Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brewday: Chanterelle Belgian Golden Ale

Last week I finally got around to brewing my Chanterelle mushroom beer. Wine and Cider occupied most of my time and carboys for October, so it took a while to free one up. The recipe is from Randy Mosher's excellent Radical Brewing. I decided to follow it more or less to the letter, because Chanterelle beer sounds weird and if he says it's good the way he makes it, well then I'll follow his lead. Small changes, for example, include using a bit of Magnum hops to make up for the fact that I use whole hops, not pellets. Fairly uneventful brewday. Gravity suffered a bit again, efficiency maybe 70%. Grrr.

Chanterelle Beer

5.25 gallon, all grain
Est. OG: 1.074, Actual OG: 1.070
Est. FG: 1.019, Actual probably lower
ABV: 7% - 7.5%
90 minute boil

Grain bill:
  • 9 1/2 lbs US 2-Row
  • 2 lbs Maris Otter
  • 1 1/2 lbs Munich
  • 1 1/2 lbs Wheat Malt
  • 1/2 lb Melanoidin malt
The Mash: Originally I had a triple decoction mash scheduled, (113, 144, 156) but on the day of the brew I was feeling a bit tired and lazy, so I dropped it down to a single decoction. Mashed in at 122 for a protein rest of about 35 minutes. Pulled a decoction of 2 1/4 gallons and raised it (stirring always!) to 154 for a rest of about 10 minutes. Then heated it (really stirring now!) to boiling for about 5 minutes. Back into the mash for a hopefull rest at 154 for a half hour, adjusting with boiling/cold water to reach it. Iodine test showed full conversion at 30 minutes, so a final infusion of about 2 gallons of boiling water brought the whole mash to 168 for knockout.

The Boil:
  • 1/2 oz Czech Saaz (3% AA) at 90 minutes
  • 1/4 oz Magnum (14% AA) at 90 minutes
  • 1 1/2 oz Saaz at 30
  • 1 1/2 oz Saaz at 10
  • 1/2 oz Cascade at flame out for aroma
No finings, it'll be cloudy.

Yeast was two packets of dry Safbrew T-58, their Strong Belgian strain. Rehydrated with a bit of GoFerm in some warm water. Took off like a rocket, blowoff tube came in very handy. It's fermenting upstairs, covered with a blanket. The house is 65 during the day, so it should stay in a nice range. The basement is hanging around 62 and Belgian yeasts sometimes get sluggish that low. Some people ferment their Belgians at crazy high temps, but I have always had better luck in the high 60's. I'll rack it in a day or two, then bottle with the chanterelle extract in another week or so.

The Chanterelle Extract:

Chanterelles have a lovely mushroomy apricoty smell when fresh. To capture the essence of Chanterelle mushrooms you use vodka and make a sort of Schnapps. I used a half pound of chanterelles from the load that we foraged in the Olympics, chopped fine, and covered in Tito's vodka in a mason jar for two weeks. Then I strained it through a couple layers of cheesecloth. It smells and tastes like mushroomy vodka. It's weird. But it's going in at bottling and we'll see how it all turns out.

UPDATE 12/01/09

Popped a 12oz bottle. Nice yeast cake at the bottom. Fairly well carbonated for only a week. It will no doubt pick up a bit more in the weeks to come. As for the Chanterelles. Well. It tastes like a Belgian. A good Belgian. But nothing spectacular. Which is a bit weird, the vodka was certainly mushroomy. Oh well. Tastes good. Problem will be entering it in competitions. It's not noticeably mushroomy but is noticeably delicious. But a judge might have a mushroom allergy so I can't enter it as just "Belgian Golden". Also the color is a bit muddy, I'd drop the melanoidin by half next time and make it a bit lighter.

UPDATE: Gold and BEST IN SHOW at 2010 Cascade Brewers Cup!


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