Monday, September 17, 2007

Montmorency Brown Ale

Back in June I brewed a Belgian Saison-style of beer using Wyeast XL 3822 Inglemunster Ale. The yeast seemed to work quite well, although it wasn't quite as tart as I had thought. I saved the yeast from that batch (I harvested the yeast from the secondary) and saved it in a flask in my fridge. I brewed another beer with that yeast a couple weeks ago, which I've since bottled. This new beer is a light brown ale made with pale malt extract and a mini-mash of chocolate and aromatic malts along with torrefied (puffed) wheat. I used Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops for bittering. The hops were very low alpha acid, about 3.3 percent and I added one ounce at the beginning of the 60-minute boil and another ounce at 30 minutes into the boil. I racked 3.5 gallons of cooled wort to my plastic fermenter, then topped up with a bit too much water, before adjusting the amount and adding one gallon of pasteurized Montmorency tart cherry juice.

I used a sanitized mug to scoop up about about a quart of wort before adding the cherry juice so that the final amount of wort with the cherry juice would be exactly five gallons. I put the extra wort in a sanitized growler and added a little bit of Ingelmunster Ale slurry to it. It fermented just as quickly as the rest of the wort. I bottled it as sort of a control sample of the brown ale without cherry juice. I filled a couple 12-ounce bottles with this "uncherried" brown ale and then transferred the yeast slurry from the growler into a sanitized flask that I may pitch a third time in another future batch of beer.

This is the first time I've made a brown ale with cherry juice, but I've made a stout with the same type of tart cherry juice before and it turned out great. My original thinking was that the tart cherry flavor might be more intense in a brown ale and so far I was right, although the yeast I used, Wyeast XL 3822, may add some tartness, too. So far, I have a tart (if not sour) brown ale on my hands. I wouldn't call it a cherry beer, but more of a sour brown ale or "Oud Bruin". The one gallon of cherry juice didn't seem to add much pink or red color to the beer or cherry flavor, but it's kind of hard to tell at bottling time when there is so much yeast in suspension.

I was a bit surprised at how quickly this beer fermented, so we'll see if I have any bottle bombs or volcanoes, but my gravity readings told me that the beer fermentation achieved about 77 percent attenuation, which is about right on for the yeast that I pitched.


John Leo Costello said...

I am curious to know more about your experience with the Wyeast 3822 Inglemunster Ale yeast, and in particular how to increase the tart and sour qualities of this yeast? I am looking to design a grain bill for a Strong Dark Ale that is in the style of Oud Bruin.

Marc said...

In my experience so far with this yeast (two batches), I would say that warm temperatures (above 80 degrees F.) seem to increase the tartness. It's still not that tart though.