Saturday, November 10, 2018

Christmas Ale 2018

Last year, I brewed a Christmas Ale extract kit from the good folks at Label Peelers. It made a really good Christmas Ale, especially after I dialed down the hops.

This time, I want something more Belgian-like. I'm aiming for a nice malty base with a hint of chocolate. I'll use Magnum hops to bitter it, but Bramling Cross hops for flavor and aroma. Bramling Cross can impart fruity, citrus, blackcurrant, loganberry, gooseberry, and lemon notes to a beer - which I think will blend nicely with the spice mix. I'm planning to use almost the same spice mix as the Label Peelers kit from last year, but doubling the amount of cinnamon stick used to punch that up and dialing back the ginger by half. I'm also adding some nutmeg.

Since I have a packet of Wyeast 3522 Ardennes yeast on hand, I'll use that for fermentation. This yeast is known to produce a balance of fruity esters and spicy phenols which will hopefully go well with the beer. Being a fan of Belgian style beers, I'm curious to see how it will turn out.


7 pounds 2-row Pale Malt
8 ounces Crystal 60L Malt
8 ounces British Pale Chocolate Malt
8 ounces Crystal 80L Malt
0.15 ounces Magnum hops @ 13.5% AA (60 min.)
0.50 ounces Bramling Cross hops @ 6.5% AA (15 min.)
0.50 ounces Bramling Cross hops @ 6.5% AA (5 min.)
1 tsp. Allspice (20 min.)
1/4 tsp. Cardamom, ground (20 min.)
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg (20 min.)
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, ground (20 min.)
0.65 ounces Sweet Orange Peel (20 min.)
1/8 ounce Ground Ginger (20 min.)
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B (5 min.)
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 packet Wyeast 3522 Ardennes ale yeast
3 gallons plus 40 ounces of starting water, carbon filtered

The Picobrew Recipe Crafter estimates that the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 30.C Winter Seasonal Beer
  • Original Gravity: 1.082 SG (actual was 1.059 SG, but volume was high)
  • Final Gravity: 1.016 SG
  • IBUs: 20
  • SRM: 27
  • ABV: 8.5%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was a little over 3 gallons)
The mash schedule will be:
  • Dough In at 102F for 20 minutes
  • Ferulic Acid rest at 113F for 20 minutes
  • Beta Glucan rest at 120F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 156F for 30 minutes
  • Mash at 159F for 60 minutes (aiming for a sweeter, full-bodied brew)
  • Mash out at 175F for 10 minutes
Boil Schedule

The boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes: Magnum hops
  • 20 minutes: Allspice, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Orange Peel, Ginger
  • 15 minutes: Bramling Cross
  • 5 minutes: Bramling Cross and Brewtan B
Fermentation and Bottling

The wort will be chilled using a counter-flow chiller to as low a temp as it can get, most likely around 77F given past experience (note: actual temp ended up being 84F). That's a bit hotter than the yeast cares for, but I'll need time for the package to swell up before pitching it anyway, so perhaps by then the beer will have cooled down. If not, I'll wait for it to get down into the yeast's comfort zone before pitching to avoid generating any fusels.

The fermentation plan is:
  • Days 1-3: Hold at 75F (just under the yeast's recommended upper range)
  • Days 4-7 (or until Final Gravity is reached): Increase to 80F (to encourage ester formation, cleanup, and a finished fermentation)
  • Treat with Biofine or Gelatin Finings and cold-crash 3-7 days
I'll plan to bottle with 5 carbonation drops ("high carbonation") per 12-ounce bottle. I'll bottle-condition it at 76F for two weeks, then allow it to spend additional time at ambient basement temperatures until closer to Christmas.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

11/10/2018:  I must have measured my starting water wrong. The beer went into the fermenter at a gravity of 1.059 SG, a temperature of 84F, and worked out to a little over 3 gallons in volume.

11/11/2018: It's roughly 14 hours since I pitched the yeast into the wort. Gravity has already dropped to 1.046 SG, representing about 22% attenuation and 1..7% ABV. The blow-off tube is burping CO2 off pretty steadily. The temperature control system has held the temp in the 74-75F range since about 3am when the gravity first showed signs of change.

