Do robots dream of electric beer?

 

robot-beerHomebrewing is always evolving. In the old days, brewers had to make do with what information, ingredients, and materials they could get their hands on. Today there is a wealth of information online and in print and numerous retailers supplying high quality ingredients. This availability has helped bring in new brewers and broadened the homebrewer profile. Combine that with the maker movement, the “App-ification” of life, and crowdfunding and you have the recipe for some pretty interesting developments. Ones that will in turn have an impact on homebrew culture. Move your blue coolers and converted kegs out of the way, the robots are coming!

Our robot overlords

When the Picobrew Zymatic first popped up on Kickstarter in 2013, it sparked heated debate in the homebrew world. Can it work? Is it cheating? Who’s the brewer? Where’s the fun? The gadget guy inside me loved it, but the brewer in me was extremely skeptical. That same skepticism lead Annie Johnson (AHA Homebrewer of the Year 2013) to contact Picobrew when she heard what they wanted to do. Now, Annie is the Picobrew Brewmaster and sings the praise of this wonder machine.* I too started to believe it could work after seeing several other respected homebrewers testing the units with great results. Ok, maybe it works, but the big problem is that it seems to take away too much of the fun. I like brewing. No thanks!

After my stroke, I see it a bit differently. The two parts of brewing that I get the most enjoyment out of are recipe formulation and playing with fermentation. Don’t get me wrong, the actual wort creation is fun, but its hard to fit it into my life. The Zymatic seems to give you lots of control over all aspects of the mashing process, but you set it all up in advance during your recipe formulation. Thats good since I currently have trouble with concentration. With its 2.5 gallon batch size and a shortened, semi-automated process, the Picobrew would allow me to brew more often. I could put the kids to bed and still knock out a brew that night. Then when the family runs off to the beach for a day, I could get out the old setup and brew up a larger batch. What really sold me on the idea that a product like this does have a place in home brewing is what I read from numerous users of the device, “The Picobrew allows me to get back into brewing.” That’s big! However, so is the $2000 price tag. Maybe if I start saving now I’ll be able to look into it in a couple years. By then there may be even better options on the scene. Since the Zymatic came out there have been a few similar products passing through the crowdfunding scene like Brewie and BrewBot. Both have advantages and disadvantages on paper, but neither one is actually shipping products yet. It will be interesting to see what happens in this product category.

picobrew-brewbot-brewie

These may be the droids you are looking for

There is also another type of device that keeps popping up. I’ll call it the new-age Mr. Beer. These products take away almost all control of the brewing processes and seem to be geared towards new or non-brewers. These range from the overly complex and ridiculously high-priced Williams Warn extract brewery (don’t be fooled by their slogan) to the newly announced Picobrew Pico (yes, the same boffins behind the Zymatic) and MiniBrew. While these are certainly interesting products, they have a very different intended use as the Zymatic, Brewie, or Brewbot. I am definitely still in the skeptical phase with these products. I have my doubts about the MiniBrew working, but I do believe the Pico will work based on the success of the Zymatic. What I would argue is that these products are too expensive for the intended audience. If any of them will be successful they will have to have a unique selling point that clearly adds value beyond it’s price. Picobrew is trying to do this by setting up partnerships with established Breweries. They see the Pico more as a beer distributor rather than a home brewery. Purchase a Pico pack, pop it in, and push go. No one off creations you make yourself, just prepackaged recipes which you can tell the Pico to brew stronger or milder depending on your preference. The problem here is that once the wort is created by the Pico, there are many ways for the user to screw up the beer. Do breweries really want to risk people’s first experience with their beers being handled this way? Only time will tell.

pico-minibrew

Thoughts

For many homebrewers, the idea of fully automated brewing robots is a step too far. I would say that the hands-on aspect is a big part of the appeal of homebrewing. The satisfaction of saying, “I made that with my own two hands” is enormous. The new wave of brewing tools still has plenty in store for them too. From all-in-one units that help save space and simplify brewing like the Grainfather and the BREWHA, to products that give you realtime SG and temperature data of your fermenting beer on your smartphone like the BeerBug (if they get the kinks worked out). Whether or not we like the way it’s going, the next few years will have a very large impact on the future of homebrewing. Our homebrew toolbox is about to be blown wide open. We are only now seeing the first strip tease of the smart homebrew gadgets. There may be opposition to some of these within the homebrew community but as the new wave of tools bring in new brewers, the community itself will change. All of these products are tools that we can use to help us brew better beer, and help us keep brewing as our lives change. I am certainly looking forward to seeing how the future will help me dive deeper into brewing without taking away from the most important part of my life, my family.

