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Only, a artisanal Gin from Spain
Only, an artisanal Gin from Spain

See what we did there? 🙂

Yes, I know - it's Gin, and not beer. However - it's a Spanish Gin, and a damn fine one. I just emptied the bottle to make a classic Negroni (with Vermouth Rosso, which you really should try). But! you may ask, "Why would we speak of Gin here, on a beer related page?". Go ahead, ask...

Well, this Gin is the inspiration for a crazy cool beer I designed and brewed for and at the BCT Brewing Project called Giniper White. It's an Imperial White Ale infused with some extraordinary and expensive aromatic herbs and flowers designed to proxy fine Gin in a beer.

A classic Negroni (sans orange peel curl).
A classic Negroni (sans orange peel curl).

Sipping this Negroni, I am inspired once again - I'd look for another batch of Giniper White to be released this summer if I was you. Damn good Gin - inspiring an amazing beer. Seriously, what could be better than that?

Cheers,
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Wild yeast on tangerine skin, still on the tree.
Wild yeast on tangerine skin, still on the tree.

There seems to be a common misconception that if a beer is fermented with wild organisms that it will be sour. This is actually not the case at all. Perhaps it's time for a brief discussion about what makes an organism "wild", and what makes  beer sour. Which are actually two different things.

First let's tackle "sour", and sour beers - which is incidentally a new marketing term for a style of beer that is also new. The super tart, tooth enamel stripping, pucker power beers currently in vogue were considered to be egregiously flawed up until this 21st century. A beer is soured by certain classes of bacteria that create acids (and very little alcohol) as a byproduct of fermentation. Examples of these bacteria would be lactobacillus (think yogurt), acetobacter (think vinegar), Pediococcus (think sauerkraut) and the like. They are often cultured in labs from banks that have been selectively isolated for a number of generations. Unless you are drinking a spontaneously fermented beer from Belgium or Flanders, or a true Berliner Weisse from Germany, you are most likely not drinking a wild beer - even if it's labeled as such.

Propogating wild yeast.
Propogating wild yeast.

Now let's tackle "wild". First we'll have to understand that most beers brewed in the United States with "wild" or "wild yeast blend" on the label or in the marketing materials are not truly wild. They are fermented with organisms that are propagated from carefully controlled banks of yeasts and bacteria that have very likely not seen any environment other than a lab for many generations. This isn't a bad thing, but it isn't "wild" by any means. A true wild yeast or bacteria would be a bug that is readily available in the ambient environment (i.e. the bugs in true Lambics), or has been surviving in the wild by virtue of its own tooth and nail - perhaps on the skin of a fruit – within the last few years. A true wild beer might be fermented with a yeast, or yeast and bacteria blend, that has been isolated and propagated by a lab. But it should be an organism that has been harvested from the wild very recently. Click on this link for a perfect example.

So, here's a few bullet points to ponder:

  • Most sour beers - other than true Lambics, Flanders Reds and Oud Bruins, and true German Berliner Wiesse - are not wild.
  • A true wild yeast fermented beer will probably not be sour - maybe a little funky or slightly tart - but they are not sour.
  • For a beer to be sour (wild yeast or not), it must be "infected" with bacteria that create acids as the by product of fermentation - and most of these bacteria are now propagated from laboratory banks. They are not wild.
WLP5179 Beancurdturtle Sacc Yeast, one barrel pitch.
WLP5179 Beancurdturtle Sacc Yeast, one barrel pitch.

So now that the cloud of misconceptions about wild and sour are all cleared up, let me say – we have made beers that are wild to the core, but not even a tiny bit sour. The yeast used to ferment the beer is a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain harvested from the skin of a tangerine in the Beancurdturtle Brewing pilot brewery yard in 2015. The yeast is professionally isolated and propagated so I can be sure it is clean, not infected, and healthy. The base beer is very clean and light so you can discern the subtle contributions from the esters of the wild yeast - flavors and aromas that are slightly fruity with citrus characters, peachy chardonnay aromas, and hints of an earthy “farmhouse” funk.