11/12/2018: We're somewhere around 33 hours since pitching as of this update. Gravity is down to 1.017 SG, which is a point above the expected final gravity for the beer - though with the lower starting gravity I expect it will probably go lower for final gravity as well. In any case, the apparent attenuation at this point is 69.5% and the ABV is 5.4%. The yeast reportedly has an attenuation of 72-76% (depending, of course, on the wort and fermentation conditions) so we may see it go lower.

11/14/2018: Gravity seems to be holding in the 1.015-1.017 SG range, which is right at the expected gravity for the batch. It's been at this range for two days so far.

11/17/2018: The gravity has been holding steady at 1.017 SG, so I decided to bottle it today with four small carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation). The beer is sitting in the 76F "hot box" to carbonate. A sample from the fermenter revealed a thin, mildly spiced beer that was certainly pleasant enough to drink but nothing like I hoped. Most likely that is because the beer came out way below the intended original gravity. I'll need to re-brew to see how it "should have " turned out.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

2018 Pumpkin Ale 1.0

My wife and I enjoy a good pumpkin ale. My personal favorite is Hoppin' Frog's Frog Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale. I also enjoy Heavy Seas Great'r Pumpkin (a barrel aged pumpkin ale) and Southern Tier's Pumking. I found a recipe recently that looked promising, so I scaled it down to fit the Zymatic and ordered the ingredients. Tonight, I brewed it.


4.25 pounds of Two-Row Pale Malt
7 ounces of Munich Light Malt
7 ounces of Belgian Caravienne
4 ounces of Carafoam
2 ounces of Biscuit Malt
4.5 ounces of Wildflower Honey added to mash water
15 ounces of canned Organic Pumpkin
0.5 ounces of Crystal hops @ 3.5% AA (60 min.)
0.5 ounces of Crystal hops @ 3.5% AA (20 min.)
0.25 ounces of Crystal hops @ 3.5% AA (10 min.)
5 grams pumpkin pie spice at 20 min.
5 grams pumpkin pie spice at 10 min.
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/8 tsp. Super Irish Moss (20 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the grain at the start of mash
1.5 tsp. Amylase Enzyme in the grain at the start of mash
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash
3 gallons plus 16 ounces of starting water with the honey dissolved into it

According to the Zymatic recipe crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 29.B Fruit and Spice Beer
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.060 SG (1.055 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
  • SRM: 7
  • IBUs: 18
  • Estimated ABV: 6.7% without the addition of pumpkin
The mash schedule was configured to:
  • Dough In at 102F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 113F for 15 minutes
  • Mash at 120F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 152F for 30 minutes
  • Mash at 159F for 60 minutes
  • Mash Out at 175F for 10 minutes
My goal is a less-fermentable mash and more residual sugar to balance the spice and squash flavors, with an aim toward tasting more like a pie and less like a beer. We'll see how that goes.

The boil schedule will be:
  • 60 minutes: Crystal hops (0.5 ounces)
  • 20 minutes: Crystal hops (0.5 ounces), yeast nutrient, Super Irish Moss, and spice mix
  • 10 minutes: Crystal hops (0.25 ounces), spice mix
The beer will then be run through my counter flow chiller into a sanitized fermenter. It will be chilled further down to the low end of the range for US-05 yeast, then a full packet of US-05 pitched on top of the wort. 

The fermentation schedule will be at least one week at 66F, waiting until the gravity holds at the same figure for 3+ days, at which point I'll add finings and cold-crash the beer for a few days before bottling. 

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

11/4/2018: This is the first time I've tried doing a pumpkin beer in the Zymatic. The style can sometimes be a challenge in a brewing system when canned pumpkin is used, as it is usually finely pureed and can "gunk up" the brewing system if you don't keep an eye on it. I stirred it in with the dry grain prior to mashing and added some amylase enzyme to help convert more of the pumpkin's starches into sugars to aid in raising the gravity of the beer.

Despite adding amylase and pH 5.2 stabilizer during the mash, the gravity on this batch came out about 5 points lower than expected. Wort came out of the counter flow chiller at approximately 77F. I pitched the yeast at that point, directly onto the wort, as 77F is a recommended rehydration temperature for it. However, I've configured the temperature control system to hold the beer at 66F, so it immediately began cooling the beer.

11/5/2018: It's about 24 hours since the yeast was pitched. Temperature has held at 66F. Gravity has dropped from 1.055 SG down to 1.051. That's 7.3% attenuation and 0.53% ABV so far.