 

 

*I had a quick exchange with Annie Johnson and asked her what it was that actually convinced her that the Zymatic wasn’t a gimmick. It was of course the beer. Annie emailed Picobrew and asked if she could see the Zymatic (still in prototype phase). After she tasted some of the beers made on the machine, she encouraged them to enter some homebrew competitions. A few weeks later the Zymatic had racked up several awards in some difficult categories like IPA. That was also with someone who was new to brewing, using recipes from BYO and Zymurgy. Later, Annie brewed her light lager on a Zymatic and it won gold in it’s category in the CA State Fair, 4th best in Show. No more convincing needed! On closing Annie said, “Still, it’s just one more tool for a Homebrewer. It is not designed nor meant to replace more conventional gear.”

The original plan

2015-year-of-change

2015 was penciled in as my return to brewing. The past few years have been chaotic… birth of a second child, fixing up our old house, selling our old house, finding a new house, moving, working, and keeping sane all while trying to be a good husband and daddy. Sure I probably could have scheduled in a brew session here and there, but it just seemed too selfish to block out that much time for something that no one else in the house gets any enjoyment from. I am the type of person that obsesses over details and data so I am completely unavailable while I’m brewing, plus all the planning, transfers, bottling/kegging etc. Then, as life seemed to be smoothing itself out, I started planning my next brew when something unexpected happened. At the not so ripe age of 36, I had a stroke. More precisely a Spontaneous Carotid Artery Dissection that caused a stroke. That put a stop to many things.

What I found really sad was that there was no reason why it happened to me. I did not live a “risky” lifestyle. It was just a bit of bad luck. Part of my carotid artery just decided it would be funny to fail. I’m more or less OK now, but It’s still recovery at the moment. My big problems now are the lack of concentration, patience, and tasks such as writing (It took quite a while to write this short post). Now I just want to get back a little control of my life. Of course there are many things in life more important than grilling and brewing, but this blog is not about those. It is my outlet for all things brewing and grilling related. The situation has made me think about what aspects I like the most about my life, work, and hobbies as well as how they can or can not be combined. Outdoor cooking can continue just as it always has. It’s something that the whole family can enjoy, and it generally doesn’t take too much time. Brewing is different. It takes more planning, more time, and more concentration. Thankfully, the kids are growing up (now 4 and 6) and I know I will be able to find some time to brew. However, I also know it won’t be as often as I’d like. I really need to find some ways to either shorten my brew days or make the process more automated so I am more available while I do it. Something like how my BBQ Guru PartyQ gives me some precious time with my family when I’m smoking a pork shoulder for 15 hours. Any good suggestions will be embraced with open arms.

If you read this post hoping for some sort of amazing conclusion or revelation, you will be disappointed. I didn’t really have a goal for this blog post. It was really just a way of me trying to get back at it. A bit of therapy for myself. Now that I got that out of the way, perhaps I can post something more interesting next time.

… now I really need to spend some time bringing this old ugly blog up to date. I never liked the way it looked.

Golden Goblets 2011

2011 was yet another great year. The highlight was obviously the addition of a second little one to our family. This blissful year didn’t really carry over to the blog though. I have a back-log of grilled treats I would like to share since the grill was fired up quite a lot (not so much in the last few months). On the beery side though I really didn’t accomplish much, and my Golden Goblet picks reflect that. I had to drop several categories from last year because I simply couldn’t come up with any winners due to a “lack of entries”.

  • Best Belgian Beer – Orval (see pub of the year)
  • Best International BeerVerdi imperial stout
  • Best Homebrew I made in 2011Road Runner Rebel Stout
  • Best Beer induced Experience – working at the Alvinne Craft Beer Festival
  • Best Beer Graphic(s) – this was a tough one but I ended up going with the overall look of Red Brick Brewing’s new packaging. Too bad they didn’t carry these new graphics over to all parts of their brand, like their website. Work on that guys.
  • Worst Beer Graphic(s)Westvleteren Brick
  • Pub/Bar/cafe of the YearMelkerij. This is not a cafe you will find in any beer guide or hear about from any other beer geek. Its just not that kind of place… But in 2011 it was exactly what I needed. Its in the deep dark woods, has lots of outdoor seating and a massive playground. Yup, I said playground. With a baby and a toddler it wasn’t easy to get away and explore far off specialty bars, but when you can see your little girl having a ball on the slide while you and your baby sit in the dappled sunlight enjoying an Orval, those specialty bars just seem a bit ridiculous
  • Beer Festival of the YearAlvinne Craft Beer Festival
  • Beer Retailer of the YearDranken Geers. They have really done a good job in getting some of the better rare stuff and some great non-belgians. All for a good price too.
  • Best Beer Blog or WebsiteOh Beautiful Beer
  • Food and Beer Pairing of the YearPulled Pork, RodenQue sauce, and Rodenbach Grand Cru
  • Beer I’m most looking forward to in 2012New addition 2011
  • In 2012 I’d Most Like To – like last year, Brew on a real brewery system… perhaps another collaboration?
  • Open Category – This year the Open Category is awarded to the brewer who has done the least in 2011 and who really needs to get things going in 2012. I’m calling it the “Get your ducks in a row trophy,” and the winner is… (drum roll)… me!

