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

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

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


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...)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Homemade Craft Soda from the Tap

I currently have quite a few friends that are pregnant or breast feeding (like my wife). I felt bad that they can no longer fill their glass from my keezer. My solution was to put some water in a keg to make soda water. Then I made soda syrups or concentrates.

This whole process was a lot easier than I thought. The carbonated water is pretty basic, just add filtered water to a keg. I was worried that the carbonation wouldn't be high enough for a soda. My keezer settings are on the high side around 2.75 CO2 volumes (fridge at 40 F, Pressure 15 psi)  because of the styles I normally have on tap. And I actually like this level as it not spritzy on your nose, but is still obviously carbonated. If you have a fancy setup then by all means crank up the pressure.

My idea to use syrups to flavor my soda was 3 fold:
1. I am still experimenting with flavor profiles and didn't want to commit to 5 gals of anything
2. With syrups it is much easier to adjust your sweetness or flavor level. I tend to prefer less sweetness than my wife
3. More variety

The syrups are also pretty easy to make. I started by just looking for soda recipes online - I just don't add the water to the recipe. Here are a few to get you started:

Basil Lemonade w Jalapeno (Original Recipe)
2 parts simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water) - heated to dissolve the sugar with 1 cup of basil leaves and allow to seep with the lid on for 30 minutes
1 part lemon juice
1/2 - 1 jalepeno or any pepper of your choice

Mix everything together and allow to cool in the fridge. Stored mine in mason jars in the keezer.

Improvements: I plan to make extra thick syrup (2 cups sugar to 1 cup water) and therefore you would only need 1 part syrup to juice. This just allows you to make more soda with less syrup.

Honey Cream Soda
Honey Simple Syrup (1 part honey to 1 part water) - just heat enough to mix without driving off flavor
2 vanilla beans - I bought the variety pack (it's cheap) and Tahitian taste the best so far - more fruity and less extract tasting. I shopped around and Vanilla Products USA had the best selection and deals.

Split the beans and scrap the goodness and put everything into the heated syrup and allow to cool in the fridge.

Improvements: The honey was a bit over the top, so next time I might substitute half the honey for turbinado sugar.

Ginger Ale (Original Recipe -yeast)
2 cups Simple Syrup
1.5 oz Ginger - Minced or Grated - I used my hand held microplane (like this)
2 Tbls Lemon juice

Take ginger and let it steep for 60 minutes in heated simple syrup. Then pour strainer and cool in fridge

Improvements - This was very nice, but I might add some citrus zest while making the simple syrup.

So all you do is add your syrup to your glass. The amount completely depends on your tastes, but I found that around 4 oz for a 12 oz serving was about right. Then go over to your tap and add your carbonated water. Throw in some ice cubes and stir it up with a straw and enjoy.

Another option which is super easy - is to buy fruit syrups at the store. Our ethnic food stores carry a huge selection. Sour Cherry being one of my favorites - works well in Berliner Weisse, too.

As a sidenote - these also make some great bases for cocktails - just add your spirit of choice.

I'll try to post any new flavor combinations I create (even the bad ones). Please share your experiences also.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Belgian Grand / Petite Cru Based on Candi Sugar

I have been planning to brew a beer where the flavor is almost solely based on candi sugar. In the book, Brew like a Monk, Stan explains that this is how many Belgian brewers create their darker beers. This intrigued me because I really like the taste of candi sugar. The only part missing was that I needed to figure out how to make candi sugar. This is a highly debated subject (almost to the level of plastic vs. glass fermenters) on the ingredients and techniques used to create these syrups.

I have done a huge amount of research over the last couple years and have decided Ryan at Ryan Brews knows what he is talking about (he uses science). I read his article and then re-read it (and all the comments). His flavor tasting chart is pretty awesome and makes it convenient to have a point to aim for. Having made candi sugar a couple times in the past, I know it makes a mess. Here is some advice (if you have a wife like mine), go buy your own pot (I got a non-stick one from a thrift store for $2) or use your brew kettle. Also make sure you are outside or at least in a place you can make a mess. I actually went far enough to buy a cheap ($16-shipped) electric burner  which is also get for boiling starters since my wife is not a fan of the house smelling like wort. Sugar is actually pretty easy to clean with hot water, but it gets everywhere.

