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Guess That Beer: Mystery Quad from Brewing TV #58

a.k.a. “St. Edhar 12 First Among Equals” – as seen in “Brewing TV – Episode 58: Guess That Beer.”

3 gallons, BIAB all grain:
Target OG: 1.104

Grist:
9 lbs MFB Pilsen

Mash:

  • Dough-in cold at approx. 70 F with 24 qt H20
  • Slowly raise temp to 148 F and rest 75 minutes
  • Mashout 170 F for 10 minutes
  • No sparge

Boil:
2 lbs D-180 candi syrup @ 60”
1 oz Palisade (whole) @ 60”
0.25 oz Liberty (whole, homegrown) @ 60”

1 oz Palisade (whole) @ 15”
0.25 oz Liberty (whole, homegrown) @ 15”

Fermentation:

  • cool to 64 F, O2 and pitch with …
  • Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity
  • quasi-open fermentation (non-sealed, non-airlocked s/s stock pot) free-rise to 68 F w/ periodic rousing for 7 days
  • rack to closed secondary (SG = 1.030), warm to 75 F for attenuation
  • rest 5 weeks in secondary, prime w/ table sugar & bottle condition
  • FG = 1.020, 11.2% abv
  • Preliminary tasting notes from short fill on bottling day:“Milk chocolate covered cherries, banana chips, rose petals, caraway, pumpernickel bread, sweetened Americano, rum cake. Warming on the way down.”

Pork Chops with Imperial Wit Mustard sauce

Pork Chops with Imperial Wit Mustard sauce-1

The basis of any classic preparation lies in simplicity – get the details right, and everything else will fall into place on its own. Fresh meat with uniform thickness and marbling; homebrewed beer with plenty of flavor; Dutch mustard, thick with seeds and on the savory side; healthy portions of butter, hand-rolled in Wisconsin. The devil is in the details, as they say. Read more

Beer Style Guide – Wheat Beer

Hefeweizen
This ale hails from the land of lagers, but it’s packed with surprising flavors you’ll never find elsewhere. Cloudy, tart, soft, full-bodied, fruity; a good hefeweizen has a lot going on. In Germany, hefeweizen is brewed with at least 50% wheat and the remainder contains Pilsner, Munich and/or Vienna malts. Using an authentic hefeweizen strain is a must, as they provide the clove (sometimes referred to as “phenolic”) and banana notes that hefeweizen is known for. Hefeweizen is traditionally served with the yeast mixed in. If you are serving from a bottle, swirl the last bit of liquid to rouse the yeast and then pour it into the glass. Most examples benefit from a high level of carbonation and are best fresh, without long aging times.

Dunkelweizen
The Dunkelweizen is a close counterpart to the Hefeweizen, but brings in some darker grains to make a reddish brown color and lend some malt intensity. Darker Munich malts (or occasionally Vienna malt) lend the beer a rich, bready flavor that compliments that of the wheat. A Dunkelweizen comes off as richer and denser than a hefe, but is still quite refreshing.

Weizenbock
A German wheat beer brewed to bock strength, with intense malt flavors. The same banana and clove yeast character, with occasional tartness or fruity characteristics, that can be found in a Hefeweizen, but with intensely rich maltiness from lots of Munich or Vienna malts. With the ABV approaching 9% in some examples, a slight alcohol flavor can be expected. With good aging the full-bodied flavor and creamy texture of the wheat combines with the dense maltiness to provide a wonderfully rich beer. An excellent winter-time sipper.

Witbier
Witbier, Belgium’s idiosyncratic wheat beer, is an inventive alternative to the German Hefeweizen. Both are cloudy and pale in color, with a similar percentage of wheat used, but a witbier focuses on tart fruitiness and spices. This is one of the few beer styles that is commonly brewed with spices, usually coriander and orange peel. These spices lend some pleasant sweet citrus and spice aromatics and flavor. Witbier often starts out sweet and full-bodied, but moves into a very dry finish, which brings out the tartness. Traditional Belgian wheat beer was brewed with unmalted wheat, which can be quite difficult to work with, and also oats. Witbier is a refreshing style of beer with wide appeal.

