For Round 9 of the Knob Creek sour barrel project, we brewed a Berliner Weisse. This was the simplest recipe I’ve brewed: 60% Pilsner malt, 40% Wheat malt, 1.040 OG (our actual was more like 1.035). No hops: hops inhibit lactobacillus and there’s no hop character needed for the style.
Spencer and I brewed a quadruple batch (23 gallons) – this included an extra 5 gallons to be shared by the group, covering the angel’s share and making for fuller take-home portions. I thought I’d get by with reusing the yeast cake from a batch of cider; that failed to take off so I pitched a fresh packet of US-05.
I brewed my first Flanders Red – my first sour beer – in 2010. Other AABGers brewed sour beers but they weren’t yet commercially ubiquitous. I knew mine was good when in a head-to-head tasting it was plainly superior to Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja.
In a stroke of beginner’s luck, that beer placed 1st out of over 1,000 entries at the 2012 Homebrew at the W.E.B. competition. I won a $1000 gift certificate, which I spent on the two kettles that are are the foundation of the brewing system I use today.
Coming full circle: this is my third Flanders Red, all using the same recipe. This time, instead of fermenting with my own microbial culture mix, I’ll be doing a clean ferment and adding it to the Knob Creek barrel (round 10!) along with my co-brewers.
The recipe was formulated by the AABG’s Jeff Rankert. Hard to see how the maize would be historical, but it should give non-yeast microbes more to chew on.
Quick active fermentation. Racked about 16 gallons into the barrel a few weeks later, reserving one 5 gallon share to drink clean.
One participant in the barrel project wasn’t able to participate this round, so we covered his share by adding a carboy of 2-year-old Quadrupel ale I had lying around. It was too dull and boozy to drink and had become slightly oxidized. This will slightly boost the SRM of the combined beer and the other 90% of the fresh beer should cover up the oxidation notes.
I first created Zingibier, a “grand cru” style spiced Belgian ale, in 2010. With beginner’s luck, it won a gold medal in the 2010 National Homebrew Competition, and the recipe is featured on the American Homebrew Association’s website.
The beer is tough to categorize. It’s a strong (~8%) wheat beer that uses a Belgian Witbier yeast and spices typically associated with the Witbier style: coriander, bitter orange peel, and chamomile. It also packs a prominent ginger note, with the ginger sufficiently cooked as to not contribute heat.
This was simple: the second runnings from Batch 72. The goal was two-fold:
Have a light, approachable beer on tap for guests who drink “regular” beer
A freebie: extra beer for little effort
Brewed March 24th, OG was ~1.036. We threw in a partial ounce of random hops for bittering and used S-O4 dry yeast for low attenuation.
By April 7th the FG was 1.013 and I kegged it. Roughly 3.0% ABV.
I served the beer from my cellar, at around 60 degrees, undercarbonated. It was a little thin, though great for blending with other beers on tap. For instance, blending it about 9:1 with my overly-sweet Belgian Dark Strong (~12%) on tap made for a highly drinkable session beer, leaving it slightly below 4% abv.
Like all of my second runnings beers, this keg blew way before the main batch – in this case, before the Imperial Stout was even packaged.
Having my brother in town as a helper, we decided to brew a partigyle beer: 11 gallons of Imperial Stout and a 2nd-runnings Mild. I used the same recipe I came up with for the first beer in the Knob Creek barrel. That beer was outstanding after blending with 10 other people’s beer and barrel-aging; as I recall, mine was pretty good going into the barrel, too.
There’s a closet in my basement that hovers near 50 degrees in the winter. So before spring arrives, I wanted to take advantage of my natural “temperature control” and brew a lager. I don’t brew many lagers, but the provocative Brulosophy experiments on lager yeast fermentation temperature gave me peace of mind that if a warm spell comes through and the room gets a little warmer, it’ll be fine.
This was a convenience recipe in other regards. I used dry yeast to avoid needing a massive starter and I used up half a bag of leftover pils malt. And I ran off 5 gallons of wort before adding flame-out hops, to ferment with an ale yeast and use to top up the 53 gallon barrel at my house that is mostly full of funky dark saison. It’s nice to get rid of the headspace in the barrel, and we wager no one will notice 10% of hoppy Belgian ale blended in.
This is one of my favorite parts of using a plate chiller: being able to split batches by running off and chilling part of the brew, then adding and boiling as needed for the remaining share.
This is the 5th beer we’ve put in the 53 gallon Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve oak barrel that lives in my basement. We decided to brew a dark saison, and came up with a recipe very closely based on this one by Michael Tonsmeire, his 6th, though others in the barrel used different yeasts from what’s listed here.
A friend came into a 53 gallon Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 9 year whiskey barrel that now lives in my basement and houses homebrew. We’ve done a Russian Imperial Stout, a Scotch Ale, and an Oud Bruin. The fresh barrel contributed a massive oak character, but over 3 batches and 1.5 years, the oak faded. When the barrel naturally went sour during the Scotch Ale, we switched to intentionally soured beers and added 8 sachets of the Flemish Ale F4 blend from Blackman Yeast.
Next up is a sour stout, very low on hops (<10 IBUs), inspired by The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness. The low IBUs are friendlier to souring microbes and also avoid the clashing of bitterness and acidity.
The 2nd beer in the Knob Creek barrel collaboration.
I brewed two 5-gallon shares of this beer, in collaboration with a fellow barrel members. Others used different recipes. We brewed in summer 2015, then aged the beer in the barrel for about 6 months, pulling it January 2016. It went naturally sour in the barrel, making the sour aspect of this lambic-esque in that it spontaneously soured from organisms present in the surrounding environment.
I aged my ~4.5 gallons on 1.5lbs of wild black raspberries for another 4 months in a secondary carboy. It took a while to carb up, the result of have aged for over a year. I’ll add yeast at bottling for future barrel-aged sours. But carbed up eventually, and it’s good.
Summer 2016: this beer placed 2nd in the American Wild Ale category at the 2016 Michigan Beer Cup.
March 2017: funny that I originally worried about whether this would carbonate; it has continued to ferment in the bottle and now gushes upon opening if not very cold. Not coincidentally, it’s developing a more prominent Brett funk. If I had a 4th slot for this year’s Nat’l Homebrew Competition, I might enter it – which also means it’s not one of my top 3 beers right now. But it’s still quite nice.