Saturday, January 10, 2015

PayDay Barrel Brown

I recently received Radical Brewing from my beloved lady for the holidaze.  In it was a recipe for a Brown Ale that's old school style utilizing Mild Malt as the base grain, I was instantly intrigued.  In the end I used the percentages as a guide to creating a new school version of this old school recipe and upped the Brown Malt (which I had to sub with Special Roast due to HBS constraints).

The thing that really caught my eye and seems to be resonating more and more with me as of late is the 30% addition of Biscuit Malt.  Until recently I was far more conservative with my specialty malts, keeping them somewhat restrained in the beers, but I want to explore further, so let's begin. (The biscuit malt adds a bready character that is slightly "dry" in its "bready" character.  It does pair well with the Crystal, but on the next iteration I'd want to reduce to 25% and increase the Crystal to balance out that biscuit character just slightly on the base beer.  That said, I'm about to add the chocolate and that may be just what the doctor ordered).

I love a nice smooth, but subtle chocolate character in my Brown Ales and in order to get there I want to go the route of homemade extract from cocoa nibs and vodka.  Here is an excellent resource from the Maltose Falcons on the topic of  creating extract and here is an excellent article on the different ways of getting chocolate in your beer in general with tips, pros and cons all the way.  Helluva nice format. I'll be doing 1oz of vodka and 1.5oz of nibs on this one. (I found the extract resource after the fact.  The nibs were in the vodka almost 2 weeks.  Hopefully the tannins they speak of dont hose me.  Lesson learned, but the extract smells incredible).

I intend on Barrel Aging this puppy in my newly acquired American Oak whiskey barrel (thanks Mike of Devils Purse!).  After two brews I have learned the following, you must adjust your recipe to make room for the sweet perception of not only the vanillin, but the whiskey as well. With that said, I have upped the hops to target a .35 - .4 on the BUGU when normally I'd be hoppy with this beer between .25 and .35.  Was it enough? Should I have gone to .5 or more?  Time will tell.  

I'm hoping for a complex English style Brown Ale with a smooth malt forward character, complexity from the wood and whiskey balanced by the hops and a few months of aging.  I expect this beer to take 8 weeks in the bottle to find its way, but I leave that up to the beer.  Obviously this high percentage of Bisquit will add a layer to the cake of my experience and I am hoping it really brings a big, beautiful bready character that lives side-by-side with that oak character.  By the taste of the Special Roast I'm guessing some mix of C80 and Special B characters - dark caramel, light-light roast/toast notes and hints of dark fruit.  At 6% and having only 4 malts I'm expecting a nice balance from this as well.


OG - 1070
FG target - 1019
FG actual - 1019!  Bam!
ABV - 6.9
IBU - 24
BUGU - .35
Color - 17

9 lbs. 2-Row (56%)
5 lbs. Bisquit (31%)
1lbs. Special Roast (6%) (Brown Malt sub)
1 lbs. C40 (6%)

Hops - 1oz Fuggles and .1 warrior (Ya,

Mash - 152 (1.5qt/lbs for 60)
Boil - 90 (actually boiled closer to 100 or 105 to hit volumes.  The first 30 was plagued by boil overs).

Yeast - 100ml 2nd generation edinborough and 1 expired vial British Ale to 2L starter, 24 hours, 1040 w/nutrient.

Brew Day

1/8/15 - payday baby!  Brewed with Mikey Brubaker.  Targeted 6G batch but ended up short, nonetheless the numbers are on target and I'll have a little extra beer for barrel top up.

Water - 152 - added 2.25tsp gypsum, 3.25 baking soda

1050 without half a gallon which will go in at 60.  All liquid in at 60 - 1062 - full hop added.

Several small
Boil overs in first 30 minutes.  When doing volumes for a 5G barrel with the intention of having leftover wort just add 5G and leave 2.5 behind, boil hard for 45 then add remaining 2.5 to avoid all boil overs and get a nice rigorous boil.

Pitched at 60 degrees
Less than 12 hour lag
D1 - 64 in a 61 degree room - 5
D3 - 3 - 63
D9 - 1/17 - racked to barrel
2/5/15 - 9.8 brix - not overly sweet, bready, with some sweetness and a super slight lingering bitterness perhaps tanic?  Slight boozy note, oak is apparent, its ready.  FG -  1019, right on target!

2/10/15 - racked to secondary.  Not as bready as I expected, but nice. Wood/bourbon did well for balance and was pulled at a pretty good time.  Could have gone a little further, but not much 1.5oz Cocoa nibs to 1oz vodka in a jar.  Plan to keg all,
Carb then bottle half.  Then add chocolate to taste for remaining.

Extract includes 1oz vodka and 1.5oz Cocoa nibs, soaked for 15 days then strained.  Extract was frozen and cocoa butter settled to the bottom.

2/15/15 - kegged.  Force carb to 30psi, 4 minute shake.  Left on gas at 8psi targeting 2.2L (a little high to allow for loss in bottling and while corked). 

Initial tasting is very solid.  An apparent but not overwhelming bready character,
Slightly dry, earthy notes you'd expect from english hops.  Caramel is medium on the nose.  As the glass warms the bourbon begins to peak out, vanillin oak character is restrained.  A fruity character (yeast), begins to come through at serving temp and the bourbon booze's spicy aroma begins to cut in.

A beautiful dark, amber to brown hue with tan head which loosely holds up.

Taste is has a smooth start with a medium-low bitterness (already subsiding a week later) on the tail end that lingers.  Well attenuated. Aging will benefit here.  Medium bodied, subtle caramel and definitely a slight bread and light toast character.  Very subtle oak notes can be drawn out, but may be missed.  Low-low roast character. 

It's a solid base beer and will age well.  A little Brett funk will add historic relevance to the base beer, and the half that gets chocolate will tickle your palate if the extract add is done properly. 

3/5/15 - 1G beer to fermenter with 1oz of extract (1oz vodka soaked 1.5oz nibs for two weeks, strained nibs then frozen).  Left the cocoa butter behind, sealed mini-fermenter and placed back in fridge.   
3/11/15 - mini-fermemter too chocolate"y" - blended back 50/50 to original batch in keg.
3/12/15 - we'll see if a week on gas mellows things, but for now the chocolate is too tannic and the Bisquit malt does not pair well at this %.  It's too much aggressive flavoring.  On the next batch Id back down to 3# bisquit and add 1lb of pale chocolate.  I'm not a fan of the nibs unless they are coming in as a "fixer." And gotta get them off the vodka after 4 days as suggested above to avoid extracting tannins. Some aromatic might work well here as well.

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