Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cerise from Founders Brewing Company

Some days I don't need to be in the lab working and can work from places other than the University. This day, I decided to work from my local brew pub, Quarter Barrel Brewery and Pub. All I was doing at the time was statistics on my laptop. The day was sunny and warm at 24°C and a slight breeze; it was absolutely beautiful day, it was time to sit out and work. The nice day brought on the thoughts of a refreshing drink and from the taps I found Founders Cerise.

Founders Brewery was one of my favorite places to be while living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lived all around Grand Rapids for a period of 7 years, off and on. Some days it was a battle on where to spend my time, because there were so many great breweries in the are (New Holland Brewing Company to name another).

Cerise is a fruit beer, but not a supper sweet beer. It is fermented with Michigan tart cherries and has a ABV and IBU of 6.5% and 15 respectively. I could not find any information on the types of malts, hops and yeast that were used, so I am not able to give readers that.

My thoughts on fruit beers are not always the best. There are relatively few that are not overpowering and taste like cough syrup. This is one that hits right were I want with a fruit beer. The beer was served in a tulip glass at 8 oz. The review:

Appearance: Pours a coppery red with brilliant clarity and a bright white head with pink hues that quickly dies down to a lacy ring on the glass. The level of carbonation was low to medium. The amount of malty coating of the glass by the beer was minimal, but the lacy head coated the glass as it was drank.

Aroma: Right off the nose I get the cherries, not sweet, but very tart that gives almost a sour note on the beer. I also get caramel and bready notes from the malts used in the beer. I am unable to get any hints of hops in the beer.

Taste: A tartness is the first thing that I pull from my first sip. As the beer washes back over my palate, tastes of caramels, bread, and sourness comes to my taste buds. The tartness of the beer comes directly from using the Michigan tart cherries, instead of esters from the yeast. The level of sweetness is minimal and no bitterness.

Mouthfeel: The body of the beer is low-to-medium, with medium carbonation. The cherries linger on the taste buds

Overall: A very refreshing beer have. It is the right amount of tartness. And not overly sweet. What I have heard from the folks at Founders, was that the Cerise is to replace the Rabaeus, their Raspberry beer.

I have to say that I have a fondness for anything from Founders, because it is my home taproom. I am happy to see a little bit of home at far away places. Cerise from Founders Brewing Company is currently on tap.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brewing of a Black IPA.

The latest brew that I did in the past week was a Black IPA. This one, I had a lot of help from my friend Joel. Joel did a lot of work on this because he is really interested in learning on how to brew.

This brew I got a taste for after having a New Holland's brew called Black Hatter. New Holland, has an every end of spring event called Hatter Days, where they brew Mad Hatter in different varieties (Black Hatter, Lager Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Oak Cask Hatter...you get the point). I first did this brew in 2008 with all Sterling Hops, but this I wanted a lot more hoppy. I wanted to use all Chinook hops, but with the lack of money I used a combination of Magnum, Nugget, and Chinook (hops that I had left over). A lot of this brew had malt and hops that I had left over.

For the malt, I wanted a complex taste, with a good variety of malts. The grain bill was:

13# Munich Malt
1# Crystal 80
0.5# Biscut
0.5# Carafa III
0.25# Black Patent
0.25# Roasted Barley

The weather was not cooperating with an outside brew. It would down pour, then get sunny and hot, then down pour again. Half of this brewing process was standing under half in the garage. While grinding and steeping our grains, we opened a 2007 N'ice Chouffe by Achouffe Brewey. Then during the boil we open one of my 2 year old Barleywines.

We steeped the grains for 60-minutes and vorlaufed (or recirculated) the wort. After we gathered around 8-gallons we started applying heat for the boil. Our pre-boil gravity was 1.068, 6 points under our projected of 1.074. Our hop addition to the boil was the following:

0.50 oz. Magnum (14.00% AA) 60 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 55 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 50 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 45 min
0.25 oz Nugget (13.00 % AA) 40 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 35 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 30 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 25 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 20 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 15 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 10 min
0.25 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 5 min
1.00 oz Chinook (11.50 % AA) 0 min

After the boil, the wort was chilled with a copper wort chiller and poured into a sanitized fermentation bucket to allow for plenty aeration. In three weeks this brew will complete it fermentation and conditioning. The last check on progression of fermentation showed that the gravity is at 1.034 and need to drop 10 more points to 1.024. One ounce of Chinook hops was added to the beer for dry hopping. A tasting was done on the beer and it is not nearly as hoppy as I want it to be and seems like it turned out to be more of a Porter, but a very tasty porter at that.