The brewing has been slow due to the normal winter slowdown for beer. Tweaked the Blackbird Stout recipe which resulted in a touch more sweetness and more coffee on the nose. I taste more chocolate flavors as well. The Hop Zeppelin also we tweaked. Thought the hops needed to be upped a bit, particularly the dry hoping side to improve and intensify the nose. The hops used was also modified to improve the nose. Reviews have been very positive. Sara came up with a Scottish Ale recipe that we worked on and brewed. Cinnamon, vanilla, and cherry components were added and it came out great! It will be on special till gone! So come on out and try the new beers.
Decembeer (snicker!) 2012
I thought that was rather cute myself. If you did not get it check the spelling of the month above! The brewing has been tapered down for the winter. Sara's winter ale has been extremely well received. Big malty notes with lots of cinnamon, orange peel, and hints of coriander. I put a fair amount of nitrogen into the beer before the CO2 was added, gives it a creamier head. I am doing that more and more with the heavier or darker beers in our lineup as well as the Aviator English Ale.. It is not an easy thing to do as Nitrogen is hard to get into the beer. Takes more time and effort, but I think it is worthwhile. The new Blackbird Stout has a little more coffee notes and even creamier head. Sigh... I loved the original, but like this even better. This beer made it into medal consideration round of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Probably would have won if entered into the American Stout category instead of Sweet Stout. Oh well... we are still learning.
First want to acknowledge John’s departure as our Brewmaster. He made some fine beer and we wish him luck. I have taken over those duties since his departure. Not to worry, as I was a home brewer for over thirty years before we started up the winery. In addition my large amount of fermentation experience and education has not hurt. The first handful of batches have come out quite well, if I do say so myself! Because I am working my butt off on three full time jobs right now you will probably see a reduction in the number of beers we do. There will only be six beers tops after we clear away some of those on tap right now. Just kegged a batch of stout, yum, and reworked the Aviator to clean it up a bit, increase foaming of the head, and add some nitrogen before kegging to make smaller bubbles. We will do a preview of these on Friday the 16th of November at our First Beer Brauts and Trivia night. I also decided, due to input from you, to add our Wit beer back into the lineup. It is bubbling merrily away in the fermentation vessel as I type and will take the place of the wheat until summer. One last note, please welcome Sara our daughter, who many of you have met in the Tasting Room, to her additional positions as a vineyard worker and brewery assistant. She is planning her first brew session, an 8% alcohol Scotch ale. Wish her luck!
Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. –The Bible, Proverbs 31:6 & 7
Hops are the essential spice of beer and an ingredient that distinctly separates beer from wine and other drinks such as cider or mead. Hops provide a balance of bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malts and grains. Even in the smoothest low hopped beer it provides this balance and without it the beer taste cloying sweet!! Hops also provide extra aroma and flavors that vary from woodsy, funky to citrusy and floral.
Hops are a plant that grows as a vine on trellises. It is the plant’s flowers and their resins that are utilized in brewing process. Hops were first used in beer production in the twelfth century in and around Bavaria in what would be modern Germany and the Czech Republic. The use of hops after their introduction to beer making increased dramatically, because it was noticed that beers were produced with hops had a longer shelf life. There was a period of time, especially in England where the word ‘ale’ referred to beer made without hops and the wood ‘beer’ referred to one was made with hops. (Today that distinction of what ale is has changed and ‘ales’ are distinguished from ‘lagers’ based on yeast varieties used in the beer.)
The bitterness of the hops is generated by adding hops to the kettle and boiling them with the wort. The bitterness of the hops are rated in the beer and given as an IBU (International Bitterness Unit). The higher the IBU number the higher the bitterness in the beer. But one’s perception of bitter is the most important factor. An example of this is our Blackbird Stout: Its hop rating is 25 IBU and one might thing it would be bitter tasting. It does not taste very bitter due to the heavy maltiness of the beer provided by the base malt but also by the use of lots of crystal and chocolate malts.
