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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...