#42 Cheshire Cat IPA

Eureka, time for another recipe story. The following recipe could be a Russian River’s Pliny the Elder clone recipe. The original recipe can be found here as a pdf.

Not only am I interested in brewing beer, but tasting commercial examples is something I really enjoy as well. There are countries well known for their brewing like Belgium, Germany, England and the Czech Republic. But there are many more these days. One in particular is the USA. I am fortunate enough to get at least some of the beers made there and therefore get an idea what is going on in the US craft beer scene. But there are beers I would like to try but have no chance to get them. One of them is Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. Because I heard so much about Pliny the Elder and Russian River as a brewery, the only way to get an idea about those beers is to make them myself. That’s a standard technique for me to get beers I can’t buy. Other beers that fall into this category are two Dogfish beers like Raison d’être and the 60 min IPA. My recipes for these two beers can be found in the recipe section. So I can’t tell if this recipe below is a clone recipe or not. But that is not that important to me anyway. These clone recipes are often very close to the original anyway and that is enough for me to get at least an idea how the original beer might taste like.

The amount of hops made me think of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. I assume the Cheshire cat needs no further introduction. The hop amount is in some way a bit mad… much like the Cheshire cat. Lets go through the recipe.

Recipe: Cheshire Cat IPA
Numbers: Volume [L] 18 (4.8 gal)
Original gravity 17.5°P
Terminal gravity 4.4°P
Color Around 11 EBC
IBU >90 IBU (measured)
ABV 7.8%
Grains: Pale Malt (6.5 EBC) 5 kg
Cara Munich 2 (120 EBC) 0.23 kg
Carapils (4 EBC) 0.23 kg
Table sugar (0 EBC) 0.18 kg added after the boil
Hops: Columbus (15% AA) 92.7 g and boil for 90 min
Columbus (15% AA) 19.5 g and boil for 45 min
Simcoe (14%) 24.6 g and boil for 30 min
Simcoe (14%) 23.3 g and boil for 0 min (whirlpool hops)
Centennial (9.6%) 62.4 g and boil for 0 min (whirlpool hops)
Columbus (15% AA) 28 g and dry hop for 14 days
Simcoe (14%) 28 g and dry hop for 14 days
Centennial (9.6%) 28 g and dry hop for 14 days
Columbus (15% AA) 7 g and dry hop for 5 days
Simcoe (14%) 7 g and dry hop for 5 days
Centennial (9.6%) 7 g and dry hop for 5 days
Yeast: #1056 American Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 14 L (3.7 gal), sparge: 23 L (6.1 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @ 66°C (151°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F).
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Secondary 14 days @ 18°C (64°F) in a plastic bucket and added the dry hops
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 1.5 vol by adding sucrose
Maturation time 3 weeks

Fig 1: Hop debris after the whirlpool

02/01/12: Brew day. All went according to the protocol above. Then added the hops as mentioned in the recipe and transferred the beer into a fermenter. I have never ever added so many hops to one batch of beer before. That is roughly 220 g for 20 L. It is therefore no surprise how much hops debris there was after the whirlpool (Fig 1). The cooling went very fast since it was still snowing outside, the water from the tap was pretty cool. I then added the #1056 American Ale yeast which originates from my yeast library.

02/08/12: Transferred the beer into the secondary fermentation vessel after seven days of fermentation. And added the first amount of dry hops (Simcoe, Columbus and Centennial).

02/18/12: Added the second part of the dry hops (Simcoe, Columbus and Centennial).

02/28/12: Gravity was at 4.4°P. So I bottled half of the batch into bottles and the other part into a 9 L keg (2.4 gal). The beer matured at 18°C (64°F) for one weeks and went into the refrigerator after that. The beer will be ready to taste by the end of March 2012. And I will post the tasting in a separate post in the future. Please let me know if some of you out there has brewed this recipe already. Stay tuned.


#44 Traditional Berliner Weisse

Eureka, the following brew is one of the weirdest I have done so far. The recipe I am talking about is a Berliner Weisse recipe influenced by a traditional way to get it sour.

