Brew Day | Erfolgserfahrung Berliner Weisse

Erfolgserfahrung, the German word for experiencing a feeling of success or accomplishment.  Google translate gives the literal translation as “success experience”.  Hopefully this will be an appropriate name for a our Berliner Weisse.  This is our first venture into sour beer, second if you count Synesthesia American (our Brett saison) which we bottled this weekend.

Omeaga Lacto Starter

Omeaga Lacto Starter

For Erfolgserfahrung we went with a recipe of 57% white wheat and 43% pilsner malt.  For souring we used the Omega OYL-605 blend, containing lactobacillus brevis and plantarum.  One of the benefits that Omega’s strain has is that it performs well at lower temperatures (65-100F) than many other strains that need to be kept around 100F to sour successfully.  We prepared the lacto in a 1L starter for a few days and it reached a pH of 3.36 prior to pitching into 8 gallons of wort.  Fortunately (for the beer, not so much for me) it’s been in the mid 90s in Georgia recently so I was able to sour this by leaving it in my garage where it hovered around 88F most of the time.  I kettle soured for 68 hours and was very pleased to find the wort had no off-putting aroma or flavors, it smelled like a glass of tea with lemon and the flavor was very clean and lemony.  I did make sure to leave very little airspace and sealed the kettle with plastic wrap and a lid.  The pH dropped to 3.00 over the 68 hours.

Berliner pH after 68 hours - 3.00

Berliner pH after 68 hours – 3.00

After souring I did a 60 minute boil with a 1/2 oz addition of Hallertau at 15 minutes.  Due to the vessel size I didn’t have room to use my immersion chiller on this one so I cooled the wort to 100F by blowing a fan on the kettle (this took about 30 minutes) then transferred to a carboy and placed in the fermentation chamber at 67F.  The next morning it was down to temp so I oxygenated and pitched Wyeast 1007 German Ale Yeast to complete fermentation.  Within about 8 hours it was showing signs of activity and by the next morning it had a heavy krausen.

Brew Dog Boo helping me Brew

Brew Dog Boo helping me Brew

I'll have you know that I did not get any boilover.  I'm a kettle ninja.

I’ll have you know that I did not get any boilover. I’m a kettle ninja.

In my limited experience and knowledge this has gone very well so far.  I’ve tried other kettle soured beers that were very cheesy and “feety” after souring and this was super clean.  I hope to get this kegged the weekend of July 11th.  We were originally going to make this with raspberries but instead decided we’re going to make some syrups so we can try this mit schuss. Once this is ready I’ll update with some tasting notes.

Gooooolden Pint Hefeweizen Brewday

With Germany recently winning the World Cup and us having never brewed a German beer style we decided this would be a great time to do just that.  We decided to start with something quick and simple, and appropriate for summer temps in the Dirty South, so we chose a hefeweizen.  In keeping with tradition we sat down one Saturday and drank through a handful of the most highly rated examples and made notes on what we liked and didn’t like about each one.   To be honest they were all pretty close in terms of flavor and body, with some clove and banana on both the nose and palate.  I discovered that hefes aren’t my favorite style, but still thought it would be fun to brew one.  Plus a lot of my friends love them so it will be a great one to share.   Since Brian is both extremely witty and hilarious he came up with the name Gooooolden Pint to tie in with the World Cup but I’ve dubbed it Hefe Five-O, because I am also witty and hilarious.

Crushing It

Crushing It

After all our diligent research we built a recipe of 53% wheat and 42% German Pilsen with 5% Munich thrown in for a touch more flavor and body.  We used a small amount of Perle hops to bring us in at 14 IBU’s at fermented with Wyeast 3068, the Weihenstephan strain.  The brewday itself ran quite smoothly with the only hiccup being that it took a long time to get the wort chilled as we didn’t have any ice for the recirculator and relied on ground water temps to get us cooled down.  We should have gone to the store and grabbed a bag, but we didn’t, and there’s nothing we can do about that now.

Sparging It

Sparging It

OG was within 3 points of target so we sealed it up and put it in the fermentation chamber at 58% to work its magic.  We kicked it up to 60°F after 24 hours and then to 62°F after another 24 hours, this method was chosen after I read some notes from Gordon Strong on starting them a bit cool and moving the temps up but staying in the low 60’s.  It’s said the lower temps produce a very clean fermentation with nice clove and banana notes without being overpowering.  Good, that’s exactly what we want.