11/6/2018: Gravity is down to 1.032 SG. Temperature holding at 66F.

11/7/2018: Gravity has dropped to 1.018 SG. Temperature at 66F.

11/8/2018: Gravity is now 1.014 SG. I turned the temperature up to 70F to help the beer finish out.

11/9/2018: Gravity is down to 1.013 SG. Temperature control was turned off overnight and the beer is holding at 69F. This represents apparent attenuation of 76.4% and ABV of 5.5%.

11/11/2018: While the gravity and temperature have held steady the last few days, there is still an impressive amount of yeast on top of the beer - perhaps between a half and three-quarters of an inch thick (the fermenter in this case is clear so I can see that without opening it). This suggests that the yeast are still active and working, so I am leaving the fermenter alone for a few more days to see if the yeast drops out of suspension. A sample removed from the fermenter showed a good squash aroma with a mild spice aroma. The flavor was good, but I felt like it could use more spice. I'll probably add more at bottling.

11/14/2018: The gravity has been holding very steady now for for several days, so it was time to bottle. Since I'd hoped to serve this at a family gathering next week, I decided to try force carbonating a gallon of the batch to have ready for that, and bottle the rest. The bottles were primed with four carbonation tablets each (medium carbonation). The forced-carbonation vessel was set to 11 PSI to get approximately 2.5 volumes of CO2 in a day or so.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Belgian Golden Strong Ale 1.0

There are few Belgian beer styles that I haven't tried to brew. The Golden Strong Ale is one of those. It's a fairly basic style in terms of the ingredients. It's pilsner malt, sugar, Styrian Goldings hops, and Czech Saaz hops. The yeast should deliver fruity esters but not too many spicy phenols.

According to the Wyeast web site, Wyeast 1762 is one of the recommended strains for Belgian Golden Strong Ales. Their web site says that it's a relatively clean fermenter that produces dried fruit esters when fermented at higher temperatures or in a high-gravity wort. Wyeast 1388 is their recommended choice for the style, but 1762 is also recommended. Since I happened to have 1762 on-hand, I used it.


6.75 pounds of Swaen Pilsner Malt
1.72 pounds of Corn Sugar (dissolved in starting water
3.5 gallons of starting water
1.1 ounces of Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (60 min.)
1.1 ounces of Styrian Goldings hops @ 2.8% AA (7 min.)
1.1 ounces of Czech Saaz hops @ 3.0% AA (6 min.)
1/2 vial of White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 packet of Wyeast 1762 past its expiration, raised up in two 1 liter starters

According to the PicoBrew Recipe Crafter, this beer should have the following characteristics:

  • BJCP Style: 25.C Belgian Golden Strong Ale
  • Original Gravity: 1.087 SG (1.074 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.022 SG (1.010 SG actual - as of 11/1/2018)
  • IBU: 22
  • SRM: 4
  • ABV: 8.5% (8.3% actual - as of 11/1/2018)
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons

The mash schedule for this batch is a modified version of the PicoBrew High-Efficiency Mash Profile, intended to take care of beta glucans and maybe dial up ferulic acid for the yeast:

  • Dough In at 102F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 120F for 15 minutes (beta glucan and ferulic acid)
  • Mash at 149F for 60 minutes
  • Mash at 152F for 30 minutes
  • Mash Out at 175F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No hops additions (although a 90-minute boil might not be needed to drive off the DMS that's common from pilsner malt, I figured it might help increase the original gravity and give the beer a chance to drop a little clearer)
  • 65 minutes: Styrian Goldings
  • 7 minutes: Styrian Goldings
  • 6 minutes: Czech Saaz
The planned fermentation schedule:
  • Chill to 65F after brewing
  • Free-rise from 65F to "as high as" 80F (the yeast's optimum is 65-75F)
  • When gravity reaches 1.025 SG or lower, raise temp to 75F and hold there until gravity stops dropping.
Bottling will be with 5 carbonation drops per bottle (high carbonation).

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

10/27/2018: The Zymatic glitched a bit during the mash, with the temperature rising to 150F and then suddenly dropping down to 149F before bouncing back up to the 149F it was supposed to be. Whatever happened seemed to self-correct before I got to it to check on it. 

