Monday, June 28, 2010

Sour Project.

A fellow brewer otherwise known as TheSanch, had brewed a batch of ESB that turned out less than ideal. The beer finished with a high SG (FG 1.024, estimated FG 1.014), and has a soapy taste to it, it was almost drinkable with a higher carbonation level, but after about 3 months of conditioning the ESB wasn't showing any sign of improvement. The original recipe can be found here.

I had mentioned adding some Brettanomyces Claussenii to it to drop the gravity and maybe even turn it into a sour beer, after all ESB, Browns, and Milds make great base beers for sours.

Fast forward a month or so, and TheSanch and I had discussed trying an experiment with Brett C., which quickly turned into an experiment involving Brett C., Lactobacillus delbrueckii bacteria, and Belgian Sour Mix I (Includes Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, and the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.)
The ESB had been kegged and fully carbed before the experiment began, luckily Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus do not require oxygen, however Brett C. does, although at a much lower level than Saccharomyces C.

The kegged ESB had been brought up to room temperature and the co2 bled off daily until very litte was still coming out of solution.

Yesterday I managed to finally start the experiment. I ended up purchasing White Labs Brett C., Lactobacillus delbrueckii, and Belgian Sour Mix I. I was hoping to also use some Pediococcus bacteria alone, but our local homebrew store was out at the time.

The experiment was originally going to be conducted in three 1 gallon growlers and the remaining beer was going to be placed into a 5 gallon Better Bottle. Each of the three 1 gallon containers were to be inoculated with the bacteria and yeast, and the fourth would have a portion of all three added. It seemed redundant to have the fourth container since the Belgian Sour Mix had both Brett and Lacto included already, the only difference was the Pedio. After putting some thought into it, I wasn't ready to designate one of my plastic carboys to solely making sour beers anyhow.

First was to get the beer out of the keg and into the growlers. This was achieved with a picnic faucet and a section of broken racking cane that came in handy for the transfer.


As you can see there is no foam, the beer was realatively flat. I used about 3psi to force it out of the keg.

After all three growlers were filled it was time to inoculate them.


The deed was done.

...and voila!

Since the ESB had been carbed and some co2 is still slowly escaping from solution, I went with foil caps rather than airlocks. Although the Lacto only growler doesn't require any oxygen, the Brett C., and Belgian Sour Mix I growlers do have yeasts that require oxygen, albeit lower levels than Saccharomyces C. I think the foil caps will aid in gas exchange, hence the reason I used the foil opposed to airlocks.

Looking back I used an entire White Labs vial per gallon, so there should definitely be enough bacteria and yeast in each fermenter to ensure fermentation, the only concern I have is the Brett C. and the lack of oxygen dissolved in the beer, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the foil cap will allow the gas exchange necessary for the Brett C. to get a foot hold and work it's magic.

Sour fermentations are generally slow, and depending on how sour you want the beer can have a large impact on how long the beer will be allowed ferment.

I'm looking forward to seeing my first pellicle form. I also wonder what each will taste like, and once they are soured if blending them will achieve a better result, only time will tell. Either way I will update on this experimental project when there is something to update, which might take some time. Until then, Cheers!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

belgian dark strong ale update #2

There isn't anything too exciting to report this update.

I have been extremely busy with my 3 month old son, and the fact that I will be attending the University of Arizona this fall has left me with little time to brew and update the blog.

However, a check of the specific gravity yielded 1.036 @ 70°F which is 1.037 adjusted for temperature, and the beer is continuing to ferment. The sample tasted very sweet which was a given considereing the SG, but it was very warm with alcohol along with some nice belgian esters in the flavor. I hope to take another gravity sample next week and see how the flavors have progressed. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brewing math, a Belgian dark strong ale update:

Calculations are in!
Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
Yield: 100.0 %
Potential: 1.046
Color: 0.0 SRM
Max in Batch: 5.0 %

The estimated OG (Original Gravity) of my BDS Ale was 1.103. After having forgotton to add 1lb of Sucrose (table sugar) to the boil on brew day the actual OG rang in at 1.087.

A little brewing math is in order to figure out how much sugar to add in order to raise the SG (Specific Gravity) of the beer from 1.087 to 1.103.

Dextrose has a Yield of 100% meaning it is 100% fermentable, yeast will completely consume simple sugars such as dextrose, and sucrose.

