Refuge Gone Wild 2: The Long Overdue Update

Hello again heroes & friends!

Since we’re starting a new year, I thought it might be nice to share more developments regarding all the fun and funky endeavors we have happening at Refuge. I still can’t believe my last update was 6 months ago. Time keeps flying. Anyway, here’s our current funk inventory in all its humble quarantined glory:

funk program

First in funk news, it appears a good number of Refuge’s local fans got to enjoy our Batch 2 anniversary beer as well as Batch 2 with strawberries & Yeast Bay Lochristi Brettanomyces blend recently.

The base beer for our 2nd anniversary was our Refugee Tripel with Viognier grape must, aged in red wine barrels. The so-called Batch 2 Berry version (which has the red wax instead of black) still resides in a red wine barrel, due to the solera technique I’ve been experimenting with, and it gets funkier by the day.

batch2brett

The first limited release of bottles sold out the night of the anniversary party, but we still have a keg of the beer on tap at the brewery. As I mentioned, we’ve been trying out a sour beer technique called solera, where you pull only some beer from the barrel and top it back up with fresh beer. In this case, all 3 times that I’ve pulled either a quarter or half of the barrel, I’ve also added more and more fresh pureed strawberries.

It has been fun to watch the flavors as they’ve changed, with the current version on draft having been pulled 2 months ago, the now sold-out bottled version having been pulled 3 weeks ago, and the next keg on deck to go on tap being a part of the 3rd pull a couple days ago. The latest version seems to be getting more and more barrel character and what was once big strawberry shortcake in the nose appears to be morphing towards spicy vanilla tannins & tangy lemon zest notes. In a perfect world, I’d be giving this beer a little more time between pulls, but you guys keep drinking it all!

The most recent pull from the barrel allowed us to top it back up with the base beer, some basic Tripel, & a funky blend of 3 experimental 5 gallon trials that I’ve dubbed ‘Funkapotamus’. That mix contains both the Lochristi Brett blend and White Labs Brett Clausenii, not to mention potential wild yeasts from the added fruits in the trial batches. I’m really excited to pull a keg or two off of the barrel in a couple months (hopefully) and see where things are headed. If it’s anything like the beers in Funkapotamus, it’ll be fruitier and more acidic.

If you’ve been into the brewery lately, you know we’ve started serving more and more funky beers on our barrel-aged reserve taps as well.

ReservesBoard

It’s now not unusual for us to have 3 to 5 Brett influenced beers on tap at any time, not to mention any small experimental 5 gallon batches I might sneak on. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I can funk & fruit beers fairly quickly in rather neutral barrels, versus the aging and barrel needs of our bourbon barrel program.

We currently have 5 Brettanomyces beers on tap. Besides the Batch 2 Berry, we have Bretter Off Red, a Merlot barrel version of our Rampart Red with Brett B Trois, the Lochristi blend, & Brett C. The result after 9 months of barrel aging is a very wine-like creation with big floral and funky Brett notes in the nose and plenty of barrel character right behind it.

We also have Life of Lemons and The Razz Fairy. The base beer is the same for both and I’m using a similar single barrel solera technique in this one as I am in the anniversary beer. The beer is white wine barrel aged Citra Saison with Yeast Bay Beersel Brett blend, Meyer lemon zest, and more recently it has also included raspberries. The raspberries were added after the initial 2 keg pull of Life of Lemons, and more were added after the recent pull of a keg of The Razz Fairy. Here’s The Razz Fairy barrel on the left, still going strong and hungry for more raspberries:

citra+oracle

The other offering currently on tap, that I strongly suspect has a Brett Brux variation in it, is Old Soul. We did not intentionally funkify this particular barrel of Refugee Tripel. We just let it age for 14 months in a pinot noir barrel with plums, pluots, & blueberries added over the last couple months (once Brett character became apparent). Old Soul has been a hit with most of the staff thanks to its smorgasbord of intensely interesting flavors and I’m excited to work with more blueberries (and hopefully pinot barrels) in the future.

That covers what’s on tap, but if you know me you know I’m far more excited about what we have in the works!

As I mentioned above, we still have barrels going of the Batch 2 Berry and the Life of Lemons (that has morphed into The Razz Fairy with the addition of raspberries).

We also have:

– 2 wine barrels of Paint The Town Brown inoculated with White Labs Lacto D & Yeast Bay Amalgamation Brett blend. They’ve been rocking out for about 4 months now and it’s really interesting to taste how different the two are right now.

