Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rauchbier(Smoked Beer)

I'm always trying to expand my beer horizons and would like to try(and maybe eventually brew) one of every style, or at least one from each of the categories outlined by the Beer Judge Certification Program. Speaking of the Beer Judge Certification Program(BJCP), I've been reading alot lately on Classic Beer Styles and would like to become a certified beer judge someday. Just being able to say "I'm a Beer Judge" would be cool, but seriously, I would like to have all that knowledge and be part of competitions judging beer. For now though I'm just doing alot of reading and trying to sample as many beer styles as I can and am beginning to enter some of my beers in competitions.

I was happy to find an authentic Rauchbier available at Vintage Sellers, our local specialty beer and wine store, and picked it up for some tasting. Aecht Schenkerla Rauchbier from Bamberg Germany means the Original Schenkerla Smoked beer and is considered the best example of the style. Here's link to the interesting history of this beer, especially the name: http://www.schlenkerla.de/rauchbier/beschreibunge.html. I wasn't really sure what to expect of a smokey tasting beer and I've read it described as a love it or hate it style of beer. The beer is made like any other type of beer and this one happened to be a Märzen style(basically an Oktoberfest Beer). What makes it smokey is that the barley malt is kilned or dried over a fire made of beechwood or in some cases alder wood. Before the higher tech methods of heating such as coal or coke in the 1800's and gas fired methods of the last 100 or so years, all barley was heated by wood fires to dry, kiln or roast and all beers would have had a smokey flavor because of this, which is another reason that makes this beer interesting. I guess it's kind of like stepping back in time and tasting a beer.

Below is a picture of the bottle and a glass of the Rauchbier. The aroma of smoke hits you right off the bat after opening the bottle and pouring a glass. The smell reminds me of a campfire or smoked meat but it is not too strong and you can also smell the sweetness of the malt. The color, as you can see below, is dark amber to brown, but very clear. The flavor, like the aroma, was a good balance of malt and smokiness, with no detectable hop bitterness or flavor, which is a good thing as any hopiness would probably be too much with the other flavors involved. Overall, I really enjoyed drinking this beer and was surprised at how easy it was to drink. The smokey flavor was well balanced with the malt sweetness and while I didn't eat anything along with it I think it would go great with smoked meats or any other meat for that matter. So while it might be hard to find, I think I am a fan of the style and am looking forward to sampling and maybe even brewing some of the other examples.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Krausen - Pilsner fermentation

Well, the Pilsner has been fermenting for about a week now and is still going strong in the Lager fridge. The temp in my converted chest freezer is set at about 48 degrees and it generally has been fluctuating between 48 and 52 since fermentation began last Tuesday (1/13). I'm guessing that it will take about another week before fermentation slows and I can siphon it off into a secondary fermentation carboy and drop it down to lagering temperatures (32-38F) for another 4 weeks. My plan is to rack the beer off of this yeast next week on the same day that I brew the next beer, a Maibock, that will go on top of the plentiful yeast cake produced during the Pilsner fermentation. This will be my first time re-using yeast like this, so fingers are crossed. The idea is that why not use the yeast again since you have so much at the bottom of the fermenter. This supposedly can be done up to 3 times before the yeast get "stressed". Each beer should be successively stronger in order to to make use of the additional yeast numbers. The Maibock should definitely be stronger as I'm shooting for a beer near 7% abv to ring in the spring season. Maybe I'll call it Cinco de Maibock...or F├╝nfte der Maibock(in German).

These pics show the foamy head known as "Krausen" that forms on top of the beer while it is fermenting. This is pretty subdued at about 1-2 inches depth compared to an ale(which is top fermenting as opposed to bottom fermenting lagers like this) which can get really rocking and sometimes blow through the airlock.

It's really good to see this beer ferment as there was some doubt initially with the yeast. I ordered the yeast the week before Christmas and it was delayed getting here. Our temps were well below zero during that period and the yeast(2 packs) arrived frozen! Not a good thing as yeast should be kept refrigerated, but freezing is very bad as the crystallization that occurs breaks and kills the living yeast cells. The yeast packs felt slushy when I got them! So I made a 3 liter starter in hopes to multiply what cells, if any, did make it and it appeared to work. I also recently got a stirplate and Erlenmeyer flasks for making better starter yeast cultures and this seems to have really helped. I'm looking forward to seeing how much yeast is actually produced at the bottom of this fermentor.

Here's the info on the yeast strain I'm using from Wyeast.

