Subtlety and Nuance: A Brewer’s Beer

Nom!

The prince is a big fan of Zwanze!

One thing I miss when I was brewing more often was the chance to try out a bunch of different beers in a session. At a brew night, I’d sample close to ten or twelve beers but not have to worry about drinking the whole bottle. As I’m brewing less often I’m finding that I really enjoy having something lighter, but interesting to drink along side a larger bomber.

Dirty keg is dirty; fixing that!

Until I finish this batch, I’ll have to make due with some Han’s PIls

As with many brewers, profession and otherwise it’s a great enjoyment to drink beer while working. In some cases any beer is fine, but when there’s a long day and one would like to stay sharp, the lighter, refreshing (dry) beers tend to be a favorite. This has has proven true for myself. I can recall a number of brewery mishaps after a long brew night (and beer sampling session) due to a lack of lighter beers. A perfectly reasonable solution is to have lots of lighter, flavorful choices available.  If you’re not into the lighter stuff, then you might be into the complexity; some might say the subtlety and nuance of these expressive beers.

Soon you'll be filled with funk and sour!

It was a great day to sip a refreshing beer in the yard.

My recent brews have been stronger, longer aged brews which leaves my taps devoid of anything lighter so I figured it was time to remedy that situation.  My previous brews using the Jester King mixed-culture fermentation have been more successful using an initial hotter fermentation, 75F up to 90F for roughly a week, or however long it takes to get below 1.010 S.G.  After that point, lowering the temperature allows the souring bacteria to take root and bring the pH down under 3.6 for some solid sour flavor.

I’m a huge fan of a local pub, Pinthouse Pizza’s Calma Muerta, a session IPA with huge flavors and strong bittering.  I’ve got that on my list to brew next yet my good friend suggested that we start experimenting with cultivating a high level of funk out of the Jester King yeast since we’ve got a good hold on target gravity and souring methods.  Besides producing an excellent lighter beer, ala, Jester King’s Le Petite Prince, exercising the funk in this brew will help in our sour-aged hot sauce experiments.

For this brew I’m adapting the homebrew recipe Jester King posted and supplying my ingredients.  I’m really excited to give such a lighter brew a go!  Enjoy.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
6 gal 90 min 20.6 IBUs 2.3 SRM 1.026 1.004 2.9 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 5 lbs 83.33
Wheat (BestMälz) 1 lbs 16.67

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 3.2
Fuggles 1 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 3.7
Fuggles 0.5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 3.7
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 0.5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 3.2
Fuggles 0.5 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 3.7
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 0.5 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 3.2

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 9.60 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 84% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

http://jesterkingbrewery.com/jester-king-homebrew-recipes-part-ii

Smoke ’em if you got ’em

drink-n-smoking

One of the very few Pilsners that I enjoy drinking from a can

Smoking malt for a batch of Russian Imperial Stout turned out quite well.  With that success complete and now kegged, I’m happy to proceed with more smoked malts! One of my favorite smoked beers is Jester King’s Gotlandsdrika.  The recipe has been shared by owner/brewer Jeff Stuffings over at the Beer and Wine Journal.

This bunghole smells amazing!

Despite the cracks in the wood, the barrel is water tight.

I took this recipe and scaled it up for 15 gallons so I can fill my newly acquired Rye Whiskey barrel.  This time, I’m smoking 100% of the malts used.  I also decided to keep them under the smoke a bit longer to help keep the smoke present post-fermentation.

The recipe calls for using beech and birch woods.  I had access to beech wood chips but no birch.  Instead I picked up some Alderwood to smoke half of the pilsner malt.  The whiskey barrel is a bit aged, dumped in 2015.  It tested well with the swelling and holding water however, I was some what concerned about what might have found its way into the wood since it sat dry for so long.  Barrel steaming to the rescue.

 

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to get that lid on. Embarrassing.

DIY Barrel steamer comprised of Pressure Cooker, Quick-disconnect adapter, Pressure Gauge , Check Valve, Silicon tubing, nipple to 1/2″ NPT, 90 Deg Street elbow to 2 ft. Copper pipe with drilled holes and end-cap.

Gloves are a must when dealing with steam.

A couple of rags help keep the steam inside the barrel to raise the temperature over 212 for approx 15 minutes.

