March Bierkast Update

There have been a lot of things brewing at Bierkast lately.  I mean that both literally and and figuratively.  Let me first go back a ways and congratulate Allen Huerta for winning the Batch #50 contest.  Allen received a Radical Brewing book by Randy Mosher and will be brewing our Forbidden (Pre-Prohibition Hybrid) Pils with us.  In case any of you are wondering, this beer was slated to be Batch #50 and symbolically it still is.  Realistically though, it will be batch #53 or #54 and that is simply due to scheduling conflicts for this month.

Bierkast is a beer brewing machine, and we have to keep everything and everyone moving, learning, and making more great beer. If all goes according to plan we will hopefully be brewing the Pils on April 2nd… Let’s cross our fingers and hope that it all works out.

We re-brewed our medal-winning Saison last weekend, but prior to that we ran a Saison tasting night.  The aim was to, without getting obliterated, compare various commercial saisons to our homebrew version.  Ryan Nuber joined us along with his lovely girlfriend Dana and we proceeded to run the tasting gamut through a total of 7 saisons while eating Bella Vista Brazilian pizza.  Interesting pairing.  Here was our tasting order:

– Saison Dupont by Brasserie Dupont – the classic – skunk & funk, but very drinkable, golden
– Sofie by Goose Island Brewing Company – white like wit, citrus tang, funk, effervescent, white gold
– Equinox #7 by Bierkast – chlorine phenol, lightly funky, alcohol heat, medium body, citrust, dark gold
– La Moneuse by Brasserie de Blaugies – slight skunk, funky, tart, dry, gold
– Le Merle by North Coast Brewing Company – crisp, lightly funky, pleasantly spicy, alcohol, clear gold
– Equinox #8 by Bierkast – chlorine phenol, lightly funky, light body, like gold
– Red Barn Ale – Lost Abbey – Sweet, funky, citrus, red amber

What an incredible line up.  Each one was so different from the others.  It’s amazing that beer can be so very diverse even within a single style.  The Belgian brewed bottles tended to be on the funkier and tart side with notes of skunk from their journey to the states.  The US brewed offerings tended to be higher in alcohol and spice.  Colors ranged from pale clear straw to dark amber.  I personally enjoyed Le Merle & Sofie the most, but everyone had their favorite.  Our homebrewed version stand up well to these beers, but one thing I noticed from these batches is that they didn’t age well.  Upon the first taste you immediately get a hint of some sort of chlorine or distracting phenol.  I’m pretty certain it isn’t coming from the water for two reasons 1) We filter our water pretty heavily and 2) No other styles have this issue.  I’m thinking it may have to do with the high temperature fermentation this particular beer went through.  This event was pretty relaxed and we didn’t make anyone take notes.  Eventually we’ll get to that point, but this was more of an open forum and Saison appreciation night.

On to the brew day.  As it so happens, I actually had the honor of meeting Allen Huerta during the Saisons brewing.  He helped out along with one of our new brew buddies, Ryan Nuber.  Allan brought over an awesome porter and a kickass pale ale – great beer!  Ryan just started brewing, and he actually completed his first batch the night before.  He brought over a bottle of Stone Old Guardian Belgo and Dog Fish Head Pangaea.  Brewing went very smoothly until we got to the cooling portion.  I wanted to use the new Blichmann plate chiller, so I followed Allen’s experienced-plate-chiller lead.  Unfortunately we had a bit of a clog which may be rectified by introducing a pump into the chilling line.  The result was a slow chill, a bit of frustration, and the loss of 0.5 – 1.0 gallons.  Rather than be upset about this snafu, I’m just going to chalk it up to introducing new equipment.  It’s bound to happen.  It’ll be ideal if we can work out the kinks prior to April 2nd.  And once we do work out the kinks this system is gonna be kick-ass.  Thanks again for helping out Ryan and Allen.  I’m looking forward to more brew days with you guys.

We currently have 4 beers in various stages of fermentation: Arrogant Ted – An Arrogant Bastard Simulacrum, Red Baron – Amber, Dampfmaschine – California Common, and Equinox – Saison.  We are slightly worried about our Dampfmaschine at this point as it has white speckles up and down the walls of the carboy, but various homebrew forums point to it just being yeast settling.   Who knows what the answer is..beer is a living breathing entity…we’ll find out soon when we keg the damn thing.  Let’s all cross our fingers and hope for the best so we can serve this beer at the cool beer pairing dinner Think-Brew and Cast Iron Gourmet are hosting.  We may even have our newest Saison ready.

Here is a link to a homebrew forum thread with a guy having a similar looking issue.

That about does it for the Mid March Bierkast Update. Don’t forget to check out our Contest page for your chance to win the Tasting Beer book by Randy Mosher! Also don’t forget to check out our new website www.losangelesaleworks.com

Brew On!
– Kip

About Kristofor Barnes

Kip is the founder of Bierkast and co-founder of Los Angeles Ale Works. Picking up home brewing after college, he has since become an accomplished award winning home brewer, LA Beer Blogger, and author of the Beer Lover's Guide to Southern California. Kip is a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Cinema Television. He lives in Inglewood, CA with his sciency wife Katie. Follow him @bierkast or #FollowTheLAAW @laaleworks

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