When I went down to check on it during mash out, I found a surprise. It had apparently overflowed the step filter, the drip tray, and leaked around the two plastic bins I'd put under the drip tray to catch any overflow. One of those plastic bins had about an inch of wort in it. The other had none. There was wort across part of the table top, dripping onto the floor, running across the basement floor, under a trash can and shelving unit, and puddled near the drain. Apparently quite a lot of wort had leaked while I was away from the machine. It even looked like some wort might have been dripping out of the machine itself. I spent quite a while mopping that mess up.

Original gravity registered as 1.074 SG and the starting temperature was 74F. I drained most of the wort from a 1 liter starter, then swirled the rest and added it to the fermenter. I'm hoping there's enough live yeast to ferment the beer. We'll find out soon. If not, I have a fresh package I can use.

10/28/2018: The yeast appears to have grown in the starter (or been supplemented/replaced with wild yeast) as the gravity has been dropping steadily since about 3 hours after the yeast slurry was pitched. As of this writing, it's down to 1.052 SG from the initial 1.074 SG. That's roughly 30% attenuation and 2.9% ABV in under 24 hours.

10/29/2018: The gravity is now down to 1.033 SG and continues to decline. That's roughly 53% attenuation and 5.1% ABV in about 48 hours.

10/30/2018: The gravity is down to 1.016 SG. I raised the temp to 76F to get it to finish out fully.

10/31/2018:  The gravity has dropped to 1.012 SG today, and the temp is down to 73F. That's 82.2% attenuation and 7.9% ABV.

11/1/2018:  The gravity is down to 1.010 SG. That's 86.3% attenuation and 8.3% ABV. It looks like the gravity may finally be bottoming out.

11/3/2018: Gravity is down to 1.008 SG, which represents 89% attenuation and 8.5% ABV.

11/4/2018: Since I have it on-hand and have never used it, I decided to add Biofine Clear to this batch to see if it will drop nice and bright for me. I added a teaspoon to start, and may add more if needed later.

11/08/2018: I moved the fermenter into my mini-fridge to cold-crash and clear up.

11/14/2018: The fermenter was removed from the mini fridge and the beer bottled using five small carbonation tablets per bottle (high carbonation). The bottles were moved to my 76F hot box to carbonate

Sunday, October 21, 2018

British Old Ale 1.0

One of the themes in 2018 for me has been to brew some new styles. My approach is to read the available information in the BJCP guidelines, online forums, magazines, and anywhere else I can find it. I'll study the recipes to look for common themes and ratios, try to imagine how those recipes might taste as finished beers, and then come up with my own version.

The British Old Ale style is one that I've liked when I've found a rare example here in the USA. Since I have never brewed one, today seemed to be the right time to try.

My goal here is to create a darker-colored, higher-gravity Old Ale that's balanced (between malt and hops) and complex enough to make you want to sip it thoughtfully.


8.25 pounds of a mix of Belgian Pale Ale and Swaen Pale Malt (see note below)
2 ounces of British Medium Crystal Malt (50-60L)
2 ounces of Belgian Special B Malt
1 ounce of Carafa III Special Malt
8 ounces of Lyle's Black Treacle (added to starting water)
1 ounce of Fuggles hops @ 4.5% AA (60 min.)
1 ounce of Fuggles hops @ 4.5% AA (45 min.)
1 ounce of Fuggles hops @ 4.5% AA (5 min.)
1/2 tsp. Gypsum in the mash
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the mash
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient with the last Fuggles addition
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B with the last Fuggles addition
3.4 gallons of starting water (mixed with the treacle)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 packet Lallemand London ESB dry yeast

(Note: I wanted to use Maris Otter as the base, but I was out of it. The other malts needed to be used up, and were European malts - so they were as close as I could get. I used the Special B malt for the same reason - it was close to the British malt I wanted to use in its color, and should contribute a nice flavor to the finished beer. I used Carafa III as a replacement for Black Patent Malt to color the beer.)

