Thursday, October 15, 2015

A gigantic IPA and Geueze

The brewing continues (in spite of my silence). I don't feel that most of what I am brewing these days is really noteworthy. I still like to brew English style beers, and lately I've also kept belgian style beers around; I'm especially fond of belgian dubbels.

I typically keep an IPA on tap as well. A recent batch was based on the recipe for a great Portland IPA, Gigantic IPA. It's a terrific and drinkable IPA, and Gigantic Brewing is kind enough to share the recipe here. The recipe is pretty straightforward, but they add a hop rest at burnout. I realize this may seem 'normal' or at least not unusual, but for a homebrewer it is a bit unorthodox. There is so much talk about chilling the wort quickly after the boil and avoiding DMS that it seems pretty dangerous to toss in a bunch of hops and let the beer sit for 45 minutes after burnout. Well, after talking to a couple of brewer friends about this, I decided to do it anyway. Their take was that as long as I do a good long boil (75-90 minutes) with the top off, all of the DMS causing compounds will escape and I shouldn't have to worry about it. So that's what I did, and the result was great. No DMS and it is a great tasting beer. (How close to the original by Gigantic is hard to tell. I don't have one available for a side-by-side.) The only other thing I did differently was in how I clarified the beer. I typically count on a combination of a quick whirlpool and then the submersion chiller to drop the trub before transferring to the fermenter. Due to the rest, this process was not as effective. To counter the haze left in the beer, I simply put the secondary into a wine chiller (once finished with the fermentation and dry-hopping) for a day to knock the haze down. That worked great. What I have now is a crystal-clear, hoppy, great-tasting IPA. It won't last long in my keg.

The other note-worthy project of late is that I finally bottled the gueuze I have been 'working on' for the last 3 years. I ended up blending 3-year, a 1-year, and a 6-month old lambics at equal concentrations and bottling in 750ml belgian bottles with corks and crowns. The night before I bottled, I pulled a sample of each to measure gravity, make sure they weren't bad, and to test different blends (though from the get-go I intended to maximize my final volume by doing an even blend of all - I just wanted to make sure none of them was bad and needed to be dumped). Their gravities all ended up in the 5-6 range, which was expected. Each one tasted different, though.

  • 3yr - The 3-year lambic surprised me. I was expecting very sour but it wasn't really sour at all. It was definitely funky, but in a brett sort of way instead of a sour sort of way. Pleasant to drink, it tasted like an aged funky beer. 
  • 1yr - The 1-year lambic also surprised me. It was very sour. This had the quintessential belgian sour flavor I enjoy in sour beers. Great! I looked back at what I did differently from the 3yr to this beer and the main difference was that the bacteria I had added was from the dregs of a flemish sour I had kegged around the same time as brewing this lambic. So there was a much greater quantity of bacteria critters in this one and they got a hold of the lambic and ran with it. That approach I will repeat.
  • 6mo -  The 6 month didn't surprise me much. A little sour; a little funky. Not very mature. Perfect, really, since I am expecting this one to serve as some fuel for the others to go back to work in the bottle.
On bottling day, I boiled some water in my boil kettle to sterilize it for use in bottling, (my boil kettle is my only 15 gallon vessel) and then transferred each of the lambics to the makeshift bottling bucket. I had some other stuff to do, so I stirred it a bit and then let it rest for a couple of hours until ready to bottle. Bottling was typical, but corking is a bit of a pain. Do they even make belgian-specific corkers? I eventually figured out a good pattern and finished with 65 bottles of geueze.

Now for another year of waiting until I open my first bottle.

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