Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saison And Spent Grains

Lately, I've been thinking and talking about (usually to myself) doing something much more productive with Wu Wei Brewing - and no, I'm not talking about actually opening a microbrewery or anything of that nature yet. I'm talking something non-profit...something in regard to sustainability and brewing. I mentioned a community-based brewery in a post a while back, but that isn't something very feasible for me to pursue right now - at least not directly. So, I figured I'd start with becoming a much more sustainable brewer on my own.

Now, all of you homebrewers out there certainly know the answer to this question: what is it that homebrewers accumulate the most on brew-day, in terms of waste? Grains. Well, arguably water as well (especially while sanitizing and cleaning)...and electricity, and perhaps some type of fuel source. But in terms of material waste, it is easily one's grains - no question about it.

The most efficient way to make use of spent brewing grains, from what I've read, is to toss them onto a compost pile, or spread them directly throughout a garden. Of course, one needs to have a compost pile or a garden to be able to do that...and I have neither. Another option is to make cookies or dog biscuits. This seemed like the way to go.

I found recipes, which I've included at the top of the page (near "Home" and "About"), and went to work with grains I had saved from brewing a saison the night before (I'll come back to that saison, don't worry). The cookies were marvelous; they were chocolate chip, peanut butter, and spent Cara-Pils cookies, to be exact. I also actually made dog biscuits later that day too (with the help of my wife). The biscuits were a bit of a chore, though. Following the recipe, but straying from it just a bit, we had to make them as almost a dog biscuit "brittle" of sorts, and then break them apart into smaller pieces after they were done cooking (which took 8 hours to completely dry them out). Our little guy, and every other dog who has gotten a chance to enjoy them, has completely loved them, so I think it was a win-win day of baking and eliminating the unneeded dumping of spent grains into our trash. This will definitely be something worth doing after every brew session, available time pending.

But back to this saison I so nonchalantly referenced. It's hot outside, let's face it, and I still don't have a spare fridge or chest freezer to maintain consistent, cool temperature ranges. These Belgian farmhouse ales ferment nicely well up to 78°F, so this (followed by a Belgian dubbel I mentioned in the previous post) seemed like it'd be a perfect batch to brew up during these hot summer months. I gradually increased the temperature on the saison using the "swamp cooling" method (otherwise known as evaporative cooling, where a wet towel, wicking up cold water from a shallow bath, draws off heat as it evaporates, either on its own or with help from a fan), from roughly the mid-60s to the mid-70s, and it's been about 3 weeks of active fermentation. It started with a gravity of 1.046, but based on the activity, it should be ready to bottle by the end of the coming week.

More on this batch later, but for the time being, scope out those recipes and try giving one (or both) of them a whirl next time you brew.

Peace and Love!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Trubble Clefe

I apologize for how late this post is, in regard to the actual batch of beer, but hey, what's a working man to do, eh? Well, so anyway, you may be asking yourself, what exactly is a Trubble Clefe, and how does this thing taste? Trubble Clefe, first and foremost, is a hefeweizen spiced with ground clove, and second, my attempt at a creative name; get it..."trub," "clove," and "hefe"...treble clef...trubble clefe? Clever, right?

The beer is superb! Very refreshing, delightful esters, not overpowering, in regard to the clove, and just all around an enjoyable beverage. The clove did, however, darken the appearance...obviously. The First Coast Cup in Jacksonville is being held at the end of the month, and I entered this bad boy as a spiced beer with the underlying style as a hefeweizen; at the last club meeting, a few of my fellow brewers suggested I classify the underlying style as a dunkelweizen, given the color. However, I really don't think it's malty enough, so I just let it ride with the hefe. I figured, if I closed my eyes, smelled, and tasted this, what would I think it is? We'll see what happens.

The clove was put into the boil during the last 8 minutes, and I only used 1 1/2 teaspoons; I thought I was playing it safe with only that amount, but it was actually perfect - I wouldn't change a thing. This truly is one of my most successful batches, and one of my favorites, so I really hope it does well in CASK's upcoming competition. I might even make it again to serve at this year's Sunshine Challenge...along with my Serrapale Ale.

That reminds me, though...Sunshine Challenge. My wife and I are actually in charge of organizing the beer festival associated with our club's homebrew competition this year (Sunshine Challenge). The links are embedded in the above text, so check it out and spread the word! There's an "event" for it on Facebook too, so look for it and toss out the invites! Email if you have any questions!

But back to the Clefe. Here's what we're looking at:

OG: 1.014
ABV: 4.1%
HBUs/IBUs: 3.9/3.5
Calories per 12oz. bottle: 150

I was all-talk, it seems, with the Berliner Weisse. I just can't afford to buy a whole set of equipment to dedicate to bacteria-infested batches yet. It'll happen one day, because I absolutely love sour beers, but just not yet. I just whipped up a saison, and have recipes for a braggot and abbey ale (dubbel) already formulated. This summer is going to end on quite the delicious note...but more on that later.

Peace and Love!