Champagne Splits

drew's picture

The first article I ever wrote for Zymurgy was "Et Tu, Brut: Brewing the Champagne of Beers". It was featured on the cover of the May/June 2006 issue (AHA Membership required to read). The whole article was about making Champagne style beers that were inspired by the appearance of beers like Mahleur Brut and Deus de Bosteels. Those are some great beers with prices to stop you in your tracks! Naturally, being homebrewers, Kent Fletcher and I figured that we should be able to do it ourselves!

Here's the basic write-up of the whole process - Methode Champenoise for Beer in the Brewing Techniques section of the Maltose Falcons website. I tend to think of it as very simple - you're basically just storing the bottles and then cracking them open for 30 seconds!

Methode Champenoise 30 Second Summary

  1. Make the beer and ferment to dryness
  2. Bottle the beer in champagne bottles with a spicy sugar syrup (Champagne bottles with caps)
  3. Put the bottles in a case - cap side down and lay the box on it's side. Wait a few weeks.
  4. After waiting, slowly tilt the box upright over a few weeks, give the bottles a twist everytime you move the box. The end state is bottles resting upside down on their caps in the box.
  5. Chill the bottles overnight in the fridge
  6. In the morning, mix acetone and dry ice in a metal pan. Narrow pans work best. Use a thermometer and watch the temperature drop to -20 to -40F
  7. Take a bottle and hold it, cap side down, for 30-60 seconds to freeze a plug of ice in the neck.
  8. Brace the bottle against your leg, point away from anything damagable and pop the cap
  9. When the ice and yeast plug fly - squirt in a little extra beer / liquor / spicy sugar solution and cork and cage. (We use the plastic hammer in corks)

So, now that the recap is done - what's the deal with the brut today? Why talk about it now? Because on Monday, Fletch and I will be re-brewing the classic Brut du Faucon! But this time, we're going to be going about it in my splitting ways so that we can produce multiple Bruts from a single 15 gallon batch. Here's the base recipe:

Brut du Forty
For 16.5 gallons at 1.088, 21 IBUs, 5 SRM, 10% ABV (before bottling), 90 minute boil

Grain/Sugar
30 lbs Pilsner Malt
1 lbs Aromatic Malt
1 lbs Caramel Pils (8L)
4 lbs Sugar

Hops
1.25 oz Magnum 12%AA 60 minutes

Hops (5 gallon Final Chill)
1.00 oz Pacific Jade 9%AA 10 minute whirlpool stand
1.00 oz Citra 14.4%AA 10 minute whirlpool stand

Mash
148F for 60 minutes

Yeast
Wyeast 3787 and a few others TBD

And then the magic - not only will be doing multiple yeasts - but I feel like we'll be pulling my classic trick of - Chill one part of the wort and stop! Toss in a bunch of hops and let them steep as a knockout addition. Then chill that part and boom - we have Brut Regular and Brut IPA! Updates later when we're closer!