Sunday, March 17, 2019

Irish Red Ale 3.0

My last two attempts at an Irish Red Ale were (at least to me) disappointing. The first did not taste all like an Irish Red to me, though it was a very drinkable beer. The second ended up way over volume and therefore came out kind of bland. This time around, I'm babysitting the Brewie+ to make sure I get the results I am looking for.

This recipe began as one of Gordon Strong's, but I've modified it slightly to see if I can get a nice head with long retention and a little more reddish color.

Ingredients

2 pounds, 6 ounces 2-row Pale Malt (Briess)
2 pounds, 6 ounces Simpsons Golden Promise Ale Malt
17 ounces Vienna Malt
8.5 ounces Flaked Corn
2 ounces Roasted Barley
2 ounces Cara-Pils/Dextrine Malt (added for head retention)
5 ounces Caramel 40L
0.5 ounces Melanoidin Malt (added for head retention and color)
0.40 ounces East Kent Goldings Hops Pellets @ 6.1% AA (60 min.)
0.15 ounces East Kent Goldings Hops Pellets @ 6.1% AA (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast nutrient
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (boil)
1/4 Whirlfloc tablet
10 liters mash water (mash thickness approx 1.5 quarts per pound)
5 liters sparge water
4 grams of Gypsum added to the mash water
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1/2 of 1L starter of White Labs WLP004 Irish Ale yeast

BeerSmith provides the following estimates for the beer's qualities:
  • BJCP Style: 15.A Irish Red Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was 10 liters or 2.64 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.058 SG (1.057 SG actual)
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.044 SG (1.064 SG before dilution, 1.044 SG after)
  • Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
  • IBUs: 22.6
  • SRM: 14.0
  • ABV: 5.8%
Mash schedule;
  • Mash in 15 minutes at 104F
  • Mash 45 minutes at 152F
  • Mash 10 minutes at 168F (mash out)
  • Sparge 10 minutes at 168F
Boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: East Kent Goldings (0.40 ounces)
  • 15 minutes: Yeast Nutrient and Brewtan B
  • 10 minutes: East Kent Goldings and Whirlfloc
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 66F
Fermentation schedule:
  • Keep in 60-62F ambient location until FG is reached
  • Cold crash at 35F until clear
Bottling will take place after the above. Bottles will be held in an environment at the upper end of the WLP004 yeast's temperature range.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

03/17/2019:  I "lied" to the Brewie+ and told it we were loading only 2 pounds of grain into the system, so that it would allow me to specify smaller amounts of water than it likes to permit.  Despite this, the Brewie did load more mash and sparge water than I specified. I dipped out and discarded this extra water to ensure a successful result and proper original gravity. A pH reading during the early stage of the mash reported 5.3 to 5.4.

During the boil, my wife told me that she thought she smelled chocolate chip cookies baking, which gives you some idea of how nice the aroma was.

I had to adjust the water level during the mash to get it where I wanted it, removing some from both the mash and sparge amounts, but they were closer this time than they've been. Then again, the amount at the boil was a little low, too, so I ended up adding most of a 90-ounce water addition pre-boil. Original gravity registered 1.057 SG on the Tilt Hydrometer in the fermenter, at a temperature of 68F. I did not pitch yeast immediately because I decided to grow my package of WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast to the point that I can split it off and do a Dry Irish Stout next weekend with the rest. I'll pitch the yeast tomorrow night. I'll save half the yeast for the stout, which should get into the fermenter next weekend (hopefully).

03/18/2019:  The yeast starter exceeded my expectations by overflowing the 1L flask despite being constantly stirred with a stir plate. I saved half for the Dry Irish Stout I am planning to brew next.  At the time of yeast pitch at approximately 10pm, gravity registered 1.056 SG and temperature read 61F.

03/21/2019:  The gravity is now 1.032 SG, and the temperature is 63F. This is about 46% attenuation, so the yeast has a way to go yet.

Test Pale Ale 1.0

Recently, I have struggled to get the desired final volume out of the Brewie+ system. To try and resolve that issue, I've decided to brew a couple of recipes and babysit the mash and sparge process to see where the problem is occurring, as well as double-checking my calculations to ensure they are correct.

The first test was this Pale Ale recipe.

