The past month of brewing has been a bit scattershot, with various styles in progress and various styles on tap. I’ve not been bored, though!
Beer Batch Updates
- Last weekend (September 5), I took the leap and fermented a batch with kveik. This yeast culture of Norwegian origin has been all the rage lately, but I’ve been a bit hesitant to dip my toes into the water. Nearly all of the recipes I’ve found have been in the 7 to 10% range of abv, which just doesn’t interest me that much, at least in keg-sized quantities. Also, I have a love/hate relationship with many very “character-rich” yeasts (e.g., some Belgian strains). Eventually, I found a pale ale recipe that was ~5%, which I modified further for hops and gravity. In the end, I am making a session-strength American pale ale using experimental African hops. I brewed on 5 September 2020, right in the midst of a major heatwave. It was over 110° on brew day, so a natural fit for kveik. The yeast packet (an Omega Yeast strain, Hornendal) had a really intriguing citrus aroma–this bodes well! I pitched at 90°, and the blow-off tube showed slow activity within 8 hours, and it was vigorously bubbling along less than 18 hours later. Visible fermentation activity had ceased within about 5 days, and I pulled a sample yesterday. It seems to be dropping surprisingly clear already! The yeast character is less strong than I expected, too, with not much in the way of esters. I’ll probably keg it either this weekend or in the next few days.
- I’ve got two lagers in progress at the moment, the German-style pilsner mentioned last time as well as a Vienna lager. The Vienna lager is a historical-type recipe, using strictly Vienna malt and Saaz hops. It will be a bit lighter than what is usually sold as Vienna lager, but I’m honestly okay with that. The German pilsner had around 18 days at fermentation temperatures around 54°, and the Vienna lager had about 10 days at those temperatures. I raised the fermenters to 60° over a multi-day period, with a 12 hour rest at 60° before cycling back down with ambient temperature drops of ~5° per day. Right now, they’re both sitting at around 33°, and will be kegged fairly soon.
What’s On Tap?
- The session RyePA just went on tap (I finally kicked the amber ale keg!)…it had about two weeks of cold conditioning, and initial samples taste really good. If I didn’t know, I would have expected the beer was much richer than the 4.5% abv that it clocked in at. Expect a full tasting on this one soon.
- My Berliner weisse is drinking really well on summer afternoons. I’ll be a bit sad when this keg is gone, but I think I’m also just as glad I don’t have five gallons of the stuff, no matter how tasty it is. A small 6 to 10 ounce pour is usually plenty for me or my wife at any one time, so we’re definitely savoring the beer as we go along. Perhaps it will become an annually brewed recipe!
- The Munich helles has cleared up absolutely perfectly, and is such a delicious lager. Two weeks after my post on this, the beer is definitively brilliant in appearance. It really was worth the extra lagering time!
What’s Coming Up?
- I’m….not sure what I want to do next. I should probably do an ale or something relatively quick turn-around before going back to a sequence of lagers. I’ll be looking through my recipe books to see what’s good! At the moment, I’m leaning towards a brown ale, but we’ll see.
- I’ll be repitching the yeast from my German pils (WLP820) once the beer is kegged. I’m thinking a Munich malt-dominated lager, and/or a rebrew of Stygimoloch Bock.
Other Than Beer
- I’ve been experimenting with some of the non-alcoholic spirits and mixers out there, to have flavorful alternatives for mixed drinks. Here are some quick reviews:
- Monday Non-Alcoholic Gin is pricey, but one of the better ones I’ve tried. It’s not a perfect gin substitute, but it is interesting in many of recipes. I find it doesn’t work well in a martini, because it just seems a little thin (I used real vermouth in that attempt). Straight-up on ice, it gets watered down pretty quickly, too. But…as a G&T, it’s quite good (esp. with my homemade tonic), and it did well in a Bee Sting as well as a blackberry-balanced drink (see the picture below). So, the short assessment is that if you have other interesting ingredients, the Monday N-A gin does well; on its own it’s just not quite the same.
- Ritual is one of the more affordable (i.e., cheaper) lines of non-alcoholic spirits, and also pretty variable.
- The whiskey equivalent is…not terribly great. It’s just a little too cloying, and the wood flavor needs to be very carefully balanced to avoid too intense of a peat flavor. The consistency is almost (but not quite) syrupy, which is a bit disconcerting on the tongue.
- The gin is the better of the ones I’ve sampled. Cucumber is the dominant note on this one, and like the Monday “gin” it really needs to be mixed with other stuff rather than enjoyed on its own. It makes for a nice variant on gin and tonic.
- I have a bottle of the tequila substitute, but haven’t used it in any drinks yet. The taste and aroma are in the ballpark, I suppose.
- My go-to mid-afternoon refresher is a bit of Amoretti craft puree in some carbonated water. I’ve got both the blood orange and peach flavors on hand right now…the blood orange one is my favorite of the two!
- The cost per bottle of puree is somewhat pricey (~$29), but assuming you get about 90 12-oz. servings of sparkling water, it’s far cheaper than the flavored waters at the store. I figure it’s around 24 cents of ingredients per 12-oz. serving of flavored water made at home (12 cents puree, 12 cents carbonated water made by Soda Stream), versus between 37 and 72 cents to buy flavored sparkling water, depending on brand. So, it’s cheaper and generates far less waste!