Archive for January, 2009

3 batch day on a virgin stand


So, I went up to wisconsin to visit my friend Jeremy and pump out 3 batches on his as-of-yet unused brewstand.   We decided to do an Amber, Sour blonde ale, and imperial stout.  Despite the cold temperatures, snow, and late start due to sampling and “research” the night before, we made it through 3 all grain batches in about 8-9 hours.   Not too bad.  (it might have been sooner, but the transfer lines clogged with ice during the last batch so we needed a few minutes to thaw them out.)

Sour Blonde…pt 1

So in reading an issue of BYO or Zymurgy sometime last year I saw two recipes I definitely wanted to try…one was a “clone” of Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja (mmmmmm, a flanders style red), and the other was a “clone” of Russian River’s Temptation (a sour blonde ale aged in Chardonnay barrels).    Well, the La Roja clone is still sitting in a fermentor in the basement, with probably another 5-6 months to go.  The blonde however I bottled a few weeks ago.   I had a few tastes over the last couple weeks and find it quite a nice beer.  It’s not as sour as I would have liked, but does have a nice Brett character.  Though for pitching lactobacillus and pediococcus, I expected far more actual sourness.  Additionally, I got no oak or chardonnay flavors in the final product.   Perhaps boiling the oak twice to sanitize washed away the flavor as well.

I brewed this again last weekend up at my friend Jeremy’s house and we made a couple changes….we increased the mash temp to 154, let the belgian yeast only work on it for about 4 days before transferring to secondary, the “bugs added were the oak cubes, and dregs from the first sour batch, and this will secondary in a bucket rather than a better bottle.   The hope hear is that the increase in sugars left to the bugs  as well as the theoretical increased levels of oxygen coming through the bucket will yield more lactic and perhaps a little acetic acid making this a bit more sour.

The recipe and notes from Batch 1

Sour Blonde

A ProMash Recipe Report

BJCP Style and Style Guidelines

19-E  Belgian & French Ale, Belgian Specialty Ale

Min OG:  1.040   Max OG:  1.070
Min IBU:    20   Max IBU:    40
Min Clr:     3   Max Clr:     8  Color in SRM, Lovibond

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal):         5.00    Wort Size (Gal):    5.00
Total Grain (Lbs):       12.00
Anticipated OG:          1.065    Plato:             15.99
Anticipated SRM:           4.1
Anticipated IBU:          31.5
Brewhouse Efficiency:       70 %
Wort Boil Time:             90    Minutes

Pre-Boil Amounts

Evaporation Rate:      15.00    Percent Per Hour
Pre-Boil Wort Size:    6.45    Gal
Pre-Boil Gravity:      1.051    SG          12.55  Plato

Formulas Used

Brewhouse Efficiency and Predicted Gravity based on Method #1, Potential Used.
Final Gravity Calculation Based on Points.
Hard Value of Sucrose applied. Value for recipe: 46.2100 ppppg
Yield Type used in Gravity Prediction: Fine Grind Dry Basis.

Color Formula Used:   Morey
Hop IBU Formula Used: Rager

Additional Utilization Used For Plug Hops:         2 %
Additional Utilization Used For Pellet Hops:      10 %


%     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
91.7    11.00 lbs. Pilsen (2 Row)                France         1.039      2
8.3     1.00 lbs. Wheat Malt                    America        1.038      2

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
0.50 oz.    Styrian Goldings                  Pellet   5.25   4.0  20 min.
1.00 oz.    Sterling                          Pellet   6.00  27.4  60 min.


White Labs WLP550 Belgian Ale

Pitched Wyeast Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Brettanomyces Bruxellensis all into secondary after 7 days fermentation with the white labs 550.  Secondary lasted 7 months.  The last month included about 1 oz hungarian oak cubes (boiled twice and then soaked in chardonnay) as well as about 1/4 cup chardonnay the cubes were stored in. (paranoid about over-oaking this)  Primary and secondary fermentaiton were at ambient basement temps which range from about 62 to 66 degrees.

New Years Lambic


Well, about a year ago, I brewed a “lambic”….I say it in quotes because I know the afficionados will point out that true lambics are open, wild fermented in only in Belgium.   Anyway, last winter I basically had an American wheat extract recipe which I brewed 10 gallons of….5 remained a nice plain wheat beer fermented with US-05 American Ale yeast…the second 5 gallons was also fermented with US-05, but then was innoculated with the White Labs Belgian Sour Mix (WLP655)    which includes saccharomyces, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus.   Upon waiting 12 excruciating months, I bottled half a couple months ago, and transferred the other half to two 1-gallon jugs with raspberries (frozen) at a rate of 1 lb of fruit per gallon.   The raspberries were added in two batches, one 6 weeks prior to bottling and one 2 weeks prior, adding 50% each time.

At bottling time the plain lambic had a musty/basementy off flavor that was quite unappealing.   I let it sit a month or so and tried it again new years day while up in the northwoods of Wisconsin.  This time, the off flavor was gone, and it was nice and tart.   Quite good, but a bit overcarbonated.  I should mention I decided last minute to rack half to raspberries….this was apparently AFTER I had added the priming sugar for a 5 gallon batch.   I bottled in champagne bottles so I was not so concerned about bottle bombs, but the initial carbonation is a bit harsh.   I let the bottle sit out open for 20 minutes or so, and poured another glass.   Much better.   Much of the carbonation had escaped bringing it to a reasonable level, as well as warming slightly which allowed more of the sour and brett flavors to come through.  I have seen mixed reviews of the White Labs Sour Mix, but it seems to have worked well in this case.

Initially, when bottling, this had a strong musty/basementy off-flavor that was not very appealing.   However, the additional time in the bottle has allowed this to clear up nicely.   I still would like it more tart or even downright sour, but for a first run I’d say it turned out quite well.   Hopefully I will be able to hold on to a few bottles and see how this progresses over time, say another year or two.