Ingredients

5 pounds of 2-row Pale Ale Malt
1 pound of Munich Malt
4 ounces of Flaked Corn
0.75 ounces of Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets @ 9.2% AA at 10 min.
0.60 ounces of Citra hops pellets @ 14% AA at 5 minutes
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash water
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil at 10 min.
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss in the boil at 15 min.
1 packet of Lallemand Nottingham dry ale yeast
9.2 liters of mash water
3.2 liters of sparge water

The mash schedule began with a mash in at 104F, followed by 20 minutes at 140F, and 40 minutes at 158F. Mash out was 15 minutes at 168F.

BeerSmith estimated the following qualities for the beer:
  • BJCP Style: 18.B Pale American Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was 2.5 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.054 SG (actual was 1.054 SG)
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.034 SG (actual was 1.047 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.011 SG (actual was 1.013 SG)
  • SRM: 5.8
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.656
Boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No addition
  • 15 minutes: Irish Moss
  • 10 minutes: Brewtan B, Mandarina Bavaria
  • 5 minutes: Citra
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 68F
Fermentation schedule is to place this in the corner of the basement with an ambient temp of 60F and leave it there. (In practice, this worked well. The beer never exceeded a temp of 62F throughout the brew.)

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

03/09/2019:  Thanks to carefully measured water, the beer came out very close in gravity and volume to the expected values. I had to add a little water to hit 2.5 gallons, at which point the gravity also hit my target value of 1.054 SG.

03/17/2019:  The beer has stayed within a degree of 61F throughout fermentation. Gravity is down to 1.013 SG, which is within a point of the expected final gravity.  I expect to bottle the beer within the next day or two.

03/19/2019: The beer was bottled with 5-6 small carbonation tablets per bottle. Yield was 24 bottles.

Brewing "Dark Abbey" at Barley's

Last year, I entered the 23rd annual homebrew competition at Barley's Ale House in Columbus. To my shock and amazement, I won the competition with my Belgian style Dark Strong Ale. On March 15, Angelo Signorino, Jr., and his brewing assistants Tate and Singer made my dream of brewing a professional-sized batch of beer a reality.

Angelo preparing to load the first bag of barley, and me preparing to stir

The day began at 10am when I arrived at Barley's. We went over the recipe to make sure it looked correct. Not surprisingly when dealing with pros like the guys at Barley's, it did.



Seventeen bags of grain (plus a bit, I think) went into the mash tun. The Barley's crew did the heavy lifting since my shoulders are pretty arthritic, but I helped stir the mash for a while and helped load the hops. If you don't think that brewers like these work hard, then it's only because you've never seen them mash in. Lugging the big bags to the brewing system, dumping the contents into the mash tun, and stirring to ensure the grain is properly hydrated is a lot of work. I only did a very small part of that and it was all my shoulders could handle.  I'm very appreciative and grateful to the guys for all they did.


When the mash was finished, the guys unloaded the grain from the mash tun.  It weighed over 800 pounds going in. After soaking up some water, I'm sure it was far heavier coming out.


Loading the grain and unloading the spent grain was a lot, but the heavy lifting didn't end there. The guys had to haul those large white containers out to the street, where a farmer took it with him.


With the spent grain disposed of responsibly, the effort turned to cleaning the mash tun while the wort started heating to a boil in the kettle.

False bottom in the mash tun, designed to keep the grain out and let the wort through

Yeah, that's someone inside the mash tun cleaning it!
Once the mash tun was cleaned, the wort had just about worked its way to a boil. This particular wort really likes to foam, as you can see in the image below.


Hops, yeast nutrient, and Irish Moss all made their way into the kettle... along with 55 pounds of Belgian candi syrup (seen below). That is probably more than I have used in my entire home brewing history!

55 pounds of Belgian Candi Syrup
While all this was going on, the fermenter was sanitized. We then shook up the massive bags of Wyeast 1762 yeast and loaded those into the fermenter before sealing it up.

Now that's a lot of yeast!
The wort was oxygenated and chilled as it made its way into the #4 fermenter.


Seeing my beer's name (temporarily) emblazoned on a 10-barrel fermenter was a proud moment.


I watched, with great respect, the hard work that Angelo and his team do every day.  It was an absolute pleasure to hang out with them for the day, and is something I will never forget.