Hope you had a good 2011 and hope you have an even better 2012!

The proof is in the barrel

I’ve had a few chances to play around with the Gueuze barrel chips now and thought I’d share my findings (on both grilling use and beer use).

The Beer side: When I first opened the bag of chips I immediately threw some into starter wort to try and grow up the critters living on the chips. Not surprising, the bugs did get going pretty quickly. Also not surprising it developed some green mold. It looked and smelled decent for about 4 or 5 days and I thought that it might end up being usable. Then the aroma really went down hill and the green monster started growing. Oh well. I still haven’t dumped it out (too afraid) and I was thinking that I could possibly pull some of the beer out from under the mold and try to culture that up… but really, I’m too lazy for all that. Plus I like the reliability of buying pure strains and mixing them myself, or culturing up dregs from bottled beers.

The Fire side: The chips have been used to add some smoke to pork, fish, and numerous chickens. Result… Shocker, the smoke flavor is just like oak! Well, to be fair I think there may be a slight difference that I haven’t yet been able to nail down, but unless you are going to do a side by side oak vs gueuze barrel (made from oak) smoke test, I don’t think anyone would pick up on a difference. I actually do plan on doing that some time though (Bourbon barrel chips vs Gueuze barrel chips).

That being said I do actually like using these chips. In general, they are chipped quite small and don’t need to be soaked too long before throwing on your fire. That makes them ideal for quickly adding smoke to items that aren’t slow-cooked for 60 hours. Also handy if you are “planning-challenged” like me and realize that you forgot to soak your chips as you’re about to throw the meat on the grill.

Conclusion:

  • Gueuze Barrel chips are great for a quick burst of smoke when grilling
  • Don’t bother using them for long smokes
  • Keep them out of your homebrew (just culture up dregs from a bottle if you must)

I wonder if barrel chips from a good kriek would offer anything extra? Hey,Peter De Clercq,  how about that? I’ll help test them out for you.!

Beer and Mood #1

Every once in a while I feel like writing something a bit different. I could hop on the beer trend bandwagon and do pieces on beer and food pairings, but I find all that a bit ridiculous. Not the beer with food, that’s just logical to me, but everyone seems to be making this a “new” idea. Plus I kind of throw some of that into my cooking posts anyways. How about Beer and Mood pairings? A look at enjoying beer and matching it with a mood, atmosphere, event, music or whatever floats my boat. This will not be a regularly scheduled series of posts, I will just write something up whenever the mood strikes me (read that as probably not too often).

Beer and Mood # 1 – The secret delicacy
“So what is your favorite beer?” It’s the dreaded question for most beery types. Many have some lame answer along the lines of “the next beer,” or “I haven’t tried them all yet,” or even worse they go off on a diatribe about beer styles. I don’t really mess around anymore. I throw out a couple commercial beers and a homebrew. One beer that always gets mentioned is Oerbier Reserva from De Dolle Brouwers. Despite my favoritism for lower ABV beers, this 13%ABV brew always tickles me in places I probably shouldn’t admit.

Oerbier Reserva is a complex dark sour ale. Each vintage has its own variation on a theme of utter brilliance. I am always surprised with the all around balance, layered tart and funk, and the way it dances around my mouth doing back-flips off my tongue. Dark fruit compote tainted with rich balsamic vinegar, infused with a hearty bordeaux, prodded by autumn spice, poked with tannins, and at times sprinkled with cocoa. That only begins to describe some of the aromas and flavors you have the privilege of discovering when drinking this beer. More simply put, it’s a damn fine glass of beer.

