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cdh

It's Brewing Time Again

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I'm at it again... it is that time of year to get out the brewing equipment and set myself up with a summer's worth of fine fermented grain products. Since there appears to be at least a passing interest in the homebrew thing here, I thought I'd write a bit of a commentary for the amusement of whoever happens to be amused by it. Since I brewed over the weekend and took no pictures, there will be no visual aids... Maybe next time, if there's demand for it.

As a bit of background, I've been brewing a few batches a year for at least a decade. I started out like most newbie brewers with pre-hopped extracts that were very much an exercise in dumping and stirring... the essential brewings skills I picked up back then were sanitation and not reading the directions on canned pre-hopped kits. I moved on into choosing my own hops, though using mostly extract for my base, and then picked up the technique of steeping flavorful grains in a base of extract-derived wort to freshen it up and customize it a bit (thanks to the fine folks at my local homebrew shop, who took the time to explain these processes). I've since begun to do partial mash brewing, which means that some of the sugar I'm converting into alcohol actually comes out of grain that has been warmed to the right temperature to let enzymes itside it convert its starches into sugars. My equipment only allows me about a five-pound mash, which means that I can play with about 5 pounds of grain, and have to supplement the remainder with extracts... and I'm happy at the moment with this technique.

I still mainly buy kits to brew from, though I sometimes customize them with things that make me happy. While shopping for kits recently, I happened to be browsing over at Beer beer and more beer and spotted two thing juxtaposed which got all kinds of gears in my head turning. First was their Fire in the Hole partial mash kit, and juxtaposed with it was Wyeast's Roeselare yeast blend.

Since I have really unusual tastes in beer and happen to like the quite sour Belgian styles, I knew right off that Roeselare is where Rodenbach beers are brewed, and I got excited at the thought of being able to try my hand at making an Oud Bruin of my own. Flemish sour beers are fermented in a manner that would count as irretreivably contaminated in a brewery anywhere else. There are a cocktail of yeast strains and bacteria in there that produce a very distinctive sourness. I hope Wyeast got the mix down, so that homebrewers can play with these styles. That is part of what my experiment is all about finding out.

The kit claimed to have been based on an irish red with some ad libbing by the kitmakers. Their decision to throw in some oak chips jived exactly with the Rodenbach brewing process, which involves aging their beers in oak. So, I ordered the kit and the yeast, and went at it this weekend. We'll see how it turns out.

Doing the mash is sort of like making a vat of instant oatmeal... warm but not boiling water (170F) with lots of grain stirred into it. Since somewhere online I'd seen somebody call for plain wheat flour in a mash for an Oud Bruin, I decided to augment the recipe with a cup of it to see what would happen. It sort of gelatinized on top of the grains since I didn't mix the flour and grain together before hitting them with the water. But after letting it go for 45 minutes at about 155 degrees (hooray for large quantities of wet stuff having a lot of thermal inertia!) the flour did appear to have been chewed on by the enzymes. A taste of the final wort was a bit astringent, as though the process may have gone on a bit long and taken some of the tannins out of the grain husks. Fortunately, Belgian sours benefit from a bit of astringency, and like with a wine, they should age out.

At the boiling stage, I'd decided that the kit's hop schedule would totally not jive with the style I'm trying for... it would be way too bitter if I threw in all of the high powered hops that were called for. So I dug around in my beer boxes in the basement and brought out a year old half ounce of Hallertauer, and a half ounce of Saaz. Tossed them into the boil and did a little figuring with an online hops utilization calculator to figure out if I'd need more. It turned out that I'd be at the bottom end of the style with my little ounce boiled for an hour, so a bit more might be called for. Since the kit came with some Centennials which are famously grapefruity in their aroma, I figured that a flemish sour beer might play well with that sort of flavor... so a half ounce of centennials and the remaining half ounce of Saaz went into the boil for the last eight minutes. Enough time to extract a bit of the bittering agents from the hops to up the bitterness by a couple of points, and sufficiently little time that the grapefruity aroma should not be boiled off.

Now a few days later, the yeast and beasts have been doing their thing, and my airlock has been bubbling with hoppy aromas escaping. I'm a bit concerned that even the two ounces of hops may be a bit much for this beer style... but we'll see. In a week or so, I'll toss in some of the the oak chips and let them do their thing.

I'm excited to see the results...


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Chris, I am real happy that you will share your homebrewing experiences with us. I am looking forward to following your commentary and photos (yes, please). Making home brew turned out to be a passing interest for me, but my interest in the subject and in sampling the work of others certainly continues. Having had the brief experience a few years ago is good, though. I will know what you're talking about.

Enjoy!