The story begins in Berlin, 1908. A man named Otto Francke patented a method to get a more consistent sourness in Berliner Weisse beers. The old way to sour a Berliner Weisse was to get the sourness from lactic acid producing bacteria during the fermentation. One disadvantages of this method was the inconsistent sourness. Otto Francke’s method changed that. Those of you who are familiar with German find the patent here. A short summary of his process: The process basically is about sour mashing. Otto Francke describes a method were you add lactic acid forming bacteria to your mash and let it ferment until the sourness is at an appropriate level. I assume that a kind of Lactobacillus strain was used for this task. Then you just heat up the whole mash and kill the bacteria. The level of sourness is now fixed. Then cool it down and let it ferment with a yeast.

The following information are from a thesis I got from a homebrewer in Germany. The thesis’ title in English is “About the flavor formation in Berliner wheat beer regarding acids and esters” and was written by F.J. Methner in 1987.

As already mentioned, there are at least two different strategies to sour a Berliner Weisse. The first one involves a pre-souring of the mash with the addition of Lactobacillus as described above. The wort is then pasteurized and fermented with a Saccharomyces strain and Brettanomyces bruxellensis is added at bottling. Yes, there were some Brettanomyces in the beer as well. This method is useful to get a consistent sourness. Another method to sour the beer is pitching Lactobacillus in addition to yeast for the fermentation. The important step here is to pitch a least a 1:1 ratio of the Lactobacillus: yeast cells. If there are more yeast cells than Lactobacillus at the beginning, the growth of the yeast can prevent the Lactobacillus and therefore lead to a lower sourness. Some of you familiar with Lactobacillus might know that some Lactobacillus strains are hop sensitive. One example of such a strain is the one available from Wyeast, Lactobacillus delbrueckii. This strain can therefore be used for sour mashing because there are no hops in the mash at this time. Problems could arise when you use this strain in the fermentation vessel for souring as there were hops in the wort or mash. Hop-insensitive strains such as L. brevis can be used for souring during the fermentation. But this strain is not available for homebrewers as far as I know.

Another interesting fact about sourness, the sourness in unboiled worts get higher than in boiled worts. The boiling seems to hinder the Lactobacillus in some way. It is therefore advisable to use a no-boil technique if the souring will be done in the fermenter.

The history and techniques of Berliner Weisse breweries in Berlin are not very well documented and research is still going on. This research and documentation seem very important to me since the Berliner Weisse breweries are very limited in Germany and the knowledge of Berliner Weisse brewing might get lost. Luckily there is a growing homebrewer community which helps to keep the knowledge of Berliner Weisse brewing. But there are some homebrewers in Germany as well who try to replicate the old Berliner Weisse that once existed. Luckily for me, all the old articles about Berliner Weisse are written in German and therefore have no problem understanding them.

So I planned on doing a sour mash as well but did not add any kind of Lactobacillus, just some additional malt. There should be some kind of Lactobacillus on the grains to get the mash to the appropriate sourness level. Lets first get through the recipe, details about the process are mentioned below. I used J. Zainasheff’s “Saures Biergesicht” recipe and tweaked it a bit.

Recipe: Traditionelle Berliner Weisse
Numbers: Volume [L] 18 (4.8 gal)
Original gravity 10.4°P
Terminal gravity Not yet measured
Color Around 6 EBC
Grains: Pilsner Malt (4 EBC) 1.9 kg
Wheat Malt (4 EBC) 1.36 kg
Acidified malt (6 EBC) 0.2 kg (added after pre-mashing)
Hops: Hallertauer (4% AA) 28 g Mash hops
Yeast: #1338 European Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 8.5 L (2.2 gal), sparge: 23 L (6.1 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Pre-mash Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @ 66°C (151°F), cool down to 50°C (131°F) and add 0.2 kg of acidified malt. Leave mash for two days at around 38°C (100°F).
Second mash Add hops and heat up to 78°C. Rest 15 min @ 78°C (172°F).
Boil: No boil
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 3.5 vol for bottles, 1.75 vol for keg
Maturation time 3-4 months

02/10/12: Brew day. Crushed the malts and mashed them in at 65°C. Then held the mash at this temperature for an hour. I then let the mash cool down to approximately 50°C (131°F) and added some crushed acidified malt. I then set my electrical kettle to 38°C (100°F) and let it sit.

