Funky Rye

 

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Anspach and Hobday kindly gave me a sample of their Funky yeast strain. This is a strain their brewer, Dylan, has built up using various bottle dregs. I’m not sure what is in there but I’ve had a few of their beers fermented with it and they are always outstanding. I’ve been building up a starter for a while, it smells incredible.  Lots of citrus and pineapple.

I decided to use it in a dark rye beer as they have only used it in pale beers so far. I used the same grain bill as for the Old Fashioned inspired rye beer I made except I added acidulated malt. I also dialed down the IBUs to just 13.

Grain bill

2kg pale malt
600g Rye malt
160g Carared
140g Acid malt
110g melanoidin malt
110g Caramalt
100g Roasted Rye
100g Rice hulls

I mashed at 68 degrees and mashed out at 72. Chilled to 23 degrees and pitched the yeast. Will update with various pellicle porn pics I’m sure.

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Updates!

I’ve been up to a few things since I brewed SpontanPeckham so thought I’d do a quick recap of it all.

All the Bretts

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I got hold of Omega Yeasts All the Bretts.  I picked it up mainly because I’d heard of Omega through The Sour Hour. Have pitched it into a pale with the following grain bill:

3kg Pilsner
1kg Wheat
490g Munich
350g Oats
350g Carapils
215g Acidulated

I added the oats for mouthfeel and the acidulated malt to encourage the brett to produce ethyl lactate. I’m planning to split this batch and add half to apricots and half to cherries.

Boadicea hopped Berliner

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My homebrew club gave us the challenge of making a beer with British hops. Inspired by Chorlton’s Goldings Sour I decided to make a Berliner Weiss with Boadicea hops.  I went with the kettle sour method and ran into a myriad of issues.  Firstly, the lactobacillus strain I had was a blend with a kolsch yeast so unsuitable for kettle souring as I would be leaving it at 45 degrees for 3 days.  I hot footed it to Holland & Barratt and picked up some probiotics containing lacto strains. I chilled my wort to 45 degrees, pitched the contents of 30 capsules, covered the top of the wort with cling film and gave it a blast of co2 to form a layer above so no oxygen could get in.  I left this for 3 days.  During this period I discovered my PH meter didn’t work so had to rely on strips and taste.  I think it got to 3.4, it tasted pleasing, no off flavours, and then I boiled, chilled and added kolsch yeast.

After the kolsch yeast had finished fermenting I went to dry hop half and put the other half on mango puree. A few days later I went to bottle the dry hopped half. It was at this point I discovered the yeast had produced a massive amount of ethyl acetate due to the mad heat wave that occurred that week (my flat got up to 34 degrees). I dumped that half and looked at the mango batch and found a pellicle had started to form on top.  I’d totally forgotten that the demi-john I had used had previously contained the Chorlton HS1 brett strain which appears to be indestructible. Undeterred I’ve decided to let it ride!

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I was planning to brew a beer for the Waitrose/Thornbridge competition that week but abandoned due to the heat, I would have been using the same Kolsch yeast. Ah well, next year!

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I took a gravity reading today, it is down to 1.010, going to see if it can get to zero. It smells horrendous. I’m not hopeful it’ll be drinkable but it’s a nice experiment anyway.

Mixed ferm Belgian Strong

I took gravity readings and tastings for this today.  All four demi johns are down to zero and taste quite similar. I was worried for one of them as it was very vinegary at the start but seems to have cleared up. I blended them together and have added bourbon oak. It has a deep raisin note to it followed by sourness. It reminds me a bit of a Flemish red, I’m very pleased. Hoping to bottle this soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spontanpeckham

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I decided that over the Easter bank holiday weekend I would try to attempt a spontaneously fermented beer. The temperatures were cool, the cherry blossom was just starting to shed its pink blanket over my garden and I had a four day weekend to play with.

I went with a simple 30% wheat to 70% pilsner malt bill but then decided to add in (around 3%) acidulated malt to try to deter mould and e-coli growth. I got hold of some 2011 Hallertau hops, I added around 60g of these to the boil at 60 mins.  These stank so bad, they were delivered to work and my desk, a week on, still smells faintly of hamster cage.  I would have liked to have gone with the romanticism and tradition of a turbid mash but I do not have the time, patience of equipment quite frankly.  I went instead with a 90 minute mash at 69oC and a 2 hour boil.  I started quite late in the day in order to leave my wort to cool overnight.

I transferred my wort into two 5 litre stainless steel cooking pots and tied cheesecloth over the top to stop any insects from getting in.  I left these under the trees in my garden overnight (1 cherry blossom and 2 sycamores). The colour in the morning was alarming, it’s amazing what oxidation can do.  It’s now bright orange.

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I moved the wort to two glass demi-johns and left them.  Well, when I say I left them, I actually checked them an unnecessary amount of times for signs of fermentation.  A watched demi-john never ferments.

