Archive for the ‘Sour Beers’ Category

Wow, this site is still here? I guess I will update it.

Since last we were here…..

Oktoberfest 2011 came and went.   Fun again, good beer, first use of my “pin” cask.   The cask worked out great, I brewed an ESB and loaded the cask with whole Centennial hops and I was really happy with the result (well other than the beer that sprayed all over when we vented it – a little lighter on the carbonation next time!).   Still up in the air if we use the cask again this year or not though.

The whiskey barrel aged imperial stout has been kegged & bottled.   1/6th of it has Intelligentsia Black Cat Expresso added, and it turned out fantastic.   As a change I took some Intelligentsia Analog Expresso and added it to a second keg.  I didn’t think this was as good as the first, but still interesting.  The rest of the barrel has been either bottled, will be soon or I may keep one keg full for winter.  Currently, the barrel is filled with a sour Belgian stout that is tasting really good and I will likely pull some of that off in the next month or two to bottle and then continue to use that barrel “solera style” for sour stout like I am with the two wine barrels with the lambic and flanders red.

I rebrewed some of the lambic a few weeks ago to pull some out to use a bunch of the door county cherries we had gotten last year so hopefully that should be ready in a few months.   I plan to use the rest of the cherries we got last year in a small batch of the sour stout.

I know that it’s still 3 months away, but one of the beers for our Oktoberfest party is already done and lagering.  I brewed a helles bock type beer for the “official” festbier.   We didn’t have any lagers last year so I really wanted to do one this year.  It was down to a helles, a traditional bock, and the Vindicator doppelbock.   Since I was already going to have a big double IPA on draft, I figured the lighter of the options might be the best choice.   Anyway, I sampled the helles a couple days ago and it’s quite good.   It should only get better as it lagers in the low 30s.   I brewed it on one of the hottest days of the year so far (98 degrees) so it was quite the brew day but I eventually got it chilled and seems like everything worked out great.  The rest of the beers are best served fresh (IPA, Double IPA, Hefe, etc) so I’ll likely get them done at the end of August or first week of September so they are at their prime come the end of September.

In the last couple of weeks I brewed 3 different beers, all of which are hop focused.   The first was a 100% Citra hopped IPA.   This was a repeat (with a few tweaks) of a beer I did last year and I think I have this recipe down, it turned out great.   The second is a hoppy wheat beer brewed with WY3333 German Wheat yeast and Amarillo hops which is currently fermenting.  This was also the first beer I used my hopback on which was packed with Cascade and Centennial hops.   Can’t wait to try this in a few weeks, it should be interesting – partly because I had a few issues with the mash, and it ended up a bit lower than I wanted.  The third beer I brewed recently is a “Session IPA” – basically a lower alcohol version of an IPA I guess.  I am thinking this should come in around 4.5% abv, and about 42 IBUs, all provided by Simcoe and Amarillo hops.   It smelled fantastic so I can’t wait to try this one also.

Lastly, I think it is time to upgrade some/most of my equipment so I will likely not be brewing anything for the next month or two as I try to gather all the necessary materials & parts to build a new system.  I might put some pictures up during the fabrication, but then again it’s been 15 months between posts so maybe not :)

Mega Update

Wow, I have fallen behind again…so here is a mega update:

I brewed 2 versions of a smoked porter recipe, one using the malt I smoked over apple wood and one using Briess cherry wood smoked malt.  The recipe was identical except for the smoked malt.  The Briess version ended up a bit too aggressive, and the apple wood version is really good if not a bit light in smoke character.  I will eventually try this again increasing the percentage of apple wood smoked malt just a touch.   Additionally I took a bit of the smoked porter and added some chipotle peppers to it.   I will have to try that one again, but I seem to recall the flavor being between the two with a slight bit of heat from the pepper.

I also brewed a Belgian Quad around the time of the porters.  This one turned out excellent!   Light fruity flavor from the yeast and dark fruit flavors from the D2 candi syrup.   Nice and delicious, though quite potent as well coming in around 10% ABV.

This coming weekend I plan on brewing a belgian strong, the “BL”, the amber/alt we served at Oktoberfest, and a new batch of Drama Queen in honor of Brent Favrah.  I’ll post recipe details and variations for these next week.