Oerbier Reserva vertical @ De Kulminator

Normally, big beers like to strut their stuff in front of a group of beer snobs, while they talk at length about its many facets and compare the various vintages. While I have definitely enjoyed a vertical tasting or two of this beer with like minded nerds, this is not the best way to enjoy it.

Mrs. Smokey has a day job that involves thinking and all that smart stuff that I don’t have to worry about. Due to this daily brain-drain she tends to watch the more mindless programs on TV in the evening. The kind that normally make me fearful for the future of mankind… I’m talking to you Kardashians! While I detest these shows, it is at this time when I find my own bit of beervana. After making sure Mrs, Smokey has her cola I sit down in the corner of the couch and begin to pour the beer. Already the world starts to get a little foggy. As I lean back and put one arm around my wife and stick my nose in the glass, the world completely falls away. The only things left are the beer, my tastebuds, my wife and an occasional glimpse of the TV. At this point I can actually appreciate the hilarity of the intellectually challanged rich celebrity on TV (normally they just make me angry). It’s a bit of a secret moment. Since Mrs. Smokey doesn’t drink beer I feel no need to share or talk about the beer. Its all mine. No beer geekery to get in the way or take away from my moment of pure enjoyment. Brain-off, beer in. The flavors intermingle with the comfort of the couch and the warmth of Mrs. Smokey while the lighter side of life floats on by. One of the beer world’s greatest achievements paired with the worst that pop culture can throw at you. A real double rainbow moment in my head.

New Addition 2011

I recently had my last brew day as a father of one child. The beer was brewed to mark the very closely approaching arrival of child number 2 (I’ll have to think of a better name than Child Number 2). When the first lil’ Smokey was born I brewed New Addition 2008. Not only was  “New Addition” a nod to my baby but also the first time I had added any wild bugs to my beer. The idea was to brew something between a Porter, a Flanders Red and an Oud Bruin. A Flanders Oud Porter? For New Addition 2011 I needed to find another interesting ingredient that I had never used, but always wanted to. This time it’s Belgian cocoa powder. The base recipe has also been altered, but the “feeling” is the same. I want the New Addition beers to feel like they come from the same family but each one has its own distinct personality.

Knowing that I am not always the most patient person, and fearing the possible heart-attack caused by two children that won’t listen to me and just get into the car so I can buckle their seatbelts and get out of the rain, I’m trying to be more “zen.” With that in mind I decided that coming into brew day I wouldn’t have a fixed recipe. I did have a clear idea of what I was going to do but I wanted to just wing it a bit and go with the flow. It seemed to go well because the wort sample tasted great!

The cocoa powder was added with 10 minutes to go in the boil. With 15 minutes to go I tapped off a little of the hot wort to mix with the cocoa powder and make a paste. I thought that it would be a little easier to incorporate into the boil without clumping up.

On the yeast side, I am again adding some critters on top of the normal brewers yeast. In primary I pitched a mixed starter of Wyeast1762 Belgian Abbey II and Wyeast Roeselare Blend. This will hopefully kick up the funk a bit more than in New Addition 2008. Those Belgian yeasts are great, but since my babies are half Belgian and half American it needs some American Funk too. For that I will be adding (into the aging vessel) part of a starter of Jolly Pumpkin’s Lambicus Dexterius (batch 1), their 100% spontaneously fermented beer. It also has the nice bonus that Dexter, where Jolly Pumpkin is located, is very close to where my parents live so the beasties in the Lambicus Dexterius will literally add a touch of home.

New Addition 2011:
  • Volume: 20 liters
  • OG: 1.064
  • FG: we’ll see but I hope around 1.008
  • ABV: should be around 7.3% – 7.5%
  • IBU: 22 (rager formula)
Fermentables:
  • 66% Pale Ale
  • 13.5% Munich
  • 9% Aromatic
  • 5.3% Flaked Oats
  • 3.5% Chocolate Malt (900 EBC)
  • 2.7% Roasted Barley
Mash:
  • single temp infusion @ 68C (154F)
Hops:
  • 30g East Kent Goldings for 22 IBU (60min from end)
Extra:
  • 75g Belgian Cocoa Powder (10min from end)
Yeast:
  • Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II (in primary)
  • Wyeast Roeselare Blend (in primary)
  • a bit of a starter made from the dregs of Jolly Pumpkin’s Lambicus Dexterius (during aging)

Notes:

June 13th 2011 – Brew day was very smooth. First time using my drill with the Barley Crusher… man thats quick!

