Russian Imperial Beef

beefroast090621Last Sunday I threw a good sized chunk ‘o cow on the old kettle grill. I’ve done thick cuts of beef before but never such a lean large peice (very well trimmed 1.35 kg roast… 3 lbs for the non metric people ). Wasn’t sure if I was going to have some trouble keeping it moist so brushed it several times with a mixture of a homebrewed Russian Imperial Stout and worcestershire sauce. It did turn out very juicy. Other than that the meat was just lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of a store bought beef roast seasoning. Quickly seared the meat direct over cocconut briquettes and then cooked for about an hour indirect. I was busy with something else and left in on until it reached 54C (129F) internal temp, but I should have taken it off around 51-52C. Still turned out quite nice. I think next time I will marinade it shortly with the stout-worcestershire sauce before throwing it on the grill. Perhaps a little oak on the fire would be nice too.

The beef was accompanied by a large bottle of Achel Bruin. Its been a while since I have had this, so I had forgotten how sweet it is when its fresh. Hmmm, maybe thats why I haven’t had it in a while. When it has some age on it, this beer can be very pleasing. So, That pairing didn’t work out all that great, but the Saison Dupont with the lightly spicy fried ravioli I whipped up for the appetizer was a heavenly cooperation of flavors!

Click the image above for a couple more photos.

All I wanted to say is that it was an easy cook and that if you need to cook something for a crowd and don’t want it to be “work”, then slap a roast on the grill.

bottling day

bottling_munichIPA_090607Yesterday I bottled up the munich IPA I brewed a few weeks ago. The aroma is absolutely fantastic. There is obviously a big dose of hops covering a nice range from citrus to the coveted Sauvignon Blanc aroma from the Nelson Sauvin. What a wonderful hop this is turning out to be. It mixes very nicely with the amarillo and the Munich malt. I am a little surprised at how deep and complex the malt character is considering there is only one malt in it! The hydrometer sample was damn tasty too with a nice grapefruit zest and grape-skin on top of a deep malt with toasted bread, biscuit notes and something faintly chocolatey, but I don’t know where that would have come from. I can’t wait to try this with CO2. I think this brew is turning out really well. Above and beyond my non-hophead expectations. Both Munich as a base malt and the use of Nelson Sauvin hops get a big thumbs up… but I do need to wait till the bottles are ready before I make a final call on this brew. Oh yeah, I was reminded with how tedious and time consuming bottling is. It is definitely not the most fun part of brewing.

What happened since I brewed it: I let the beer ferment for 2 weeks before I added 10g of Amarillo and 10g of Nelson Sauvin whole leaf hops into the primary for dry-hopping. I have heard that you can bring out some berry esters when you dry-hop while the beer is on the yeast cake, but I wasn’t detecting that in the hydrometer sample. The beer sat on the hops for another week and then I bottled. I ended up with 9 liters (damn those hops for soaking up so much of my beloved brew!) of a FG 1.010 IPA, OG was 1.057. Now, lets hope I didn’t screw up anything when bottling.

My cellar smells like hops!

munichIPANow, I am no hop-head, but living in “the land that hops forgot” it is nice to blow my senses away with some Humulus Lupulus now and then. When I started my brewday on saturday, I was having one of my hop cravings. So what did I do? I upped the hops on the recipe for the 100% Munich malt IPA. It should be more of an American IPA now, rather than the barely-an-IPA I was going to brew. It was a bit of a last minute decision, but when I smell the hop aroma coming out of the fermenter, my senses thank me for the change in recipe. I decided to up the hops, but I also decided to make a smaller batch this time. I wanted to save enough of the Nelson Sauvin hops for some Brett brews that are planned. I only made about a 12 liter (3.2 US gallon) batch as opposed to my normal 20 liters (5.3 US gallons). Since this was a smaller batch I decided to use my old small mash tun. Its nice to have a small mash tun like that but I realized that I need to rebuild it. I will probably be using the smaller mash tun more than the big one so I can brew smaller batches but more often. One thing I forgot to take into account was the different boil-off rate on the stove inside that I discovered on the last brew, so my OG was 1.057 instead of the calculated 1.062. I am trying to be less anal about my brewing so officially this doesn’t bother me, but inside I am kicking myself. Overall, the brew day went alright, but I am still a bit rusty since this is only my second brew since my year long hiatus. Guess that means I need to brew more!

