Showing posts with label witbier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witbier. Show all posts

Monday, May 3, 2010

To Wit or to Wheat?

One of my favourite beers that I like to brew has the "brand" name LimeLight. LimeLight, for those not in the know is my take on a Belgian witbier, but instead of curacao orange peel, I use lime peel, I use just one type of hop, the noblest of noble in my opinion, Saaz, and usually I ferment said brew with Wyeast's Belgian Wit.

My first batch of LimeLight this year was given the working title LimeLight 2.0, a reference to the fact that I was expecting it to be different from the original LimeLight that I brewed back in Prague, largely because I assuming the malt extract I was using was different. However, using Munton's wheat extract didn't change things dramatically and 2.0 was a slight, although definite, upgrade on version 1.

I planned to make a batch of 2.0 for the wedding of a friend in Greenville, South Carolina, that Mrs Velkyal and I went to last weekend. As it was, when I went to the homebrew shops here in Charlottesville, neither of them had the required yeast, and time was short to order it from Northern Brewer. Invention being the mother of necessity, I decided to use Wyeast's Belgian Wheat for the fermentation process, and hope the differences weren't huge. Thus LimeLight 2.1 was born.

Stuart Howe, over at Real Brewing at the Sharp End, posted last week about yeast, which was almost serendipitous as I had decided to post about the difference the yeast strain makes in two batches on the same beer, what I wasn't expecting was just how different the two beers are. Here is LimeLight 2.0:


and here is 2.1:


Quite a difference there in colour, the original is golden with an orangey depth to it, whereas 2.1 is coppery orange. I have read that yeast can affect beer colour, but I wasn't expecting that difference. Reviewing my brewing notes, yes I am that sad, and there were no significant differences between the two brews other than the yeast. So I need to ask those brewers more experienced and skilled than I, is it possible for yeast to make such a difference in the beer colour?

In terms of flavour, 2.1 has a more pronounced booziness, which in turn brings out the spiciness of the coriander, and has a fuller body, which would make it an excellent autumnal beer, as the nights draw in and the leaves turn the colour of the beer. 2.0 however, is dry and crisp, bursting with a lemony citrusness that makes it ideal for hot summer days, cold from the fridge.

It would seem then, that the yeast strain, even two which seem very similar according to the description in the catalogue, can make a huge difference in the beer. Naturally, this opens all kind of avenues for playing around with my homebrew, avenues that of course need to be taken, just to see where they go.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Passing the Test

I think I have mentioned before that I brewed a trial run of LimeLight for a friend's wedding, well, this weekend marked the third week it had been in the bottle, so it was time to see how it came out, first some pictures.

The Pour - cloudy orange, big rocky white head - bang on!


The nose - lots of coriander spice, grass and lemons, got to love Saaz, major salivation in the works.


The Taste - biscuits, lemons, spice, long finish, bloody hell this is good.


Drinkability - too damned easy, that's how.


The Finish - yes, and rather quickly.

If anything, this version of LimeLight is better than the one I made last year, so I will be happily giving my friend some of this for his wedding, let's hope he enjoys it as much!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Samuel Adams - Brewmaster's Collection

Craft beer is not always synonymous with small breweries, I for one would include Budvar in my world of craft brewers simply because they use traditional ingredients and continue to make their, oh so lovely, lager traditionally, without cutting costs and corners by using maltose syrup or that nebulous ingredient in Pilsner Urquell and Gambrinus, "hop products". Likewise in the UK is a craft brewer, and here in the US companies like the Boston Beer Company, who trade under the brand name Samuel Adams, would also qualify despite the fact that their beers are readily available and for all intents and purposes mass produced.

I have something of a soft spot for Samuel Adams because their Summer Ale was the first beer I had in the USA when I first came in 2007, it was also the first beer I had after 6 months abstinence in an attempt to lose weight (I lost 50lbs eventually, although I have regained a little of that, such is the price to pay for a love of beer). After a 9 hour flight from Prague to Atlanta, and then the short hop to Columbia, not to mention the fact that our bags where held back due to some lunatic driving his burning Jeep into Glasgow airport, it hit the nail right on the head. Thus, one of my aims once Mrs Velkyal and I arrived here to stay was to get to grips with the entire Samuel Adams line, a task which may take a while of course, however I made a start by picking up a boxed containing the following beers:

First up was the Blackberry Witbier, made with Oregon blackberries according to the blurb on the neck label, and a fairly new addition to the product line apparently. It certainly pours like a witbier, cloudy amber, slightly off-white head which did a vanishing trick fairly sharpish. This has lots of fruity flavours going on, the nose was like mixed fruit jam, while tastewise some sweet maltiness underlay the fruit flavours again. There was some spice, although I would like to have more as I think the fruit overpowers it and about half way down the glass it becomes boring and even flaccid.

On to the Irish Red then, a style I am planning to brew myself once in Virginia (actually I am planning to cross an Irish Red with an India Pale Ale and make an India Red Ale with lots of C-hop flavours!). Can you guess what colour it was, yes that's right, it was red, and the head was a big fluffy ivory affair. Caramel and cocoa dominated the nose, with some subtle earthy aftertones - my brain immediately said English hops, and thankfully the neck label said East Kent Goldings! The beer itself is quite sweet, with lots of syrupy caramel flavours, which put me in mind of a slightly thinner version of London Pride - which is never a bad thing in my world.

Last up and the most anticipated was the Black Lager, I was eager to see whether this would be a more Bohemian or German interpretation of the dark lager genre. It pours a very dark red with a tan head, and even on popping open the bottle their is a rush of roasted smells, with a light touch of coffee in the background. The roasted theme continues in the drinking, bittersweet and with more than a hint of coffee, with touches of burnt sugar and caramel ending in a gentle dry finish. Yup it's a schwarzbier for sure, and a mighty fine one at that.