Fig 1: Souring mash after 24 h at 38°C (100°F)

Luckily, there is no smell coming with the pictures. The smell after 24 h was just incredible (Fig 1). There were some notes of fermented lemons, some sourness, and a very overpowering smell of vomit… The heat helped to distribute the smell evenly in my basement. And the mash was bubbling a bit (see white bubbles at the surface in Fig 1). Well, the smell was just too much! I was very close to dumb the whole thing to get rid of the smell in the basement. But I left the mash sour for another 24 h. By the way, there was some sourness detectable as I tasted the mash.

Fig 2: Added the hops to the mash

Then happened the first miracle. The next morning, the mash now rested for nearly 48 h, the vomit smell was gone, although still in my basement, but there was a very pleasant lemony smell. And the mash was even more sour than the day before. So I proceeded with my mission to replicate an original Berliner Weisse. I then added the hops directly into the mash and heated the whole thing up to 78°C (172°F) and left it there for 15 minutes. Then sparged the wort directly into the fermenter.

Fig 3: Mash is resting at 78°C

Another interesting thing here was the consistency of the mash. The mash was a kind of mushy as it can be seen in Fig 3. And this made the sparging a really hard job. I tried three different false bottoms I have for fly sparging. I then decided to go with a batch sparge. This did not improved the whole sparging a bit. So I went for a stir-and-flow technique. I first stirred up the whole mash and collected the runnings until it got stuck and repeated this process until the fermenter was full. I guess I do not have to mention that my efficiency of this batch was one of the lowest ever….

I then let the fermenter cool down outside and pitched a package of Wyeast’s European Ale yeast. Another thing that made me worry was the European Ale yeast. I know that this particular strain tends to a very long lag-phase before proceeding to the fermentation. But the fermenter stayed there for nearly two days without any signs of fermentation, kräusen or change in gravity. I already assumed that maybe the souring could have altered the mash in a way to make it unfermentable for the yeast. But then, another miracle, the fermentation took off after two days.

02/28/12: Bottling time. I added some table sugar for the appropriate carbonation levels and bottled half of the batch in a 9 L keg (2.4 gal) and the remaining liters into bottles. I then added some sediment from my BFM dregs, which include a Brettanomyces strain, to each bottle. No Bretts for the keg. The bottles and keg will now mature for nearly three to four months. I am really looking forward how this brew turns out. I hope that the tasting will be the third miracle…

By the way, I had a look at the mash with my microscope. And I could see a lot of different bacteria in there… Stay tuned for the tasting in late June.

07/19/2012: Uploaded the tasting notes of the share with Brettanomyces.

#8 Agar plates (Wyeast’s Roeselare Blend)

Eureka, today the latest results from the bugs from Wyeast’s #3763 Roeselare Blend. This post is about further results from the original plates which can be found in this post. Just a brief follow-up what I did. I first streaked some beer which is fermented with the Wyeast’s Roeselare Blend on a Sabouraud plate. Then incubated it at room temperature. After three days were some colonies visible (Fig 1). I then picked a colony of each of the two different colonies (off-white and white ones) and re-streaked them on a separate plate. I had to discharge the plate from Fig 1 due to a mold contamination. I then had a look at the different strains in the first post.

The off-white, glossy, bigger colonies were determined to be a kind of “normal” yeast and the white ones were a kind of different yeast. Maybe Brettanomyces? I let the plates with the two isolated strains incubate further and had another look at them.

