Monday, June 27, 2016

Craft Brewing in Brazil! By our international traveling correspondent!

Countrbrew special correspondent Mark Anthony Foster checks in with this special report on the state of craft brewing in Brazil. If you're headed there for the Olympics this is a must read.

Oi, tudo bem? MA here and I am putting in a hit on the blog about the craft beer movement in Brazil, specifically Sao Paulo. I visit Brazil every year for a few weeks for work and last year I had the pleasure of meeting the brewer of one of the few brewpubs in Sao Paulo, TRIA. When I returned this year, I had to visit and ask for an interview. He was pleased to accommodate and we sat down for a little Q&A...

Q: How did you come up with TRIA?

A: Honestly, I´m terrible with coming up with names, so I contacted a marketing company to do this. Their idea coincides with the number three which has significance with beer (3 main ingredients- grains, hops, yeast), religion, superstition. It was a name that I thought sounded fine and went with it. I was just more concerned with the brewing aspect and trying to get the pub open as soon as possible. We were the second brewpub to open in Sao Paulo. That was in August 2014.

Q: So when you look up your brewery you get TRIA and Mundo Cervejeiro- why two names?

A: I kept the brewery separate from the restaurant, Mundo Cervejeiro, because I consider it two distinct propositions. The pub side is more service oriented and the beer is product oriented. Each business has it's unique characteristics and deserve to be looked at separately, specially the marketing strategies and product placement. Tria brewery on Beer Me!

Q: What kind of system are you working with?

A: We have a 2 Hectoliter (52 US gallons) "one vessel" system (Braumesiter), 6 fermenters (525 liters) for 400 liter of fermentable wort. Giving us a total capacity of 7200 liter per month. It's a small operation but you need to start somewhere.

Q: I noticed the term for beer isn’t just cerveja but also chopp. Why and what does chopp mean?

A: Brazilian legislation refers to unpasteurized beer as Chopp. As far as I know, it comes from the German word "schop" used to define a serving of 300ml commonly used by the German brewers in the early days when asking for a beer (so I'm told). I have no idea how it went from that to meaning "unpasteurized beer" in our legislation.

Q. You are half-American, half Brazilian living in São Paulo with perfect English. Did you live in the states?

A: I lived in the DC area and Phoenix, AZ for 15 years but was born in Brazil to a New Jersey dad and Brazilian mom.

Q: What is your focus?

A: Our focus is classic styles as close as possible to traditional recipes- only ales. I love dry, low ABV beer (sessions). In fact, the only beer that exceeds this in my lineup is the pumpkin beer (7%) which is released for Halloween. My favorites are browns and IPAs (specifically American IPAs with Simcoe or Amarillo hops).

Q: Why sell mainly session beer?

A: I believe that drinking beer is a social event and session beers allow for that more than big beers. Session beers can be enjoyed multiple times whereas people can maybe drink one or a few big beers, at most, before being drunk and calling it a night. The hangover that next day is also not pleasant and it can lead to a bad impression of the product. I know that some will disagree but I recognize that I am not going to please everybody.

Q: Last year when we met, you said one of the challenges is getting fresh ingredients. Still true?

A: Much better than before, but it is still one of the biggest problems.
LNF is the biggest distributors for hops but for example, this year it’s hard to find fresh Simcoe and Galaxy, which are a big part of our IPA. I will have to figure something out, maybe change my recipe.
For grains, there are a few big importers bringing Weyermann, Castle, Swan and Best Malz. No Briess and I am bummed because they offer a great product for my malt focused beers.

For yeast, we have a good variety of liquid and dry yeast and some local labs are now producing some strains of liquid yeast. Unfortunately, quality can be a problem for liquid yeast due to the hot climate and long travel distances..

Q: Now onto some of the more macro questions… Sao Paulo is a growing market- when did this happen?

A:Big spike in late 2012 to now. It's still a niche market but doing surprisingly well in spite of the bad economy. People are really enjoying the product.

Q: Who is in this niche market? Could you describe the demographics?