Wild beers fermented with our wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain will be most appreciated by beer drinkers with discerning palates. Probably not the beer drinkers who favor beers with characters like yogurt water, vinegar, and Jolly Rancher candies. But I shouldn't be such a sourpuss as I have sour-head friends who also have sensitive and discerning palates. I hope you get to try a beer fermented with this yeast because it is unique, refreshing, and subtly complex. If you do, just remember – it's not sour, it's wild.

Cheers!
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Yes, 1 pound of pulverized berries per gallon.
Yes, 1 pound of pulverized berries per gallon.

Hanging out the BCT Brewing Project after brewing Berry’d Alive® yesterday the question comes up again, “Is it really one pound of berries per gallon of beer?” My answer, “Yup!” I could add, “Yes, $70 worth of berries for two kegs of beer.” To which you may respond, "Really?"

The reason is, if I’m going to make a beer named “Berry’d Alive”, you should feel like you’re buried in berries when you enjoy it. See, there’s this old cliché phrase in brewing, “go berries or go home.” Well, actually there isn’t, I just made that up – and it’s not really very funny.

This is what goes in the fermenter.
This is what goes in the fermenter.

But the point is. Berry’d Alive is a Belgo-American Wheat Ale base that’s buried in mixed berries, and (pun warning) berry delicious! I brewed it yesterday, you can expect it to be on draft on April 9th at the BCT Brewing Project.

Until you can enjoy the beer, enjoy a few photos.

Cheers!
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=BCT=

 

In August of 2016 we poured the last glass of BCT Brewing Project beer. Though the BCT Brewing Project is no longer a thing, we designed all of the beers, and we still design award winning beer for craft breweries internationally.

I brew an Irish Red Ale because, done well, it's a really satisfying pint for Craft Beer newbies and old timers both. For newbies because it’s just a really comfortable imbiber, and for old timers because we know how hard it is to get it right.

O'Hara's Red, first pint on a Euro holiday.
O'Hara's Red, first pint on a Euro holiday.

Now I’ve had a pretty good idea of what I liked in a Red Ale for a long time. But it was really tuned on May 31st 2014 when I enjoyed a pint of O’Hara’s Irish Red at Vaughan's Eatery in Dublin Ireland with my first dinner of a three-week European holiday.

O’Hara’s Irish Red has everything this style is supposed to bring to the table. A comfy smooth malt backbone well balanced by restrained hop bitterness, and a lovely garnet color offered as a feast for the eyes. When I brew a Red Ale, that’s what I’m aiming for. O’Hara’s hit the target bang on.

So fast forward a couple years and I’m brewing an Irish – Ok, Irish American – Red ale. Working the recipe, and I remembered that first beer of my holiday. I decide to craft a beer with similar character and color to O’Hara’s, but tuned to the tastes and temperatures of Southern California. An Irish Red Ale carrying the comfort and satisfaction of the classic style, with a body that suits enjoying a pint, or two, or three (you can see where I’m going) on a 90F degree Southern California afternoon.

Side by side, Robin's Red from BCT Brewing Project & O’Hara’s Irish Red.
Side by side, Robin's Red from BCT Brewing Project & O’Hara’s Irish Red.

Now we’re on Batch #3 of Robin’s Red at the BCT Brewing Project, and I brew batch #4 in five days. Time to side by side it with the beer that provided some inspiration, O’Hara’s Irish Red. Not a competition mind you, because if you have two good brewers making the same style of beer, you should be equally satisfied with the results, but in slightly different ways – and that’s what I find in this case.

There’s an extraordinary similarity to these beers. The O’hara’s has all the comfort and satisfaction I recall. Robin’s Red has very similar characters, great balance and lovely color, and yet a lighter body suited to our warmer climate – plus the bonus of gluten removal (lab tested less than 10ppm).