I did the brew on Monday and it wasn’t until Friday morning that there were visible bubbles on the surface.  The water in the airlock had started to move a bit on Wednesday but Friday was when I could actually see the wort change.  It fascinates me how quickly this change happens. In the space of 2 hours the whole surface was covered in a white blanket of bubbles. Today is Monday and the bubbles are just started to sink, what will happen next?

I’m going to leave this for at least a year.  I’ll check on it from time to time to see if it needs ditching, I’m not expecting much, it’s more just for my own interest of witnessing a spontaneous fermentation in action.

UPDATE

A week after writing this blog stuff started to happen in the demi-john, a pellicle started to form and it is now full of massive bubbles.

Saison Apothicaire

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Cast your mind back many months, you may remember I got a 10l herb liqueur barrel.  Well, I’ve finally used the damn thing.

It’s been sitting in my kitchen with holding solution inside it just waiting for some beer. Holding solution by the way is 1.5tsp potassium metabisulfite and 1/2 tsp citric acid per gallon.  I think a lot of people don’t realise how important it is to not let your barrel get dry or to not leave it sitting around acquiring mould. You should change the holding solution every few months if not in use.

I’m a huge fan of brewing saisons.  It is probably the style I have brewed the most.  I wanted to run a saison through the barrel for the first fill.  I have some nelson hops in the freezer and feel they may marry well with the herbaceous flavours in the barrel along with the earthy, spicy characteristics of the saison yeast (in this case Belgian Saison I).

20 litre batch

5,000g Pilsner
230g Wheat
230g Vienna
230g Aromatic
115g Munich
20g Nelson 15 mins
20g Nelson 10 mins

OG for this was 1.060 and it finished up at 1.010

This yeast, as always, got down to 1.020 then did nothing for a week until one day I was sat eating my breakfast and the airlock suddenly blew off and whacked me on the head. Hooray it had started again, a week later it was ready.  I transferred 10 litres to my barrel and 5 litres to a demi john which I dry hopped with a bit more nelson.  After a week I blended both of these and transferred them to a corny keg.  I only left it in the barrel for a week as I was worried that the barrel would rub off too much on the beer due to the large surface area that was in contact with the beer.

This was going to be the first beer I force carbed in a keg and bottled using a Blichmann Beer Gun.  Big thanks to Pete for helping me out with how it all works. We of course were missing a small connector so couldn’t bottle the beer as planned so I managed to drink 3 litres of it from the keg in a week.  The part arrived and I used the gun, which is a bloody dream! It was so quick, however I must have fucked something up somewhere as the carbonation has dropped somewhat in the bottle. Top tip for bottling with the beer gun, ensure everything involved is in the fridge and chilled beforehand otherwise you’ll be trying to bottle foam.

barrel keg

The taste of this beer though is fascinating, it’s herby and citric and very refreshing. It’s initially like a standard saison but then you get this almost Nordic herb liqueur twang followed by a big lemon drop.  Very happy with this, just need to get the beer gun down for next time.

 

New Fashioned

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I’ve started attending the homebrew club at Water into Beer in Brockley.  It’s a great little group with a good mix of experience plus you get a discount on any ingredients you buy whilst you’re there. If you’re lucky, Olly the Brockley cat will saunter in and show you who’s boss. It’s held on the first Sunday of every month, come join us.

The challenge for April was to brew a rye beer which I’ve never done before.  I’ve had a few rye beers recently that are trying to imitate the cocktail Old Fashioned (Namely Tempest’s Old Fashioned and Brooklyn’s Improved Old Fashioned, both, quite frankly, bloody delicious).  I’m a huge fan of Old Fashioneds, it’s my go to cocktail if I have one.  So I decide I want to give it a go. I wanted smoked rye to get a little peaty note in but couldn’t get any so went with roasted rye instead.  I added the rice hulls to avoid a stuck mash which I was very nervous about but the day went surprisingly well.

I did a 10 litre batch

1,730g pale rye malt
500g Rye malt
160g Carared
110g Crystal malt
110g Melanoiden malt
35g Roasted rye
125g rice hulls

15g Amarillo 20 mins
10g Amarillo 15 mins

US05 yeast to ferment
50g bourbon oak chunks and zest of 2 oranges added for last 2 days

The OG for this was 1.061 and it finished off at 1.010 so came out about 6.6%.

I am so happy with how this has turned out.  It’s kind of desserty, the vanilla in the oak has really shone through.  I did want to add angastora bitters but I just wasn’t sure how much and it was tasting so nice I didn’t want to risk ruining it. Sad I only made 10 litres.

 

 

 

Won’t you take me to Funkytown

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I’ve been wanting to brew a proper sour beer for ages now.  Having binge listened (or gang listened as they say) to The Sour Hour I’ve finally plucked up the courage to step into the funk.

I’ve played with a bretted saison and used the Funktown Pale Ale yeast but I really want to delve into it properly.