– 2 wine barrels of Session Citra Saison. One has Yeast Bay Brussels Brett blend, strawberries and Cara Cara oranges. It was delightfully tangy and funky before the fruit went in. The other has Yeast Bay Lochristi Brett blend, White Labs Brett Clausenii, raspberries, and blackberries. Both have healthy pellicles going and I suspect I’ll be pulling a keg or two of one of them soon. One of the aforementioned pellicles:

pellicle fun

– 2 wine barrels of Citra Saison. One has White Labs Brett Brux, passion fruit, and Temecula Ugly tangerines. The other is the same minus the passion fruit. So far Temecula Uglies have shown a fair bit of promise as far as interesting local fruit to add.

– 1 wine barrel of Oracle, an abbey ale with Juniper berries. I recently added plums and Wyeast Brett Lambicus to this (hoping to incorporate some of that sour cherry pie flavor they describe).

– 1 Heaven Hill Corn Whiskey barrel of our IPA of the Day (hopped with Summer, Columbus, & Palisade) with White Labs Brett Clausenii, Temecula Uglies, apricots, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, & plums. This barrel has been quite interesting to sample over the last 4+ months. The IPA already had big white grape and peachy flavors and the whiskey barrel character keeps getting heavier. The last time I tasted it, it was hard to tell there was much fruit or Brett in the mix.

As a result, it has become the recent fruit dumping ground for any pureed fruit that I can’t fit in its intended barrel(s). Usually I’ll top up my barrels every couple of months to make up for evaporation, but in this case we just keep feeding the head space more strange fruit. I have no idea where this particular ride is headed, but whenever we decide to pull Fruit Salad IPA out it should be fun.

In general, I’m getting to play around quite a bit now with single barrels in hopes of finding combinations that can be ramped up, somewhat repeated and bottled. Fruit Salad Brett Corn Whiskey IPA aside of course.

Also, I thought I’d share a couple of Brett pellicle pictures. This one’s just getting going:

peliicle beginning

And this is Yeast Bay Lochristi after 5 months:

Lochristi Pellicle

I also want to take this opportunity to wish a number of my co-workers that have moved on continued success. A toast to you Brett Harwood, as you continue your career at a little known brewery called Ballast Point:

toast to brett

To Jared & Katie, it was awesome rocking out with you guys and I hope our paths cross again soon. Minnesota is cold btw:

jared yeast party

san diego event

And a way overdue shout out to The Manimal, my first Assistant Cellarman man crush, David Leal. In the words of Tupac, Temecula Ain’t Hard To Find:

daveEvent

 

Finally, I want to say a GIGANTIC thanks to Jay Goodwin, of The Rare Barrel, and The Brewing Network. Jay has started a new show with the BN, called the Sour Hour, and the interviews with other sour producers (not to mention Jay’s info) have been a great resource for a newly funked out cellarman like myself. Keep up the good work Jay!

This hero is out!

Advertisements

Refuge Gone Wild: Fun With Brettanomyces!

Hi fellow heroes!

My apologies for the long absence. I have a tendency to get very wrapped up in my work when my work includes fun, funk & barrels.

Today I want to get everybody up to speed on what we’ve been doing at Refuge with Brettanomyces because we’re really excited to be a part of the new wave of American Wild Ales.

 freebird art

Our first foray into the world of Brett beers was Free Bird, a beer pre-determined to pour for our second Summer Nights event on June 21st. I will admit it was rather nerve-racking to promise a potentially slow-fermenting (funky) beer within a 6 week window, but you don’t start making Brett beers unless you like to live dangerously to begin with.

The barrel chosen was a wine barrel that had previously imparted very little character and produced very neutral beer. While that wasn’t great for a lot of what we were doing with our barrel program, it worked just fine for Brett beer.

Free Bird started as simply a barrel fermented 100% WLP 644 Brett B Trois version of our flagship beer, Blood Orange Wit. We filled the barrel right off the brewhouse with wort and let the beer ferment predominantly in our storage space, as there are always concerns of cross-contamination with such a super-attenuating yeast (that can eat wood proteins).

brett note

In this case the term ‘burn’ just means immerse everything in 180 degree water so we limit our chances of ‘clean’ beers getting extra funky flavors and attenuation from Brett.

So with caution Free Bird proceeded. I was a proud father. I photographed some of his first CO2 bubbles:

freebird bubbling

And when he was kegged:

kegging freebird

And finally his first pint:

freebird pint

Along the way Free Bird morphed from a strictly Brett version of our Blood Orange Wit, to include a 5 gallon batch of 100% WLP 645 Brett C Wit & some pineapples and grapefruit blended in for good measure.

