Monday, October 27, 2014

Walnut Belgian Graff: Brew Day

Some time ago, I had a thought that I wanted to make a beer (or cider) with walnuts--I originally chose a Belgian tripel based cider, lightly hopped.  This...did not work.  The grain bill ended up putting it more on the lighter end of the Strong Dark Ale spectrum--which I really have no problem with.

Anyways, I wanted a high abv cider with malted grains, a good degree of maltiness and no hops, flavoured with a couple of spices (vanilla and cinnamon) as well as subtle walnuts.  My recipe and notes are below.
I have heard of issues coming from brewing with nuts, but decided I don't really care...the issues are with head retention, something I consider nice, but not necessary.  Regardless, I added some wheat malt to possibly help with that (the jury is out on whether the addition of wheat helps with head).

I used my standard procedure for graffs--mash the grains, then use a prolonged boil to reduce the malt almost to a syrup.  At flame out, add other sugars and the apple juice (which quickly cools the wort), and siphon into the carboy.  Because there are no hops, I did not have to worry about oxygenating or light.
My mash was done with the BIAB method--I found it worked quite well, although it was tricky to keep the temperature constant (neither did I really care, so long as it was between 145-155...the low end will be closer to style, the upper end closer to what I like)....I cannot complain about the results, given my efficiency (and will be using the method again).

As for the yeast; it is unavailable commercially, and I could not find out what it may be.  I pitched the dregs from a bottle of Ommegang's Abbey Ale into a half gallon of apple juice to grow a good starter.  Repeated it, with another 1/2 gallon to check the flavour (don't ferment cold...the strain throws off sulfur), then pitched 2 oz of the lees from that batch into the graff wort.  If you don't want to try "culturing" your own from a commercial brew, just use whatever appropriate Belgian yeast you wish...something with moderate esters.  Some sources (mrmalty) says that the Ommegang strain may be the White Labs Belgian Wit II...or it may not.
(After tasting the second batch of test, I like the flavours--it gives off some nice, tart, fruitiness, once most of the yeast has dropped).

Malty, Appley, Caramelly goodness.  With maybe a hint of walnut.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dwarven Mushroom Stout

I got the idea a while back--while reading Eragon, I think--to make a proper Dwarven brew.  After pondering for a while, I decided on a strong stout...with mushrooms. 
The point of the mushrooms (other than thematic) was to add earthiness and maybe umami--lip smacking goodness.

Even though I made some errors, I consider the recipe a fair success--I would make it again. 

Below is a one gallon batch.  There are some important differences if you make this--my efficiency, in a word, I would suggest reducing the pale by 0.5 lb, and the Crystal/Special B by 0.25 lb each.  It will be higher ABV, but that works with this theme.

Dwarven Mushroom Stout - Foreign Extra Stout
Batch Size: 1 gallon
Boil Size: 3.364 qt
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 45%
OG: 1.078
FG: 1.019
ABV: 7.6%
Bitterness: 20.2 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 90 SRM (Daniels)