According to the PicoBrew Recipe Crafter, this beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 17.B Old Ale
  • Original Gravity: 1.092 SG (1.067 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.025 SG (1.014 SG actual)
  • IBUs: 45
  • SRM: 22.9
  • ABV: 8.9% (7.0% actual)
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (1.9 gallons actual)
The mash schedule will be a modified version of the Zymatic High-Efficiency Mash:
  • Dough In at 102F for 20 minutes
  • Step 1 at 120F for 15 minutes
  • Step 2 at 152F for 60 minutes
  • Step 3 at 159F for 20 minutes
  • Mash Out at 175F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes: Fuggles addition
  • 45 minutes: Fuggles addition
  • 5 minutes: Fuggles, BrewTan and Yeast Nutrient additions
The wort will then be pumped through a counter-flow chiller into a fermenter and cooled further to a yeast-safe temperature before the yeast and Clarity Ferm are added.

The Lallemand ESB yeast likes to be between 65F and 72F. I'm planning to hold it at 68F until it's attenuated at least 60% of the sugar away, and then will raise it to 72F to finish out. I'm expecting this could take two weeks given the relatively high gravity of the brew.

I'll then bottle it with a low or medium carbonation level and allow it to age a bit before serving.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

10/21/2018:  During the boil, the keg post between the Zymatic and the keg became clogged, slowing the flow of wort back into the keg during the boil and almost completely stopping it by the last three minutes of the boil. I came back to the machine to find the grain bed mostly full of wort. I drained the machine and pumped the wort into the fermenter, disappointed to find that there was less than two gallons and a very low gravity. I'll have to re-brew this beer to know how this recipe might really turn out. I'll pitch yeast into this one anyway and see what we end up with.

It's possible the back-up into the grain bed might have extracted tannins from the grain husks and given the beer a nasty tannin edge. It may have prevented the wort from flowing properly through the hop cages, resulting in over-bittering or under-bittering. Even if the bittering was right on target, the gravity of the beer came up 25 points low, so it could be way over-bittered for the original gravity. I won't really know until fermentation is over.

10/29/2018:  Gravity is down to 1.014 SG and is starting to level off. That's about 78% attenuation and 7% ABV.

10/31/2018: Gravity is currently holding at 1.014-1.015 SG and the temperature is holding at 66F.

11/3/2018: Gravity has been holding at 1.014 SG for a while now. That appears to be its final gravity. Time to bottle it and give it time to condition.

11/4/2018: The beer was bottled today, using three small carbonation tablets per bottle. Yield was only 21 bottles.

2018 Dubbel 3.0

I've brewed plenty of Belgian-style Dubbels over the years, from a variety of recipe sources. None of them has ever really blown me away. If you've ever had a cellared bottle of Bornem's "Double" then you know what my ideal Belgian Dubbel is like. If I could brew something close to that, I'd be happy and have my "house" Dubbel recipe.

My goal is a deep ruby color with a lingering whipped-creamy head. The aroma should suggest noble hops, a touch of caramel, and dark fruit. The flavor should be slightly sweet, a pilsner malt backbone with hints of chocolate and plenty of prune, raisin, and plum flavors. It should finish clean with no lingering cloying sweetness and no lingering hop bitterness.

With these goals in mind, I've started from the ground up for this recipe. I'm using a base of Pilsner malt and Munich to provide some sweetness. To that, I'm adding Special B malt and Dark Candi Sugar rocks to provide the dark fruit flavors, Caramunich for some caramel, and Belgian Chocolate malt to darken it and add the chocolate notes. The Ardennes yeast strain will hopefully bring in some fruity and spicy notes. The Clarity Ferm is something I typically add to ensure that a friend of ours who is gluten-intolerant can enjoy the beers I brew.


4 pounds Belgian Pilsner Malt
2 pounds Munich I Malt
6 ounces Special B Malt
6 ounces Dark Candi Sugar rocks (dissolved in starting water)
4 ounces Caramunich Malt
1 ounce Belgian Chocolate Malt
1 ounce Styrian Celeia hops pellets @ 2.8% AA (60 min.)
0.51 ounces Czech Saaz hops pellets @ 3.0% AA (15 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (15 min.)
1 packet Wyeast Belgian Ardennes 3522 yeast
3 gallons plus 32 ounces starting water in the keg

According to the PicoBrew recipe crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 26.B Belgian Dubbel
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.068 SG (1.071 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.018 SG
  • IBUs: 20
  • SRM: 29
  • ABV: 6.6%
The mash schedule will be:
  • Dough In at 102F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 120F for 15 minutes
  • Mash at 159F for 60 minutes
  • Mash Out at 175F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule will be:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: Styrian Celeia hops added
  • 15 minutes: Czech Saaz hops, yeast nutrient, and Brewtan B added
The wort will then be chilled to a yeast-safe temperature and the yeast pitched into it. The Ardennes yeast likes temperatures in the 65F to 76F range, but I've heard stories that it does well even up into the lower 80's. My plan is to let it free-rise and only to introduce cooling if the beer climbs into the 80F range.

