Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brewing Triathlon, Part II - Thai-spiced witbier

This Saturday, my friend Rick and I finally got around to brewing the collaboration witbier we have been waiting on ingredients for. The LHBS finally got my yeast (WLP410, my go-to witbier strain) in stock again and so after picking up the yeast and other ingredients on Friday, we were good to go.
I also needed to borrow Rick's beer gun so I could keg and fill a few bottles of KG30 for my cousin's thirtieth birthday party on Saturday night.

Lastly, we needed to bottle our secret porter that we originally brewed for a collaboration homebrew contest in Southern California. Unfortunately, we bit off more than we could chew and the beer was not even close to ready when the deadline came up, so it never even got to compete (if it had, I'm sure we'd have done well!).

Ultimately, Rick and I ended up holding a 'brewing triathlon' and decided we would just do everything in one day, so I've split the day into two parts - Part I is here. Today I will talk about the witbier we brewed and attempt to review a stout without laughing.

Part II - Thai-spiced witbier
A little over a year ago, I brewed my first all-grain witbier for a style presentation hosted by Addison Homebrew Provisions. Everyone was invited to brew a witbier and share them during the montly meeting. As I always seem to do, I decided to take the less beaten path and go for a more historical interpretation of the style. Rather than used flaked wheat, I decided to buy some raw spelt berries from Whole Foods and mill them myself using my mill attachement for my stand mixer. Unfortunately, that eagerness turned to horror when I ended up breaking my KitchenAid in the process. In honor for a fallen friend (since fixed!) I named the beer "Greasemonkey Wit".

Long story short, the beer was well-recieved and people have been asking for me to brew a second batch ever since. I finally capitulated and agreed to split a batch with my friend Richard, giving each of us 2.5 gallons. I made some adjustments to the recipe. I ended up having to use flaked red wheat instead of raw spelt since I couldn't seem to find it again. I also increased the grain bill to boost the ABV from the original 3.5% to ~5%, as I found the original version a tad too watery for my tastes. Lastly, I added some additional spices in the form of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and thai chilies based on some success with the ingredients in the past. With these tweaks, I set on brewing a second batch of witbier.

Rick and I mashed in around 9:30 or so, and started the boil around 10:45. I ended up having to extend the boil by 10 minutes because we both got sidetracked bottling the porter and forgot to add the spice additions at the correct time. Other than that, the brewday went smoothly and the sample I tasted from the hydrometer tube was spot-on in color and flavor. As usual, I am using WLP410, the platinum-strain Witbier II yeast, as I prefer its flavor over the year-round variety; order it while you still can.

Thankfully, witbiers have a quick turnaround, so I'll be back at Rick's in two weeks to bottle this one up. Recipe and a mini-review past the break.

Thai-spiced witbier
Belgian Witbier
Type: All-grain
Batch size: 5.00 gal
OG: 1.052
Est. FG: 1.012
Est. ABV: 5.5%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 67%
Mash Temperature: 152 F
Boil Duration: 70min
Fermentation Tempurature: 64 F

US Flaked Red Wheat: 5.5# 2.1 MCU
Belgian Pilsen Malt: 5.5# 1.7 MCU
US Flaked Oats: 1.27# 0.8 MCU

German Tettnang 3.9% AA 15.6 IBU

Yeast: 1 vial WLP410 Belgian Wit II Ale

Lemongrass, shredded 1.00oz
Orange peel, bitter 0.75oz
Kaffir Lime, leaf 0.50oz
Coriander seed, crushed 0.50oz
Grains of Paradise, crushed 0.50oz
Thai chilies, dried 0.50oz

kaffir leaves and thai chilies

Coriander seed, lemongrass, grain of paradise, and bitter orange peel.

Preboil sample, high 1.030's. Final gravity was 1.052.
Oxygenating the wort.

Last but not least, I finally had the chance to try the legendary "Black Cock" Russian Imperial Stout, named for my friend Chad's chinese zodiac sign and the color of the beer. It is, as he attests, part of a series, coming after other such classy beers including "Black Pussy" and "Fat Pussy".

Appearance: Jet black. No light shines through this.

Smell: Well roasted coffee, dark chocolate, burnt marshmallow, toasted bread, and honey.

Taste: Espresso, milk chocolate, raisins, honey, and caramel. Lots going on. Yummy.

Mouthfeel: Thick. Would you expect anything less from something named Black Cock?

Overall Impression: A little fatter and sweeter than I'd have expected, but Chad nails all the important parts. Great aroma, perfect roast character, and nice complexity. I'd like to try this one again in 6-12 months to see how it tastes with some age on it. Thanks Chad!

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