Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Back to the Blog

It has been more than six months since I have posted on this blog, but now I can tentatively say I am back. At the end of this past summer I started working for Parallel 49 Brewing, moving to Vancouver in the process. I haven't brewed since then as I've slept on friend's couches, moved temporarily into a house share, and finally moved to a more permanent location off Commercial Drive near to the brewery. The huge task of moving my life to the mainland is done and I've finally gotten my brewing system up and running again. I had pondered whether to come back to writing here, what I would gain from it, whether people would still be interested, etc., etc. In the end I decided that maintaining this site was worthwhile, even if only as a way to look back and reflect on my hobby over the years. But enough about that, time to talk some brewing...

For my first beer I went back to my favourite style, the first style I ever brewed all-grain, and the first to win me a brewing award: the saison. I have made a number of saisons that were very light in colour, similar to the classic Saison Dupont, but for this one I wanted to try going towards a darker version similar to my old Saison du Sam. To make this happen I picked up some dark Munich malt to add to a base of pilsner and malted wheat. I kept the hops relatively light for the style, as lately I've not been enjoying the sharp bitterness that shows up in many dry saisons, even some classic examples. As an added experiment, the batch was split into two after the brew. I steeped some Belgian special B malt, boiled it, and added it to one of the carboys. I'l be interested to see which of the two beers I enjoy more, as the one with the Special B should be significantly darker than the other, possibly with some of the raisin-like flavours that can be imparted from this malt.

With my first brew out of the way and the Christmas holidays looming I decided to brew two beers before heading to the Island for the holidays. First up, the good old IPA. I was a little bit worried to see how my hops had weathered the trip from the Island. They had been packed up tightly in an oxygen barrier bag but had definitely spent a good amount of time at room temperature along the way. I was happy to find the Simcoe still smelled fresh, but I wasn't pleased with the Columbus so I decided to use them just to bitter with and buy fresh ones for the later additions. I also decided to change up my dry hopping a little and use some Citra hops I had left over from a previous hop order. Hopefully this would add a different twist on a recipe that has been successful in the past.

Finally, with a couple brews under my belt, I figured I would give a witbier a go, step mash and all. The brew itself was a bit of a challenge for me as I was still a bit rusty. This led to a few hurried moments, but in the end things came together. Aspects of this beer I wanted to improve on from my previous wit, which I was overall quite pleased with, included trying to enhance the aroma of orange, increasing the fermentation character somewhat to hopefully include some clove, and a slight bump in the amount of coriander. The step mash I conducted on a propane burner, which was a wonderful experience after the hair raising stress of trying not to scorch the mash on an electric stove while waiting ages for the temperature to rise to each of the rest temperatures. With careful stirring, burning the grain never was a worry and the powerful burner easily brought the temperature up through each of the rests. As a side note I wasn't able to find any soft lower protein wheat from the local hippie shops, so had to settle on hard red high protein wheat for this brew.

I'd love to extend this post to talk about tasting notes for these beers as I've already tried the IPA and the wit, but I've gone on at length so I will cut this short. After the saison is ready maybe I will write again to update the progress of these brews. Catch you next time...

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