I’ve been wanting to do a wine/beer hybrid for a while. At first I thought about selecting a beer style and a wine varietal and directly blending wine into the finished beer to taste prior to packaging. But I was at a loss as to what beer style and wine flavors would mesh. So I put it off. Then I found a kit recipe on Northern Brewer called Antithesis where it used a saison base and yeast with Nelson Sauvin hops and a cabernet sauvignon grape concentrate. I converted the Northern Brewer recipe into my Brewers Friend account, adjusting the grain bill for my process efficiency and dialing into NB’s target OG. But then Continue reading
I decided to do a comparative tasting between my Witty Kitty Witbier and Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian Style White Ale. This is the Witty Kitty that was brewed just after Christmas and had that sulphur odor, probably due to lower than usual temperatures in the house during bottle conditioning and me jumping the gun and refrigerating a few after only one week of bottling. Additional aging of the rest of the batch allowed the sulphur to mellow out and the beer turned out very nice.
Appearance: Both were hazy as is customary of a wheat beer. The Witty Kitty was pale yellowish but the Cigar City had a little bit more golden hue to it. But the appearance of both was really quite similar. Both had white dense, creamy heads but the Florida Cracker poured with a thicker head, indicating a higher level of carbonation.
Aroma: Both smelled quite similar also. That characteristic belgian yeast character was evident along with some citrusiness. Witty Kitty just had a tad bit more of a belgian yeast character.
Taste: Both taste citrusy and crisp with negligble hop character. The spiciness of the coriander was a bit more noticeable in the Witty Kitty on the back end.
Mouthfeel: Both had a medium, prickly mouthfeel. There was a creaminess to both.
Overall: Really, any differences I try to point out are really splitting hairs. I closed my eyes, switched the glasses around and tried to pick which one was which blindly. I guessed wrong. I’m kind of surprised at how close these two beers are. Considering Cigar City’s reputation of making awesome beers, I don’t mind not distinguishing myself here. That means my recipe was solid and I brewed it cleanly.
It’s been a hell of a winter….even down here in Florida. But I’m sure the springing of Spring is just around the corner. And when the warmer temps start settling in, it changes what I want to drink. Beach weather comes much quicker here in Florida than further up north, so I need to start planning on brewing what I want to have in my cooler. I’ve set up my brewing calendar to brew with the seasons for the most part. So starting in March I’ll be brewing 3 successive beers that are lighter, crisp and refreshing: Rye Tymes American Ale (light rye ale), Timmy Time Lime Cream Ale (exactly as it sounds) and Witty Kitty Witbier (belgian white). They are timed so that as we get into the full swing of spring and into the squelching heat of summer, these beers will be ready to be poured into my glass. Speaking of seasonal brewing, I’ve scheduled my hefeweizen and marzen for August so they are ready for Oktoberfest. And of course more of my dark and hearty beers will be brewed for fall/winter.
I posted previously that I was going to focus on my 12 recipes this year, one per month. Then I added my wine/saison hybrid and the marzen to the list. Somehow I can’t stay away from doing something new. So I got the idea of doing a session IPA with chinook and cascade (3.5%). But I won’t be doing that until December. By that time, I’m going to need to break up the monotony of the darker beers at that time of year and have something lighter but flavorful on hand.
I haven’t posted about it yet, but I brewed Regalic Saison two weeks ago (saison with muscat grape concentrate). I’m waiting until it’s time for tasting in about two weeks and I’ll do a full grain-to-glass summary. I’ll also include how the bourbon ale came out this time around.
Bloed Koning Kriek: sitting undisturbed in secondary until August.
2B’s Bourbon Ale and Regalic Saison: being bottled tomorrow.
Next brew day: Rye Tymes in about a week.
By the way, the Witty Kitty that I brewed the day after Christmas had a sulphur like aroma out of the bottle, which is a by-product of the yeast. But luckily after a few more weeks, it’s corrected itself. I’m attributing it to colder temps in the house which may have caused the refermentation and bottle conditioning process to be slower. I’m going to post a tasting comparison between this and a commercial witbier soon.
