Thursday, January 31, 2013

Xochiquetzal: an Imperial Stout worthy of the Aztec Goddess of Love

Seeing as this is my first post here, I should introduce myself. My name is Ryan Tarpley. I have been brewing since January 2006, when I finally pulled the trigger and bought my first brew kit. (Although many friends claimed they wanted to do this in college, I was the only one to go through with it.) I have been brewing on and off since college (Graduated from Ohio University in 2009 with a BA in Creative Writing, this is usually where I make the joke "Minor in Beer," because I spent the rest of my time drinking every craft brew and homebrew I could get my hands on.) and felt that I needed to step up my game. So in 2013, my goal has been to brew at least every two weeks. Thus far I have made 4 beers. More on those later, for now, let's get to the wonderful brew this post is about Xochiquetzal.

I have been with my girlfriend for going on 3 years in May. For our anniversary we decided to brew our first Russian imperial stout together.  For those who don't know, Russian imperial stout was a style first brewed for none other than Katherine the Great's Russian imperial court. Legend goes that she tried stout for the first time in England and ordered the stout beer be sent to her court. After finding that the beer spoiled on the trip to Russia, the brewers pumped up the stout by making it stronger, in order to better preserve the beer, and thus the greatest beer style ever was born, shooting straight to the top of the "best beer in the world" lists of two popular news prints: Paris's  Le Advocates de Beer and London's The Beer Raters. (Ok this sentence is a joke, but seriously, how many RIS's are on those "Best Beer Ever!" lists?)

Interesting side note, Stone Brewing ran into some crazy legal problems trying to get their Imperial Russian Stout named. The ATF people wouldn't let them use the word "Russian" because they believed it would mislead customers. Eventually, a chance run in with someone in Washington D.C. helped clear up the mess. And the brewing world celebrated, with tons and tons of Russian Imperial Stouts. But I digress. Xochiquetzal (sho-ki-KAY-tsal) Imperial Stout is a celebration of love...and adjuncts.

I have long dreamed of doing a frankenstout of sorts and this is a crazy one: We brewed up an Imperial stout and at the 15 minute mark added: 1lb of piloncillo, a type of unrefined, Mexican brown sugar with flavors of caramel and mild molasses.4 oz of dried hibiscus flowers, a flower used in Mexican cooking to make a drink called Jamaica (ha-mai-ca). The hibiscus flowers are a deep purple, almost red color with a wonderful tartness.  Right now the stout is in the fermentor, beginning to krausen. In 3 weeks we are going to ad: 8oz of tamarind pulp. Tamarind is a tropical fruit originating from Africa, but in the 17th century it was intruduced heavily in Mexico. It has a very tart, sour flavor, that also is a must have for Pad Thai (If you make your own, an endeavor I believe any brewer should make as it can be just as complicated and rewarding.) 1lb of cocoa nibs, 8oz of de-seeded and de-stemmed ancho chilies, 4 oz of cracked black and white pepper corns. and 4 oz more of hibiscus flower to hopefully give it a pink head. One thing I should probably mention: I love adjuncts and odd ingredients. So, why Xochiquetzal?

Once we started looking at the list of adjunct ingredients, I wanted to use an Aztec god or goddess to keep with the Mexican theme. Although I became worried when I started to look at the names of these gods and goddesses, seriously, look them up, Xochiquetzal and Xochipilli are some of the easier names to pronounce. We originally had picked Xochipilli (Literally "Flower Prince)" but after consideration and research, we found that Xochiquetzal was considered to be the Aztec goddess of love. In addition she was associated with beauty, female sexual power, and fertility. As a result of her being associated with female sexual power, she also happens to be the patroness of prostitutes. Can we just say that we picked it for Love? Because that's the truth. This imperial stout is our celebration of 3 happy years. I wish I knew the number of people who complimented us on our relationship, because I have never been happier with anyone and this beer is a celebration of passion, love and excitement.

Brew day was great! We loaded out mash tun with 20lb of grain, and had a thick mash using 1qt per pound of grain. Once that was done, we sparged with 7.5 gallons of water and stopped when we hit 7 gallons pre-boil volume. While we were waiting for the boil to start, my GF suggested that I take some of the second run-off for a starter for my Rainbow's End Irish Red that I am making Sunday. Once I pulled some of the run off, she commented that we could make another beer with it. This is called Parti-Gyle brewing, a process that has all but died out. The basic idea is that you make a big beer, add some grain, and make a smaller beer with the second runnings. Rather than add grain and take another hour, we took the second runnings and added honey, brown sugar and palm sugar (Another must have for Thai cooking.) we then added an ounce of galena hops and 8oz of hibiscus flowers and boiled for 7 min. It's fermenting in the boil pot next to the stout. Pictures will be posted soon, but for now, let me say Cheers and happy fermentations.
Throwing beer against the wall and seeing what sticks - Ryan Tarpley

Another New Face

Greetings. If you're new to High Krausen, we already have something in common because I am too. I'm Mike, the mastermind behind DogBaby Brewhouse. Yeah, I named my brewery. Actually, it's my basement. When it's not a pub, a hideout, a jam cave, or an office, it's where the brewing magic happens. Like me, it's far from perfect, but it works.

As I'm sitting in my basement in my favorite chair on a snowy winter's eve, I'm sipping a brown mild and contemplating my next brew day, which happens to be only 36 hours away. I enjoy brewing, but I also enjoy writing about brewing. So it's a good thing we have each other or I would just be talking to myself.

So I hope you all tune in to our brewing escapades on High Krausen while we share some laughs and some brews and maybe even make some beer!