Fig 1: #3763 Roeselare Blend on Sabouraud agar after three days of incubation

First about the colonies that turned out to be brewer’s yeast. This would be the off-white, bigger and glossy colonies in Fig 1. And the re-streaked colonies looked very alike normal brewer’s yeast (Fig 2). The reason why some colonies on the right part of the plate seem to have a kind of a hill is due to the incubation: The plates were upside down and the bigger yeast colonies tend to form a kind of drop.

Fig 2: Off-white colonies from Roeselare Blend after 10 days of incubation on Sabouraud agar

And the microscopy showed the typical yeast cells (Fig 3). Once again, these cells are indeed a kind of typical Saccharomyces. As there are several yeast strains in the blend, these cells could be a brewer’s yeast strain or a sherry strain as well. But that’s not what I am interested in. It is enough for me to know that these cells here are “normal” yeasts. Lets move on.

Fig 3: Off-white colonies from Fig 2 under microscope

There still were the other colonies. The ones that tend to grow on top of the yeast cells (Fig 1). I re-streaked these cells as well and had to re-streak it for several times because of a mold contamination (Fig 4). And I finally discharged all these plates. I therefore lost this kind of strain… Unfortunately, the microscope showed a kind of yeast that I am interested in (Fig 5).

Fig 4: White colonies from Roeselare Blend after 10 days of incubation on Sabouraud agar

And these are really no “normal” yeast cells. I had a feeling in the first post that these cells looked very similar to Brettanomyces. And I already mentioned that I ordered pure Brettanomyces strains for a future brew. By the time I wrote this post, I already had a look at the two different strains, Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Brettanomyces lambicus. And I dare to guess that these cells here in Fig 5, are Brettanomyces. But I unfortunately lost them due to a mold infection…

Fig 5: White colonies from Fig 4 under microscope

Well, this experiment was fun and I will definitely try to repeat this and try to isolate the Bretts from the blend once again. Another thing that I found out and already repeated with other Brettanomyces is the fact, that these yeasts can grow nearly as fast as Saccharomyces. When I streaked Brettanomyces colonies directly on a new plate or plated some liquid from the Wyeast’s Brettanomyces Activator pack, the cells were visible on the Sabouraud plates within days. The growth is completely different when I streaked some dregs with Brettanomyces. Then it took nearly three weeks to get any Brettanomyces colonies on the plates.

The next post about souring bugs will be about the pure Brettanomyces strains from Wyeast’s and the fermentation tests I did with some isolated bugs from a 3 Fonteinen Geuze and Girardin Gueuze. Stay tuned.

#21P Impromptu IPA

Eureka, today’s post is about my first India Pale Ale (IPA) recipe. The story behind this recipe is quite different compared to all the other recipes. All started with the urge to brew a new batch. A quick look in the refrigerator told me to make an IPA to use the remaining hops. The grist was just some Pale Ale malt and some Crystal for color. And the brewing begun.

Recipe: Impromptu IPA
Numbers: Volume [L] 5 (1.3 gal)
Original gravity 14.5°P
Terminal gravity Not measured
Color Around 16 EBC
Grains: Pale Malt (6.5 EBC) 1.15 kg
Crystal (120 EBC) 0.1 kg
Hops: Northern (10% AA) 20 g and boil for 60 min
Northern (10% AA) 7.0 g and boil for 15 min
Target (11.5%) 4.0 g and boil for 15 min
Goldings (6.5%) 3 g for dry hopping in secondary fermentation
Yeast: US 05
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 3.1 L (0.8 gal), sparge: 6 L (1.6 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @ 66°C (151°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 3 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Secondary 6 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2.5 with table sugar
Maturation time 3 weeks

02/07/2011: Brew day. Another small batch. Iodine test was negative after resting for one hour and the hops went into the boiling wort as planned. After cooling the wort down to pitching temperature, the yeast finally could start its job.

02/10/2011: Already racked the beer into a secondary fermenter and added the hops for dry hopping.