I’ve been a fan of Belgian Lambics for a while now.  I was very lucky to have some friends who lived in Brussels who took me to Cantillon when I stayed with them back in 2013 and have recently got into American sours since they have become more readily available to buy over here.

A huge thanks to my Boyfriend’s brother Mark for buying me Michael Tonsmeire’s American Sour Beers book.  It has been an invaluable resource, I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about trying to brew a sour beer.

I also been very lucky in that I still have a brett strain from Chorlton Brewery to use.

I decided to do a strong Belgian style brown. I got a but merry one night and decided to grow the dregs of a bottle of Cascade Sang Noir which are raging with lactobacillus.

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My malt bill was as follows

3kg Pale malt
1.2kg Munich malt
1kg Pilsner
340g Biscuit
340g Crystal
60g Acid malt
60g Midnight Wheat
400g dark candi sugar
15g Hallertauer at 60 mins

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I’ve made sure I have a separate set of equipment to use for any sour brewing I do and it is kept in a completely separate room to my clean stuff.  I mashed at 68c and stepped up to 75c at the end. I mashed high to get as much dextrose out of the grain for the bugs to feed on. I also kept the IBU low as anything over 8 will start to inhibit the lacto. I couldn’t find any Belgian yeast that I wanted in stock but my local homebrew shop, Water into Beer in Brockley, had some Mangrove Jack Belgian Ale Yeast so I went with that.

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It fermented rapidly and went down to 1.010 very quickly.  I moved it to secondary (glass demijohns) and pitched the Cascade Sang Noir dregs and the Chorlton Brett.

I pitched some dregs from a bottle of Boon Black label into one of the demi-johns, can you guess which one?

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I’m quite patient when it comes to brewing so I have no problem waiting around for this to develop. Plus I find the whole process of the pellicle development fascinating.  I plan to add some more brett to layer up the flavour profile later on.

I am planning to do a spontaneous fermentation in the near future. I have a shed with windows that open onto a cherry tree so hoping there are some good yeasts and bacteria floating around. I may cheat a little by spiking my shed with bugs. If anyone has any advice on doing a turbid mash on a Braumeister,  I’m all ears.

 

 

 

 

 

The Goatshake

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I love a chocolate stout and I really love chocolate milk stouts.  Sadly, they do not love me as I am lactose intolerant.  I picked up a Dark Revolution Velveteen chocolate milk stout AG recipe from Brew UK and decided to experiment. Big thanks to Brew UK for sending me the recipe after I managed to be a complete numbnut a throw the one that came with the kit away without punching it into Beersmith.

I can tolerate goats dairy products but I have not been able to find a UK producer of goats lactose. I can get a 500g bag shipped from the US but it’ll cost £40, fuck that!  I did find some goats whey protein powder and thought, hey Omnipollo have been putting this whey crap into everything why the hell not?  Whey contains lactose so it should, theoretically, work

 

The AG kit came with the following:

3250g Marris Otter
500g Carafa Special III
500g Oats
475g Brown
240g Crystal
240g wheat
26g Magnum
44g Fuggles
500g Lactose
1 bag of cocao nibs

 swapped out the 500g lactose for a plain flavoured goats whey powder.

Mash schedule (for Braumiester) 

Mash with 23L of water at 65c for 60 mins. Raise temp to 77c for 10 mins then remove malt pipe and top up to 27L. Bring to boil then follow hop schedule.

Hop schedule

Total Boil time:60 mins
Start of boil: All Magnum Hops
10 Mins from end: 21g Fuggles + 500g Lactose Sugar
End of Boil: Balance of hops then cool.

 4 days after fermentation add cacao nibs
I used US05 to ferment. 

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The initial wort without the cacao or yeast added tasted wonderful, I am very likely to use this as the basis for a stout recipe again.

A few notes about adding the whey powder. After adding I instantly thought I should have dissolved it in water first.  Some of it, as you would expect going into a boil, clumped up into weird rubber balls . which made transferring the wort to my primary tricky.

When I transferred to my bottling bucket the yeast cake at the bottom of the fermenter was very odd.  It was a strange, rubbery honeycomb like structure which you could just pick up in one lump.  Made clear up a lot easier!

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only added the cacao nibs for a few days as I have learnt from previous experience that it can impart a very tannic bitter flavour if left in for too long.

have no idea on what the ABV is as I forgot to take a picture or note down my O.G., according to the recipe kit it should be around 4.8%, I think mine turned out slightly higher which may be due to the whey powder. 

It has taken an age for it to start carbonating which I suspect is because it’s bloody cold.  6 weeks in and it’s finally nearly there, it has a creamy mouthfeel and a lovely chocolate tone but then it gets a bit goaty. Might have been nicer with a vanilla flavoured whey powder.  Some experiments just do not work and I’m unsure what to make of the result of this one.  Maybe I should stick to taking lactase pills when I drink normal milk stouts and leave the goats alone.