It’s been scorching here in Toronto this summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 42°C/108°F in the shade one day! As a result, the Belgian Style Witbier I brewed a few weeks back is finding a very happy home in my pint glass. Don’t get me wrong, the heat is great, my garden is loving it and growing like crazy. Downside is, our central air conditioner is broken, and hot, uncomfortable nights don’t always make for restful sleeping. No A/C also means my Belgian Witbier was fermenting in the 73-75°F range, with it hitting 77°F one day!
Belgian yeast strains can usually handle, if not enjoy, higher fermentation temperatures. Stan Hieronymus describes many fermentation schedules for wheat beers in his book, “Brewing with Wheat” being in the 73°F range, so I was hopeful that things would still work out.
Man, did they really work out.
The White Labs – Belgian Wit (#WLP-400) yeast I used in this beer is rocking the classic fragrance that is such a signature in Belgian witbiers. Unlike some German wheat beers that can be heavy on the banana or clove, it’s very balanced. Primary fermentation was quite slow, taking a full 2 weeks for the krausen to finally drop. I did some research on White Labs’ site after noticing that it was taking its time, and many others noted the same thing. The consensus was to just sit tight and be patient, as it would be worth the wait. Worth the wait it was. Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brew Reviews, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged Adjunct mash, ale, all grain, beer, Blegian Beer, decoction, fermenting, homebrew, recipes, step mash, White Labs, Witbier
As with all experiments, they don’t always work out the way you hoped they would.
Have no fear though, when things go wrong, it provides you with another opportunity to get it right.
In my first attempt of cloning a Guinness Dry Irish Stout, I started off by using Jamil Zainisheff’s Dry Irish Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles as a base. That beer turned out fantastic. I made no water adjustments to it, and the final result was quite delicious. For the second round I wanted to try and match the highly alkaline water of Dublin, as well as add some acidulated malt to try and emulate the Guinness ‘twang’.
Water chemistry in brewing is a very complex subject, one that I certainly haven’t mastered. Most home brewers would say don’t even bother messing with it, but I want to find out how to make the best beer possible. I don’t want to make ‘good’ beer, I want to make ‘great’ beer, so I will mess with everything I can until I find out how to, even if that means having some casualties along the way.
The mineral concentrations as listed in Bru’n Water for Dublin are: Continue reading
Posted in Brew Reviews, Brewing, Recipes
Tagged ale, all grain, beer, brewing water, Guinness, how to, recipes, residual alkalinity, step mash, stout, water adjustment
With the onset of summer and the occasional 40°C weather up here in Toronto, it’s about time I get a nice cold keg filled with a summertime favourite: a Belgian Witbier. There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of that orange infused bubbly goodness on a hot summer day.
Witbiers normally contain a large amount of unmalted wheat, either raw or flaked. When using such a large amount, it’s a good idea to give your mash a short protein rest around 122F to help loosen things up. I’ve just finished reading Randy Mosher’s book “Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass” in which he talks about “white beer” as being one of his favourite styles. He also talks about how it can be a difficult beer to brew well and offers some insight from his trials and errors. He suggests an American style “adjunct mash” (or a ‘double mash’ as it’s called in Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide) as the best way to get that real creamy, lubricious body that is a famous characteristic of good witbiers. After researching some historical brewing texts, he claims that this was similar to how some brewers would have made these greatly varied beers in the past in order to deal with the large amount of raw wheat in the grist.
The recipe I chose uses the following grains: Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged ale, beer, Belgian Beer, Belgium, fermenting, homebrew, how to, pilsner, recipes, Witbier
Well, the Stone Pale Ale that I brewed is in, and man, this is a seriously good beer. The flavours are very balanced, with a definite caramel flavour to it from the generous amounts of crystal malt (19%). The Ahtanum hops are a unique contribution. Even though I’m expecting the signature citrusy flavours associated with American hops, it’s flavours are slightly illusive, as they seem to really blend in well with the surrounding malt body. I’ve always remembered the saying that “if you can pick out one particular ingredient, then there’s too much of it”. They’re in there for sure, they just don’t jump out and hit you in the face. This beer is quite complex for having such a straight forward recipe.
One of the reasons, I think, is because of the water profile. I added some Epsom salt (0.55g per gallon) and Calcium Chloride (0.25g per gallon) to my water to match the profile stated in Stone’s book: The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Those levels are:
30ppm Ca / 85ppm SO4 / 12ppm Mg / 40ppm Na / 40ppm Cl
These numbers are not very far off my own water here from Lake Ontario, but the sulphate level is a bit higher at 85ppm as compared to mine of 28.6ppm. I’ve noticed that by using Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt) as opposed to Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum), the resulting enhancement is slightly different. I’m not finding it as ‘harsh’ as I sometimes get with having too much gypsum in my beers. Maybe it’s just all in my head, because sulphate is sulphate, right? Maybe it’s the sulphate/chloride balance? I’m not sure. My point is, I think the water profile definitely made an impact on this beer in the form of added complexity.
The other interesting choice for this beer was Continue reading
Posted in Brew Reviews, Breweries, Brewing, Recipes
Tagged ale, all grain, American Pale Ale, beer, book reviews, homebrew, hops, Pale ale, Pale Ale Recipe, recipes, single infusion, Stone Brewing, Stone Brewing Co., Stone Pale Ale
By not brewing this beer when I first posted my original article, I think I psyched myself out on the whole ‘decoction’ thing. “Single Decoction“, “Double Decoction“, “Enhanced Double Decoction“,”Hochkurz Decoction“, “Triple Decoction“, ahh!!! What have I got myself into!!
When I finally got up the courage and picked a weekend for this experiment, I had to watch and re-watch some videos on decoction mashing. Braukaiser’s video, which I had mentioned in my original post, was one I referred to a lot. I also came across a really good video on Brewing TV: Episode 34 – “Decoction Day”. In this video, Michael Dawson shows us how to do a double decoction on a Munich Dunkel. He was quite entertaining and demonstrated the steps wonderfully and clearly. So off I was to start boiling away!
Which decoction schedule did I decide to use? I decided to go with the Enhanced Double Decoction. This schedule pulls a large enough decoction from the acid rest to be able to hit the protein rest with part of the decoction, and with the remaining portion, you reach the saccrification rest. On the one side, I thought a single decoction would fail to bring out enough of the decoction character. On the other side, a traditional triple decoction really isn’t needed with today’s well modified malts, and the lengthy protein rest can actually be detrimental to head formation and mouth feel due to excessive protein breakdown. (See footnote at bottom) I modified the temperature steps slightly to hit those specified by the brewer from Pilsner Urquell in the Brewing Techniques article: The History and Brewing Methods of Pilsner Urquell. Continue reading
Posted in Brew Reviews, Breweries, How To, Recipes
Tagged bohemia, bohemian pilsner, czech, decoction, Double Decoction, how to, lager, pilsner, Pilsner Urquell, plzen, recipes, single infusion