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Crafting a beer from the memory of another beer

Being a new brewer, I have been looking for all sorts of sources of information. I have been listening to the Beersmith podcasts as I can do this as I drive to work. The episode I just finished with was about designing beers and it really got me thinking. The guy in the podcast had been clearly doing this a long time. Not only am I a new brewer, I am also a fairly new beer drinker (3ish years). I say new as I could have been drinking it (legally) for 25.

I am trying to figure out how I might make a beer I had at a local German restaurant a a couple years ago. They have a micro brewery.

It was a brown beer and was described as such (meaning not porter or stout). When we got it, it was very good and in the midst of this hoppy malty flavor was what could only be described as… apples? Almost apple juicy? It was not the dominant flavor, nor sweet like a cider, but it was certainly there.

I thought about that beer enough that I went back to the restaurant not for the food this time, but to get more of that beer. This time it tasted more like what I expected a brown beer to taste like. More, it wasn’t very good. Where was that magic flavor? So sad… :cry:

More about the em… magic beer… There’s something that… Well I just don’t understand how they did it. When we got the beer, we were shocked to find it has slivers of ice in it. NOT like ice cubes of any fashion, but slivers. Like when you break a glass on the floor… teensy tiny little slivers. There was not a lot of it, but with the ice cold glass and the ice cold beer, they hung out for a little while and it made a very unique and pleasurable experience. I should also mention that they weren’t floating on top, they sort of hung within the volume of the beer. You might get like 2 or 3 in a sip and they would sort of sparkle on the tongue which added more mystique to the applish thing. Sadly, (again), the when I revisited the place, the beer was not served like this. It was much warmer and not as good.

So, I am trying to figure out how I go about recreating a beer which I didn’t understand in the first place and is several years removed. I am understanding beer so much more within the past couple of months being that I have been doing nothing but reading and listening and watching things about it. Call it a new passion.

I don’t think it needs to be an exact copy, I just want to recreate the experience. I am a little concerned that my mental image of the beer would have shifted by now as brains tend to do that. So I am also thinking I need to head towards the mental image.

So, I am thinking about starting with a brown ale vibe, and then while I can’t be sure that there wasn’t apples in it, I want that flavor. Would it make sense to put apples in the beer during the boil? Or even use some juice as a portion of the initial liquid? The guy in the podcast mentioned that he put mushrooms in one of his beers (I know… right? :confounded: ). He had dried, vacuum sealed, and then froze them. He then added them to a later part of the fermentation cycle. I thought that sounded risky, but it seemed to work for him. In thinking about this, I thought that perhaps doing the same thing with apples. I could dehydrate them and add some slices to the fermenter at some point.

The book I am reading right now talks about Australian and Brittish Ale yeast having a potentially tart and or fruity flavors, and listed as good for brown beers, so I suppose that is also an idea too.

As to the ice slivers… I have been thinking about this a lot too. Is it possible that they got the temperature so cold that ice started to form, but it was not cold enough to actually freeze? Or they kept the beer moving, sort of like a basic form of a beer slushy? HEY NOW!?! Beer slushys anyone? Sorry… squirrel moment there. Or do you think it was the glass which might have had some water on it when they put it in the freezer. I just don’t think you would get the sliver size if it were just beads of water. I think it was in the beer itself.

Sorry for the insanely long post, but it’s an experiential thing, and I tend to get long winded about those sorts of things.

Edit: I asked the friends who were with me if they could remember anything about it. One reminded me that it was a “Nut Brown”. I don’t know what that means, but there ya go. I figured I should mention it.

Hmm… sounds tough. I will say, the cynic in me wonders if the magic beer was an off batch that was served cold to cover flaws. “Cidery” is an off flavor description, and very cold beer can hind weird flavors.

That being said, I heard about somebody brewing an Apple spice dunkelweizen (sounded weird to me, but they seemed happy with it).

Could have been something as simple as ferm temps. For example, US-05 is usually very clean around 66-68 degrees, but I’ve fermented with it in the 57-58 degree range(on purpose) and it typically throws a lot of fruity, peachy esters at those temps.

