Paloma Beer

>> Saturday, November 06, 2021

Today's brew is a group collab, kettle-soured Imperial Gose that will be aged in my newly acquired Desert Door Texas Sotol barrel. This is a 12 gallon batch that will need to be brewed at least twice in order to fill the Sotol barrel (~25 gallons). The inspiration for this beer is a Paloma cocktail. I haven't played around much with grapefruit zest, so I may need to add more and/or add some grapefruit juice to get the level of grapefruit that I'm after. 

For those not familiar, Sotol is similar to Tequila but to me it comes across as a bit more fruity, floral, and slightly herbal. Kind of like a combo between tequila and gin with a little extra fruitiness thrown in. I'm hoping it'll work really well with the fruity character in the base beer. 

I really liked the results of the recent Catharina Sour, so this recipe is kind of based on that one; here's the recipe as we're brewing it today:

Target OG 1.074
14.4# Root Shoot Pilsner
14.4# Best Malz Spelt
Rice Hulls as needed
2.4ml Hopshot (60 min)
26.4g Pickling Salt (5 min)
33.6g Indian Coriander (5 min)
(3) Yakult Probiotic Drinks
Safale US-05
12oz Grapfruit peel ("Dry-hop" after fermenation slows)

Step Mash
122F for 5 min
153F for 70 min

Water Profile
0.31g/gallon Gypsum
0.36g/gallon Calcium Chloride

Brew Day 1 
Collect 13.75-14 gallons and raise to 170F for about 5-10 minutes to pasteurize. Chill to 100F then pitch Yakult to kettle sour for a couple days.

Brew Day 2

Update 11/14/2021
I went to proceed with the boil today. As soon as I started loosening the tri-clamp fitting, it was apparent that something was wrong; a ton of pressure had built up in the souring keg and it started in with a high pitch whistle. Sadly, the only cause is the wort must have been contaminated with yeast because this particular strain of lactobacillus does not produce CO2 during fermentation. I checked the pH (reading 3.19) then the gravity, and it had dropped significantly. Again, this is not characteristic of a 100% pure lactobacillus fermentation, so definitely a bad sign. Aroma-wise, it smelled “meaty”. Long story short, things didn’t go as planned and I decided to dump the unknown beer. I’ll start with a replacement batch shortly.

Update 11/17/2021
Today is batch #1 re-brew session. I’ve cleaned and sanitized the crap out of my souring keg, even running it through a steam session. Here are today’s readings:

Session 1 Re-brew Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.48
Ending mash pH 5.43
1st running gravity 25.6 (1.105)
Pre-sour gravity 14.9 (1.059)
Pre-sour pH 4.90
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour) 14.5 (1.057)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour) 3.34
Post-boil gravity 15 (1.068)
Post-boil pH 3.40

Update 11/20/2021
I pulled a sample to check pH and it was about 3.51, so I decided to let it ride a little longer. Thankfully this time there was no pressure on the keg, so no unintentionally introduced yeast.

Update 11/26/2021
I started round 2 yesterday. I threw in a little more Pilsner malt this time since gravity was a little lower than target on round 1. Also forgot to mention, I’ve been using a pound of rice hulls to prevent compacting the grain bed while recirculating. Here are the readings from the second session.

Session 2 Readings
Beginning mash pH 5.44
Ending mash pH 5.34
1st running gravity 25.6 (1.105)
Pre-sour gravity 16.2 (1.064)
Pre-sour pH 4.80
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour) 16.0 (1.064)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour) 3.36
Post-boil gravity 17.9 (1.072)
Post-boil pH 3.39

Update 11/30/2021
I checked the pH tonight and it's sitting at 3.41, so it will probably be ready for the boil in 24-48 hours max.

Update 12/3/2021
I did the boil today for session #2. No issues in this session.

Update 12/23/2021
I started round 3 today after work. The brew evening (after work) started off a little rough; my wireless bridge to my BCS-460 seemed to have died. Fortunately I was able to run an ethernet cable to it so that I could continue with the brew session. At the end of the sparge, it seemed like my pump (mash tun to boil kettle) had run out of wort and was pulling air. I shut it down and only collected a touch shy of 10 gallons. As a result, the pre-sour gravity was quite a bit higher compared to the two previous batches. I also got myself a new pH meter, so this was the first time trying it out. One other thing, I decided not to pre-acidify the wort before pitching the lactobacillus this time. Details below:

Session 3 Readings
Beginning mash pH5.34
Ending mash pH5.38
1st running gravity25.8 (1.106)
Pre-sour gravity19.6 (1.079)
Pre-sour pH5.38
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour)19.5 (1.078)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour)3.70
Post-boil gravity20.2 (1.081)
Post-boil pH3.73

Update 12/26/2021
I checked the pH of batch #3 today and it was down to 3.91. I won't have any time next weekend, so I plan on proceed with the boil tomorrow after work. Long story short, the pH probably won't get quite as low on this batch, but it'll still be decently sour; especially after blending with batch 1 and 2.

