Thursday, 30 October 2014

Chocolate Stout - Review and Recipe

This is a chocolate stout I brewed about 2 months ago now.

I'm still working on developing a chocolate stout that really hits home for me - Momma always taught me that it's better to have extra spice than not enough spice, and I associate with that opinion when it comes to beer. In all honesty, I'm not the kind of brewer looking for balance when it comes to a flavored beer. I strive for balance and to showcase the beer flavors when I'm making a traditional style of beer, but in certain flavored beers, such as a chocolate stout or pumpkin spice beer, I want the flavors to be apparent - like eating chocolate cake or pumpkin pie. It really depends on the circumstance I suppose, because certain other beers I look to showcase the beer with just a hint of the spice to compliment the malt, hops and yeast derived characteristics.

When it comes to brewing with chocolate, many brewers find it difficult to strike a strong chocolate flavor in their beer. There's so many ways to add flavor, from adding bakers chocolate, to cocoa powder, to cocoa nibs. For this beer, I used a few different techniques. I don't use, nor do I recommend using baker's chocolate, because the processing leaves plenty of oils in the bars that can interfere with having a proper head on your beer. Cocoa powder is a good way to get a strong chocolate flavor, but the usual complaints are of a chalky, raw cocoa flavor left in the beer. Cocoa nibs are nearly unprocessed, roasted crushed cocoa beans, so they're the most genuine source of chocolate flavor that you can get, and many people swear by them. The downside is that they can be pricey.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

2013 Lambic - Splitting Onto Fruit

This time last year, I brewed a traditional turbid mashed lambic-style beer. I pitched a starter that I made from the open air underneath a bird-cherry tree in my backyard. I took a sample recently, and it has some decent fruity funk, but not enough sourness for my tastes.

After a tasting, I decided that it would suit some brighter fruit flavors. I had a few pounds of crabapples from my trees that I had frozen, so I took 2.5 pounds and thawed them and refroze them a few times to break open the cell walls in the fruit to release the flavors. Initially, I was going to leave half of it unfruited, but while the funk was decent in this beer, it was lacking the lactic sour that I was craving, so I decided to age it all on fruits. With my other sour for this year currently on 10 pounds of wine grapes, I guess I'll be waiting for a pull from my solera before I get some plain unfruited sour! 

Lambic Style! (Turbid Mash, Spontaneous Fermentation)

On Friday, I brewed my 2nd annual lambic-style beer.

OG: 1.052
8# 2-row (Rahr)
4# unmalted wheat
1.5oz tettnanger (4.0% AA) 60 mins

I milled the grains, and mashed in to reach a single infusion temperature of 155*F.
10 minutes after mashing in, I drew off 2 litres of starchy, turbid wort and brought it to a boil. For those that don't know, the traditional production of lambic is done with a turbid mash where a starchy, unconverted part of the liquid is taken off early in the mash, and brought to a boil. This ensures that there's some complex carbohydrates left for the bacteria to munch on for the year long fermentation to follow. Traditionally, this is done with a step mash, but I didn't want to spend the time on that, as I see no benefit from it.

Inaugural Post!

Hey there!

I am a homebrewer in Alberta, Canada. I've been brewing beer for about 3 years now, and I decided it's finally time to pursue a beer blog. I've learned so much from other bloggers over the years, and I feel it's about time for me to give back to the community. I'm currently pursuing a degree in cellular and molecular biology with a minor in chemistry, so I have some lab equipment and such to play with microbe culturing and such.

I have a deep love for sour beers and wild fermentations, and I'll be working on isolating wild yeasts from time to time so there will be an opportunity for strain sharing in the future. Outside of the few sour and wild ales going on through the year, my go to styles are ESB's, Scottish ales, stouts, IPA's and blondes, and I really enjoy playing with rye malt. I tend to stay away from Belgian ales, but that doesn't mean I don't brew them at all!
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