Sunday, October 24, 2010

Schönweisse and Bonus Kettles

10/10 - Brewed a 5gal batch of my German-style Wheat Beer, Schönweisse. Got a pitch of the Wyeast Weihenstephan yeast from my Doctor and I want a Weizenbock for Christmas this year, so I figured a batch of my weissbier was necessary. I really like this style of beer; really, really like it. I'm partial to Fransiskaner but I like the Schneider biers best. Schneider Original has a great balance of yeast character; nice spicy phenols just edged by banana esters & great balance of grain character; the texture of malted wheat combined with a rich malt flavor for an excellent toasted bread-like quality. I've brewed my Weiss over the years with varying amounts of malted wheat trying to find the sweet spot; always figuring more was better anywhere from 50% to 100% of the grain bill. Pretty decent results, but as I got closer to the high end of malted wheat I liked the beers less and less because of a heavy milkshake-like texture. The current version is 30%-35% wheat with the balance made up of equal parts Vienna and Dark Munich malt; great for nice deep toasted bread flavors and just a bit more color than most commercial versions. I schedule for 18 or so IBU and ferment at standard ale temps for a relatively mild yeast character. My preference is for a more refined flavored Weissbier, yeast flavor should be just moderate for a well balanced flavor profile and drinkability. I had just finished Stan Hieronymous' new "Brewing with Wheat" book; I mashed in at 90F to hydrate and the first rest was at 113F for a ferulic acid rest in order to promote clove phenol production during fermentation & I split the 5 gal brew length into two 5 gallon carboys thinking that a shallower fermentation would promote ester production. The gravity sample wort was very tasty but I haven't been into the beer since. I had planned on brewing the Weizenbock this weekend but couldn't get it together, oh well, another week in the tank isn't fatal. The Weizenbock is just a bit short of being a Double Schönweiss; same base grain bill but with the addition of Cara-Munich, Chocolate malt, and Special-B. The Wyeast 3068 yeast flavors compliment the rich dried plum & chocolate malt flavors of those specialty grains very nicely. Alcohol just a bit on the high side for style and a robust terminal gravity will make for a very festive bier indeed.

So, I couldn't get a brew in this weekend but there was an interesting development in the home brewery. An old North Seattle Homebrew Club-mate posted to the list that he was selling his setup. Boom! I'm all over that and now I'm the proud owner of 2 converted keg brewing vessels (work done by Bob at Bob's Homebrew Supply; killer, high quality work), the goods for HERMS-style brewing (March pump, copper manifold, copper coil, hoses, etc.), a high efficiency copper counter-flow chiller (with the convoluted interior for acres of surface area), another 20# CO2 tank, another burner, and another 6.5 gal carboy. Yay! This will all come in handy for plans I've been mulling over to get equipped for two 10gal batches at a time. We'll see, if I'm feeling frisky next weekend I'll roll two batches at the same time. Really need to get on the ball with the rest of the Christmas beers.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fives A Crowd

9/22 - Marathon kegging session. Put away the Czech Plz, Bride's Ale, and Robopo from the latest brewings & the McChief and Fled from the cellar. The Czech Plz went into the tank with an ounce of Saaz dryhops, the Bride's ale blended the Wyeast Wit & Trappist High Gravity splits, and the Robopo was showing way too much sulfur. McChief is a Belgian-style Strong Scotch from earlier (dig the archive) and I think the Flanders-style Red predates this blog.

McChief is a piece of work, TG at 1.044 but just boozy and flavorful enough to balance. I really like the Scotch Silly, lots of sweet malt, tropical fruit ester, and rummy booze. My little friend the 'Chief is close enough to that to satisfy. And how. Now Fled on the other hand is simply beautiful; deep malty red, still just a tad sweet, with a wonderfully well balanced sourness. A touch of vinegar, broad lactic sweetness, and a soft pineapple-like Brett note through the finish.

Czech Plz is showing moderate bitterness, a moderately strong earthy-herbal hop flavor (which keeps coming on stronger), and a bit of estery sweetness that I'm not sure about. I pitched just a bit warm because the ground water temp was still high and the finished Czech is just a bit fruity. Not fatal but just short of "crisp & clean". I'll still pitch it forward into a "proper" Czech Pils and then a Pale Bock. The Bride's Ale is super nice; lots of spice, just a bit of bitterness from the citrus peel and a firm milkshakey body from the raw grains. A good start on a beer I'll brew again for the wedding party later. The Robopo at packaging was showing a LOT of sulfur, I was sure that getting some CO2 in there would push that out. And yes! We have a palatable Robust Porter! That touch of sweetness and sulfur (*touch*, not "Ew, who farted!?") that I was looking for from previous experience along with a nice coffee with cream & sugar and minty herbal hop flavor. Thank you very much!