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.

Update 6/15/2022
This beer went into the barrel on 1/17/2022. Beer was kegged tonight.

Update 7/6/2022
I'm really digging this beer. It's super drinkable, kind of dangerously drinkable. I wouldn't mind a bit more grapefruit character, but it's definitely there. Sotol character also comes through really well in both flavor and some. Salt level is just about perfect, minerally but not salty. All said and done, I think it's a really good interpretation of a Paloma cocktail and I'm pretty excited how well it turned out. My buddies got to try it for the first time over 4th of July weekend and they all really liked it too. My buddy Nate said this was probably in his top 5 favorites of all the beers I've ever brewed.

Update 10/19/2022
This beer won Silver for Smoked and Wood-aged Beer at the 2022 Beehive Brew-off. This beer was really well-received by the judges and I think the only reason it didn't take gold was because Mike J (also from ZZHOPS homebrew club) entered an amazing barrel aged RIS. Mike's beer not only took Gold for the category, it took Gold for Best of Show, so overall a pretty good showing for our club in this category.