Saturday, May 28, 2011

Branding completish!

Das bier smecht gut!
So I've mentioned our attempt at branding the B111 undertaken by Sarah. She finished a while ago and I've been here and there, waiting till I brewed again so I could have time to discuss it. Here we are! We did two sets of brews a-la Goose Island (well, they do more) and Boulevard. Check out the first series:
Look at the side of the label! 
These are beers we would like to offer as seasonal releases: Rye of the Tiger (Red Rye Saison)-Fall, Velvet Onyx (Robust Vanilla Porter)-Winter, Barley Ann Blonde (Belgian Blonde)-Spring, EyeWitNess (Summer).
For descriptions visit OUR WEBSITE.
Cool, huh?
If you didn't catch the side of the label, CHECK IT!
All of the beer names on the labels were painstakingly hand drawn by Sarah, then magically touched up via the Adobe suites. The labels were then printed out and cut out by hand...PAINSTAKINGLY. Those little ones on the sides were a bitch. We aren't sure how feasible this is to do on a large scale, but damn, it looks cool!

Next we have the higher end Belgian series. Some of these are based on a seasonal approach, like the Saisons Noir and Blanche, but some are not, like the Grudge Fuck and others. First Blanche and Noir! You can find recipes for these in earlier posts as well. I think I explained the concept behind them, but if not, I'll rehash quickly. I wanted these beers to pair with the turbulent weather of Spring. Noir would be a big black saison to have on a cold, wet night. Blanche would be a white/blonde saison that would be great on a warm day during spring. We didn't get to it, but they would be packaged together in some kind of cool box that uses alternating black and white design. I hope to make this a reality some day. Grudge Fuck is the beginning of an artistic series relating to either music or literature. It comes from an indie/pop/alt-country mastermind Joe Pernice. Please, please check out their tunes and his book. Oh yeah...he's an author too. The song is an epic ode to "one last touch". Ever since we started brewing, we wanted to name a beer this. I love the idea of pairing something "vulgar" with something beautiful-hence the simple, elegant script on the label. The song does this extremely well. Please find it and check it out. This is the only beer that hasn't been brewed yet, but its on the books for this winter. It will be a Belgian Dubbel/maybe/Dark Strong. Either way it will big, bold, Belgian, and absolutely beautiful. 

As with all the beers, we've tried to include some sort of tag-line and interesting description that is a little fun and smart at the same time. This is harder than it looks, believe it or not. I guess we succeeded? Also notice the little glass icons and the soft, textured B111 logo underneath all the text. Its the little things people! I love it when beer companies let their hair down and describe their beers with some flair.

Well, I could go on and on, but I've got other posts and other thingies to write. Any questions about anything, please feel free to contact us.

Currently Reading: The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass & Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong
Currently Listening: In Your Honor by Foo Fighters

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Impaler! a Lavatorily-Aged Pale

Hi friend/friends. Long time no update. That's what happens when you go back to work. A month ago I took the leap into brewing beers with Brettanomyces, and it is either a burden or a blessing depending on which side of the camp you pitch your tent. Some of the dudes at the Home Brewery are convinced its crazy/retarded and others think its crazy-awesome. Why retarded? Well these little yeasts have a tendency to get anywhere and everywhere so every beer that comes in contact with it ends up with the brett properties. Good if you make Belgian beers, like me, bad if you wanna make any other style of beer that isn't supposed to have brett characteristics. So...there is a thin line. And indeed, it is the awesomeness potential in brett beers that makes it worth it. What are those characteristics? Go get some Orval, Saison Brett by Boulevard, Cantillon, Petrus or Jolly Pumpkin Beers.

My approach is to heed the advice of the experts and devote a whole new set of soft equipment to whatever comes in contact to the beer once the yeast are working. I got a little worried at the expense, then I remembered that I was brewing an aged pale. It will be ready in 48 weeks. Plenty of time to get a separate bottling bucket and tubes.

Skipping the history of these beers and other sciencey shit that I don't quite understand yet, I'll just tell you to go read Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow. He gives a sweet rundown on tons of Belgian-bretted beers that include Lambics and Flanders Reds and Browns. After speaking to other beer people whenever I can, I have discovered that these types of beers (commonly referred to as "sours") are either loved or hated. Me-I love 'em. The only problem I foresaw was space issues. One must not forget that the B111 covers a deceptive 800 square feet. Not a lot of room to have a big jar of beer sitting for an entire year in a relatively vibration free (important evidently) spot. But like a lot of things, I thought, "Eh, fuck it!"

