Gowanus Brewery

Raspberry Wheat – Bottled and Labeled by Jeremy
April 22, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, label, raspberry wheat, yeast

Whipped up this label a few minutes ago and finished bottling the Raspberry Wheat Ale before that.

I haven’t had the free time lately to put more creative energy into my labels, which is why the last few have been so similar: background picture + cool font. It’s boring, but it’s the beer that’s important right!

Anyway, I tasted the raspberry wheat again while bottling and it still tastes very good. Any concern I had over using too few raspberries went out the window tonight. Overall, the beer is dry, light-bodied, and the raspberry flavors stand out pretty well. I think the primary reason halving the amount of raspberries you would typically add worked out so well is that I used an American wheat yeast, which ferments dry and clean. German wheat yeast produces rich flavors like bananas and cloves and would compete with the berries. Of course, I’m still curious how this beer would have tasted with five, or even ten, pounds of raspberries…

Hops and Hop Trellis by Jeremy
April 20, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: equipment, hops

Saturday, my girlfriend and I laid the groundwork for our summer garden, which included putting Centennial and Willamette hop rhizomes in the ground and putting up the hop trellis. I ordered the rhizomes from Northern Brewer last month and received them directly from their vendor in Oregon earlier this week.

The trellis turned out great and is as basic as can be. It consists of scrap 4×4, leftover closet rod, two six-inch plant hangers, a one-inch flange, an eye-hook, a small rope cleat, and forty pounds of cement. Total cost: $20.

It’s not totally done yet, though. I still have to run the twine that will support the hop bines. The twine will be secured near the hop rhizomes, loop over the top hooks, and will be tied off at the rope cleat. With this design, I’ll be able to let the bines down at the end of the summer with minimal hassle.

Raspberry Wheat Progress by Jeremy
April 8, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, raspberry wheat, yeast

The Raspberry Wheat Beer has been busy.

The raspberry sugars triggered a nice second round of fermentation that hasn’t quit after three days. This picture is was taken about 12 hours after adding the raspberries, even if it’s not clear, the beer was already looking bright red. Also, the new fermentation is producing a clean, full, white foam at the top of the carboy, just what I’m going for in the end product.

So, everything is on track and looking good. The only thing left to do to close the book on this recipe, besides entering it in a comp somewhere, is to get my hands on some yellow raspberries. They’ll add a great twist with a slightly different raspberry flavor and intense bright yellow color. I can’t find these for sale retail, so I’m ordering plants to grow them myself. They are early fruiting, but still I don’t think I’ll get a harvest until mid to late summer.

Yeast Starter Worked Out Well by Jeremy
April 7, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: raspberry wheat, yeast

Fermentation for the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale was healthy and more complete than the last batch.

The final gravity was 1.014, an improvement over the previous batch, which stopped at 1.016. I don’t have any concerns or complaints about it. It just worked.

Since I added raspberries to this beer in secondary and they are a potential source of contamination, I decided to sample and save yeast from primary, instead of secondary, like I did last time. The drawback is that the yeast sample contains wheat, barley, and hop sediment, in addition to the yeast. In all likelihood, contamination won’t be a problem, so I may take another sample at the end from secondary and use that for future batches.

Gowanus Wheat Beer Goes Over by Jeremy
April 6, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, recipe, review

I served up the Gowanus Wheat beer at my buddy’s studio opening party last night and, aside from a little confusion over the name, it went over well.

Q: Cow anus?

A: No. Gowanus.

The only real difference between this brew and the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale is the mash temperature and duration. For the raspberry wheat, I lowered the temp and lengthened the mash to make a lighter, drier beer. But I don’t think those are necessarily positive characteristics for a standard wheat beer. There’s certainly a place for that sort of thing, but I think lagers are always going to be my preferred thirst-quenching summer beer. Next time around, my wheat beer will be full-bodied, as it should.

The Raspberry Wheat is On Point by Jeremy
April 6, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, raspberry wheat

I took a quick sample while transferring the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale to secondary and, incomprehensibly, it’s perfect. Light and dry with a perfect gold color.

At this point, I’m just sampling what will be a backdrop to the raspberries that hopefully won’t turn out to be a syrupy-sweet mess. My aim is to produce a final product that’s crisp and refreshing, which is why I added only 2.5 pounds of raspberries instead of the usual five pounds home brewers add to a batch of fruit beer this size.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be something you reach for pool side on a sweltering summer day and, based on this in-between tester, I think it’s well on its way.

Raspberries Added! by Jeremy
April 5, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, raspberry wheat

Just sent the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale to secondary, added the raspberries, and it looks outstanding.

I’m using Cascadian Farm organic red raspberries, which don’t have any additives whatsoever. I added four 10-ounce bags, or approximately 2.5 pounds. Most fruit beer recipes recommend five pounds of fruit, but I’m going for something a little more subtle. The beer itself is already really light and I don’t want the raspberries to be too overpowering.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the berries I ultimately want to use in this recipe. There are yellow berries out there that taste slightly different and are intensely yellow. Those are two unique twists that I think will make a great hook for this beer at competition. That only catch is that these berries aren’t really available at supermarkets yet, so I have to grow my own. I already put an order in for a four or five plants and I should get the first harvest in July.

First Yeast Starter Pitched by Jeremy
April 2, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: yeast

My yeast starter looks great. Good volume. Great color. And, hopefully, tons of healthy yeast.

I grew this yeast up from a 6-ounce starter last week in about a quart of a simple wort. That lag between making the starter and pitching it will be something I look at if I don’t reach a better final gravity, but as of yesterday fermentation appears active and healthy. The only potential issue I see so far with this experiment is that I foolishly pitched my entire supply of this strain of yeast. In the future, I will keep at least one sample set aside in case my batch of beer goes south.

Actually, I’m not too worried about that. Barry and I were talking about it last night: out of the 10 or 15 batches we’ve done since the end of last summer, we haven’t lost a single batch of beer to contamination.

Are we lucky or just plain good?

Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale – Started by Jeremy
April 1, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: all-grain, beer, brewing, raspberry wheat

Happy to say that the Gowanus Raspberry Wheat Ale is all brewed up and represents my first truly problem-free all-grain batch of beer.

I hoped to achieve a lighter, drier beer with this recipe, so I utilized a cooler and longer sugar rest. In the end, although I was thinking I could hold it right at 145 degrees for the 90 minutes, the temperature of the wort fluctuated between 140 and 150 degrees as it cooled and was reheated. That range is optimal for the enzyme I was trying to promote, so still all went well. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to measure the starting gravity before I pitched the yeast, but I will estimate approximately 38 based on the last batch.

Next weekend, after I move the beer to secondary, I’ll add whole frozen raspberries to add flavoring and some color. They’ll sit for two weeks and the beer should turn out delicious. Later in the summer I’m going to have some homegrown berries to work with, so for the time being I’m just using some organic red raspberries from the Brooklyn Co-op.