A: Mainly younger men & women. Women are becoming a key demographic. It’s becoming more common to see a group of women come in to try the beer, as well as people who have traveled and experienced craft beers in other countries. I think the craft market has an appeal to the younger generation and for this reason it's has excellent growth potential.  

Q: I get around to different bars and markets and I see a bunch more offerings but mainly IPAs and Weiss. It seems like there is a lot of the same being put out there. Is Brazil due for a market correction?

A: Maybe. The correction might come with the recession. New "Gypsy breweries" (what Brazilians call contract brewers) with average quality products will have a really hard time surviving the crisis but the established breweries with high quality products will survive and grow. If there's a correction coming, I think it will happen in the next few years.

Q: Give me the breakdown on the craft beer scene. How many breweries/ brewpubs?

A: In Sao Paulo, 3 brewpubs and in Brazil, about 300 breweries registered with the government but "gypsy breweries" are numerous and not officially counted, so the number is much higher.

Q: Any other cities that are embracing the artesanal beer movement?

A: Yea some cities are coming out with great stuff- Sao Jose Dos Campos, Belo Horizonte and Curitiba are some examples.

Q: What is the market share of artisanal beer in Brazil?

A: According to Sabrae, a non-profit small business group similar to chamber of commerce, the artesanal beer share is about 0.15%. Very different from the American craft beer scene. But it is forecasted to grow in the next 15 years to about 2% which represents is a big opportunity for brewers in this market.

Q: Local breweries in the states are very community driven. Whether sourcing local ingredients or by hosting small events. Are local breweries involved in their community?

A: Local breweries here are not as engaged with their communities as they are in the US. Of course, they want to but the culture isn’t the same as in the US. But they are trying and with some level of success.

Q: In the US there is friendly, almost “team”, type of culture with craft beer. What’s it like in Brazil?

A: For the most part, a friendly culture as well. There are some that are a bit bitter but that’s a small number of brewers.

Q: What styles are popular right now?

A: Imperials and Sours are getting big now. To be honest, not my favorite styles or something I would like to do. I want people to know TRIA for making traditional and classic styles. There’s a reason they call it CLASSIC.

After the interview, he invited me down to talk and try an excellent experimental pale ale with him and his employees. This is the great hospitality that Brazilians are known for. This brewpub is going to do great things and if you catch yourself in Sao Paulo, this is a must see!



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gather your stuff it's time for Ooompah! German festbier!

haben sie gehort das deutsches band?
Ok,  so believe it or not, it is time to start getting ready for fall.  And fall means bigger bolder beers.  Fall means darker heavier beers, and fall means... Oktoberfest right?   Well yes, and in truth.... No.  The Germans don't really serve Maibock at Oktoberfest anymore.  Well they serve it, but it isn't the main beer they serve.  And I have it on good authority if you want a Mass of Oktoberfest, you have to get up from your picnic table and walk over to the bar where they are pouring other beers. And who wants to leave the picnic table in the meadow tent and do that?  The main beer they serve is called Festbier.  Festbier literally means Festival beer. It is the deep golden (but not amber) colored low alcohol beer you see in the pictures of the beer tents.  Festbier has a malty malty taste, a medium body, balanced hops, and a clean finish. There was an excellent article on Festbier in the Jan/Feb 2016 edition of BYO by Gordon Strong.   I am assuming you all know who Gordon Strong is... no? ok...

All Hail Gordon Strong.
Well then, let's back up a minute.  Gordon Strong is BYO's (brew your own) style columnist.  He is also the president of the BJCP, an award winning brewer, and the highest ranking beer judge in the world.  He won the Ninkasi award 3 freaking years in a row. In his books he teaches and talks about realistic techniques for brewing better beer at home.  The fundamental idea, is that styles are generated by the people who brew.  10 years ago American Strong Ale was not a style.  But people kept making it and the BJCP studied it and added it. Gordon Strong is a realist, he is the ultimate beer geek. He is our king, you owe him your allegiance.  His style columns are meant to inform you about a type of beer you may want to experience.  So check out his books and columns, they're truly great.   And in the January / February issue of BYO he uncorks one hell of a recipe, and of course he makes it easy.