02/16/2011: Bottled the beer with sugar and left the bottles carbonate for nearly five days. Unfortunately, I forgot to measure the terminal gravity and thus have no idea about the ABV of this brew. I planned a final gravity of about 2.8°P which would have led to an ABV of approximately 6.2%.

03/18/2011: Tasting! The beer matured for nearly four weeks at around 4°C (39°F). I am very sorry but I have no picture of this brew…

Aroma: Very hoppy aroma, hints of oranges. Very nice aroma.

Appearance: Brilliant beer, good head retention, white head, some particles are floating in there… A lot of carbonation!

Flavor: Oranges, some malt notes, very well-balanced, quite bitter but not too overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Light- medium body, lively carbonation, medium lasting bitter aftertaste.

Overall Impression: This is a bitter and hoppy beer. A very nice IPA with just the right amount of bitterness, some fruit notes as well as some maltyness. I assume the orange notes originate from the Golding hops.

This beer is more or less a very typical example of an English India Pale. Not as bitter as an American IPA. Unfortunately, the amount of bottles was very limited and it was gone after several weeks already. I would not change anything in the recipe for another batch. Maybe change the yeast strain. I intend to brew this particular recipe again in autumn of 2012 and use undried fresh East Kent Golding hops from my garden.

#7 Agar plates (Girardin)

Eureka, the hunt for souring bugs continues. This post is about the latest results from the attempt to isolate some souring bugs out of the dregs of a Girardin Gueuze. The isolation process can be found here, and the first part of the results are here.

What happened in the first place was the following. I plated some of the liquid of the starter where I dumped the dregs from the Girardin Gueuze into.

Fig 1: Girardin bugs on Sabouraud after 21 days

The plate showed new colonies after 21 days of inoculation (Fig 1). There were some white and wavy colonies visible and some very small ones as well. The beige colonies on the plate are the colonies that I determined to be a sort of bacteria in the previous post. So I took one of the white colonies and streaked them on a separate plate. By the way, the very small circular colonies visible in the upper part of Fig 1 were a kind of bacteria again. I assume that these are Pediococcus.

Fig 2: Girardin white colonies after 10 days of incubation on Sabouraud agar

The plate showed just one kind of colonies, white and wavy colonies like the original colony (Fig 2). Why I re-streaked this type of colony is very simple because I already expected that this yeast (determined with a microscope before re-streaking) is not a Saccharomyces strain. So I took another picture of a colony from the plate in Fig 2.

Fig 3: Microscopy picture Girardin white colony

Now again a very difficult task. What kind of yeast are these colonies? This is a kind of yeast that stick together and are more oval than circular. My guess is that these yeasts are no Saccharomyces but maybe a kind of Brettanomyces or an other kind of yeast. What I did next is a fermentation test like I did it with the white colonies I isolated from the 3 Fonteinen dregs in the previous post in Fig 3 and 4. I will post about these two fermentation test in the future and I can already tell that the results are already beyond my expectations. Well, this will be the last results about the isolation of bugs from the Girardin Gueuze with the Sabouraud agar. The different plates are still incubating but I will put them in the refrigerator soon to keep them for a longer period of time.

What happens next at the souring bug front? As already mentioned in the 3 Fonteinen post, the next post will be about the last results of the isolation process of Wyeast’s Roeselare Blend. Then some really awesome stuff: I had a look at some pure Brettanomyces strains from Wyeast (B. lambicus and B. bruxellensis). And what I saw there was just amazing. I took a lot of pictures to catch the different cells there were and try to blend them all together and make two really interesting posts. And of course, the two Brett strains are already on some agar plates as well. To summarize, the next posts about souring bugs will be about the Roeselare Blend, some pure Brettanomyces strains and the fermentation tests. Stay tuned.