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Okay, I'll bite. I haven't made a batch of beer in a few months, so I'll start one, take pix and post, etc. Suggestions on what to make? (I do ales only, and all-grain.) A stout? One of my best was an Ordinary Bitter. Or, I have a copy of Randy Mosher's excellent book Radical Brewing sitting in my lap right now - maybe I should make something really off the charts. I'm open to suggestions, but I reserve the right to make the final decision on the ultimate brew.

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Well... mine already counts as off the charts, I think. Maybe a simple but good Ordinary Bitter would make a nice counterpoint in this thread?

My next brew will be a Witbier, which I hope to get started as soon as the Oud Bruin experiment gets out of my fermenter. I know the Roeselare takes a bit of aging, while good old fashioned Witbiers are ready to drink within a few weeks of being brewed.

Maybe I'll save a bit of the Roeselare yeast sediment and toss that into the witbier after it has had a bit of time to get going with the ordinary witbier yeast. Might be an interesting experiment...


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I haven't brewed in more than a couple of years (though I have been able to make mead quite easily), so for now I'll have to live vicariously through you guys :biggrin:

My next brew will be a Witbier, which I hope to get started as soon as the Oud Bruin experiment gets out of my fermenter.

I made a witbier once- used flaked wheat, oats, and wheat malt along with the base malt. Unfortunately I couldn't get rice hulls and wound up with a stuck sparge. It all worked out in the end, I really loved that beer, but I would definitely take proper precautions next time.

Okay, I'll bite. I haven't made a batch of beer in a few months, so I'll start one, take pix and post, etc. Suggestions on what to make? (I do ales only, and all-grain.)

How about something that would show off that grain like a scotch ale, with perhaps a bit of peat smoked malt?


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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How about something that would show off that grain like a scotch ale, with perhaps a bit of peat smoked malt?

I'm something of a hophead - I've made a wee heavy, but I really missed the noble cone (catkins? or whatever hop flowers are). Despite my Scottish heritage, Scotch Ales don't do much for me.

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I'm something of a hophead - I've made a wee heavy, but I really missed the noble cone (catkins? or whatever hop flowers are). Despite my Scottish heritage, Scotch Ales don't do much for me.

Well since you asked for ideas... being that I'm on a stout kick right now, I would love to follow the progress of a dry stout in the making.


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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nr706-

I'm with Susan then. American Stouts always make for excellent drinking.


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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OK - the mavens have spoken - I guess I'm making a stout. But I'm on page 101 of Mosher's "Radical Brewing" book - the page entitled Twelve Ways to Improve a Stout - and thinking of all sorts of heinous ways to make it an interesting stout.

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Making a starter of Wyeast 1028 right now ...

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Making a starter of Wyeast 1028 right now ...

Excellent choice.

Share some of the heinous ways you are considering...


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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OK - the mavens have spoken - I guess I'm making a stout. But I'm on page 101 of Mosher's "Radical Brewing" book - the page entitled Twelve Ways to Improve a Stout - and thinking of all sorts of heinous ways to make it an interesting stout.

What about smoking it? One of the best beers I have ever had was a german stout that was somehow smoked, I think it was called a 'Rauschbier' or something like that (not sure on the spelling).


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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What about smoking it?  One of the best beers I have ever had was a german stout that was somehow smoked, I think it was called a 'Rauschbier' or something like that (not sure on the spelling).

I believe (and I could be wrong) rauschbiers were traditionaly made by putting hot rocks into the wort. It's a good suggestion, but I won't be doing that. However, based on other threads, I was thinking of adding oatmeal to the stout ... maybe I'll smoke some oatmeal tonight.

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What about smoking it?  One of the best beers I have ever had was a german stout that was somehow smoked, I think it was called a 'Rauschbier' or something like that (not sure on the spelling).

I believe (and I could be wrong) rauschbiers were traditionaly made by putting hot rocks into the wort. It's a good suggestion, but I won't be doing that. However, based on other threads, I was thinking of adding oatmeal to the stout ... maybe I'll smoke some oatmeal tonight.

Hey- don't bogart that oatmeal, man! :cool:

The beer made with the hot rocks is called a Steinbier. It is based on an old method of boiling the wort in wooden vessels ( no direct heat). The stones would acquire caramelized sugars during the boiling process and then be added back to the fermenting beer. Steinbiers have a slightly smoky, and richly caramelized, flavor.

Rauchbiers, on the other hand, utilize malted barley which has been dried over a wood fire. They are remarkably smoky. Some rauchmalt, i.e.Weyermann, is available to the homebrewer. You can even get Scottish peat smoked malt from Hugh Baird.

