Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wild Brown

The motivation for this brew is simple: there is a friendly, Best of Show-style, homebrew competition at work.  I intend to win.  So rather than play it safe and make plain stout, or a pale ale, I'm going to risk it all and attempt to make a funky brown using brettanomyces claussenii in 4 months.  I based my recipe off of the Mad Fermentationist's Bourbon Barrel Oud Bruin.  I couldn't find Crystal 90, so I improvised, which should serve to add complexity to the flavor.  And I'm an idiot, and ordered Caramunich, instead of Dark Munich.

Oaked Wild Brown

Recipe Specs
Batch Size (G):           5.0
Total Grain (lb):         9.625
Total Hops (oz):          1.00
Original Gravity (OG):    1.076
Final Gravity (FG):       1.005
Alcohol by Volume (ABV):  9.3%
Colour (SRM):             20.3
Bitterness (IBU):         26.5   (Rager)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 95?
Boil Time (Minutes):      40

Grain Bill
4.000 lb Maris Otter Malt (43.82%)
3.500 lb Liquid Malt Extract - Amber (32.87%)
1 lb 5 oz Caramunich III (14.38%)
5 oz Melanoidin (3.43%)
3 oz Chocolate (2.06%)
3 oz Caramel 80 (2.06%)
1 oz Crystal 120 (0.69%)
Note the nice, rich brown krausen.
1 oz Crystal 77 (0.69%)

Hop Bill
1.00 oz Amarillo Leaf (8.2% Alpha) @ 40 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 oz/Gal)

Multi-Step Mash (in a bag)
108°F for 15 minutes.
130°F for 30 minutes.
148°F for 30 minutes.

Primary fermentation with Wyeast 3789PC - Trappist Blend
Pitched 1.8L starter of White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces claussenii after 17 days.

Made 1.5L starter with ~1/3 cup LME and vial of White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces claussenii.  Set on counter at ~60°F room temp.  Shook flask to aerate every time I walked by/thought about it.

Brew day.  Everything went really smoothly.  Hit pretty close to my temps.  Planned for 134/150°F.  Got the wort cooled down in an ice bath with intermittent stirring and transferred to carboy.  This was my first time using whole leaf hops; I have to say, I like them a lot better than pellets.  They are way easier to control.

Around midnight pitched Wyeast 3789PC - Trappist Blend at 64°F and placed in tupperware bin of water controlled at 75°F.  Covered mouth of carboy with sanitized aluminum foil.  Moved Brett. c. starter to water bath.

Gravity sample reads...1.077?!?!  Planned OG was 1.055.  Mash regime plus batch sparging clearly blew my efficiency way up.  Oh well.  The more I brew, the better things go.  Sample tasted amazing.  Nice subtle chocolate behind a full, thick biscuit/toasty backbone.  I am really excited for this one.

Added packet of foam control to carboy, for obvious reasons.  Fermentation not started.

0430 hrs: Left for vacation.  Noticed one finger of rich, thick brownish krausen on the surface of the wort.

1530 hrs: Returned from vacation.  Fermentation has slowed.  Success!  No explosions or foam-overs!  B. claussenii starter has a nice pellicle on the surface.

Added 2/3 cup of DME in 300mL water to starter to feed B. claussenii.  Replaced foil cover on carboy with 3 piece airlock (still has positive pressure).

Put starter in fridge to settle yeast out of solution in anticipation of pitching into carboy.

Removed starter from fridge and poured off liquid.  Swirled yeast into suspension and poured directly into carboy with beer.  Used sanitized wine thief to stir beer so that the B. claussenii would be thoroughly distributed, and withdrew a sample for gravity/taste testing.  Sample weighed in at 1.010, which is a little low for B. claussenii, as this is a lesser-attenuating strain.  Added ~1 cup of DME boiled in water to provide a little sustenance for these guys to have something to eat.

Starter sample tasted awesome!  (Surprisingly)  It was really light with fruity aromas and a very pleasant tartness that reminded me of fresh citrus fruits (kind of a combination of pineapple and lemon).  The sample of the brown that I pulled was pretty good.  It had a nice subdued ester profile from the Trappist yeast, with a light biscuit and chocolate flavor from the malts.  Unfortunately, there was a presence of something that wasn't quite right.  I believe it was probably due to the high efficiency of the mash.  I tasted just the slightest bitterness.  There was also a tartness present with the bitterness, but it's possible this was due to the various Brettanomyces spp. present in the yeast pitch.

Took gravity reading: 1.005. Sample tasted really nice.  What I may have been picking up as a slight tannic bitterness before seems to have subsided for the most part, and now I'm getting a nice clean flavor with a little bit of lactic tang.  I have to assume this is from the B. claussenii that I added, because there is also a hint of pineapple.  I'm also picking up on a nice barnyardy/earthy aroma from the other brettanomyces spp. in the Trappist blend.  However, the flavor is missing just a little bit of something to be amazing.  I'm thinking I want to add a bit of oak, and maybe a tiny bit of fruit, probably cherry.  Since I don't have much time before the contest, I think it's going to have to be a flavoring from a bottle, rather than real fruit, but I'll pull a sample to taste it and make sure that's the right way to go.

Added some heavy toast American Oak chips to the carboy.  I'm not quite sure how much it was, but if I had to guess, I'd say somewhere close to1.5 oz inside a nylon mesh hopping bag.  Checked gravity; stable at 1.005.

Pulled a sample to check the flavor addition from the oak.  Oh man, this was what it needed.  This is looking like the best beer I have ever made, seriously.  I picked up the cherry flavoring from the LHBS and as soon as I got it home, I knew that this wasn't going to work.  Ick.  It smells like fake cherry syrup for your snow cone.  Definitely not the way to go.  I think I am not going to add anything else.  I have a brand new keg coming today, and I am going to fill it up and have it ready to serve for next Friday's competition.  Results to follow.

Kegged using "closed" transfer under CO2 pressure in the carboy.  Hooked racking cane to tubing which connected to liquid out port of keg, while venting the gas in.  Set aside and put under 12 psi to carbonate, which should give me ~2.5 volumes of CO2 at 38°F.
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