Advent Beer 2015

Way back in September I posted a teaser post on the beer I brewed for my brew clubs annual advent beer exchange. The beer itself is a Bière de Garde based largely on a recipe found in the excellent book American Sour Beers; specifically the Dark Winder Saison I (pg 336). This seemed to be an ideal winter beer – dark & somewhat malty, with rosemary, orange and raisins providing a unique spice character quite different from the classical winter spiced beer. My version differed from the original mainly in that it wasn’t soured; rather a house-blend of various Brett‘s was added for secondary fermentation.

This beer surprised me somewhat – despite 3 months on Brett and oak, there was little funky character in the beer and it remained quite sweet (even though the final gravity was ~1.005). I’ve held onto a few bottles to see if this would change, but the beer has not picked up much more Brett character, despite an extra 1.5 months in the bottle. Even so, its a good beer, although if I rebrewed it I’d either brew it as a sour, or as a straight Bière de Garde without Brett.

Recipe, Brewing Notes and Tasting Notes below the fold.

Recipe & Brew Notes:

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 32.52 l
Post Boil Volume: 26.52 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 23.00 l   
Bottling Volume: 22.50 l
Estimated OG: 1.073 SG
Estimated Color: 23.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 22.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 79.8 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt         Name                                     IBU         
5.68 ml     Lactic Acid (Mash 60.0 mins)
6.70 kg     Pilsner malt   
0.27 kg     Carafa Special II
0.27 kg     Carawheat
0.15 kg     Special B Malt
28.40 g     Amarillo [7.10 %] - First Wort 90.0 min  22.3 IBUs
1.00 tsp    Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)
2 items     Orange Peel, Navel Boil 0.0 mins)
1 items     Rosemary (Boil 0.0 mins)
0.27 kg     Raisins, blackened in red wine Boil 0.0 mins)
1.0 pkg Biere de Garde (Wyeast Labs #3725) 1.0 pkg Brettanomyces mix (Secondary) 30.00 oz Medium-toast French oak cubes, port soaked (Secondary) Mash Schedule: 
Infusion -  Protein + Saccharification
Total Grain Weight: 7.66 kg
Name              Description           Temp     Time     
Protein Rest      Add 11.34 l, 63.6 C   54.0 C   20 min        
Saccharification  Add  6.40 l, 95.8 C   66.7 C   90 min        

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 22.43l) of 75.6 C water
-Recipe from American Sour Beers (Dark Winter Saison 1, pg 336); substituting house brett mix for dregs.

-added 5.6ml lactic acid to mash water to achieve desired mash pH, based on calcs from brewers friend

Special Ingredients:
   Raisins: Blacken, deglaze with Malbec red wine, blended, added at flame-out
   Roasemary: Add 1 small/medium sprig @ flame-out
   Orange: 2 Navel oranges; zest only
   Oak Cubes: Soak 30g (~1 oz) medium French oak cubes in port

   Adjust for  25 IBU; use Amarillo

-Hit protein rest near dead-on; 53 instead of 54; adding sacch water at boiling.
-Sacch rest was a little high; stirred until cooled to 67, ran for 90 min

Sparge: Went as per normal, collected 35.5L @ 1.054

-Boiled for an extra 3 minutes to bring gravity upto estimated post-boil gravity of 1066 (1.066 + raisins = 1.073) - ended up at 1.073 prior to raisin addition
-Added irish moss and yeast nutrient at 15 min
-Raisin puree, orange zest (navel, 2 oranges) and rosemary added at end of boil. Next time blend the raisins into a small amount of hot wort prior to addition, as not all raisins dissolved properly.

-Pitched & fermented at 26C, 2 weeks.
  -gravity was down to 1.011 after just 2 days!
-Transferred to secondary after 10 days, added 1oz port-soaked medium-roast american oak.
-Aged in warm part of cellar (~20C), ~3 months
-Keg-carbed and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Beer pours dark brown, almost black, with a beige long-lasting head. Strangely, a small amount of what appears to be yeast rafts has formed in the bottle (picture to left).
Aroma: Rosemary and raisin predominant, along with some malt character. Orange character is present, but subtle. No apparent Brett aromatics.
Flavour: The beer ended up being very complex, and much to my delight, undergoes a nice evolution of flavours as the beer warms. When served the beer is somewhat sweet (surprising, given its 1.005 bottling gravity) with a notable rosemary note, alongside s subtle orange and stone-fruit character. Malt character is present, with some roastiness. As the beer warms additional flavours come out – a slight brett phenolic note (leathery), along with a bit more of a herbal (almost mint) flavour. Beer is whetting on the aftertaste, despite its thinner body, with a slight lingering herbal flavour and malt sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Thin, as expected, but not dry (which is what was planned). Somewhat of an odd mix – thin body, and yet whetting and slightly sweet on the finish.
Overall: Overall I really like this beer, as did many in the advent event. Its a complex beer, perfect for sipping on a cold evening, with enough unique flavours to keep things interesting. In the future I think I’d brew this with an eye towards a little more body, and I think I’d drop the Brett entirely.

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