Brewing with the Senses

Discussion in 'Brewing Photos & Videos' started by Nosybear, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Serendipity is discovering something you were not looking for. In my brewing, I often experience serendipity when browsing spice shops, farmers’ markets, gourmet food aisles. It’s the experience of finding exactly the right ingredient for a beer even when I don’t even know I’m looking.

    Example: I’m asked to brew a beer for a Cajun-themed Christmas party. I’ve come up with two ideas, one for an “Imperial” English brown finished with chicory called Voulez-Vous. The other is a departure from style inspired by an idea for something Cajun and spicy, a blackened pale ale. The base for this beer is Colorado Malting Co. pale malt, crystal 120L and just enough Midnight Wheat to darken it, plus brown sugar at the end of the boil for an OG of 1.063. My hops are Columbus, Amarillo and Willamette for the finish at 42 IBU. And the base is good – a brew I will do “straight” but given the “Cajun” theme, something is missing, a certain, pardon my terrible French, je ne sais pas.

    First thoughts were tincture of cayenne and black pepper in cheap vodka, added to taste. Yuck. Burn but not the right flavor. Next idea was to add some shrimp boil I picked up from Savory Spice – glad I didn’t do that test. Then by chance I dropped into a spice shop and started sniffing stuff. I was looking for dried bitter orange rind for a Wit but no luck. Then I moved to the dried peppers.

    A brewer in Louisiana recommended chiles d’arbol, so I sniffed some. Not quite what I was looking for. Dried chilies, no joy. Then my nose wound up in a jar of dried chipotle peppers and the connection was immediate! This was it, a smoky-peppery nose and flavor. It took some experimentation to find the right dilution, the one-gallon batch was way hotter than I wanted but with just the right smoke and pepper flavor, the blackened pale ale went from a good beer to a great one. The final version will use smoked malt, mild, roasted Poblano peppers and maybe one or two dried Chipotles for a little bit of burn in the finish, great with some boiled crawfish.

    Spice shops provide inspiration. Farmers’ markets are a great source for ideas. The clearance aisle at Home Goods provides me a source of unusual fermentables – my shelves always have agave nectar, some exotic sugar, a spice I picked up on a whim. Your nose is your instrument – sniff everything. Imagine pairing food with a beer then imagine that flavor in the beer. Taste fruits, vegetables, spices, both cooked and raw. Learn what your grains taste like. Taste your wort. Make an error to learn what a flaw smells and tastes like. Brewing is a hedonistic experience so experience it with all your senses. Experiment and play. One gallon batches are great because if the beer is a total flop, it’s easier to pour out ten bottles than fifty- more on one-gallon brewing to come. Use recipes for inspiration, for points of departure, change them up, add an unusual ingredient and maybe create something new and uniquely yours. Having done that twice this summer, once with inspiration from my local microbrewery and once starting with only a concept, it’s the most rewarding brewing I’ve done.
     

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  2. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

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  3. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I agree and once you come up with a great receipt, let be know and Ill brew 20 gallons of it, got the hardware to do it why not lol
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Cousin Boudreaux' is in secondary - green beer tastes wonderful, light smoke, some dark fruit sweetness, good hop balance and flavor from the Wilamette. I've started layering the peppers in, first two dried chipotles and 75 crushed peppercorns. It's bitter but subdued, not tongue-ripping, a worthy pale ale in and of itself. The 1056 doesn't flocculate and the beer dries out - it's at 1.010. I'll cold-crash and add some isinglass to clarify it as best I can once I have the flavors where I want them. Color is pale brown, nose is smoke, malt and floral hop. The peppers should layer on this nicely. I'll stuff the peppers in next weekend and bottle hopefully on Sunday. Here's the recipe:

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... d-pale-ale

    It's evil twin, the other Cajun Christmas beer, is also quite nice - I'm calling it an Imperial English Brown finished with chicory, although coffee would do nicely as well:

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... -brown-ale

    And here's my favorite so far, a brew I set out to make after tasting Dogfish Head's Theobroma:

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... -theobroma

    See any you like, give them a shot and let me know how they come out!
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    thanks will give them a try, seeing your spice collection makes me want to try a southwest beer for my fellow south Texans where i lived, still have friends there, thinking about a lightly spiced hot sauce with a habanero bite
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    In doing the one-gallon Cousin Boudreaux, I discovered that capsaicin oils break down under carbonation! At first it was peppery-hot, almost uncomfortably so (and I can eat some hot food!), then after the beer carbonated, little to nothing, not even the pepper flavor I was after. The Anchos I used in the Theobroma gave more pepper flavor and heat than the Chipotles! So for the 5-gallon CB's, I'm using smoked malt and peppers separately, layering in the flavors I want, flavors reminiscent of a good Cajun shrimp boil. The base beer is good by itself - a smoked pale ale! So maybe I've invented a style....
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Tasted what I did last night - two more Chipotle peppers seem to be in order. Extracting in beer (crumble and dump into secondary) rather than in vodka seems to extract the flavors but not the burn. So I'm out of dried chipotles - the rest will be roasted poblanos or dried anchos!. Flavor is almost there.
     

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