Pints for Prostates

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Witte

On July 2nd I brewed a witbier, a Belgian style beer brewed with wheat. The commercial examples use terms like "Belgian white" (e.g., Hoegaarden, Blue Moon) or "witte" (e.g., Ommegang Witte). It's a light golden but hazy beer with coriander and citrus flavors that are refreshing during the summer months.

Kim really likes Ommegang's Witte and wanted me to brew a witbier for her, and I was happy to oblige. Knowing that the beer requires warm fermentation temperatures, I held off on brewing it until summer.

I'm calling this beer, "Summer Witte." I brewed the beer at the beginning of July, it will ferment and carbonate during July, and we'll be able to drink the beer throughout August.

I was surprised by how excited I was about this beer. My wide-eyed glow came from the seasonings and hop additions that the recipe calls for. This beer has crushed coriander seeds, chamomile flowers, and orange zest. I opted to purchase whole leaf hops for the first time, which provided a sense of brewer tradition and aesthetic value. I was also happy with the yeast selection: two vials of White Labs WLP410 BelgianWit II - Platinum, a spicier version.
Hops, Coriander, Chamomile, Orange Zest
Kim helped me pick out the extra ingredients at the health food store. She crushed the coriander seeds and helped zest the oranges, which was no small job, six oranges total.
Brew Date: 2012-06-02
Recipe Name: "Summer Witte" (based on a Jamil's Wittebrew recipe)
Beer Style: Witbier
Batch Number: B8

Original Gravity: 1.050
Expected Final Gravity: 1.011
Expected ABV: 5.0%
IBUs (bitterness): 22.4
SRM (color): 4 SRM

Yeast: 2 vials of White Labs WLP410 Belgian Wit II

Water Chemistry: Remsen well water (Ca 84, Mg 10, Na 3, Cl 8, SO412, CACO3 228)
Added: 6 ml Lactic Acid, 3 g Epsom Salt, 1 g Calcium Chloride (to mash)

5.5 lbs. German Pilsner
5.0 lbs. Flaked Wheat
.25 lb. Munich Malt
.5 lb. rice hulls

1.2 oz. Hallertau (leaf) @ 60 min.
.8 oz. Hallertau (leaf) @ 15 min.

1.3 oz. orange zest @ 5 min.
.4 oz. crushed coriander seeds @ 5 min.
.03 oz dry chamomile flowers @ 5 min.

1/2 tablet of Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
.25 tsp. yeast nutrient @ 15 min.
Flaked Wheat
Mash Schedule: 
> 15 min. @ 122 F
> rise from 122 to 154 F over next 15 min.
> 60 min. @ 154 F
> sparge @ 160 F for 15 min.
> sparge @ 170 F for 15 min.

Note: I was short about a gallon of water for my pre-boil volume.
Mash Music: Bon Iver iTunes Session, Phish Superball IX @ Watkins Glen 2011-07-03 (I should have listened to the 07-02 show!)

Boil Time: 90 minutes to reduce DMS
Boil Music: Brewing Network's Sunday Session podcast 2010-01-17 (Vinny from Russian River episode)
Whole Hop Boil
One of the process changes I made to this brew day was to siphon the wort form the brew kettle to the fermenter. I did that to reduce the amount of whole leaf hops in the fermenter. I used a lot of plastic wrap to reduce exposure. After, I managed to break my auto-siphon trying to get a hop leaf out of it. This is a typical problem apparently.

Fermentation Schedule: 
> 1 week @ 68 F
> 1 week @ 70 F
> 1 week @ 72 F

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tasting Free IPA

I've been drinking my Free IPA for over a week now. I'm really happy with it. All the research and changes to my brewing process definitely improved the resulting beer.
Free IPA
The beer is not as clear as I would like, despite the Whirlfloc tablet and cold crash period. I plan to use gelatin finings next time. The color is spot on.

When I first kegged the beer it had a brilliant grapefruit aroma. After a week of force carbonation with CO2, that aroma is more subdued, but still present. 

Does it taste like the inspiration beer (i.e., 21st Amendment's Brew Free or Die IPA)? I didn't do a taste test, but I can say that it is close. The beer has lots of hop flavor and little bitterness. 
Corny Keg and CO2 tank
Apart from the water chemistry changes, the other big change was the use of a Cornelius keg. I bought a keg from a friend, purchased and assembled all the hardware, and got a 15 pound CO2 tank. And, yes, I also bought a used refrigerator to put it all in. At some point I may drill holes and turn it into a proper kegerator.

I'm sure there will be a learning process for using and cleaning the keg. In general, racking the beer to a keg and force carbonating the beer is much easier than bottling.

Because the beer is cooled to 45 to 47 degrees Fahrenheit, I force carbonate at 14 psi.

I found the Crockett Brewing pages on Easy Force Carbonation and Balancing your Keg System to be helpful.