Monday, June 18, 2012

Father’s Day Lambic – A New Tradition?

Yesterday, here in the US, was Father’s Day where the patriarchs of the family get lauded with gifts and attention from the family. It is somewhat of a Hallmark Holiday, but I can live with that if I’m the one getting the attention. For me, other than a breakfast with the extended family and some morning activities, I intended to stay home with the family and get some relaxation in.

For a long time, I have had an itch to brew a lambic beer. One of my homebrewery limitations is the limited number of taps and serving space for kegs. An unintended motivations of the above constraints is that I have found myself planning beers that won’t spend time on tap and are destined to be bottled once they are ready. In this light, I had pick up a sour beer yeast culture (Wyeast’s Roeselare Ale Blend) with the intent of giving the lambic style a try in the near future. The lambic could ferment outside my fermentation fridge (i.e. not take up space) and after the 8-16 month fermentation, it could be bottled up with a long shelf life.

Getting back to Father’s Day, a great piece of advice I had read about lambic brewing was to brew the sour ale on the same day of the year, every year to build up a stable of beers for consumption and blending. Thinking of Father's Day, what other day occurs every year and gives me carte blance to brew with minimal risk of family obligations steam-rolling my plans? What other day can I ignore what everyone else wants me to brew and just brew what I want? It all just lined up perfectly – Father’s Day would be a lambic brew day. Plus on this day dedicated to Dads, I would have two little “helpers” who want to help Dad with his hobby.

With the bulk of the day reserved for brewing, I assembled the ingredients and planned out the recipe, which is listed below for reference. This recipe called for a multi-rest mash schedule, which was the only trouble I had throughout the brew day. The multi-rest mash could have been bypassed, but I wanted to include it to deal with the extra protein in all the wheat as well as enhance fermentability for the lambic bugs that will take hold. Plus, it made the brew session a bit more involved and “special”.

Drained out mash tun - the protien rest did its job!
 Using a new, high-capacity mash tun (which was used for our Eisbock), I was able to plan out multiple hot water infusions for each of the different rests without having all the infusions overflow the vessle. Of course, all the calculations went smoothly on paper, but in reality, the infusion mashing proved quite a bit more cumbersome than envisioned. From the very beginning, I missed my dough-in temperature and had to compensate by adding cold water. This, in turn, altered the volume of the mash, which then threw off all my subsequent infusion volumes (since the infusion calculations use the mash volume and mash temperature to determine how much boiling water is needed to bring the total volume up to a specified temperature). When all my subsequent infusions resulted in lower-than-expected temperatures, I had to ladle in more boiling water than planned to get to the targeted temp. Thankfully, the mash tun had the capacity to hold the 8+ gallons of water that were added in order to accomplish the mash schedule (other than the final mash out, which I gave up on).  When the tun was drained out for the first runnings, I had very little need to sparge as I was just about at my pre-boil volume already.

When the mash complete, the rest of the brew day was a snap – a 90 minute boil with one hop addition meant I had lots of down time to enjoy the day on the back porch or watching the kids tool around on their bikes. It made for a very enjoyable and memorable Father’s Day (or Vaderdag in Flemish).  Next year will demonstrate whether all the effort was worthwhile, but the day was deemed a success at its closing. Plus, it would give me great pleasure to return to the style and brew another example as part of a new Father’s Day tradition - assuming I have the discipline to see it through.

Vaderdag Lambic '12
Style: Striaght (Unblended) Lambic
(recipe modified from Jamil Zainasheff's Brewing Classic Styles)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.0 gal
Boil Size: 7.0 gal
Measured OG: 1.054
Measured FG: ???
Estimated SRM: 3.8
Estimated IBU: 5 (Rager)
ABV: ???%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Min

Grain / Extract / Sugar
7.50 lb Weyerman Bohemian Pilsner Malt (60%)
5.00 lb Torrified Wheat (40%)

1.0 oz Tettnang (2.5% alpha) at 60 min - Note: these hops are from the 2006 harvest had have been in a freezer since.  Based on the condition, it is estimated that the alpha acid is now in the 1.0-1.4% range.  The hops certainly had a bit of a cheesy smell to them when the bag was opened.

30 drops of Foam Control in the boil

1 Pack of Wyeast 3763 (Roeselare Ale Blend)

Mash Schedule
Protein rest at 122 F for 15 minutes
Saccharification I rest at 147 F for 45 minutes (target was 149 F)
Saccharification II rest at 157 F for 30 minutes (target was 158 F)
Mash Out rest at 162 F for 15 minutes (target was 169 F)
Batch sparged with 1 gallon to bring the total volume in the kettle up to 7 gallons.

Brewed on 6/17/2012 by JW

The multi-rest infusions were carried out by having a 6+ gallon kettle full of boiling water and a 1quart pot for ladling boiling water into the mash.  Each infusion took considerable more boiling water volume than was calculated with BeerSmith.

90 minute boil because of all the Pilsner malt in the grist.

Oxygenation was accomplished with an O2 system and diffusion stone, run for 60 seconds.

June 17, 2012 - Lambic blend culture was pitched out of the smackpack directly into the oxygenated wort.  And airlock was secured and the carboy was placed in a corner of my basement without any temperature control.

Feb 27, 2013 - Pulled a sample of the lambic after 8 months of fermentation.  The tasting notes and impressions of the beer at this point can be found here.

*  *  *



“It’s not your father’s Budweiser!”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...