Here's an update for the small batch Quad I brew once a year. Beancurdturtle 2014 Quad was brewed on January 5th, went into cold conditioning on January 25th, and finally gets pulled from its dark corner to get bottled today. That's eight months of bulk conditioning, and with the benefit of a Hungarian oak stave that had been in a couple brews before for a bit of barrel character.
I pulled the fermenting vessel and its crate out to find a nice garden of mossy stuff. No worries, the beer is safe in glass. Added fresh yeast and some sugar to carbonate nicely. And bottled it up. No fancy bottles, the beer should speak for itself. Photos follow.
Beancurdturtle 2014 Quad disinterred from its cozy corner.
Yin was the first barrel project through a red wine barrel hosted by my friend Scott Bennett. A huge true lager Baltic Porter. Now it's time for the second fill, so naturally we move to something - lighter? Balance Grasshopper.
A recipe for a Belgian Pale, grain bill by Shawn, hop bill by Scott, and yeast selection and fermentation schedule by me. We've a few brewers who will make between 5 and 10 gallons, finish primary fermentation, then bring them all together into one 70 gallon barrel. A spicy fruity Belgian Pale kissed by the colors and character of Red Wine and Baltic Porter. Should be quite elegant.
I had intended to cold condition this batch of Black Lingerie only 5 weeks. It's lower gravity so it should be fine. Time got away from me, and it's in week 6. I've got to go pick up the Chinese tea roses today and get them in the fermenter.
I craft recipes for extraordinary beers. No foolin' - extraordinary. Then I brew a pilot batch, you know, just to prove them out. BCT BFU is a recipe for lots of black malts (roast) and lots of dank hops, cradled in an Oatmeal Stout backbone for balance. And it works - very well.
In a small operation like Beancurdturtle Brewing, everyone (that would be me) has many functions. Brewing, bottling, corresponding with Craft Brewery collaborators, labeling...
Right... Labeling. In this photo you can't see the witty description "Roasty as hell, bitter as a bad breakup, cradled in dark malts and lucious mouthfeel."
The Art Department misspelled "luscious". I'd fire them all, but it's me. *sigh*
In a 5 gallon batch: 3 pounds of dark grains (2.5lb being 300SRM to 500SRM, black), and almost half a pound of Ahtanum, Cascade, Chinook, and Simcoe hops.
Well, I failed. Not on the color, roastiness, or hop bitterness - I failed on the "edge of offensive" thing. I thought I would have a beer that would steal the Arrogant card from a famous Bastard. But "arrogant" doesn't describe this beer.
Instead, BCT BFU is 57 SRM, deeply roasty, and 103 IBUs - and it's gorgeous. Nobody is going to call a beer "Gorgeous Bastard" - I'll keep the name "BCT BFU" because that was the original intent.
Bottled yesterday, I can't wait for it to carb up and be ready to serve.
Black Lingerie is probably the most favored of the annual specialty beers I make. It is a BCT tweaked Imperial Porter base recipe averaging 10% ABV, and Chinese tea roses and Papua New Guinea vanilla beans go into it for several days right before bottling. Batch 1 was awesome, because it was. Batch 2 was dialed back a touch in the roses and vanilla and slightly lower in alcohol than Batch 1, still awesome but not quite as sexy. Batch 3 was back up above 10% ABV and aged in red wine barrels, and awesome in a whole different way.
So what am I aiming for in Batch 4? I'm targeting a beer that retains all the best qualities and sexiness of the 10% ABV version, but is not as high in alcohol. You might ask, "But why?" - and I'll tell you. Beers (in general) in the 10% range require long aging cycles - typically 8 months or more from brew day to the first pour. This allows the heat and booziness of the alcohol to mellow and integrate with the beer. This takes up space in the fermenters and makes it more of a challenge to brew them more often or at a commercial volume. Besides, Black Lingerie is all about unique character and complexity, not about high alcohol.
So I'm focusing on the unique things that make Black Lingerie as awesome and sexy as it is - the things that give it richness, dark chocolate characters, floral aromas, smooth tobacco notes as it ages - and dialing the alcohol back about 25%. I'm convinced it will be as awesome as ever, but ready to enjoy within a couple months or so versus 8 months. And you'll be able to drink more without falling over.
A "right proper" English grain bill from my friend Shawn Olsson - plus a new-fangled hop schedule and a sneaky English adjunct from BCT. A long and coolish primary fermentation, cold crash to 45F to drop the yeast, add some sugar and go right to the bottles. That'll get you BCT English IPA.
A quick taste of the uncarbonated beer between the fermenter and the bottles - wow! This is going to be a good one.
BCT Quad 2014 (a small batch for friends and me) gets some hot wood. I've got this Hungarian oak stave I've already used in a Wee Heavy, and a crazy coconut water mead. I'm toasting it up, one half protected, then heavy toasting one face on one half.
Complexity and balance. It's always the way to go. The stave - post toasting - goes into the fermenter for the next eight months. Soon the whole deal goes into the 55F (13C) chamber.
I'm so looking forward to pouring this one. And I've only eleven months to wait.
Like "Just an English IPA". One of the claims Beancurdturtle Brewing makes is "fresh interpretations of classic styles".
Today I brewed an English IPA. Sure, there's a sneaky English adjunct addition, and a new fangled hop treatment. But it is 100% English - barley, adjunct, hops, yeast, and water profile. And if the tasting of the wort going into the fermenter is any indication - this is going to be an arse kicking ale.
I love a classic style well done. And love even more - a classic style done weller. Or is that more well?