I had never really been into witbiers, but after a recent taste of a great homebrewed example and a couple bottles of Hoegaarden and Blanche de Chambly, I decided to brew one. For the grain bill I wanted to go local, using red winter wheat grown in Metchosin and combining it with organic oats and what was almost the last of my Belgian pilsner malt (If anyone knows where I can get more I will pay/trade handsomely) The yeast was something I spent a lot of time on, propagating the lees in a blend from bottles of Blanche de Chambly and Cheval Blanc. I added this into about 100 mls of well aerated wort and then the next day into another litre of wort. Looking back, I should have waited longer before stepping it up, and after several days there was still no airlock activity. Just when I thought the experiment was in vain the airlock began to bubble, and after it slowed I put it into the fridge to flocculate the yeast before pitching into 3 more litres of fresh wort. On brewday, I poured off the wort and tasted some of it to ensure a clean fermentation in the starter. I tasted potent vinegar... an acetobacter infection. God damn it. Moodily pondering a certain Robbie Burns poem concerning a mouse I drove to the brew shop and was lucky to find a wit yeast, fresh from the newest shipment. The brew day was back on.
I hadn't expected to brew my old Russian imperial stout quite yet, but events conspired to rush things a little. Back in March I was getting ready to send some of my beers to the first round of the National Homebrew Competition. Winners in this Canadian qualifier would get to move on to the final round of the NHC, the biggest homebrewing competition in the world, held this year in Seattle. The stakes were high so the field was going to be strong. I didn't want to get my hopes up too much, but the thought of advancing to the finals and maybe having my beer judged alongside one brewed by Jamil Zainasheff or Gordon Strong was an inspiring thought, not to mention a scary one.