The flavors in Ryan's "Lime+Nutrient" batch sounded like what I wanted. As he discusses in the article, this is not a recipe but a guideline. For the first batch, I followed it as a recipe so I had somewhere to start. Well, the first thing I noticed is that the times he lists for flavor development weren't even close for me. After 3 hours of boiling, I got something that was pretty close to his "25 min" syrup. I think my issues had to do with the power of my burner and me adding too much water and not allowing the syrup to get to high enough temperature to create Maillard reactions. My second batch I decided to go for it and do a larger quantity in my old brew kettle on the propane burner. This seemed to develop color and flavors faster, but still much slower than expected. And I did get some slight smoking and burning. The resulting syrup had some burnt bitter astringent flavors. According to Ryan this is probably because I let the pH drop too low without adding more lime. I'm going to keep trying and if anyone has suggestions (or can post a video, I'm a visual learner) please send it my way.

My candi sugar wasn't bad, but just not exactly what I wanted. Therefore off to my local ethnic food store to pick up some date molasses and carob molasses. The date molasses is gold and when mixed in 50/50 with my candi syrup it tasted great. I added a little carob molasses to give some chocolate notes (maybe).

As explained above, the grain bill was kept simple to provide enough bready flavors, but stay out of the way of the candi sugar. Hops were just to added for bitterness to balance the sweetness. My mash temp was in the mid range because I like my Belgian beers dry, but I wasn't totally sure how fermentable my candi sugar would be.

The next strange part of this brew session is about 2 days before I was going to brew I saw this post from Modern Times. I decided that I could dilute down some of the wort (4 gals wort, 1 gal water) and also not add first runnings to be able to get a session strength version that could be ready in 8 days. For lack of a better name, a Petite Cru or Belgian Dark Session Ale. This also meant that I would now have 1 gal of wort left over. I had a starter of Maredsous dregs going, so that decision was easy.

Grand Cru / petite cru

IBU: GC ~25, PC ~20       SRM: TBD      Batch Size: 10 gal  (5 gal - GC,  5 gal- PC 1 gal - Mared) 
O.G.: GC ~1.070, PC ~1.045, Mared - 1.055              FG: GC- TBD, PC - 1.005, Mared - 1.008 

Name                            Amount          Color
Pilsner                          15.000 lb         2 L
Munich Malt                    3.000 lb        20 L
Wheat Malt                     3.000 lb          5 L

Grand Cru (5 gals) - 12 oz Date Molasses, 16 oz Homemade Candi Sugar, 2 oz Carob Molasses, All 1st Runnings
Petite Cru (5 gals) - 5 oz Date Molasses, 10 oz Homemade Candi Sugar, 1 oz Carob Molasses
Maredsous (1 gal) - 1.5 oz Date Molasses, 3 oz Homemade Candi Sugar, 1 oz Carob Molasses

Name                 Alpha      Amount      Use      Time         IBU
Super Styrian    9.5%        1.25 oz       Boil     60 min      25.4

WLP 530  - Slurry from Belgian Blonde in 1 liter starter - split in Petite and Grand Cru
Maredsous dregs - built up 50 mls (3 days) then 100 mls (2 days)

Brewing Process 
Mash at 152 grain for 30 min
Took a gallon of the first runnings and boiled until thick
Boil 60 min

Petite Cru was fermented in glass carboys at 63 degrees for 6 days then raised to 68. Kegged Day 8.
Grand Cru was fermented in glass carboys at ~70 degrees and free rise ~75
Maredsous was fermented in glass jug at ~70 degrees and free rise ~75

Big shocker here, but I did not win the Modern Times competition. That beer just did not turn out like I planned. It was done fermenting, but the flavor profile was just weird. I'm thinking that it may take some time for the flavors to come together. Also to note I did not get nearly as much color contribution as I thought I would. (estimating SRM of homemade candi sugar is tough) My plan for next year is to meet in the middle with a balance of specialty grains and candi sugar.