Quintessentially quaffable Irish Red Ales.
Quintessentially quaffable Irish Red Ales.

Robin’s Red is a lovely, enjoyable, and quite quaffable beer. Thanks to a little inspiration from Carlow Brewing, and some tips on getting the color right from my friend Chris at Nocturna Brewing Company in Ensenada Mexico (they also make a terrific Red Ale).

Batch #4 will be the way it will be done from now on. An Irish American Red Ale, with American base grains and yeast, specialty grains from the Isles west of Europe, and a bit of brewing wizardry to remove the gluten.

Sláinte mhaith!
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In August of 2016 we poured the last glass of BCT Brewing Project beer. Though the BCT Brewing Project is no longer a thing, we designed all of the beers, and we still design award winning beer for craft breweries internationally.

You may ask, “Why do you watch your ratings on Untappd.com?”. Well I have a good answer. Untappd is where the market meets the mug. Folks from Craft Beer neophytes to nationally ranked BJCP judges weigh in with a zero to five rating on your beer, and the web site ranks you in relation to the rest of the beer universe.

Untappd.com ranking for BCT Brewing Project on 2016/03/01.
Untappd.com ranking for BCT Brewing Project on 2016/03/01.

So, how are we, BCT Brewing Project, doing? Well, I watch the brewery’s overall rating in relation to other highly regarded breweries in the local-ish market (OC and Riverside counties in So Cal), and the overall rating for the “most popular” beer we brew. Now we don’t yet have enough ratings to land in the global ranking for an individual beer or a brewery, but beer and brewery overall ratings are still calculated.

As a brewery, for the popular Orange County and Riverside County California breweries that are our market peers, we’re just about in the top of the mix of the best ranked. Not bad considering Orange County CA has some of the highest globally ranked breweries.

Robin's Red, a Gluten Removed Red Ale.
Robin's Red, a Gluten Removed Red Ale.

Our “most popular” beer (seems to be a mixed measure of the number of check-ins and rating) right now is Robin’s RedOpens in a new window, a Red Ale (surprised me too). If Robin’s Red had enough check-ins at the current rating to get global ranking, it would be among the top ten rated Red Ales on the planet on Untappd. Now you may ask me, “Why is that cool Mr. Turtle?” – and of course I would have an answer.

You’d think a Red Ale is easy to brew, but no…

  • Achieving a comforting balance between malt characters and hop bittering is tricky.
  • Balancing malt and hop characters, and achieving a deep garnet color at the same time is even more challenging.
  • Then add the fact that Robin’s red is crafted to reduce gluten and lab tested to be less than 10ppm gluten.
The Robin of Robin's Red.
The Robin of Robin's Red.

Robin’s Red basically bleeds the BCT charter “Nothing Fancy, Something Special”. This of course makes me happy as I crafted this beer mostly to please the tastes and preferences (he’s gluten sensitive) of my son Robin.

So some day, Robin’s Red might get enough ratings to be in the global rankings – that would be nice. But even without that, I’m making a Red Ale that my son Robin enjoys and can drink without the typical next day challenges a gluten sensitive person might experience after a few pints of beer.

Top 10 on the planet would be nice. Top 1 for my son Robin – even better.

Cheers!
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=BCT=

In August of 2016 we poured the last glass of BCT Brewing Project beer. Though the BCT Brewing Project is no longer a thing, we designed all of the beers, and we still design award winning beer for craft breweries internationally.

Tangerine tree, home of BCT Cali Native and Beancurdturtle Sacc
Tangerine tree, home of BCT Cali Native and Beancurdturtle Sacc

We are one of a handful of breweries (well, brewery related companies) in California that has a proprietary, locally sourced, wild yeast strain for brewing some terrific beers. Beancurdturtle Sacc WLP5179 expresses lots of citrus characters, peachy chardonnay aromas, and an earthy “farmhouse” character.

