Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter Ale 2015

The Brew Farm Group has announced the style for the Winter 2015 Beer Comp, Winter Ale, apropos.

Accomplishing some quick research to BYO I found this article:

There was talk of English vs Belgian vs American "versions" of the brew, but in the style guide this is all up for interpretation, thank you very much!

The notes that caught my eye were the following;
- Strong (greater than 5.5%).  My translation, greater than 7%, which will bode well for the "warming" character defined there.

- Rich - aka, malt forward or malty and slightly sweet to sweet finish. (BUGU .35 or less)

- Spices added to compliment, not overwhelm (standard), yet a point that I feel is very process based.  It is here we will attempt to move away from the herd.

- Warming - In engineering a "warming" sensation, I will add Wild Turkey, cuz in makes me happy.
To target the low end of 70-75%, I'll just restrict the free rise by pitching below optimum which is 65-70, but not below 62, and restricting the free rise by leaving her in the cool basement of 62 degrees.

Moving on!

UK Pale Malt (Marris Otter) - 7.5 lbs. (81%)
C80 - .5lbs - (5%)
Special B - .5lbs (5%)
(light add of Wheat and Carapils for head retention)
Molasses - attenuation and complexity - .5lbs (5%)
Bourbon soaked oak with an add of 1oz of bourbon per gallon final volume.

OG - 1098
Fg (target) - 1026
FG Actual - 1028
ABV - 9.7%
IBU - 20
BUGU - .21
SRM - 27

Northern Brewer at 60, just enough to hit the .2ish BUGU.  I want that malt to really shine.

Edinborough 2nd gen from the Friendsgiving Milk Stout.  Slurry to starter.

Water - 2tsp gypsum, 2.5tsp baking powder for local "dark beer" profile

Mash - 158 - The molasses will help drive attenuation.  Considering that the beer is meant to be sipped, I'll go high on the mash temp to keep the body up and help bring that rich character to the beer.

Boil - 90 minutes and add molasses for complexity

Cool to 65

Pitch - Due to the high mash and the cool ferment I want to be sure I have a big (better too big than too small) pitch of healthy hardy yeast. gives the following.

1.7 on the slurry density is based on viability of a normal slurry with a harvest date of 11/20 off (Hindsight, I really overthought the pitch)

I am going to build up the whole slurry pitch half (165B cells...and as this all lip service without a proper microscope and count, Id rather over pitch than under pitch.)  The rest for a later date.  

Keep in basement (62) to restrain free rise and reduce overall attenuation.  Trying to balance the mash with the molasses to target the "rich" character of the style.  Keg, infuse, carb to 2.3L, bottle and cork.  This will do well to age with corks.

Lets winterize this puppy!  I looked at several "Christmas spice" recipes, and Christmas potpourri recipes.  Considering I've gone with the Stout"ish" style as my base recipe (more or less...basically more) we have a few conclusions we can draw.

1. The very malt forward, rich character of this beer will require relatively more spice to acquire a balanced spice character.
2. Fruit additions will probably not push through in the aroma.
3. Oak and bourbon - this will help with the warming character and add a nice softness to the mouthfeel along with the vanillian for additional flavor complexity.

The Infusion

Ingredients: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, clove, oak, a few shots of Wild Turkey

Many folks write about putting the spices in the boil but I don't like that lack of control, especially never having brewed this base beer before.  Yet, "Jamil says," the "cooked" spices to come through in a more fashionable way.  That said I am going to do two things.  

1. I'll add just 1tsp of each spice at 5 minutes to get the party started.

2. I could put each spice in its own Muslin bag allowing me to take out any one spice that I feel has hit its mark. Secondary will be in a keg allowing me easy sampling as the spices take hold. Consider magnet and tie bags to it.  Ill be doing this for the oak at the very least.

12/4/14 - brew day.  All went as planned above, somehow.

Mash - 158
OG at 1098 per refractometer
Pitched the starter in mid 60s
Airlock rocked same day.  Went up to 68, took it upstairs and put it next to the vent which boosted it to 74, and moved it to warm water bath at 72 for 7 days.

12/11/14 - out of water bath to basement floor.  Cooled down to low 60s.

12/13/14 - 1 light toast spiral to Evan Williams (oh my goodness). And the beer is only at 1036.  Make a 1L starter of 007 slurry and toss in half and jar the rest for the next stuck fermentation....
Holiday Miracle - it finished - 1028
1/1/15 - racked to keg.  Carbed to 2.5L to assume a little loss when transferring to bottle plus carb lost when served cool and allowing to warm up.  Idea is to hit proper carb at temp.  Ideally it all comes out on carb and at temp but with bottling that isn't happening these days..  Did a force carb of 30psi, light rocking then pressed to 12 and into fridge.  Check in a week and add spices to taste.
1/6/15 - add spices?  Heck no!  Soooo much spice on the nose, too much in fact.  On the pallet it's ok, but it's not balanced.  I have an ESB I could blend with but I don't care enough to waste the perfectly good bitters.  Maybe 1tsp of 3 spices but not 4.  This is too much.  A subtle character is all we needed.  I'll try a quick blend with MoBigs for fun
1/9/14 - bottled 2 bottles.  Then added 1oz Oaked bourbon to keg.  Blending found just a few drops rounded out the spice beautifully.  I may have had some palette fatigue (is that a thing?) but I think the spice dropped slightly.  Maybe it's more pooled near the bottom????  If that's the case bottle variation will be pretty big. Food for thought.  Plan to bottle in 2 weeks.
1/19/15 - still has quite a bit of sediment.  Be sure to pull a fdw bottles off before the submitions.  Tastes are melding nicely.  Spice is forward, but not overbearing as the base beer is huge.  Warming from the booze and the beer is balanced I think. Just needs more time.  Carb is good, a year will be perfect, but for this comp just some time in the bottle and the loss of a little carb is fine.

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