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Grodziskie Test Batch

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Still waiting on some components to finish setting up the new brewery, so smoked and brewed another test batch of Grodziskie on my ten-gallon system. (It's an old Polish-style oak-smoked wheat beer.)

Smoked the wheat over French oak for two hours, the mash was 100% wheat (all of it smoked). A good amount of Saaz hops, this promises to be smoky and bitter. The taste of the unfermented wort is pointing that way, it will be interesting to see what the Kolsh yeast makes of it.

Sunday Morning Update: Yeast at Work (Smells Great!)
Yeast Fermenting Beer image

Fermenting, Kegging, Bottling...

This week should see me kegging up the Bitter Wheat test batch experiment (A.K.A. "Grodziskie") as well as that first production batch of the Hellsmoke Porter. The Hellsmoke will be bottled up after some time carbonating and conditioning in the corny kegs. Commercial keg options are being explored this week, I should be finally pulling the trigger on a couple of "sixels" soon.

Next on Deck: Wheatley Hills Weizenbock
Wheatley Hills Weizenbock Label Image

Once the big fermenter is clear of the Hellsmoke Porter, the next production batch will be the Wheatley Hills Weizenbock. I had planned to have two more large fermenters by now, so as to keep the production batches rolling along. I'll get those extra fermenters once money loosens up a bit.

A little Long Island history
The Wheatley Hills Tavern used to be on Post Avenue in Westbury, and a few businesses (and a golf club) in the Westbury area still bear the name. The original Wheatley Hills is in England (I'm not sure if the good folk there would appreciate a German-style beer bearing their town's name). There is also Wheatley Heights in Suffolk County. "Westbury" and "Salisbury" on Long Island were also named for original places in England by English settlers here in the 1600s -- after they took over western Long Island from the Dutch, who in turn muscled out the original Lenape people.

A glimpse of Wheatley Road circa 1906
The Vanderbilt Cup Race was held from 1904 to 1910, and was a pretty big deal at the time. It was the first international automobile race held in the U.S., and Vanderbilt had the Long Island Motor Parkway built partially for the race itself.

The film below is from 102 years ago, and shows a hairpin turn at Wheatley Road in Old Westbury.

For more about these early 20th Century races, check out the excellent The Vanderbilt Cup Races site.

Bitter Wheat Experiment

With last Saturday's back-to-back batches of Hellsmoke Porter fermenting away in my largest fermenter, this Saturday I brewed up a small experimental batch of a Polish / German style that appears to have otherwise become extinct - Grodziskie. Grodziskie, a smoked wheat ale, is considered to be the only beer style native to Poland, and it is named after the city where it was brewed.

When the city of Grodziskie was part of Germany, it (and the beer style) was renamed Grätzer. (My heritage is more Polish than German, so I prefer to refer to this as Grodziskie). This style is said to have been popular across much of Poland and northern Germany up to the period before the first World War.
Image of Polish Eagle

Thought to have been born sometime in the 14th Century, the last known commercial example of this style was brewed in the 1990s, when the last brewery producing it closed.

Grodziskie is considered by some to be related to Weissbier, in that the majority of the grist is Wheat, but in the case of Grodziskie, about half of the grist mashed is first smoked over oak.

I smoked some of the wheat malt over medium-toast French oak chips. For this test batch, I used a German ale yeast, rather than a weizen yeast, and hopped with 30 IBUs of Saaz. This style is said to be bitter and of a relatively low ABV. I'm shooting for an ABV of 3.7%

While there was a surprise somewhat-unwanted guest in the brewhouse last Saturday, yesterday morning there was a most-welcomed guest: Rich Thatcher - President of the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts, as well as the manager of Bellport Beer & Soda. Rich got to see just how small this nano-micro brewery is just before I started smoking up that wheat.

Catching Up

Summer officially fades away soon, and while I've been away from the Brewhouse Blog, I've been keeping busy in the brewhouse itself test batching some Fall and Winter Seasonals. The August 30th batch of the Wheatley Hills Weizenbock will likely be kegged up soon.