The short story is this. Sometime around June of 2015 I harvested yeast from the skin of a tangerine growing in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard.

  • I propagated the wild mixed culture up to cell counts appropriate for brewing a 5-gallon test batch called Ordinary Wild.
  • I brewed a one-barrel batch at BCT Brewing Project called Cali Native with the wild mixed culture. One of the fastest selling beers made by BCT Brewing Project.
  • I took the mixed culture to White Labs for analysis, where they isolated and genetically identified the two predominant organisms as a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain and a strain of Lactobacillus casei.
  • White Labs is banking both the mixed culture as “BCT Cali Native”, and the ‎S. cerevisiae isolate as “Beancurdturtle Sacc”.
  • White Labs propagated up Beancurdturtle Sacc for a one-barrel pitch and I brewed a test batch at BCT Brewing Project called Wild in the Sacc that was released on February 27th 2016.
WLP5179 Beancurdturtle Sacc Yeast is banked at White Labs.
WLP5179 Beancurdturtle Sacc Yeast is banked at White Labs.

The beer was well liked, and if I can convince a brewery with a seven barrel brewhouse - the minimum pitch size White Labs propagates for private strains - to collaborate with me, we'll brew with it again.

If you want to flesh out the story with some details about how and where we harvested and tested the yeast, here’s an article on our BCT Brewing Project web site.

Cheers!
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=BCT=

 

Wild yeast on tangerine skin, still on the tree
Wild yeast on tangerine skin, still on the tree

Well, maybe if we kissed first, or at least a bedtime story? Ok then, a bedtime story – and it starts like this… Once upon a time there lived a little patch of wild yeast (and of course bacteria), on a Tangerine, on a tree, in a brewer’s back yard. That brewer was me.

I saw the patch of wild yeast and I was intrigued. Should I harvest it, propagate it, and test it in a beer? My answer? “Hell no!” Nearly everyone I know who tried something similar ended up with a crazy funky nasty beer. And I didn’t have time for that kind of stuff.

Yet a couple days later I found myself at The BrewHouse in San Juan Capistrano, and Ron had given me a taste of a Wild Pale Ale from The Wild Beer Company in Somerset England. It was a very nice simple ale, a little earthy and funky, slightly tart with a nice dry finish. Nothing fancy really, but quite special. …and I thought of the patch of wild yeast.

Tangerine skin with wild yeast in malt starter
Tangerine skin with wild yeast in malt starter

It just happens that it had rained like the dickins that day, so the patch of wild yeast had a good cleansing. If there ever was an opportune time to harvest wild yeast – this was it. So I went home, cooked up a bit of a malt sugar starter solution, sanitized a knife and a stainless steel worktop, clipped the tangerine, sliced the skin with the wild yeast off, and dropped it in a sanitized container with the starter.

First step up
First step up

There was a brief period of fermentation, then the starter settled. So I stepped up to 1-liter on a stir plate. That cleared and I moved the settled yeast to a 2.5-liter starter. That should give me enough mixed culture organisms to brew a 5-gallon batch of beer and keep some aside for lab analysis if the beer turned out well.

The first 5-gallon batch I called “Ordinary Wild” (a pilot batch under the Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC umbrella) because the base beer is about as simple as you can get. One type of malted barley base malt, one hop for a balance of bittering, and the wild yeast mixed culture. Lucky for me, Ordinary Wild turned out to be a truly wonderful beer. So what to do next? Well, time to brew a 1-barrel batch with the wild yeast mixed culture for BCT Brewing Project, and take the mixed culture sample down to White Labs in San Diego for analysis and banking,

First test batch with the mixed culture, Ordinary Wild
First test batch with the mixed culture, Ordinary Wild

The 1-barrel batch I called “Cali Native”. It was my typical grains for a hoppy Pale Ale, slightly aggressive hop bittering, a nice bit of Sorachi Ace hops for dry hopping, and the mixed culture with Wild yeast. Cali Native was frankly a fantastic beer, evidenced by the fact that it sold faster than any beer yet at BCT Brewing Project.

