Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lager season commences

I've gone on a few times about how I'm pretty much bound by the weather around here as to what I brew. With temps dropping down for the winter, it was time to brew a lager.

My dogs are friends with a number of dogs in our hood. One of them happens to belong to the head brewer for a pretty well known local brewery. I won't say who the brewery is, but you can probably guess it if your favorite movie is The Three Amigos, and your favorite band is Pink Floyd (Syd Barret version, of course). To make a long story short, he got a packet of hops a little while back that he couldn't really use. It was a little under three ounces of pellet hops. He gave them to me, with the stipulation that I'd give him a few to see what these hops were like. So, I give you: Three Dogs Lager:

Three Dogs Lager:

Pale Six Row- 7 lbs
Flaked Maize- 2 lbs
Cara Pils- 8 oz

Mt Hood- 1.5 oz- 60 minutes
GR Select Pellets- 2 oz- 15 minutes
GR Select Pellets- 1.875 oz- 5 minutes

Wyeast 2007- Pilsner- 1000 ml starter straight off the stir plate.

149 infusion

Gravity target/actual-

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do with this. Chris' brewery is known for some pretty hoppy beers (their mild would probably be called a IPA at some places), so I wanted to be sure that I brewed this in a way that would showcase the hops in a flavor/aroma sort of way. There aren't many commercial examples of the classic American Pilsner, so I wasn't too hemmed in by any classic guidelines. This is a style that German brewers started doing when they came to America, and as such they used the ingredients that they had on hand. They found lots of corn here, hence the flaked maize. Six row malt to help covert the corn. Cara pils to add some body and foam.

The brewing went pretty good. I missed my numbers for the first time in a while, but I am chalking that up to the maize. I hadn't used it much before, and never used six row, so I'm not too worried about it. It'll still have a decent amount of punch. The hops are all German in origin. The Mt Hood is a Hallertauer offshoot, and the GR Select is a low alpha acid Tettnanger hybrid. I threw everything I had in on the two final additions, so the hoppiness should jump out of this beer, because the grain is not malty at all.

I have to give an honorable mention to Kerry on this beer with her timely Christmas presents. gave me a really nice digital thermometer, and a refractometer. Really good equipment, easy to calibrate. It definitely made things easier today.

Not so nice was my discovery yesterday that my Altbier had an infection. Every bottle had a nice layer of scum forming on the top. This was a big bummer, as I had some high hopes for that recipe. Needless to say, it was a big time cleaning day today. Pretty much every brewing implement I own got a long soak in some hot PBW, with a long soak in sanitizer after. I tossed my old hoses, so I'm hoping this is a one time thing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Biere de la Voie

I think that most people get the idea that the French are mostly effeminate snooty wine drinkers. I'm sure that unless you're a big beer fiend/brewer, most Americans are completely unaware that the French really have a beer style all their own. I confirmed this the other day at work, when I quizzed six dudes about French beer (one of whom used to bar tend).

Biere de Garde is a style that is a close cousin to the Belgian farmhouse Ales. In theory it's the beer of the miners, farmers and drunken cycling fans lining the cobblestone sections of the Paris-Roubaix. In brewing practice terms, it's an ale that is fermented at low ale temps, and then lagered (garde being the French counterpart for the German word lager) for a period of time. It's got a malty backbone that would be similar to some Belgian beers, or even the German Altbier, and the hoppiness should tend to be a bit more spicy as opposed to fruity. Like some French brewer found some two year old hops in his hayloft, and decided, what the hell, I'll use them anyway. So then:

Biere de la Voie-

Belgian Two Row Pale- 7 lbs
Vienna- 2 lbs
Munich Light- 1 lb
Crystal 40L- 3.5 oz- I had actually planned on 8 ounces, but this is what I had in stock. It was more of a coloring addition than for flavor, so no big deal.
Table sugar- 8 oz

Fuggle- 1.25 oz- 60 minutes
Mount Hood- 1 oz- 10 minutes

Wyeast 1007 German Ale- 1000 ml starter. This was what Wyeast recommends for Biere De Garde, and I happened to have it to hand, so it worked out nicely.

149/168- hot water infusion

Gravity target/actual-

Another ho hum brewday. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy myself. Just that nothing went wrong. I nailed all my temps. I nailed my target gravity. I guess I'm going to have to start writing a little more about why I'm choosing what I am for ingredients, or else I'll have nothing to write about.

As far as the ingredients go, I pretty much went with a standard Biere De Garde grain bill list. Table sugar to dry it out a little. The yeast is not typically a high attenuator, but the low mash temp, along with the sugar should get me to 80%. I'm going to start doing a force fermentation from now on to figure out what my actual terminal gravity will be, but I didn't have the extra yeast to do so this time.

Speaking of the yeast. If you ever decide to use Wyeast 1007, use a blow off tube. I do not have one at the moment, and it went absolutely crazy with this beer, blowing the carboy cap off twice. I suppose I could have tried to harvest the yeast off my pantry floor, but it's probably not the most...ahem...sanitary place to get your brewing yeast. A true top fermenting yeast. On the bright side, our furnace died sometime Saturday night, and the yeast kept working even though the temps strayed down into lager territory. I haven't tasted a beer that I've made with this yet, but I like how it works in a technical sense.