So its a pretty simple recipe for what we are calling the "Impaler":

1. Belgian Pils 11 lbs
2.  Cara Pils 1.25 lbs
Hops: Amount Time IBUs %Alpha Acid
1. Kent Goldings 1.5oz 60 minutes 22
Mash Schedule:
Dough in at 122F hold for 20 minutes. 
Raise to 145F for 40 minutes. 
Raise to 162F for 30 minutes. 
Raise to 169F for 10 minutes. 
Sparge with 176F. 
Pre boil gravity-1.046
Post boil gravity-1.054

I decided to go with 90 seconds of pure O2 to get fermentation going and promote some acid development. Lemme tell ya, that baby got a going! Good thing I used a blow off tube. I also tossed in about an ounce of medium toast French Oak Chips that had been boiled for 15 minutes AFTER sitting in a light lager for 2 weeks to reduce some of the intensity. The plan being I will use the wood in other beers and it will transfer the little beasties to those beers. Cool! 

I'll let you guys know how it comes out in a year. 

Currently Reading: Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus
Currently Listening: Tears Roll Down by Tears for Fears

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More branding!

Our caps and coasters are in! Sarah has done some bad ass designing and the company's have kicked out these gems surprisingly quickly and with nice quality. Doesn't it make you wanna buy some B111 beer?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rye of the Tiger- a Red Rye Saison

Not exactly red now is it...

Son of a bitch. I guess Rye of the Tiger is a name that is already taken by Great Lakes in Ohio. I'll still give kudos to Sarah for the awesome naming job, as usual, even though it technically existed already. We'll be the first to do a logo though damn it! I'll check the trade mark shit later. ANYWAYS. At a home-brew club meeting a few months ago, we were given the task of making a beer with AT LEAST 15% Rye. Not being a big fan of rye, I thought it would be fairly difficult for me, and probably a waste of money and effort. I hit the BBB for some advice on some issues. I also wanted to make it have a nice red hue to it. No reason really, just thought it would be cool to have a red saison and it seemed rye would be a nice compliment.

Not being an expert at building a recipe, I was a little intimidated. The easiest thing for me to do was build backwards from the rye requirement of 15%. Then I knew the base malt would be Belgian Pils, because that's a little more traditional than something like 2-Row barley. I don't really need wheat since there is rye and I don't want to muddle it. AND I want to make it red (I do what I want!). To do that I could either use a bunch of chrystal malts or something like Vienna or Munich malt, but I didn't want to make it too sweet...I guess. I dunno, I have not used those malts much before, so I decided to just take a shot in the dark, based on simplicity. Use Pils, Rye, and some debittered black malt (no flavor imparted really, not trying to make this thing a stout) to bring the color up-long story short. 
One new thing I tried was per Colin's advice from Downtown Joes, CA-taste your recipe before you brew. So my new friend Luke, from the Home Brewery and I took the recipe, then counted out about 1% of the grain bill, then tasted. The first version was too bitter, so we knocked back some grains, found some English Crystal Rye, adjusted, and got something that was nicely balanced. Try it! 

As for hops, I am currently desiring only to work with Noble and English ones until I get them down. So I went with Kent Golding and Tettnanger and plugged them into the Brew Pal software on my phone till I had the IBU's I wanted, which I toned down because, again, I wanted to focus on the rye and not have too much competing for flavor. Tettnang got the last addition because I like it's flavor over Kent Goldings.

Yeast-Just used the yeast from my previous saison, which was the Wyeast French Saison 3711. A wonderfully easy saison yeast to work with. HIGH attenuation, with QUICK results, unlike that bastard Belgian Saison 3724 from Wyeast. Love the flavor, but hate waiting for 5 weeks for it to finish. That thing is SUCH a diva!

RECIPE: 7.25 gallons into brew pot, 6 gallons into fermentor
Yeast-3711 French Saison: 370 ml on thin slurry
1. Belgian Pils 9 lbs
2. Rye 2.5 lbs
3. English Crystal Rye .3 lbs
4. Belgian De-bittered Black  .4 lbs                                     
Hops: Amount Time %Alpha Acid
1. Kent Goldings 1.5 oz 60 minutes 7.2% 29 IBU
2. Kent Goldings .5 oz 10 minutes 7.2% 3 IBU
3. Tettnanger           .3 oz             10 minutes                   4.9% 1 IBU

Mash-Protien Rest at 130F for 15 minutes, raise to 148F for 40 minutes, raise to 158F, then Sparge. 
Fermentation: Start at 69F, then raise a degree or two a day until 74F. Held at 74F for 2 days, then chill and bottle. 


