Chateau Federal Saison

After living together for almost two years my house mate, Josh Tierney, is moving to Portland, Maine to brew for Allagash. Congratulation man! This batch of beer will be our last collaboration at the federal (our house). For this one off batch we pulled out all the stops. Using spices, fruit juice, and a unique yeast choice (for style). Our goal was to brew something that would age well and we could enjoy together for years to come. Taking stock of what was available at the federal we decided to push Wyeast 9097 English Old Ale blend (an attenuative ale strain and a Brettanomyces strain) into Belgian territory by fermenting warm and allowing the Brettanomyces yeast strain to develop (age min. 6 months) a sour and funky character. We also wanted to increase the tropical fruit flavors in the finished beverage so we kicked around the idea of using mangoes, coconuts, pineapples, papaya, and guava. To finally decide on using pineapple juice (best option at store). We then decided to add Coriander, Red Peppercorns, and Saffron to really promote the development of traditional 'Saison' flavors while it ages and melds together. With a starting gravity of 21*Plato (SG 1.084) and potential abv over 9% this is not a shy Saison and anticipation is the only word that comes to mind when thinking about this colloid aging in a glass carboy upstairs. Cheers Josh, looking forward to sharing one in Portland when it's "ready".

Recipe: American Two Row, Honey Malt, Belgian Aromatic Malt, and Acidulated Malt. First wort hopped with UK Golding. Bittered with Super Galena hops. With Cascade and Delta hops added near end of boil.  Ground Coriander, Red Peppercorns, and Saffron at end of boil. Fermented with Wyeast 9097 Old Ale blend.

100% Brettanomyces Brux. Pale Ale

An American style Pale ale 100% fermented with an isolated wild yeast called Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, instead of traditional brewers yeast Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. A hop bill like an American Pale Ale using Amarillo, Chinook, and Centennial hops for a classic grapefruit, pine, citrus flavor hop bite but with a yeast that will impart unique flavors.  Classified under the broad banner of American Wild Ales, one of the most exciting styles being brewed across the country.  This pale ale of sorts is meant to be dry, refreshing, and hoppy, but with a yeast character to add complexity, not overpower the beer.  Planning to keg this beer fairly young so it only has a light funk character that's (hopefully) leaning toward tropical fruit flavors from the yeast to interact with the citrus hop notes.

Grist bill of American Two Row, Munich malt, Flaked Barley, and Belgian Aromatic. Bittered with Chinook hops. Aroma addition at end of boil with Chinook and Amarillo. Dry hopped with Centennial. Fermented with Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

Raspberry Chocolate Stout

A dessert beer in one of the most obvious forms.  A full bodied stout recipe turned into a beer to make even St. Valentine happy. With the addition of a little raspberry concentrate at the end of boil you can twist an ordinary stout into a beer with a pleasant, but not overpowering fruit flavor (cloyingly sweet). The cocoa powder addition helps to accentuate the chocolate flavors already present from the specialty malts in the recipe. Stouts with fruit are brewed both seasonally and year round at brewpubs across the country since the 1980's.  The flavors of raspberry, cherry, and other fruits are obvious pairings for chocolate forward stout recipes to try this with. Last summer I brewed a Tart Cherry Porter with fresh fruit from my local farmers market that turned out very well, but the concentrate is very easy to work with and tastes great.

Simple grist bill of American two row, flaked barley, crystal 45, pale chocolate malt, and roasted barley. Bittered to balance with super galena. One and a half cups of cocoa powder and twelve fluid ounce of raspberry concentrate added at end of boil. Fermented with Safale US-05.

8/28/11 Update: This batch of beer was entered in the Delaware State Fair competition into the Fruit Beer category 20. As well as featured at my brewery in plannings first tasting event where I described it as follows: "Lava Cake Stout, brewed with organic cocoa powder and raspberries this, dessert in a glass has an aroma bursting of fresh raspberries and chocolate. The complex flavors of dark chocolate are layered with crystal malt, pale chocolate malt, and a touch of roasted barley with just enough raspberries in the finish."

#1- Raspberry right off the bat, some chocolate sweetness, very slight roastiness.
#2- Raspberry and chocolate aroma initially. Toasted and caramel malt. No hops or fruity esters. Clean.
#3- Raspberry and dark chocolate evident right away. Underlying dark grain and low hop aroma as well.

#1- Dark brown bordering on black. Tan head.
#2- Near opaque black. Medium, fizzy tan head, medium to short retention.
#3- Pours low beige head. Falls fast. Color is black.