American Wheat Beer
The American style of wheat beer is derived from the German tradition, but greatly tones down the influence of the yeast. The use of a fairly neutral yeast removes the usual clove and banana flavors and keeps the beer crisp, with a bit of malty sweetness and a dry finish. Unlike German or Belgian wheat beers, American brewers will often include some hop flavor and aroma in their wheat beers. This ranges from a subtle flavor from an American variety descended from German noble hops, like Liberty or Mt. Hood, to full blown IPA-style wheat beers, with citrusy American hops like Cascade and Amarillo.

Beer Style Guide – Sour Beers

Sour beers are one of the most unusual beer styles, but are naturally intriguing for the homebrewer. They range from a gentle sour tinge that helps provide complexity to ragingly mouth-puckering sourness. The organisms that create sour flavors usually contribute other aromas and flavors that are unattainable with normal yeast, such as the “barnyard” or “horse blanket” flavors associated with some Brettanomyces strains. Sound unappetizing? Perhaps to some, but there is no denying the complexity, the wonderful balance, and the simple allure of sour beers.A couple of tips for brewing sour beers: First, best practice is to use separate plastic equipment for beer containing souring organisms. Something like a glass carboy or a stainless kettle can be cleaned without any issue, but more porous plastic could potentially harbor the souring bacteria and infect later batches. Secondly, making sour beer takes some patience, as the slow-acting bacteria can take a year or more to provide the level of sourness present in many styles. Many souring organisms prefer small amounts of oxygen as they work, so you can speed up their activity a bit by keeping the brew in a plastic bucket or wooden barrel, either one of which will slowly let in small amounts of oxygen.

Belgian Sour Beers
For many, sour beer means Belgium. The adventurous brewers of this small nation are definitely the torch bearers of the sour styles, and a direct link to their long traditions. The most famous Belgian sour is the Lambic. Lambics are traditionally made by inoculating the wort with wild yeasts from the air, which generally results in a mixed culture of regular saccharomyces yeast, brettanomyces, pediococcus, and lactobacillus. This results in a complex, wine-like character and a very dry finished beer. Aged, unblended lambics are among the most sour beers.

The Flanders red ale style is similarly intense, but includes some specialty malts that make the color a deep red. Fruit flavors such as plum can often be found along with the characteristic sourness. Oud Bruin (sometimes called Flanders Brown) is even darker and features some maltiness, which is unusual in sour styles. Some caramel flavors and sweetness, as well as fruity notes, can be expected.

Although you can occasionally find Flanders reds and oud bruins with fruit added, the practice is more common with lambic. A lambic with raspberries added is called a framboise, with cherries it is a kriek. The fruit is often added to the secondary fermentor and can remain the in beer for long periods of aging.

German Sour Beers
Germany has a long and celebrated history of sour beers, but few examples have survived to modern times. The most commonly brewed is Berliner Weisse, a very sour, highly carbonated wheat beer. Berliner Weisse is fermented by a blend of normal yeast and lactobacillus, and occasionally brettanomyces as well. The lactic acid character from the lactobacillus dominates, creating a very tangy, tart acidity. Carbonation is normally quite high to provide a very sparkling and refreshing quality. Berliner weisse is sometimes served with fruit or woodruff syrups to cut the acidity.

A very rare and unique beer called Gose is also brewed in Germany. Gose is similar to Berliner weisse in many respects, but also contains coriander and salt. The amount of salt ranges from barely noticeable to quite salty, and the sourness is usually the dominant feature. A mixed culture of normal yeast and lactobacillus is generally used to produce the sourness.

English and other Sour Beers-

English beers are rarely thought of as being sour, but there is a long history of sour beers in England. Traditionally the “old ale” or “stock ale” that was kept in wooden barrels for long periods of time became slightly soured by bacteria such as brettanomyces claussenii and lactic acid producing bacteria. Beers of very high alcohol and gravity were given fruity, sour characteristics by these organisms. Few modern examples survive, but undeterred homebrewers have made fabulous interpretations of the style.

