Mar 29, 2010

Bavarian Amber Lager / Dubbel / Special Cherry Belgian Ale

amber 1.047 - 1.010 -- 4.8%ABV
dubbel 1.059 - 1.007 -- 6.8%ABV
special 1.062 -- 1.006 -- 7.3%ABV

This brewday is going to be an ambitious one. First, I am using my newly modified system with a pump; I will be batch sparging for the first time in a while, and will be spiking my wort post mash to make three different beers: five gallons of Bavarian Amber Lager, five gallons of Belgian Dubbel, and three gallons of Belgian Spiced Specialty Ale. On top of that, I am trying to use up all the hops I bought in October figuring the alpha acid loss after almost six months.

Malt Bill:

15 lbs Pilsener Malt
15 lbs Munich Malt

Hops
2oz Cascade 60 min
3oz Tettnang 40 min
1oz Tettnang 20 min
if these hops were fresh the IBUs would be around 34, but with age, it should be closer to 20.

Dubbel:
Started with 2 gallons of water in which I steeped:
12 oz Special B
1 lb Honey Malt
Then I boiled:
2 lb Table Sugar
1.5 lb Dark Candi Sugar Syrup
I then added wort to make five gallons

Spiced Special Ale:
I started with one gallon of water in which I boiled:
2 lbs Piloncillo
1 Star Anise
1/2 tsp ground clove
I then added wort to make four gallons

Amber *Whitelabs 833 slurry / dubbel *Wyeast 3787 3 quart starter / special *T58 dry Belgian yeast

1012 dough
1027 145 degrees
1113 vorlauf
1202 sparge almost done
1226 Belgianizing wort chilling
136 chilling commences I thnk with the new pump recirculating the wort, it will go quickly
205 110 degrees
226 80 degrees
246 chilling ends
Lager 44 of at 82 degrees
Dubbel 58 at 70 degrees
317 dubbel pitch
Special 61 at 69 degrees
341 done start cleaning


Corrected gravities:
amber 1.047
dubbel 1.059
spiced 1.062

Calculating efficiency at 60%. I knew it would take a hit batch sparging, but this much? Shit.

Reflections on Brewday:
Efficiency sucked, but after some reading and discussion, I think I have a short list of remedies for next time. 1) Mash out. I have become accustomed to not doing this when fly sparging. I am going to add a gallon of boiling water to mash at end to raise the temp. 2) If after the mash out, I still have a large amount of sparge water to add, I will cut it in half. www.dennybrew.com was recommended to me, so I will read more about his technique before next brew day. I believe he heats his sparge water up to 185, which is something I heard was a no-no, in the past, but I have to realize that I am changing my technique, and that the things I held as gospel in the past may have to be unlearned.

Aside from the efficiency issue, everything went great. The brewday was certainly quicker, and the pump worked like a charm. I recirculated the wort for the last fifteen minutes of the boil, and throughout the chilling procees (which I think sped up this step).

4.5.10 -- Fermentation on the two Belgians seems to be going very well. We have had unusually warm weather the past few days, and ambient temperatures have peaked at 80 in the hall where the buckets are. At night and in the morning, they are closer to 68. I pitched the yeast at 70, and it started pretty quickly (3 quart starter), so I am not overly concerned about the dreaded ethyl acetate, that is not to say I am not concerned. The amber also started bubbling today.
4.11.10 --
  1. Amber gravity reads 1.012 diacetyl rest begun. The sample was dry and already having a little crispness. This is going to be a very good session lager.
  2. Special Spiced gravity reads 1.010, but it does not taste very spiced. I am soaking one more star anise in vodka to add at bottling. I had added more clove to the vodka, but dumped it when the mixture smelled like NyQuill to me.
  3. Dubbel gravity reads 1.018, which is only about 70% attenuated. Hopefully turning the heat up to 78 will help with that. I have also seen that Wyeast 3787 is very slow and tenacious.
4.15.10 -- Amber gravity down to 1.010. Lagering begun. Bought 2 quarts of organic tart cherry juice for three gallons of the Special wort. Remainder will go on oak in a gallon jug -- four beers from same wort.
4.18.10 -- Racked the special into the three gallon carboy with two quarts of organic tart cherry juice. Gravity measured 1.009 before the addition, and 1.013 after.
4.19.10 -- Dubbel gravity reads 1.007. 81% attenuated.
4.27.10 -- Bottled Honey Dub-Bell at three volumes. Final gravity was 1.007. Tasted from Belgian Barrel, and the oak flavor was there, but I think I will taste again in a couple days.
5.30.10 -- Tasted the Belgian Barrel last night, and tasted the oak notes I wanted. Bottled today. The 12oz bottles got .75 teaspoon table sugar; the 22oz got 1.25.
6.9.10 -- Bottled special at four volumes. Gravity read 1.006.
6.11.10 -- Kegged amber. Gravity was still 1.010
6.18.10 -- Amber lager makes a great black and tan with Too Many Adjective Stout