Got that new smoker, and tested it out with a small batch of the Hellsmoke Porter, now fermenting away. Much better control of the smoke is possible with the new smoker than with my previous Flintstones method. While I personally liked previous incartnations of the Hellsmoke Porter, the feedback concensus was that it was oversmoked. I'll also be taking another crack at the smoked wit soon.

I'm also experimenting with a dry stout using a local ingredient, so watch this space. The TTB won't approve the label for this one until they give the OK on the formula, but I also won't release it unless it is worthy.

Belated Weekend Update

A belated update on a busy weekend, which saw me smoking some wheat over mesquite and then brewing up another test batch of the Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer. I oversmoked the last batch, and I have a new smoker on order which should give me better control over this aspect of both the Old Walt and the Hellsmoke Porter.

Tonight, I'll be kegging up the test batch of the Gersten-Weizen brewed on August 2nd.

Hops, Yeast, and Smoke

Was able to pick some of the Chinook hops after work yesterday, to add to the Centennial hops picked in July. There should be more of both varieties as the season progresses, along with some not-as-yet-pickable Nugget hops. While I planted some Hallertauer, Fuggles, and Willamette this Spring, I'm not expecting much yield from those this year.

The yeast is happily working away at Saturday's test batch. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to brew this weekend (will be attending this Saturday's North Fork Craft Beer Festival -- as a spectator -- and Sunday is somewhat booked up.)

Sunday should see me smoking some more grain in preparation for the next brewing of the Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer.

Chomping at the Bit, Slow Out of the Gate

6:46 AM

About to brew another test batch today, but wanted to get something out about these tests I've been doing --- and when beer might actually be available for folks to try.

While I would like nothing better than to have beer out for folks to enjoy this very day, I don't want to just put anything out there just for the sake of having it out there. The old saying goes, "you can't make a first impression twice."

While waiting for my licenses, I was informed that I was forbidden to brew until licensed. So, for almost a year, I was unable to perfect recipes and techniques that I had planned on working on while licenses were pending. That's what I've now been working on since this June.

If this was a full-time brewery, I would have been able to brew a good number of test batches a week. I'm a bit behind where I would like to be since I'm still working a full-time job which has has spilled into mornings, evenings, and weekends lately. That should be a temporary situation, due to a number of extra projects with hard deadlines. For now, only part of the weekends are open for me to brew.

So, it may be that beer won't start flowing until the Fall. I hope folks understand.

Feel free to comment away...

Weekend Update: More Hops, Kegging, and Another Test Batch

Picked some more of the Centennial hops on Saturday, and I did a bit more cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and fermenters in preparation for brewing on Sunday. Can't overclean or oversanitize, but sure can ruin a batch if something isn't completely clean.

On Sunday, while mashing another test batch of the 6ixth Sense Ale, kegged up the last test batch. More about that kegged-up batch in a day or three...

Weekend Update: First Pickings of Hops

The temperature in the fermentation room was gradually raised each day this past week for the yeast working on the test batch of the 6ixth Sense Ale. The room started at 64ºF last Sunday, and reached 80ºF this Sunday.

Spent much of Saturday cleaning and sanitizing.

Sunday, was able to pick just under a pound of the Centennial hops. More hops to follow as the season progresses.
Image of Hops growing up against skyImage of harvested hops in a basket

Centennial is one of the "citrusy C" varieties, and is sometimes called a super Cascade.

Back in the Test Batch Saddle...

9:42 PM

Finally worked out the burner issues which canceled last weekend's brew session. Ultimately didn't need to call in the services of a licensed plumber, my beautiful-and-handy farmer wife provided the needed fix.
Picture of smiling Regina

With a late-in-the-day start, today/tonight brewed a test batch of the 6ixth Sense Ale (Belgian-Style Golden Ale).

Came in on target with an Original Gravity of 1.072. The yeast are happily working away, I'm about to hit the hay, tomorrow's another working day.