The Kentucky Common is a final sour beer of note. This beer was brewed in America around Louisville, Kentucky. The brewers used a sour mash technique, where the mash was cooled, inoculated with lactobacillus and allowed to rest at about 100 degrees for a couple of days before draining. Then the mash was brought back up to normal temps, drained and sparged as usual, and the sour liquid boiled, cooled, and given normal ale yeast. The result is a sour, refreshing beer that is rendered slightly dark from a small percentage of roasted grains.

Beer Style Guide – Belgian Ale

Belgian Pale Ale
The Belgian style of Pale Ale is a very drinkable, with some classic Belgian flavors but a modest gravity and more hop balance than most Belgian styles. Designed to be balanced, easy drinking beers, they are about 4-6% alcohol and are made mostly with pilsner or pale malt supplemented by some Belgian caramel malt varieties. The yeast often imparts some fruitiness but is more subdued than a Trappist beer yeast. Hops provide even bitterness and some flavor and aroma, but the balance is more towards malt character than in an American or English Pale Ale.

Dubbel
A dark amber Abbey ale with higher than normal alcohol and full, fruity flavors. Dubbels are usually made dark with the help of dark candi sugar and/or syrup, which also lends some raisin-y caramel flavors. These flavors are sometimes enhanced by the use of Belgian Special B, a very dark caramel malt. Dubbels feature Trappist or Abbey yeast strains that create fruity, dry beers with remarkable complexity.

Tripel
One of the strongest of the monastic beers from Belgium, Tripel is a pale colored beer with high alcohol content (7-10%). This style of beer is usually made from pilsner malt with the addition of light candi sugar to create a thinner, more drinkable body. The yeast is usually the showcase of a Tripel. Classic yeasts come from the modern Trappist and Abbey breweries and exhibit high alcohol tolerance, strong attenuation, spicy and fruity aromas and flavors, and a high level of complexity. Tripels are highly carbonated, which brings out the dry finish.

Golden Strong
This style of beer is a scaled up Belgian Pale Ale. It is quite similar to a Tripel, but can be even more dry, with an even higher alcohol level, and enhanced bitterness. Duvel (“Devil”) is the classic example of the style, and many subsequent examples have also used “devil” related imagery or words. Fruity or spicy contributions from the yeast are common, as is a warming alcohol note. Lots of complexity and often quite smooth, despite the high alcohol content.

Dark Strong
One of the biggest Belgian beers; a complex and intense treat. Crafted by some of the Abbey and Trappist brewers, this beer has the same fruity/spicy yeast character of a Tripel or Dubbel, but with an even higher alcohol level and a lot of malt/caramel intensity. Dark plum, toffee, and raisin-like character can come from crystal malts or dark candi syrup. Some type of simple sugar is often used to keep the alcohol high while preserving a medium body to the beer.

Saison
Saison is a very flavorful Belgian farmhouse ale with some unique characteristics. Though Saison was traditionally made during the winter months as a keeping ale for summer, the Saison yeasts have a unique ability, shared with a handful of other Belgian yeasts, to ferment well at very high temperatures. They tend to produce fruity and spicy flavors, often with a lemon-like component. Some Saisons use spices in the boil, but more often the spicy flavors come from the yeast selection. Saisons are usually very dry, with an alcohol content a bit higher than normal. Some examples have hops added to the end of the boil for aroma and flavor. Modern brewers of Saisons have a quite a range of interpretations, and it is considered a very open style.

Biere de Garde
This is a French style of beer that ranges in color from blond to brown and is characterized by a period of lagering and a malty body. Biere de Garde was traditionally made for long term storage, and as such was a higher alcohol beer (modern examples are about 6-8.5% or so). The lagering period lends a smoothness to the beer while a high attenuation level, aided sometimes by the inclusion of sugar in the recipe, means that the finish is dry.