Cheers,

Ron

Well if you play with a nut brown ale, you could, after its completely finished, conditioned, dopour a pint of your brew and add a little bit of apple juice to see if you can “find” that elusive brew. Sneezles61

Ha! Wouldn’t that suck. Here I am fondly remembering a bad beer. Everyone liked it though.
Well… let me ask this… When does something going ‘off’ become incorporated into the technique if people like it? Most of what we know as to the processes of making beer, or cooking in general are happy mistakes.

Sure… a slightly oxidized old ale plays into the style, a touch of buttery diacetyl was considered an integral part of Ballard Bitter… I’m convinced all Belgian Beer is an exercise in yeast abuse. An intentional flaw is fine- even an accidental one that you then repeat on purpose. That us-05 peach esters is a perfect example. Lots of brewers know about that trait and go for it on purpose.

What’s a off flavor to some may be delicious to another. As far as ice that may have been a mistake also. That said you can try to make it. You can go the Belgian yeast route. I brew a saison once that people said they tasted apples. 3711 warm fermentation temps.or you can try apple type spicing. Not sure if adding apples would work.

When you say [quote=“brew_cat, post:7, topic:23678”] apple type spicing [/quote]
is that spicing when you add apples? I have seen the term and it seems to be somewhat morphing. Sometimes it refers to spices. Other times it refers to the extra bits you throw into the mix.

Only you know what you tasted. I’m thinking a porter with a hint of apple pie spices. Maybe you could find some apple flavored extract. If your kegging you could make the beer and then put apples in the keg but you couldn’t bottle it

I got some apple from wy3942.

Could the flavor have come from Calvados, the apple flavored brandy?

No, not alcoholic (like a spirit) in nature (aside from the beer side of things) it was sort of a tart apple layer under the beer portion.

So basing this concept on a gallon batch… what would result be if I used say… a quarter to a half gallon of fresh apple juice with 3/4 - 1/2 gallon of water to start. What would that do to the beer?
I have too many questions. This book is fun but it’s making me nuts with all the possibilities.
It also has me curious about what the extra sugars would do during the fermenting. Would it caramelize or go in the direction of the maillard reactions (trying out one of the $.35 words there) and cause an off flavor. The long boil might also intensify the flavor (which is why I was suggesting the lower portion.

It would ferment out and you will have made a Graff.

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What if, due to economic pressures, the micro brewery had to serve a ‘young’ beer? I highlighted some phrases that caught my eye.

As to how to craft this, consider starting with a basic brown ale (although the original may be a lager) and look into techniques to add flavorings in either secondary or at bottling time. With each batch, you may want to have a couple of “control” samples - bottles without any flavorings.

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Is the restaurant still open? You might want to try stopping by when they are not busy and asking to talk to the brew master. Some might blow you off but others love to talk about their beer. Explain how it tasted the first time then not as good the second. Sometimes it’s hard to nail it after that first great one even after taking good notes. With fruit it can be difficult to get the same quality and/or flavor if using fresh.

Offer to scrape the mash tun. Might make a new friend :grin:

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I am pretty sure that it was an ale as I don’t particularly like lagers, so I am pretty sure I wouldn’t order one. Not saying it wasn’t, but it would have been highly out of character. But your idea is good. It’s just the dear of contamination. I am still in the midst of my first batch, so I have not yet done anything that involved a secondary. I haven’t got to that point in the book to understand what the secondary is even for. So I am fully open to looking into the idea, but I just don’t have any understanding of what it is yet. Lots to take in.

I have been thinking about this a lot actually. Plus the book mentions that some places have been known to give / sell yeast so you can have an established strain in the flavor of the beer you are heading towards. This too requires the conversation. It is just me getting over there. It’s about 25 minutes away, and I think this is more of an in person conversation vs. just trying to talk over the phone. Plus in person allows me to point finger and say what’s that?

I looked it up. Thanks, that’s awesome. Man… now I have too many ideas. But, this sounds good period.
A few years ago I bought an electric juicer. I think it would be nice to start with freshly made apple juice. Better flavors and… real.

I think I start with the brown beer idea and work out from there, but I want to make the graff as it’s own thing.

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