Meanwhile White Labs has isolated the predominant organisms in the mixed culture and had them genetically sequenced. They (and I as well) are surprised to find that there are (but for insignificant numbers) predominantly two organisms. A very large percentage being a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, and the second being a strain of Lactobacillus casei. As far as yeast for brewing goes, I hit the jackpot – a wild Sacc strain from my own back yard. I have my very own native house yeast that the lab tech at White Labs named “Beancurdturtle Sacc” (WLP5179).

WLP5179 Beancurdturtle Sacc Yeast, one barrel pitch
WLP5179 Beancurdturtle Sacc Yeast, one barrel pitch

But will Beancurdturtle Sacc (without the Lactobacillus casei) have all of the great characters that made Cali Native such a fantastic beer? Only way to know is to make a beer designed to be all about Dat Yeast. Similar to Ordinary Wild – one malt and one hop – and ferment it with the Wild Sacc isolate to see what we get. This beer is done fermenting, and tastes off the fermenter are very promising – meaning very delicious. It will go in kegs this week, and be on draft this coming Saturday February 27th.

I’m very excited about Wild in the Sacc. It totally embodies the BCT/Beancurdturtle brewing philosophy – nothing fancy, something special. Beancurdturtle Sacc expresses lots of citrus characters, peachy chardonnay aromas, an earthy “farmhouse” character, and drops for a beer of amazing clarity even unfiltered. I do hope you’ll enjoy this beer very much as this is the simplest representation I will brew using Beancurdturtle Sacc.

As you might expect, I’m already formulating more exciting ways to use Beancurdturtle Sacc in future beers.

Cheers!
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=BCT=

Captain Jack Turtle, by BCT Brewing Project.
Captain Jack Turtle, by BCT Brewing Project.

Do you have a Tio Xevie? I have a Tio Xevie - that's "Uncle Xavier" in Spanish. When I was a little five year old half Mexican dude visiting family in East LA we went to Tio Xevie's house. We sat in his kitchen, at an ice-cube patterned Formica topped table, on a black and white checkerboard linoleum tile floor. Tio Xevie turned on the gas at an old stove top, struck a wooden match and lit the burner, then tossed a few tortillas right on the grate. They would warm and get a few roasty black freckles - then he would reach in the fire with his bare hand, pick them up (I was 5, it was amazing) and flip them.

You got a paper napkin in front of you - and a stick of butter with half the wrapping ripped off was in the center of the table. Tio Xevie would toss a steaming tortilla on the napkin. You hold the stick of butter by the wrapped end and blot the naked end on the tortilla. Then you roll the tortilla and eat it - butter dripping down your hands, some on and some off the napkin. If you were lucky, and it was chilly, you might get some champurrado. Champurrado is Mexican hot chocolate. It's got bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, and a bit of corn flour to thicken it. Delicious rich stuff.

So what's my Tio Xevie, tortillas, and champurrado got to do with a Russian Imperial Stout? Well I was preparing Captain Jack Turtle - a Russian Imperial Stout with cocoa, vanilla bean, and cinnamon - for transfer to kegs last night. I took the usual in-process taste test and was reminded of champurrado, then the memory of Tio Xevie's kitchen came to me.

Do you have a Tio Xevie? Everyone should have a Tio Xevie. But just in case you don't - I've got a Russian Imperial Stout for you that is nearly as rich as my memory of Tio Xevie.

We'll be tapping Captain Jack Turtle this Saturday December 12th at the BCT Brewing Project tasting room. Just in time for the winter holidays. You can have a glass at the brewery, or take a growler home for your holiday feast - and when you do enjoy it, raise your glass and say "Un brindis por Tio Xevie."

