Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brew day: Kokopüffenweizen

Ah, the signs of spring... The days get longer. Baseball starts. I brew for the Drinking & Writing Brewery's Beerfly Alleyfight.

Yes, Leah and I will once again participate in the awesomeness that is Beerfly Alleyfight. For those of you who have never been, every homebrewer who participates in the Alleyfight is asked to brew five gallons of beer and pair it with a food item that we prepare. We are then paired with an artist who interprets our pairing. Over the last three years we've come up with some pretty good beer-food pairings if I do say so myself (our None More Buzzed coffee stout paired with tiramisu bites; our Worst Case Scenario Belgian dark ale paired with roasted sweet potato slices topped with banana salsa; and last year our Somethin' Else India black ale paired with bacon smoked mac 'n cheese). We've also been fortunate to be paired with some awesome artists (writer/actress Mary Fons, filmmaker Ren Velarde and singer/songwriter Naomi Ashley). This year Beerfly Alleyfight is May 22nd at the Chicago Rock Bottom (State & Grand). It's a whole lotta fun and if you live within a 100-mile radius of Chicago you should go; more info and tickets HERE.

Anyway, this year the theme is wheats, and after a little thought I decided to play the ace up my sleeve: Cocoa Puffs. When I first started brewing I read about a homebrew competition where everybody had to use breakfast cereal in some way, and I thought it was a cool idea. Now I've never really outgrown kids' cereal (Hey Mom, you remember how you made me eat Total as a kid? Well, behold the monster you created.) and I'm particularly fond of Cocoa Puffs, so a while back I decided to brew a Cocoa Puffs stout. It was good, but the Cocoa Puffs didn't really stand out.

A couple years later I decided to give it another whack. This time the base stout was much higher gravity and I was pretty generous with the Cocoa Puffs. I brought a bottle for a friend who later emailed me a critique which didn't pull any punches. She said something along the lines of "It really tasted like Cocoa Puffs, though I'm not sure if that's a good thing." Yes, it's a good thing. It's an AMAZING thing.

Given that Beerfly Alleyfight is all about having fun, I decided to go way outside the box this year and thus we'll be serving a new style I call Kokopüffenweizen. It's basically a Weizenbock spiked with Cocoa Puffs. Now I add the Cocoa Puffs in the secondary, so today was a cereal-free day. But here's a recap of the first step on our journey to malty, estery, Cocoa-Puffy goodness.

It was actually a pretty boring brew day. I mashed in around 11am. Due to a last-second decision to change mash tuns my strike water dropped a few degrees and I mashed in at 151°F instead of 155. After 45 minutes, I pulled a 1.5-gallon decoction which I boiled for a half-hour (twice as long as my typical poor-man's decoction). I sparged for just under an hour, collecting just under six gallons. (At this point I realized that I accidentally made my recipe for 5 gallons instead of the usual 5.5, hardly anything to lose sleep over.)

Since I want the Cocoa Puffs to shine, I only went with one hop addition when I reached boil at 2:30. After a 90-minute boil I chilled to 61°F, ending up with just under five gallons. I had only planned on doing a 75-minute boil, so between the mix-up on batch size and the extra boil-off I was a bit low on my target volume. Fortunately, I overshot my target gravity by five points (1062 instead of 1057). With this in mind, I diluted with a 500mL bottle of water as well as my 1000mL starter of WLP 380 Hefeweizen IV yeast. This got me above five gallons at around 1059 for starting gravity. Obviously this will get a bump from the sugary Cocoa Puffs, which is why that gravity might seem low for a Bock style.

So that's what I did today. Next week I'll add the Cocoa Puffs (I'm thinking of going with four cups; last time I did five, but that also had an original gravity of 1080 vs. 1060). Stay tuned for more updates on the beer that will make you Kuckuck für Kokopüffen!

UPDATE: You can read about the "dry-Puffing" process here.


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