I have a couple of confessions:
1. I lied when I said in a previous post that I wasn’t brewing in December. I had some coriander and orange peel left over so I brewed a half batch of Witty Kitty witbier the day after Christmas. I’m not proud of it (the lie), but I won’t regret drinking this batch when it’s time. I bottled it today.
2. The beer I’m brewing today is in the style of a Belgian kriek. But it’s not my recipe. It’s lifted straight out of Northern Brewer (“Dawson’s Kriek”). I implemented grain overages to compensate for my system’s efficiency, but the recipe is otherwise the same.
So here goes the first of twelve batches in 2015. For most basic beer styles that I brew, I know that at the end of it all, even if the finished product is not great, it will be drinkable. Not so with this one. There is a lot of uncharted territory here and I won’t know what I’ll find until I get there. Kriek is a substyle of lambic. Lambic is a sour, funky beer brewed traditionally in Belgium using wild fermentation. Wild fermentation is when the fermentor is open to the environment of the brewery and anything and everything floating around lands in the wort and does it’s own thing. The breweries that make this have their own unique microflora in their facility that then make a unique, one of kind beer. Kriek is essentially a lambic that is aged/refermented on sour morello cherries. So given that, obviously I’m not going to be making a true kriek, but an interpretation of a kriek. Here are the two big differences. Instead of morello cherries, I’m going to be using a sweet cherry puree. Second, I will not be doing wild fermentation. There is enough unknown risk here already, I don’t really need to just guarantee an undrinkable batch by opening up my fermentor to the crazy microscopic critters floating around unseen in my residence. So I will be using Wyeast 3278 Lambic blend. It has the general types of organisms that are found in true lambics: Brettanomyces, Pediococcus and assorted lactic acid bacteria, all in certain calculated proportions.
Now, even though I am copying someone else’s recipe, there is one big variable that will affect the end product to make it my own: time. The NB recipe says to primary ferment 6-12 months, then another 6 months in secondary on cherries. There is a lot of play there and the amount of time in either stage will impact the final product. It will determine the level of fruitiness to sourness and the level of funk. When you deal with brett and lactic acid bacteria, the beer is very dynamic over time. It can change identity rather dramatically. So doing tastings along the way will be very instrumental in determining when to switch from one phase to the next. Which is why I chose this as the first batch for 2015, because it’s going to take the longest to get in my glass.
The actual brew day was pretty much straightforward like any other brew day. It’s a wheat beer base. However, because my neighbor, who is just starting to get into homebrewing himself, came over to watch and talk, I failed to take any pictures. But the pics wouldn’t have been anything new and interesting anyway.
Bloed Koning Kriek (2.5 gallon BIAB)
4.4 lbs Rahr Pale 2-row
2.0 lbs Flaked Wheat
0.3 lbs Rice Hulls
3.2 gallons of strike water @ 116F
Glucan rest: 112F for 20 min
Protein Rest: 122F for 20 min
Beta Sacch: 149F for 45 min
Alpha Sacch: 160F for 30 min
Sparge: 1 gallon at 170F
0.5 oz Hersbrucker for 60 min
Yeast: Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend
Calculated attributes (which don’t account for the refermentation of the cherries)
Original Gravity: 1.055 (target), 1.060 (actual)
IBU (tinseth calculated): 16.7
SRM (morey calculated): 4.36 (I anticipate the final product to take on red from the cherries.)
Estimated ABV: 5.5%
By the way, I’ve dedicated an autosiphon/tubing and fermentor for this beer only. None of my other beers will touch this equipment again to guard against cross contamination with these “wild bugs”. I will evaluate the batch after 1 month in primary. I doubt I will go six months. I’m aiming for 1-2 months, and go a full 6 on cherries in secondary. But subject to change. Oh and the name? Bloed Koning is King’s Blood in dutch. Pretty badass if you ask me. Now all I need is for the beer itself to be badass and live up to that name.