¡Salud!
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=BCT=

In August of 2016 we poured the last glass of BCT Brewing Project beer. Though the BCT Brewing Project is no longer a thing, we designed all of the beers, and we still design award winning beer for craft breweries internationally.

A wee keg of The Dub, by BCT Brewing Project.
A wee keg of The Dub, by BCT Brewing Project.

Did I say I'm not a big fan of most pumpkin Holiday beer? I mean, it's Ok if you like them - everyone has their thing. But I've only found a few that I like. But then what do you do if you're not a fan of pumpkin beer, but you want a good holiday beverage?

Well, there's a few holiday seasonals that I do like, and there's a few all year beers that fit the theme as well. The Dub for example is not brewed as a holiday beer, but it fits the need. It's a rich, American tilted version of the Belgian Dubbel style with aromas and flavors like brown bread, caramel, a bit of cocoa, molasses, dried dark fruit, and subtle spiciness. It's a comfortable quaff any time, and it'll do for damn sure during the holidays.

I kegged a batch up last night. It will be on draft on Friday to kick off the Halloween weekend. And I couldn't resist packaging up a 2.5 gallon keg to take home. I like it. You're going to like it. Come on down on Friday and for the next several weeks to get you some.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!
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In August of 2016 we poured the last glass of BCT Brewing Project beer. Though the BCT Brewing Project is no longer a thing, we designed all of the beers, and we still design award winning beer for craft breweries internationally.

So, I think it's time. I did the actual count and it works out to four medals in respected international judging against commercial craft brewers from all over the world, awarded to beers I have designed.

At the risk of appearing egotistical, I'm going to run down the list (up to September 25th 2015) of commercially released beers, and the awards and distinctions associated with beers that I have designed. Some were architected by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC then brewed as collaborations with commercial breweries in Spain. Some are designed and brewed by my very own little self - and served in the tasting room - at the BCT Brewing Project in Riverside California.

Collaborations:
Valencia Saison - Saison. A collaboration brewed in Spain by Premium Beers from Spain (available in the US)
29 Daniel - Wine barrel aged Porter. A collaboration brewed and barrel aged in Spain by Mateo & Bernabé and Friends (available in the US)
• Thirsty Dog Saison - Organic Saison with herbs. A collaboration brewed in Islas Canarias by Tierra De Perros
• Parking Beer C Murciélago - Imperial IPA. A collaboration brewed in Spain with Mateo & Bernabé and Friends
• Parking Beer C Pelícano - White IPA. A collaboration brewed in Spain with Mateo & Bernabé and Friends
Café Olé - Coffee Porter. A collaboration brewed in Spain with Cerveses Spigha
Rosita White IPA - A collaboration brewed in Spain with Cerveses La Gardènia

BCT Brewing Project Beers:
Robin's Red - Irish Red Ale (gluten free). Core beer
• Sexy Mexican - Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale. Specialty Beer
Double White IPA - Imperial / Double IPA. Specialty Beer
Giniper White - White IPA. Super specialty Beer
• Super Blonde - American Blonde Ale. One time brew

Medals in International Competition:
• Bronze Medal, 2015 World Beer Awards - 29 Daniel
• Silver Medal, 2015 Dublin Craft Beer Cup - Rosita White IPA
• Bronze Medal, 2014 Dublin Craft Beer Cup - Valencia Saison
• Bronze Medal, 2015 International Beer Challenge - 29 Daniel

Distinctions - the customer speaks:
• Highest rated Porter brewed in Spain, untappd.com - 29 Daniel
• 2nd Highest rated Porter brewed in Spain, untappd.com - Café Olé
• Highest rated (stays in top 3) Saison brewed in Spain, untappd.com - Valencia Saison

There's more beers to come for sure - watch our web pages and facebook pages. And let's keep our fingers crossed for more awards and distinctions.
Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC - Web Facebook
BCT Brewing Project - Web Facebook

Cheers!
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