Sunday’s Meeting

Hello everyone, Sunday’s (January 25th) will be held at Radicle Effects Brewerks (www.rebrewerks.com) in Rock Island at 2:00 PM. Curt Johnson will be presenting on yeast reclamation. I recently revived some WLP500 that I rinsed in September. I pitched the yeast on Saturday and it seems to be working along great. Does anyone else rinse their yeast or possibly rack wort on a yeast cake?

20th Annual Land of the Muddy Waters Results

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest, and especially to those who volunteered to judge, steward, sponsor or otherwise help our event.  We judged 250 beers, meads and ciders in 31 different categories and we are pleased to share the results:

Best of Show – 20th Annual Land Of The Muddy Water

Beer

Place Brewer(s) Entry Name Style Club
1st Tim Thomssen Raspberry Tart 20A: Fruit Beer Lincoln Lagers!
2nd Tim Thomssen You Got Peanut Butter In My Chocolate 23A: Specialty Beer Lincoln Lagers!
3rd Mac Butcher Uber Alles 2A: German Pilsner (Pils) Fellowship of Oklahoma Ale Makers (FOAM)

Cider

Place Brewer(s) Entry Name Style Club
1st Tim Thomssen Raspberry Bush 28B: Fruit Cider Lincoln Lagers!

Mead

Place Brewer(s) Entry Name Style Club
1st Justin Brooks Saint Ambrose Is Packin’ Heat! 26C: Open Category Mead MUGZ

Full results are available in this Adobe PDF document.

Omega Saisonstein’s Monster Review

Chicago’s Omega Yeast Labs is fairly new to the brewing scene and even newer to homebrewers. They offer some interesting new strains not available at the other big suppliers. One of which is Saisonstein’s Monster – a Saison strain that is actually a blend of two of their other offerings. I picked up a pouch at U.Brew and tested it out on my annual pumpkin ale. Here’s what I thought of it:

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For me, DuPont is the definitive Saison and its yeast is the only proper yeast for the style if you want to follow tradition. However, Omega offers an alternative that does have its place in the growing spectrum of Saisons.

I had never used an Omega yeast before so I really didn’t know what to expect. I decided to split a batch of Pumpkin ale at 1076 OG between the Saisonstein and a popular English strain from a different supplier. In building the starters, the Saisonstein seemed to have more liquid yeast than the competitor and it looked to be very clean and consistent. I’m not sure on the cell counts, but it looked more than sufficient.

I put the yeast through my version of the DuPont fermentation program: start at 70F and ramp up 2 degrees a day until stopping at 84F and then dropping down to ambient temp. The krausen never raged like the DuPont strain and it seemed more even tempered. There was no stalling – just a steady, thick, about 1-2″ krausen until fermentation completed, which point it flocced out fairly quickly. It did leave things fairly cloudy, but it was hard to gauge for sure with the dark pumpkin ale. The finishing gravity was 1009 so that’s 87% attenuation – well within the advertised range which is quite respectable considering the temperature abuse I put things through.

The aroma reminded me a lot of a German Hefe with some banana and clove notes, but not nearly as prominent as a Hefe. The taste had some of that banana and clove, but the majority of the flavor was a fruity, almost mango like character. It was surprisingly well balanced and clean though. Do not expect any of the rustic, grassy, barnyardy characters you get out of DuPont. However, it does remind me of some of the cleaner, American Saisons, such as Revolution’s Coup D’Etat. I could see using this yeast again, only not in a Saison – I see this being a lot of fun in a Belgian Golden or even a Trippel.

Classic Styles Made Easy – Berliner Weisse

After finding success with a simple Hefeweizen recipe that was just wheat malt extract, I decided to up my game and try a slightly more involved style with the Berliner Weisse.  Staying true to the spirit of simplicity, the grain bill here is only wheat malt extract.

Getting the lactose in could be achieved in several different ways.  The easiest method would be to add the lactose at kegging or bottling, but I didn’t want to go that route.  I wanted lactose produced by lactobacillus.  To do that, there are two different methods.  The first method is the sour mash.  This involves making the mash and allowing it to remain warm for a few days to let the lactobacillus ferment.  In addition to the lactobacillus fermenting, other bugs in the mash will also prosper.  The final taste will vary based on the wild flora of the mash.  Since I don’t have a mash to do this, due to using wheat malt extract only, I had to find another way.

In my searches of the Googles, I encountered a lot of conflicting/murky information regarding techniques of using lactobacillus.  The other method I found was making a large lactobacillus starter, pouring that into their fermenter and allowing that to ferment a few days before adding yeast to finish the beer.  I had two concerns, how will the lactobacillus handle the hops since hops were historically used to also fight spoilage, which lactobacillus is prone to do.  And, this is supposed to be classic styles made easy and making a starter isn’t always the easiest thing for a beginner to do.  So I thought, why don’t I make the entire batch a starter and do the beer in two steps but use one kettle and one fermentor.

This process involved making 3 gallons of wort with 3 lbs wheat DME in a 5 gallon kettle, boiling it for 30 minutes and cooling it so it was lukewarm.  I then pitched two tubes of Lactobacillus Delbrueckii into my wort and purged the 2 gallon headspace of my kettle with carbon dioxide before I put the lid on.  I put the lid on and and put a couple pieces of tape on it ensure the lid wouldn’t accidentally be dislodged but yet loose enough to allow pressure to escape.  I wrapped kettle with a fermwrap, set the temperature to 90 degrees and insulated the kettle with a blanket.  I checked the taste of the wort after 2 days and determined it was not to my liking and repeated the above process.  After 3 more days I tasted it again and determined it “tangy” enough for my liking.

I then added 1 gallon of water, 1 pound of wheat DME and 1 oz of Tettnanger and brought the kettle back up to a boil for 40 minutes and chilled the 3 gallons of wort in an ice bath.  It did not smell good and this worried me.  However, based on the final product, the smell is nothing to worry about.  Once chilled, I transferred my wort to a 5 gallon carboy and added 1 package of saison yeast.  Fermentation and kegging proceeded as expected.

The end product was a very clean, refreshing, easy drinking, slightly tangy and slightly phenolic Berliner. I made a raspberry syrup and a sourwood honey syrup to go with it, but much prefer this Berliner without the syrup.  The only thing I would do different is maybe give the lactobacillus another day or two to increase the sourness and tanginess.  I will be making this again early next summer.

Marge’s Bingo Berliner Recipe (3 gallons): 

  • 4 lbs wheat dry malt extract
  • 1 oz Tettnanger Hops
  • 2 vials Lactobactillus Delbrueckii
  • 1 pouch saison yeast