Batch #50 – Something

Last Saturday, April 2nd, the day after April fools’ day (when I fooled my boss into thinking that one of our clients broke an extremely expensive piece of video equipment), we had our Batch #50-Something brew day.  Everyone from the original Bierkast team (John, Matt, Katie, Steph, and myself) was there to brew with the addition of our contest winner Alan and his wife Nikkee.  Sadly, Keith and his guns could not make it.
I stayed up late and woke up extra early to make sure everything was ready for the big day – after all, this would be our first Lager brew day as a big group and the first for my temp-controlled Kegerator as well. (Actually, my first brew with Keith was a Czech Pils, which totally counts, but we have come so far from that day.) Enter, Forbidden Pils, the black rice adjunct hybrid pilsner.

The idea behind this recipe actually came from a segment in Randy Mosher’s book, Radical Brewing, where he talks about all the grains that brewers used to use in the olden days during our ancestors’ never ending quest to make alcohol out of absolutely everything that surrounded them.
He goes over rice and its use in American style pre-prohibition pilsners when they were added for fermentable sugars, dryness, and extra flavor.  Today, mega-breweries make their beers with rice and corn to cheapen the product and get the most bang for their buck.  However, other rice, such as Black Rice, at $7-10/lb,  is anything but cheap.  It’s one of those really nutty rice varieties that tastes great just by itself, but the real magic behind the rice is in the antioxidant-rich outer layer of the grain itself.  When cooked the black outer layer turns purple and the purple color is made up of similar compounds found in acai berries and blueberries.  It’s also rich in vitamin E.  HEALTH BEER! Google “Chinese Black Rice” or “Forbidden Rice” if you want to learn more.  The result was an incredible dark purple mash which turned a sort of rose-maroon during the boil.  The foam, hot break, and even the krausen is pink.  Incredible!

The event itself was great. Katie and I set up a great food spread full of snacks and sandwich fixings.  Nikkee, Alan’s wife, brought over an intense assortment of beer cupcakes expertly decorated and presented in home made craft paper boxes.  Each cupcake was made from and to pair with one of Alan’s beers.  There was also a rum-jello concoction that we sampled.  In terms of food we were definitely set.  For beer, Alan brought over a bunch of his, Matt brought some of his newest, and we had some old standards already in my fridge.   We sampled a pumpkin ale, a pumpkin sour ale, a rum porter, a nut brown porter, 3 different rye IPAs, a pale ale, an imperial stout, and an arrogant bastard-ish clone.  Winning!  Food, beverages, and then some – covered.
The brewing went pretty well.  The grain bill, aside from the rice, was very simple and straight forward.  We started out by grinding the rice up in a food processor and then cooking it fully by itself.  The first attempt met failure as none of us have cooked grits before…we ended up with some burnt popcorn smelling scorches on the bottom of the pan.  Luckily I had more black rice.  We tossed out the “fail” and tried again.

After cooking the rice we added it to the main mash and gave it a minor protein rest.  We continued with an acid rest, and here’s where we did our first decoction.  After another hour we were ready to add the decoction back to the main mash and do the final starch conversion rest.  Everything from here through the boil was normal.  Lauter, sparge, and boil – done.  Okay, time to hook up the new equipment again.
We have a new wort chiller (used once before with issues) and a new March Pump (first time using).  The Boil kettle was connected to Pump, which was connected to both the Plate Chiller and Sump Pump (being fed ice water for the water side), the Wort out on the Plate Chiller was connected to Carboy.  Right away we had flow issues.  I’m not sure what the issue was exactly, but it wasn’t pulling liquid out of the boiler.  Eventually Allan, John, and I counted to three and turned everything on at the same time and the flow started, but we forgot to turn on the pump for the cold water cooling part.  Crap! The pump worked well…too well and we pulled all the wort out of the boiler in record time, but it wasn’t enough time to be properly cooled.  We are going to have to work on the flow issues here, but I have faith we’ll get them eventually.

After an ice bath and a little time in the kegerator, we pitched the yeast and started the best part of the day – cleaning up.
Despite the snags, I think we had a pretty successful brew day.  The beer is happily fermenting in my kegerator at a cool 50 degrees.  The color is awesome!!

Super Hop Man
In other news, Jim Spencer, our organic hop provider, recently had our Rusty Rocket IPA and loved it.  Here’s a picture of him enjoying the brew.  He said this about the tasting:
“I found the taste to be very pleasing .. very well balanced between the malt and hops .. I could taste it in my mouth more than a 1/2 hour after finishing.  Very nice job .. you should be proud.” – Jim
Thanks again Jim for those awesome hops.  I still have a ton left, and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I don’t make this one again.  Errr…What I meant to say is that we will definitely be brewing this awesome beer with your awesome hops again!  The plan is to submit this one along with our newest Saison to the California State Fair and possibly Mayfair. It would be great to get a medal!

SoCal Beer Company
Last night I racked the newest one of our saisons into a keg and headed to Library Ale House for the SoCal Beer Company’s launch event.  They had their Seismic IPA on tap and it was damn good.  They served it in a pint glass, and I even got to take one home with the SoCal Beer Co logo on it.  I’ve been using this app called Untappd which allows you to check in and keep track of all the beers you are drinking.  You can rate them, toast to others drinking the same thing, and recently they added the ability to add your own homebrews to the mix.  I’m super excited about this!  I checked into the Seismic IPA on Untappd and it told me to show the screen to the SoCal Beer guy…I did this and was rewarded with the pint glass.  Cool!  I ordered a second pint of Seismic, but being the snob that I am, I had it served to me in a tulip glass.  I made an incredible difference in primarily the nose of the beer, and the taste was better too.  My wife told me I was full of it until we did a side by side.  I may have converted someone to the vastly superior tulip glass!  Glassware can really make a beer taste truer.  The right glass can bring out flavors and aromas you didn’t even know existed! Stepping down from the soap box and signing off.  Thanks everyone for following!  Kompai.-Kip

P.S. Congratulations to our Tasting Beer contest winner – Mary Vercher! I also drew a second place winner who won a Bierkast T-Shirt – Jason Zeisloft.  Thanks for entering everyone, and keep your beer reviews coming!

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