Our double IPA Hop Zeppelin is our most heavily hopped example; it has a tangerine flavor with some funkiness from use of Summit hops but also a citrusy quality from use of a large amount of cascades, these all are balanced by a very malty base beer!! IPA’s generally have high amounts of bitterness this beer in no exception to that an IBU of 67!!
Enjoy your beer and be thankful for all that nature has provided. Malt, grain and hops are great contributors to beer flavor and provide a large variety of flavor combinations for our beer tastes!
"In vino veritas, in cervesio felicitas: or "In wine truth, in beer joy" - Anonymous
We hope this holiday season finds your days with joy - as well as wine AND beer!!
In this blast, I want to explore barley malt's contribution to the making of a great craft beer. The beers we create here at Soaring Wings are brewed to really highlight this one key ingredient and explore the depth of the flavor and character it can bring.
Barley is the main flavoring component and back-bone of beer. Barley provides the starches that are broken down into sugars that become the food for the yeast. They also provide a wide range of flavors for the beer - malt, bread, sweet, caramel, dry graininess, toast, and even burnt flavors. The wide range of flavors comes to the beer not only from the process, which produces the malted barley itself, but how it is treated during the brewing process as well. Malted barley is produced by germinating (starting to grow) barley grain as seedlings. The seedlings start to breakdown the starch in their kernels into sugar for use as food - just like if they were planted in the ground. This germination is stopped by the reduction of water, essentially drying the seedlings so they stop growling. When this drying is done in a kiln, the process can produce toasty, bready flavors. If the barley is to be used in a lighter beer this is all that is done.
To allow for the creation of a range of darker beers and to allow the brewmaster to add a variety of flavors that can range from roast to caramel to burnt flavors, the malted barley can be roasted at higher and higher temperatures. The process is not unlike roasting coffee to highlight certain flavors in the beans. It is these varied toasted malts that are the foundation and the multitudes of beers from light to amber to brown and black are built on.
The brewmaster combines these toasted barleys, in a multitude of proportions, to give beers such as pilsner, pale ale, Irish red, brown ales, porters, and stouts their basic flavors. The yeast and hops are then added to create even more complexity and depth of flavor in the brew. But without this diverse palate of malted grain we would not have the wide assortment of beers that are available today.
Once the brewmaster decides what proportion of the different varieties of malt will be used in the beer, he begins the brew process by "mashing" the grain. This process is not unlike baking a big pot of barley porridge or more precisely "Malt -O-Meal". This softens the grains and causes the starches in the chage to sugars and release into the water. After the starch is converted to the brewer's desired level, the liquid (which is now called "wort") is drained off and ready for the next step in the brewing process.
Until next time, be sure to stop by Soaring Wings for a glass of happiness!
Effective August 2011...
The beer is here!
We have 6 fantastic beers on line, so come out and try them.
Pegasus Pilsner, a real nice Helles Pils
Aviator Pale Ale, think Boddingtons
Wingman German Wheat, the way wheat beer was meant to be made
Hop Zeppelin, Double IPA - Yowza
Bombardier Brown Ale, full nutty brown
SR-71 Black Bird, Dark Stout
Also, Growlers of beer for sale - or you can bring in your favorite growler and we'll fill it!
We have received our Federal Brewery license and will start brewing beer here at the end of June 2011. We have hired John Rollag as our Brewmaster. He will write this blast in the future. We presently have our 3-beer barrel (bbl) pilot brewing system, our 7 bbl fermenter, and a 3 bbl fermenter in pace and up and running. We are installing 4 more fermentation tanks and related equipment within a few weeks. We already have a new walk-in cooler to store the kegged beer we will be making. Hope to have the first brews available for purchase early August. We will not be able to sell anything until the state gives us their license though. Expect supplies to be spotty until we get it all figured out. Some of the beers we will be making include a Wheat beer, or Hefe Weizen, a Pale Ale, a Nut Brown Ale, a port or stout, an IPA, a light German style Helles Pilsner, and a Brewer's choice that will change every few weeks.