10 February 2009

What's This? A Homebrew Post from Perm??

Don't let the e-silence fool you. St. Cecilia brewing has been at work and it's time for some updates.

I. The Big Quad

My Asheville buddy JT Southbound and I have collaborated on a clone brew of proportions that, if not quite epic, are at least horizon-stretching for both of us. I refer to a homebrewing take on the illustriously famed Westvleteren Trappist 12, courtesy of my beloved book Beer Captured

Westvleteren is the smallest of the seven brew-producing Trappist monasteries (Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, de Koningshoeven, Westmalle, Achelse Kluis, Westvleteren), yet produces arguably the most sought-after and highly regarded beer of them all.  They also don't export their product -- it is officially for sale only at two locations, the monastery itself and a small pub across the road.   In my personal cellar, I do proudly claim a single bottle of a Westy yellow-cap (the "12") which I'm hoarding fiercely.

Our homebrew version deviates ever so slightly from the printed recipe, but certainly maintains the spirit and overall effect of the Abbey Quadrupel. It breaks down like this (you can see where we slightly modified the recipe to make it our own):

1 lb Cara-Munich malt (recipe: 18 oz)
1 lb Belgian Biscuit malt (recipe: 8 oz Belgian aromatic; 7 oz Belgian biscuit)
4 oz Special B malt 
4 oz British Chocolate malt (recipe: 2 oz)

3 lb Extra Light DME
1 lb Pilsen XL DME
6.6 lb XL LME (recipe: 10.75 lb XL DME; we had 10.6 total)

1 lb light candi sugar
4 oz turbinado sugar (recipe: 4 oz Amber candi)
6 oz Malto-dextrin

1 oz Organic NZ Hallertau hops (AA 7%): flavor/aroma
1.25 oz Cascade hops (5.9% AA): bittering (recipe: Styrian Goldings)
1 oz Irish moss

White Labs Bastogne Ale yeast

We ended up a bit closer to 6 gallons than 5, which lowered the OG from the projected 1105 down to about 1085.  The final gravity was right where it needed to be, around 1020 or so, so our estimated ABV is more along the lines of 9.1% than the hoped-for 10.6.  Still, formidable and nothing to shake an asperges at.  Plus, more bottles for us.

But I get ahead of myself....we brewed on December 19, then JT transferred it over to secondary on Dec.27.  There it sat and happily did its thing until February 4, when JT pitched a second dose of the same yeast strain (captured at the time of racking) and got it chugging again.  On the 6th, we reconvened, threw in the priming sugar (I believe it was corn sugar), and bottled away, mostly in corked 750 mL Belgian bottles (it only seemed fitting). Each of us made off with half the batch.

Now the great waiting game begins. We agreed to not break any out until we were together again, provisionally looking at mid-March for the first sampling. These bad boys should be good to go until at least 2012, though!  

On my end of things, for St. Cecilia purposes I'm calling it "Notker Balbulus Stammerer Quadrupel Ale"  -- managing to squeeze in another mostly-appropriate double entendre. Notker of St. Gall was a late-9th/early-10th century Benedictine monk and composer/theorist who was known as Balbulus, or the Stammerer. He's also one of the very earliest Western composers for whom we have both a name and surviving music connected with that name (900AD!)  Great name for a strong Quad, if you ask me -- too much of this and you're sure to be stammering!  I also was pleased to find a monastic composer (I know, Benedictine, not Cistercian -- are we going to split hairs here??) for this tribute brew. 

contemplating the proper hop additions?

II. RVW's Down Ampney Coffee Porter

The December brew is, actually, almost all gone!  It was a wonderful success and the fact that there are just a handful of bottles left is testament to that. I will say, a mere ounce of coarse-ground beans added to the wort went a LONG way. I could have done a half ounce and it still would have been plenty coffee for the end result. I'm glad I didn't follow my initial hunch and and more during the secondary. 

III. Pisgah Pale Clone, Take Two

My November batch was to be a rendering of Hops & Vines' Pisgah Pale Ale clone recipe, which (as reported) went strangely south.  I've kept the bottles, and a recent tasting suggested to me that all *might* not be lost, but I'm going to let them sit for a good 6 months before I try any again. Odds are, there's no salvaging.  

I thought this kit had so much potential for greatness, though, I just had to try again. So, in the fermenter now is the seedling of my Swannanoa Appalachian Pale Ale.

It varies most significantly from both the source kit and the November attempt in that I'm using a second-generation batch of the same Bastogne Ale yeast from the Stammerer Quad. This will mark the first time that I've brewed using saved yeast from a previous batch. (If all goes according to plan, I'll use this yeast yet again next month in my projected Saison.) 

So, what we'll have is an American Pale Ale with a decidedly Belgian twist, which I am inclined to think will be nothing short of lovely. 

Here's the bill:

1 lb. Crystal malt (60 L)
1 lb. Munich malt

6 lbs. Gold LME
1 lb. Gold DME

1 oz Chinook hops (bittering)
1 oz Cascade hops (bittering)
1 oz Chinook hops (aroma/flavor)
1 oz Cascade hops (aroma/flavor)

1 tsp Irish Moss

Bastogne Ale Yeast (2nd Generation, harvested from December 19th brewing)

I may or may not dry hop at the end of the process; I'll leave that to my mood come secondary time.  The Original Gravity was 1050, so as long as there's a good yeast feeding frenzy we should be on track for something in the 6% department.
I also did something a bit different this time in that I added more water to the boil -- 3 1/2 gallons, as opposed to my usual 2 or 2 1/2. I'm hoping this will result in a greater depth of character in the end result.

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