Petite Cru - still has a strange flavor profile and I felt like spicing it. I don't do this often, but I was in the mood. I used 3 twigs of cinnamon, 8 oz golden raisins, 1 bourbon vanilla bean, zest from 2 oranges. So far the flavor is pretty nice, but the raisins added too much sugar so I took the keg out of the keezer and I'm going to let it ferment out a bit. Also the orange is a bit over the top - maybe just zest from 1 would have been better. I'll let this mellow for a month and have it back on for the holidays.

Grand Cru - this got an ounce of Hungarian oak cubes and is sitting in a keg.

Maredsous - bottled

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Great Brett Experiment w Eureka Brewing

Sam at Eureka Brewing has an amazing yeast collection and is sharing some of it with the WORLD! If you didn't already know Sam is a biologist from Switzerland that does some isolating of unique strains. Sam has access to a lot of great beers over in Europe and has used his talent to isolate yeast (Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces) and bacteria. Quickly go read the background and scope of this experiment at Eureka Brewing. I recently came across his list of isolated Brett Strains and thought it would be a lot of fun to experiment with them. Neither of us have any idea how these will taste or perform.
I created a simple recipe that I thought would be interesting enough for us to enjoy the taste of the beer, but not too complex to distract us from the yeast derived flavors. For the recipe, I added some wheat to help with mouthfeel (protein) and long term food source (long chain carbohydrates). Then a small percentage of acid malt was added to give the Brett strains some lactic acid to convert and to also lower the pH for the mash and Brett fermentation.

Sam will be sending the yeast in 1.5 mL vials (mostly to help with international shipping costs). These will need to be built up. I've read that you should build up about 10x each step. I'm planning to brew wit hall 20 strains at once. My goal is to have 20 - .5 gal trials going all at once - here is how I plan to do that.

First Starter Step -  15 ml (~.5 oz)
15 ml Sterile Centrifuge tubes (~$15 and great for saving dregs)

Second Starter Step - 150 ml (~5 oz). Here are my ideas:
250 ml flask w stopper/airlock or foil (laboratory way), but expensive
12 oz beer bottles w stopper or foil (pretty cheap, but the stoppers/airlocks would be pricey)
12 oz water bottles w 1/8" blow-off tubing sealed into cap or foil (cheap)

Main Batch - 1.5 l (~50 oz) - maybe a bit more to get 4 beers worth
64 oz growlers w stopper/airlocks (homebrewer friends have extras - especially with CA laws)
2 liter water bottles w 1/8" blow-off tubing sealed into cap

We wanted to make sure we standardized the evaluation of the strains. We thought it was best to taste at Month 1 (uncarbonated at bottling), Month 2, Month 6, 1 Year.  I have created a Brettanomyces Evaluation Scoresheet (based on the AHA Scoresheet). We will compile the tasting notes, scores and sour/funk ratings.

Brettanomyces Evaluation ScoreSheet (pdf)

This is a Rough Draft - see please add comments

I am aware that this experiment is not possible for everyone, but I think it is important that we evaluate the flavors as best as possible. For my experiment, I will offer 3 spots for the tasting panel at my house. (leave a comment if interested)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mosaic Pale Ale Split: Conan Vs. Drie

I had another quick brew session (~3 hrs for all - grain) as time is quite limited with house projects and the baby. I wanted to make sure I had some hoppy beer on tap for my birthday BBQ. I also have been meaning to brew another hoppy beer with Brett Drie, since I loved my first Extra Special Bretter (ESBrett). Speaking of yeast, I recently was sent some Conan (Alchemist's Heady Topper) yeast from Derek at Bear Flavored Ales and some Brett Custerianus from Ryan at Yeast of Burden. It only made sense to do a large batch and split it to test the yeast.

For the hops, I happened to purchase some Mosaic hops earlier in the year when we were planning our 2nd batch for the barrel (still not brewed). I've read a good amount about this hop and many brewers are using it as a single hop. I thought I'd give it a go since I don't know anything about hop blending anyways.

As for the recipe, I wanted something fairly simple since I want the yeast flavor differences to be obvious and to taste the hops. The recipe is about as basic as possible. I did make one tweak in which I added some rye malt to help build some body that the Brett Only batches would need.

