The Bluebonnet Brew-Off awards were announced a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t able to make it for the ceremony, but they had the results a few days later. Unfortunately, I didn’t win anything, but I did get some good feedback on both of the beers that I entered. My saison did very well (37/50 and 41/50) in the first round of judging, but didn’t place. The only negatives in the comments were slightly low carbonation (to be expected when bottling from a keg), and low head retention. When I entered it into Deep Ellum’s Labor of Love last year, they also said it needed better head retention. I could easily get that by adding some CaraPils malt or some wheat malt, but I like that it’s a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) beer, so I’m keeping it just the way it is.
The quad didn’t fare as well, though, as the saison. It didn’t get out of the first round of judging (23/50 and 26/50), but there were some good comments on it that I can use. Both judges commented that it wasn’t complex enough. That’s not too surprising, since it only had 2 base malts (half pilsner and half pale ale) plus a pound of Belgian candy syrup. Both judges said it could benefit from some Special B. So, I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to add come complexity. They also both said to up the fermentation temp to get more esters and a dryer finish. Here’s the new recipe, which I’ll be brewing this weekend:
9lbs Belgian Pilsner Malt
9lbs Belgian Pale Malt
1lb CaraMunich Malt
1/2lb Biscuit Malt
1/4lb Aromatic Malt
1/4lb Special B Malt
1/4lb Chocolate Malt
1lb D-45 Candi Syrup
1lb D-180 Candi Syrup
1oz US Northern Brewer @ 60
1oz Hersbrucker @ 15
1oz Styrian Golding @ 5
Wyeast 3787 (same strain as WLP530, which I used last time, but it wasn’t available when I ordered everything), 4L starter is probably necessary for a beer this big.
I’ll pitch it at around 70F and let it warm up to mid-80s and hold it there for a week or so, then start bringing it back down to 65ish and hold there until FG is reached. Then I’ll keg and carbonate, then let it age at room temperature until it’s time to serve at Operation Bravo in November.
In other beer news, I met David from New Main Brewing out at Shannon Brewing in Keller on Saturday, where his pro-am beer, an Irish Breakfast Stout that he brewed with the guys at Shannon, was on tap for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It was very good. Probably my favorite of the beers they had on tap that day, followed closely by their dry-hopped Irish Red. We also got to chat with one of the brewers from Deep Ellum for a while, which was cool. It's always fun to talk to the guys who brew for a living!
And speaking of David, our English Dark Mild didn't get out of the first round, either, but we also got some good feedback on it. We both really liked the way it turned out, though, so if either of us brew it again, I don't know that we'd change much of anything. I'd probably use a different yeast strain, since I had so much trouble with WLP007 both times that I used it.
As for what’s up next, after the second batch of the quad, I have Martin House’s Riverside Shootout at the end of April. I bottled the test batch of the Rye Belgian IPA yesterday, and it smelled awesome! I’m pretty excited to try it in a week or so, once it’s had a chance to get carbonated. The hops, yeast, and rye flavors all seems to come together really well in the small gravity sample that I tasted. Of course, it was hot and flat, so we’ll just have to wait and see. If it does indeed come out as well as I’m hoping, that’s the recipe that I’ll be brewing for the Martin House competition. I’ll brew it there at the brewery on my equipment, and then bring home the wort along with a pitch of their house saison yeast strain blend. After fermenting and packaging at home, the bottles are due back at the brewery by mid-June for judging.
Looking ahead to May and June, I need to start thinking about what I want to enter into Labor of Love this year. My current thinking is that I’m not going to enter the saison again, it already won gold. I do want to enter the Killer Junior IPA again, though, and hope it turns out better than last time. I can wait until July to brew that one, though. I’m thinking I may try a Scottish Wee Heavy in May and let it age until September. That should be just about perfect.
One last thing before I let you all get back to your days. A couple of months ago I got an email from HomeBrewTalk about possibly doing some articles for them. I thought that sounded pretty cool, so I asked for more info. After some discussion, I was able to pick from a list of possible topics, and got my topic back a couple of days later. I’ve written and submitted the article, so hopefully it’s published soon. Once it is, I’ll be sure to post on here!
Everyone have a great week, and happy brewing!