I'm looking forward to seeing this beer again when it comes out of the tap on April 14!


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tripel Karmeliet Clone 5.0

I'm a big fan of the Tripel Karmeliet Belgian Tripel. I've wanted to brew something similar since I started home brewing. My last couple of attempts have gotten close, but have lacked the bright lemony flavor and aroma I get from the real beer. Last time around I had a touch of that flavor.

This time I'm making some changes to dial it up a notch. I'm adding more corn sugar to dry it out somewhat, doubling the amount of lemon peel in the boil, shifting the hop load closer to the end of the boil to pick up more of Hallertau Mittelfruh's citrus notes, and even including a bit of citric acid in the boil. I'm hoping that the addition of acid will brighten up the hop flavor, and the slight drying out will make the citrus clearer.

Ingredients

6 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt
1 pound Swaen Wheat Malt
8 ounces Flaked Oats
12 ounces of Corn Sugar added to the mash water
6 handfuls of rice hulls added to help the mash flow
0.50 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (60 min.)
0.80 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient in the boil (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Citric Acid in the boil (10 min.)
1 ounce Lemon Peel (9 min.)
1.00 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (5 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (10 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the mash
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash
2.6 gallons mash water
1.8 gallons sparge water

According to BeerSmith 3, the beer should have these characteristics:

  • BJCP Category: 26.C Belgian Tripel
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (3.5 actual)
  • Original Gravity: 1.081 SG (1.063 actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.056 SG (1.055 SG 12 min. into the boil)
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
  • IBUs: 21.7
  • SRM: 4.7
The mash schedule:
  • 10 minute Ferulic Acid Rest at 113F
  • 30 minute Beta Glucan Rest at 120F
  • 25 minute Mash Step 1 at 142F
  • 60 minute Mash Step 2 at 158F
  • 15 minute Sparge at 168F
The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: Hallertau Mittelfruh addition
  • 10 minutes: Hallertau Mittelfruh, yeast nutrient, Brewtan B
  • 9 minutes: Lemon peel and citric acid
  • 5 minutes: Hallertau Mittelfruh
Following the boil, the Brewie has been instructed to chill the wort down to 67F. The White Labs WLP720 yeast has an optimal range of 70-75F. My fermentation plan is to use a heat wrap to keep it at 69F or above until primary fermentation is complete, but no cooling.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

03/03/2019:  The mash went off fine. Early in the 90-minute boil, I checked the gravity. It registered 1.055 SG using a refractometer. It should have registered 1.056 before the boil, so that concerned me. I opened the lid on the Brewie to increase the boil-off and help further reduce the gravity.

Original gravity came up as 1.063 SG after the boil, and volume came up as just under 3.5 gallons. Last time around, with the same recipe and slightly less water, I got 2.25 gallons. This time with 0.2 gallons more sparge water specified in the control panel, I ended up with over a gallon more wort.

Frustrated, I decided to use this as another opportunity to experiment with using a different yeast to ferment the same wort. I pitched Mangrove Jack's Tripel ale yeast into the 0.75 gallon batch and the full packet of White Labs WLP720 Sweet Mead Yeast into the other. It will be interesting to see how these two variations of the recipe differ.

I reached out to the tech support folks for the Brewie+ because this "overshooting" of the final volume is becoming an unpleasant trend. They tell me the official smallest batch size for the Brewie+ is 2.6 gallons. They asked me to run a test and report the results, which I've done. If I understand what they've told me (and I may not have), the system loaded 5.3 gallons of water for a recipe that specified only 4.22 gallons. That would mean it loaded about 1.1 gallons more than it should have. That would be just about on target with the results I had tonight (3.5-ish gallons when 2.5 gallons were expected).

03/05/2019:  The gravity has dropped from the initial 1.063 SG to 1.035 SG today. Brewers Friend reports that this is 43% attenuation and 3.68% ABV, with active fermentation still going on. The low ambient basement temperature has kept the beer well below the yeast's optimum 70-75F range. It's currently reading 66F. When the beer is at least 66% attenuated, I'll apply a heat wrap and try to keep the temp closer to 75F until fermentation finishes.  I didn't put a Tilt Hydrometer in the smaller batch so I don't know how it's doing, but I suspect it's probably much more attenuated since it's a smaller amount of wort with a lot more yeast cells to start with.

