Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brewday: Fustigator Eisbock

Fustigate: (v) To beat with a club.
That about sums up an Eisbock. An already strong Doppelbock that has been ice distilled, concentrated by removing the frozen water and leaving the concentrated beer behind. The last one I brewed was over seven years ago, and it is still probably the most widely remembered brew I've done. It was good, even if my stoner ex-housemates unplugged the lagering fridge while I was away for a month in Norway. But I think seven years' experience will make this next one great.

Step one in making an eisbock is planning. You can't just ice a normal doppelbock, it will be cloyingly sweet. You should brew a doppel expressly designed to ferment as dry as possible, so that when it's concentrated it sweetens up nicely. Also, make sure you have plenty of yeast around. I brewed up a Helles and an Oktoberfest just to be starters for this one. By the end I had just under a half quart of solid Wyeast Continental Lager built up.

The base is German Pils and Munich, with a pound of CaraMunich. At the last minute I decided to add 6oz of Special B, a dark Belgian crystal malt. I think it will add a nice deep caramel complexity, but time will tell whether it also added too much caramel malt and over-sweetened it. Hops are way in the background on this one, about 28 IBU of Brewers Gold and Sterling, because that's what I had in the freezer. Shot for 9.5%, when it's been iced it should be up around 11%.

RECIPE: Fustigator Eisbock

ABV (pre-eisbocking): 9.25%-9.5%. Post Eisbocking: 11%ish.
O.G.: 1.094
F.G.: 1.022-24 probably, 1.020 if I'm lucky.
IBU: 28
SRM; 18
  • 10 lbs German Pils (had to use Best, would have preferred Weyermann)
  • 7 lb Munich (10L)
  • 1 lb CaraMunich
  • 6 oz Special B
Infusion mash to 144 for 20 minutes, then infusion to 156 for 30. Pulled a decoction to mashout at 168. The stepped infusion was due to my 5 gallon stovetop pot being too small for a proper single infusion of that much grain. You could do a single infusion at 154 easy, I just didn't feel like firing up the propane burner until the main boil.

Water adjustments were:

Mash: 2 tsp chalk, 3/4 tsp Calcium Chloride, 1/2 tsp Epsom salts, 3/4 tsp Baking Soda, 1/4 tsp salt.

Boil: 1 1/2 tsp calcium chloride, 1 tsp Epsom.

90 Min Boil.
  • 1 oz Brewer's Gold (Pellet) @ 9.7% AA @ 60 min
  • 1/2 oz Sterling (Pellet) @ 4.3% @ 30 min
  • whirlfloc tablet @ 15
  • 1 t yeast nutrient @ 15
Cooled as much as possible using icewater in my plate chiller. Need a pump if I'm going to do better than 59. But I do have a new Stopper Thermowell, so I have accurate temp control again. After a couple hours it had cooled to 53. Racked off the cold-break and pitched my yeast. Fermenting away at 50.

I'll give it two or three weeks to ferment out, then a D-rest for a few days. Then rack it. Slowly drop it down to 35 and lager it for a month. Then rack into a keg. Into the chest freezer and I'll drop it to 19 degrees. Swirl the keg until noticeable icebergs have formed. Then I'll use a jump-tube to rack over into a 3 gallon keg. If all goes as planned, nothing will be left in the first keg but two gallons of ice. Then I'll lager the 3 gallon keg for another month, carbonate, and bottle the whole batch in 12oz'ers with my BeerGun. That's the plan, anyway.
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Results: The Great Classic American Pilsner Off

Back in February I brewed two Classic American Pilsners. One to a traditional cereal mash and 6-row malt, the other with a single infusion, flaked corn and 2-row. The object was to see whether the extra effort added anything to the brew, and whether it was worthwhile overall. Well, the last keg has kicked and the results are in.

The two beers were brewed just two days apart, using two packets of Saf-23 dry lager yeast. They were fermented for two weeks at 48, rising to 50ish. Then three days of 60 degree diacetyl-rest. They were then lagered for six weeks, kegged, carbonated for a week, and served.

I brought a growler of each to my homebrew club meeting that month and explained the experiment, doing it as a blind tasting. I'd say about 2/3 correctly identified which was which, but the group was pretty well split as to which they preferred.

The Traditional 6-Row Cereal Mash. Most noticeably this one somehow developed an unfortunate phenol, vaguely plasticky, bandaidy. My theory is that since I'd lost my Thermowell in the move I didn't cool it as well as I should have, and it started fermenting a little hot. So really, it wasn't a truly fair comparison. But the beer still had some things to recommend it. It poured a nice, very pale straw color, with a lasting white head. Slightly cloudy, chill haze from the 6-row no doubt. Just a bit sweet, somewhat corny. Floral hop in the nose, just a bit too much hop flavor and bitterness I think. Probably would scale back on the hops for both recipes, and swap out the domestic Hallertau for something else, maybe Sterling or Czech Saaz.

One thing I discovered, while out doing some work in the garden, was that this beer seriously benefited from the Green Bottle Effect. Just a few minutes in the sun brought out a hint of skunk, and though it sounds off-putting it really brought a nice balance to the beer. Next time I'd even consider putting the whole carboy out in the sun for 15 minutes or so before kegging.

The Modern 2-Row with Flaked Corn. This one fermented out much cleaner. It was a shade darker, and much clearer. That's the 2-row for ya. It was more malty, and more dry. The hops came out more clearly, and I wasn't happy with the profile. Again, I'd probably drop the IBUs down a bit and switch out for a cleaner hop. I won't be using US Hallertau for a while, maybe ever again. This one was my favorite of the two, but a lot of it was due to that weird phenol in the 6-row. It was much easier to brew too, so I guess this one was the winner.

In the future. Due to their being lagers, the experiment took several months. I'm thinking I'll try it again, but quickly this time, as simple Cream Ales for the short, hot Summer. Maybe put them on Nitro this time...
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