Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Professional Tips and Tricks

Every so often a professional brewery makes a beer that you take a sip and say "wow".  Sometimes it's just a well executed style, but other times its so unique you have to know how they did it.  As a homebrewer, we have freedom to experiment without worrying about wasting a whole batch because at the end of the day if we try something on 1 gallon, it's a few bucks down the drain if it doesn't work out.  

If I come across something really unique but can't find anything about it online and want to know how to do it, I'll shoot the brewery an email.  Some breweries are really great about sharing inside info, but some others like to keep things to themselves, which is totally ok also.  Here I'm going to put down all of the tips I've picked up from professional breweries so I don't lose track of them.

Ballast Point Victory at Cereal - On when to add the Captain Crunch

"We add it to the finished product. It is really straight forward. Just add a ton of Capt. Crunch to Victory at Sea and taste until the flavor is appropriate (usually 4 days). Then you rack the Victory off of the cereal". 
- James Murray

Cask & Larder Watermelon Gose - On how they get the awesome watermelon flavor

"Its 2 days of souring in the kettle from a 45% grist wheat (flaked and malted) on Lacto home grown from pils malt... short boil and 8 ibu boil hop addition.. salt added at end of boil.. scottish ale yeast fermentation.. watermelon extract added at end of fermentation just prior to carbonation.. its a all natural distilled watermelon from Treatt .. same company that supplies Cigar City with the Cucumber extract for their seasonal Saison.. they are based out of lakeland if you can bug them for a sample... please dont tell them i said so..  hope this helps...they offer 2 kinds one is heart of watermelon the other is rindy...was looking for a balance between sour, salt and fruit .. it sold very quickly and think redlight is sitting on the last keg... my twisted take on a winter beer...too much bacteria and wild yeast in doing it at home with raw fruit unless its added to a huge beer that might be sour already (lower pH and high alcohol)"

Russian River Sours - On bottling carbonation levels

"we carbonate Supplication to about 3.25 vol/Co2.  We like this level for the mouthfeel but also it gives us room on both sides in which we know if we come up a little short we'll still be good but more important if the Brett in the beer keeps carbing the beer a little we know we have room on the high end before we are too high in Co2.

Also, and I'm sure you know this but it is a good idea to use a wine yeast on a sour/barrel beer to ensure the yeast can perform in the acidic environment."

On adding fruit to a berliner - Johnathan Wakefield

"During primary only, puree is the way to go but it really depends on the fruit. It can be a real pain in the rear on the transfer to either bottle or keg just because the puree may not be able to be fully filtered out."

 Adding coffee to beer - Modern Times Jacob McKean

"I prefer adding whole bean coffee to cold (38 degrees), uncarbonated beer (i.e. secondary fermentation). I've tried every other method, and I'm convinced it's the best way to go, but I'm very focused on aroma. Black House gets the equivalent of 2oz of coffee per 5 gallons of beer."

Adding coconut - Michael Tonsmeire and Modern Times Brewer Alex

 "For the coconut I'm planning on taking a page from Alex's playbook: unsweetened, home-toasted, added post-fermentation. Dried unsweetened coconut. Might add a touch of coconut extract at kegging if it needs a boost. Yup my original Indra Kunindra homebrew i did vodka extract ran through coffee filters to remove fat Works Great"

Brewing a beer like Serenity from Wicked Weed - Head of Brewing Operations Walt Dickinson

"Well, barrels play a key role in that beer and that is tuff to recreate at the hombres level.  That said if I were to try and make serenity at home I would do this... Build a simple grist, 70% 2row, then the rest can be a combo oats, wheat, and/or rye with a touch of either carapils or crystal.  I think 20-30 Ibus with a decent whirlpool addition is nice.  Then ferment 100% Brett.  White labs brux or brett III are great.  Knock out warm (80 F).  After primary move to a plastic bucket with 6 or so medium toast oak cubes that you have boiled the tannins out of... Don't add the water just the cubes.  Let age for 2-3 months in bye bucket.  Don't break the pelicle!  Then bottle and wait another 2-3 months.  It's that easy... Ha.  Good luck man.  Cheers."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Hop Varieties

Hop breeding and farming is a seriously cool topic.  Since craft beer has expanded, the farms have had free reign to go all out in producing the biggest, dankest, most delicious flavors and combinations of hops to use.  With everyone trying to get an edge in craft brewing, no matter how weird the hop is, some brewery will be willing to use it in an experimental beer.  Who knows, maybe it will lead us to the next Citra (which was an experimental hop for the longest time).

Lately the following hops have come out of the breeding programs.  Azacca is being used a bit and is why it has a name.  People love this hop and Societe had a really successful Bachelor beer brewed solely with this.  Cigar City used Vic Secret in a single hop pale ale and I got to try it and it was tasty.  I really want to get my hands on some of these when I get back to brewing.

Azacca (ADHA 483)

AA Range: 14 - 16%
Beta: 5.4%
Cohumulone: N/A
Total Oil: 1.8 ml/100g
Characteristics: Fresh citrus, tangerine, mango, grapefruit, piney, spicy, pineapple.
Other Notes: Sounds like this is the best-suited of this new lot (from the ADHA) for American IPAs, so it's no surprise that it's the first to get an actual name.

ADHA 484

AA Range: 11 - 12%
Beta: 3.5%
Cohumulone: 46.8%
Total Oil: N/A
Characteristics: Cedar, wood, bubblegum, spice.
Other Notes: Intriguing descriptors here. Sounds appropriate for English beers, or oak-aged beers.

ADHA 527

AA Range: 14 - 15%
Beta: 4.5%
Cohumulone: 36.8%
Total Oil: N/A
Characteristics: Anise, licorice, spice, mint, floral.

ADHA 529

AA Range: 11%
Beta: 3.2%
Cohumulone: 25.5%
Total Oil: N/A
Characteristics: Sweet coconut, lemon, mint, green herbal tea.

ADHA 871

AA Range: 13.4%
Beta: 4%
Cohumulone: 27.4%
Total Oil: N/A
Characteristics: Floral, citrus, strong mint, herbal, mellow spice, sage, slight lemon.
Other Notes: Should be a contender for some saisons.

ADHA 881

AA Range: 16.3%
Beta: 7.3%
Cohumulone: 35.4%
Total Oil: N/A
Characteristics: Banana, pear, peach, herbal, spice.
Other Notes: First time I've seen banana as a hop descriptor!

Vic Secret

AA Range: 14 - 17%
Beta: 6.1 - 7.8%
Cohumulone: 51 - 56 %
Total Oil: 2.2 - 2.8 ml/100g
Characteristics: Pineapple, passionfruit, pine. Earthy when used in boil. "Lighter and less dominant than Galaxy."
Other Notes: The grower notes: "the clean, distinct fruit and pine characters of Vic Secret are best accessed by dry hopping or whirlpool additions." Also, not really the best name for a hop.