Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yeast smoothie of a saison racked

Racked a saison-style ale that I brewed last Sunday. I received a Williams Brewing catalog and got curious about a new Belgian Pale liquid extract that is 90 percent pilsner malt and 10 percent wheat, which seems ideal for brewing a saison. I kept it really simple because I haven't used this extract before (it's new on the market), so I just added three additions of Spalter pellet hops and a little cracked black pepper at the end of the boil.

The liquid that filled the glass carboy that is my secondary fermenter was like a yeast smoothie, but based on my sample it's tasty one. I poured my hydrometer sample into a tulip glass. The beer smelled a bit peppery and quite earthy-yeasty with a bit of lemongrass even though I didn't add any. It tasted very crisp and cracker-like, especially towards the finish with lots of pepper followed by juicy citrus and phenols accented by a floral, spicy character. The hydrometer reading, by the way, showed about 74 percent attenuation. I'm fairly confident this yeast (Wyeast 3724) will keep working, albeit slowly, for a couple more weeks. And, if by chance I don't get the attenuation I'm looking for, I have another yeast (Safale T-58) that I can pitch. I've used the T-58 before with decent results, but I'd to stick with supposed "Dupont" strain if I can. I've posted a Promash recipe report for this recipe here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Drinkin' (in the) Metro

Finally, a new microbrewery in Chicago that is crafting a portfolio of lagers. I've waited several years for this moment. I'm old enough to remember drinking lagers from two Chicago craft brewers: Chicago Brewing Company and Pavichevich Brewing Company. These two breweries produced two of my favorite lagers back in the early to mid-1990s. Chicago Brewing produced Legacy Lager and Pavichevich made Baderbrau. Legacy Lager was good, but I remember really enjoying Baderbrau. I miss that beer.

Fast forward several years and Doug and Tracy Hurst open Metropolitan Brewing Company at Ravenswood and Winona on Chicago's north side. They're seeking to bring "a little balance to the party" that is the American craft beer movement by brewing German-style lagers. Their portfolio includes two beers so far, Flywheel Bright Lager and Dynamo Copper Lager. I sampled the Flywheel Lager at Lunar Brewing Company a few weeks ago and I had mixed feelings about it, mostly because I wanted it to be Baderbrau, my all-time favorite Chicago lager beer. But this wasn't fair -- I'm pretty sure the creators of Flywheel were thinking of Germany and not the Czech lagers that inspired Ken Pavichevich to brew Baderbrau. I think there is a difference between German and Czech lagers; it might not be as great a difference as English and American-style IPA, but I think there is a difference.

So I started thinking of German lagers when I opened my bottle of Flywheel tonight and I got it. I liked it more the second time around out of the bottle. The Metropolitan beers might be a bit pricey at $10 a six-pack for local lager beer, but they're fresh -- brewed just a few miles away -- which counts for something. The details of my tastings of both Metro beers are on Beer Advocate.