03/06/2019: The gravity is now reading 1.019 SG, which is around 68% attenuation. I placed the fermenter in an insulated bag and configured a temperature controller to keep the fermenter at 75F until fermentation finishes. Until I had done that, the beer's temperature had not exceeded 68F.

03/16/2019: The beer has been in bottles since last weekend, but a test bottle that was chilled and poured showed virtually no carbonation. This has been a recurring problem with this recipe.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Hoppily Ever After 2.0

Back in late December, I made the first version of a beer intended to be handed out as a favor to guests at my step-son's wedding. That beer was loosely based on a New England IPA recipe I'd found, but the hops were all swapped out for those with a decidedly citrus flavor. The resulting beer turned out more like a traditional American IPA than a New England style IPA (NEIPA).

The American Homebrewers Association posted a recipe for WeldWerks Brewing's Juicy Bits NEIPA that sounded much more like what I was looking for. WeldWerks uses a blend of Citra, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops. With Mosaic often used interchangeably with Citra, I decided to remove Mosaic from the equation to keep things simpler. I also decided to drop El Dorado during the boil and go with an El Dorado hop extract in the dry hop phase.  Why only use Citra? Aside from the simplicity of eliminating one hop from the ingredient list, Kegerator.com describes Citra as "The Most Citrusy Aroma Hop in the World of Beer" and my step-son and his fiancee wanted a very citrus-forward beer. I won't use Citra for bittering since it's described as having a harsh bitterness, and I wanted something a bit smoother.

Ingredients

2.5 pounds (40 ounces) of Pilsner Malt
2.5 pounds (40 ounces) of Pale Malt
8 ounces of Carapils/Dextrine Malt
6 ounces of Flaked Wheat
6 ounces of Flaked Oats
6 ounces of Wheat Malt
3 ounces of Corn Sugar
6 handfuls of Rice Hulls to help ensure wort flow through the grain bed
0.15 ounces of Magnum @ 12.3% AA FWH
0.35 ounces of Citra @ 13% AA at 10 min.
0.65 ounces of Citra @ 13% AA at 5 min.
1.05 ounces of Citra @ 13% AA at whirlpool/flameout
1 ounce of Citra as a dry hop (4 days) near the end of primary fermentation
1 ounce of El Dorado hop extract at the end of primary fermentation
2/3 of a 1-Liter starter of Wyeast 1318 London Ale III
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient at 10 min.
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash water
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (10 min.)
2.9 gallons of Mash Water
1.8 gallons of Sparge Water

According to BeerSmith 3.0, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP 2015 Style: 21.B Specialty IPA
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (3.8 gallons actual)
  • Pre-Sparge Gravity: 1.061 SG (actual, measured by refractometer)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG or 11.8 Brix (10.2 Brix, 1.040 actual, measured by refractometer)
  • Original Gravity: 1.063 SG estimated (1.051 Sg actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.013 SG estimated
  • Color: 4.4 SRM
  • IBUs: 44.8
  • ABV: 6.6% estimated
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 120F for 15 minutes
  • Mash at 149F for 45 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 15 minutes
  • Sparge for 15 minutes at 168F
The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: FWH of Magnum
  • 10 minutes: Citra, Yeast Nutrient, Brewtan B
Fermentation plan:
  • Ferment at 67F for 5-7 days until gravity reaches approx. 1.023 SG
  • Dry hop with Citra and El Dorado extract for 4 days
After this, bottle the beer with enough sugar for a medium level of carbonation.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

02/24/2019:  Late in the main (149F) mash step, before the sparge began, I measured the pH at 5.6 and the gravity at 14.5 Brix on my refractometer, which is roughly 1.061 SG. The pre-boil gravity measured 1.042 SG, at which time the first wort hops were added in a fine mesh hop spider. While 1.042 SG was lower than my expected pre-boil gravity of 1.046 SG, I opened the lid of the Brewie+ to ensure that we got a bit more boil-off than usual. Hopefully that would get me to the desired final gravity.

When we got near the end of the boil, the gravity of the wort measured much lower than the 1.061 SG I had planned for.  I added 7 ounces of Brewers Crystals to get the gravity up to 1.051 SG. Volume in the fermenter turned out to be 3.8 gallons at 1.051 SG. This is about 1.3 gallons more than anticipated and about 10 points low in gravity. Given the design of the Brewie+, it's not possible to go back and boil off the excess wort, so I had to live with the lower gravity.

