Monday, August 12, 2013

Dos Por Uno Cerveza

I brewed the Dos Aves barley wine and just like the high gravity Russian imperial stout this barley wine required enough grain to completely fill my keggle mash tun. Once mashed in I had about half an inch of space at the top to run my sparge water. I have found that the more grain I pack into my mash the lower my efficiency comes in after a 45 minute sparge. In the case of this particular barley wine my efficiency was somewhere near 73% which is about 10 to 15% less than my average strength beers like my pale ale and dry stout. At the end of the sparge I was still drawing enough sugar from the grain to warrant salvaging some for a small beer.
So, while the wort for my barley wine was coming to a boil I heated up some additional sparge water and rinsed another 4 gallons of wort from the grain. Believe it or not I ended up with a gravity reading of 1.035 from this effort and knew I had the potential for some additional beer.

I set this aside while I finished brewing the barley wine as per normal and got it chilled and in the fermentor.

I then set to work on my small brown ale. I wanted the gravity to be a bit bigger so I add some cane sugar to the boil and add some hops sparingly hoping for a mild bitterness. I chilled and left it up to a packet of dry US-05 yeast to ferment.

After fermentation was complete I tasted the beer and found it to be slightly astringent (from the extra sparging I suppose) and lacking in the malt character that I was looking for and since I had come this far with it I figured I'd double down on my effort and decided to see what would happen if I added some local fruit. My thinking was to possibly temper the astringency and additionally create some added dimensions to the beer. In this case I guessed that 3 over ripe papayas and a mango would do the job.

I washed and sanitized the fruit first and then my hands because after peeling and scooping out the fruit I used my bare hands to squish the fruit into a lumpy puree. The odds of my contaminating this beer were high but since I also enjoy a good sour beer I wasn't afraid and some deep part of me actually smiled at the idea of a sour, brown, tropical fruit beer. I poured the fruit directly onto the fermented beer and covered with a lid and airlock. I stepped back and rubbed my hands together in anticipation.

Brown ale with fruit
The following day the fruit pulp had risen to the top of the fermentor along with some foamy krausen as the fruit fermented actively and gave off a large fruity aroma with the rising co2. After about a week and a half the fruit was starting to fall from the surface and I racked to a clean keg and force carbonated. I placed this keg in the kegerator to let it rest for a few days before bottling.

The final results? A mild brown ale with easy drinkability. The papaya aroma come through with the dark fruitiness of the crystal malts but is only slightly detectable in the flavor which is predominantly stone fruit and caramel. The astringency is mostly gone and the bitterness is just a bit higher than I would like but not offensive.

This low alcohol (session brown?) will be a great beer for quaffing on the roof top as the lazy days of summer wind down. If you are here in San Miguel, come by for a pint and give me some honest feed back on this secondary beer you might even get a taste of my traditional Mexican ponche that I fermented for an untraditional alcohol kick. Cheers!

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