June 15th 2011 – Fermentation was rather slow to kick off. I think the Roeselare blend may have lowered the starters pH too quickly for the somewhat old WY1762 and that didn’t grow as much as it should have. Fermentation is going though.

stick your wood in it

Belgium can be a bit of an outdoor-cooking wasteland. When the sun comes out everyone does love to run out in the back yard and blacken some meat, but it is rarely taken seriously and is never combined with the idea of high quality food. Often if I talk about cooking a very nice cut of meat on the grill I get the response “Aww, thats a shame.” Because of this attitude it is rare that Belgium offers something unique to the outdoor-cooking world. Perhaps it was born from a pure marketing idea or perhaps it came from a genuine search for new flavors, but never the less, woodchips made from Gueuze-barrels is an interesting and uniquely Belgian product.

I was surprised to find these wood-chips but I was flabbergasted that they were at my local grocery store, not some obscure online barbecue specialty store. Peter De Clercq, Belgiums one and only outdoor-chef, has been trying to bring grilling to a higher level here and is the man behind this new idea. Thanks Peter! Now I just need to see if they are any good. Hmmm, what would go well with Gueuze smoke?

Not only am I excited to throw these chips onto the fire but I am also wondering if I can inoculate some beer with them. According to the package the chips come from barrels at Timmermans that were either at the end of their life, or broken. I am not sure of the conditions in which the wood was “chipped” but I tossed a handfull into some starter wort to see what happens. The chips should be full of brettanomyces, pediococcus, kloekera and hopefully saccharomyces (among many other critters). I flushed the starter with CO2 to try to prevent any acetobacter from taking hold. As long as I don’t get any black or green mold I should be able to start up a useable culture, or at least make some interesting vinegar. Of course it would be a lot easier, and probably more fruitful, just to use the dregs from a bottle of Gueuze… but then I couldn’t say that I stuck my wood in it.

Rebel without a clue

After a week delay, thanks to my not-so-local homebrew shop, I brewed up another fun experiment. This time I am bringing the funk to a darker level. A stout fermented with Brettanomyces Lambicus and Lactobacillus. A stout with a beat you can dance to. Road Runner, Rebel Stout.

Ever since I took a slight step back, as I mentioned last time, brewing has become easier and even more enjoyable. This brew day was smooth even though I was introducing a new piece of equipment (an electric HLT) and the process with this beer was a little different. I hit all my numbers and had amazingly clear and quick run-off. In the boil is where this brew day was different than usual. Since the beer is intended to be partially fermented by Lactobacillus, the IBU’s from the hops would be a problem. Lactobacillus rolls over and dies at the mere mention of hops. To get around that I ran off 5 liters of beer after 15 minutes of boiling and before the first hop addition. This was then chilled and had Wyeast Lactobacillus thrown in. The rest of the wort continued to boil and receive two additions of East Kent Goldings before being chilled and pitched with a good starter of Wyeast Brettanomyces Lambicus. If my hillbilly math works out the OG should be 1.058 after blending (5 liters @ OG 1.050 + 15 liters @ OG 1.060).

One of the things I wanted to accomplish here is to see what a real lactobacillus fermentation will produce compared to the lactic acid laden Acid malt I used in the last beer. Obviously this stout will have a bunch of other flavors in the way but I still think I should be able to pick up on the complexity of the lactic character and be able to compare that aspect. We’ll see.

Road Runner – Rebel Stout
  • beer after blending: 20 liters
  • OG of total blend: 1.058
  • Expected FG: 1.012??
  • Expected ABV: 6.1%
  • Expected IBU: 27
  • Expected Color: 69.5 EBC (35 SRM)
  • Boil duration: 60 minutes
Fermentables
  • 40% Pale Ale
  • 40% Munich
  • 8% Aroma
  • 6% Roasted Barley
  • 6% Dehusked Chocolate (800 EBC)
Hops
  • 30g East Kent Goldings @ 45 minutes
  • 20g East Kent Goldings @ 10 minutes
Mash
  • Single infusion mash @ 68°C (154°F)

Yeast

  • 5 liters un-hopped wort – Wyeast Lactobacillus
  • 15 liters –  Wyeast Brettanomyces Lambicus
If it doesn’t turn out well I may have to change the name to Dead Duck – Drain Pour Stout

Brewed on April 3, 2011

Update April 8, 2011: Despite pitching a large amount of brett L and Lacto, there was no sign of activity for the first three days. After 72 hours there was some positive pressure in the airlocks but no real sign of fermentation. Now almost 5 days later there is still no krausen and not much activity in the airlock. Getting worried.