NulloModo- I haven't seen a smoked stout, but there are commercial smoked porters available. Alaskan Smoked Porter is justifiably famous, and worth picking up if you ever run into it. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll ever be available on the east coast.


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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The beer made with the hot rocks is called a Steinbier. It is based on an old method of boiling the wort in wooden vessels ( no direct heat). The stones would acquire caramelized sugars during the boiling process and then be added back to the fermenting beer. Steinbiers have a slightly smoky, and richly caramelized, flavor.

Rauchbiers, on the other hand, utilize malted barley which has been dried over a wood fire. They are remarkably smoky. Some rauchmalt, i.e.Weyermann, is available to the homebrewer. You can even get Scottish peat smoked malt from Hugh Baird.

Of course, you're right about steinbiers vs. rauchbiers. Forgive me - my comment came out of my beer-addled brain.

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Don't know how a homebrewer could mimic this effect, but I recently tried Weyerbacher's Heresy stout, which is aged in charred-oak bourbon barrels. Gives the stout a bourbon-y vanilla-ish flavor, which is great.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Of course, you're right about steinbiers vs. rauchbiers. Forgive me - my comment came out of my beer-addled brain.

I think we've all got beer-addled brains, I know I do. It's a giddy feeling, mostly...


Edited by TongoRad (log)

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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Chris,

Homebrewers can and do mimic this style very easily, with good results! I have made an oak aged stout simply by using toasted oak chips in the secondary. A slight oak/vanilla flavor is evident. I have also taken that a step further by soaking the oak chips in BOURBON for a week and then adding the bourbon and the oak chips to the secondary! MMM, mmm, good! But you can also find Jack Daniels bourbon barrel oak chips used for BBQ and smoking, and use those in the secondary. Already has the bourbon soaked in! Try it!

Bob R in OKC


Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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Ok, I now have a stout made with smoked oatmeal happily blurp-blurbing away in the basement brewery. I'm thinking of adding grains of Paradise to the secondary. Any other suggestions? Cocoa maybe?

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The smoked oatmeal stout sounds good just the way it is. I wouldn't add grains of paradise. They have a pungent, peppery aroma and flavor and also add some bitterness. They aren't as strong as black pepper, but there is a distinct aroma and flavor of pepper. I use grains of paradise in some Belgian-style beers and also my award winning pepper mead (black pepper and grains of paradise). Still, not sure I would mess with the stout. Even the cocoa, though it sounds good, can mess up your simple, perfectly good smoked stout. IF you just have to add something, maybe some lactose for some sweetness and more mouthfeel. Let us know what you decide.


Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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Mmmmm. Smoked oatmeal stout sounds quite promising.

After a week and a bit of fermentation, my project is still bubbling away. I've tossed in an ounce of french medium toasted oak chips after a week, and they have certainly changed the aroma of the gasses coming out.

Any suggestions on how long one should leave the chips in there? Any thoughts on whether to leave the Roeselare lees in the fermentor or to rack quickly after the fermentation activity subsides? Lambics are aged on lees, but I don't know about oud bruins.

Maybe split the batch and syphon some off into 1.5 gallon secondaries and leave 2 gallons on the lees. In cleaning out the freezer recently I found a many pounds of frozen sour cherries, which seem a great experiment with this beer as well. Maybe 1.5 G with cherries and no lees, 1.5 G just racked off the lees, and 2 G on lees.

Please let me know if you have experience with the Roeselare yeast or sour beer fermenting and know that any of these are suboptimal practices.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Chris! That Oud Bruin sounds wonderful! I just did one not long ago and did just what you mentioned, I split the batch and put cherries in one half, well, actually, a cherry syrup. The resulting beer tasted great, but I put the syrup in at bottling time in place of corn sugar, and I probably should have put it in the secondary. Let's just say there was more sugar in the syrup than I expected! (First time I have ever had a bottle, ok 4 bottles, explode!) The remaining bottles were consumed rather quickly!

As for the yeast, you should be safe with letting the beer sit on the yeast for a bit, but not too long, I would still rack to secondary as there will be enough yeast left in suspension to carry over into the secondary for a lengthy stay on the yeast that remains. Otherwise, you might get more than just the sour funkiness that the yeast imparts, but also some acetaldehyde green apple notes. The oak chips should provide a nice vanilla toastiness to the beers. Good luck! (send samples!)


Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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Bob-

Thanks for the advice. I'll aim to rack to secondary after about 3 weeks in primary... I'm at 1.5 already and still getting airlock activity. Should I transfer the oak into the secondaries, or is two weeks on oak in the primary going to be enough?

Next time you're up here, let me know and I'll arrange a sampling. Coming in for the 13th at the Grey Lodge?


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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