Hibiscus Berliner Weisse – Tasting Notes

20161122_180938

After having a good rummage about in Evernote, I found some tasting notes that I didn’t ever get around to getting out on the blog.

Remember this?  https://yeastismybitch.com/2016/10/18/inadvertent-lambic-berliner-weisse-mini-mash/

Well, it actually all ended up coming out rather well…

As you can see from the pictures, the colour of this beer was more akin to Cherryade than anything else, and due to it’s appearance probably shouldn’t be served in anything other than a dainty wine glass.  I think it looks bloody magnificent, but I would, wouldn’t I?

Let’s get this out there right now: this is about as close to a proper Berliner Weisse as you can get, in fact it’s probably one of the most “to-style” beers that I’ve ever brewed.   I’m wildly over-happy with how this one came out.

I say “as close to a Berliner as you can get…” I mean, OK, so just for a laugh I did re-hydrate some 30g of dried Hibiscus flowers in 100ml or so of boiling water and distributed that during bottling – but other than that it’s a Berliner alright…

It’s SOUR and mightily so, but the softness of the lactic acid means that it’s an enjoyable sour and not chrome-strippingly acidic.  There’s also a mild wheaty graininess to it, too.

And, well – let’s be honest about it – there’s LEMONS.  I mean loads of them – but nicely.  Somewhere there’s also faint malt-sweetness, but mostly it’s refreshingly tart…and that’s just how I wanted it.

20161122_180958

The carbonation is spot on and the mouthfeel is smooth and velvety…this means that there’s a lively frothy head, which – rather gratifyingly – does seem to last for a while…

The aftertaste is clean and there’s a very enjoyable dryness which fades to leave rhubarb, tart apple and sherbet echoes.

Hah.  I absolutely completely and utterly nailed this style.  Thus I rule hard; and in doing so, take my leave of you until my next post…

Golden Summer Shower Ale (IVPA)

Miss me?  I mean, did you miss me?

Don’t worry if you didn’t.  I’ve been off of brewing for so long now it’s embarrassing, so I don’t expect any teary welcome backs or anything.

So.  It’s nearly summer, and what could be nicer than a lovely refreshing summer ale – something that’ll glide across the taste buds, slake a parched throat or re-hydrate a tried work-worn body?  Yeah, that’d be really nice…if only I wasn’t such an efficient brewer.

5.2% – that’s what Beer Engine reckoned it’d be; 1052 OG or thereabouts for my 5 and a bit kilos of grain.

Well, I got 1061 and if that US ale yeast does it’s job and wrestles the lot down to 1009, we’ll be looking at 6.7% or so ABV.

I planned on dry-hopping with some more Styrians (Bobek) but it might end up getting a dose of centennial as well, plus the rind of two or more pink grapefruit.  Anyone for another (hastily invented) beer style?  IVPA – India Very Pale Ale?

Yeah, suck it up craft breweries, I can make those moves too…

IVPA

Notice the deceptively simple grain bill?  That’s because I needed to ease myself back in gently and that little bit of wheat malt is only to work up a bit of head protein and interest in the mouthfeel.

The mash was simplicity itself:

  • Dough-in 38C,
  • Sacch Rest: 67C for 80 Minutes
  • Mash Out: 76C for 10 Minutes

I sparged with 2 litres of hand hot water – mainly because I’d already mashed out and to be honest sparging a Braumeister malt tube with 82C (or whatever) water?  Life’s too short…

Heaven only knows how this one will shape-up, especially as it’s fermenting in the shed in my new fridge-based-fermentation chamber.  We’re currently at a reasonably steady 17-18c so I have hopes that it’ll be as clean as a whistle.

…and of course, when I want to clear the finished beer, I’ll drop the temperature down to 5 or so degrees.  That’s how we roll in these temperature-controlling times.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Next up: probably a rendition of Ommegang Hennepin Saison – especially now I’m able to ramp up a temps to 25c…  Cha-ching.

 

 

Mid-Week Mini-Mash: Fake Flanders Red (Sour)

img_20161116_222419

Last night, and probably much against my better judgement, I decided to get another mid-week mini-mash on.

I find the mini-mash style of brewing (see here: https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/10/30/first-steps-in-all-grain-brewing-the-mini-mash/) particularly satisfying as it means I can try things out without sacrificing 23L of wort and several hours of work; plus of course, it’s a doddle to clear up.

The mini mash also helps me to prove to myself that I’ve still got the moves and can hit my targets as an all-grain brewer, especially as my bigger brews are mostly done in the partially automated Braumeister…

So, a Flanders red, eh?  It’s a style that I dearly love: you know, solid and malty with a good sour tang and a delightful acetic acid/vinegar edge.  If it helps at all, try to think of balsamic vinegar…that sort of theme.  Is that better?

