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.

Walnut Tripel Cider - Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Batch Size: 4.3 gal
Boil Size: 3.359 gal
Boil Time: 3.000 hr
Efficiency: 88%
OG: 1.092
FG: 1.023
ABV: 9.0%
Bitterness: 0.0 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 13 SRM (Daniels) (plus those from the cider)

Brewed: 10-22-14.
Primary Temperature: 74 degrees F.

                       Name  Type   Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
        Pilsner (2 Row) Bel Grain 3.000 lb    Yes   No   79%   2 L
       Briess - Vienna Malt Grain 1.500 lb    Yes   No   78%   4 L
          Cane (Beet) Sugar Sugar 2.000 lb     No   No  100%   0 L
 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L Grain 8.000 oz    Yes   No   74%  60 L
          CaraAroma malt  Grain 5.000 oz    Yes   No   65% 160 L
                 Honey Malt Grain 3.000 oz    Yes   No   80%  25 L
            Wheat Malt, Ger Grain 8.000 oz    Yes   No   84%   2 L
(my LHBS does not carry Special B malt, so I substitute the caraAroma, which is the closest I can find).

Total grain: 8 lb

          Name   Type       Use    Amount    Time
 Apples, Green Flavor Secondary  1.000 lb 0.000 s
        Walnut   Other   Primary   2 cups 0.000 s
 Vanilla Beans Flavor Secondary  2 beans 0.000 s
      Cinnamon  Spice  Secondary  1.000 tsp 0.000 s
   Apple Cider  Other   Primary 3.000 gal 0.000 s

                      Name Type   Form    Amount   Stage
 Ommegang Strain   Ale    Liquid    2oz      Primary
(Belgian ale yeast cultured from the Ommegang Abbey Ale (Dubbel))

               Name        Type    Amount      Temp    Target       Time
            Mash in    Infusion 2.250 gal 161.158 F 150.600 F    0.000 s
                    Temperature       ---       --- 157.600 F    0.000 s
 Final Batch Sparge    Infusion 1.530 gal 186.552 F 165.200 F 15.000 min

That is what the recipe says...naturally, I didn't quite follow it.  Exactly what happens is below:

Added grains into 2.3 gallons of 163 degree water.  Strike temp, 146.  Raising heat to 152, and letting cool.  Temp 149 at 25.  142 at 35, turned heat on to get to 146.  Off.  Heat up again to 150 at 55 minutes.  Temp 147 at 85.  Approximately 105 minutes mash.
Mash SG 1.052.. Sparged with ½ gallon lightly simmering water, ran the (sub-boiling) wort through the mash repeatedly (about 1/3 three times, then the full amount) to help clarify.  Boiling down to 1.2 gallons (took about 3 hours).  About 3/4 of a gallon (including the trub) went into a separate pot to help boil faster--I believe more kettle caramelization went on in this vessel.  After adding two pounds of white sugar at flame out, I poured in a gallon of apple juice, stirred until the sugar dissolved, then began racking to a clean carboy (containing the remaining walnuts), pouring more apple juice in the kettle as room was made.

I added 1 cup of the roasted walnuts to the mash, and 1 cup to primary.
OG: 1.092.  I like the flavour combinations, although it is much darker than calculated.  Good caramel maltiness.
11-5-14; The caramel has gone away, leaving grain mostly.  It will need quite a bit of aging.  SG 1.011.  Racked. 10.9% ABV
11-30-14; Racked off of trub.  Flavour is much better.  Fairly dry, needs carbonation.  The grainy fault is gone, thankfully.  FG is unchanged.
I pulled off about a pint and brought it to a boil with one vanilla bean (to sanitize). 
12-7-14; Priming with 1/3 cup honey (4oz by weight) in 2 cups water, and most of a packet of champagne yeast.
© John Frey, 2014. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.  The recipes and other contents therein may not be used for any commercial purposes.

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