Dextrose has the Potential of 1.046 p/p/g (points/pound/gallon), this means that for every pound of dextrose added to 1 gallon of water the specific gravity is raised by 46 points. the Specific Gravity of pure water is 1.000. Therefore:

(gravity points)(lbs of sugar)+(sg of water)=
(.046)(1)+1.000= .046+1.000= 1.046.

Now that we know what dextrose will contribute to our SG we need to figure out how much dextrose to add to reach our desired OG.

Target OG (tOG)=1.103

First let's find out how many points we need to add, some simple subtraction will give us our points needed.

tOG-OG=Points needed or,
1.103-1.087=.016 or to simplify it further,

We need to add 16 points to achieve our target.


where: GP=Gravity Points, lbs=pounds of sugar, gw=gallons of wort, OG=Original Gravity, and tOG=target Orginal Gravity.

(.046)(2.125)/(6)+1.087=.009775/6+1.087=0.0162916+1.087=1.1032916 or 1.103

The total GP must be divided by the gw since the gravity contribution is points/pound/gallon.

According to the math 2.125 lbs of dextrose is needed to raise the SG to 1.103.

Belgian Dark Strong Ale and Blow-Off

I brewed a Belgian Dark Strong Ale this past Sunday (June 6th). Brew Day went over fairly well despite the 106°F heat. Fermentation began about 3-4 hours after I pitched the yeast and for the most part was steady and normal. Last night the yeast decided to have a little fiesta and the party got out of and hand:

I am normally an advocate of using a blow-off hose for this exact reason, however, my last 2-3 batches did not have any blowoff whatsoever, I'm beginning to think it has to do with the combination of a less flocculent yeast and higher gravity. Having said that, I have had a blow-off with all my belgian beers with the exception of Witbiers.

Problem solved:

On a side note, the recipe called for 1 lb of Sucrose (table sugar) to be added to the boil. Of course I forgot to add it, along with forgetting to take a pre-boil gravity (I have some weird mental block against preboil gravities), and I don't have table sugar, but I do have Dextrose, so I will be adding that soon.. A little research has confirmed that it is better to add simple sugars after the brunt of fermentation is finished. Apparently yeast are lazy, they take the path of least resistence and gobble up simple sugars first, so adding the table sugar to the boil would have made the yeast attack those simple sugars instead of attacking the maltose first which in turn can lead to a stalled and/or incomplete fermentation.

Regardless, I just need to figure out the additional gravity points the sugar will add so I can calculate my ABV% properly.

The Recipe if you are interested:
Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Type: All Grain
Date: 6/5/2010
Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Brewer: Broken Glass Brewery
Boil Size: 9.35 gal
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: My Equipment - Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Coleman Xtreme Cooler (52 qt)
Brewhouse Efficiency: 79.00


Amount Item Type % or IBU
13 lbs 2.1 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 62.20 %
2 lbs 4.5 oz Munich (Dingemans) (5.5 SRM) Grain 10.80 %
1 lbs 2.2 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 5.40 %
1 lbs 2.2 oz Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 5.40 %
1 lbs 2.2 oz Special B (Dingemans) (147.5 SRM) Grain 5.40 %
9.1 oz Melanoidin (Weyermann) (30.0 SRM) Grain 2.70 %
9.1 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 2.70 %
2.00 oz Hallertauer [4.70 %] (60 min) Hops 30.9 IBU
1 lbs 2.2 oz Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 5.40 %
1 Pkgs Abbey Ale (White Labs #WLP530) [Starter 2000 ml] Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.103 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.087 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.023 SG Measured Final Gravity: ?
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 10.46 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: ?
Bitterness: 30.9 IBU Calories: 404 cal/pint
Est Color: 22.8 SRM

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 19.97 lb
Sparge Water: 5.54 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 24.96 qt of water at 170.7 F 154.0 F

Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage


1st running - 1.096 @ 62.5°=1.096
2nd running - 1.062 @ 65.0°=1.062
3rd running - 1.030 @ 70.0°=1.031


Pre-Boil Gravity=1.073

I forgot to add the 1lb of Sucrose to the boil per the recipe. I will substiture .8 lb of dextrose dissolved in a small amount of water after fermentation begins to slow.