Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Urthel Hop-It yeast

A few days ago I tasted Urthel Hop-It. Some people might call it a Belgian IPA, but I prefer what the brewmaster herself calls it: a hoppy blonde. In a previous post I mentioned that I prefer balaced beers, so why should I even bother to try it? First of all, I liked the other Urthel beers I tried, secondly it is hopped with Magnum, Styrian goldings and Saaz (the last two being personal favorites) and thirdly it has live sediment so I can collect the yeast. Being brewed by a Belgian brewer, it didn't surprise me that it in fact was more of a hoppy blond than an IPA. The bitterness was higher then in most other belgian beers, but it was still balanced and it didn't make my tongue curl. The taste and aroma were, as expected, a nice blend between belgian yeast character and the nice fruitiness and spiciness of the hops.
After drinking the beer I of course saved the sediment. Luckily, I didn't plate it out immediately. I made a small 5 ml starter first, which turned out to be a good idea as it took several days to take off. I then made a streak plate and now I have a few single colonies to save for later. One more strain in the bank! Let's hop Urthel doesn't use the T-58 yeast... That would have made the whole effort rather useless :) Or a good training session.
As you can see on the picture, one colony is bigger then the others, so I saved that one as well as a normal size colony. One day I might test if there's a difference.

Monday, April 26, 2010

SM2010 - The results

The Swedish Championships in homebrewed beer 2010 (aka SM2010) were a blast! While the rest of the family enjoyed a day at Liseberg, I tasted almost half of the beers competing for the people's choice awards. As you can see in the results, the hop monsters were the clear favourites, not entirely to my surprise. I seem to be an outsider, thinking that 100 IBU is way too bitter for a beer. And I don't like Cascade hops either. Luckily, there were also some belgian-style beers that took home a medal in the people's choice, like my two favorites "Mon Dieu" (a golden stron ale treated with the champagne method) and "Bonnagaarden Syrat Vitöl" (a low alcohol belgian wit with a refreshing sourness.
Well, let's see how it went for my beers then. As I wrote earlier, I had 4 beers in the competition, and here are the results in ascending order:

  • Rivus Niger Dubbel: 32/50 (comments on DMS, alcoholic flavor, slight oxidation and lack of complexity)
  • Saison Matilda: 37/50 (slightly plastic aftertaste ans some oxidation, was probably very good but now a bit tired)
  • Slànte (Belgian scottish strong ale): 38/40 (Not enough belgian character, slightly oxidized)
  • Rivus Niger Tripel: 40/50 (nice smell, nice looks, good balance between fruit and spice. A bit too alcoholic taste, one judge found it too bitter for the style

I can only agree with the judges, they gave me a fair judgement. After all, this was the first time I brewed this styles, and I definately learned a few things. Mainly, avoid oxidation! I'm already charged to brew the new and improved versions of these wonderfully low IBU begians.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Project Orval

My yeast bank is steadily growing. Untill recently I just saved commercial yeast and yeast from bottle-conditioned beer on slants or in the freezer. But last week I started a new project: "Project Orval". Orval beer is brewed using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strain in primary permentation. According to Stan Hieronymus in "Brew lika a monk" Orval uses a "yeast from the area" in secundary fermentation. This "yeast" is supposed to be a mixture of yeasts of both Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces. For a yeast enthusiast like me this is an experimental gold mine. I have streaked out the dregs of an orval bottle on a wort agar plate and picked a whole range of colonies looking different. I have seen big, small and tiny colonies. Of those I have now more then 15 clones which I plan to test (either all or some) in small scale (500 ml) fermentations using a neutral wort. This should be enough to fill one bottle from each fermentation. I will then test all bottles after a few months and see how my strains behave.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Swedish national homebrewing championship

Next weekend I will go to Göteborg for the Swedish national homebrewing championship. For this competition I entered 4 beers: a dubbel, a tripel, a saison and a Scottish stong ale-inspired belgian specialty ale. We'll see how it goes. Worst case scenario: all other beers are better then mine. Which would mean I'll have some tasty brews next saturday. Best case scenario: all other beers in te belgian category taste worse then mine and I take home a medal. Win-win situation.