Mosaic Pale Ale

IBU: ~30       SRM: ~7      Batch Size: 10 gal  (5 gal - Drie/Conan, 1 gal Custers) 
O.G.: 1.051              FG: 1.017 (Conan),1.009 (Drie), 1.006 (Custersianus)

Name                            Amount          Color
American 2-row            14.000 lb         2 L
Munich Malt                  2.500 lb        10 L
Crystal 40L                     1.000 lb         40 L
Rye Malt                         1.000 lb          5 L

Name         Alpha      Amount      Use      Time         IBU
Warrior     15.5%        1.25 oz       Boil     30 min      24.8
Mosaic      12.5%        1.00 oz       Boil     10 min       6.2
Mosaic      12.5%        1.00 oz       WP       0 min         0

Conan - 1 oz  Mosaic for 7 days at 70F, 1 oz Mosaic in keg
Drie - 1 oz  Nelson for 7 days at 70F, 1 oz Mosaic in keg
Custersianus - .25 oz Citra at 70F

Drie - 100 ml slurry
Custersianus - 30 ml slurry

Brewing Process 
Mash at 154 grain for 30 min
Boil 30 min (quick batch and no need for long boil)

Conan was fermented in glass carboys at 63 degrees for 10 days then raised to 68.
Drie was fermented in glass carboys at ~70 degrees
Custersianus was fermented in glass jug at ~70 degrees

Tasting Notes at Kegging:
Conan - Fantastic - huge fruity esters from both hops and yeast, nice firm bitterness and tastes pretty dry with the high F.G. (1.017)
Drie - Aroma is great and full of fruit, taste is a bit strange with some slight tartness that doesn't work with the bitterness, then a phenol astringency in the finish - Not good and I'm pretty sure my pitch of Brett Drie is now going to be retired.
Custersianus - Very fruit forward with that ripe funky nice to let you know its wild. Nicely dry and a bit thin, no astringency or tartness

Official Tasting Notes coming soon (hint: Conan version is almost gone- yum)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Old Ale Charity Brew Session

A couple weeks back, a friend of mine inquired about supplying some homebrew for their non-profit's (Hope Through Health) charity event. The event is called "Cask for a Cause"(details) and will be held at Local Habit at 5:30 on Thursday, May 23rd.

I asked her what type of beer she would like me to brew for the event and the first response was an IPA. I immediately responded that its not really my style plus, there would be about 5 world class examples on tap at the same time. I knew that the deadline was approaching, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to brew a beer in time so I offered the keg of my 2011 Oud Bruin. I actually hadn't tasted it in a while (since before I moved), so I took a sample of it that night. The beer had a great tart cherry nose and quite a bit of sourness (even a bit acetic since it was sloshed around during moving). It was good, but I knew it would need to be blended. I initially thought it would be too sour for the general public and secondly it was kinda dry and thin for my liking. That lead me to want to brew a blending beer.

I thought the Old Ale style would be a great beer to blend as they have some of the dark fruit flavors. Plus I like to make them on the sweeter side, which would give a nice sweet-sour balance for the masses. In addition, I can make a lower gravity Old Ale in about 2 weeks and it can still have some nice complexity to add to the blend.

2013 Old Ale (for Blending or Sour Base Beer) 

Batch Size: 9.000 gal       O.G.: 1.058 , 1.072               FG: 1.020
IBU: ~25, ~30                  SRM: ~18                         ABV: 5%, 6.7%

Name                            Amount Color
Maris Otter                 19.000 lb       3 L
Rolled Oats                   1.000 lb        1 L
Crystal Extra Dark     10.000 oz     155 L
Special B                     10.000 oz     160 L
Chocolate Rye               6.000 oz       3 L
Total grain: 21.625 lb

Name                  Alpha      Amount      Use      Time                  IBU
Super Styrian     9.5%        1.75 oz       Boil     90.000 min      29.5

Safale S-04 (1 packet each carboy- rehydrated in warm water - Per BKYeast)

Brewing Process 
Mash at 154 grain at 1.25 ratio
Slow sparge for maximum caramelization
Boil 90 minutes for more caramelization
Run off 4 gals to carboy and top up with 1 gal boiled water - 1.058
Run off 5 gal to carboy - 1.072

Both batches were fermented in glass carboys at 65 degrees - raised to 68 on Day 7.

