Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hefeweizen, Pale Ale, Chicago, and Investments!

Brewing With Friends Roll Call 5.15.11:
Blake, Whit, Drew, and Brew Dog Bosely

Beer Talk:
This is the second time that we have brewed the Hefeweizen. The first time we brewed it the entire keg was consumed within about a week of it being carbonated. Needless to say it turned out really well, we enjoyed it so much we did not change anything in the recipe this time around. At this point with this beer we are looking for repeatability. We hit our marks on the brewing vitals for this beer so we don't think that it should be too different from the last time. We mashed in at about 152 degrees, hit our volume, and the boil went off without a hitch. We pitched our yeast, and sure enough first thing this morning it's bubbling like crazy...stinking the whole place up like bananas. The yeast strain we used for this beer has very strong banana and clove aromas in the finished product and also during fermentation. As the weather warms up Blake and I are a bit concerned about keeping the fermentation right around 68 degrees, so we elected to stash the primary fermentation vessel down in the basement. We look forward to sharing this brew with our friends!
Pale Ale on the left, Hefeweizen on the Right

Pale Ale
We have brewed two or three pale ales over the last couple of months but still have not found the taste that we are looking for. This time we went in an entirely different direction loosely basing it off one of our favorite pale ales...the Yazoo Pale Ale from Nashville. The Yazoo Pale is a beer that is very well balanced and non-offensive. It has all the traits and personality of a traditional American Pale Ale including the coppery color, medium-light body, citrusy taste, and well balanced caramel malty flavor. We did not use any of the same ingredients that the Yazoo Pale uses, but instead focused on the vitals of the beer including the IBU (bitterness), color, and ABV (alcohol content). When Blake and I first started ramping up our interests in brewing we had the opportunity to sit down for three hours with Linus Hall who is the owner and Head Brewmaster at Yazoo Brewing Company. Our talk with Linus was a major inspiration for us, and to this day we constantly refer back to our discussion with him...cheers Linus!

Brewed by Linus Hall and Yazoo Brewing Co, Nashville TN.

Blake and I spent quite a bit of time discussing the recipe with respect to the hop addition because we were concerned with this beer coming out too hoppy and losing the well balanced flavor a traditional American Pale Ale should have. We hit our mash-in temp of 149 degrees which lends itself well to a light bodied summery pale ale, our efficiency was good at 76.5% which correlates to how well we extracted the sugars from our grains in the mash, however our pre-boil gravity came in a bit lower than we anticipated which will ultimately lead to a lower ABV beer. An American Pale Ale traditionally is supposed to be a 4.6% - 6% ABV beer, and we will be coming in slightly under at 4.2% - 4.4% We will taste when it's ready, and if need be we can up our grain bill a bit to extract more sugars from the mash. We put together a very unique hop addition that should yield range of 37-40 IBU's which is on the lower side of a traditional pale ale's bitterness scale. Yesterday Blake made a recommendation for the recipe that was a first for me - we made a whole leaf hop addition at flame out of the Citra smelled delicious. We are looking forward to tasting this beer in hopes that we have found a foundation to build off of for our Pale Ale of the future.
Dueling Brew Systems and Our Head-Brewdog; Bosely

Recent Trips & Investment:
Blake and I recently took a trip up to Chicago to visit Revolution Brewing Company. Our trip was amazing - the amount of success they are having at the brewpub should serve as an inspiration to anyone who is interested in getting into the business. Their location, decor, food, and most importantly beer were all top notch. They had a 10BBL system along with 6-7 fermentation vessels, and several more serving tanks. They must have had at least 10 original beers on tap including a couple on cask. We opted to try them all - and needless to say, we left their pub feeling pretty loose. Isn't it funny how craft beers can sneak up on you, especially when you stand up after sitting at a table for a couple hours?? Anyway, I highly suggest anyone/everyone to visit this awesome brewery if they have the time in Chicago. I would also like to say thanks to Gregg for letting us crash at his place, and to Wes and Chris Swaine for swinging by and hanging out with us! It was a great time, and we can't wait for our next trip back.
A cool shot Blake took as we were leaving Chicago, IL

Lastly, Blake and I have been discussing how we "step up our brewing game" and the brewmaster has made his recommendation - temperature controlling capabilities during primary, secondary, and in our serving tanks. As of this morning, we have purchased digital thermostats to help better control and stabilize our temperatures during the beer making process. This will also allow us to begin brewing lagers which we have not yet had the opportunity to do. A mass-production facility uses a very sophisticated Glycol chilling system to keep their beers at near perfect temperatures, and by going to these devices we will be able to somewhat replicate the glycol system. It is very exciting (and expensive) to make an upgrade like this - but ultimately we will be taking several variables out of the equation in regards to the brewing process...which is a good thing and will allow us to make a more repeatable beer once we nail down our recipes.

- Assistant Brewmaster

*Sorry for the lack of updates the past 3 weeks, Blake and Kristin have been moving in to their new house so we not had time to brew. Going forward we should be on a fairly regular schedule of brewing and posting here!