BJRR Golden Sour with Coffee

>> Saturday, March 25, 2017

There's a lot of NHC judging happening this weekend. As usual, I sent a few entries off including the Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout that I brewed with several friends last year. It's a big tasty beer and hopefully we'll see some good scores when it gets judged. That was the first beer that we ran through the Sugar House Distillery Bourbon barrel and right now it's housing an Imperial Porter we brewed last year based on Lost Abbey's La Cruda. "We" are Brandon, Jeff, Ryan, and Rob, thus these are the BJRR series of barrel beers. The first two beers were clean beers, but our little collaboration group was anxious to do something a little more wild.

Ryan texted me a while back when he was still living in Denver about a sour coffee beer from Black Project. He said it was an amazing beer and I needed to look into brewing a sour coffee beer myself. To be honest, I thought it sounded horrible, but he swore it was worth looking into. My concerns were whether the coffee character would clash with the acidity produced by the lactic acid bacteria. I started doing a little research and stumbled across a New Belgium blog post about their sour beer with coffee, Oscar Worthy Coffee. Reading through this post definitely peaked my interest. Not long after that, I got my hands on a couple bottles of Derde Golf, a sour beer with coffee from The Bruery. I really enjoyed this beer and it opened my eyes as to how coffee and acidity from lactic acid bacteria can work together to make an incredibly complex sour. Lastly, I picked up a bottle of Libertine's Coffeetine earlier this year. I opened this bottle a few weeks back and it pretty much sealed the deal for me. So the beer we're brewing today is based on Libertine's Coffeetine.

I did a little research and found out that Libertine uses their golden ale for the base. A little more research turned up a recipe for their golden ale on which the following recipe is based. A couple things I changed, German pilsner instead of Belgian, and I sub'd half the wheat malt for spelt malt, an heirloom variety of wheat. Another change is the use of aged hops; this keeps the lactobacillus happy by keeping the IBUs low (theoretically close to 0.0). We'll be mashing high and use a lower attenuating yeast for primary. This will help ensure long term food supply for the brett and bugs. Then it'll go into the barrel along with some Roeselare for aging. When ready, we'll dry bean with a yet to be determined variety of coffee.

We'll be brewing 15 gallons total. The following recipe is for 5 gallons, or 1/3 of our total batch.

7.0 # Avangard German Pilsner
1.75 # White Wheat Malt
1.75 # Spelt Malt
0.5 # Flaked Rye
0.5 # Flaked Oats
28g Aged Hops (60 min)
Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
White Labs WLP002 (Primary)
Wyeast Roeselare (Secondary in the barrel)

Mash at 158F for 60 min, 90 min boil, ferment at room temp.

Water Profile
Nothing fancy here, we're cutting carbon filtered tap water with RO/distilled at a rate of 1 gallon RO to 4.5 gallons tap water.

Update 11/17/2018
This beer was transferred out of the barrel and into a sanke keg for dry beaning on some custom roasted Brazilian coffee, roasted by Jeff. We're going to add the coffee after Thanksgiving, then let it go for ~2 days, then tasting daily until we get the profile we're after. The base beer coming out of the barrel was great and should serve as a great blank slate for the coffee.

I noticed I forgot to mention when this beer went in the barrel; it was April of 2017.

Update 11/25/2018
Beans added this morning!

Update 12/1/2018
This beer was kegged this morning. Aroma is very nice, lots of coffee. Flavor seems a little more subtle. The coffee seems to have softened the soreness a bit. I haven't taken a final pH reading on this beer yet. It's definitely sour, but it's not the most sour beer I've made.


Texas Style Smoked Sausage #1

>> Sunday, March 12, 2017

We recently went to visit our friends in Houston, Texas and as part of that trip, we did a quick little getaway to Austin. We visited Jester King which was a lot of fun although I have to admit there was a couple of their beers that had a bit too much sweat sock/smelly high school locker room character for my liking...and this is from a guy that is a huge sour and wild beer nerd.

We also stopped into The Salt Lick BBQ for a late lunch/early dinner before we went to Jester King. As you can also probably tell from my food-related posts, I really like good BBQ, smoked foods, and smoked beer. We tried the brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and smoked sausage at The Salt Lick and everything was awesome. The sausage was seasoned perfectly, not too much that the spices overpowered the meat and smoke; it inspired me to try to make something similar at home.

My disclaimer, definitely read up on sausage making before you try it for the first time. You don't want to accidentally poison anyone with botulism.