To figure out the final blend I took the beers (Old Ale, Oud Bruin and my Imperial Stout). I helped guide the tasting and it was unanimous that everyone like the sour beer at its current state. Then I suggested a splash of the Imperial Stout because it worked so well for my Oud Bruin in the 1st Rd of NHC. All agreed that the Imperial Stout really improved the beer. So much for the Old Ale I brewed, but it makes a great base beer for a sour beer and I have some East Coast Yeast Bug Country on its way. And I'm thinking the other half will get some oak and black treacle (and stay clean).
If anyone has this Thursday free, please come try some free sour beer and support a good cause. I'll be there all night, but not sure how long the beer will last.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Homebrew Tasting: NHC 1st Rd Results

I decided (and actually was able) to enter 3 beers into this year's NHC Competition. It is always tough for me to enter beers since I don't often brew to style guidelines. I do however like the idea of anonymous feedback and validation if you win is pretty nice also. The price has gone up considerably in past years, so I try to be more selective about entering beers that don't have any obvious flaws and I'm on a quest to perfect. The other benefit is that I like readers to be able to see tasting notes from beers discussed on this blog (so you don't have to trust my opinion).

Spolier Alert: 1 of my 3 entries won 1st and will advance to Rd 2.

Category 17B : Oud Bruin - Score: 40 - Place: 1st
This is a style I have tried to brew for several years and with mild success as a stand alone batch. In my opinion this style is extremely difficult (or lucky) to brew an outstanding example without blending. Mine have always gotten too sour, dry and funky. Here are recipes for those attempts - 2010 , 2011. I decided to do some blending with beers I have on hand and enjoy separately  The Oud Bruin final blend consisted of:
75% - 2010 Flanders Red - first Roeselare pitch - so it was barely tart, had a great cherry nose, but lacked any malt complexity
15% Imperial Oatmeal Stout - at ~14% , this is a super rich, dark fruit, malt bomb - a definite sipper and thick
10% Belgian Dark Strong w Maredsous dregs - Rich dark candi sugar flavors, a bit sweet for the style and balanced Belgian esters/phenols

They liked the complexity, which I really think is only possible with blending and that I kept the tartness on the subtle side. I think sourness is where most people go wrong with Oud Bruins. I think there should just be enough tartness to make the fruity esters pop.

Score Sheets:

Category 17C: Flanders Red - Score 33.5
I have been brewing this style the longest and I think I'm closing in on a recipe and process that will work without blending. My previous batches have been good on their own, but are really nice when I mix in some beer with a rich dark fruit malt character.

85% 2011 Flanders Red - Nice beer on its own, good level of sourness, nice tart cherry nose just lacks malt complexity
10% Imperial Oatmeal Stout  - my go to malt complexity blending beer
5% 2010 Flanders Red Kriek - just my 2010 Flanders Red with a lb of tart cherries aged in a gallon container

This one was a bit of a head scratcher as far as the judging remarks. They mention everything that the style should have and that is a great example of the style but then score it relatively low. I think it comes down to the individual judging tastes and that the beer didn't have enough WOW factor. I actually thought I was going to get dinged for too much acetic acid (the kriek is quite acetic for me), but that might go to show I have a lower threshold than most. I think the judge comment about metallic comes actually from the acetic bite.

Score Sheets:

Category 22 C: Wood Aged Beers - Score 38.5 Mini BOS - Farmhouse Ale aged in French Chardonnay Barrel

100% - Chardonnay Barrel American Saison

We knew this was a great beer, but finding a category and describing the beer is the trick to scoring well in competition. Notice I didn't even mention the Brett, but called it a Farmhouse Ale. The brett character is minimal in this beer and I didn't want the judges searching for it. The barrel character is the main flavor and hence the reason for entering it in Wood Aged beers versus Belgian Specialty. This is a beer that I knew would be up to the judge's taste and that winning involves luck. It was entered because it would be fun to have the whole group celebrate if it won.

Score Sheets:

I'm quite excited to blend the beer for the second round and hope it does well.

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