Sunday, 30 October 2011

Big Bad Belgian Beer or Quad B 1 to 3

Hi All,
I have recently returned from Turkey where i bought a couple of kilos of totally organic figs at the local market. Here's a shot of me in shopping mode!

I love this market as almost all the fruit and veg is organic and locally grown. I know many of the stall owners from the village itself. Think Tom & Barbera from The Good Life and you will be there!

The man i bought the figs from(and a coke bottle full of his pressed olive oil) is about 70 years old. He's fit as a fiddle and an excellent advert for his own produce. Here's the figs!

As i said in the last blog post i had a plan for a Belgian Style beer. It turned out to be a 16 gallon batch with a starting gravity of 1.052 and a known IBU of 55 but god knows after the frozen hop additions.

Quad B Base beer
8kgs Marris Otter
4 kgs Munich
2kgs Wheat malt
1 kg torrified wheat
150 grammes oats
7 oz FWH Cascade hops
Duvel/Chimay cultured yeast 50/50split 2nd generation.
In the past i have advocated the use of 2nd hand dry hops frozen and then used as FWH in further brews. I thought that the 7oz of Cascade hops looked rather lonely in the bottom of the kettle so i added my current stock of frozen ex dry hops. These are a combination of Pacific Gem, Simcoe, Amarillo gold & Cascase hops. The frozen weight was 3Lbs. My relaxed guess is that they were in their dry form around 8oz.

I personally can see no fault in reusing dry hops to extract everything that I paid for from them. Others may disagree which is fair enough but when i smell those Alpha acids that otherwise would have ended up on the compost heap and not in my beer then i know its the way to go!

Anyway, that's quite enough of me banging the frugal brewer drum, back to the figs! In this case i decided to sterilise the figs by boiling. At the same time i would be able to make the figs more suited to the restricted throat of the FV's.
Large knife and pan time.

They look more fungal than fruit to me in this photo.

A lovely dark sweet smell.

Frozen and stored for a couple of days while the Duvel/Chimay split reduced the SG to 1.032 .

The Duvel/Chimay & base beer was fermented at 18 degrees to keep the phenols & esters under control. The last thing i want is pineapple flavoured solvent! As soon as the base beer was started i cultured the Brett C up to a 400 ml sample.

Apologies for the next shot. I know what it looks like but honestly it IS figs. :) I used an ice cream scoop to get them in through the neck of the FV.

At the moment i have 7 gallon of base beer fermenting on the Duvel/Chimay split, 5 gallon on Duvel/Chimay and now with Brett C introduced. The final (and most exciting to me) is the 4 gallon batch with Brett C & 2 kgs of figs. As we know, fruit flavours undergo huge changes during the fermentation process. With this in mind, i can say with hand on heart that i have no idea how Quad B Mk III will turn out! I can see it being a 1 year beer in the making and i can see the introduction of dark chocolate and some dark malts in a couple of months. If the Brett C does its job Quad B Mk III will be my Xmas beer choice for 2012 but only one at a time and small bottles at that as it will be North of 9% ABV..... ho-ho-ho

Thanks for reading the blog and i hope you take something with you from it. A laugh, education, inspiration. Any of these would make me very happy. Cheers! :)

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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Still reading, still learning, every single day... Or, let's get some Belgian type beer on!

Hello everyone,

I am currently sitting offshore in the Persian Gulf, the sun is shining and the sea is rough so all in all quite happy with my lot!

After the success of my Wild cherry Frabjous Saison i have been re-reading a brewing book on more exotic beers. Just when i think i have a reasonable handle on this brewing game and start to become a little complacent i realise that there is a world of beer and ideas out there that i am becoming boring.

As time is on my side i have been freewheeling thoughts in my head and taking ideas from this brewing book and my own experiences(these experiences include a 10 day sampling holiday in Brussels in 09). or maybe it was 08, can't remember due to the inordinate amounts of 'culture' i took onboard at the time.

The idea i am playing with was started by a yeasty bitter beer i drank in Brussels. Traditional wheat beers are as i'm sure you know anything but bitter. They are all about malt sweetness and yeast presence. Hops are not normally much of a feature. One beer i drank in Brussels was about 60IBU's but in all other respects was a wheat beer. I liked it that much that i drank the bar dry of its entire stock over the 10 day drinking holiday(sorry, research & study sabbatical). The bar was next door to my hotel and is in 'Around Brussels in 80 beers'. I will check for the name when i return home something 'art' i think.

