Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saison, ESB, Belgian "Amber" and other News

Once again, I've been too damn busy to blog on this beer blog. I've been working, running, volunteering, and etcetera. I HAVE BREWED, THOUGH. So bugger off! (He said politely while sipping an Mocha Imperial Stout).

On January 7th, I threw a bunch of leftover grain together, with some leftover noble hops, and a healthy starter of BadBenomyces cerevisiae, a Belgian Abbey-style yeast. What came out was a rich amber-colored potpourri of a Belgian ale that had an original gravity of 1.075.

Exactly one week later, my son and I brewed on a day that was colder than an Eskimo f*ck, even with a couple of burners going and a supplemental kerosene heater. My son (Matt) has brewed professionally before, but is still trying to get the hang of brewing on the "home-concocted pile of metal" that my Nanobrewery is. His goal is to make a few successful batches with his buddy, Kevin this year. Since he and I introduced Kevin to "decent brews" a couple of years ago, he spends way too much of his fledgling family's income on bottled Belgians and such. I'm helping him build a cheap kegerator, and have given him and Matt free reign to brew on the Nanobrewery, if they can hack it.

But, I digress...back to the "Eskimo f*ck" brew day. My son had previously made a request to brew a "session" beer of some type, because all of our stock on hand is now strong, 7 to 9 % beers. I had recently scored some of the new Wyeast "Yorkshire" ale yeast, so it was a natural to do an ESB. The brew day went real well. We had the garage TV going with the playoffs on it, and drank coffee until everything was settled and the brew kettle's flame was struck. Matt was taking careful note of everything I was doing, and was fastidiously cleaning anything that we were finished with. It's nice to have a brewing apprentice!!! Roxy was there also, lending a hand, as usual.

So now, I've got three 10-gallon batches in the fermentors, which includes the "Winter Saison." About the's spent an inordinate time in secondary fermentation. I'm going to split it into two 5-gallon sub-batches. One of them I will condition, then force-carbonate. The 2nd 5-gallons will go into a carboy, and I'll throw in some Brett yeast and some additional malt-derived sugar, and let it do it's thing for a while in a dark, forgotton corner.

What else is going on?
The beers I have on tap are tasting great, especially the Scottish and Mocha Imperial Stout. The 2nd 5-gallon cornelius keg of Sticke K├Âlschbier is cold chillin' and hasn't been touched. The Harvest IPA is almost gone. I've got some oak-aged imperial stout, some (vintage 2003) barleywine and some other homebrew in storage.

In a month, I'm going to be a BJCP tasting judge at a regional contest. I was invited by the organizer (who's the Midwest's premeire BJCP trainer). I feel honored to participate, even though I shun homebrew clubs and contests, as a rule. She wants me to enter my Mocha Imperial Stout and "any beers I have kicking around" also, but we'll see. I don't want to sound smug or anything, but I normally shun contests, because I know that I brew good beers, and I don't need constant validation by my peers. Also, I hate putting beers into BJCP categories; probably because I think it limits true brewing creativity. Don't even get me going on homebrewers who only get their rocks-off brewing cloned recipes! To use an analogy; why drive a stock piece-of-shit Chevy, when (with a little coaxing and creativity) you can drive a 263-MPH Bugatti?

Later, and Happy Brewing!

Matt brewing with 'tude on a warmer day.