Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home Brew Wednesday - Gus HBW #1 Funky Cold Medina

Today I have another post that is a little different from my norm.  I'm going to do, as you can tell from the title, a Home Brew Wednesday (HBW) post to my blog.  I recently brewed another batch of beer and decided I'm going to try to get more into the brewing side of beer.  I figured it would be an interesting post and would teach some folks how the beer making process (on a small scale) goes.  A good friend of mine and fellow beer lover does some really great home brews and has gotten me into it.  You can follow him on UnTappd at DrewBrew08 and he is on by the same name.  You can find me on both UnTappd and HomeBrewTalk with the name Gus_13.  I should have already listed this info and will update the information on the front page of my blog.  A lot of the names and titles will be shortened in these posts so I'll try to explain them as I go so as not to confuse anyone.  I'll use the short hand names more often than I will the really long names.  I will do my best to explain some of the processes but, I am still new to brewing and how all of this works.  So I can do my best and share what I do know.  Now all the explaining and introducing is out of the way, let's get into my first HBW post!

I started brewing this brew with a quick run to my local home brew store (LHBS) BrewHaha.  I explained to the guys there what I was trying to do and asked for their advice in getting to my goal.  If you have a LHBS I really recommend going by and seeing what they have to offer and what information you can pick up.  Ours located off of Highway 55 in Jackson, MS area is brand new.  We used to have to order things from online.  It's not really any trouble and they do their best to answer any questions you may have online.  But, it's easier to talk and get information face-to-face in my opinion.  I told Nick (shout out to you if you are reading!) that I was thinking of taking a kit beer like a Belgian Saison and then pumping it up a bit to get what I was actually looking for. Most of the time the kits are easier to brew.  After this one I think I'm going to start making my own kits and brewing from new recipes.  We will see. He really helped me out in getting started to get what I wanted to have in the brew when all was said and done.  I'm going to show you how I brewed this beer along with some extra information.  Organization will get better as I go along with these but bare with me and let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions for how to present these HBW posts better.

I picked up a Brewer's Best Belgian Saison kit.  This thing comes with everything you need to get a good Belgian Saison.  It also included caps and priming sugar.  A lot of other kits don't include these.

 The kit comes with the standard malt extract, hops and yeast required to brew this beer.

Hops used in this brew.  Pretty standard stuff for a Belgian:  German Tradition, US Golding and Willamette.

I decided to add a few of my own additions with the advice from Nick again as well.  I knew I wanted to brew a beer using some Brett (Brettanomyces) and maybe even some other souring agents.  Nick led me to Brettanomyces Lambicus and Sour Mix #1 from White Labs.  Pitching these into my brew would increase fermenting time but would give me what I was looking for (funky, crazy, sour brew.)  Brettanomyces is a strand of yeast that is used in brewing to get that horsy, funky and sour flavors and aromas.  The strain B. Lambicus is used in Lambics.  It can be used for others and I decided it would be a perfect fit as I really wanted the biggest funky flavors I could get.

The other vial from White Labs contained their Sour Mix #1.  This contained more Brettanomyces and some Saccharomyces yeasts (normal beer brewing yeast.)  This vial also contained some creepy crawlies.  Or as they are called in the brewing world, bugs.  These "bugs" are some bacterial strains that are used to help achieve some more of the sour, funky flavors.  This specific vial had Lactobacillus (a bacteria that converts lactose and other sugars lactic acid) and Pediococcus (another strain of bacteria that produces lactic acid.)  The lactic acid adds to the acidity and sourness of a brew.  All of this may sound gross, but if you have a taste for the brews that these things produce it is amazingly delicious.  It took me some time to develop the taste for them but when it did, I was sucked in.

I had all of my ingredients so I went to steeping my special grains included in the kit.

When I was done with this I added my malt extracts from the kit and brought it to a boil.  I also included 3.3 lbs of wheat malt extract, by recommendation of Nick, to feed the extra yeasts and bacteria that I was going to include in the brew.

I followed the instructions and pitched my yeasts at the desired intervals of the boil.  When I had 15 minutes or so left in the boil I threw in the candy sugar from the kit and the aromatic spices it had as well.  I'm not sure how much of the aromatics will remain since this will be a very long fermentation (roughly a year) but I wanted to include whatever was in the kit.

After the boil was completed I transferred my pot full of wart into an ice bath in the sink to cool.

After the wort had cooled to the right temperature I strained it into my fermenter and got ready to pitch the yeast.  I took my Original Gravity (OG) reading and was a little high.  This was due to adding the extra malt in the boil.  I added water to bring the wort just under 5.5 gallons.  I wanted a little extra since I would have a large amount of yeast and to account for the pellicle that would be created by the Brett.  I was ready to pitch my yeast.

I hydrated the dry yeast that came with the kit and poured it into the bucket.

I also poured in the vial of White Labs Brettanomyces Lambicus.  It was getting closer to being ready to ferment.  Being the over-the-top kind of person I am, and apparently Nick can fall into this category as well (a good trait for a brewer I believe!), I added some French Oak Chips that had been soaking in some sanitizer.  This would make a home similar to a barrel for all of the Brett and bugs that I added to the brew.  It may or may not give it some oak character but it will be a perfect place for more of the bacteria to grow and get happy.  Nick mention this to me at the store and I jumped all over it.

Soaking the chips.

After I had combined all of this it was time to seal it up and let the yeast and bugs do what they do.  It will be tough to just sit and wait for this brew to come to fruition.  I'm hoping all of the waiting and extra I put into this brew will be worth it.  I have a feeling it will be.  I sealed the top and put the bucket in my closet.

I named my fermenter for this brew "The Bug Pit."  The reason I wrote this on the bucket is that I won't be able to use this bucket for a regular brew anymore.  It will retain some of the Brett and bacteria that I pitched in there and would ruin other brews.  From now on this will be my sour fermenting bucket.

I'm not so worried about a specific temperature for this to ferment.  Belgian brewers aren't very concerned with it.  They are the experts, so I will take from them ha ha.  I did wrap the bucket in a bag just in case I have a violent exploding fermentation!  I hope this doesn't happen but, you never know.

A few days after I had pitched the yeast and put the bucket up, I checked it.  It was fermenting hard and even some of the krausen had crept into the air lock but not a ton.  This just means it's fermenting well and hard.  If it gets too crazy, I will have to make a blow off valve.  But I'm thinking it's ok for now.

Now all that's left to do is wait.  In 6 months or so I will feed the yeast and bugs with some sugar and get them fermenting and working again.  Until then I just have to forget about it.  It will be tough to do!  Since this is a funky, sour brew I decided to name it Funky Cold Medina.  Who doesn't like some funk??

Thanks for reading my Home Brew Wednesday post.  Let me know what you think and if you have any other suggestions.  I should be brewing again this weekend and will have another update next week.  I will check back in from time to time with updates from Funky Cold Medina.  I hope to keep HBW a regular thing.  That just means I need to make more beer!  I'll probably put some posts in here about other brewers I brew with as well.  Especially Drew.  Until then, thanks again for reading the blog!  Check out the beer reviews as well!