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.
Over the 4th of July, I smoked about 3 lbs of Pils malt on an old potbelly stove. It smoked with mesquite chips for a few hours in two batches, then was left to condition for ~7 weeks in an open paper grocery bag.
I first brewed a smoked porter with home-smoked malt in 2011. I used alder chips then, in an homage to Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter. It turned out well and the bottle I opened yesterday as I brewed the 2015 version has aged nicely. The biggest flaw is that the smoke flavor is too phenolic. I tried to avoid chlorinated water throughout the process but may not have succeeded.