Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jamaica Wheat

In my attempt to use local ingredients to add the flavor of the Mexican culture, I'm going to start with a wheat beer with the addition of jamaica (dried hibiscus flower) and tamarindo. Each has its unique flavor but they both impart a sour or tartness to the taste.The hibiscus is mildly tart and with tangy fruit and flower hints. The tamarindo is boldly tart with strong dried fruit flavors.
I am using a Belgian style yeast (safale s-33) that should contribute a large phenolic flavor and I'm hoping that the hibiscus and tamarindo will accent and support that with their tartness. Naturally, I was concerned about using too much of either of these so, I went with a conservative one ounce of the hibiscus and about a quarter cup of the tamarindo in my five gallon batch. The original gravity for this beer is 1.046 and I hope that it will ferment down to 1.008 but this beer is new territory for me so I will be happy if it ends up drinkable. One thing I was expecting to happen that didn't is that the hibiscus flower did not impart the red color to the beer that I wanted. I had made a small tea of some of the flower earlier and the color in the water after steeping for only a few minutes was very beautiful. If I'm lucky, some red highlights may show up in the finished beer.
I chilled the beer in an ice bath that brought the temperature down to 70f. after 25 minutes or so and I aerated the wort by pouring it back and forth several times between the boil pot and the fermenter. As you can see in the background of the picture of the boiling wort, I have amassed a couple of cases of beer bottles in anticipation of bottling this beer in a week. I'm also realizing that I better get busy making another batch soon because of the delay in letting the beer condition in bottles. We will only be here until the end of February and I want to get fifteen
gallons of beer bottled, conditioned, drunk and shared with friends and some local business people before we leave. Which reminds me, I bought a phone card today and have phone numbers and addresses for three different grain suppliers in Mexico. I've asked Susan to habla the espanol for me to some of these businesses so I can finally put an end to
my search for a supplier down here. Keep your fingers crossed.


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