Believe it or not, these frauleins are holding beers.
I can't quite make out the beers, but I have been assured
that they are in the photo somewhere.
In fact, he makes it too easy.   But have no fear our somewhat regular and loyal readers.  We'll fix that with our usual dose of complicated absurdity. We'll be influenced by Gordon's recipe but we'll be changing the grain bill slightly and doing a triple decoction mash. Our goals; have fun, add richness, add mouthfeel, and obtain the almost tawny golden color you see in the photo of the frauleins at the left side of the page  We're posting the recipe early and the ingredients and equipment you will need in hopes that many of you will join us in our quest to make this great fall beer. We will be doing a no sparge, triple decoction.  And of course we'll be using the fast lager method because...well why the heck wouldn't you?  If you want to lager it for months be our guest. There is nothing wrong with that practice. Does the beer improve with extra cold storage?   Yes, probably. maybe... in truth we have no idea, we drink it before it ages.  But by using a fast lager fermentation you can still lager part of the batch in your keg, or in bottles.  And you can start drinking some of the beer sooner.

Yes, sports fans she is also holding
beers, I know it is hard to see them.
But with the trained eye, you can
make them out.  I think these might
be traditional Marzen!
6 gallons (5.5 to ferment, 5 to package)
1.054 OG
1.012 FG
5.5% ABV

7.6 lbs of Pilsner
4.4 lbs of Vienna (no munich? nope, were doing a decoction)
.25 lbs of Flaked Barley - for head retention, it works, try it.
0.5 oz  of Magnum at 60 minutes  14,7% AA,  7.35 AAUs
0.8 oz  of Hallertauer Mittlefruh  2.2% AA, 1,76 AAUs
1 Package of Fermentis 34/70
1 tsp of yeast nutrient at 15 minutes
1 tsp of irish moss at 15 minutes
1 tsp of unflavored gelatin - for fining the beer.

Decoction schedule - 

  • Enzyme Wash - 132 F - Calculate your needed strike water temperature
  • 1st Decoction- 146-148 F - Pull a thick 2/3rds decoction, rest at 150 F for 10 M, then boil for 10 M Return to raise the wort to 146 to 148 F.  Hold for 1 minute, stir, then pull 2nd decotion
  • 2nd Decoction - 156-158 F - Pull a thick 2/3rds decoction, boil for 10 M Return to raise the wort to 156 to 158 F.  Hold for 1 minute, stir, then pull 3rd decotion - Schluss Decoction (Schluss means conclusion or final)
  • Schluss Decoction - Pull enough grain free wort from your mash to raise the temperature of the mash to 168 F.   You'll have to do the math on brew day.  I use brewers friend calculator for infusion step mashing.   
  • Vourlauff - We vourlauff the entire volume almost like a fly sparge, it gets all the chunkies out. And we use an extra brew bag... so do please stay tuned for our brewday videos and post, you're gonna love it!  
Boil - Described above, but boil hard

Fermentation schedule - 

  • 7 days at 52 F We may also add fermaid K at day 3 of fermentation to ensure the beer finishes clean and crisp.
  • 3 days at 68 F
  • 1 day at 50 F (add Gelatin)
  • 10 days at 34 F
  • Package, and store the beer cold.  It does get even better with time, but it's pretty damned good, how it is.

Friday, June 10, 2016

All Grain The Easy Way....No Sparge - just make some beer!

So we here at Counterbrew are kinda known for complicated mash schedules,  advanced decoction, water adjustments, absolute hop monsters, and mixed fermentations.  But we started this blog as a way to get people brewing better beer with easy methods.  To encourage new and intermediate brewers to try some all grain brewing, and to make it easy and fun for them.  So this week,  we'll be returning to our roots.   There will be no advanced mash schedule, no cold steep of roasted malts.  There will be no dry hopping,  no hop stands, and no decoction.  I know, it's shocking.

