Wednesday, February 29, 2012

JC's Wit The Eff?????

Well these post are long over due so please excuse the lateness. There have been many things afoot here in the circle of scholarly gentlemen beer drinking friends we call dash-fire brewing. Our friend, mr Juan Carlos, or JC as we call him, requested that we make him a beer that would initiate him into the world of homebrew / craft beer. He requested that we make him a Belgian wit ale, so we were more than happy to oblige him......BUT.

Of course, we couldn't leave well enough alone, so we decided to make it an American style Wit beer on steroids . And of course, this being the first time I have worked with wheat on a grain bill, I decided to make it 60 percent wheat, with enough grains that, if everything went smoothly, they would put us at around 7.5 percent alcohol when done. Note the words "if everything went smoothly".

I also decide to create a unique hop schedule that mixed a little of the old world with the new, and also added the usual wit spices. It was my first time making a wit, period, let alone an all grain wit. Challenge accepted.

As you can see, we gathered at Sean's house for this beer and we had a great time tasting many delicious craft beers, and as always, Sean was the picture of a great host and provided lots of super cool drinks and snacks for us to enjoy while we brewed. Sean is a BOSS. Good dude to have on your league of extraordinary Beer Men. He also has pretty good taste in music, which helps when you are toiling away the long hours brewing beer.

Good eats and drinks, check. Good Friends, check, Good ingredients, check. WHAT WENT WRONG??????

Well we had a great time brewing for the most part but I pretty much started losing it when, at mash in, I lost about 30 degrees of temperature and pretty much never got it back. The wheat just kept eating up the water in the mash like a hungry hungry hippo. We would put in water, it would swallow it and get dry, and we would lose heat. SO I kept adding hot water, and still the mash stayed at a temp of 145- 150 degrees I believe. I ended up mashing for a longer period to try and make up for it, but alas, it was to no avail. I also vorlaufed like a one armed paper hanger, still, lost a ton of efficiency.

When all was said and screwed up, We got about 45% efficiency. And that was on a setup that consistently yielded 75 percent previously. So the equipment was good. Something went very wrong. So out came a beer with the SG of a session beer, hopped more aggressively for a higher gravity beer. You can imagine where this went.

In addition to the beer exploding the lid of the primary fermentation bucket off in Sean's kitchen, scaring his poor wife and making a huge mess, (sorry Sean and Naomi), the beer finished at a measly 5 percent. And that was after several weeks in a secondary. Might as well be second runnings.

To say the beer came out bad would be a lie. It is a decent session beer. To say it was not a solid win would be more accurate. Plus my hop schedule made it taste like an IPA. So instead of a strong Belgian wit with a hint of American hops, it became a wheat IPA with some spices that the hop flavor killed. Well, it was a learning experience and a good ego check for me. Plus, it was fun to brew and hang out at Seans. JC got a decent beer, everyone had fun. The end.