Tag Archives: Brooklyn Homebrew

Hoppy American Wheat

Drinking outside is always better.

I’ve been doing malt focused lagers and ales over the past few months. With Spring right around the corner I felt it was about time to get some hoppy beers on the brewing schedule. I had a leftover Brooklyn Homebrew Hefeweizen beer kit that I picked up a while back, so I decided to leave the grain bill pretty much the same, ferment with neutral ale strain at cooler temps, and dump a buttload of hops into it. It has received quite a reaction from tasters over the past month so I thought I’d post some tasting notes.

Appearance. Cloudy bright yellow with a dense rocky head that lasts forever from the use of 50% wheat malt. Wheat is a wonderful contribution to any beer in my opinion.

Smell. Bright citrus peel, grapefruit, tropical notes of mango and papaya and a background spicy note. Lemon meringue pie also comes to mind. Aroma is still jumping out of the glass after six weeks in the keg thanks to an unusually large dry hopping.

Taste and Mouthfeel. Bold bracing bitterness up front and not quite enough malt behind it to back it up. I added a small bit of melanoidin malt to replace my normal decoction mash schedule that I would do for a hefeweizen. Mouthfeel could be fuller to balance the hops, but I think next iteration I will opt for low crystal malts instead of the melanoidin malt like carapils of carahell, mostly because I keep those around for other beers. There is a minerally edge to the bitterness, probably due to the IPA-like dosing of gypsum in order to bring out the hop perception. There is a spiciness that I believe is coming from the dry hop NZ Rakau that seems a bit out of place to me.

Overall Impressions. This is a really great beer. Super refreshing, hoppy, and goes down easy for when Spring (finally) comes around. I think for my next iteration, I might reduce the bittering charge and lower the amount of gypsum and CaCl to try to eliminate the mineral/chalk taste on the tongue. I will also leave out the Rakau to possibly eliminate the spicy note (I believe I only used it because I had it set aside with the Nelson Sauvin for another beer) but other than those few things, this beer is going into the brewing schedule rotation.

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Saison Nine Ways.

Saison Brett Bottles

Do try this at home?

In my preparation for Homebrew Alley 7, I brewed a ten gallon batch of saison and split the wort into two fermentors.  One would be a traditional Belgian saison and one, with the addition of a can of cherry puree, would be a cherry saison.  I started with the Brooklyn Homebrew recipe kits for the Belgian Saison and Cherry Bomb Saison. The two recipes were not exactly the same, but I combined both grain bills since they were very similar and the kits included hops for bittering and aroma that were very close substitutes for each other.  I mashed lowed for attenuation (as is normally done for saisons) at 148F and proceeded to the boil.  I added one pound of Domino cane sugar and one pound of Belgian Simplicity Candi Syrup because it was included in the kit.  Both batches would test out the new Belle Saison dry yeast, although the recipe kits call for different yeast strains.

I chilled down to 63F, a little lower than I planned, but I also didn’t want to start fermentation too high like brewers tend to do with Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison.  (Fermenting warm, sometimes into the 90F range, is used to get the characteristic earthy and spicy flavors out of the yeast.)  I allowed fermentation temperatures to free rise to 75F where they stabilized for a day or so, and then I dropped them down to the ambient temperature of 72F.  I added the cherry puree after high krausen began to fall and fermentation picked back up again.  After about a week I checked the final gravity of each batch.  The plain saison was 1.003 and the cherry version was at 0.998 (!!).  The plain saison exhibited some cidery flavor I equate with using too much sugar and fermenting warm.  It seems other people have experienced similar results, so it may mean this yeast benefits from a slightly higher mash temp (150F+) or possibly an all malt grain bill (meaning no additional sugar added to the boil or fermentor).

I kegged and carbonated the cherry saison.  My first impression was that the beer had dried out too much, tasting a bit like wine, and the cherry flavor was almost undetectable.  I decided to bump up the body so I boiled 4 oz. maltodextrin with 400mL of water and added it to the keg to bring the gravity up to 1.003.  I also dosed it with some cherry extract (~1 oz.) and some lactic acid to give it a bit of bite.  So far these efforts haven’t increased its drinkability so I’m going to stash this one in the cellar for a few months and revisit it later on.


Different Brettanomyces Strains (Not shown: Wyeast Brett Bruxellensis)

I made the experiment even more elaborate by using Mad Fermentationist’s idea and dosing the plain saison with seven different Brett strains at bottling.  I used all of the commercially available strains from White Labs and Wyeast as well as some bottle-isolated strains from BKYeast.  Choosing so many different strains may not have been the best idea because it only allowed me to have six bottles per strain (I bottled a few extra plain saisons for consumption/tasting).  This means I’ll have to schedule when to taste them and stick to that schedule.  My plan is to do 3, 6, 9, and 12 month tastings to allow the Brett character to evolve.  I will post tasting notes for all nine variations.