I brewed batch #2 of 2015 this past Friday. It’s a repeat of 2B’s bourbon ale that I brewed last July. When I went shopping for ingredients, my LHBS was out of a couple things I needed. The recipe calls for 4 hop additions (2 with EKG, 2 with Fuggles), and US-04 yeast. They were out of US-04 and Fuggles. So I went with US-05 and all EKG. The %AA for Fuggles and EKG are about the same and both are English hops. So I don’t anticipate much of a difference from them. By not using an english ale yeast though, I may lose some of the esters in the final beer, but with this being a bourbon beer, the absence may not be significant. The brew day went very smooth with no issues at all and I hit my OG of 1.063 on the nose. If you recall, I had mash over-temp issues the last time I brewed this and the final product was hazy though tasty. I’m expecting this time around that this beer will be clearer. This is also the first time that I adjusted my recipe amounts of hops based on the alpha acid percentage of the actual hops I purchased. My recipe had a default AA of 5% but the ones in store were 7.2%. The difference was large enough that I decided to reduce my hop weights accordingly to hit my target IBUs.
My kriek has been in primary for 4 weeks. I did a taste test. There is a bit of tartness coming through, but the beer is clear and no off flavors. I made the decision to rack to secondary with the cherry puree because I didn’t want my first try to be completely over the top. Essentially, I want it to still be accessible for my family and friends. If I’m the only one that can stand to drink it, that’s not that much fun. But I do plan to let it sit in secondary for 6 months.
Up next Friday is an extra brew day that I’m fitting in. It’s a wine/beer hybrid that I’m calling Regalic. It will be a saison with muscat grape concentrate added at the end of the boil. I just drank a saison brewed by Saint Somewhere Brewing located in Tarpon Springs, FL which incorporates Norton grapes. It’s called Cynthiana. It had a nice earthy yet fruity taste without it being sweet. Very nice and dry. I’m hoping that regalic comes out somewhere in that ballpark.
My wonderful girlfriend Erika has been so understanding of my brewing hobby and has gone so far as to show some genuine interest. We both enjoy craft beers when we are out and about, and she prides herself on how far she has come in appreciating really good beer (she’s a reformed Bud Light drinker). I too am proud while guiding her through her beer enlightenment. But when she said she wanted to brew a beer from beginning to end herself, I was downright giddy. What a woman! She tends to like lighter ales (not too bold or hoppy) and when we were at a World of Beer a few weeks ago, she tried a Wittekerke, which is a witbier. Witbier is german for “white beer” and is essentially a belgian wheat beer brewed with coriander and orange peel. She enjoyed it, as did I. Much better than a Blue Moon. So I suggested that this may be a good style for her to tackle. I designed the recipe and we went to Southern Brewing and Winemaking in Tampa to fetch the ingredients. She weighed out and milled all the grain herself. We grabbed the hops, yeast, coriander and orange peel. On brew day, I set up the equipment and guided her through each step. She asked questions, I explained the “why” behind each stage, explained all the weird terms such as “sparge”, “hot break”, “trub” and she even took notes. Below is the recipe for the 2.5 gallon BIAB.
2.25 lbs Weyermann Light Wheat
2.25 lbs Weyermann Pilsner
0.7 lbs Flaked Oats
Strike Water: 3 gallons
Protein Rest: 20 min @ 122 F
Saccharification : 60 min @ 152 F
Sparge: 1 gallon @ 170F
Boil: 60 min
Hops: 0.5 oz Hersbrucker at 60 min and 15 min
0.5 oz Coriander seeds (cracked) @ 10 min
0.5 oz Orange Peel @ 1min
Yeast: Wyeast Belgian Witbier 3944
The wort after cooling was remarkably clear when transferred to the fermentor. This style is usually hazy like most wheat beers, so it will be seen whether the yeast will lend a haze to the end product. Here are the stats.
Original Gravity: 1.047 (Target), 1.053 (Actual)
IBU: 26.44 (tinseth, calculated)
SRM: 3.46 (morey, calculated)
Target ABV: 4.5%
She did a great job and she’s done with the hard part, because bottling a batch this small will be a cinch. Then again, the hardest part is always the waiting.