I also made a 5 gallon batch of 100% WLP 650 Brett B Wit and that ended up being its own entity with blood oranges and limes, called What The Funk?

The really fun thing about all of this was that we added the Brett C Wit & fruit to a new barrel and transferred all but 5 or so gallons of the Free Bird onto that. We then immediately re-filled the initial barrel full of Brett B Trois with the wort from an Illusion Belgian IPA brew. That new enterprise, now called Delusion, was rocking right away the next morning:

delusion krausen

I’ve never seen a Brett B Trois fermentation take off that fast, but then again this was my first time re-pitching it. At any rate, we dry hopped Delusion with a healthy amount of Galaxy, Columbus, & Centennial and we’re all enjoying its bouquet of danky bubblegum and slightly funky melon notes.

Rest assured funk fans, there’s more in the works. Some upcoming projects include:

– 5 gallons of Refugee Tripel with limes & mangoes on Yeast Bay’s Beersel Brett blend.

– 100% Brett B Trois version of our awesome Shelter 9 IPA dry hopped big with some fun things that may include El Dorado, Mosaic, Huell Melon, etc. This will be released at the August 16th Summer Nights event.

– Sauvignon Blanc barrel aged Citra Saison with kumquats on the Yeast Bay’s Lochristi Brett blend.

– White wine barrel aged Imperial Saison with strawberries and cherries on WLP 645 Brett C.

– All sorts of permutations and experiments using new strains and blends like the ones The Yeast Bay is offering.

I also want to mention, since it will get dragged into Brett territory here and there, that our Citra Saison should be out and about on draft pretty soon. I was so excited to see it pouring at one of my favorite watering holes, Public House, that I took a picture:

citra on public house menu

While we’re veering from the path of funk I should also mention that we were really excited to take 3 medals at this year’s San Diego International Beer Festival!

103871sd fair awards

Finally, I want to say a big thanks to The Mad Fermentationist, Michael Tonsmeire, for always being helpful and assuring me I wouldn’t have to worry about too much oxygen pick up if I fermented Free Bird in a barrel. There’s some beer that’ll be getting bottled and sent your way buddy!

Jester King, as always, deserves a shout out too as they always open their brains for picking about many things farmhouse. They should be expecting beermail too!

That’s all for now. If you find yourself in Southern California, come and drink all this funk so we can make more!

100% Brett Rye IPA is delicious and other updates

Well, it’s time for an update! I’d been waiting to have a big announcement of when & where I’d be working as an assistant brewer, but things are developing more slowly than expected. Stay tuned on that front.

However, just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been brewing!

Batches since my last post:

– 8/29 All Galaxy Belgian IPA on WLP 530/570 mix

– 9/2 All 2-row Palisade Pale on WLP 002 (potential R&D for Laughlin)

– 9/14 Guard De Gumball on WLP 072 French Ale – finally brewed my version of Gumballhead!

– 9/15 Wit on WLP 410 using 2oz of Pacific Jade at flameout in place of orange peel

I’d like to advise caution with that Wit strain. I woke up to open fermenting and the bucket’s lid trying to surf the web in my computer chair. I’m just happy my trusty cat assistant seemed unscathed. She usually sleeps in this chair.

 

In the coming days I’ll also be brewing a Session IPA (4.2%) but I still haven’t decided what yeast to run it on. I’ve stepped up some expired vials of WLP 009 Australian Ale (& the starter wort was nice and mellow), but I also have some WLP 006 Bedford British Ale ready to rock. Basically everything limited release Platinum strain that I’ll have a hard time getting again. Here are links that I found helpful during recipe formulation: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.

I should also update my adoring fans on how the 4 beers I bottled on 9/3 are shaping up! The Sink Spoon 100% Brett Rye IPA is by far the star of the show. Very delicious. I had someone request a 6 pack to take to their wine club on the 20th. The idea of wine people being brought into beer by their most hated enemy, Brettanomyces, is almost more than I can handle. Anyway, here’s the recipe!

The saisons on WLP 585 & 670 were both pretty good. I think American Farmhouse 670 definitely has some future potential for me. The idea of slowly getting more Brett-ed out is just too exciting to pass up.

My New Zealand Union Jack didn’t taste terribly cloying & under-attenuated when I bottled, but now it’s just way too sweet. WLP 002 English Ale has so far proven to be an interesting animal to deal with. I bottled 3 gallons of NZ Union Jack & put the remaining gallon plus directly onto the WLP 644 Brett cake. I’m looking forward to seeing if that dries it out much & potentially playing around with the 002/644 mix.

