Nov 3 2010

The Perry Experiment – A Micro Batch

The perry experiment is coming to a close.  I’ve made a few ciders over the years and trying to make a perry seemed like a logical, albeit lateral, progression.

My two stumbling blocks had been knowledge about the beverage and access to pear juice.

With ciders, there is a certain amount of knowledge floating around about them, but very little about perries. In some materials I have found, the perry is often described as having a mild, sour character to it. The BJCP entry about a standard perry does not mention that, so I fired off an email to my regional BJCP person. I’ve heard nothing back from him yet.

Given that the slightly sour route is probably more traditional and esoteric one, I decided to make mine as clean and sour-free as possible (just like I would with a cider).  With such a small first batch, it seemed like it would be a better idea to taste what a no-so-wild perry tasted like for the test run, and adding a lactic twang in a future batch would be easy to do.

When it comes to cider, I’m very fortunate to have a friend who makes hundreds of gallons of cider each year, and he has some amazing connections to fresh juice from local orchards.  But he had no connections for pear juice, so that required some research and work on my part.

In the end, I decided to make a tiny test batch to see how it turned out with some commercial juice. Honestly, I wanted to see if it was something I actually wanted multiple gallons of in my house. After looking around a few local grocery stores, I decided to go with the Knudsen’s Pear Juice. I could lie and tell you that I was very scientific about this, but I choose the Knudsen’s because it was 100% juice, it was organic, and it came in a 32 ounce glass bottle.

Why was the glass important? Because I was going to ferment the juice in the bottle.

After I got home, I added two tablespoons of brown sugar, for some additional sweetness and sugar, to the bottle. Then I poured out a bit of the juice to free up some airspace, and I used that to test the original gravity of the juice.  I, then, pitched 2 teaspoons of Safale US-05 into the juice and covered the top with some aluminum foil.

Yes, this is a glorified starter, but it is serving its purpose. It has been bubbling away for almost a week, but it appears the activity is almost done. The downside of a batch this small is that it is difficult to take samples without taking a huge portion of the batch, too. But I’ve got ways around that.

I’ll take a sample tonight to determine if is ready to be crashed and bottled.  Once that is done, the choice has to be made about if I want to do a larger batch and, if so, what juice will I use that next time? A large batch made from these bottles would be expensive….


Nov 3 2010

Emperor Norton Memorial Tasting Society October 25th, 2010

This learned group is dedicated to tasting beers that are difficult to obtain in Central Virginia, or have been cellared into rarity.  The majority of these brews will be commercial, but occasionally homebrewed beers will appear if they make sense within, or prove a nice segue between, selections.

As usual, coherent notes are not expected to arise from these scholarly sessions.

This October meeting of the year 2010 had almost no theme whatsoever. At best, the theme was that we hadn’t gotten together for quite some time, and we brought beer to mourn that fact, and celebrate the end of that drought.

Emperor Norton is dead. Long live Emperor Norton.

The October 25, 2010 docket included:

Upland Wheat
Upland Helios Pale Ale
Lazy Mutt Farmhouse
New Glarus Fat Squirrel
New Belgium 1554
Capt Lawrence St Vincent’s Dubbel
Flat Earth Cygnus X-1
Upland Dragonfly
Boulevard Double Wide
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
Foothills Baltic Porter
Barlow Brewing “Slow Motion Walter….” Oak-aged, Smoked Baltic Porter
Dark Truth Stout
Surly Four
Barlow Brewing “Moor is Better” Black IPA

For me, the big “winners” were, in order, the Surly Four, the Sculpin IPA, and the Captain Lawrence St. Vincent’s Dubbel.