Using the steam wand, I brought the internal temp up over 212F for about 15 minutes.  I’m really excited to see how this smoked beer comes out after fermenting in this whiskey barrel.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
15 gal 90 min 26.7 IBUs 4.5 SRM 1.052 1.003 6.3 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American Amber Ale 6 B 1.045 - 1.056 1.01 - 1.015 20 - 40 11 - 18 2.3 - 2.8 4.5 - 5.7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Birchwood smoked Pilsner (Weyermann) 12 lbs 40
Smoked (BestMälz) 12 lbs 40
(Oak Smoked) Wheat Malt, Ger 3 lbs 10
Rye, Flaked (Briess) 3 lbs 10

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 3 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5.6

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phophoric Acid (20%) 40.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Juniper Berries 0.60 oz 0 min Boil Flavor
Gale, Sweet 1.26 oz 0 min Boil Spice

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
JK Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 94% 55°F - 95°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 154°F 45 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

http://beerandwinejournal.com/gotlandsdricka-clone/

0.20 oz. juniper berries, at whirlpool
0.42 oz. sweet gale, at whirlpool

Phosphoric Acid additions during multi-infusion step mashing:
40mL

Woxbic: Lambic-style Beer; Third Year: Now with more barrels!

Woxbic v3

Active fermentation with ECY 20 – Bug Country, 12 hours after pitching. Ambient shed temperature at 55F.

Another year and another Woxbic! This year I was quite a bit late. Normally I’m brewing this batch during January or early February since there aren’t that many days which have cool enough weather for fermentation in the garage in the mid 50s. But better that than not at all. Also with the “magic” of science, I happen to have a shed in which I can keep things at just the right temp, ~55F.

I’m really excited about these lambic-style beers and the fact that the previous two batches are tasting really well! My favorite local brewery, Jester King has just blended their first batch of lambic-style spontaneously fermented beer. I’m about a year away from being able to blend and bottle as well. When brewing for blends, one needs to have enough younger beer to spread out the older beer. So this year, I finally was able to get two barrels.

both_barrels_one_waxed-1024x768

11 Gallon Rum barrel, waxed with paraffin. 15 gallon Rye Whiskey barrel waits a few weeks for its’ fill.

This brewday I filled the first barrel, another 11 gallon rum barrel. I’ve picked up an additional barrel, 15 gallon Rye Whiskey. After a quick batch of smoked saison, I’ll pick up this recipe and put 15 gallons of Woxbic in it as well.

rye-whiskey-15g-1024x768

Initial cleaning and swelling of the 15 gallon Rye Whiskey barrel.

Recipe-wise, no real changes. I was unable to pickup local Pilsner from Blacklands Malt due to their success. They only offer their pilsner malt under contract; and all available bags are being picked up by other local breweries. I was able to procure some Weyerman Bohemian Pilsner malt from a local brewery Adelberts, so a big thanks to them.

Enjoy!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
13 gal 90 min 8.7 IBUs 3.5 SRM 1.054 1.013 5.4 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Straight (Unblended) Lambic 17 D 1.04 - 1.054 1.001 - 1.01 0 - 10 3 - 7 1.8 - 2.6 5 - 6.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsner (Weyermann) 16.25 lbs 60
Wheat, Torrified 9.75 lbs 36
Acidulated (Weyermann) 1.083 lbs 4

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Northern Brewer 1.62 oz 60 min Boil Leaf 3.2

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 56.60 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 3.40 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 1.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 1.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Wheat Flour 3.25 oz 5 min Boil Other

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Bug Country (20) East Coast Yeast 70% 63°F - 75°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Acid Rest 93°F 15 min
Protein Rest 113°F 15 min
Saccharification 1 131°F 15 min
Saccharification 2 149°F 15 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

After mash-out, drain all liquid into boil kettle, raise temp to 190, pump back to mash for second rinse through grain bed.

Pitching ECY20 Bugcountry in 15G barrel

Phosphoric Acid additions during multi-infusion step mashing:
Step1: 20.1 ml in 6.7 gallons
Step2: 6.2 ml in 2.07 gallons
Step3: 9.09 ml in 3.03 gallons
Step4: 16.92 ml in 5.64 gallons

Total: 52.3 mL in 17.41 gallons ~ pH of 5.4 (5.2 , 5.3, 5.3, 5.4)

Smoking malts for a Sour Smoky Stout

IMG_20151231_161800

I remember when I really fell in love with Jester King sours. Years ago I volunteered at Jester King with my good friend Mark on a bottling day. Turns out it was a Funk Metal day which is an amazing beer to bottle. Back then, the volunteers got to take some of the failed QC (almost always underfills or busted labels) bottles home. The other benefit was being able to drink Jester King beer on the job. It so happened that along with Black Metal Stout (non-farmhouse, aka OG BMS) and the ever present Le Petite Prince they had Salt Lick Saison, renamed Censored Saison due to the ridiculous laws here in Texas which don’t allow breweries to endorse a product by putting the name on the label. The massive level of smoke was initially too much but strong sour really wom me over; the combination was amazing. At the end of my shift I knew why Jester King prefers something light like Le Petite as I was feeling the 6% smoked saison.  Salt Lick Saison hasn’t been produced since that summer but the other smoked beers by Jester King, namely Gotslandricka, has similar levels of smokiness and a touch of sour.