This week we make it easy. We make a recipe that will be ready quickly.  No Sparge and Grain to glass in a month (less time if you keg).   We are making water additions as easy as possible.  We are making the mash as easy as possible.   We are using a durable yeast that can ferment at basement temperatures.   Presenting the counterbrew, Easy Blonde.  This will be the beginning of a new series on Counterbrew, where we show you some extremely easy beers to brew.

Now, we did not develop the Centennial Blonde recipe,  credit for that must go to a gentleman who goes by Biermuncher on Home Brew Talk.   He has lots of great recipes, and finished with 2 of the top 3 recipes last year in the HBT top 100.   But this recipe is damn near the ultimate house ale.   Flavorful enough for craft beer fans, but easy drinking enough for beer muggles.  We will probably make 10 or 15 gallons of this, because it really is that good.   But we will present a recipe for 5.5 gallons.  If you have never tried the Centennial Blonde,  I truly encourage you to give it a try, it is a fantastic, almost magical blend of 2 hops.   We've changed the grains in the recipe over the years to meet our tastes, but we leave the hop bill alone.

Easy Blonde - Inspired by biermuncher's Centennial Blonde.
O.G, 1.042
F.G.  1.008
SRM - 4
IBUs - 22
ABV - 4.5%

6 # of Pale Ale (or pale two row)
2 # of Vienna
.5 # of C 20
.3 Centennial at 60 minutes
.3 Centennial at 35 minutes
.3 Cascade at 10 minutes
.3 Cascade at 0
US05 1 package - do not rehydrate.
1 whirflock 15
1 tsp yeast nutrient at 15
1 tsp gelatin fining

  • Mash grains at 150 F, for 60 minutes in 7.61 Gallons of water.  
  • After 60 minutes drain wort and begin the boil
  • Make hop additions at scheduled times. 
  • Chill - We'll be using our jaded hydra -  the best chiller you can buy.
  • Aerate - you can shake, use pure o2 (30 seconds), or use an aquarium pump
  • Pitch the yeast - pitch dry, sprinkle over the top.  
  • Ferment cool,  you can ferment this one in your basement, US05 is fine up to 72 F Ideal would be 64-66 F.
  • This will be done fermenting in about 5 to 7 days, but let it go for 2 extra days.  
  • Fine with gelatin and cold crash for 2 days. 
  • Keg or bottle. If you keg you can be ready to drink this beer in 14 days.  If you bottle you can be ready to drink in 21 days.  

You're going to love this beer.  I suspect it will become you go to house ale.   It is so critical to adjust your hops based on the alpha acids from year to year.   Sometimes we're at .6 per addition, sometimes were at .3, it just depends upon the alpha acids from year to year.  But keep them balanced, and don't change them.   It is the combination of centennial and cascade that make this beer fantastic.   Enjoy.  We'll post a brew day, next week.   We'll make sure to add videos, cause we know you guys like the videos.    But no sparge is really as easy as brewing gets.    Soon we're going to do a video of our super easy triple decoction in a bag bohemian lager... ok, well not super easy, but as easy as triple decoction can be.   In the near future, the gang will continue to make great beers, that any one can make,  but the small batch stuff will be highly focused on sour beers, and very high gravity beers.  In small batch we'll be exploring turbid mash, and reiterated mashing.

Update:  We brewed this beer, but It turned into a partial mash.  We were asked to test a new mash water calculator, and we did.  And It sucked.  I should have just used beer smith, or Brewtoad.   But fortunately the wort tasted amazing, so we were able to get to gravity with a DME addition late in the boil.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Local Home brew store Brewday: Desir Tripel and Flower Child Saison

Brew Lab in Overland Park, Ks. 
So Saturday the gang was all back together.  But there was a twist.  We were all together, but we were brewing at our Local Home Brew store.  I have been to many home brew stores across this great land. And I have to say, for brewing beer, BrewLab in Overland Park, Kansas is one of the very best.   BrewLab has anything you could need to brew anything you want to brew.   If you live anywhere near Kansas City, or if you are just passing through and want to try a beer, stop by the Brew Lab.

