Recipe Craft

Posted in Craft Beer, on 20 January 2016, by , 2 Comments

Intro

While every other end of our building process is rolling on right now we figured we would take a break and fully hash out a few of our next beers.  But unlike some of the big guys (Looking at you Mr. Busch, and Mr. Cold as the Rockies) we like to be as transparent as possible, bringing each of you on a tour with us through each and every aspect of our process, hopefully making each and every one of you our Assistant Brewer in some way.  Today we’ll be sitting down and talking over Recipe Development, one of the most important aspects of brewing, because otherwise we’d just be throwing random things into a pot and wondering why it always tastes so bad in revolutionary new ways.

Crafting a Style

The first step for us to decide which Style we’re going with.  This helps narrow everything down from brewing a beer, to brewing an American IPA or a Belgian Blonde or a Scottish Stout, so we know the general ingredients we should be looking at as well as what beer histories we should be reading into.  This does not mean we constrain ourselves to the style guidelines however, if we decide to make a German Lager we should be looking at mostly Pilsner malt, noble German hops, and a Bohemian Lager yeast, but luckily for us we aren’t subject to the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Laws), so if we want to throw in some bitter orange peel, and a handful of roasted cocoa nibs and make a American twist on the style, we probably will.

Malt Hops Water

German Purity Laws allowed only Water, Barley, and Hops. That’s no fun.

Malt – Where all craft beer begins

Now that we picked our style, we know where to look for our barley.  While Macros tend to aim for as cheap of a grain bill as possible, substituting in cheap adjuncts (Corn and Rice typically) wherever they can to provide a flavorless yet cheap “Crisp, Refreshing, Cold as the…” beer.  I’m always trying to go the opposite way, seeing if I substitute any of our grains such as 2-Row Pale barley for a more premium full flavored barley i.e. English floor malted Maris Otter or Golden Promise.  These premium barleys help to create a more complex and full flavored beer regardless of price.  I always start my recipes with this base grain decision, as it will end up being anywhere from 50%-90% of the grain bill in each recipe.

From there I decide whether I’ll be using any crystal malts, which are caramelized barleys, providing a sweeter flavor to the final beer.  Depending on style I’ll look into our darker malts next, which range from Roasted Barley which tastes like a bitter coffee bean to Chocolate Malt which tastes like bittersweet chocolate.  Sometimes its the simple color option of Black Malt which changes the color with very little grain usage or specialty products like “Midnight Wheat” which adds color and smoothness without the standard roasted malt bite.

The last grain going into the recipe are my specialty adjuncts including Wheat, Rye, Oats, and Flaked Barley.  These are added for body and head retention in the beer, with each having its own unique characteristic such as ryes’ spice, wheats’ smoothness, and oats’ creamy mouthfeel.

Malt Wheel

Hops – The spice of craft

Whether I’m making a beer designed for hopheads at 100+ IBU or a simple 15 IBU Blonde, hops always have their importance in Craft Beer.  Hops are used as both a natural preservative as well as for their flavoring and aroma oils.  For me, hops need to blend well with the beer, as a harsh piney Warrior bite might be fine in our 10% ABV 90 IBU IIPA meant to be sipped on, but I rather have something far more subtle in our 4% Summer Pale Ale.  Hops can definitely be one of the most expensive ingredients in a beer, which explains why Macros tend to avoid them and Craft Beer has embraced them, its okay Bud this hops for me.  I look at the various oil levels in the hops to see how they should be utilized, whether I use hops higher in Myrcene which tend to have citrus, and floral characteristics  or hops with higher Humulene which tend to have more herbal and subtle spiciness, with each being important for late in the boil for aroma or dry hopping.

Hop Wheel

A small subsection of available hops and their characteristics

Yeast & Fermentation- Craft beers workhorse

Yeast tends to be forgotten about yet it is possibly the most important aspect in brewing as it is the final decision maker on what style is coming out of the beer brewed.  The exact same recipe put into 3 separate Fermenters with 3 different Yeasts would result in 3 radically different beers.  Yeast determines which sugars are turned into alcohol versus which sugars are turned into various flavored esters verses which sugars are left alone for sweetness in the beer.  This is paired with the fermentation profile, where we look and see how warm we want to ferment.  If we ferment a beer warm we’ll be stressing out the Yeast resulting in some fun and funky flavors and aromas such as Banana smelling esters at higher temperatures, cider like flavors from too much acetic bacteria being present, or a very subtle but clean flavor from a cold (lagered) fermentation which Lager yeasts thrive at.