My cellar is almost bare of these great smoked sours so I decided it was time to brew something of my own. Last summer Jester King brewed Black Metal Stout  for the first time in years and due to the time of the year, winter, the cold fermentation favored sour acid production resulting in an amazing combination of roast and sour. In this homebrew I’m hoping to clone that combination and add some smoke as well.

IMG_20151231_161749

This is my first experiment with smoking my own malt. Cursory reading of the homebrew forums indicated that a low temperature, about 100F,  is best, as is the use of some sprayed water to help the malt absorb the smoke. I didn’t make my own basket but I did find a sink colander which does the right thing for exposing the malt to the smoke. I smoked 15# of Maris Otter, roughly 50% of the base malt bill in the Black Metal Stout recipe for approximately 45 minutes with a combination of oak and mesquite smoke. Only time will tell if this was enough, or too much (ha!).

I’ll be sure to report back on how this one turned out.  Happy New Year!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
11 gal 60 min 31.3 IBUs 69.2 SRM 1.082 1.014 9.0 %
Actuals 1.082 1.014 9.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Imperial Stout 13 F 1.075 - 1.115 1.018 - 1.03 50 - 90 30 - 40 1.8 - 2.6 8 - 12 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) 14.938 lbs 39.12
Smoked Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) 14.938 lbs 39.12
Black Barley (Stout) 2.467 lbs 6.46
Black (Patent) Malt 1.599 lbs 4.19
Chocolate Malt (Thomas Fawcett) 1.599 lbs 4.19
Brown Malt 15.21 oz 2.49
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 15.19 oz 2.49
Crystal Dark - 77L (Crisp) 12 oz 1.96

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Citra 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 14.4
Goldings, East Kent 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 5

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 5.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 5.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
JK01 (JK01) Jester King Brewery 86% 60°F - 90°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 40 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Kunsei (smoked) Makkuro-Kurosuke

Initial thoughts using a Blichmann BrewEasy

Ooh, sexy beast of a beer: Jester King Le Petite Prince!

10 Gallon Electric BrewEasy (TM) Setup. Photo by Mark

My longtime assistant brewer has slowly transitioned into a full-time brewer on his own. Mark initially started with a Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB) setup to brew Kombucha. Over time, the recipes changed to BeerBucha, all-grain beer recipe but Kombucha SCOBY for fermentation. Finally he just switched to beer and exclusively employs a mixed-culture blend from Jester King. After the completion of the Battle Shed Mark’s Rebel Brewing Alliance decided to get ahead of opposition and transition into an electric brewing setup, Blichmann BrewEasy.

Last week he invited me over during his initial brewing run to take a look at his new setup and become *his* assistant brewer. The first beer is Jester King’s Das Überkind Vieille Saison. The BrewEasy 10G equipment profile is available in BeerSmith2, merely selecting the Blichman 10 Gallon profile, which uses a 20 Gallon BoilKettle and a 15 Gallon Mash Tun. The BrewEasy is slightly different since it’s doing a recirculating mash process combined with BIAB-style where all of the water needed is provided up-front and split between the two pots. The BrewEasy recirculation loop consists of liquor from the mashtun using gravity to drain through the false bottom into the lower boil kettle using a custom steel tube that connects to the output valve on the 15 gallon mash pot. Inside the boil kettle resides the electric element which requires approximately 6 gallons of liquid to ensure the element is always covered. The output of the boil kettle is connected via hose to a pump with a stainless T adapter in which resides a temperature probe connected back to the Tower of Power for reading the current temperature of the liquor/wort. The output from the pump flows up to the side of the mashtun and into a Blichman Autosparge which uses a ballast (floating arm) to control the input flow back into the mashtun. The brewer controls the level of the floatarm and the opening of the mashtun to balance the flow of wort between the mashtun and boilkettle.

At the start, we split the water between the two kettles and started the element to heat the water to a target of about 161F for dough-in at about 152F mash temp. We set the float arm to keep 10.5 gallons of water in the mashtun and the remaining 8 gallons in the boil kettle. We noticed during this process that there was a delta in temperature reading between what was being measured at the T off of the pump and the actual water in the mashtun. We measured about about 4F degree loss between the pump and the water in the mashtun. My initial thought was that the temperature probe really ought to be right next to the input to the mashtun, right before the sparge arm. With the delta in mind, we raised the temp to reach our target and started the dough-in. The strike temperature was calculated by using the upper mash volume (10.5 gallons), the amount of grain and the grain temperature.