Update May 4, 2011: pretty much right after my last update the beer really took off. That was the longest lag time I’ve had on a brett beer. Fermented nicely and the two are now blended together. The brett portion was at 1.020 but will continue to slowly come down (I expect it to stop around 1.014). The Lacto portion is not so easy to measure since the lactic acid it produces is actually denser than water so a hydrometer is useless (I should have taken pH readings before and after). The sourness developed very nicely on the nose and in taste. A bit of appley balsamic flavor with a bright crispness underneath and slight vegetal. Went well with the chocoalte notes in the beer. Tasted different ratios of the two portions but surprisingly enough 1/4 lacto portion to 3/4 brett portion tasted the best. So all 5liters of lacto portion went into the brett batch. Now the beer needs to sit a couple-few months.

a duck on my calendar

Imagine if there was a sort of chart with all the days of the year listed in order. Now imagine that you could plan future events and then note these events on this list of days.  Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, much to my surprise this magical list already exists and there is even one hanging on the wall in my kitchen! All, joking aside, I am trying to get over my fear/lack of planning. Last year I had a serious problem of having to ditch brewing and barbecuing days because they weren’t planned far enough ahead for life to comply. It seems to be going better now. In fact I just had a  brewday this past Sunday, and there is a serious pork smoking session planned in a couple weeks, and the next brewday is planned in March.

Enter the Ugly Duckling:

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, but smells a bit funky, then it must be the Ugly Duckling American Sour. Sunday’s brewday was another venture into sour beers. A funky and tart sessionable beer with citrus hop notes. Well, that is the idea anyways.

There are several ways to get lactic tartness in your brew (Lactobacilus, pediococcus, sour mash, pure lactic acid) but I decided to try something simple I had heard about from a few pro-brewers, a relatively high percentage of Acidulated Malt (or Acid Malt). This malt is a Reinheitsgebot way of controlling your mash pH but using higher ammounts will also give you some lactic flavor (see this link for some more info.. scroll down to “Berliner Weisse from Weyermann Acidulated Malt”). It won’t be as complex a lactic character as some other methods, but for what I want in this beer it should be good. Especially when considering this will be a 100% brett fermented beer. Oh, and brett favors a lowered pH to do its thing, so win win.

Ugly Duckling American Sour:

  • Wort volume after boil : 20 liters
  • OG: 1.048
  • Expected FG: 1.010 – 1.012?
  • Expected ABV: 4.8% – 5%
  • Expected IBU: the math says 36 but with mash hopping my experience says it will seem lower
  • Expected color: 11 EBC (4.6 SRM)
  • mash efficiency: 76%
  • Boil duration: 60 minutes

Fermentables:

  • 56.5% Pale – 2.2kg (4.85 lb.)
  • 30.5% Munich – 1.2kg (2.65 lb.)
  • 9% Acid malt – 350g (.77 lb.)
  • 4% flaked oats – 160g (.35 lb.)

Hops:

  • 35g (1.2 oz) Amarillo – mash hop

No kettle additions. After aging for a while I will dry hop this with more Amarillo.

Mash:

  • single infusion mash at 67C (153F) for 60 minutes

Yeast:

Ugly Duckling was also a bit of a process re-working for me. Over the years I have tried playing with my process  to raise efficiency, cut time, or just look cool. In the end I wasn’t happy with the stuck or slow sparges, the running around and the extra worry. This time I re-evaluated my technique. I even turned back the adjustment on my grain mill a bit. In return I had a great brew day! It was very easy and relaxed and I was even able to pull off a brew in less time than before. My efficiency was slightly lower (76% instead of 80%), but I was expecting that.

Notes:

February 13th 2011 – brewed: Brew day went very well. It was perhaps my most relaxed brew day to date.

March 15th 2011 – racked this over to secondary so it can age a while before dry-hopping. It was sitting at 1.010 SG. I’m finding these all brett beers are best after about 5 months or so.

July 17th 2011 – dry hopped this beer with 30g Amarillo whole leaf hops. The aroma before dry hopping was quite funky. Good barn-yardy notes!

July 29th 2011 – The duck is in the bottle! FG went a bit lower than expected 1.006! Bottled 17 liters (damn dry hops soaked up my beer) primed to get me 2.7 vol CO2 carbonation. Beer is tasting quite nice. Big orange notes. A good lactic  sourness with big fruity brett and amarillo all combining to a sort of orange and lemon juice combo.