Test Batch Update ["Best-Laid Plans" Edition]

Was all set today to brew a test batch of the 6ixth Sense Ale (Belgian-style golden ale, formerly known as "Suckerpunch Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale"), when I discovered that a crucial burner is malfunctioning. While the burners under the brew and mash kettles are operating fine, the burner under the kettle that is used to prepare the water for mashing and sparging is acting oddly. Oddly enough to cause safety concerns, and not just reduce efficiency or effectiveness.

My amateurish plumbing attempts were to no avail, so I'll be calling in the services of a licensed plumber who knows what he (or she) is doing. However, no test batch today. :(

No brewing didn't mean I didn't get to have some fun, I did the next best thing -- another round of cleaning and sanitation, just to keep things flowing along in the ol' SABCO.

Meanwhile...The yeast in the test batch of the Old Walt Smoked Wit brewed two weeks ago are still happily working away. Am looking forward to keg and bottling it up soon.

On Target (Test Batch B)

Kegged up Test Batch B of the Harborfields HefeWeizen tonight.

Harborfields Hefeweizen Label image image of a hydrometer
The hydrometer reading showed a a Final Gravity of 1.018. , so, with an Original Gravity of 1.053, this batch is at the target 4.5% Alcohol by Volume.

Father's Day Test Batch

Brewed a test batch of the Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer, came in on target with an Original Gravity of 1.052. I smoked some of the wheat for this beer briefly over some mesquite.

This was a beer my Dad (who passed away three months ago) liked, so it was a different kind of brew day for me today. Raising a glass to Dad! He was otherwise a Coors drinker, but he liked the wheat beers (particularly the Hefeweizen), having developed a taste for them when he got them fresh in Germany many years ago during his Army days.

Test Batch A [Harborfields HefeWeizen]

I was aiming for 4.5% Alcohol by Volume for the Harborfields HefeWeizen, but the Original Gravity (OG) of the first test batch was higher than I was shooting for (1.058, vs. the target of 1.052).

The Final Gravity (FG) was 1.020, bringing Test Batch A of the Harborfields HefeWeizen at 4.9% Alcohol by Volume. Higher than the target, but not too bad for the first brewing session in almost a year. (Once I filed for the licenses, I was not permitted to brew until the licenses were granted. Welcome to Brewer Hell.)

Kegged up this first batch today -- it's going to be bottled from the keg after it reaches the proper carbonation level.

Test Batch B of the Harborfields HefeWeizen had an OG of 1.053, much closer to the target 1.052. We'll soon see how that one turns out, as it is just a week behind Test Batch A.

Happy Yeast

5:40 AM
The Weihenstephan Weizen yeast is happily working away at Test Batch B. (I'm always a little bit anxious until the yeast starts its work, the little buggers seem to have a mind of their own).

Getting Back on the Hefe Horse...

Brewed Beta-Phase Test Batch B today, another go at the Harborfields HefeWeizen.
Hit closer to the target Original Gravity this time: While Batch A's OG was 1.058, Batch B's OG is 1.053.
Not quite the 1.052 I was shooting for, but getting closer.

6:56 PM
The yeast are happily working away, turning wort into beer. The spent grains are now mixed in with the rest of the compost in the garden.

Clean up of the brewery equipment is done, now to clean up the brewer, and think about "what's for dinner?"

Caution: Yeast at Work

The yeast has been happily working away at the wort that is becoming Hefeweizen for five days now. Without these little wonders, there would be no beer.

High and Outside

Finally overcame various plumbing issues, and brewed a test batch of the Harborfields HefeWeizen on Saturday. Just before I pitched the yeast, I took a hydrometer reading. I didn't hit my target Original Gravity (1.052), instead the (post-boil) Original Gravity was 1.058 (!)

Assuming that fermentation goes as expected, this first batch won't be at the target alcohol by volume percentage that I'm shooting for the version that will be eventually offered up for public consumption, but time will tell. The yeast is happily working away...
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