Post-Brewing Notes and Observations

10/20/2018: The brew finished 3 SG points higher than anticipated. It came out of the chiller at 82F, which was a bit high for the yeast, so I left it to cool a while before I was comfortable pitching the yeast. The yeast packages were a bit old and didn't seem to be swelling anyway, so waiting a while would give the yeast a chance to "wake up" if it was going to. I set aside some dry yeast to use if the liquid yeast didn't make it. I plan to give the yeast at least 24 hours to become active before pitching an alternative yeast.

11/1/2018: I bloomed a half-teaspoon of gelatin in distilled water, heated it to the 155-160F range, and treated the beer before cold-crashing it.

11/4/2018: I bottled the beer today, using 5 carbonation tablets (high carbonation) per bottle. Yield was 22 bottles. The bottles were placed in a 76F "hot box" to bottle condition.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Scofflaw Basement IPA Clone 1.0

At the BrewDog Annual General Mayhem (AGM) event in Columbus this year, I had the opportunity to meet the brewers from Scofflaw Brewing in Atlanta. I enjoyed all of their beers I tried, but one that stuck with me was their "Basement IPA", due to its sweetness and intense fruit flavors. The Scofflaw representatives said they brewed a sweet IPA because the market in Atlanta seemed to prefer it, as it was reminiscent of sweet tea. I reached out to ask if they'd share their recipe, but got no response.

I decided to take a shot at cloning it myself, just for fun. From their web site, I knew that it contained 2-row Pale Malt, Acidulated Malt, and Carafoam Malt. It is hopped with Chinook and Citra hops. It's a 7.5% ABV beer with a reported 40 IBUs. Given that the bitterness in Basement isn't particularly intense or harsh, I suspect it's late-hopped more like a New England IPA than a traditional West Coast IPA. For that reason, I'm not starting my hops additions until the last 30 minutes of the boil. This should provide a smoother bitterness and intensify the fruit flavors from the hops. I'll mash for 90 minutes, half at 152F for fermentability and half at 156F for some residual sweetness (hopefully). I doubt it will be a perfect clone, but will serve more as a starting point for trying to dial in a better recipe.


6 pounds Rahr 2-Row Malt (82.7%)
1 pound Carafoam Malt (13.8%)
4 ounces Acidulated Malt (3.5%)
0.20 ounces Chinook hops @ 12% AA (30 min.)
0.55 ounces Citra hops @ 13% AA (15 min.)
0.45 ounces Citra hops @ 13% AA (10 min.)
0.05 ounces Chinook hops @ 12% AA (10 min.)
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash water
1/4 tsp. Gypsum in the mash water
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil with the first Citra addition
1 packet Safale S-04 English Ale yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm (for gluten reduction)
3 gallons filtered starting water plus 30 ounces *
(* If you brew this, I recommend reducing the starting water to 8 ounces more than the recipe crafter recommends. 3 gallons plus 30 ounces was way too much.)

(If you're wondering why the small amount of Chinook in the 10-minute addition, that's because I didn't want to open another ounce of Citra just to hit my planned 0.50 ounce final addition amount.)

The PicoBrew recipe crafter estimates the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 21.A American IPA
  • Original Gravity: 1.074 SG (1.069 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.015 SG (1.007 SG actual)
  • IBUs: 39
  • SRM: 5
  • Estimated ABV: 7.6% (8.2% actual)
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual ended up less, see below)
Mash Schedule:
  • Dough In at 102F for 20 minutes
  • Rest at 120F for 15 minutes
  • Heat to 152F
  • Mash at 152F for 45 minutes
  • Mash at 156F for 45 minutes
  • Heat to 175F
  • Mash out at 175F for 10 minutes
A 75-minute boil is used,with this schedule:
  • 75 minutes: No additions
  • 30 minutes: Chinook
  • 15 minutes: Citra and Brewtan B
  • 10 minutes: Citra plus Chinook
The wort will be pumped through a counterflow chiller and then cooled to 66F before yeast is pitched.