Yeast Profile

Sample Yeast Profile Chart

Miscellaneous

At this point we get to have fun, decide what else we want to throw in to really take this beer from Good to Great.  Maybe some Blueberries into the Fermenter, maybe we want to let this beer sit for 3 months on a freshly dumped Bourbon Barrel, maybe even throw a handful of vanilla beans into the Bright Tank (Carbonating Tank).  There is no end to creatively to beer, which is why we’re planning on having 15 taps rotating in our taproom, constantly something new, and always fresh.

 

Currently Fermenting: Weizenbock

Next Beer in Fermenter: Coffee Rye Imperial Porter

After that: Suggestions always welcomed.

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Brewery Building

Posted in Brewing, Updates, on 14 January 2016, by , 0 Comments

What we’ve done (Fermenting Money):

Last time we talked we were bogged down in paperwork, and guess what?  That never ends.  While we’ve made some headway with our banks toward our full SBA (Small Business Administration) approval, we still have plenty of work to go.  Also since we last talked we have confirmed our Brewhouse design as well as placing our Cold Side (2 x10BBL Fermenters 2 x20 BBL Fermenters 1 x20 BBL Bright Tank + Glycol Chiller + Keg Washer) on order.  Not sure I’ll ever be used to writing checks this large, but at least our manufacturers (Bennett Forgeworks for the Brewhouse, and Premier/Prochiller for the Cold Side) are the best at what they do, so I can feel comfortable knowing they’ll allow me to brew the best beer possible.  We haven’t figure out the perfect recipe for fermenting money just quite yet, but having quality manufacturers on our side certainly can’t hurt.

 

 

Fermenters

Premier Stainless Fermenters – On Order

Fermenting a Beer

Our Weizenbock Pilot Batch is also nearing completion, it has been fermenting away for the last two weeks and is just about ready to be cold crashed so we can get it in kegs for carbonation.  So far every sample we’ve taken off the fermenter has been distinctly clove with banana, which is exactly what we were aiming for.

Weizenbock Fermentation

Spunding Valve for Pressurized Fermentation

Fermenting a Building

Not too much on the construction end, but we do have a door and a window, which is convenient because it seems winter is finally hitting.

Brewery Window and Door

Soon to Come:

In the next few weeks we should be Kegging the Weizenbock and getting our next Pilot Brewed (Coffee Rye Imperial Porter).  As the construction wraps up on the building we’ll start applying for our own building permits to get our Tenant Fit-out going, so we can build up the Tasting Room and have everything prepared for the Brewhouse arrival (End of February).  In addition to all of this we are starting to work on our Federal TTB forms so we can apply for permits the second the property is turned over to us, can’t do anything without the tax-mans approval.

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Brewery Gate

Posted in Craft Beer, on 7 January 2016, by , 0 Comments

Construction: Where We’re At

It has been an interesting month of hurry up and wait, something we’re slowly getting used to.  At the start of December we were rolling forward with tons of construction going on in the Brewery, with floors being poured, trench drains installed, and the building in general beginning to look more like a building.  But then came the Holidays, and while we love the Christmas Trees and Yuletide and Presents, we also learned that maybe Ebeneezer Scrooge was just cranky about how little work gets done on a major project like ours during this time of year.

This slow time has allowed us to catch up a bit on the behind the scenes work we’ve been slacking on while rushing full speed on the physical end of construction and machinery ordering.  We’ve mostly solidified our brewhouse design, getting the most out of our custom built brewhouse, putting in the design work now to shorten the brewday and save our backs a little bit when we open.  Some other behind the scenes work going on now include finalizing our SBA loans (financing a Brewery, definitely not the fun part of making beer), getting our architectural specs in place for the township, and plenty of paperwork (so much paperwork).

Brewery Buildout

Late December

Obviously some work has been done, we have gates, the windows are framed, and there is a man standing in our window, though that might not be a permanent fixture.  

Construction: Where We’re Going

Our next steps include getting town approval for our own construction and build-out, receiving the SBA loan (spending the Federal Governments money instead of our own personal money would be awfully nice), and then starting to built out our tasting room.  We’ve spent plenty of time working on R&D (Research & Development), taking some ideas from breweries all over the country, and all over the world, so hopefully the tasting room comes out half as nice as we dream it to be.

Upcoming Pilot Brews:

Coffee-Rye Porter (Look forward to a Barrel Aged version)

Belgian Wit Beer (Ginger & Grapefruit mayhaps)

Irish Red Ale

Chipotle Porter

Weizenbock

Weizenbock brewday, should be ready pretty soon

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