The recipe I'm basing mine off of is apparently from Smitty at Kruez Market in Lockhart, Texas and was published in the book "Texas on the Half Shell”. Another recipe I plan to try is this one based on The Salt Lick's sausage. Here's the recipe I used today and some details on process:

9.0 # Beef Chuck
1.0 # Pork Shoulder
62.4g Kosher Salt
42g Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1.77g Cayenne Pepper
11g Cure #1 (not used in the original recipe, but needed since we're smoking at low temps)
136g Powdered Milk mixed with 12oz Ice cold water (the original called for cereal binder)

Cut the meat up into grinder-sized pieces and sprinkle kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cure #1. Run them through your 5/8" (coarse) grinding plate. I should mention, when grinding meat, you want it cold...not frozen, but very cold. If needed, return meat to the freezer to make sure things stay nice and chilled. Run the meat through the coarse plate a second time then add water and powdered milk and mix well. Stuff into medium hog casings.

Allow sausages to dry for a bit then smoke at 130F for 4-ish hours. Poach the sausages in 165F water until they reach an internal temp of 154F. Chill in an ice water bath then allow them to bloom at room temp for an hour or two. To serve, you grill over indirect heat until heated through and the casing is cooked to your liking. I'm planning on throwing mine in my kamado for a little extra smoke character.


Hopefully Horchata Imperial Porter

>> Sunday, March 05, 2017

So my brew club is doing a "weird ingredient" competition. This is meant to be kind of a fun and not too serious competition. A couple months ago we all drew a random weird ingredient from a hat that you have to incorporate into a beer. The not too strict rules basically say your weird ingredient needs to comprise 20% of your ingredients. That said, there is a caveat and that is that you can use your own discretion if 20% would result in an undrinkable beer. Basically, make a good faith effort to incorporate your ingredient. At our April meeting, we'll sample all the entries and select the top three out of the bunch

For my ingredient I drew Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. I figured this might work in a horchata-inspired Imperial I'm not trying to recreate the flavors of CTC in a beer, I'm using CTC as an adjunct in a (hopefully) Horchata-themed beer. I have no idea if this is going to be any good but it should be fun. Just in case it's horrible, I'm only doing a 2.5 gallon batch. Anyone that stumbles across this recipe, definitely check below for updates in case this beer turns out horrible.

I'll be incorporating the cereal right into the mash. With all the fermentables including lots of simple sugars I expect to get from the cereal, I think the best plan is to mash a little on the high end. Here's the recipe as I'm planning to make it:

3.0# Maris Otter
1.0#  6oz Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
9oz Crisp C77 Malt
6oz Dingmanns Aromatic Malt
4oz Crisp Pale Chocolate
3oz Crisp Roasted Barley
11oz Flaked Barley
7oz Lactose
6.5g Northern Brewer (60 min)
6.5g Chinook (7 mins)

Mash at 156F, 90 min boil, ferment at 60F, cross fingers it's drinkable

I'm also considering making cinnamon and vanilla tinctures. If I do, I'll dose as needed to help emphasize the cinnamon character and to add a little vanilla character.

"Cereal" mash
Brewing Notes
No real issues with this batch. The mash smelled really good with all the cinnamon. As you can see in the picture of the mash, I threw the cereal in whole. It might have been a better idea to crush it up first, but I knew I didn't want to run it through my mill. It seemed that it had completely broken down after 15 minutes or so. I also tossed in a handful of rice hulls to make sure I didn't get a stuck sparge.

As I usualy do when brewing with darker kilned grains, I waited until the sparge to add the dark grains to the mash. At the beginning of the mash, the wort was an odd yellow-ish orange color. About halfway through the mash, the clarity improved drastically and it looked like more of a copper color. The first runnings were rusty colored, but it turned dark brown after adding the pale chocolate and roasted barley.

Update 3/6/2017
Fermentation has kicked off, but there isn't much krausen. It might be oils from the cereal (see the pre-boil sheen pic). Hopefully there's nothing there that will go rancid.

Update 3/12/2017
There's still a fair amount of krausen on this beer but I decided to pull a sample. Good news is there isn't anything way off. There's definitely residual sweetness but there's only a hint of cinnamon. I think I'll definitely do a tincture as I'd like a bit more cinnamon character. I can't tell if it's yeast in suspension, but the sample was incredibly cloudy.

Update 4/2/2017
I decided to go ahead and keg this beer today. I dosed it with a bit of cinnamon-vanilla tincture (cinnamon stick and vanilla bean in about 5oz of vodka). I'd say it's definitely reminiscent of both the cereal and horchata. It's a pretty cloudy brew, so I'm treating it with gelatin in hopes that it'll help clear the beer a bit.
Midway through the mash

First runnings look like rusty water

There's definitely a sheen on the wort