I plan to let the beer free-ferment in a 68F basement, which is within the yeast's range.

I plan to bottle it with 4 small carbonation drops (medium carbonation) per bottle and hold it at 70F until the beer is carbonated.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

10/05/2018:  It seems like there was too much water added again, as the mash compartment of the step filter was full to the lid. I'll need to reduce starting water next time around.

There was a fair amount of foaming near the end of Dough In and during the mash, but no spilling outside the drip tray.

As the Zymatic was heating the wort to boiling, it generated a Fatal Error #1 (heat loop inconsistency). After some diagnosis, I learned that the grain compartment overflow apparently clogged the duck valve and prevented the system from pulling wort out of the tray. I unclogged the valve and drained the tray, then removed the hops cages and cleaned the grain and remaining wort out of the tray. I then restarted the brew from the Mash Out step (although there was no grain in it). Next time I need to reduce the amount of starting water, perhaps to only 3-4 ounces more than the recipe software calculates.

Volume was probably low. I didn't measure it, but I'm estimating 2 gallons. Original Gravity came out at 1.069 SG instead of the expected 1.074. Yeast was pitched once the wort cooled to 75F, which was around midnight.

10/06/2018: This morning, I noticed the gravity had already dropped to about 1.060 SG and the temperature had only dropped to 73F, which is near the upper end of the yeast's optimum range. I moved the entire fermenter into my mini-fridge for 2-3 hours to cool it back down into the lower end of the yeast's range to avoid stressing it and introducing off flavors.

10/07/2018: The temperature climbed to 74F overnight, so I moved the fermenter back into the mini-fridge to cool down. I removed it when the beer was at 66F and the gravity had dropped to 1.012 SG, which is lower than the expected final gravity. That puts the current ABV at 7.5% and the apparent attenuation at over than 81%. By midnight, the gravity was still holding at 1.012 SG and the temperature was holding at 69F. A taste of the beer from the fermenter showed a mild sweetness and strong hoppy fruit notes which reminded me of the actual Scofflaw beer. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

10/08/2018: The temperature is now up to 70F. Gravity is reading 1.009 SG today, well below the estimated 1.015 final gravity.

10/09/2018: The temperature is holding at 70F. Gravity has bounced back and forth between 1.008 SG and 1.009 for the last day or two.

10/13/2018: I bloomed and heated a teaspoon of gelatin in distilled water, added it to the fermenter, and placed the fermenter in the mini-fridge to cold crash. I'll bottle in a week or so when it's cleared up a bit.

10/20/2018: The beer was bottled today, using four small carbonation drops per bottle (medium carbonation). Yield was 18 total bottles, owing to losses from the issues during brewing. Final gravity was reported as 1.007 SG by the Tilt Hydrometer.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

BrewDog "IPA is Dead" Mandarina IPA

Despite having had the DIY Dog book of BrewDog's recipes for a while, I've never taken the time to make one of their beers. I decided to change that today, selecting the "IPA is Dead" Mandarina IPA since I had plenty of Mandarina Bavaria hops and (what I thought was) enough Maris Otter malt. As it turned out, I was a little shy on the Maris Otter and had to fill in with some Belgian Pale Ale malt I wanted to use up.

Ingredients (as Brewed)

5 pounds plus 5 ounces Maris Otter Malt (6 pounds 4 ounces was the original recipe)
15 ounces Belgian Pale Ale Malt (not included in the original Brew Dog recipe)
0.75 ounces Mandarina Bavaria Hops pellets @ 9.2% AA (60 min.)
0.80 ounces Mandarina Bavaria Hops pellets @ 9.2% AA (20 min.)
0.85 ounces Mandarina Bavaria Hops pellets @ 9.2% AA (5 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Mash Stabilizer in the mash
1/4 tsp. Brewtab B in the boil (20 min.)
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity ferm for gluten reduction
3 gallons, 40 ounces filtered Dublin Ohio Mash water in keg

According to the PicoBrew recipe crafter, this beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 21.A American IPA
  • Original Gravity: 1.066 SG (actual was 1.056 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.009 SG
  • IBUs: 70
  • SRM: 7
  • ABV: 7.3%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was 2.3-2.4 gallons)
The mash schedule is the PicoBrew High Efficiency Mash Schedule, modified so that the main mash step is 75 minutes at 149F per the Brew Dog recipe.

The boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes: 0.75 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops
  • 20 minutes: 0.80 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops plus 1/4 tsp. Brewtan B
  • 5 minutes: 0.85 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops
Fermentis says the ideal range for the US-05 yeast is 64-82F. Since I'll be pitching a full packet of US-05 into a 2.5 gallon batch, I do not plan to rehydrate the yeast or create a starter. There should be plenty of viable yeast without doing that.  My plan is to hold the beer at 68F, near the lower end of the range, until fermentation is complete. After that, I'll treat with gelatin and cold-crash to brighten the beer before bottling. I'll be aiming for medium carbonation at bottling.

Post-Brew Notes and Comments

09/29/2018: The addition of Belgian Pale Ale malt was a last-minute choice since I was about a pound short of Maris Otter. I chose the Belgian malt because it was closer to something BrewDog might have used in Scotland than a domestic 2-row. 

The PicoBrew recipe crafter recommended 3.22 gallons of staring water, but I decided to go with 3 gallons plus approximately 40 ounces because it seems that in a high-efficiency mash they are sometimes a little short and this causes foaming.  It looked like this starting water amount was about all the machine could hold. I didn't see any overflow but it certainly filled the step filter to its absolute limit. 

Gravity came up about 10 points low on this batch, possibly due to the thinner mash. However, volume also came up low, so that implies a fairly low overall efficiency. One consequence of this is that the beer is likely to seem more bitter than it would have if I'd hit the gravity target. For an IPA that isn't a concern, but for some other styles it could make a big difference.

Wort volume, between 2.25 and 2.5 gallons
The wort came out of the chiller at about 84F, so I let the temperature control system get to work before pitching the yeast or Clarity Ferm. Around midnight the temperature had dropped to a range where it seemed appropriate to add the yeast.

During cleaning, it was clear that wort had overflowed from the mash compartment and carried some kernels of grain into the boil chamber. Given past experience, I don't expect this to create an unpleasant level of tannins in the finished beer as the amount was fairly small.

09/30/2018: It's about 17 hours since the yeast was pitched. Temperature has held at 67F. Gravity has dropped from 1.056 SG down to 1.054 SG, so there is clearly some fermentation going on. If I don't see a significant improvement by Monday evening, I'll pitch another packet of yeast.

10/01/2018: It's approximately 41 hours after pitching. The temperature has held at 67F. The gravity has dropped to 1.043 SG, which is about 23% attenuation. The fermentation has been slower than I've often seen US-05 work, probably because the temperature is being held low in the yeast's range. It will be interesting to see where things are tomorrow.

10/02/2018: The gravity is down to 1.028 SG as of this writing. That's about 50% attenuation and an estimated 3.7% ABV.

10/03/2018: The gravity has dropped to 1.023 SG, 14 points away from the expected FG. The temperature has held at 67F, but I'm planning to raise it up tonight to 70F to help it finish out.

10/05/2018: The gravity is down to 1.009 SG. I've raised the temperature up to 72F to give it more help finishing up. I've seen momentary gravity readings between 1.010 and 1.008 SG over the last few hours so I suspect it's down near its final gravity (FG).

10/06/2018: The gravity is registering 1.008 SG today, a point below the expected final gravity. I turned off the temperature control, mostly to save energy, and will let the beer finish out at ambient temperature before treating with gelatin and cold-crashing it.

10/07/2018: The gravity is reading 1.009 SG today and has been holding steady now for a while. I'm planning to treat the beer with gelatin and cold-crash it before bottling next week.

10/09/2018: The gravity has continued to hold at 1.008-1.009 SG so fermentation appears to be over. As I write this entry, I'm blooming a teaspoon of gelatin in distilled water. I'll use that to clarify the beer while it cold-crashes in the mini-fridge.

10/13/2018: The beer was bottled today with 4 small carbonation tablets per bottle. Yield was 25 bottles. A sample of the beer at bottling tasted much like any Brew Dog beer I've ever had, with a similar flavor profile and bitterness. A hint of mandarin orange flavor comes through in the middle.