Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus

First a grievance then we'll move on to the the feats of (alcohol) strength...

My grievance: seasonal creep. I don't want to see Christmas displays in the summer (looking at you Hobby Lobby) and I really don't need to hear Christmas music until late December. What I really don't want is a Spring seasonal beer when it's still freezing outside. Apparently Boulevard has already released it's Irish Ale, which is billed as their Spring seasonal. I like the beer just fine, but come on, Christmas isn't even past yet and Winter is just getting started. Maybe you should call that your Winter seasonal or, you know, release it in the Spring. Moving on.

Last year's Festivus Ale was mostly a success. The only negative feedback I received was that the alcohol was a little strong ("it's like beer flavored vodka" Ouch!). So this year I tried to make it a little lighter (only 8.5%) and I brewed it earlier in the year so it would have a little more time to mellow. I also used less cane sugar this year which should help reduce the booziness. I really didn't want to use any cane sugar but my mash efficiency was so low I had to add some to get the gravity up. Next year I might try adding more caramel malt and or mashing a little higher to give it some more body and a slightly higher final gravity.

The beer pours a hazy, rich chestnut with a wispy tan foam. Aroma reminds me of figs and caramelized apples. A burst of noble hops from the Hallertauer and a hint of peppery esters. Flavor starts off with a slight sweetness that fades to a grainy cracker with herbal and pepper notes. Finish is slightly tart, like a granny smith apple, and dry. Mouth feel smooth and medium bodied with just enough carbonation.

Expected OG: 1.070
Actual OG: 1.066
Expected FG: 1.004
Actual FG: 1.001
IBU: 35
Boil: 130 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 7 gallons
Final Volume: 5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 98%
ABV: 8.5%

10 lbs. Pilsner (Rahr)
2 lbs. 10 oz. Munich (Weyermann)
12 oz. CaraMunich III (Weyermann)
8 oz. Cane Sugar
2 oz. Debittered Black Malt (Castle)

2.0 oz. Hallertauer (pellet 3.8% AA) @ 115 min.
1.0 oz. Hallertauer (pellet 3.8% AA) @ 5 min.
1.0 oz. Hallertauer (pellet 3.8% AA) @ Flame out
Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

75 min @ 149˚ (19 qt. @ 164˚)
20 min @ 165˚ (16 qt. @ 185˚)
Hopefully I have about 7 gallons of sweet wort.

Brewed on 5/7/10 by myself.

5/7/ - Mash went fairly well. Was a little low at first, so I added about 1 ½ cups of boiling water to get it up over 150˚. I collected 7 gallons of wort. Had to boil a lot longer than I thought, my 75 minute hop addition turned into a 115 minutes. Missed my OG by a bit, added 8 oz. of table sugar to help make up the difference. Pitched yeast slurry around 8pm at around 70˚.

5/8 – Fermentation took off strong. Temp got up around 76˚.

6/10 – Bottling day. 4.8 gallons, 76˚, 2.5 volumes = 4.2 oz table sugar. 11 x 12oz. + 20 x 22oz. + 1 x 16oz. = 4.6 gallons.

6/29/10 – First sample bottle, aroma is real nice, spice from the hallertauer, some breadiness, a bit of light fruitiness from the yeast. Carbonation is about right, smooth and velvety in the mouth. A little rough around the edges, the alcohol is there but not harsh, spicy. Doesn't feel as dry as it is. Finish is crisp, herbal, spice.

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