Here is the Brettanomyces strain breakdown:

WLT= White Labs Brett Trois (Slurry from Matt Chan)
WLC= White Labs Brett Clausenii
WLL= White Labs Brett Lambicus
WYB= Wyeast Brett Bruxellensis
BK2= BK Yeast Brett C2 (Cantillion Iris Isolate)
BK3= BK Yeast Brett C3 (Cantillion Iris Isolate)
BKBW= BK Yeast Berliner Weisse Brett (Wyeast PC 3191 Isolate)
The Help.

Got a little help corking and caging.

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“Welcome to Brooklyn”

Extra Virgin Shoot

Just a quick post for anyone relaxing in front of a TV tomorrow.  I make a guest appearance on the Cooking Channel’s show Extra Virgin with Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos.  It was filmed this past summer and airs tomorrow, December 25 at 6:30 PM EST.  I teach them to brew a batch of beer and also bring over some of my homebrew to share at their backyard BK barbecue.  I haven’t seen the episode yet, but I’m hopeful that there’s a cable TV somewhere in my extended family.

If you miss the “Welcome to Brooklyn” episode tomorrow, you can catch it again January 12 at 10:00 PM or 2:00 AM or February 2 at 9:30 AM.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Does Filtering Affect My Homebrew?

I recently started filtering most of my homebrews.  There is much debate in the homebrewing community about the pros and cons of mechanically removing solids from your brews.   For me, having clean, ready-to-drink beer the same day I keg is so much of a plus that I do it for most batches.  The added cost is minimal after the initial filter purchase and adding a step to my process in order to save grain-to-glass time is a no-brainer for me.

One of the first areas of concern about the effect filtration has on beer is the stripping of body and mouthfeel.  The second is the stripping of hop aroma and reduction of perceived bitterness.  In order to test out the effects of filtration, I ran an experiment on the California Common I brewed a few weeks back.  Before filtering, as a control, I filled a 12 oz. bottle and added 2 grams of cane sugar and allowed it to sit for ten days to carbonate in the bottle.  I filtered the rest of the beer, force carbonated (the same day by rolling the keg under high pressure), and used the Blichmann Beergun to fill a 12 oz. bottle.

After ten days, I chilled down the unfiltered bottle and allowed it to settle for a week in the fridge to clear up.  The filtered version was kept cold the entire time (as it would be when serving from my kegerator).  Here are the tasting notes on the two bottles:

Appearance: The filtered version is a brilliantly clear copper color.  The unfiltered version is a slightly cloudy lighter orange-copper color.

Aroma: Filtered version has a clean sweet malty flavor and an orange marmalade essence that I would say closely resembles East Kent Golding hops even though the recipe used US Northern Brewer hops exclusively.  Unfiltered has little malt aroma but the same orange marmalade and citrus nose with a slight hint of apple cider.  As the beers warmed up, we all picked up a little mint in the nose and flavor.

Flavor/mouthfeel:  Filtered was clean and smooth with a creamy malt finish.  Not enough bitterness for the style.  Unfiltered was much hoppier (probably due to the hop oils sticking to the yeast cells), sharp, and a bit undercarbonated.  I also thought the unfiltered version had that distinct carrot/earth/woodsy flavor that I get from the Cal Common yeast when it’s still young.  The unfiltered had a noticeably fuller body and chewier mouthfeel.

Nothing really surprised me about this experiment, but it was nice to have confirmation especially when refining my technique.  Even when blind tasting both beers, all three tasters could pick out which was filtered and unfiltered.  Both were good beers and it was hard to choose a favorite.  The filtered version is obviously more attractive because of the clarity but definitely needed a bump in bittering and aroma hops to be more enjoyable.  The unfiltered version would probably get better with time in the bottle as the yeast naturally flocculated out, but the whole reason for filtering is to speed up that maturation by physically removing the yeast.  The body and hop issues with filtration can be remedied with recipe tweaks.  In the future, I will dial in the mouthfeel of my recipes by bumping mash temps up a degree or two or with using a higher percentage of crystal malts.  Filtering definitely affects your homebrew, but paying careful attention to your recipe and understanding those effects will allow you to still hit your target, whether it be style, flavor, or otherwise.

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Brooklyn Homebrew Web Store is Live!

After months of warehouse organizing, floor scrubbing, pallet stacking, product picture-taking, website editing, and general ass-kicking, the Brooklyn Homebrew online web store is finally ready for the masses.  If you have the time, please do some digging, browse some products, order something, or just give us some feedback to make it better. I’d like to thank the owners Ben and Danielle as well as my fellow co-workers for their hard work in getting this thing done.  Here’s to a stronger homebrew community, happy customers, and better beer for everyone. Cheers!

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