Monthly Archives: February 2013

Brewing with Saccharomyces eubayanus

It has been known for some time that lager yeast, i.e. Saccharomyces pastorianus, is a hybrid of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ale yeast) and another ‘lager species’ of Saccharomyces. Libkind et al. (2011) recently discovered a new species of Saccharomyces, named Saccharomyces eubayanus, in the forests of Patagonia, and since it genetically matches the non-cerevisiae part of the pastorianus-genome, it now appears as if the ‘other parent’ has been found. Lager yeast is known for its capability of fermenting at low temperatures, and it is believed that this trait has been inherited from S. eubayanus. Because of the recent discovery, there hasn’t been much research on S. eubayanus yet, but I thought I’d try to brew a small test batch with the yeast this weekend on my old brewing equipment. I’m not really sure what kind of flavor profile to expect from S. eubayanus, but I’m assuming it will be quite estery and ‘non-clean’. The malt bill will be simple, featuring 80% Pale Ale malt, 10% Munich malt, 5% Crystal and 5% wheat, and I will aim for an OG around 1.050. I plan on mashing quite low, since from experience with experimental fermentations in the lab, S. eubayanus ferments quite slowly and attenuates relatively poorly. I will be aiming for about 30 IBU, and will hop with something I have available in the freezer, i.e. most likely Simcoe (since I have some 2011 harvest leaf hops I want to use up). I plan on fermenting at 12° C, as I want to minimize any potential esters and funky flavors.

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Homebrew delivery

Today I got a nice package in the mail, containing six beers from the Myrkkyluostari homebrewery. The beers include a couple of all-brett beers, a wheat kriek, a smoked kölsch and a quadrupel. Should be really interesting trying these out, as these are styles I don’t have much experience with! I also have a lot of other homebrews (not my own) to try out, so will be organizing a small ‘homebrew tasting’ next weekend, where me and a couple of friends will taste through at least 25 different homebrewed beers. I’ll post thorough comments on the beers after the tasting!

Homebrew: Bottling the Citra Pale Ale

I apologize for the lack of activity on the blog. We still haven’t got our ‘garage brewery’ up and running, so there has been no new homebrews. We hope to get it finished before the end of February, and will probably post some pictures at some point. Yesterday we bottled the Citra Pale Ale mentioned here, and it had a really nice hop aroma so am looking forward to trying it in a couple of weeks. The gravity had fallen to 1.013 from 1.054 giving the beer an ABV of 5.4%. As soon as we get the new ‘garage brewery’ up and running, I’ll brew an Imperial IPA for the summer (focusing mostly on Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe), a Christmas Porter for the next winter (so it gets enough maturation time), a noble-hopped Pilsner for the summer, a Mosaic single-Hop IPA (or APA) to try out the hop, and finally a Blueberry Sour Ale (will try a turbid mash with pilsner malt and raw wheat, hop with some old 2010 hops from the freezer, pitch with Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend, and secondary age with a couple of kg of blueberries for 18 months). I’m actually not that big of a fan of sour beer, but the thought of a dry, sparkly, refreshing and blueberry-flavored beer (for Summer 2015) is intriguing. Stay tuned for some scientific posts in the close future as well.

Bottling the 3 x Hoppy Amber

On Thursday we finally bottled the 3-way split batch of the Hoppy Amber Ale we brewed about three weeks ago. The beers were fermented from the same wort base, but with three different yeast strains: WLP007 Dry English Ale, WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast, and Conan yeast I’ve cultivated from a can of Heady Topper. The gravity of the WLP090 and Conan batches had fallen to 1.013, giving an attenuation of 78%, while the WLP007 remained at 1.016, giving an attenuation of 74%. I had expected the WLP007 to ferment slightly drier, but to my pleasant surprise, I liked the WLP007 beer the most, thanks to the slightly more caramelly flavours. The WLP090 batch had the hoppiest aroma, while the Conan and WLP007 batches featured more of a fruity aroma. It will be very interesting to try these beers head to head in a couple of weeks!