OG 1.057 (target was 1.062)
IBU 59 (Rager formula)
60 min boil
boil volume 17 liters
batch size: targeted 12 liters but final volume is unknown (a lot of hop material made it hard to measure.

3kg Munich

7g Amarillo whole hops (60 min)
7g Nelson Sauvin whole hops (60 min)
8g Amarillo whole hops (20 min)
8g Nelson Sauvin whole hops (20 min)
7g Amarillo whole hops (5 min)
7g Nelson Sauvin whole hops (5 min)

I will most likely be dry-hopping this beer also. Perhaps 10g of both the Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin.

The beer is happily chugging away in the cellar with US-05 yeast. Since this was a smaller batch I decided not to split it and ferment half with S-04.

Plans can change

rockin_babyPlans can change, especially when you have a baby. I didn’t get to brew last Sunday but that was not necessarily a bad thing. Instead we spent some quality family time together. We introduced our baby daughter to the wonderful world of music festivals, and she loved it! There was a family-friendly music festival and the sun was shining so the brew kettle stayed in the shed.

This past week was pretty fruitful even without brewing or grilling. Noskos over at BBQ-NL sent me a bottle of Plowboy’s Yardbird rub that I won in a BBQ lotto of sorts. I am looking forward to trying it out. Now I just have to figure out what I want to try it out with. So many things I’d like to throw on the smoker. I also received some hops I ordered from the people at the hopshopUK. They are hop varieties which I can not find in mainland Europe. 100 grams of Amarillo (USA) and 100 grams of Nelson Sauvin (NZ). I am very interested in both these varieties. Amarillo for its citrussy orange and grapefruit and Nelson Sauvin for its supposed grapey, sauvignon-blanc aroma. Also on the beer front,  I talked with Chad over at The Brettanomyces Master Project Blog (who is working with Brettanomyces at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, and has a fascinatining blog for beer geeks interested in Brett). Chad has graciously offered to send over a sampler of some pure brett strains he’s been culturing up. Some commercially available and some not. I have been itching to play with more funky yeasts and bacteria in my beers. Now I hope the beers turn out well so I can repay Chad with tasty samples!

The new plan: The experimental brew I was going to do last Sunday has been changed to a not so experimental IPA (not a west-coast hop-bomb, I’m looking for balance). It is made with only Munich malt though, so that is new for me. I will be hopping it with a combination of Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin hops and doing a split ferment with US-05 and S-04. Should be tasty!

Sunday experiment

dr_jekyllmr_hydeI just found out that I have Sunday free. Since I have been dreaming of doing some brewing experiments I figured Sunday is brew day! I have three ideas that I want to try all rolled up into one brew session. First, I want to do a brew using Munich malt as the base malt (or even 100% of the malt). I want to get a better feel for some of the more special base malts. The last brew was with Vienna as the base, but that will be a sour ale so I don’t know how much I will learn about vienna from that. This Munich malt brew should give me a good impression of what Munich can do. The second experiment will involve splitting the batch between two fermenters. In one I will add Safale US-05, a neutral yeast so I can really taste the malt. In the second fermenter I will add Wyeast Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. I really want to get into brewing beers using wild yeast and bacteria so I figure I need to do an all Brett ferment. I am really curious about that. The third experiment may or may not actually happen, I haven’t decided yet. I was thinking of doing a no-sparge mash. This isn’t really all that interesting but I’d like to know if it really would save a lot of time on tight brew days. I’d end up with a mash that is about 20% less efficient than my typical batch-sparging but on a 1.050 OG beer it won’t need too much extra grain to make up for that.

Since I just decided I will be brewing, I haven’t finalized a recipe yet. Obviously it will be Munich based, but I don’t know if I will be adding anything to that. I want to get a feel for the Munich but I also would like something with some interest. Perhaps something like this then:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Munich Malt 90%

Pale Wheat malt 7-8%

Belgian Chocolate Malt Debittered (800EBC) 2-3%

East Kent Golding 60 Min From End and perhaps a 20-30 minute addition. In total about 25 IBU.