Update 12/27/2021
I finished up the boil tonight. No major issues. I’m planning on filling the barrel in a couple weeks.


Catharina Sour 2021

>> Sunday, October 03, 2021

Today I'm brewing a style I've never brewed before, a Catharina Sour. This is a style that originated in Brazil and is along the lines of a heavily fruited Imperial Berliner Weisse. I haven't come across an actual Brazilian Catharina Sour at any bars or bottle shops, but I've definitely had lots of very fruit-forward sours, so I feel like I have a decent understanding of what the style is supposed to be. The BJCP guidelines describe the style as follows:
A light and refreshing wheat ale with a clean lactic sourness that is balanced by a fresh fruit addition. The low bitterness, light body, moderate alcohol content, and moderately high carbonation allow the flavor and aroma of the fruit to be the primary focus of the beer. The fruit is often, but not always, tropical in nature.
If a Berliner weisse type beer was made with fruit, it should be entered as a Fruit Beer. This beer is stronger and typically features fresh fruit. The kettle souring method allows for fast production of the beer, so this is typically a present-use style. It may be bottled or canned, but it should be consumed while fresh.
This is a kettle sour beer, and as a general rule kettle sours tend to have less complexity compared to traditional sours (e.g. post-boil mixed fermentations). Sometimes kettle sours result in one dimensional lactic sourness, but in this case the heavy fruiting contributes complexity. The version I'm brewing will feature pink guava and passionfruit at a rate of close to 2 lbs per gallon. I've had mixed experiences with guava in commercial sours, so I’m rolling the dice on this beer. For example, the first guava beer I had from The Bruery had a character that I would describe as baby-poop...not super pleasant. Later on I tried a different guava beer from them and it was absolutely amazing, so I'm guessing (hoping) maybe that first one had some over ripe fruit or was a different variety (fingers crossed). Passionfruit is a favorite of mine in sour beers and tiki cocktails. It can add a fair amount of acidity, so you have to be careful that it doesn't result in an acid bomb beer. I'm brewing this as we're heading into Fall, so this beer will kind of extend summer a bit as the weather starts to cool.

This recipe is based on the BYO recipe, here. Here it is as I'm brewing it today:

4.6875# Root Shoot Pilsner
2.375# Best Malz Spelt
1ml Hop Shot (60 min)
4.4# Pink Guava aseptic puree (Secondary)
4.4# Passionfruit (Secondary)
(3) Yakult Probiotic Drink
Safale toUS-05

Water Profile - To RO water, add:
  • 0.31g/gallon Gypsum (CaSO4)
  • 0.36g/gallon Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)

Brew Day 1
This recipe incorporates a step mash consisting of the following steps:
  • Mash in at 122F for 5 min.
  • 153F for 70 min.
  • Mash out at 169F for 10 min.
Collect about 6.5 gallons of wort and bring to 175F for 15 minutes to pasteurize. Chill to 98F to 109F and adjust pH to 4.5 before pitching Yakult Probiotic Drink. Hold at warmish temps until desired pH is reached; for me that's in the neighborhood of 3.2-3.3. Note: Most lactobacillus cultures will sour just fine at room temp, it just may take a few days. If you have the ability to apply gentle heat, shoot for a constant temp around 109F. If you don't have the ability to heat, let it ride in the warmest room in your house.

Brew Day 2
Transfer soured wort to boil kettle and proceed with boil. Chill to 65F before pitching yeast.

Fruiting in Secondary
I prefer to go with fresh fruit whenever possible, but there are some really good aseptic purees nowadays, so that's what I'm using for the guava. For the passionfruit, I went with frozen 100% passionfruit pulp that I found at a local Asian grocery store. 

I usually rack onto fruit towards the end of fermentation to get the beer off the trub. Since fermentation isn't as active, there's less risk of blowing off fruit aromatics. I'm going to rack onto fruit in a keg and that's been set up to use the pickup tube screen I outlined in Minimizing Loss post. I'm going to use my spunding valve to regulate pressure during the fruiting stage, and will probably force carbonate and bottle right off the same keg when this beer is "done".