#1- Tart raspberries up front with some chocolate dryness. Low bitterness leading to additional fruitiness and cocoa powder. Raspberry prominent. Low roast with more chocolate as it warms.
#2- Tart raspberry to start. Chocolate supports with caramel malt. Earth hops. Well fermented, low residual sugar. Balanced beer with dry finish and subdued chocolate.
#3- Tart raspberry fruit with low level of chocolate. Moderate level of roasted grain. Not sure if chocolate is from powder or grain. Medium hop bitterness to balance.

#1- Medium body with medium carbonation.
#2- Medium body and carbonation. Low creaminess. Slightly warming.
#3- Medium carbonation. Medium to light body. Carbonation is soft and creamy.

Overall Impression
#1- Pretty good. Raspberry was spot on but overshadowed chocolate. A bit of roast from roasted barley would also help this beer tremendously. Also needs more body. Not bad.
#2- Nice beer. A longer lasting head with some residual sugars cold make this even better.
#3- First, a blend of fruit and spice (chocolate) better entered in cat. 23. That said, well made. Good use of raspberry but chocolate gets a bit lost in the dark grain flavors. Still, well done!

#1- Recognized    30/50
#2- Certified        35/50
#3- Certified        30/50

Overall 31.6/50---Very Good (30-37)

One thing I've learned from this To Style Series is how subjective judges can be. In hind sight if I had entered this beer into category 20 fruit beer with a base style of Porter instead of Stout and called it a Raspberry Porter with no mention of cocoa powder the beer may have fared better. Picking the best base style is important in many categories. Also, picking the right category is important. I think this is a fruit beer, but one judge mentioned it should have been entered in category 23 spice/herb/vegetable category because of the cocoa powder. I disagree, but this illustrates how important category placement can be and that if you say an ingredient is used in a batch, even just to play a supporting role, since you mentioned it it then becomes a major player in the minds of the drinker.

Entering your beers into competitions helps you get insight into your beer you otherwise wouldn't have. Most times judges offer constructive feedback about your beer and this will always help you to become a better brewer. 

Oud Bruin with Figs & Raspberries

My FunkHouse (beers with wild yeast and/or bacteria) is growing rapidly as of late last year and into two thousand eleven. I now have over thirty gallons of beer getting "funky". It's been an exciting new realm of brewing that's pushing my understanding of malt, hops, water, and Yeast (especially fermenter's besides Saccharomyces Cerevisiae). Watching pellicle's grow on the top of some, while smelling and tasting what's happening along the way.  It's amazing the flavor development taking place from the use of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus, Lactobiccullus, and Pediococcus.

My next foray into the world of sours is an Oud Bruin brewed with Figs & Raspberries. Knocked out January 16th and pitched Wyeast Roeselare Yeast Blend 3763. I used this yeast blend in my Flemish style Red brewed November 2010 and the flavors are developing in the same direction I would like this Oud Bruin to go.

A layered grist bill of Munich Malt, US Two Row, Belgian Aromatic, Honey Malt, Belgian Cara 60, Briess Chocolate Wheat, and Thomas Fawcett Chocolate Malt. Target color is 15*SRM, a dark ruby edged color that fades to chocolate in the middle of the glass. A ninety minute boil for extra kettle caramelization and a more dextrinous wort.  At the end of boil four liquid ounces of Fig concentrate and Raspberry concentrate each was added at start of cool down and stirred in.  This is to boost the abv some and add a layer of complexity to this Bruin (may add fresh fruit from farmers market this summer when racked to 2nd). With a starting gravity of 18*Plato (1.072SG) this is no lightweight Oud Bruin. Looking for this one to be ready sometime early in two thousand twelve, tasting along the way to see how it develops. Did I mention, this is fun!

Saison d'Brettanomyces Bruxellensis

Fermented with a Saison yeast strain then inoculated with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. Over the last few years this has become a very popular style across the country.  A great example of this reinvigorated style is brewed by Boulevard Brewing Co.'s Saison-Brett, which I've had the chance of trying and was quite impressed.  The use of Brettanomyces also helps to dry out the Saison, a problem in many American brewed Saison's. For me the Saison style should have a final gravity below 2.5*Plato (1.010SG), many of my Saison style beers I've brewed finished around said gravity but they still don't seem dry enough to compare to Saison Dupont, the definitive Saison. Fellow home brewer Jamey Barlow just kicked ass with his at Batch 300 the Bruery competition (I've had it, it rocked!).

Knocked out into primary January 16th. After fermenting in primary with a Saison yeast strain I racked to secondary where I inoculated the beer with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (BB). I'll allow to age in secondary for 2-3 months at which point I'll begin tasting the beer to see how much BB character is present. Also, thinking about dry hopping at some point closer to bottling depending on how the flavors develop.

Recipe: American Pale Malt, Gambrinus Honey Malt, and Belgian Aromatic. First wort hopped with Citra, bittered with Super Galena, and finished with more Citra. Starting gravity of 17.8*Plato (1.071SG)