Single infusion mash around 68C (154F)

Split ferment with half getting Wyeast Brett Brux and the other half getting US-05

…but then again, 100% Munich with EKG hops is an option. One of these days I want to do an 100% Munich IPA with EKG and Fuggles. I just like the idea, but for now I don’t want the hops to cover up the malt too much.

Brew day “New Addition” batch 1

img_0164Since we moved into this house, almost a year and a half ago, I have only brewed twice. The first time was in April 2008 and despite the hail, rain, snow and cold wind everything went flawlessly. The second time, yesterday, the sun was out and the birds were singing, but the brewing was a little rusty. I did hit the numbers pretty well though, so the beer should turn out just fine.

First I realized that I didn’t have enough Special B malt so I had to make a quick change to the original recipe. The best I could do under the circumstances was to add in some Cara-crystal. Its a bit lighter in color but flavor wise would give me what I want. After that mistake I proceeded with the mash. I doughed-in and undershot my target temp but only by 1/2 degree celsius. Good enough for me. Run off went very well and fast. As soon as the runoff hit the kettle I turned on the burner. Kettle filling up and temperature rising. Standing there I was thinking, “what a beautiful day, hey what is that sound?” Well, thats the sound of a propane burner running out of propane. So I got out my reserve tank and fired it up… for 30 seconds. Oh yeah, my reserve tank is empty. Damn. Fortunately I have a pretty understanding wife who allowed me to take the extremely heavy and near boiling kettle into the house to do the boil. I was a little worried that the small gas stove would have trouble boiling 25 liters of wort. Fortunately it worked out great! Good hot break and nice boil. Even chilling worked out well. I ran the garden hose into the kitchen to the immersion chiller and the return into the kitchen sink. Chilled quickly, took a hydrometer sample, drained into the bucket (I’ve decided to go back to buckets), aerated  and pitched the yeast. Target OG was 1.076 but my OG was 1.072. The difference was due to the different boil-off rate on the kitchen stove compared to my burner outside. The T-58 yeast took off quickly. I’ll llet it do its thing for 2 weeks and then I will rack to a glass carboy and pitch the Wyeast Lambic blend.

In the future, I will be more organized and  take more photos of the process to post here.

New Addition

label_newaddition1On Monday the 13th I will be getting back onto the homebrewing train. It has been 12 months since my last brew. Man, thats painful to say. I have really been feeling the urge lately and I can’t wait any longer. I will be brewing a recipe I was working on for the birth of my daughter Ellie. I wanted to brew it just before she was born and open up the first bottle on her first birthday. Unfortunately I didn’t get to brew it. Who would have figured that when your wife is 8+ months pregnant it would be hard to find time to brew? Well, I will finally brew it. This beer will also be my first attempt at a sour beer. The idea was for a dark, lightly sour brew with a touch of roast. Something slightly in the vain of Thiriez’s Vieille Brune but more funky. The beer will be fermented with Safbrew T-58 dry yeast in primary for about 2 weeks. I will then rack it and add the Wyeast Lambic Blend. I’ll let it do its thing and just try to forget about it for 5 or 6 months. I’ll then add a small ammount of medium toast french wood chips (that I have boiled for a while to lower the astringency) and let that age for a while. Then bottle and try it on Ellie’s birthday.

It’s really a beer with a lot of firsts. First time with Vienna malt as a base malt, first time using flaked corn, first time with t-58 yeast and first time with any souring organisms. So with that many new variables it could go horribly wrong. But what would be the fun if you know exactly how it’s going to turn out, right?

Expected OG: 1.076 SG
Expected IBU (using Rager): 24.1
Expected Color: 30.9 SRM
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins

Belgian Vienna Malt 5.000 kg (79.4 %)
Flaked Corn/Maize 0.400 kg (6.3 %)
Belgian Aromatic Malt 0.300 kg (4.8 %)
Belgian Special B 0.250 kg (4.0 %)
Belgian Chocolate Malt Debittered 0.200 kg (3.2 %)
Belgian Debittered Black Malt 0.150 kg (2.4 %)

East Kent Goldings (5.5 % alpha) 30 g Pellet Hops used 60 Min From End

Mash Schedule
Single Step Infusion (68C/154F) for 60 mins

Primary Yeast: DCL T-58-SafBrew Speciality Ale
Secondary Yeast: Wyeast Lambic Blend