The point i am making is that the Belgian brewer had with the simple (to me) addition of more hops transformed a 'normal' wheat beer into something quite different and wonderful (i'll try and find the name of the beer when i return home).

This thought has never left me as i really liked the idea that American brewers who were being showcased in the Hop Loft of Delerium Tremens could have directly influenced a Belgian brewer who in standard Belgian style ran with it and went totally 'off piste' with regard to wheat beer styles while over in America they are getting on planes or importing the Belgian beers and in turn being influenced by those beers. Isn't that a great thought? 

With this refreshing idea in mind and the flashbulbs still going off in my head from the ideas in the book i have decided to go with a beer along these lines. YOUR thoughts are much appreciated.

The beer will be a 15 gallon batch to eventually be split into three batches of 6/5/4 gallons. 

The base beer will be a 60/30/10 split of Pale Malt, Wheat malt & Torrifed wheat. I will be mashing high(70/72degrees, i want lots of residual complex sugars) for two hours and i will be aiming for  approximately 1.050 to 1.055SG in the base beer. There will be a 2 hour gentle boil to preserve the lightness of colour.

Hopping will be in a First Wort Hop style with single hop of cascade.(unlikely that there will be any dry hopping). I will be using quantities sufficient to achieve 60IBU's in the beer. The thinking is that the first batch will be fine at that level as it will have a bit of malt to support this bitterness level. Whereas the 2nd and third batches will have long maturation times allowing the IBU's to fade to a more acceptable level in what will be thinner though stronger beers.

Primary yeast will be a 60/40 split of Duvel & Chimay fermented at roughly 16 degrees to control side flavours. I am looking for a light Belgian influence in this part of the beer. First 6 gallons will be bottled after this stage to 3 carb vols using residual yeast held in suspension.

Remaining 9 gallons will be allowed to drop bright and will then be transferred to secondary fermenters.

At this stage i will introduce a Brett C culture to both secondary fermenters.

The 5 gallon batch will have a few orange peels from the trees in my village in Turkey dropped into it

The Brett C will be allowed to work on both beers for an extended period during which i will be feeding the Brett C with a pale spray malt.

I will then be making a couple of batches of candi rocks(for colour and alcohol). One batch will be stopped in colour at straw(5 gallon  fermenter batch) while the second batch will be allowed to darken to a deep red (4 gallon fermenter batch)

Once the 5 gallon batch has ran through the Candi rock i will bottle it using champagne yeast to 2.5 carb vols.

This leaves the 4 gallon batch which will as a final step be transferred into the 5 gallon fermenter and receive a 1 gallon strong minimash of Vienna malt with a 2 to 5% mix of chocolate malt for colour. At the same time i will add a small retrievable bag of multiple boiled whiskey barrel oak shavings for influence.

Final bottling on the more complex darker beer will be in champagne bottles with (hopefully) genuine corks and champagne yeast/sugar priming to 2 carb vols. 

So there we have it, 3 beers out of one base batch and hopefully all very different from each other and also hopefully all good! Thanks for taking the time to read through this. It has helped me to type it out as it has all been running around for a while in my head. I am sure i will change some aspects as i go forward as that's the beauty of NOT brewing within style. You do what you want and accept the consequences good or bad!

The book that helped to crystallize my own fractured thoughts and ideas and give me more ideas than i can possibly currently cope with is by Jeff Sparrow. Its called Wild Brews and really should be read by anybody who enjoys making beer of any style. it will push your mental envelope of what beer is and will make you question how you brew and why.( honestly it will)!

As with all literature, you should form your own ideas from it. In this instance i have read a book about wild brewing but have stopped short of trying for spontaneous fermentation. I also thought long and hard about oak barrels but at this moment in time i will just keep building my experience base. Possibly this time next year i'll have bought a couple of 10 gallon oak barrels and be finishing a red wine in them in preparation for the beers of 2015.........

Here's a link

I'd particularly like to thank Saudi Arabia for reading the blog as i saw a 30 hit spike from SA on the 30th September. I think that's great, a country where beer isn't and the people are still reading on how to make it. Good for them!

Feel free to comment on my multiple brew ideas, my skin is quite thick you know! :)

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