For me the Blackberry Witbier does nothing, that is not to say it is a bad beer per se, just that it doesn't rock my boat. The Irish Red is a nice smooth ale which will no doubt make the occasional appearance in the fridge, although given that Irish Red is a style I haven't explored much it will need trying alongside others to get a handle on it properly. The Black Lager will no doubt become a regular in the cellar, it really is lovely and I can imagine that it would be very useful in some of my cooking ideas floating around my brain.

With another 8 styles in the Brewmaster's Collection, not to mention the very nice Boston Lager, I am fairly sure I will be returning time and again to Samuel Adams.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Limelight in the Spotlight

Yesterday I finally got round to bottling the remaining car-baby of Limelight. I decided to use a bit more priming solution with this one because the couple of bottles I hd already indulged in were a bit under-carbonated and the head disappeared somewhat quickly. With bottling done with, I popped open another bottle of Limelight in order to do my official Cyclops analysis for this beer.



The bottle had been conditioning for 2 weeks and opened with a relief inducing pop, there is something about the sound of opening a bottle of your own beer and knowing that at least you got the carbonating process right! Just a quick recap, the OG of Limelight was 1.040 (that's 10° for all the Plato/Balling buffs), admittedly a little short of the style guides, but there we go. The FG for both car-babies was 1.012, which gave me an ABV of 3.8%

And the Cyclops looks like this:
  • sight - dark orange, cloudy, off-white head
  • smell - citrus fruits, spices, floral notes
  • taste - dry, crisp, citrus
  • sweet - 1/5
  • bitter - 1.5/5
The carbonation from this bottle was ok, as you can see from the head in the picture, although I thought the body was a little on the thin side - given though that my favourite beers are all big on body and flavour, it could be that this is perfectly acceptable and I just like fuller beers.
Given the lovely weather we are enjoying in Prague at the moment, and the fringe benefits that go with that, a few cold Limelights by the river would be a very refreshing prospect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stepping into the Limelight

Experimental Dark Matter was a brew kit for all intents and purposes, I didn’t have to do a boil, add hops or think too much about ingredients, other that the smokiness I wanted to add. The fact that I got a dozen drinkable bottles of beer out of it was in some ways an added bonus, and the fact that the people who have drunk it haven’t thrown up or derided it as an abomination is also quite nice. The success then of EDM was therefore the spur to try my hand at brewing with dry malt extract; thus Limelight was born – thanks to Dave at the Woolpack Inn for the name. As a quick aside, I recommend you read Dave’s blog, it is very interesting to see beer from the industry side rather than that of just the consumer.
As I noted last week, the recipe for Limelight was inspired by an article on Irish Craft Brewer about small scale brewing. As a quick re-cap, for 4 litres of wort my final recipe consisted of:

500g wheat DME
15g coriander seed – crushed
10g lime peel
15g Saaz hop pellets
Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier yeast
Because I don’t have a decent sized brewpot, it is necessary for me to boil up about 2/3 of my water and put it in the carboy in advance. This is also necessary as a result of water loss from evaporation, meaning that my 2 litre boil ended up at about 1.2 litres after 60 minutes.
Once the water was boiling, I chucked in the malt extract and stirred thoroughly to ensure there were no lumps or scalding on the bottom of the pan. I also had to adjust the heat to maintain a rolling boil, at which point I added the first hop addition, 7.5g of the Saaz pellets, just after which I added the coriander and lime peel, making sure the boil was ticking over nicely.

The other hop additions came with 20 and 5 minutes of the boil remaining respectively, both about half of the remaining 7.5g of Saaz. Having turned off the boil, I strained the wort through a fine mesh sieve into the waiting, by now pretty cooled, boiled water – then brought the mixture down to a decent temperature for pitching.

With two carboys to fill, I did the recipe twice and ended up with two worts both with an OG of 1.040, or 10° Balling, which are both sat with big fluffy krausens while the Yeastie Boys get down and dirty on the sugars. The plan at the moment is to let them sit for 14 days before priming and bottling.


Pictures 2-4 were taken by my good friend, and superb photographer, Mark Stewart of Black Gecko Photography - he came round to watch me brew and enjoy a few bottles from the cellar. He also had the good grace not to die from drinking EDM.

Monday, March 16, 2009

From Darkness to Light

My first beer was Experimental Dark Matter, bascially a Munton's brew kit with some smoked malt steeped for flavour, fermented with a Scottish Ale yeast instead of whatever was in the packet under the lid - which I used to make a rather nice date and sultana loaf. This week should see the arrival of some more ingredients for homebrew number two - a witbier.

I decided to do a witbier after reading an article about small scale brewing on the Irish Craft Brewer website, a very good resource which I recommend everyone go and read - also the guys who run the website are superb. The witbier brewed in the article is very much classic, but using dry malt extract rather than all-grain brewing. As all-grain is out of the question for a little while, I decided to try out this recipe, although being me I plan to mess around a bit. Essentially I want to to swap the orange peel for lime peel, and am considering using the last of my smoked malt to make a smoked witbier - guess who loves rauchbier! As I have two carboys, I could make one with the smoke and one without, so I can compare.

This will be the first beer I have made which involves a boil - brew kits are great for getting the basics of making beer - so I will be using the Saaz hop pellets I bought with the first beer in mind, adding them at the relevant times as in the recipe.

On the EDM front, both versions have been bottled, the second one from my food grade plastic jerry can with a tap, which made life so much easier. I popped open one of the 10° versions, which ended up with an ABV of 4.1% and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting - actually I rather enjoyed it, but I will write more about that later in the week.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

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