Archive for June, 2009

Oud Bruin fermentation (aka yeast workout)

Oud Bruin fermentation from halfbarrelbrewing on Vimeo.

another 3-brew day

It’s painful when cleanup time comes after doing 3 brews in a day.   I think it was about 10 hours in total from first mash to “preliminary cleanup”.  Saturday I brewed a new IPA recipe, a Berlinner Weiss, and an Oud Bruin.   All in that order.

It was perfect timing actually for the IPA, as the hoppy amber that was on tap kicked on Thursday night.  The new IPA is a bit darker than my usual version due to a higher amount of crystal and caramunich malts, so it will be a nice replacement when it’s ready in a few weeks.  It weighed in at about 15.5 plato and SRM, and 86 IBU.  This one is an Amarillo/Simcoe IPA, I am really liking that combination lately.  I am still a huge fan of Centennial in IPAs (Founders Centennial and Bell’s Two Hearted in particular), but it’s nice to mix it up now and then.

The second brew was the Berlinner Weiss.  I think this one started about 8 plato, was a 50-50 blend of pilsen and wheat malt, and weighed in with a whopping 3 IBU.   I pretty much boiled it with the burner wide open for 10 minutes before starting the wort recirculating through the CFC for an additional 10 minutes.  I did find that if I completely open up the propane, I can maintain a boil while recirculating which I didn’t think would work all that well.  This was pitched with Wyeast Lactobacillus and a bit of German Ale yeast.  I am planning on taking a sample of this in mid-august to see where it is (sourness) and hopefully have it available for Oktoberfest.

The third brew was the Oud Bruin.  I mashed this one on the warmer side to make sure the bugs had something to eat and pitched it with some California Ale yeast and 2 packs of the Roselare blend from Wyeast.   (I would have used one but they were fairly old and I wanted to make sure some viable bacteria made it in to the fermenter)  Eventually, the plan for this one is to sample in mid August as well and then add some Montmorency cherries for a couple of weeks before kegging it up.   Hopefully will have something between the New Glarus Wisconsin Red (too sweet to my taste) and Deschutes “The Dissident”.

It will be interesting to see how these work out as all three are new recipes, and the berlinner and bruin are styles I have not brewed before at all.  After cleanup we headed out to dinner for some burgers and Surly Furious….delicious.

I will add the full recipes when I get some time.

oktoberfest brew

Well, with all of the projects around the house and my recent focus on sour beers, I nearly lost track of the fact that I needed to brew a Maerzen for our Oktoberfest party in September.   Three months is not ideal, but roughly a month fermentation and two months lagering will hopefully produce a decent beer.

This year I wanted something a little lighter, more in line with modern Oktoberfest beers than the darker traditional versions we had the previous two years.  I also realized too late that I was out of Hallertau hops, so I substituted Sterling and German Tradition hops for the Hallertau I originally had in the recipe.

One lesson learned is that producing a lager when it’s 95 degrees out is not the easiest thing to do, so next year I’ll try to brew it early in the spring (as is the tradition) when the temps are cooler and lager it the 6 months until the party.    In order to help crash the wort temperature from boiling to 50 degrees as fast as possible, I used a splitter on the garden hose to run both an immersion chiller and a counterflow chiller in tandem.  The nearly 60 degree “cold” water, however, could only take it down so far – actually to 58 somehow.   So, I was forced to kick it old school and put the semi-chilled carboy in a sink full of ice water to take it the rest of the way to 50 at which point I pitched the yeast and it went into the fermentation fridge.  There was a fairly vigorous fermentation underway in less than a day @ 49 degrees F in the fridge.

Below is the recipe I came up with for this years batch.

Oktoberfest 2009


14.0 Plato

9.5 SRM

24 IBU

Grain Bill:

43.5% Munich

26% Pilsen

26% Vienna

4.5% Caramunich 60


22 IBU Sterling @ 60 minutes

2 IBU German Tradition @ 5 minutes


3 Liter starter of Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager

another sour sampling

Yesterday I sampled most of the sour beers I have fermenting currently.

