Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bugs in the brewhouse

That's right. I've got bugs in my brewhouse. No, this isn't a sort of Monday Night Brewery standard operating procedure type infection. I brewed me up a wild beer.

My lovely wife is, both fortunately and unfortunately, not a fan of beer. She is, however, a big fan of Framboise, specifically of the Lindemann's variety. Given that my beer brewing addiction has essentially consumed my waking thoughts for over a year now, I decided to brew something that she might like as well.

The deeper I delve into Belgian brewing, the more smitten I become. I just finished reading Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow, and it was another eye opener. As he says in the book, this sort of brewing isn't a product of a throw it in a fermenter under unsanitary conditions and let it ferment sort of idea. It's artistic, calculated, and harrowing all at the same time. Especially when you consider that it's going to be at least a year before what you brew is drinkable, and even then, you may need to blend it with a beer you are going to brew a year from now before you get a product that is good if not great. So here it is, my attempt at a Flanders Red:

Vienna Malt- 5 pounds
Flaked Maize- 2 pounds
Belgian Aromatic Malt- 8 ounces
Carahell Malt- 8 ounces
Caravienne Malt- 8 ounces
Special B- 4 ounces

Crystal- 1.25 ounces- 60 minutes

Wyeast Lambic Blend- This was a smack pack, and I pitched straight from the pack. Sparrow recommends not making a starter with yeast/Brett blends, as sometimes the quicker growing beer yeast will overwhelm the bacterias before they have a chance to get a foothold.

122/148/162/170- all hot water infusions

The grain bill was almost straight out of Wild Brews. I haven't experimented or consumed enough of this style of beer to really know my way around what to include. If anything, this will give me a good base to work off of a year from now. Doing a two hour boil should give it the classic red color. It also gave me a long time to prepare my carboy, and clean up most of the brewing equipment before I was ready to chill it.

The lag time on it was over 24 hours, which is weird if you pitch big happy starters like I usually do. I was actually starting to get little nervous when I hadn't seen any activity a full day after I brewed. The next morning though, there was a nice familiar fluff of krauesen on top. Phew!

This batch is going to get split into two when I rack to the secondary. As I stated at the beginning here, the idea was to brew something Kerry would like as well, so half of this is going to get a 2 pound charge of raspberries. The other half will get a chance to age on it's own. I'll probably bottle some of that straight up, some will be blended with other Flanders beers, and some with other sorts of beers suitable for blending.

Thanks to Ted for the inspiration to do a wild beer. I had a bottle of his Ancient Ale, and it was easily one of my favorite beers I've ever had. Also big BIG thanks to Mike for coming over to help brew. I seriously could not have managed to brew without him. Hopefully I will have a pump soon, and once my new brew setup is built, all we'll have to do is fill it full of grain and water, then sit back and watch.

As far as recent other brews go: Black Dog Stout is great. Brown Ale not so much. Seriously though, I may play with the stout a little bit, but it's delicious as is. Fresher yeast maybe. But the bitterness is just right, and the roastiness and mouthfeel are spot on. The Brown Ale needs to go back to the drawing board. Maybe a better name would improve it a bit. Age may as well. Fingers crossed.


Jonathan said...

I just bought Wild Brews but haven't read it yet. Glad it provided some good fodder. That sounds like a money-maker of an experiment. I'd love to see some pics of the fermentation.

But in regards to your "standard operating procedure" mumbo-jumbo, I take offense. Tell your pet bunny to start running, because I'm coming after him to get your website password.

Kevin LaVoy said...

I was just joshing you Jonathan. Some of my beers have been damn good, and could certainly hold their own in a beer war, but I work in the finance industry, and am way too busy right now to try and plot any sort of destruction from several states away.

Wild Brews is so good. My wife keeps putting it back on the bookshelf, knowing that I finished it, then I wander past it, and pick it back up again. Then she puts it back on the bookshelf when I leave it somewhere I'm not supposed to. And so on.

As far as a picture of the fermentation is concerned, you'll have to take a rain check for the moment. I have my "fermentation chamber" in an old closet that needs to have a light installed. There isn't much to see at the moment that you haven't seen anyway. At this point in the process, regular Sacch yeast is doing all the work, so it looks just like a normal beer fermentation with the krauesen. I'll definitely post something when the beer gets sick, as he says in Wild Brews.