#16 Eureka

Eureka, today the story how I came up with the name Eureka in the first place. It all started with a beer. I really like Anchor’s Steam beer and looked for a clone recipe. I found one and went for it. The special thing in this recipe is the yeast. Wyeast’s 2112 California Lager yeast can ferment at top fermenting temperatures but what you get is a flavor profile of a Lager yeast. Some call them hybrid yeasts. This is pretty comfortable for me since I had no opportunity back then to ferment at lower temperatures during the summer for Lager brewing. Now I have a refrigerator for such purposes but never used it as a fermentation chamber. I use it as a kegerator… And I haven’t done a real bottom fermenting beer ever because I am not that in to this kind of beers anyway. I have to mention that I brewed a Pilsner beer before, but the fermentation temperature was way to high for that. But I planned my first bottom fermenting brew for 2012. I will brew a batch of Munich Lager beer and let it ferment with Wyeast’s PC-2487 Hella Bock. Lets get back to the recipe.

After the beer was done came the search for a name. I did a lot of thinking and searching and finally stumbled upon California’s motto: “Eureka”. And thats how the name Eureka came into my existence. The reason why I chose this word for my homebrewery is a different one. Some might know the legend that is connected to Archimedes. And since I am becoming a scientist, the word Eureka is something every scientist is looking forward to. I guess I should run through my city naked as soon as I have made an important discovery…

Recipe: Eureka
Numbers: Volume [L] 20 (5.3 gal)
Original gravity 12.8°P
Terminal gravity 4.5°P
Color Around 44 EBC
ABV 4.5%
Grains: Pale Malt (6.5 EBC) 4.2 kg
Crystal (120 EBC) 0.4 kg
Hops: Northern Brewer (10% AA) 20 g and boil for 90 min
Northern Brewer (10% AA) 11.2 g and boil for 15 min
Northern Brewer (10% AA) 11.2 g and boil for 0 min
Yeast: #2112 California Lager
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 23 L (6.1 gal), sparge: 14 L (3.7 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @ 72°C (162°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 12 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) Added 2 L of wort to beer for carbonation
Maturation time 3 weeks

08/14/2010: Brew day. I brewed this batch together with a bunch of friends and had no time taking any pictures and the notes I did are very limited as well. But we basically followed the recipe and pitched the yeast after the brewing was done. 2 liters of wort were bottled before pitching the yeast for the later carbonation process. The beer was bottled after 12 days of fermentation with the 2 L of wort. The bottles went into the refrigerator after three weeks of maturation and conditioning.

10/10/2010: Time for a tasting.

Aroma: Sweet and malty aroma. Some honey and hoppy notes.

Appearance: Clear, 1 finger white head, some carbonation visible, nice orange-brown-amber color.

Flavor: Malty, some bitterness detectable, light sweetness, caramel notes.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation, medium lasting malty and sweet aftertaste. Just a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall Impression: This beer is like an easy drinkable Munich Lager beer. There is a malty richness in the beer that makes it very easy enjoyable. I really like this California Lager yeast. This yeast gives the beer no additional character and you just get the aromas and flavors you expect from the malts and hops. Give this yeast a try if you can.

I did a Anchor Steam vs. Eureka tasting in December of 2010 with two friends. Lets find how it went.

Aroma: The aroma of both beers was quite similar. The taste of the Eureka was a bit fresher and more intense compared to the Anchor beer.

Appearance: Eureka was a bit darker than the Anchor Steam.

Flavor: Anchor Steam was well balanced, the Eureka had a more sweetness pronounced character.

Mouthfeel: More of less the same. There was some bitterness detectable in the Anchor Steam’s aftertaste.

Overall Impression: The two beer were quite similar. The Steam beer was better balanced but had a bitter aftertaste. My favorite of the two is the Eureka because it is somewhat more malty and less bitter than the Anchor’s Steam beer. I kind of expected this to happen because I tweaked the recipe a bit to improve the malt character. To get a beer that is even more similar to the Anchor’s Steam beer would be to decrease the maltyness of the recipe by lowering the amount of Crystal malt. By the way, my tasting companions preferred the Eureka as well.

Well, that was a fun batch. And all in all a really excellent brew. I already planned to brew a second batch in 2012. The recipe will be exactly the same, no changes necessary in my opinion.