Wisconsin Belgian Red - New Glarus

>> Monday, May 27, 2013

Today is Memorial Day and I'm brewing a clone of Wisconsin Belgian Red from New Glarus Brewing. I've never had the commercial brew but I have had some of their other beers and they are pretty amazing. I know not everyone likes fruit beers, but New Glarus does them right.

My recipe is based on the one that appeared in the July-August 2007 issue of Zymurgy magazine. I'm using a combination of tart cherries and Trader Joe's Cherry Juice instead of the Knudsen's Tart Cherry Juice. I also opted to use Belgian Pilsner malt. Here's the recipe as I'm making it:

5.0 # Dingemans' Belgian Pilsner
2.0 # Weyermann's White Wheat Malt
6.0 oz Crystal 40L
0.5 oz Roasted Barley
28.3g Aged Hops (60 min)
Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat Yeast in 1L starter
0.25 oz American Oak cubes soaked in Pinot grigio (secondary)
1 gallon Trader Joe's Cherry Juice (secondary)
4.0 # Tart Cherries (secondary)

Mash at 156F for 60 min. Collect 5 gallons. 60 min boil. Ferment at 65F

Brewing Notes:
Everything went well during the brew session. However, after racking to the fermenter I realized my fermentation chamber wasn't cooling. The compressor is running but no chilling, so it's not looking good. This brew is going to have to ferment at room temp...no bueno. On the bright side, some friends recently gave us an old upright freezer so my wife said I could turn our old chest freezer into a keezer. I wasn't in any hurry to do so but since the ferm chamber just died and summer right around the corner, I'll need to figure something out. I think I'll probably proceed with the keezer plans and turn my old kegerator into a fermentation chamber. Anyway, this is a really pretty orange-red brew right now. I imagine it's going to be a really deep red after adding the cherries/cherry juice. Here are a couple pics from the brew session.
Just starting to sparge
First runnings
Update 6/1/2013
Fermentation was extremely active the first few days then dropped off significantly. I think this is the first time I've used this yeast and it seems to be very aggressive.  I went ahead and racked the beer to secondary on top of the Trader Joe's Cherry Juice and four pounds of tart cherries; this thing is going to be a cherry bomb. I don't usually do much to prep my fruit. However, I'm pretty sure the peach/apricot wheat beer I made last summer picked up some bacteria and wild yeast. So in order to avoid a repeat I decided to play it safe this time and heat the tart cherries to 160F to pasteurize. Prior to racking to secondary, the krausen completely dropped. A couple hours after racking I have an inch of krausen again.

Update 6/3/2013
I forgot to add the oak on 6/1/2013 so I added it yesterday. Here are a couple more pics.

Update 6/14/2013
I kegged this brew today. two weeks might seem a little soon for a Belgian style beer on cherries, but keep in mind there aren't any brett or bugs in this brew that would benefit from an extended feeding time. I tasted a sample and it's delicious. I can't wait for this to carb up.

Update 8/5/2013
This beer turned out great and I'm pleased to say it took gold in the Fruit Beer category at the 5th Annual Beehive Brew-off yesterday. 


Smoked Beef Brisket

A couple hours in
I picked up a brisket a couple weeks ago and was planning on curing it and making pastrami. After realizing I didn't have all the necessary spices on hand I decided to go ahead and smoke it for some Texas-style Smoked Brisket. Cooking brisket is kind of tricky and it's really easy to screw it up. Of all the times I've made it, I think the first time was the best (beginner's luck).

I started with a 5.5# beef brisket from Costco. A couple days ago I applied a generous amount of Rudy's Rub (a buddy of mine used to live in Texas and was nice enough to bring me some). This morning I pulled the brisket out of the fridge and added a little more rub. I gave it about an hour to warm up a bit then threw it in the smoker (fat side up) with a combination of about 30% hickory and 70% mesquite. I smoked it for about four hours (right about 200F) then transferred it to a stainless steel pan and cooked it in my oven at 200F for another four hours, then at 250F until the internal temp was about 215F (about an hour). I let it rest for about 20 minutes then cut slices across the grain. This one turned out amazing; I think even better than my very first one.  It's fork tender and still very juicy.
Nice smoke ring


Big Brew Day 2013 - Hop Stoopid IPA

>> Monday, May 06, 2013

Saturday was National Homebrew Day and in celebration we hosted a Big Brew Day event. We brewed two batches, an extract-based Nut Brown Ale and an IPA based on Lagunitas Brewing's Hop Stoopid. As for the Hop Stoopid clone, I'm pretty sure this is the most hops I've used in a single recipe...definitely the most whole hops ever used.

This recipe is based on the Brewing Network's CYBI recipe adjusted for my system efficiency. I also changed the flameout and dry hop additions a bit in order to perform a hop stand. I've never tried doing a hop stand before, but the basic idea is to kill the flame, add your hops and let them steep for an extended period of time (probably minimum of 20-30 minutes) before chilling. When I first read about this technique it surprised me because of my experience with a hop back where the thought is you chill ASAP in order to lock in the hop flavor/aroma. Then I saw some posts on Homebrewtalk where other brewers claimed they made their best ever IPA's when doing hop stands, so I figured I'd give it a try. Here's a link to a BYO Magazine article on the subject.

Below is the recipe as we made it.

11# 10.6 oz Briess Pale Malt
6.4 oz Briess Victory Malt
71g Columbus (90 min)
33g Cascade (12 min)
33g Chinook (12 min)
56g Simcoe (Hop stand)
44g Columbus (Hop stand)
11g Chinook (Hop stand)
1/2 Whirlfloc
1/2 t Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
White Labs WLP002 English Ale in a 1.4L starter
56g Simcoe (Dry hop)
44g Columbus (Dry hop)
11g Chinook (Dry hop)

Mash at 152F for 60 min. 90 min boil. Ferment at 65F, raising to 67F over a few days.

Brewing Notes
Brew session went well. Big Brew Days are fun but there's also a lot going on so we had one minor hiccup...I forgot to check the post-boil gravity. I did remember to check the pre-boil gravity; it came in at 1.055, just one point higher than the Brewsmith prediction of 1.054. We used about 40% RO water and 60% filtered tap water.

Update 5/6/2013
This brew smells incredible. So far I'm very happy with the results from the hop stand. I had to remove the lid this morning because the krausen was starting to push up through the airlock. With both batches of beer in my ferm chamber, there isn't enough room for a blow-off tube and another container.

Update 5/18/2013
Dropped in the dry hops today.

Update 5/26/2013
This brew got kegged today. Very fragrant and dropped very clear. Can't wait to give this one a try.