Flanders Red #1 – last tasted a month ago and was mostly brett flavors with little lactic acidity.  This time, there was increased acidity and still maintained similar levels of brett flavor.   It is fairly light in mouthfeel, and finished pretty dry as well.  This one was primaried with the Wyeast Roselare blend and remains in primary to this day (coming up on 1 year) It is a VERY clear beer,  sort of a light red in color.  I am pretty pleased where it is at and plan on bottling this over the 4th of July weekend.

Flanders Red #2 – also last tasted about a month ago, and was quite bland at the time.  Now, it still has a nice maltiness to it, and a thicker mouthfeel than Flanders Red #1.  In the past 6 weeks the acidity has risen and there is now a nice blend of malt, brett funk, and lactic acidity.   I think I may prefer this over #1 now…have to see how they are when carbonated.  This batch was primaried with US05 for about 5 days and racked to secondary with the Wyeast Roselare blend.

Sour Blonde – This is a re-brewing of the original sour blonde from last year and has been in the fermenter for approaching 4 months.   This version had all of the yeast and bacteria pitched into the primary as the last batch was mostly brett funk and no sourness….I wanted to make sure the bacteria had something to eat this time.  Currently it is balanced, though maybe a touch more on the brett funk side.   I think another 2 months or so will do it some good, so I’ll try it again maybe around August 1st and see where we’re at.

Lambic – this was part of a 15 gallon batch which is now fermenting/aging in corny kegs with the Wyeast lambic blend   I noticed that one keg does not want to seal well, so that is the one I used to take the sample.    Had quite the pellicle on it too.   Obviously a fair amount of oxygen is getting in.   I’ll have to keep an eye on this one to make sure it doesn’t get to acetic and turn to vinegar.   The sample I pulled smelled funky (bad) reminiscent of wet socks.   The flavor was nice sourness up front, but very dry finish, and almost a bit astringent.   Thankfully, this is only at month 6 so there is plenty of time for it to clean itself up.   I probably won’t touch the sealed kegs until early 2010, however I do plan on trying the unsealed keg again probably in September or October just to make sure it doesn’t go bad.

All in all I am quite pleased with the tastings.   The ones I expected to be good and about ready were in fact good and about ready.  The lambic I had no hope for as it is still very young.  I really just wanted to check the progress and see the impact of the unsealed lid.  I think I also will re-pitch the blonde and both Flanders yeast cakes for new batches after I bottle them in order to hopefully get an even sour next batch.

No Drama in the LBC


So tonight I cracked one of the bottles of the LBC which is the half of the “2 blonde brewday” that was fermented solely with White Labs Brettanomyces Claussenii and Wyeast’s Lactobacillus.     It is not quite yet fully carbonated, which I attribute to the 60 degree temps in the basement, but it’s close.  I added a half packet of Red Star Montrachet wine yeast at bottling to help along the bottle fermentation as the last all brett beer  (Drama Queen) still hasn’t full carbonated.   I think giving the bottles a bit of a shake to rouse the yeast and relocating to a warmer part of the house will promptly move it along to a proper level of carbonation.

The beer poured a touch darker than I expected.  When I say darker, I mean it wasn’t Corona yellow, but sort of blonde with hints of orange.   Fairly fruity aroma, though not pineapple as has been mentioned to come from the Claussenii strain.  The flavor is also fairly fruity with a nice tartness from the lactobacillus.    Not really much in the way of traditional brettanomyces driven flavors, but Claussenii is regarded as having the lowest intensity of brett flavor so that is not surprising.    Actually this is quite a nice beer and could probably pass for a berlinner weiss without much of a problem.  In the fridge I have a package of the Wyeast Brettanomyces Claussenii, so I am tempted to re-brew this same recipe in the coming weeks and give it a go with that version for comparison between the two labs’ strains.