Is this thing on?

Ok, so it’s been a while. I’m a terrible blogger. I’m giving this another go, because I really need to keep track of what I’m doing, but I get into this weird avoidance mode when I feel post pressure. Silly I know, but hey, I’m complex.

Anyway, so, there’s a lot going on in the old beer queue, so I’m going to do a little run-down on what Commish and I have brewing/drinking/etc.

Stone Mountain Solera Golden Ale

In case I haven’t mentioned it, this is a Belgian golden single in a 65g wine barrel at Commish’s parent’s place. We take out 20-25g every six months and replace it with fresh beer. Last batch saw a major setback befalling us, and be lost 4/5 of the beer. Really sad. We got some form of “taint” that caused the beer to turn a dirty purplish gray color, and generally taste like metallic ass. Totally, unredeemibly, horrible. There’s a couple threads on Home Brew Talk about it, but we never figured out what it was due to the communities’ insistence that it was oxidation, in the face of mountains of evidence that it’s not. But hey, every beer spoilage issue is either oxidation or infection right? Probably not. Anyway, out of the five versions there was only the Framboise version that survived. Which thankfully tastes like being kissed by an angel. Doubt anyone is opening one of those until the next cabin weekend tho, so I’ll just have to fantasize until then…

We have another batch happening soon. Hopefully we dont have any more issues. I’m fine with paying the Devil his due from time to time, but damn…

Sour Belgian Strong Pale Ale

This is a test batch for a stronger golden sour ale. It’s about 9%. Looks great so far. I’ll have to post the recipe some time if I have not already. That’s up at Stone Mountain too, so I haven’t been able to gently stroke it every day like I do my other beers, hopefully it doesn’t rebel. When next I’m up there, I’m going to fruit it with 4# of Mullberries my wife and I foraged. It won’t be pale anymore. I’m really hoping for a deep purple. Then I likely won’t see it for another six months. I feel like I have a kid in boarding school.

Small Black IPA

This is another in my range of very small IPAs. This one was 3.5%. The second smallest I’ve made. It was quite good for being so low abv. I cut the hops a bit much tho, and while it had a nice nose, it didn’t have the oomph I was looking for. I need to re-brew this one soon. The test batch was a partial mash, which I’ll probably never do again. Didn’t save much time and was a pain in the ass. I think I can retain a bit more sweetness if I do full AG, but I did get a lot of compliments on this one, and it was highly drinkable. I love these small beers with big flavor.

Sweet Potato Amber Ale, with Brett C

I need to bottle this soon, I kept waffling over whether I was going to keg this or not. I think it’s going to age nicely, so bottle it is. Just waiting to get some more bombers. It smells and tastes great tho. Looking forward to seeing how it matures.

Short sours: Rye Pale Ale

Commish and I are working on another research project. After seeing this Shelton Brothers’ video with Ron Jeffreys from Jolly Pumpkin, where he tells of how the BAM series are only barreled for a month at most, it got us thinking. We decide to replicate this using oak cubes. We calculated what the surface area of a full size barrel would be to determine how much contact area we’d need. Then we inoculated oak cubes with some worthy dregs, and dumped them straight in a beer, no primary. The first batch was a little odd. Interesting, but odd. The next one is head an shoulders above the first. The base was just a basic Rye Pale Ale recipe. Again, we added the oak cubes straight in, with no primary yeast. We didn’t get to it as soon as we’d planned, so it went for about 2 months. Holy cow is it good tho. I almost wish it was commercial so I could have it whenever I wanted! The overall flavor is fruity, a lot of peach, mildly sour, with a nice spicy rye kick in the finish. really excellent. We’re hoping as we do more batches, the bugs will work quicker, and create more complexity as the colony grows. Currently said oak cubes are fermenting a Wit. Looking forward to that one.

Solera Bourbon Barrel Aged American Sour Brown Ale

Just recently bottled a new batch of this. It was my landmark 5th batch in the bottle. Really exciting for me. I started this project having never really made a true sour ale before, but with the desire for a rewarding long term project that would keep me in delicious sour beer for years to come. Well, it’s been an outrageous success. I don’t know it it’s that I’ve been waiting for batch 5 for so long, or if I really am that good at estimating when a beer will be prime, but it is a truly wonderful thing. It is finally getting old enough where the oak and bourbon have mellowed to their right place and the essence of a Flemish Sour Ale are coming through, along with a nice sour cherry essence, and a subtle chocolately dark malt bite in the finish. I ned to do special labels for this one, but I’m so lazy about that. :/

Cranberry Berliner Weisse, Batch #3

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Inside the ferm closet

Batch two was somewhat disappointing, though it’s gotten a bit better with age. It fermented way too hot, and I messed up the souring process some, so it never developed full complexity. I have higher hopes for this batch, thanks to my newly “completed” (are these things ever complete?) fermentation closet. I converted an old storage locker into an insulated cabinet, cooled by an old AC unit. So far it’s working great. I don’t have any sophisticated control going in it just yet. Trying to take it slow with that. So far I’m using just the AC unit’s thermostat for ambient temp control. So far, keeping at a steady 64º, which gives me between 72-74º in the fermenter. Considering ambient in my basement is 76.9º right now, that’s pretty rad. In the winter I’ll switch it over to using a 100w light bulb and a heat mat controller. I started this beer off fermenting with the inherent lacto and wild yeast left over from the no-boil brewing method, with the addition of some Bugfarm #2. That went for about 2 days until it had a decent head going. Then I pitch german ale yeast and put it in the ferm closet through primary.

20130628-131420.jpg
Thawing 2# of cranberries

Today, I transfered it to a larger fermenter where i’ll be adding the cranberries and letting it warm up in my sweltering basement. I hope the heat is good for the sourness, but we’ll see.
That’s pretty much what’s going on now. I’m going to try and keep up with new brewing details from now on, and will be posting more recipes soon. Cheers!

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