Boiling It

Boiling It

Fermentation started slower than we usually see but after 24 hours it started to kick up and by the 2nd day the blow-off tube was playing us quite a song.  I checked it after 10 days in and gravity is at 1.008 with an original target of 1.009.  That puts ABV at Five-O… it was meant to be.  Initial samples indicate this is going to be a great beer.  As I said I’m not wowed by hefes in general, but the sample was really tasty.  This will go into the keg soon and should be ready to go as soon as it’s carbed up.

We also did a little work on our Domain of The King Stout.  After aging it on cocoa nibs for a couple weeks we transferred it onto some dark toasted oak chips soaked in Four Roses Small Batch bourbon and added some cold brewed coffee.  For the coffee we went with a blend of locally roasted beans from Batdorf & Bronson that were incdredibly smooth with some dark fruit and chocolate notes.  We’re aging it in the carboy at 55°F and we’ll check it weekly to see how it’s coming along, we expect this one to take a few months to be ready.

Bourbining and Oaking It - OK, that was lame, but I felt the need to keep with the theme.

Bourboning and Oaking It – OK, that was lame, but I felt the need to keep with the theme.  Sorry.

Brewing Belgians – Saison brew day

I really like saisons.  I say I’m passionate about them but others have used the word obsessed… whatever.

Several months ago I decided I wanted to brew a saison but rather than jumping into it and brewing away all willy nilly, I researched saisons like crazy.  I drank as many as I could find and made a spreadsheet with notes on color, carbonation, aroma, flavors.  Then I took that sheet and I wrote to the brewers of my favorites and told them what I liked about their beers and asked them for tips on brewing mine.  As a side note, there are certain breweries that are very friendly and helpful to homebrewers, New Holland Monkey King is one of my favorite saisons and they not only replied to my email but we chatted a bit (via email) to help me fine tune my process.  I talked to local commercial brewers and asked for their advice to achieve what I wanted in my beer and I emailed White Labs to ask for tips on the way to best get what I wanted out of the yeast I chose to use (WLP566) and they were glad to share some advice with me.  See?  Passionate.

I forgot to get pictures of the process prior to fermentation so instead here is a picture of a Tactical Goat.

I forgot to get pictures of the process prior to fermentation so instead here is a picture of a Tactical Goat.

After a ton of research I finally found what I wanted to brew and this weekend we brewed it up.  I’ve noticed that my favorite saisons seem to be more fruit forward with phenolics in the background, rather than the other way around.  It turns out I’m also a fan of wheated saisons, many of my favorites have a touch of wheat in them.  My final recipe included Pilsen malt, some white wheat and Belgian candi syrup with Hallertau Hersbrucker, Saaz and my personal favorite hops, Mosaic.  We’ve dubbed this one Synesthesia Saison and we were going to use the tagline Taste the Rainbow, but I think that’s being used already.

We mashed the grains at 148° for 75 minutes then did a double batch sparge at 168°, this one had a 2 hour boil to carmelize the sugars a touch for both color and flavor.  Hops were added at first wort, 60 minutes and flameout, the Belgian candi syrup was also added at flameout.  We put 5 1/2 gallons in the carboy and pitched our yeast starter then capped it up and into the fermentation chamber with it.  Within 12 hours this thing was spinning like crazy.  A nice, fast, aggressive fermentation.  I’m really excited to see how this one turns out.

On a geekier note, after seeing a post on a homebrew forum where someone else did this I added a wireless IP video camera (I got a Tenvis JPT3815W) to the fermentation chamber so I can watch it from the comfort of my easy chair.  It’s pretty awesome.  Right now I can only view it from my network, since my router is being a pain about letting me have access to my ports, but I plan to get this online where anyone can see it.

Fermentation Creeper Cam

Fermentation Creeper Cam

In case you’re a saison fan as well, here are my favorites.

Tim D’s Top 5 Saisons
1) New Holland Monkey King
2) Stillwater Cellar Door
3) Goose Island Sofie (2012)
4) Stillwater Stateside Saison
5) Dupont Saison Cuvee Dry Hopping.