts I found online.

Next, the amount of hop oil will give you more hop aroma and flavor. The final consideration is the flavor profile of the hops. Since we decided on American hops this narrowed down our options. We could choose from citrus, piney, dank, apricot. Our idea started to come together as we started to think of the environment that this beer would be consumed. We were aiming for a beer that would be perfect for a summer BBQ. We already have the smoke from the BBQ, now would be a good time to add citrus and apricot (Thinking marinade).
To really make this a BBQ beer we are adding some honey. I thought that this would make sure it dried out. Plus I was trying to play off Honey-BBQ sauce.

Recipe: Cherry-wood Smoked IPA
O.G.-1.067  F.G.-1.012   IBU-55 Size -5.5 gal
SRM-6   ABV-7.2%  

Grain Bill (76% Efficiency):
9.5 lb 2-row (81%)
8 oz  Honey Malt (4%)
8 oz Flaked Barley (4%)
4 oz Acid Malt (2%) 
1 lb Cherry-wood Smoked Malt - Added after fermentation (1 lb in .25 gal mashed at 150, boiled, added to taste (6 oz for 2.5 gals - this amounts to only 3 oz of malt per 5 gals)
1 lb Honey (9%) - Added at Day 6

1 oz Amarillo, 9.5%, pellet, First Wort Hopping, 17.4 IBU
.5 oz Columbus, 14%, pellet, 30 min 19.1 IBU
.5 oz Columbus, 14%, pellet, 15 min 9.1 IBU
1 oz Centennial, 10.5%, pellet, 5 min 9.5 IBU
1 oz Amarillo, 9.5%, pellet, 0 min
.5 oz Columbus, 14%, pellet, Dry Hop - Added after Fermentation Day 10 
.5 oz Centennial, 10.5%, Dry Hop - Added after Fermentation Day 10 
.5 oz Amarillo, 9.5%, Dry Hop - Added after Fermentation Day 10
.5 oz Columbus, 14%, pellet, Dry Hop - Added after Fermentation Day 17 
.5 oz Centennial, 10.5%, Dry Hop - Added after Fermentation Day 17 
.5 oz Amarillo, 9.5%, Dry Hop - Added after Fermentation Day 17 

200mL of yeast slurry of WLP028 Scottish Edinburgh yeast

Brew Day:
Brewed: 2/20/11
Kegged: 3/1/11

San Diego (Alvarado) Tap Water
1 campden tablet for 5 gal.

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 3 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 148F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 161F
Sparge Volume: 5 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 6.25 gal
Boil Time: 60min
Post Boil Volume: 5 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.062 (no sugar)
Ferment Temp: 65-67F
Primary Length: 10 days

Yes, this post keeps going. So as stated before this beer was brewed to be shared. The plan was to enter this single beer in about 4 different competitions (All were contests where your beer would have been brewed by a commercial brewery for the AHA Conference). And these competitions required a lot of beer.
My plans were just that plans because of travel I was only able to enter this beer into 1 contest, the AHA Rally at Stone. This is one of the coolest events I have ever been to. They have over 40 homebrewers and most people bring their stranger beers. I got some good feedback on this beer and I'll post them in the Tasting Notes.

Next time:
  • I tried to keep the IBUs down for this beer because I was afraid that the smoke would contribute a bit of a drying taste. Next time I think I will bump up the IBUs 10 - 15 because this turned out more pale ale bitter.
  • Now that I know the amount of smoke malt needed (3-4 oz per 5 gals for a subtle flavor) I will add the malt to the mash. The reason for this is that I don't want any smoke aroma, only taste. If I add in the mash then the aroma should be blown off in the fermentor.
  • I need to dry-hop with whole hops or use a different method with pellets. I really did not get a very good hop aroma.
And now a  of the Brew Day Video by Dan Olson at I have become the San Diego Gypsy Brewer.

Jeff Crane's Smoked IPA from Dan Olson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fiore Tandem Part 1: Disassemble & Document

I have a fun new bike project (I know I haven't finished the fixie, it will be done soon). My friends have been telling me about this bike for a while. I guess Dan (editor of the Scottish 60/- video) tried to jump this bike off a curb and well the rest is history. I have never worked on tandems, so this is a great chance for me to learn (read these tandem bike FAQs). The good thing about this bike is that it looks pretty basic and is already in good shape.
This is now my fourth project and I understand the need to take a lot of pictures. I mostly focus on the order of washers and screws. It is amazing the number of different size screws you can have on one bike and the thing that drives me crazy is there is no need. Plus, that means you need to keep changing tools during assembly (rant over). The lesson I really learned on the last project is the need to immediately add captions to the pictures. When you are taking macro photos of parts it is easy to lose the location on the overall bike. And I'm thinking this would be even more difficult when working on a tandem (2 of everything).
So I figured out what was wrong with the bike. It was about a 2 minute fix. Basically the rear (stoker) crank was locked up. I think when the bike was "supposedly" jumped off the curb the chain popped off and got caught between the 2 rear chain rings. It took a bit of convincing but I was able to get the chain removed. Unfortunately, this bike has just been sitting in a damp concrete garage with zero maintenance. Which on these older steel bikes means rust (lube your bikes). The good news is with a new rear chain and a bit of rust removal this thing will be looking good.

Enjoy the pictures.
Front Brakes
 Rear Brakes
Rear Derailleur
Step 2 - Cleaning & Ordering Parts

Step 3 - Assemble & Ride
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...