6.22.10
Tasting Bavarian Amber Lager
Appearance: Clear amber with many bubbles rising to the head, which is thick and fluffy. This beer is a real looker. See:
Smell: Mild hoppy and yeasty aromas. Very clean.
Taste: This beer is very balanced, without leaving a malt or hop character to take charge. The finish highlights the easy-going hop profile well. The overall impression is balanced and clean.
Mouthfeel: Very light and crisp. Carbonation is probably a little high for the experts, but for me, it is where I like it.
Overall: Though it was not the intention to make a beer this light and refreshing, I am glad I did. In fact the lager I am fermenting right now will be just a tad bigger than this one. I should make beers like this more, and they would lend themselves well to making a partigyle with this being the smaller of the two beers. Overall, this is much better than my last lager, and encourages me more to use the Ayinger strain of yeast (though I think the Weihanstephaner is a little better).
7.15.10 -- Honey Dub-Bell Pictures:

7.20.10 -- Tasting Honey Dub-Bell:
Appearance: opaque brown with just a faint head after pouring - hopefully this will improve, but i am unsure if it will being this long after bottling. smell: very clean smelling with just hints of the Belgian yeast character. A toasty malt aroma is in there too.
Taste: very nice, starting with faint dark fruit notes and malty accents, and finishing dry with Belgian yeast spiciness and a bit of hop flavor ( from the saaz addition, I figure). as the beer warms the fruit characteristic becomes a little bit bigger, but it is still not dominant. This beer is quite dry it does not have much of the caramel character most dubbels have. I suppose this is because of the lack of the special b I intended to use. The honey note that is there in its place is very nice, and comes in more when the beer warms.
Mouthfeel: this beer is light bodied and easy to drink. It is more refreshing than many dubbels, knowing that refreshment is often not the point with the style.
Overall: I think this came out very well, but it may be unfair to call it a dubbel. I think the name Honey Dub-Bell is very appropriate because it addresses the deviations as well as the base style. This example is very encouraging to use the method of making a small amount of candi, sugar, or other wort on brew day to add to a base beer. The displacement caused by this extra wort opening the door for yet a third ( or fourth) beer is also very encouraging. I am sure I will do it again.
7.23.10 -- Tasting Belgian Barrel:

Appearance: hazy dark gold in color with a thin head. I need to do more to get better head retention. I used to be in the habit of always using a little carapils, but not as much lately. I need to get back into that habit. Overall. Good looking beer, but the head bothers me some.

Smell:
bready with a mild yeast scent. The oak is not very aromatic at first whiff. The peppery nature of t-58 is mildly apparent.

Taste:
the oak flavor is very weak at first sip, but this is a very nice and peppery belgian blonde as it is right now. I certainly would use this yeast again, and can now see why so many say it would be good for a wit. The pilsner and Munich malts in this one work very well together, and it seems as though i can taste them both individually. this is strange in that I do not perceive the flavors as individually in the lager. I would expect he clean nature of he lager to allow each of the malts to come through, but the belgian yeast seems to do a better job in this respect. I am going to get a little glass of lager now to compare. The oak nature comes through more when the beer is allows to warm just a little - out of the 40 degree fridge for about ten minutes. ( tasting lager - I do get the same sensation( pilsener taste up front followed by the Munich breadyness), but not to the extent. With the Belgian barrel)

Mouthfeel: though the head is a little weak the effervescence of this beer is not. I cannot remember to what volume i primed these, but i know it did involve guesswork.

Overall: overall, I am very pleased with all the beers this somewhat experimental session has produced, and though i said it earlier, I would do it again. Though the oak nature in this bee is not very pronounced, it does add a nice complexity to the finish that does not domineer at all. This is a solid Belgian ale, and i would consider making more than once gallon of next time.

Mar 9, 2010

Thank you Andy

I hope you enjoy the beers. Some more about them:

DSB ESB -- Extra Special Bitter is the superlative of English Ales after Bitter and Special Bitter. This style has elevated levels of hops and malt. Read more here.

Yippy APA -- American Pale ale is somewhat of a cousin of ESB, but the American varieties of hops give this style a much bigger hop presence. This bottle is marked with a "Y". Read more here.

Both beers are bottle conditioned, so they should be stored upright and then poured in one slow continuous motion, leaving about a half inch of sediment in the bottom. With bottles this size, you will need a pitcher or a clean coffee pot to decant all of the beer.

Feel encouraged to leave comments on these beers' individual pages.