I took 3 Liters of the "over-brew" and poured it into a large 5L Erlenmeyer flask. Two-thirds of the 1 Liter yeast starter I made yesterday was pitched into the fermenter (which contained just over 3 gallons of wort) and the remaining third into the flask. The flask was placed on a stir plate with a large stir bar. It will become a large starter for my next batch using this yeast.

02/25/2019: Gravity in the 3L "starter batch" is down to 1.017 SG, which represents 66% attenuation and 4.46% ABV.  It has only a few more points to go before it can be considered to have reached final gravity.  Gravity in the 3-gallon "main batch" is down to 1.036 SG, which represents 27.45% attenuation and 1.84% ABV.

03/01/2019: A half-ounce of Citra pellet hops was added to dry-hop the beer before bottling. It has a very cloudy orange-juice-like appearance to it, with a very citrusy flavor from the Citra hops. I plan to add some El Dorado extract for complexity prior to bottling.

03/03/2019: Gravity is now reading 1.004 SG and temperature is reading 1.003 SG in the main batch. It's interesting to note that in the smaller stir-plate batch, the gravity is reading 1.010 SG and has held there for a while. It's as though there's something different going on in the larger batch (which does still seem to have a krausen on top of it).  A taste test from the main batch showed a decidedly citrusy (almost orange-juice-like) flavor.

03/04/2019: 1 ml of El Dorado hop distillate was added to the fermenter and allowed to mingle overnight before bottling.

03/05/2019: Tonight the beer was bottled with 12 small carbonation tablets per bottle (high carbonation) in 22-ounce bombers and placed in a sealed box to carbonate for a week before delivery to the future bride and groom for taste testing.  It should be carbonated nicely by 3/12/2019.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Strong's Irish Red Ale 1.0

Last year, I made an Irish Red Ale recipe of my own. Although it turned out fairly well and only a couple of bottles remain, when I saw Gordon Strong's Irish Red Ale recipe, I decided I'd like to try it to see how it compared with mine. I adjusted the recipe for a smaller volume batch and the efficiency of my brewing system, which results in the recipe you see here.

Ingredients

2 pounds and 6 ounces of 2-row Pale Malt (Briess)
1 pound of Vienna Malt (Weyermann, I think)
8 ounces Flaked Corn
6 ounces Caramel 40L
2 ounces Roasted Barley
2 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt
4 handfuls of Rice Hulls in the mash
0.38 ounces East Kent Goldings hops @ 6.1% AA (60 min.)
0.13 ounces East Kent Goldings hops @ 6.1% AA (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the mash
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (15 min.)
1/8 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (15 min.)
1/8 tsp. Super Irish Moss (10 min.)
2.4 gallons of Mash Water
2.0 gallons of Sparge Water

BeerSmith 3.0 estimates the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Category: 15.A Irish Red Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was approximately 3.65 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.041 SG (actual was 1.030 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG (actual was 1.008 SG)
  • IBUs: 24
  • SRM: 14.4
  • ABV:  4.0% (actual was 2.9% as a result of dilution)
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.51 (actual probably 0.77 given lower gravity)
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 104F for 15 minutes
  • Mash at 120F for 15 minutes
  • Mash at 151F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water for 10 minutes
Boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: East Kent Goldings hops pellets (0.38 oz.)
  • 15 minutes: Yeast nutrient and Brewtan B
  • 10 minutes: Super Irish Moss and East Kent Goldings (0.13 oz.)
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 62F
Fermentation schedule:
  • Allow the yeast to free-ferment at the ambient basement temperature of 62F until fermentation is complete
  • Treat the beer with gelatin and cold-crash for clarity
  • Bottle-condition at 68F until carbonated
Post-Brew Notes and Observations

02/03/2019 3pm:  Loaded the ingredients into the Brewie+ and entered the recipe details. Brewie estimated a brewing time of approximately 6 hours.