The lambic is tasting really good right now.  I think I will pull a couple kegs off & top off with the fresh beer I have lying in wait.   The fruited versions are also pretty interesting.  The apricot version turned quite a bit more sour, while the raspberry is showing a LOT of the fruit flavor and the cranberry is pretty light on color and flavor.

The blackberry flanders red is also tasting good right now.  The fruit flavor is there, but not overbearing, and it added a bit of a musty flavor that isn’t present in the unfruited version….interesting.  I will try to sample some of the unfruited red and the stout this week or next to report their progress.

FOBAB was once again a great event….some really interesting beers, and glad to see some of the new entrants taking home awards.  I was sad to see some of my favorite breweries didn’t send anything though (Surly and Jolly Pumpkin specifically)

Apparently Surly is still short on capacity to service the entire state of MN….so no Surly made it home from hunting last week, though we did score some 21st Ammendment and Deschutes which was a nice consolation prize for sure!  We did get to try some Darkness a few weeks ago when some kegs made their way to various bars in Illinois.   Good stuff as expected.  Now I am looking forward to trying the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Vanilla and Rare when we have Stoutfest sometime early in 2011….it will be hard to wait.

Good enough for now….will have updates on the next brews after the weekend.


Well based on the tasting the other day, I went out and purchased a bunch of fruit to add to some of the barrel aged beers.  I brought home apricots and raspberries for the lambic, and bought some blackberries to use with some of the flanders red.  I also had some cranberries in the freezer from last year to use with a portion of the lambic.  For all of these fruit additions I went with a ratio of about a pound of fruit per gallon of beer.   I held some fruit in reserve to add later as I have found this to be an effective way to make sure the yeast doesn’t completely scrub out all the fruit flavors.  I also pulled some of the flanders to age without fruit as I wanted to end up pulling 1/4 of the barrel volume out in order to keep the oak flavor in check.    Lastly, I bottled 2 cases of 750s of each of the beers straight, so that I have a bunch of the original batch preserved for later comparisons.  The only issue all night was due to some shitty crown caps that wouldn’t seal well, so I ended up having to pull and re-cap about 15 bottles.  From now on I am sticking with the oxygen barrier caps as they always seem to seat well on the 750ml champagne bottles I use.  I had planned on also bottling the kriek, however I was low on bottles and didn’t want to risk running out and losing some beer….I still may do it at some point this week….then it’s off to Seattle, Portland, and OBF!!!

Kriek Sample

So I decided to sample the Kriek (Cherry Lambic) that has been fermenting away since the CO2 production has drastically decreased.  The beer has a terrific red color, and a very nice balanced flavor.  It could have perhaps used a bit more cherry flavor, but has a nice sour and cherry/sweet flavor at the same time.  When this is brewed again, I will likely increase the cherry additions to 2.5 lbs/gallon from 2.0 lbs/gallon.  I also think for fruit lambic batches going forward, I am going to have to use slightly larger fermenters to account for the additional space taken up by the fruit.  This beer is good as-is, so I will likely bottle it next week.   I think for this year, I will also hope to do a peach/apricot lambic, cranberry lambic, and another batch of the framboise I tested out last summer.   I currently have 2 batches of base lambic in process I can use for two of these, but the third will have to wait a bit as I will be a bit short, unless I take some from the barrel.

Nailed it!

So, I installed some “sample ports” on my barrels today….that is to say I drilled a couple of holes in the barrel heads and plugged them with stainless steel nails.   I was a bit nervous about this holding a seal, but it seems a LOT of breweries are successfully now using this method made popular by Russian River.  Upon completion of drilling the holes, I had some taster glasses ready to get some samples before inserting the nails.  I am surprised at how good these taste already.  The beers have not been in the barrels that long, so the level of sourness must be do to the high pitching rate of bugs that I used on these batches.  There is a very slight hint of oak flavor in each, but nothing overpowering which is good.  I was a bit concerned that the barrels may have still had a lot of oak character remaining to leech into the beer.   I will probably check them again sometime around August to see how they progress and decide if I should pull any off for blending or just packaging straight as-is.   I also pulled a small sample from the sour stout I brewed up at Jeremy’s a couple months ago…still needs some time as the brett and lacto still have some work to do, so I will probably also check this one out again in August & decide what to do with it.