Saturday Brew Day – Grodziskie

Grodziskie is an extinct smoked wheat beer from eastern Germany (where it’s called Graezer) and western Poland.  I’ve been trying various things for some time in an effort to get one that I consider both drinkable and to style.  It’s a very light beer and rather highly hopped:  4.0 ABV and 40 IBUs (BU/GU ratio is 1).  I’ve experimented with varying the amount of smoked malt, souring but finally got the clue from Ron Pattinson’s book on obsolete beer styles.  This Grodziskie is brewed according to his guidlines.  Here’s the recipe:

If I haven’t plugged Brewer’s Friend, let me do so now.  It’s a great site for creating and sharing beer recipes, the community of users is very knowledgeable and very polite – no arguments over sprinklin’ vs dunkin’ over there!  It has a great suite of tools for brewers of any level of expertise.  And it’s under development all the time so any problems that come up generally get fixed.  I recommend it, in fact, I’m a lifetime member!

They didn’t pay me for that, really.

Some other brews in progress:  The Vienna Lager is done and very nice.  Likewise, the Baltic Porter is lagering and also very nice.  I’m planning my next brew but don’t know when I’ll get it done – soon I hope.  It’s a Maerzen and that means March.  Aprilzen just doesn’t have the same ring.

Sensory Training

Last night I finished the Siebel Institute’s 12-flavor sensory training panel.  It was quite enlightening to actually taste those off-flavors people write about.  If you ever get a chance to complete the testing, do so.  It’s worth it.

For example, I now know exactly what lactic acid contamination tastes like – think soured milk.  Diacetyl is rancid butter.  I couldn’t smell or taste butyric contamination but, before I knew it was the flavor I was sampling, I began to feel ill, like I’d just thrown up.  And I also learned I’m one of the 50% of the population that can’t smell the Indole off-flavor, described by the other three guys at the table as horse crap.  My homebrew club was doing the tasting so, when I said, how will I ever know if this stuff is in my beer.  The guys said, don’t worry, if it were in there, we’d have told you.

It’s still a slow brewing time for me.  I’m teaching my six year old grandson to ski so that’s taking up my weekend time.  This coming weekend I’ll brew the Lubelski, a German/Polish smoked wheat ale.  Thanks to some references by Ron Pattinson, I know a couple of things:

– It wasn’t soured.  Given the times this beer was in existence, the Prussians knew how to brew beer.  It would likely have been clean.
– It was highly hopped for its gravity.  1.040 OG and 40 IBUs.  That’s a BU/GU ratio of 1, a hoppy beer.  The flavor hops are at 20 minutes so they won’t contribute a lot of aroma which is good – would interfere with the smoke flavor and taste vaguely poisonous.
– It’s 100% wheat (except for the bit of acidulated I put in for the mash pH).  Protein rest, anyone?

I’ve done this beer before and the Dry Dock has indicated they want to brew it.  I haven’t done this formulation.

It should be good.

Origin of Lager Yeast

For a long time it’s been known that lager yeast, Saccaromyces pastorianis, was a cross between ale yeast, saccaromyces cerevisiae, and something else.  It’s just no one knew what else.  Seems the problem is solved:

The other yeast is a cold-hardy South American strain that lives of all places in beech galls.  Apparently the wild yeast strain was brought back from South America to Europe, found a mate and a cross in a Bavarian cellar somewhere and the rest is history.  So all you wild yeast folks out there, keep at it.  Who knows when the next great thing in beer will happen by accident in a cellar somewhere.

Busily beering away today.  Not brewing.  It’s ski season, damn it, and my six year old grandson has turned out to be a major shredder of the mountain.  Friday was ski day, today was beer day.  Mostly catching up on older tasks like bottling my second attempt at lemongrass ginger wheat and my Vienna SMASH (Vienna Malt, Saaz Hops) and racking my Baltic Porter.  Thinking about the lineup, I need to do a couple of beers.  First will likely be a Grodziskie since Tim at the Dry Dock wants to brew the beer, then I need to use up some agave syrup I have in storage – agave blonde.  I’ll make one more attempt at the Lemongrass Ginger – maybe three gallons this time to see how it performs in a larger fermentor.