Appearance-Deep burgundy color, verging on black. Slight brown/red highlights when held to the light. Head is tremendous and sustains nicely. Creamy, pillowy and extremely tight bubbles.
Aroma-Earthy, spicy, peppery. Rye is up front with just a light backing of dark sweetness and citrusy yeast. 
Mouthfeel-sprtisy, warming and full. Very very full mouthfeel. Reminds me of winter. 
Taste-Textures really take over. Maybe a bit too much carbonation? Hint of caramel and nuttyness at the first taste. Prominent rye and a touch of caramel sweetness at the final part of palette. Warming comes in right at the end too. Leaves mouth a tough tingly if you drink quickly. A bit too highly carbed. 
Drinkability-Very drinkable, with the exception of it being too carbed. Excites fall and winter feelings. This beer is fine for a one a night thing, but I’d change a few things if I were to make it again. e.g. Make the mouthfeel slightly less huge-Drop the rye a touch or skip the protein rests. Drop the carbonation just a hair. AND cut the de-bittered black malt in half. 

Currently Listening-Several Arrows Later: Matt Pond PA, Wasting Light-Foo Fighters
Currently Reading-A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole & Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Label test!

Check it kiddies; our first label test. It was designed with hand done-ribbon-text, transferred to the computer machine, "upgraded", then printed on photo quality self-adhesive sheets from Epson. Cool!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Checking on what condition my conditioning is in

Today I am attempting my first real (read: informed) bottle conditioned beer today. It is my Belgian Golden Strong taken from Brewing Classic Styles. Basically its a close approximation to one of Belgium's great beers, coolest beer website and our personal favorite beer here at the One Eleven: Duvel. If you have never had it, then get it. Its great any time with anything. 

"Lager storage"/refrigerator
I had a hell of a time figuring out EXACTLY how to do bottle conditioning. A quick infominute-Bottle conditioning is a process where beer has yeast added into the beer after its initial fermentation, right before its bottled. While in the bottle, it goes into a secondary fermentation. Usually the beer is filtered first to get rid of the older, or in the case of high-alcohol-beers, worn out yeast. Since the Snow Devil (my Duvel clone) comes in at 8.5% it qualifies as a high-alcohol beer. Why would you do this? It adds complexity due to different yeast flavors (if you choose to use flavorful yeasts, which I will not be doing), helps in carbonating a beer if your yeasties are worn out, and a smoother flavor profile if given enough time

The info available was there, kind of, but it took a lot of work to get through. So where does one start? I started here. It was a pretty good outline, but it didn't quite cover my circumstances. I wanted to use dry-yeast and pitch a slurry, for a Belgian beer. Why a slurry? Well according to pretty much everybody, like in this book, Palmer, and the manufacturer of the yeast S-23, they say to rehydrate your yeast. Otherwise, you could lose anywhere from 40-60% Click those links and you can figure out how to do that first. I spent some time getting that ready. Then I had to decide exactly how much yeast I wanted to pitch. Too little and your carbonation may not be optimal, too much and you get much more yeast in there...which can affect flavor quite perceptibly. The Northern Brewer sheet suggests 1-3 million cells per ml for belgian beers, or 20-60 billion per 5 gallons, which I was bottling. That's kind of a big swing, so I just went for somewhere in the middle. I also didn't have a vessel to measure out 15ml of slurry and needed more because of my Belgian style, so I had to work around that by going bigger. Let's get to what I actually did do: 

I found how to get 10x the weight of my dry yeasties-400 ml of water- Northern Brewer sheet said 1/4tsp dry yeast to 100 ml of water...times four. So I boiled the hell out of a pot of water that would let me end up with more than 400ml. I boiled about 2 quarts for 15 minutes or so. Not sure if that's "sterile" or not, but its close enough. Once that cooled to just above room temp, I dumped 400ml into a sanitized pyrex container. Then I sanitized the shit out of the package and scissors, then combined it into the water. I forgot to stir the water before adding the yeast, per the S-23 website. I ended up with a little island of yeast after 15 minutes. So I used a sanitized spoon to combine the whole slurry and let it sit some more. After about 10 minutes, I reswirled, then added 75 ml of slurry to my bottling bucket with my priming sugar. Why 75 ml? Well... I did some deep-mental-digging math to stumble upon that number. My reasoning: If 400ml of water with an 11.5 gram package of properly rehydrated dry yeast gets you 230 billion cells (according to the NB sheet), then 40 ml will get you 23 billion cells. That wasn't quite enough since my beer is a nice and high alcohol beer, again, according to people who know more than me, I should add more yeast than a typical beer because of the gravity, and also because of the low temp that I was bottling-this beer came straight from the fridge. Anyways, I ended up guessing I needed 43 billion cells, or 75 ml of slurry. Jamil's Yeast publication stated that it should be anywhere from 10-20x less than your primary fermentation pitch, so there I was. Unfortunately it lacked a nice-comprehensive chart for every beer style known. How dare they?! 

