Archive | July, 2012

Lurking Goat Wins Gold!

29 Jul

Well, technically there were no medals but we won a $100 gift certificate to the San Francisco Brewcraft home brew shop. It was a fun day of hanging out in the sun and talking beer to everyone who came by to sample at the peoples choice Picnic for Politics in San Rafael. We brought the Extra Pale Ale that I have been working on lately, which was a big hit with the tasters. We also brought the Lurking Goat sour, which we dubbed Old Billy at the event, as a strictly off the ballot taster.  Both beers were very well received by all of the event guests and we may have even opened a few eyes to the world of sour beers. All in all it was a good day! A special thanks to all of our fellow competitors and event personnel, we had a great time and met some awesome people.

Here are a few pictures of the event.


Saison Recipe

24 Jul

After reading Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition by Phil Markowski several times over and personally being a huge fan of these beers I thought it was time to put together another recipe. This would be the pilot batch for the new system I recently built, and the beer of choice…saison. I brewed a 10 gallon batch and separated it into two 5 gallon batches. In one carboy I pitched WLP 566 Saison II and the other carboy I made a two stage starter of WLP 644 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois and pitched it.


The reason for the huge starter was the difference in cell counts. When purchasing standard yeast vials from white labs you can generally count on having around 100 billion cells to work with versus their Brett vials which only come with about 3 billion cells. I’m sure this will change soon as Brett beers are gaining in popularity but as for now you have to make the starter necessary for the beer. So I made a 7 day 2 liter starter than cold crashed and decanted most the liquid and added a fresh 1.5 liters of 1.037 wort for the a couple more days as the second stage.


The recipe shown below is what I wanted to end up with but instead when I originally put it together I was aiming for 75% efficiency, not knowing what I would get on the new system. Turns out I get just shy of 85% and I overshot my starting gravity. I ended up with 1.067 compared to the anticipated 1.056. I didn’t top off to compensate and that will be noted in the tasting notes. Can’t wait till it’s ready. I will be bottling the brett beer and kegging the saison!


Stay thirsty my friends…

New Fermentation Chamber

22 Jul

Ive been wanting a new fermentation chamber since I had to give up our 15.5Cf chest freezer in San Diego. My basement stays a steady 64 degrees which is nice but I feel helpless without temperature control for my various brews. I found this 8.8Cf freezer on craigslist and it seemed fairly priced so I jumped on it. Its got some scratches and a dent in the corner but I am pretty happy with it overall. The people who I bought it from even threw in a “Food Saver” vacuum bag sealer which will be useful for hops.

Here is what It looks like filled with a 6.5 gal and a 5gal carboy. More than enough room!

I am currently doing a dark farmhouse ale with Whitelabs American Farmhouse blend, which is a combination Belgian farmhouse yeast and Brettanomyces. I am ramping up the temperature slightly since this yeast ferments best at 68˚-72˚F and I want this beer to be well attenuated with that classic Belgian dryness. I will just give you a quick description of the heating system I have hooked in case anyone is making the jump to temperature control. Its pretty simple overall and the Johnson controller is awesome, no complaints from me. I have the Johnson plugged in and mounted behind the freezer with the temperature probe mounted in the fridge in WL vial filled with water.  The water helps stabilize the probe readings so the temperatures don’t swing rapidly and will closer reflect the contents of the chamber. The Johson is connected to a hairdryer which I have mounted in the freezer aimed to move air around the chamber. The hairdryer works quite well and is only on for minutes at a time. When I want it to cool I have to switch it on the Johnson and plug the freezer into it but I don’t see myself having to do that too much unless I start brewing more lagers(which would be fun). The chamber is just about the right size for what I will be using it for these days. It looks like it will fit 2 six and a half gallon carboys which should be perfect because I will mainly use this for primary fermentation and then I can dryhop and do other secondary conditioning in the 64˚ basement.

Pilot Brew on the New System

22 Jul

Brewed a 10 gallon batch of Saison yesterday afternoon ( The new setup is almost flawless, just a few kinks with temperature readings I need to work out. Luckily for me nothing serious. Also the new brewhouse efficiency is a whopping 84.9%! compared to the previous upper 60s and low 70s Im used too. All in all it was a solo brew day that only took 4 hours to wrap everything up. I was nervous that cleaning this beast would be a long tedious task, but it actually cleans up very quick and easy. Overall I’m quite impressed with this set up and am still working on a set of detailed plans for those of you who are interested.

LG kicking it old school.