After doughing in, we noticed two things. First we had overshot our strike temperature, and second that the sparge arm was not open due to the additional volume now in the mashtun. After fixing the arm level, recirculation resumed and now our temperature rose again. This revealed the second “flaw” in the system. The temperature sensor that controls the element in the boilkettle/grant measures temperature as it passes in the loop. When the sparge arm closes the value, we’re no longer recirculating and the temperature in the loop falls meaning the element in the kettle is active to raise the temperature. Without recirculating, the controller never knows the temperature inside the kettle and we ended up raising the remaining water in the kettle far above our strike temperature. Additionally since we recirculated 18 gallons instead of 10.5 gallons, the additional thermal mass meant that we didn’t need to raise the strike temperature up to 161F, rather we should have only reached about 157F to ensure a target of 152.

Mark worked around this overshoot by leaving the mash isolated and reciculating the remaining liquid in the lower pot itself until it returned to the target temp of 152F. Several times during the mash itself, the same problem repeated itself, as we attempted to raise the volume of liquid in the mashtun to match the water/grain ratio, this ended up closing the recirculation valve and leaving the element on raising the temperature in the boil kettle higher than needed to retain a target mash temp.

Upon reflection, and examining how The Electric Brewery has designed their HERMS loop, a few things come to mind for the BrewEasy. First, the autosparge is not needed at all. In the case where all of the water needed for the batch is available at the start, the closing of the loop via autosparge is only going to cause problems, as we described above. Removing the autosparge would have fixed the major issue above that prevented the temperature sensor from controlling the element temperature. The second issue was the location of the temperature sensor. To keep the mash temperature held, we really want to measure at the output of the mashtun; after the water has gone through the grain bed. This is just not possible on the BrewEasy setup due to the design of the return pipe which directs the flow via gravity directly into the boil kettle below.

breweasy_g2_adapter_lid_kit

BrewEasy 10 Gallon Adapter Kit. Photo by Blichmann Engineering.

In the picture, you can see the bent tube, which is the Drain Pipe with Orifice, designed for the G2 Kettles. Contrast that with the kit for the G1:

breweasy_g1-adapter-lid-kit

BrewEasy 20 Gallon Adapter Kit. Photo by Blichmann Engineering.

Even with the G1 kettle which uses a 90-degree street-elbow, it’s not clear to me that one would be able to introduce a stainless T and move the temperature sensor there.

With the mash complete we moved on the to boil which went off flawlessly if eerily almost silent due to the electric coil heat source.

A few other items worth mentioning.  On the Tower of Power (ToP) itself the display could use some UI/UX improvements.  The current and target temperatures are easily seen but it’s not immediately clear whether the heating element is on.  There is a small green dot indicating whether it is on or not but it should be quite a bit more obvious. Given the Tower of Power history, originally designed to control a Blichmann gas burner, it’s easy to see that a small light on the ToP wasn’t a big deal as the noise from a running burner would make things much more obvious. The silent nature of the electric element though exposes this design issue.

I’m a huge fan of the plastic hose clamps.  They are easily manipulated by fingers, rather than tools.  Since they’re not metal, one doesn’t have to worry about tearing or ripping the hose material.  Excellent attention to detail here.

The G2 kettle sight tube includes a metric scale (yay!) however, instead of having a second part, the sight tube now includes metric on one side and US on the other oriented upside-down so as to not confuse the brewer when in use.  I would have preferred the tube to include the unit abbreviation (L, G) next to the numbers so I could measure either in in Gallons or Liters without detaching the sigh tube to switch.

As mentioned above, if one does make use of the Autosparge, the 3-way flow meter from Blichmann should be a requirement, otherwise with the lid closed on the mashtun there is *no* way of knowing whether you’re actually recirculating wort or not.  It would be an improvement for the Tower of Power to require a *flow* meter in addition to the low-water detection switch and stop applying heat if either are tripped (no flow or low water should prevent firing of the element instead of just the sounding a horn as it does now).

In all, the BrewEasy is a really nice setup but I do believe that the current version certainly has some issues that make it more difficult to use than the current state-of-the-art setup from The Electric Brewery.

I’m looking forward to more brewdays with Mark as an assistant brewer; always something to learn from anyone’s brewday.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
12 gal 90 min 13.1 IBUs 5.6 SRM 1.045 1.011 4.4 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 18.15 lbs 84.03
Wheat, Torrified 1.729 lbs 8
Oats, Flaked 13.83 oz 4
Caramunich Malt 13.7 oz 3.97

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 1.18 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5.6

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min