As far as the amount of time to let it condition in its secondary fermentation...well I don't know. I think Duvel does a month or two then sends it out. Dupont does 40-80 days. Me...well...I think I'll try it at 3 weeks and see, then let it sit. Since this particular beer is super carbed AND it is bottle conditioned it needs to be cold as a witch's titty (approximately 38F or so) for at least a couple of days to let some of that yeast settle. You also don't have to empty the bottle completely. Ideally, for any beer except hefeweizen or wit beer, you chill it for a while, then pour it without disturbing the yeast layer at the bottom. The beer may be so good that you want to get every drop out, but it will be for the better that you don't. There you have it. That was my bottle conditioning story. 

Currently Listening: Genesis-Invisible Touch
Currently Reading: Don DeLillo-Americana

Friday, February 18, 2011

For lack of a better name-My Dark Saison.

My love obsession with saison continues. I cannot get enough of this beer and the more interpretations I have, the more I love it. If I have one that isn't that great, it only bolsters my desire for the ones I enjoy. As I mentioned earlier, this beer style varied from brewery to brewery back when they where brewing them for the farm workers in Belgium. The style also varies from season to season with the brewers now. A good example is Fantome: the beers change to suit the season. We see that on the whole with craft beer; fall seasonals are spiced accordingly and seasonal ingredients-like pumpkin or squash are added. The beer takes on the tone of the season. Its very cool. Its parallels why it feels especially good to eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, or drink egg nog at Christmas. Yes, its tradition, but the flavors also help evoke the season. What is fascinating about saison is that this one style of beer can cover this seasonal terrain. You don't really see that with other beers.

A while ago, we were fortunate enough to get a couple of kegs of New Belgium's Dark Heather Saison in Springfield. This is definitely a seasonal offering and it was certifiably cool. I loved the warming feeling of this beer with the spicy yeast notes that saisons all have. Ever since I've been wanting to do a dark-black like saison. Recently I tried Goose Island's Pepe Nero and was not as taken as I was with the DHS, but still its a great drink. What I especially like is how this beer plays on expectations. Your ideas of "traditional"-orange or yellow- saison must be challenged, not to mention your expectations of dark beers-this one isn't "heavy" or roasty, or "stouty". Its clean and crisp still. Both of these dark saisons had some warming and spicy notes, with slight, slight, hints of roast and finished very crisply. I currently have the Fantome Noel in the fridge which I am just waiting for something super awesome to happen so I can enjoy. This beer's ingredients change with each year. Usually they contain some sort of fruit juice addition, but its tough to tell. There's usually quite a buzz that surrounds this beer, so if you find it, buy it and love it.

My approach to the dark saison is leaning somewhere towards the American approach, which is actually a bit conservative compared to Belgians like Fantome. This beer was my first attempt at formulating my own recipe too, so I wanted to keep it simple...somewhat. The trouble I had was wanting the black color, but not imparting too much roast flavor, as it could clash with the pepper qualities of the yeast. Upon the "quality control" I did last post, I would make changes now. Here's the recipe in all its weird formatted glory:

1. Belgian Pils 9 lbs 37
  1. German Malted Wheat                  1.5 lbs             39
  2. Toasted German Wheat (350F)       1 lbs               37
  3. Melanoidin                                     .5 lbs               32
  4. Cara-Pils                                        .5 lbs               34
  5. Belgian Special B                          .25 lbs             30
  6. Black Barley                                  .5 lbs               29
Hops: Amount Time %Alpha Acid
1. Styrian Goldings 2 oz 90 minutes 3.4%
  1. Czech Saaz .5 oz 90 minutes 3% 
  2. Czech Saaz             1.5 oz                          10 minutes                   3 
  3. Original Gravity: 1.060
    Final Gravity: 1.002 
    ABV: 7.7%
 Given the tasting, I would drop some of the complexity of the malt bill. It seemed like there might too much going on. On the cutting board would be the Melanoidin malt and probably the Special B. I was hoping those would provide more sweet complexity, but I think it just was too much. The hop flavor is pretty nice right now too, so I think I'll keep that on this one. As for the strong fusels I was getting...I got up into the mid 70's during fermentation. This wasn't a big deal I thought, but it may be a lot of little things working in conjunction? Possibly too much oxgenation (only did 2 minutes though) combined with some of the roasty flavors might produce this? We'll see if it settles out. For now, I must leave off and go check out a Beer Engine at our local Gastropub. Next dark tasting may be the half of this I wood aged...

Currently Reading-Dharma Bums-by Jack Kerouac