Sunday, May 16, 2004

Gall Bladder Wheat (a.k.a. Gall Bladder Head)

Brewed something today that I hope is at least somewhat close to Three Floyds Gumballhead that I'm calling Gall Bladder Head. I had my gall bladder removed a couple of weeks ago. I've just been able to start to stomach more exotic foods like Mexican (lots of fat and dairy), so to celebrate I brewed a beer. For those unfamiliar with Gumballhead, my sort-of-clone is a wheat beer that is hopped more like a west coast pale ale. It's a straight ahead extract brew using a mix of liquid and dry extract. I used a dry yeast (something I haven't done in a few years) to further simplify things. I've heard dry yeasts have improved in the last few years so I thought I'd experiment with DCL's Safbrew T-58. The ferm lock is already bubbling and I'm going to interpret that as a good sign.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Bottled the Saison today. I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out so far. The gravity dropped from 1.053 to 1.012, which comes out to about 77 percent attenuated and the top end of the performance for the yeast I used. The primary fermenation was in the low to mid 70s and the secondary has been even warmer, at times getting up into low 80s. There are a lot of styles of beer I wouldn't want to ferment that warm, but it seems the White Labs Saison #565 yeast really likes the warmth. All the character that a traditional saison should have -- earthy, peppery and spicy -- are all there without adding any spices. It's a great warm weather yeast. In fact, a couple summers ago I brewed two different batches of saison with this yeast, because it was such a warm summer.

I've also experimented with using quart-sized brown plastic bottles with screw caps for about half of this batch. (The other half went into 22-ounce glass bottles. I figured that the saison is a summer beer; so why not put it in plastic bottles that are more portable? I got the bottles at The Homebrew Shop in St. Charles, Ill. I'm looking forward to taking some saison on a picnic or on a hike or whatever.

The last couple of bottles of Red Rover went south. They were very over-carbonated (think fountain of beer) and "dusty" tasting. It seemed to "jump the shark" sometime in the last month. Most of the batch was fine and consumed in the first month after bottling or kegging to a party keg.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Wheat? No, wait Imperial IPA!

I was thinking about making a light wheat ale the other day, but I changed course rather drastically and I brewed a strong IPA. Each year, I make a strong and extra-hopped ale that I call Old Frightful, and this is it. I've saved bottles of previous vintages for a year or two and they tend to age very well. The bulk of the fermentables came from 10 pounds of extra light liquid malt extract bought from Listermann in Ohio. I've never brewed with this particular bulk malt extract. It was really cheap at $2.25 a pound. We'll see if it makes good beer. I added some grains leftover from previous batches including some Caravienne, 2-row pale ale, CaraMunich, Munich and just a little bit of Special B making for a bit of hodge-podge and what will probably be a darker brew than I think.