Jeef’s Corner #1: Buckwheat Hefeweizen

Author: Jeff

Early spring in Eastern Washington, as I have recently discovered, is extremely unpredictable. It can get up to almost 70F during the day and drop into the 30s at night. It can be warm and dry one day, while rainy and frigid the next.

Because of this quirk of meteorology, when my new friends Aaron and Tevor asked me to brew a beer to buoy our team’s spirits during the upcoming Palouse 100k Relay, I was at a loss as to what brew might be appropriate. A light, crisp Berliner would be great if it was hot and brutal along the Snake River, but conversely terrible if it was raining and cold. A Scottish Export could be nice if snowing, but potentially devastating if a warm front came through.

A happy medium, I decided, was a high protein Hefeweizen – refreshing in all temperatures, with just enough spice and ester to be warming and interesting if it was chilly. Additionally, the high protein content provided enough rationalization to call this a “Recovery Beverage.”

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Berliner Weisse #1: No Sparge, Almost No Boil, No Couple’s Shower! (WLP677 Lactobacillus delbrueckii & WLP036 Düsseldorf Alt)

I have always been, and probably always will be, a fan of high gravity beers. After learning to brew, I only wanted to brew the next great dark lord or sucaba. A lot of homebrewers probably go through the same progression as me: learn to brew beer, decide they will brew the biggest most badass beer ever, compromise that their beer was just ok. After a few home brews on a work night while cooking dinner on an empty stomach, I realized I should embrace the delicacy and art of brewing low ABV session beers. I figured that I didn’t need something on tap which is meant for once a week consumption at most. Being able to drink a full pint of something and not start slurring is always a plus!

I’m not really sure how this brew day came about, my wife and I were supposed to be going to a “couple’s shower,” the shower turned into a women only shower as we arrived. Lucky for me the location of the shower was very close to my LHBS, and I was more than happy to waste two hours browsing their selection while enjoying a glass of Bligh’s Barleywine (side note: this year’s Bligh’s is fantastic). Letting me walk around a homebrew store for two hours was probably always going to end with me making beer. Knowing that I wanted to make a beer, a whole brew day was probably out of the question (wife family things), and building my keezer meant I wasn’t setup for another experiment just yet; I settled on a no-boil Berliner Weisse, a style I had no experience making. By chance, the night before, I had read the chapter on historical beers in Stan Hieronymus’s wonderful book Brewing with Wheat: The ‘Wit’ and “Weizen’ of World Wheat Beer Styles  and decided a no-boil, no sparge, Berliner of five gallons could probably be accomplished in about 2.5 hours start to finish. What better session beer than something smaller than most starters? I pulled out my phone and designed a quick recipe for a Berliner that would start at around 1.036, have <5 IBUs, and be fermented first by lactobacillus and then alongside a neutral German yeast. After doing a few searches online regarding no boil I got scared and decided to do a very short boil instead.

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Small Batch Brewing

I’ve never really been one to go into things half assed. When I started brewing I probably did three or four steeped grain/extract batches before building a mash tun to brew all-grain. The one step in the progression that I skipped over was partial mash/BIAB. Recently I was lamenting my inability to brew as often as I would like. Sitting in my office at work a thought came to me: When I was brewing extract batches, the start to finish time was probably two hours max (excluding cleanup this was prior to discovering fermcap-s). With all grain brewing I can maybe knock out a brew day in four hours, and that isn’t including clean up time.

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Flanders Red #1: First Sour! WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix 1

Ever since my first taste of a sour beer I’ve been hooked on this tart nectar. My first experience with a sour was a New Glarus Belgain Red, this beer is a fantastic sour brown ale with tons of cherry flavor. As a typical home brewer I’ve been mortified of introducing bacteria and brett into my process. That being said I recently had a bottle of New Glarus Raspberry Tart with thanksgiving and decided it was time to put my cleaning and sanitation to the test. Plus I recently opened up my oak barrel, and decide it’s time to inoculate it with bugs!

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