Corking Belgian Bottles

When bottling certain styles of beer that require a higher-than-normal carbonation level it may be necessary to use heavy duty 750ml Belgian style bottles with corks and wire hoods. These bottles are the same style used by many Belgian beers such as Chimay. The equipment needed to do this is: 750ml Belgian Style bottles, Belgian beer corks, hooded wires, and an appropriate corker.

The type of corker you use is important because you will need to be able to adjust the depth of the plunger and be able to compress the larger cork: iris-style jaws and an adjustable plunger are required. The Portuguese Floor corker works great for Belgian bottles (and is a real workhorse for corking wine bottles as well).

The process for corking Belgian bottles is similar to corking wine bottles except that the cork only goes in about half-way – test-cork an empty bottle first to find the optimal depth setting on the plunger. You will need to first sanitize all of the equipment, bottles, etc., prepare and mix in a priming solution, and fill the bottles as normal. Then place a bottle on the corker platform, drop a cork into the iris chamber, and make sure that the plunger is set to the correct depth. Once it is corked you can apply the hooded wires by twisting the wire with your hand or use a wire tightener. As the beer carbonates the cork may mushroom further while being held in place by the wire. When opening the bottle the pressure from carbonation should allow you to pull the cork by hand.

Vlaai met witbier

Cooking with beer can be a real challenge, due to the fact that beer is often one of the only sources of bitterness in a person’s diet. Bitterness is a taste that is rarely considered desirable in cooking, as it tends to invoke a negative response on the palate. Part of the reason may come from the primal association of bitterness with poison. Conversely, many animals seek out sweetness, because sweetness often indicates fat, sugar, and protein – all the things we find desirable in our diets. Read more

Simple

“Simple isn’t the same as easy,” someone once wrote about Luther Perkins’ guitar playing. In any art where the craft of production is vital to the outcome – music, brewing, cooking … – the prospect of stripping things down and going minimalist is exhilarating and risky. Uncluttered sparseness is kinda scary in an era of big, bombastic, over the top beers.

Read more

New Year’s Champagne Cake

Start the New Year right: with champagne cake!

Delicious Ingredients

1.00 cups delicious butter
2.50 cups delicious white sugar
3.00 delicious eggs
1.50 teaspoons delicious vanilla extract
2.50 cups cheap champagne
3.75 cups versatile all-purpose flour
2.25 teaspoons baking powder
2.50 teaspoons baking soda

Alternate recipe: buy your favorite domestic brand of yellow cake in a box. Follow box instructions, except substitute champagne for all of your wet ingredients; you’ll need to use the eggs to give the cake structure.

Alternate alcohols: You could do the same using Delirium Tremens or Blue Moon Belgian White.

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9″ x 13″ pans. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until deliciously light and powerfully fluffy. Beat in the eggs (preferably one at a time), then stir in the delicious vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the champagne, mixing just until incorporated. Pour this batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in your preheated oven for something like 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the champagne cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  4. Optional: Frost with orange butter frosting to make your delicious champagne cake into a delicious mimosa! Or make the frosting pink if you use Delirium Tremens.

Alternate Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the tops off of several oranges and remove as much of the fruit as possible.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until deliciously light and powerfully fluffy. Beat in the eggs (preferably one at a time), then stir in the delicious vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the champagne, mixing just until incorporated. Pour this batter into prepared oranges.
  4. Bake in your preheated oven for something like 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the champagne cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Pairing: Serve with a flute of good champagne (or match to whichever alcohol you used).
Now, don’t forget to start a batch of sparkling wine for use in next year’s cake!

Soar with Sorghum!

There’s a product that we carry at Northern Brewer which occasionally gets some attention from customers. Usually, this attention is a begrudging acknowledgment of anticipated frustration, and it is directed towards White Sorghum syrup. This is a high maltose, gluten-free extract syrup made from sorghum by Briess Malt in Chilton, WI.

Read more