Old Ale 2018

>> Sunday, November 18, 2018

Today I'm brewing a style I've never brewed before, an Old Ale. We recently took the family on a trip to California and we stopped into Beachwood BBQ where they had Zwart Black Star on tap. It was delicious and when we got back, I noticed Wyeast 9097-PC Old Ale blend was a featured release for Q4 2018. Wyeast's description of the blend is as follows:

Species: Saccharomyces cerevisiae & Brettanomyces blend
To bring in a bit of English brewing heritage we developed the “Old Ale” blend. It includes an attenuative ale strain along with a small amount of Brettanomyces. The blend will ferment well in dark worts, producing fruity beers with nice complexity. The Brettanomyces adds a pie cherry-like flavor and sourness during prolonged aging.
Flocculation - Medium
Attenuation - 75-80%
Temp Range - 68-75F
Alcohol Tolerance - 14% ABV

There aren't a ton of commercial examples of Old Ales. Here is the BJCP description for the style:
An ale of moderate to fairly significant alcoholic strength, bigger than standard beers, though usually not as strong or rich as barleywine. Often tilted towards a maltier balance. “It should be a warming beer of the type that is best drunk in half pints by a warm fire on a cold winter's night” - Michael Jackson. 
Strength and character varies widely. The predominant defining quality for this style is the impression of age, which can manifest itself in different ways (complexity, lactic, Brett, oxidation, leather, vinous qualities, etc.). Even if these qualities are otherwise faults, if the resulting character of the beer is still pleasantly drinkable and complex, then those characteristics are acceptable. In no way should those allowable characteristics be interpreted as making an undrinkably off beer as somehow in style. Old Peculier is a fairly unique type of beer that is quite different than other Old Ales.

For this first attempt at the style, I'm using the following  recipe.

14.0# Crisp Maris Otter, floor-malted
0.25# Crisp Crystal Malt 75L
0.25# Simpsons Double Roasted Crystal
0.25# Briess Black Patent
1.0# Black Treacle Syrup (*secondary)
35g Nugget (60 min)
(2) Wyeast 9097-PC Old Ale Blend

Mash at 152F, 90 minute boil, start fermentation at 65F, then ramp up to 70F over 4 days.

*The only reason I'm putting the treacle syrup in secondary is I couldn't find it locally. I had to order it online and it still hasn't arrived. Normally you'd probably add this set the end of the boil so that you don't lose any aromatics.

Brewing Notes
No issues. OG came in at 20.6  brix (1.083). Water-wise, this batch got 3 gallons off distilled water along with about 8.5 gallons of carbon filtered tap water.

Update 11/19/2018
Fermentation is pretty active this morning.


Funky Wit

>> Thursday, November 15, 2018

After work brew session! I'm trying to fit a couple brews in before Thanksgiving, so I'm doing one of my late evening brew sessions.

Today I'm brewing a somewhat experimental beer. The base beer is essentially a Belgian Witbier but I'm doing a 100% Brett fermentation and I'm going to incorporate either rose water or orange blossom water into the beer. I'm shooting for quite a bit of citrus character so I'll probably add some zest in secondary. Here is the recipe as I'm planning on making it, but I may change things up as this beer progresses.

5.0# Castle Chateaux Pilsner Malt
4.5# White Wheat Malt
1.0# Rolled Oats
28g Strisselspalt (60 min)
7g Coriander (10 min)
7g Orange peel (10 min) - I'm using peels from my home grown Mandarin oranges
1.0# Golden Belgian Candi Syrup (Flameout)
Tangerine zest (secondary)
Lemon zest (secondary)
Rose Water or Orange Blossom Water,  TBD
Imperial Suburban Brett

Mash at 155F, 90 min boil. The house is a little cooler this time of year, so I'm going to just let this go  at room temp, ~68F.

Brewing Notes
No issues, OG came in at 17 brix (1.068).

Update 11/18/2018
This batch had a much longer lag phase than I'm used to. I was seeing some signs of fermentation 24 hours after pitching, but it definitely wasn't as vigorous. It now has krausen about 3/4" thick. I doubt I'll run into any blow-off issues with this batch.


Sour Dubbel on Plums

>> Sunday, October 07, 2018

Today we're doing a group brew for our 15 gallon sour bourbon barrel. This is our fourth fill overall for this barrel, so it won't have dominate bourbon flavors, but we're likely to stop pick up some oak. The beers that have gone in this barrel so far:

  1. Imperial Stout (Get Out Stout)
  2. Imperial Porter (Chasing Abbey)
  3. Golden Sour (BJRR Golden Sour with Coffee)
The recipe we're brewing today is inspired by this one from the Mad Fermentationist. We're doing some slight modifications for our version, such as grain substitutions. One that I'm kind of excited about is we're using malt from Solstice Malt, Utah's first maltster since the 1960s. After the souring that will take place during barrel aging, we'll put this beer on plums. Here's the beer as we're brewing it today:

This recipe is for 5 gallons. Our total batch size is 15 gallons, so this recipe 3Xs.

Target OG 1.058
10.0# Solstice Pale Malt - Genie
1.0# D-180 Belgian Candi Syrup (secondary, at barrel filling)
0.5# Simpsons Double Roasted Crystal
1.5 oz Aged hops (60 min)boil
Yeast Nutrient
WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale

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

Brewing Notes
No major issues, but a couple of minor ones. First, I'm not sure if the Solstice Genie is less plump than the base malts I usually use, or maybe my mill was just having issues, but on the first pass there were quite a few uncrushed or barely crushed grains. I ended up fiddling with the gap and ran the grains through a second time and it worked well. It's probably about time to disassemble the mill and perform some maintenance.

We basically did one ten gallon batch on my system followed by a five gallon batch on my buddy's system. The 10 gallon portion came out with an OG of 1.064, and the remaining five came out at 1.055.

Update 10/8/2018
I pitched the yeast last night around 7:30PM and fermentation is very active this morning. I was hoping I could get away without using a blow-off, but I'm afraid I'm going to come home to a mess tonight if I don't.

Update 10/10/2018
Thankfully, this batch never had a messy blow off. As of this morning, the Tilt I put into one off the three fermenters is reading ~1.008. I'm kind of blown away that this yeast was able to tear through the sugars as fast as it has.

Update 11/17/2018
This beer was racked into the barrel today to begin the souring process. The Belgian Candi Syrup was added first, then the beer was racked on top of it.