Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tasting Blended Old Ales

At the beginning of April this year I blended and bottled two old ales. Two thirds of the content in these bottles is just about 20 months old (Ancient Ale). The other third was a freshly brewed and fermented old ale (Fresh Old Ale).

I thought it was a good time to share the experience of drinking this beer at this time. While it is still quite young in the bottle, the "old" portion already gives it a strong sense of old age. Since it's changed considerably over 20 months, I have no doubt this beer will age very nicely for many years in the bottle.

Tasting Notes & Photos

Appearance: Deep amber/brown, clear w/ a touch of chill haze at cold temps, full off-white/tan head remains as a solid thin layer from moderate-full carbonation
Aroma: Very full aromas of Brett funk, fruitiness, without any hops
Taste: Full mix of flavors from beginning to end, Brett, tart cherry and other red fruits, its not sweet but some sourness and a touch of hop bitterness balances it's full flavor
Mouthfeel: Medium body, especially with higher carbonation
Aftertaste: Tart/sourness towards back of tongue, slight oxidation which doesn't conflict at all with taste but comes through with belches
Drinkability: A bold overall presence in color, aroma & taste, fairly complex, a wonderful & assertive Brett character w/ good tartness. With it's fuller carbonation and wine-like dryness, it's quite refreshing, and it's deceivingly alcoholic point reassures me of it's position in my stash of reserve beers!

Overall, I'm very excited about this funky old ale, and look forward to aged bottles and blends with stronger tasting beers.

Related Posts

Blending Old Ales
Fresh Old Ale
Ancient Ale

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ph - revisited; using Acid Blend

Almost a year ago, I wrote about mash Ph as a response to a question from Travis. I was re-reading it, and took note on how my approach to Ph in mashing all-grain recipes has changed. Back then I was more interested in the effects of the counterparts of the two common calcium compounds...Sulfates in Gypsum, and Chlorides in Calcium-Chloride. Since then, I have been able to achieve target Ph levels, while maintaining other salt additions for taste differences in various styles.

Here in Chicago, we have fairly soft tap water with a fair level of alkalinity, and in order to get a low Ph, we must add something to the water. This applies to most every style light to dark. Calcium additions can and will help with darker styles, but more needs to be done as the roasted grains are taken out of a recipe.

I've been playing around with a crystal/powder acid blend (tartaric, malic & citric), put out by LD Carlson. Overall, it performs very well, and has great power in little amounts. Though I've never tried it without Gypsum/CaCl, it has become the main determinant for acid adjustment in mashing.

For a 5-6 gallon batch of beer, I usually add about .75 teaspoon acid blend. At this level, the saccharification Ph settles at about 5.3-5.4, which is solid for most recipes. This addition is only added to the Strike water. Without this acid blend addition in the Mash-out and 2nd-Sparge water, the Ph readings remained in the target range.

If super fermentability is what I want (Belgian Tripel, or very dry beer), and the temperature of the mash is much lower (140°F's), then a full teaspoon or more will help get it even lower (near 5.0) for a better conversion. On the other extreme, hold back with a little less if a dextrinous wort is desired (thick & rich Scottish Ale), and the mash temp set at the highest end of Alpha Amylase conversion (160+°F).

Also, I've found a much better/accurate Ph strip. It's a white plastic strip with a very small square piece of litmus paper attached to one end. It's available at our LHBS (Brew & Grow).

I've been using this mash Ph strategy for most of my beer this year, and the overall efficiency has been quite good. Also, the quality of taste has also gone up. I would attribute this to being more specific with levels of other brewing salts, while the acidity is supported by the acid blend.

Check out the first post on Ph here.
On a somewhat related topic, see some tips for better infusion mashing.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blackstrap Root Beer 2

For my second root beer, I decided to stay with the original Blackstrap Root Beer recipe, but lightened the sugars and molassas while taking up the spices a little. This batch is brewed for our Condo building's "get to know our neighbors better" picnic this Sunday.

One error in the first batch recipe was the root beer extract. I'm sure I used 3 ounces instead of 3 tablespoons. For this one, it's tablespoons. No wonder it was very rich tasting...but tasty none-the-less.

Blackstrap Root Beer 2
Brewed 7/17/08
3 gallons

3.00 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
1.25 cup Demerara Sugar
1.25 cup Light Brown Sugar
0.33 cup Organic Blackstrap Molassas
5.00 Tbs Malto Dextrin

1.5 Cinnamon Stick, 30min
.20 oz Licorice Root, 30min

1.5 Cinnamon Stick, 10min
.05 oz Licorice Root, 5min

3.0 Tbs Root Beer Extract

Spices boiled in 1 gallon water for 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Add sugars. Chill in cold water bath in sink. Stir in extract while still hot. Chill a little more. Add to keg. Top off with chilled distilled water. Force carbonate. That's it.

Tasting Notes

For my second round of root beer, I really like the balance in this one. It is still sweet and richer than most commercial examples, but I prefer this one. I especially like how it doesn't have the vanilla sweetness often found in many root beers. I like a spicier sharpness that compliments the sarsaparilla and counterbalances the richer molassas and sugar content. It pours a very dark brown with an amber hue. I cut back on the sugars only marginally, but this one is definitely lighter than my first. I may lighten it even more, but also add to the spice complexity. Again, thoroughly enjoyable!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Belgian Tripel

Another virgin brew, a Belgian Tripel. Last year's round of Belgians were good, but this year I'm hoping to take it a step further. I'm following the basics for this style, but skewing it towards the hoppy/bitter side. I like the dryer versions of this style like Kasteel Triple. I also really enjoy the bitter/spicy/hoppy qualities in the Chouffe Houblon IPA Tripel. Here I'm hoping for something in between. It may come out a tad bitter, but I'd rather have more than less.

After reading the latest issue of Zymurgy about Tripel sugars, I decided to go with clear candy sugar from the LHBS. Then after yesterday's Tech Talk email response from Ted Housotter, I decided to add the sugar portion after the primary fermentation begins to settle and the kraeusen falls some. Why not keep the fermentation going strong with a lower viscosity of sugar throughout? Sounds like a good way to ferment these higher gravity brews with less stress on the yeast.

Belgian Tripel

13. lbs. Belgian Pils
2.0 lbs. German Vienna
1.0 lbs. Belgian Wheat
1.5 lbs. Clear Candy Sugar (boiled & added 7/21)

.80 oz. Magnum, 14.9%, pellet, 60min
.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 30min
.50 oz. Saaz, 2.3%, pellet, 10min
.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 10min
.25 oz. Saaz, 2.3%, pellet, KO

Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity (cake from 1 gal. batch)

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 7/15/08
Racked: 8/5/08 5gal & 1gal blend of .75 tripel w/.25 old ale
Bottled: 9/9/08

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.25 tsp. Gypsum, 1.25 tsp. Acid Blend
Mash Out: .5 tsp. CaCl
2nd Sparge: .5 tsp. Gypsum

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 150°F/75min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 169°F/20min
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4.25gal/1.066 (left 1 gal in mash for 2nd sparge)

2nd Batch Sparge Vol/H2OTemp/MashTemp: 2/185°F/163°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3gal/1.044

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.25
Pre-Boil SG: 1.057
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 6.1gal
Mash Efficiency: 74%

SG: 1.068 (grains only)
OG: 1.083 (w/ sugar)
IBU: approx. 39
Color/SRM: Pale Gold/4-5
Ferment Temp: 68,75,68,66,68-71°F
Bottling Yeast: Safbrew T-58

FG: 1.012
ABW: 7.5%
ABV: 9.3%