Also I’m very excited about this recipe, I split the 10 gallons into 5 gal of White Labs Saison II yeast and 5 gal of 100% Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois, also from White Labs. 

Kentucky Uncommon Tasting Review

17 Jul

I am back in the bay after a short visit down to San Diego and I brought some Kentucky Uncommon with me.  I boxed those little guys up and put them in my carry on with no problems.  The TSA apparently did have a problem with my new beard as I was “randomly selected” for additional screening, Doh..should of saw that one coming!

Willy’s Kentucky Uncommons will be tasted along side an original sour mash fruit beer that we created, and my recent dark sour mash. All these beers are variations of the same recipes so this should be interesting. From left to right it is Willy’s Kentucky with Safale US05 yeast, Kentucky with Nottingham yeast, Original Sour recipe and lastly the dark sour mash.

These beers all pour very similar, with the first two being light with almost a Pino Noir, light red grape color to them, with light white almost pink tinted foam. The original sour mash pours with the most intense red burgundy color that is just a pleasure to watch.  The head of the original is a very pronounced pink color that dissipates quickly. Last the dark sour mash pours a brown with a deep red backing to it, the head seems mostly tan but with a very slight red hue. The carbonation is high on all these beers with the original probably being the highest at about 3+ volumes.

The Kentuckys both smell great, with a light sharp raspberry aroma. The Nottingham smells sweeter with hints of darker fruits like plum and cherries, but they are overall pretty similar.  Unfortunately the Original Sour smells slightly of some sort of bad phenolic medicinal smoke aroma that is hard to get past.  It isn’t horrible, and I am not sure I would notice with just casual drinking, but with three other beers that are very similar it stands out quite a bit.  Its hard to pinpoint why these flavors occurred since it wasn’t something that I had originally perceived. Most likely I believe since we originally used whole frozen raspberries in the secondary that over time(6+months in bottle) some small amount of wild yeast was able to take hold in the beer, leading to the off flavors. Lastly the dark sour smells lightly fruity with a darker malty caramel backbone from the darker caramel grains and dark chocolate malt. It smells pretty darn good and a little more complex that the others with the malt competing with the fruit on the pallet.

Overall taste and impressions of these beers are good with the Kentuckys being light and sessionable with the tartness of the sour mash and fruit combo lending itself nicely to the refreshing qualities of this beer. The differences between the two are minimal with the Us05 being slightly cleaner and more tart and the Nottingham having a slightly fruitier balanced aspect to it. The Original beer before infection had a bright very pronounced fruit flavor with a fairly clean sour. It was pretty darn good in its hay-day almost like an awesome beer fruit soda since it had about twice the amount of fruit that our new versions have. The dark tastes mellow compared to the other two with the darker malts subduing the acidity.  The darker fruit comes through quite nicely though playing off of the coffee like darker malts. Its funny, I originally though this beer came out a little too light from what I had envisioned, but it seems to be really dark when compared to the others and the differences in the recipe are very apparent.

Overall I seem to like the Us05 version of the Kentucky a lot since is a little more sour and brighter tasting that the other. It is very refreshing and fun to drink since the fruit adds all the flavor. The dark comes in at a close second though and I believe that with some additional tweaking of the recipe it will be really good. Right now the dark seems to have more coffee and bitter malt flavor instead of the darker sweet fruit caramel that I wanted.

These beers are fun to drink and I hope those who haven’t tried a sour mash before will get the courage to do so. Let us know how it goes.

Brew On my Friends!


Brew Sculpture Complete!

12 Jul

It’s been a long work in progress but the goat is ready to brew! With help from my dad and some pointers from Travis I was able to put together the final part of the project. The control panel…This is the part I dreaded the most due to lack of electrical and electronic wiring misc knowledge. Currently I have a Brett B starter going for 2 days now in preparation for a 100% Brett Saison I plan on brewing next weekend! Definitely getting some inspiration and ideas from mad fermentationist. Anyways for now are some photos of the control panel, my dad hard at work, and the LG Team reunited in San Diego!

Stay thirsty my friends…

Kentucky Uncommon Update

5 Jul

A little late on this post… after pitching the fruit I gave it another 10 days to ferment out and then cold crashed it, racked it into secondary and bottled two days later with priming sugar to 2.65 volumes of co2 for carbonation. The beer has been carbonating for just over two weeks now and is ready to drink. Fortunately Travis was back in town for the weekend and I was able to give him a bottle of each beer, so tasting notes are just around the corner!

Stay thirsty my friends…