Brew Day 1 Notes
I ended up collecting a little over 7 gallons in the boil kettle so my pre-boil gravity was a little more diluted than planned. Other than that, no issues. 

Beginning mash pH 5.28
Ending mash pH 5.46
1st running gravity 18.3 (1.073)
Pre-sour gravity 6.5 (1.025)
Pre-sour pH 4.54
Pre-boil gravity (post-sour) 7.0 (1.027)
Pre-boil pH (post-sour) 3.20
Post-boil gravity 11 (1.043)
Post-boil pH 3.20

Update 10/5/2021
I pulled a small sample today to check on the souring process and the pH reading was 3.37. I didn't have time tonight, but I'll probably finish up boiling tomorrow night.

Update 10/7/2021
I didn't have time to do the boil yesterday either, so I'm doing it today. Notice in the table above I took another gravity reading and it's actually higher than the Day 1 reading. This is most likely due to temp differences and/or the wort not being uniformly mixed on the Day 1 measurement. pH has dropped to a surprising 3.20; that's great but I wasn't expecting it to get quite that low. The soured wort has been transferred to the BK so I'm starting Brew Day 2.

Brew Day 2 Notes
No issues. I boiled an extra 20 minutes to get the gravity to 11 (1.043) so the total volume is about 4.4 gallons which should be great once the fruit is added.

Update 10/8/2021
Yeast was pitched about 7:30pm yesterday. This morning I'm seeing a glug out the blow-off assembly about once every 10 seconds. Oh, I really doubt I'll have any blow-off due to the lower volume, they just work really well so that's what I usually use until I'm ready to come crash a beer.

Update 10/11/2021
Gravity was down to 1.010 today so I started prepping the fruit. The guava puree is aseptic and the fruit has been pasteurized, so I didn't have any worries there. On the other hand, the passionfruit didn't have anything on the packaging indicating it had been pasteurized so I added 1/4t potassium metabisulfite dissolved in 1/4c of RO water to sanitize. This will be left overnight to offgas the sulfur. Tomorrow I'll rack onto the fruit in the keg. I also treated the fruit with 1ml of pectinase hopefully avoid any chill haze in the finished beer.

Update 10/13/2021
I racked the beer onto the fruit in the keg last night. It basically filled the keg to the brim, so I had to draw off about a 10oz to make sure secondary krausen doesn't push up through the gas post where the spunding valve is attached. The sample tasted amazing. The spunding valve is currently set to about 2.5 PSI and the beer will sit on the fruit for at least a couple weeks to ensure all fruit sugars have fermented out. Also, no baby poop character from the guava!


Flanders Red 2021

>> Sunday, September 19, 2021

Today I'm brewing up 10 gallons of base beer that will go into my 30 gallon Red Solera (Aging Barrel #04). I previously filled it with recipes based on the Rare Barrel's Red base, but this round it's closer to my original Flanders Red base. This means I'm also getting ready to do the first pull off the Solera, so this is replace the amount pulled off (plus a little extra for an occasional top off. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today:

6.5# Root Shoot Pilsner Malt
4.0# Best Malz Chit Malt
10.5# Avangard Vienna
2.00# Weyermann Munich II
1.0# Best Malz Spelt
1.0# Monastique Aromatic
1.0# Weyermann Caramunich III
1.0# Castle Special B
Yeast Nutrient
56g Aged hops (60 mins)
Inland Island Brett Barrel III

Mash at 158F, 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.  

Water Profile
I don't go too crazy on my sour beer water profiles. For today, I used about a 50/50 blend of RO water and carbon-filtered tap water.  

Brewing Notes
No issues. Since this was a larger batch, I used my 20 gallon Blichmann Mash Tun. Starting mash temp was a little low at 152F, but I was able to raise it to the desired 158F fairly quickly. I ended up with a little under 10 gallons total.

Beginning mash pH 5.29
Ending mash pH 5.26
1st running gravity 25 (1.102)
Pre-boil gravity 16.2 (1.064)
Post-boil gravity 19 (1.076)

Update 9/25/2021
I'd grown up a super healthy pitch of the Brett Barrel III yeast and had a blow-off the morning after pitching. Fast forward to today and I'm swapping out the blow-off for an airlock. I haven't taken a gravity reading yet, but there's still an occasional glug out the airlock.