YEAST STRAIN: 2206 Bavarian Lager
Used by many German breweries to produce rich, full-bodied malty beers. Good choice for Bocks and Dopplebocks. Benefits from diacetyl rest at 58°F(14°C) for 24 hours after fermentation is complete.
Origin: Flocculation: medium-high Attenuation: 73-77% Temperature Range: 46-58° F (8-14° C) Alcohol Tolerance: approximately 9% ABV

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dry Wolf - Pilsner

Ok, I know it's been a while since I posted but here's the latest recipe brewing!

It's an all grain Pilsner Lager and the first that I've gotten to make with some of the new equipment I've acquired over the last few months for my Birthday and Christmas. Here is the sack of Weyermann Pilsner malt from Germany to make it an authentic "Continental" Pilsner.

Here's the Barley Crusher Malt Mill, which I got for my birthday from my lovely wife! (she also got me the aluminum scoop in the above pic and the scale that I used to weigh the grain!) I crushed the first bit cranking by hand before attaching the power drill to grind through the rest. I think it would have taken forever by hand, but was a good way to see what kind of crush I was getting. Altogether there was 12.5 pounds of grain...12lbs of pilsner malt and .5lbs of Carapils to help give the beer a little body and help with head retention.

The mash schedule was the most complicated one I've done yet, including an acid and protien rest before the normal saccrification rest. Not sure if it was worth all the bother or neccessary. The Pilsner malt should have been well modified enough to not require this but some recipes I've read have included and recomended these rests and it is necessary with some lesser modified malts, so I wanted to give it a try. I had some trouble hitting the 150 degree sacrification temp and ended up mashing it for about a half hour longer at around 148 degrees instead. All of this did end up paying off as the wort extracted ended up with a gravity of 1.062 after the boil at 6 gallons. The good news is that it will produce a beer with a higher amount of alcohol(around 6%abv). The bad news is that this will be higher than the style (Bohemian/German Pilsner) call for.

Here is a picture of my ghetto brewing setup in action. Actually this is probably my 6th all-grain batch and I think I finally am getting the set up right for what I have. It's not pretty but it works. Next I'll have to work on building a structure or maybe getting some used kegs for the boil kettle and hot liqour tank. I wonder what the neighbors think I'm up to when I'm out on the patio brewing!

Below is the recipe I pasted from Beer Tools...the program I use to formulate recipes. It's basically a combination of a bunch of different recipies with some tweaks. The lager yeast is the Bavarian strain from Wyeast. The reason for this was so that I can re-use the yeast from this batch on a Mai-Bock that I'm planning to brew next. Cranked up the amount of hops a little. One, becasue I like hops and two, because I would really like to come up with something close to Victory Brewing Company's Prima Pils. I was finally able to try this beer and I think it is my favorite with a clean lager flavor, pilsner malt taste and plenty of hops!

Dry Wolf Pilsner- Bohemian Pilsner

Author: Bob Hoenisch

Date: 1/12/2009
Size: 6.0 gal
Efficiency: 87.75%
Attenuation: 73.0%
Original Gravity: 1.062 (1.044 - 1.056)
Terminal Gravity: 1.017 (1.013 - 1.017)
Color: 4.22 (3.5 - 6.0)Alcohol: 5.95% (4.2% - 5.4%)
Bitterness: 37.8 (35.0 - 45.0)
Ingredients:12.0 lb Pilsner Malt
.5 lb 2-Row Carapils® Malt
WYeast 2206 Bavarian Lager
3.0 oz Czech Saaz (2.50%) - added during boil, boiled 75.0 min
2.0 oz Czech Saaz (2.5%) - added during boil, boiled 30.0 min
1.0 oz Czech Saaz (2.5%) - added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
1.0 oz Czech Saaz (2.5%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
Ambient Air: 30.0 °F Source Water: 55 °F Elevation: 3500.0 ft
Mash-in - Liquor: 2.5 gal; Strike: 100.0 °F; Target: 93.2 °F
Acid rest - Rest: 30.0 min; Final: 93.2 °F
Protien infusion - Water: 1.25 gal; Temperature: 200.0 °F; Target: 123.9 °F
Protien rest - Rest: 30.0 min; Final: 122.0 °F
Saccrification-infusion - Water: 2.25 gal; Temperature: 204.1 °F; Target: 150 °F
Saccrification-rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 150.0 °F
Sparge - Sparge Volume: 6.25 gal; Sparge Temperature: 169.0 °F;
Runoff: 6.99 ga
xfer to primary - Volume: 5.63 gal;
Final: 60.0 °F
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.2