In other news, my homebrewing award & score sheets from the So Cal Regional showed up! Lazy But Belgian (recipe here) got a 38 and 33, Lake Water For Chocolate Imperial Amber got 33 and 31, & Hops Ate My Homework got 31 & 30.

 

I think my favorite comments were from the judge that gave me a 38, but knocked me for glue on the bottle and the judge who told me that Hops Ate My Homework could use more aroma hops. The aroma hops comment made me laugh especially hard because that beer had 1.5lbs of hops in it & most of them were late or dry hops. At any rate, I’m just excited to have a ribbon to my name and can’t wait to rack up more.

Otherwise I have a lot of random beerliciousness ongoing. The 100% Brett C Tripel still tastes like umami & sweaty sloppy joes after 3 months, so I gave it the big pile of random Brett & sour dregs I’d amassed. So far in 2 attempts with Brett C as a primary strain I’ve found it to be a little disgusting.

My English IPA on WLP 023 Burton Ale appears crapped out at 1.020 despite a few vigorous attempts at rousing, so it got dry hops last night. I probably should’ve pulled the Lime Saison off of the limes when it tasted good, because now it’s a little overboard. I’m debating between pitching some Flanders style mix on it or hitting it with my big mess of stepped up Brett B & L. My 8/24 Hef isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as the 8/20 so I gave it an ounce of Nelson Sauvin dry hops. Nelson fixes everything in my book.

Anyway, as you can see the operation just keeps cranking along. I may whip up a few smaller, quicker turnaround beers to have more entries for the SNAFU Memorial a month from now. Surely I can dominate the non-existent session IPA category!

Before I sign off I want to say I love my girlfriend like crazy and I’m very happy to be celebrating our 1 year anniversary today! Pickle loves you Penguin! 😀

Proost y’all!

My Lime Saison

Once upon a time I absolutely nailed this beer. It was an awesome beer. People drank it like Bud Light Lime but it was a beautiful little craft beer. Killer citrusy aroma, the lime zest in the end of the boil played nicely with all the hops, and life was good.

The problem was the version I really liked was on White Labs 566 Belgian Saison II, which was a seasonal offering at the time. My sanitation at the time was iffy and I used a ton of late hops so I didn’t re-use the yeast. Plus re-brewing ANY batch, no matter how good, was usually unheard of for me. I always wanted to do something new.

Since then I’ve taken a few more shots at it with mixed results. BeerSmith lost a number of my recipes (with all the brewing notes) during the move here, so I’ve been digging through old notebooks deciphering chicken scratch.

Anyway, on 6/10 I gave it another try using one of the versions I had of this recipe floating around. Six brave & generous limes sacrificed their zest for the boil. I used a good amount of Motueka (lemon-lime aroma) for flavor and Motueka, Galaxy, & Pacific Jade for aroma. (Previously successful attempt was Motueka, Palisade, & Citra.)

On 6/20 I dry hopped with Galaxy & Pacific Jade. On 6/26 I needed its bucket so I transferred it to a glass carboy. I tasted it after transfer and wasn’t in love with it. I was a little worried there may have been some residual PBW cleaner or something. Whatever. I have Thug Life tatted on my carboy and shizzle.

On 7/3 I sampled it again and decided it was probably fine from a safe-to-drink stand point, but it wasn’t blowing my mind. At that point I added some WLP 644 Brett B Trois because I was bottling a couple batches with that yeast and why the hell not.

That brings us to today. For some reason I’m toying with the idea of doing some strange Imperial Shandy IPA debacle of a beer and my mind drifted to physically putting limes in this beer.

I sampled ye olde Lime Saison again and while it had a nice aroma & the flavor profile had mellowed a little, I still decided a couple limes wouldn’t hurt.

I did a little research on Homebrewtalk & listened to Jamil’s show on fruit beers. I was worried about wild yeast on the peel sneaking in, so I used Jamil’s idea to dunk the (uncut) limes in boiling water – just for a minute. Then I cut 2 limes up into pieces small enough to fit and dropped them on in. I was initially going to go with 4 limes, but Jamil does make the excellent point on occasion that adding is easier than subtracting in this arena.

At any rate, limes are floating around in my strange Saison-Brett-fruit endeavor now. The gravity hasn’t changed since adding the Brett, so maybe the limes will help it get its act together.

No matter what the result, I’ll be moving on from this debacle and taking another crack at it soon. I’ll probably streamline the grain bill and I’ll need to track down some Citra. The good batch had somewhere in the neighborhood of 3oz at flameout.

Alright, time for bed. I got brunch plans with my lady and then SNAFU is having a Q&A at U Bottle It at 1pm. Come one come all.

Proost y’all.