BrewLab Selection of Grains!  There are more under the
counter in 5 g Rubbermaid containers. 
Their selection of grains is with out match in this area, and they sell them down to the 1/10th of a lbs.   The hops are available prepackaged, or in bulk.  And again you can buy down to 1/10th of an ounce.   Pretty Dang Cool. But the coolest thing about BrewLab is that they have 2 fantastic electric HERMs 3 vessel systems.   Andrew, invited us to come brew with him.   So, we did. But we are Counterbrew and we wanted to stick with what we have said in previous posts. So, rather than using his fancy systems, we used our 100 quart mash tun for mashing, and used his stuff for heating water, and boiling.

27.7 lbs of grain.
fills a 5g bucket
Our goal today was to re brew our belgian tripel inspired Desir et la Nuit.   We all love this beer.   It is a Belgian Tripel made with orange peel, and honey.  The resulting beer is fantastic the strong malt profile of a tripel, with a remembrance of honey and orange.  Strong but graceful.   The manager of BrewLab Andrew had the water de-chlorinated, heating and ready when we got there.  But there was one challenge, the water in old Overland Park is very high pH.   The pH meter read 9.2... Holy Hard water Batman! So we had to use some acid, some gypsum, and some Epsom to get it where we wanted.  Our grain bill has 12 ounces of acidulated malt, so once we got to 6.2 pH, we trusted the grain bill to take it the rest of the way.   Our grain bill was 27.7 lbs of grain and 4 lbs of organic local honey.  That is a lot of grain.  And our predicted OG was 1.082. So we decided to partigyle the grains and make a Saison  with the second running.  The Saison was inspired by Boulevard's Spring Belle Saison.   (More on that later... floral hops, floral additions... should be amazing).

Jake and Ben, hanging out and talking during the mash.
The 100 qt cooler has a door on top for stirring and additions.
Once the water was adjusted, we set up to dough in.  Doughing in this much grain is a 2 person job. But once doughed in we hit our target rest temperature of 115 F.   This is a step mash.  We began with a beta glucan rest. The wort turned milky over the next 15 minutes.  Our next rest was achieved by adding boiling water to take the mash to 132 F.   Where we again rested for 20 minutes while our next infusion heated to a boil.   So far so good, everything was going smoothly...

One of 2 eHERMs systems at BrewLab KC
And here is where we goofed up.  We were impatient on the next addition.  It was probably only at about 200 F when we added it.  The laws of thermo dynamics are not something to be trifled with.  So rather than rising to 146 F as we had hoped, we rose to 139 to 142 F.  Well Damn! Still firmly in Beta Amylase Saccharification range, but seriously?  There is really no curing this screw up.  We could have pulled a decoction and brought it to temperature, but this was supposed to be a tripel, we didn't really want that color to change. So we just went forward.   Our next addition (final addition) brought the mash to 148 F.  Where we rested for 30 minutes.   To get closer to mash out, and to get the deep golden color we wanted, we pulled a 4 gallon thin mash (no grain) decoction, boiled it and brought the temperature back up to 158 F.

the tripel boiling in
a 20 gallon kettle
We collected 13 gallons of wort (mout) as we had predicted.  The boil on their system is fast and awesome.    We knew that after kettle loss and boil off we would package around 11 gallons of wort.  We did meet one challenge in the boil,  our preferred hop for this brew is Styrian Golding.  Unfortunately, Styrian Golding is 1.4% Alpha Acid this year.  To get our bittering IBUs we would have had to add 7.8 ounces of hops for 60 minutes, and 4 ounces for flavor.   And that would have made a grassy, grassy beer.  So we switched the bittering hops to Willamette.  At 10 minutes we added 4lbs of local organic honey.  We pitched T58 and BE265 (abbaye) into well aerated wort.    This should be amazing beer, if it is anywhere close to our last batch of this, well be in for a treat.