CO2 Hop Extract

I recently bought some bulk CO2 hop extract, as I was interested in trying it out. Many craft brewers (e.g. Russian River, The Alchemist, and Lagunitas) use hop extract for bittering additions in their heavily hopped beers, such as Imperial IPAs, to minimize the amount of hop material in the boil. This has two benefits, as when large amounts of hops are boiled for long times, there is a risk of extracting vegetative flavours, and less hop material also means less wort loss to trub and an easier transfer to the fermenting vessel. I haven’t seen CO2 hop extract available for sale anywhere in Europe, so I ordered a 100 g can from the USA for 21$ or about 15€. Shipping was 17$ or 12.5€, but I added in 500 g of 2012 harvest pellet hops as well. Not too bad, but not super cheap either. The 100 g can should last for about 20 batches though (5 g of the 61% AA hop extract yields about 50 IBU in a 19L batch of medium strength wort). I bought some cheap syringes, syringe caps, and needles from a German eBay shop, so I could split the extract into more manageable doses. I was surprised to notice that the can contained probably closer to 150 g of extract (since the density should be quite close to 1 g/ml), since I even ran out of syringes having filled nine 5 ml syringes and eight 10 ml syringes. They should store at least 5 years if kept air-tight in the refrigerator, so these will last some time. I will mostly be using them for IPAs and IIPAs. As soon as we get the new ‘brewery’ running I will probably brew up a batch up IIPA for the summer, as I also have an incoming order of 2012 harvest Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Mosaic and Simcoe coming in. Should be a hoppy homebrew year!

Homebrew update

There has been some homebrewing activity since the last update, as during the past week I finally bottled the Black Lodge Imperial Stout, Purring Nun Belgian Dark Strong Ale and the Lucious Lynx Barleywine. It was one heck of a bottling session (oh how I hate them, always such a pain to wash/sanitize bottles and the combination of filling and capping when you are alone is always a bit cumbersome), as I bottled a total of 109 bottles from three different kegs (alone), and it took about 3 hours. The beers were tasting quite nice, and especially keeping in mind that these are all 9+% ABV beers, there was surprisingly low amounts of alcoholic and solvent-like tones in the aroma and flavor. I think especially the Belgian Dark Strong Ale and the Barleywine will benefit from some more months of aging, as the flavours seemed a little unbalanced still, and I guess it won’t hurt the Imperial Stout either.

As bottling was finished I still racked the Thesis Ale I brewed about two weeks ago into two kegs together with 20 g Cascade per keg. The beer tasted quite promising, but a little green still and could maybe have used slightly more bitterness. It is of course difficult to judge a beer this young. The beer was amazingly clear (WLP002 is flocculent as hell) and a couple of weeks of cold conditioning will probably make this beer crystal clear.

To finish the homebrew week off, I brewed a 25L batch of a Citra Pale Ale together with a friend (Kimmo), almost exactly like the one I brewed about a year ago. For once the brewday went perfectly smooth, and we both hit the estimated original gravity (1.055) and managed to get an extra liter of wort into the fermenter (for a total of 26 liters). We pitched with S-04, and placed the fermenter in a compartment regulated to 17.5C. Less than 24 hours later there was already lots of activity in the airlock, and the aroma coming out of it was absolutely fantastic. Hopefully there will still be lots of aroma left when the beer is finally bottled. We plan to let it ferment for a week, after which we will add 70g of Citra for dry hopping and leave the beer for another week. You can find the recipe below.

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We will soon be moving into a dedicated brewing space (an unused garage), so February will probably contain some posts with pictures and plans for the brewing space. Not sure when the ‘new brewery’ is ready for a test batch, but hopefully within the month.

Finally, my attempts to harvest Conan yeast from a bottle of Heady Topper seem to have been successful, as I had a small taste and gravity sample from the split batch Amber Ale we brewed a couple of weeks ago, and gravity had fallen to 1.014 from 1.063, meaning a 76% attenuation, and there were no off-flavors or anything that would suggest any contamination or unhealthy yeast.