The malt bill for this recipe was (very loosely) based on recipes for Rodenbach/Duchesse de Borgogne clones that I’d seen on the web – albeit with substitutions based on what I had kicking about in the grain box:

sourred

The mashing happened at between 66 and 67C as I was busy with other things whilst it did it’s bit on the stove-top.  I’m not a stickler for maintaining temperature too closely when it’s such a small batch, and north of 66C and south of 70C was my mash temperature window.  That range should also provide a slightly less fermentable wort for any Brettanomyces present to get chewing on.

All went off OK, but I did taste the wort towards the end – and that one gram of Magnum in the recipe seems to have imparted a little more bitterness than I cared for, so let’s hope that it doesn’t upset the Lactobacillus too much (Lacto doesn’t generally flourish when there’s too much hop bitterness, hence only 8IBUs in this recipe…I’m hopeful that L. Plantarum is a bit more hop tolerant than others I’ve heard about)

And yes, a 45 minute boil!  Whatever next!  And with Pilsenser malt too!  Aren’t you worried about a DMS bomb and lack of hop isomerization, Jon?!

Umm, no.  Bitterness, is bitterness as far as I’m concerned, and in all my brews so far I’ve never come across DMS yet; Although, If I get it this time I’m prepared to eat my words…but, to be on the safe side, I did boil the wort rather violently…

Yeast-wise, as this was a tiny 1 gallon batch, I wasn’t going to jizz away seven or so quid on the traditional Flanders “Rosealare” yeast ‘n’ bacteria culture – instead relying on the yeast and Lactobacillus and god-knows-what that came out of the fermenter that had my (puzzlingly, well-fermented) Berliner Weisse in.

I just did a standard yeast wash procedure (https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/06/01/washing-and-re-using-yeast-for-fun-and-profit/) on the gunk left after bottling the Berliner – and stuffed the washings in the fridge; oh yeah, and I also threw in some bottle dregs from a Lindemans Cuvee Rene that I polished off last week, too.

This delightul yeasty soup should contain Lactobacillus Plantarum, an unknown but plucky brewers/wild yeast of some sort and assorted other yeasts, Lacto cultures and Brettanomyces strains from the Cuvee Rene sediment.

The fun thing about all this is that I’ve no clue how long this will take to get going, ferment right out, drop in acidity and then eventually drop bright and clear.

What larks…

I’ll post updates.

PS: 8am yesterday morning and the airlock was starting to bubble, so that’s a good sign.

Belgian Dubbel with Cherries – Tasting

20161111_162102

Well.  It seems I’ve managed to produce a largely clean (i.e. non-Sour) beer in the time it normally takes to produce a full-on aged and soured beer.

But look at it…doesn’t it look pretty?

20161111_162154

This was supposed to be last year’s Christmas beer…but it’s sort of ended up being this year’s potential Christmas beer.

Here’s the original post and recipe: https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/10/01/deck-the-halls-with-festive-bollocks-a-christmas-belgian-dubbel-with-cherries/

As I said in the post, I was hoping it’d only sit for a couple of weeks on the fruit, but it seemed so happy and looked like it was having another ferment so I put it into two demijohns under airlock and forgot about it.

I bottled it a few weeks ago (a year later) and now it’s time to taste…

As I said previously, it’s a nice colour with a good running bead.  I got the carbonation smack-on this time.

The nose is largely neutral, clean smelling but with some trace of fruit.

The body is thin, and we’re not exactly in complexity-central with the taste.  The finish is fairly dry and there’s some fruit – but it’s not sweet fruit, it’s fermented out fruit.

It’s not particularly sour as such, but there is some tartness – and that’s coming directly from the sour cherries, so it’s a malic acid (think crab apple sharpness) sour contribution rather than any microbial action – and that malic acid might also be contributing to the overall dryness.

I can’t discern any Brett character, so what we’ve got here is probably an aged dry fruit beer…a style that I seem to have invented, only for it to fall immediately into obscurity.

I’m in two minds about whether I like it or not.  I can’t quite work out whether the malic acid is too much, or if it’s a bit “something and nothing”.  I’ll keep a few bottles back and see how it goes…another year can’t hurt, can it?

Next time I try this: I’ll ferment the base beer cleanly, then bung in fruit and a culture of lacto and some interesting bacteria to do the job properly.

Keep your eyes peeled for that one…

In the meantime, I’ll let my taste-testers deliver the final verdict…

PS: The un-fruited Belgian that this beer is based on is still going strong – which is code for still having bottles of it left; big corked bottles too.  I tried one the other week and it’s not bad at all, despite my initial misgivings.  So there’s a lesson for us all…age your Belgians for a year or so in the bottle and see how they change.  Same for Saisons: I have one coming up on two years in the bottle – I’m looking forward to trying one of those at Christmas…