Archive for March, 2010

Double Barrel

Well, brewing 120 gallons of beer in 10 gallon batches over 3 nights and one full day is a lot of work.  The math worked out to over 3,000 lbs of carrying – be it water, grain, wort, barrels…so yeah, I am a little sore.    On the positive side, I was hitting my gravities with such consistency I was worried that the refractometer was broken.   The only mishaps over those 12 10 gallon batches were some spilled grain, and not leaving enough headspace in the flanders red barrel for the krausen and having an avalanche of yeast and foam pour out the top.  I am really looking forward to trying these two beers but it’s going to be a while before they are ready.

It had been a few weeks since I picked up the barrels and they had been empty at the winery for a week or so, so I was concerned they may be a bit loose.  So, I heated up about 6 gallons of water to dump in to make sure the barrel was  water tight (which it was) and it was interesting to see the water come out quite red from the wine still in the wood.

barrelwater

The lambic style beer was brewed Wednesday – Friday nights and had undergone much of the primary fermentation in assorted bottles, buckets, and carboys, so when I filled the barrel I was able to get it quite full and not be worried about overflow.  I didn’t take that into consideration when filling the flanders barrel ( it was all brewed on Saturday and transferred to the barrel on Sunday) and the result was a vigorous fermentation sending foam and yeast out through the bung hole and all over the floor.  Though it was cool to see as it looked like many pictures I have seen of the barrels in many Belgian breweries – though I am sure it won’t be as “cool” to clean up tomorrow after the fermentation slows down a bit.

barrelfill

barrelferment

All in all it was  fun, yet exhausting few days, and I can’t wait to get a taste of these.   I think next up will be a rebrew of the Wit, a Golden Strong, IPA, then a Berliner Weisse (probably partigyle with the Wit actually)

BDG/Wit tasting

Well, not exactly what I was looking for.  The wit isn’t bad but still lacks the fruitiness I was looking for so will brew that one again.  It has a nice color and body though so I think just a bit warmer ferment and maybe a bit more orange peel and it’ll be right on.   The Biere de Garde with the lager yeast fermented warm turned up with a bit of diacetyl , which wasn’t that surprising to me….I am now wondering how people use lager yeast at warm temps and avoid it though.   The Biere de Garde with the french ale yeast on the other hand is delicious.   I might try again with a bit higher mash temp or some carapils to increase the body a touch, but otherwise this one is really good.   Malty and dry…right on.

Biere de Garde, Wit 2.0 and Big Wood

Well, with the weather warming to reasonable levels (above freezing), I am getting back to brewing.   The weekend of the 13th Jeremy came down and we brewed a Biere De Garde 10g batch that was split between a lager yeast and the White labs french ale yeast.   The lager was fermented quite warm, around 57 degrees, so it will be interesting to see how these compare.  Additionally, we brewed a 10g batch of Wit, half for each of us.  I tweaked this recipe a touch to include a bit more orange peel and a bit less coriander than the original.   Also we did sort of a partigyle brew using the last runnings of the Wit for a Berliner Weisse which Jeremy took home.   This actually worked out quite well as both styles are low on hops and roughly 40% wheat.  Seemed like a natural for the partigyle process, though it will undoubtedly work better with a 5 gallon Wit as the mash tun was stuffed.

After completing the Berliner and cleaning up we drove over to pick up the used wine barrels I had purchased.  I now have two barrels which formerly held Cabernet Franc wine.   The winemaker said they were used three times and the oak character is fading which is perfect for me.  I am planning on filling one with a lambic style beer, and the other with a Flanders Red style beer based on Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja.  I will be pretty much brewing every night this week as well as all day Saturday in order to get enough volume to fill the two large barrels.

This past weekend I drove up to Jeremy’s in hopes of brewing a citra hop based IPA and a sour stout.  Things got off to a rough start with their refrigerator failing, me burning my hand, us totally screwing up the mash and dumping the IPA.   Hard decision to make, but the mash temps were missed by quite a bit….I didn’t account for the fact that we would lose more heat using two mash tuns rather than one – which was a late decision when it came into question whether the entire batch would fit in one tun.   We regrouped with some lunch and a Saison DuPont, and started the sour stout which went flawlessly.   (and their refrigerator started working again….weird)  It should be interesting to see how this one turns out, it was inspired by the New Glarus Olde English Porter and Jolly Pumpkins Madrugada Obscura.

So, it will be a busy week, between brewing to fill the new barrels and kegging the Wit, and two Biere De Gardes.  I will post a followup describing the 100+ gallon brews for the barrels and some tasting notes for the others.