This one's to you boys and girls!

A Little Bit About the New Guy.

     Well, hello there good people.  As it says here my name is David, and I figured if I am going to be sharing my opinions and such on this blog I should first say a little something about myself.  I am from the great flat state of Nebraska and am an IT guy by trade.

      I have been into and around homebrewing for a number of years now but have only been brewing myself for about year and some change.    Unlike most people, I jumped straight into all-grain and making my own recipes.  This may not have been the most advised first step but hey, it worked for me.   I started off with a coconut cascadian ale, and have brewed about 20 different beers since.  Some of these have worked out great, and others I learned a lesson from. 

      I imagine within the confines of this blog I will get into some of my more favorable recipes along with some things I have learned along the way.  We shall wait and see.  I look forward to blogging more!

Happy Brewing..

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Berliner Weisse Small Batch

Later in this post I'll include some links to some very well written technical information on how to perform a sour mash and specifically how to approach a sour mash to produce the berliner weisse style of beer.  My focus will simply be on my steps to produce a small batch, 1.6 gallons, of berliner weisse style beer.

Full allotment of hops!
I decided to brew a 1.6 gallon batch, enough to fill two 1 gallon fermenters with .8 gallons of wort.  Additionally rather than use the traditional approximate 50/50 pilsner malt/wheat malt ratio grain bill I went with a 70/30 US 2-row/rye malt grist.  For 1.6 gallons I used 33 oz of grain total along with 1/10th (2.8 grams) of an ounce of 7 AAU Cluster hops at 40 minutes in a 40 minute boil.  Due to the challenges of maintaining temperatures for such a small mash in my 5 gallon cooler style mash tun I mashed on the stove top with a mash liquor ratio of approximately 1.15 quarts water per pound of grain.  The target mash temp. was 147 degrees f. as you want this beer to finish very dry from around 1.030 down to approximately 1.006 or lower!

Bucket o'mash in the cooler with 122 degree water.
Here's where the fun begins, the sour mash.  After my saccrification rest I cut the lid off a 1 gallon jug of water saved from a previous brew session, sanitized thoroughly with star san, and dumped the mash into the jug.  The jug containing the mash is placed in a cold water bath in the sink to bring the temperature down to around 122 degrees.  I then added 4 oz. of unmilled 2-row, stirring it in thoroughly to disperse equally among the mash.  Of note here is that most literature says something to the effect of 'throw in a hand full of grain' or a couple ounces for a 5 gallon batch.  I purposefully over inoculated believing in the theory of adding as many Lactobaccillus delbruckii bacterium as possible theorizing they would 'out compete' less desirable bacteria.  Adding the unmilled-unmashed grain is how we inoculate our mash with Lactobacillus delbruckii to produce the desired sour effect.  I then placed this jug inside a cooler with 122 degree water inside, closed the lid and placed something heavy on top of the cooler lid to maintain a tight seal and minimal heat loss.  From there it was a matter of waiting and changing the cooler water bath every 4-8 hours to maintain temps as close to 120 as possible.

Plastic wrap with few bubbles helps to keep oxygen out.
A note here, it's fairly important to keep the sour mash at 115-120 degrees f. and keep the mash covered with plastic wrap to inhibit the growth of less desirable bacteria present in most any sour mash.  Here are the links I promised earlier covering the technical aspects of a sour mash berliner weisse.

I waited 49 hours allowing the sour mash to do it's sour thing, then treated the mash and wort as you would any normal beer.  It was at about 40 hours into the sour mash that I first tasted the mash.  It was nutty and lightly bready up front, tart, acidic, reminded me of lemonade.  Before briefly covering the remaining process I'd like to share that my sour mash was exceptionally clean simply smelling a little sour and little else.  A brief search will provide dozens of accounts of exceedingly smelly sour mashes.  I attribute my relatively clean mash to my inoculation rate, keeping the mash covered with plastic wrap, and attention paid to keeping the mash temps between 115 and 120.  I dumped the mash into my standard mash tun along with a quantity of boiling water to bring the temperature up into the high 160s.  From there I batch sparged, an oddity for me, producing a very low efficiency which I expected with such a shallow grain bill.  

Dense foam at the start of the boil is typical for this style.
As noted above I performed a 40 minute boil.  Some berliner weisse are not boiled at all while others undergo anywhere from a 5 - 60 minute boils.  The boiler was placed in an ice-water bath for chilling to around 70 degrees.  1/3rd package of Nottingham dry yeast was pitched into each one gallon fermenter.  This was a rather large over pitching rate, performed on purpose.  The thought with the pitching rate was to produce as clean a fermentation as possible even though fruitiness is tolerable within the style.  The fermenters were placed in a water bath-less swamp cooler with a constant air temperature of 58 degrees.  I'm trying to get a fermentation temperature of 60-61 degrees, quite cold for an ale yeast but Nottingham yeast can handle it!

Here is the recipe:
Size: 1.6 gallons
1 lb 8 oz US 2-row pale malt - 73% of grain bill
9 oz rye malt - 27T of grain bill
2.8 grams or .1 oz of Cluster at 7.0 AAU - target IBUs 7
Danstar Nottingham dry ale yeast
1/2 whirlfloc tablet @15 minutes left in the boil

O.G. 1.029
F.G. 1.007 (estimated)
BU:GU .21
ABV 2.9%
Calories 111 per 12 oz

If you'd like to read further about the profile of this bubbly low alcohol beer proclaimed by some to be the most refreshing beer in the world I suggest reading the bjcp style guideline here: BJCP Berliner Weisse Guideline.
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