It’s been a few months since my last blog post but I’ve not exactly been idle since then so I’m going to keep you up to date on what I’ve been up to.
First of all we’re delighted to be pouring at my favourite beer festival, Carnivale Brettanomyces on June 21st in the Oedipus brewery on the north side of Amsterdam which is a Thursday and the night dedicated to homebrewers with beers of a funky persuasion. I know there are a few other homebrewers from Ireland also attending the event and tapping some beers too. We’ll be there for the four nights but if you’d like to come and sample our beers which will be free and under the name Wide Street Brewing then join us on the 21st.
Now for a little detail on the beer I’ve made for the festival. The goal was to brew a beer that crosses the boundaries between beer and wine. It’s not something new as a lot of breweries have aged beer in wine barrels to extract the flavor from them into their beer so to replicate this on a smaller scale I started by infusing some freshly carved oak chips from my neighbor and top notch homebrewer Andru in a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc back in November in preparation for the brewday which took place in the first week of January. Other takes on the beer/wine hybrid also involve using wine yeast and adding grapes, grape must and concentrated grape juice as well as barrel ages sour versions.
Here’s the recipe so we can go through the thinking behind it.
*The term Vineyard Style stolen from Scott Janish but it fits the bill!
Sauvignon Sauvin Vineyard Style Saison
3.5kg Belgian Pilsner Malt 81.4%
0.2kg Wheat Malt 4.7%
0.2kg Belgian Rye 4.7%
0.2kg Flaked Oats 4.7%
0.2kg Acidulated Malt 4.7%
15g @60min Magnum 19 IBU
25g @5min Nelson Sauvin 7 IBU
75g @0min Nelson Sauvin
American Farmhouse Blend WLP670 + Omega Yeast Labs All The Bretts(Day 3)
Sauvignon Blanc Soaked Oak Cips @ Day 3
ABV 5.5% – IBU 26 – OG 1.044 – FG 1.002 – Mash pH 5.2
The use of Pilsner base malt was to have a clear and clean body which will resemble a white wine in appearance but also not interfere with the flavours I plan on extracting elsewhere from the hops, yeast and oak chips. I needed nearly 5% of acidulated malt to hit my desired pH due to the high pH of my tap water (which was treated with a campden tab the night before). The use of oats, rye and wheat was just a little something I picked up from the great minds at the saison panel at Carnivale Brettanomyces the previous summer so when guys from Hill Farmstead and Crooked Stave tell you to add four to five malts for added complexity to mixed fermentation beers then you add them!
Nelson Sauvin hops are famous for their wine like and strong fruit characteristics so it was a no brainer to add these to the recipe although I have gotten similar characteristics from Hallertau Blanc recently and plan to use a lot of that hop where Nelson is unavailable. And Nelson is always expensive and mostly unavailable! The price to pay for the world’s most desired hop.
Although only my second time using WLP670 American Farmhouse yeast I quite liked the Brettanomyces to saison yeast strain blends and I do want the beer to resemble a saison even though I used the term Vineyard Style! I added All the Bretts which is a blend of 12 Brettanomyces strains midway through primary fermentation because I just love how this blend accentuates whatever hops have been used and I’m especially keen to see how it interacts with the oak and Nelson Sauvin hops in this instance having previously seen it really intensify Hallertau Blanc hops.
Currently it sits in the fermenter and is at a nice and dry 1.002 which is perfect. I’m sampling it monthly to try and hit just the right blend of oak and wine but also want to give it a few months in the bottle where the Brettanomyces should transform it even further.
Transporting this one to Amsterdam with a couple of checked in suitcases and hopefully returning from that festival with suitcases full of beers from Speciation, Yazoo/Embrace The Funk, Black Project Wild and Spontaneous, 3 Fonteinen, Saint Somewhere, Funk Factory etc. etc. to be fair it’s always an outstanding line-up and as well as giving homebrewers a chance to shine there is also meet and greets, beer and food pairings with selected breweries and an endless list of lectures from some of the brightest minds in the world of alternative brewing.
Other background projects I’ve been working on are trying out different strains of Brettanomyces and the purchase of an Aspen GTC10 1000x mag 100x objective, NA 1.25 oil immersion, full range condenser optics microscope so I can scope out and grow up my own harvested Brettanomyces, saccharomyces and lactobacillus from my local surrounds. Constant analysis and pushing the boundaries is what my brewing style is about.
I look forward to seeing you in June so pop over and say hello. I do plan on brewing a 100% Brettanomyces IPA closer to the date to also bring with me if there’s room in the suitcases!
I will also have some exciting news coming up in the next blog which will be very soon so stay tuned.
Cheers and thanks for reading,