Also, I’m entering a lager and a schwarzbier in the Brew Hut’s annual competition.  Wish me luck (unless you, too are entering, in which case, good luck!).

Tasting – Naked Porter a la Dry Dock

One of my recent brew sessions was to try to reproduce one of my favorite beers.  My local craft brewery makes a vanilla porter but every once in a while, they make a batch “naked”, that is, without vanilla.  Both Wife and I love that beer.  The Dry Dock is very friendly to homebrewers, even making their recipes available to us (but as brewer Tim tells me, there’s always something they don’t tell).  So I made the beer.

The end result is not a true clone but very, very good.  I have a bit of a problem with dark beers and this one is very dark:  There’s a strange flavor in the background I can’t get rid of.  I think it may be the chocolate malt I’m using but I’m not sure.  Maybe as a test I could brew the Naked Porter and leave the chocolate malt out.  There’ll be more than enough carafa in the mix to darken and flavor it.  Most of my darks have this note to some degree and it seems to fade somewhat with time so I know it’s not a process issue.  But the Dry Dock doesn’t have it.  And I can’t get rid of it.

In a couple weeks I’ll be doing sensory training – off flavors.  Maybe I’ll find it then.

Brew Day – 3 gal Baltic Porter

My one-gallon Baltic Porter turned out good enough to scale it up a bit.  So what better to do on a Snowpocalypse day in Dever (we got a bit over a foot of snow, I’ve seen 40 inches out of a single storm.  This was piddly stuff).  I brewed.  Got a late start on planning so instead of growing up a starter – a single vial or packet of yeast would have been far too little for this beer – I used dry yeast.  Basic spex on the beer:

OG:  1.094 (Pred) 1.090 (Actual)
IBU:  38
FG (Pred) 1.028, but I bet I get better out of it.
Single infusion mash, no water treatment, 90 minute boil, Magnum as bittering hops, Saaz for flavor.

A word on dried yeast.  I normally use vials and starters but since I decided to brew too late to make one and a beer this big definitely needs one, I chose to use dry yeast, specifically Danstar’s West Coast Ale Yeast.  Some believe it’s okay to sprinkle the stuff on the top of aerated/oxygenated wort and just forget about it.  This works but it also kills off about half your cells.  Danstar specifically recommends rehydration but when using dried yeast, I always rehydrate it.  Here’s how:

Boil about 4 ounces of water per packet of yeast, cover it with aluminum foil and let it cool to 92 – 95 degrees.  Sprinke the yeast over the top of the water and let it rehydrate for fifteen minutes.  With a sanitized tool, stir the yeast to form a creamy slurry then add to your prepared wort.  The yeast will perform better thanks to this little pick-me-up, they’ll hit the wort ready to go and do their best for you.

A note on Carbonation

Carbonating a beer today, I realized something about priming sugar calculation.  I’ve been using the priming sugar calculator at Brewer’s Friend and like all, it asks for the temperature of the beer.

Beer, as it ferments, produces carbon dioxide.  In fact, fermented beer is a saturated carbon dioxide solution.  As beer warms, carbon dioxide becomes less soluble and is driven off, a fact that explains why sometimes the airlock on a finished beer will start to bubble again if a beer is allowed to warm.  If the beer warms then cools, if the cooling is not extensive, it may not take up the carbon dioxide into solution again or it may dissolve air instead.  Either way, the warmed beer doesn’t have as much CO2 in solution as it had before warming.

The priming sugar calculator calculates based on two values, the amount of CO2 predicted to be in solution at the given temperature and the amount of additional CO2 produced by the yeast.  The yeast are going to produce about the same amount of gas regardless, it’s the dissolved CO2 that’s the critical variable.  If the beer has been warmed, then cooled, and you base your calculations on the cooler temperature, you may under-carbonate your beer.

More importantly, knowing how the calculators work, I let my lagers warm to room temperature, then calculate priming sugar additions and bottle.  I don’t get overcarbonated lagers any more.