One brewday, three beers

Today’s project has been a fun one to think up and design. In a nutshell, I’m brewing a 50% pilsner, 50% unmalted wheat mash and splitting it three ways to come out with a saison, berliner weisse, and a very light witbier.

I’ve been devouring Hieronymous’s Brewing with Wheat since I got it this weekend, and even though I’ve coincidentally been brewing more frequently with wheat lately than I ever have (because I found a reliable source of flaked wheat), I’m all the more interested in it. Couple this with having just opened up the “hefeweizen” I brewed a month ago and been so disappointed with it (apparently Erdinger bottles their Pikantus with a very neutral and clean ale yeast) for the lack of any kind of ester action, and I want to try some things out. I also recently bottled a kiwi witbier based on the recipe from Calagione’s Extreme Brewing alongside an astringently sour Berliner weisse that spent a couple months on banana passionfruit.

First off, the gem of a fact that mashing in at 41-43 °C in the 5.7-5.8 pH range for 10 minutes will bump up the presence of 4-vinyl guaialcol, responsible for the clove flavors in a wheat beer was enough to give that a shot. (Granted, my pH test strips bottom out around 6.0, so it’s hard to get this right at the moment.) Second, the excessive/pungent/acetic sourness of my attempts at Berliner weisse and Oud Bruin have made me want to give a shorter sour mash a try. Credit to Brain Sparging on Brewing for the very useful primers on sour mashes. Third, the Saison Blanche I brewed a bit ago has been absolutely delicious and I want to keep working with it.

So, all that in mind, here’s what I came up with:

  • A mash based on the Saison Blanche’s: 50% malt and 50% wheat. But, to get enough wheat I have to use what I have on hand, which is flaked soft white wheat, flaked hard red wheat, torrefied wheat, and whole wheat flour. So, so more complexity in the wheat additions.
  • Implement the “clove rest.” To do this, last night I milled the grain, mashed in the wheat, rice hulls, and a quarter of the pilsner malt at 43° C, and then because it was late, I let it sit all night. (Surely this will affect the chemistry of the mash, but I don’t know how. It was still warm to the touch this morning, so perhaps some early souring action?–hopefully this would further bring down the pH of the ridiculously hard tap water.)
  • Got up early this morning, heated the sweet, wheat-filled porridge on my stove up to 70° C and mashed in with the rest of the grains. Held the mash for 1 hour, then pitched some ice out of the freezer and tap water into the mash and brought it down to 54° C, which is about as high as lactobacillus cares to go. I covered the mash tun in a black garbage bag and left in on the hot, sunny porch (it’s about 34° C out today) to sit all day.
  • Tonight, I’ll boil up the sparge water to mash out, lauter and sparge and then do the boils.
  • I’ll split the wort into two pots of equal strengths. The first pot will be the saison, get a single hop addition of Willamettes at 60 minutes, and then 100 g of candi syrup.
  • The second pot will end up as the Berliner weisse and wit. I’ll boil for 45 minutes with a couple grams of Cluster hops, just enough for some mild preservative action. At the end of the boil, I’ll again split this batch and dilute each with 2.25 L of water, to end up with two 4.5 L batches of wort that is half the strength of the saison, right on for a Berliner weisse and very light for a wit.
  • I’ll ferment the Berliner weisse with the same clean yeast that came out of the Pikantus, while the wit will receive 50g of honey, a pinch of coriander, and a few grams of chamomile at the knockout.

I suppose I’m breaking some kind of cardinal rule of “crafty” brewing by diluting my beers down like this, but I’m not sure why I should care. Mostly, I’m interested to see how an 10ish hour sour mash will turn out on what otherwise should be some great beers to drink over summer.

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