Kumquat Cream Ale

May 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

I wish I could take a picture of a smell. When I opened the fermenter to pitch my yeast two weeks ago, my eyes rolled back and my lids fluttered with pleasure. It was hard to leave the fermenter alone while I anticipated the finished product. I moved the fusti (my fermenter, a seven-gallon stainless, seamless olive oil vessel) in and out of the cellar, when I wasn’t satisfied my temperature controller was doing it’s job.

I love kumquats; I love them so much I asked for a tree for my birthday. It is still a little tree and while it blossoms often and fruits plentiful, I still want to savor the crop rather than brewing with the entirety.

I called a local citrus purveyor (a huge benefit of working in a farm-to-table-restaurant rubbing elbows with the produce buyer). I asked for ugly fruit; often times if it’s not perfect a consumer doesn’t buy it and it goes to waste (I hate waste), AND it’s priced lower. Kumquats tend to be 6 bucks a pound. I got around 25 pounds for ten dollars. And I got the big, juicy mandarin-quats; a bit blemished with frost-burn, but with great personality.

I spent hours and hours carefully removing seeds and any parts that might cause an off-flavor in the finished beer. I made a large batch of marmalade and put the rest in the freezer. Freezing breaks the cell walls and allows more juices and oils to be released, making maximum flavor contribution to a beer, and the freezer probably kills a lot of things that could cause an infection (and I don’t mean an infection dangerous to humans like a venereal infection, I mean a bacterial inoculation that can cause off-flavors).

I am the queen of substitutions; Jamil and Palmer suggest American two-row, but I didn’t have it. I had just been to Doc’s Cellar to pick up supplies and I didn’t want to drive back over there. Mrs. Partner bought a bunch of Crisp malt that is probably British Pale, maybe, probably. I used that and a floor-malted Pils malt, which she promised would be delicious. For the adjunct, I chose corn. Instead of White Labs Cal Ale, I used White Labs Cream Ale blend. My bittering hops were Magnum at 60 minutes, and aroma hops were Saag at 10 minutes (comment if you need more details on the recipe; I’m happy to share).

I pride myself on almost flawless brewing process, but forgot to take all the measurements. I tend to forget those things when I’m concentrating on not fucking up; this is the first time I brewed this style of beer, my first light beer style, and the first time I’d made a fruit beer. Sigh. I was also distracted by our presentation of Two Broads to a Graphic Design III  class at Cal Poly (publishing a blog post on this in June). I had to pause between the sparge and the boil. Lastly, I sanitized a grain bag and put 2.5 pounds of frozen kumquats to sit over night and thaw, then pitched the yeast the following morning.

Last Saturday, I finally let myself check the gravity on the beer. Perfect! I hit the higher end of the range for the style at 1.012. Lifting the top off the fermenter to smell it was just as pleasant as the day I pitched the yeast. I tasted it; lightly malty with lovely citrus on the nose and aftertaste, delicious even without carbonation.

Special thanks to Paul for his assistance in writing this post.


Entry filed under: Homebrewing. Tags: , , , .

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