The Saison boiling in a 20 gallon
kettle.  Looks so small.
Here's a quandry,  what do you do with 27.7 lbs of grain on a infusion mash/ no sparge brew day?   I mean, they are just sitting there.  They still have loads of sugar in them.   Here's an idea,  Partigyle.   If you are unfamiliar with partigyling a batch of beer, it just means this.   After you have collected your wort,  you add more water to the mash tun and collect a second batch of wort.   We knew that in a beer that was generating 1.062 wort for our first batch, if we just added 7 gallons of 168 F water to the mash tun, we would collect a 1.031 wort 15 minutes later.   You see there is till a lot of sugar in the grains.  And as long as your pH is in line and your temperatures are not too high, you can still collect this wort and make a beer out of it.   It was a common practice among English brewers of old.  We'll be exploring this more in a future post.   But on this day, we used the second runnings to make a Flower Child Saison. A saison hopped with Noble Hops, and flavored with Heather, Chamomile, Corriander, and Black Pepper.   I'm almost as excited about that batch as I am for the tripel.   If you're in Kansas City in about a month stop by the BrewLab and give it a try.  BrewLab can not sell you a beer, but they can let you try a sample.  They usually have some pretty cool stuff on tap.  Ever tried a Cascadian IPA and a  Pliny the Younger Clone, on the same day?

Overall it was a fun brew day.  But our next batch is going to be a simple straight forward single infusion mash.   No complications, no decoctions, no step mash, just simple straight forward beer.  I think we all need a break from complication for a while.   I think were leaning toward an americanized ESB  that John Designed, or maybe a Centennial Blonde.   But for you brew geeks, don't worry, Mark and I will be doing another crazy small batch soon, and probably some wine.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Belgian Tripel - Total Brewing Geekery - No Sparge, Water Adjustments, Step Mash, Decoction, Partigyle

So this coming weekend, we will all be brewing together again for the first time in a long while.  I for one am looking forward to it.  We will be brewing our Belgian Tripel.  A truly amazing beer.  And we will be beer geeking out about as much as home brewers can geek out; No Sparge / Infusion step mash / Decotion / Partigyle/ with full water adjustments.  Without crazy expenses and fancy brewing systems this is about as brew geeky as you can get.

The infusion mash has been covered in previous posts.  I hope you all will read them.  I am a big believer in step mashing.  If you are hoping to make a Belgian style beer you should step mash every single time (whether or not you are using well modified grains).   A Belgian mout (wort) is a complete wort.  It is developed in every way, the protein, the mouth feel, the ferment ability.   You can not do that with a single infusion.  You can get close, but it will never be the same.  This beer is a great example.   This beer features 8.5% ABV, but the alcohol is balanced by the right amount of sweetness, and a luxurious mouth feel, tastes of honey, orange and spices. Amazing.

A Beer Geek Guide to step mashing part 1 understanding the science
A Beer Geek Guide to step mashing part 2 planning the recipe

Desir et la Nuit - Belgian Sytle Tripel
11 Gallon
1.083 OG
1.019 FG
25 IBUs
6  SRM
8.5% ABV
19.5 lbs of Pilsner Malt -  Europils by Cargill
 5.5 lbs of Wheat Malt
 4.0 lbs of Honey
 1.0 lbs of Biscuit Malt
 1.0 lbs of Aromatic Malt
 .75 lbs of Acidulated Malt
2.6 oz of Styrian Golding at 60 minutes
2.0 oz of Styrian Golding at 25 minutes
1 package of Fermentis Safale BE256 (abbaye) - Fermentis
2 packages of Fermentis Safale T58 -
2 tsp of yeast nutrient at 10 minuts
2 ounces of orange peel at 10 minutes
1 tsp of Corriander at 10 minutes
2 tsp of Irish Moss at 5 minutes

The mash schedule is so well detailed in a previous post.  To understand the mash schedule you really need to read that post.   But to be brief,  We'll do a beta glucan rest, then a protein rest, then a sac rest, then a second sac rest.  All of these will be made by infusion mashing.  Finally, we will be pulling a thin mash decoction and using it to do our mash out.    It is a wonderful, and complicated mash.   It will be a lot of fun, and should create a world class mout...or wort...or gyle... or what ever you want to call it.

We're actualy brewing this one at our local home brew store.  So that should be a blast.   That is all for now sports fans.