Monday, February 25, 2013

Red Dwarf | More Blending in the Future

Brewing with friends is fun
Last weekend, I woke up early for a triple brew session with Lewy and Eric.  My all grain system is gravity dependent and pieced together over the course of the last ten years.  In effect, it's not the most conveniently compact or mobile.  So I found myself loading cinder blocks (for brew pot height) into the back of my car at 6AM last Saturday morning.  My wife Erin, sitting on the couch in a warm robe with a steaming cup of coffee in her hand looked at me like I was crazy, and at that moment, I think she may have been right.  But by the time I got to Lewy's house and fired up the kettle it was time to brew, and all regrets related to comfortable beds and sleeping in vanished.  It was a beautiful sight, seeing three different systems cranking out beers that were completely unique and individualized.  Lewy made two separate 5 gallon batches.  One, a pale ale with hop additions on the fly and another an experimental batch meant to be fermented with wine and beer yeasts.  Eric brewed a dark Vanilla Bourbon Imperial Stout using the brand new stainless steel false bottoms he fabricated for both of our coolers (thanks man!).  I made another Flanders Red.

Custom SS false bottom
In October I brewed my third Flanders Red and named it Red Giant.  It followed recommendations from Wild Brews and other sources and ended up as follows:

6.5#        German Vienna
1#            Crystal 20
1#            Belgian Caravienne
1#            Aromatic
2.1#        Flaked Wheat

1.5 oz.     aged Perle hops (120)

I made Red Giant so I could start getting beers together for future blending after finding success the first time.    In fact, Red Giant was pitched on the conglomerated yeast cake left over from the first blending session (5 different yeast cakes with many different strains, dregs, bugs and oak cubes in each).  I left Red Giant on the yeast cake for an extended time in an attempt to coax extra funk into it.

Red Dwarf wort
Last weekend I brewed Red Dwarf which followed Red Giant's recipe exactly.  Prior to brewing Red Dwarf, I simply racked Red Giant into a fresh carboy, and then pitched Red Dwarf onto the cake again.  The difference between the two will be in the yeast contact time and the secondary additives.  I plan to leave Red Dwarf on the yeast cake for about 6 weeks, before transferring to secondary on top of roughly 7 pounds of tart cherries.  I also decided to mash Red Dwarf at a higher temperature (154ºF instead of 151ºF) to leave some additional complex dextrins in the wort for the bugs to eat away at.

I'm hoping that the similarities and differences in the two will make them good for blending with one another and that Lewy and others will have Flanders Reds of their own to throw into the mix.

Next up I'll be brewing 10 gallons of IPA and fermenting one with traditional ale yeast and the other exclusively with Brett Drie.  Recipe to follow.      


  1. Three different brewers using three different systems all at the same time in the same place. I wish I was there!

    1. It was a lot of fun. Would've been even better if you were there, too. When can I taste your poi beer?

  2. I get that "are you crazy?" look a lot from my wife when homebrewing is involved. It sounded like a fun brew day.

    Your Flanders Red recipe is close to where my recipe has been migrating over the years. I like the idea of the all Vienna base malt.

    What time frame are you thinking for a blending party? I'd consider saving 2.5 gals of this year's batch to add. I usually rack and re-brew in May.

    1. Last time I had beers that were 12 and 8 months old when Lewy and I got together to blend, and that seemed to work out well. It's still pretty new to me, so I was just planning to follow a similar timeline. What sort of timeframe do you usually shoot for?


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