brew day: Get The Acorn

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It will probably be the last brew day of October, and it may well be the last brew day under the open sky before the looming winter of 2013/14 ushers operations into the garage and kitchen. It will be a day to play hooky and eat lustily of the tacos of bachelorhood, even if only for an afternoon, and over the sink so I don’t have to wash dishes later.

It will be a west coast IPA with West Coast IPA, riffing on the recipe for Russian River Blind Pig in Mitch Steele’s IPA. It will have some well-loved old friends – Rahr 2-row, Amarillo, Simcoe – and some new blood too: Polaris for the bittering power, EXP 5256 standing in for CTZ and Cascade where called for in the Blind Pig bill. Continue reading

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basecamp sour 2012: the Brettcurrant edition

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Truth in advertising – deep down, I really only truly love a fruit beer if it’s also sour or wild or Brett-influenced, something more than just a fruit beer. That’s just the way Crom made me.

Which isn’t to say I can’t appreciate a well-made straight-ahead fruit beer, but, sour or not, I do feel that the fruit should reflect the beer’s provenance – the fruit adds another layer of reality to beer as an agrarian product and an extension of its time, people, and place.

Every great meadmaker I’ve ever met, from Ken Schramm to Curt Stock, has espoused the use of high quality, local fruit when making melomel, and that philosophy translates very well when brewing sour and wild ales.

With all that out of the way, this, then, is the story of what happened to the B portion of Basecamp Sour 2012. Continue reading

sour times

Sitting over coffee and prepping notes for a talk on sour beers for Better Beer Society University, I have mixed-culture fermentations on the brain and some raw materials to work with.

Raw material #1: Last summer I racked a nice, clean red ale base beer into an oak barrel and inoculated it with Wyeast’s Roeselare blend; 13 months on, it’s ready for … something. Cherries? Blending? Straight-up bottling? Whatever its fate, I need some fresh wort to fill that buggy barrel no matter what.

Raw material #2: Earlier this year a Brewing TV viewer provided some friends and I with a washed Brett culture from a bottle of Russian River Sanctification. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Raw material #3: a couple pounds of frozen-ass Chernaya Lisovenko blackcurrants from Mary Dirtyface Farm. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

All this can only mean one thing: it’s about to get acidic up in this piece.

The plan: 10 gallons of base beer, split half and half between the to-be-emptied barrel and the Sanctification Brett and the blackcurrants (Russian River, Russian fruit – I love symmetry). Do something cool with the 2011 ale from the oak … I’d tell you now, but then I’d have to get you blackout drunk so you wouldn’t remember.

Recipe deets below, brew day to follow. Stay tuned.

Basecamp Sour 2012
Targets: OG 1.052, 7 SRM, 18 IBU

Grist

  • 16 lbs pilsen

Simple is good …

Mash: Flemish Sour regimen

  • 122F for 20″, 145F for 30″, 162F for 20″, 170F for 10″

… but complex is sometimes necessary. A high-temp alpha sacch’ rest will create plenty dextrin for the Brett to chomp on. Truth in advertising: I’m using up a stock of shamefully old undermodified Pils malt with this mash, elsewise the lack of unmalted adjunct grain would arguably make the 122F rest unnecessary for what these beers are going to be.

Boil

  • 1 lb D-45 Belgian candi syrup @ 60″
  • 1.5 oz German Brewer’s Gold (6.5%aa pellets) @ 60″

Fermentation

  • BRY97 primary for barrel portion – a nice, clean base beer for the acid bacteria now living in the wood to work with.
  • Russian River culture for the second portion – all Brett, all the time.