9pm: I ended up with almost 3 gallons in the fermenter, plus over half a gallon in another (hastily sanitized) fermenter. The gravity came out at 1.030 SG instead of the expected 1.041 SG. That combination (volume and gravity) reportedly represents a 66.2% brew house efficiency per BeerSmith. Unfortunately, it drops the beer's original gravity well below the style's 1.036 SG lower limit. I probably could have resolved this by transferring the wort into another kettle and boiling it down until the desired gravity was reached, but I chose not to. It's going to give me a chance to conduct two experiments as it is. I've pitched Mangrove Jack's MI5 Empire Ale yeast into the main fermenter, and some Safale US-05 into the smaller secondary batch.  That will allow me to test two different yeast strains on the same wort.  I also extracted a sample from the secondary fermenter and pitched some MI5 yeast into it to conduct a forced fermentation test to see if the final gravity achieved in that test compares to the final gravity in the main batch when it is finished fermenting. That knowledge will be useful when I do future high gravity beers.

02/04/2019 9pm: The gravity has dropped from yesterday's 1.030 SG to 1.012 SG today.

02/05/2019 9:35pm: The gravity is currently registering 1.010 SG and the temperature is reading 61F.

02/09/2019: A refractometer measurement of beer from the fermentation test vessel registered 1.014 SG. The main fermentation vessel has finished primary fermentation (and did so fairly quickly) and is registering 1.009 SG today. Since there is some rounding and estimating that takes place in the refractometer scenario, I'm planning to drop a Tilt Hydrometer in there before tossing that beer, just to see how close the readings are with the same method.  The main batch has been reading 1.008-1.009 SG for four days now, so I am confident that primary fermentation is over and it will be time to do some fining and then bottle it.

02/12/2019: The beer is registering 1.008 SG in the primary fermenter, at a temperature of 59F, which is pretty much the ambient temperature in that part of the basement right now. A reading from the Tilt Hydrometer dropped into the wort from the fermentation test vessel also registered 1.008 SG, proving that the technique works. This will be useful when doing higher-gravity beers, by allowing me to bottle those when they're 3-4 gravity points from final gravity.

02/17/2019: Today I bottled the two variations. The batch brewed with Safale US-05 registered a final gravity of 1.015 SG. The version using Mangrove Jack's MI5 Empire Ale yeast registered 1.008 SG. A small sample from the fermenter showed that the US-05 version was clearer but the roasty malt flavors were muted. The MI5 version seemed more tasty and "British" to me. Both variations were bottled with six small carbonation drops per bottle.

Through a Mild Darkly

The finished beer, one week after bottling
The English Dark Mild Ale is a style I first encountered several years ago at The Winking Lizard location on Bethel Road, a location that sadly is no longer open. The one I tried back then was Cain's Dark Mild, and I found it a very enjoyable beer. In 2018, I made my first attempt to brew the style. I thought it turned out well, but wanted to try again.

Jamil Zainasheff's book Brewing Classic Styles contained a recipe for a Dark Mild Ale named "Through a Mild Darkly" that was similar to my 2018 recipe but different enough that I decided to try brewing it. My first attempt was a failure, caused by an oversight on my part that resulted in the wort being ruined and discarded. Today's attempt was more successful.

Ingredients

3 pounds, 14 ounces of a mix of Simpsons Golden Promise, Swaen Pale Ale, and Rahr 2-row malts
4 ounces British Medium Crystal Malt
3 ounces Crystal 120L
2 ounces Pale Chocolate Malt
1 ounce Black Patent Malt
4 handfuls of Rice Hulls to ensure good flow through the grain bed
0.41 ounces East Kent Goldings hops pellets @ 6.1% AA (60 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in mash
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the mash
1/8 tsp. Super Irish Moss (15 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (10 min.)
1/8 tsp. Yeast Nutrient in the boil (10 min.)
2.35 gallons of mash water
1.3 gallons of sparge water
1 package of Lallemand London ESB Yeast

According to BeerSmith 3, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Category: 13.A Dark Mild
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons estimated, 3.25 gallons actual
  • Original Gravity: 1.038 SG estimated, 1.039 SG actual
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG (actual was 1.015 SG)
  • SRM: 18.2
  • ABV: 3.6%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.45
The mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 104F for 10 minutes
  • Mash at 154F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 168F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: East Kent Goldings hops
  • 15 minutes: Super Irish Moss
  • 10 minutes: Yeast Nutrient and Brewtan B
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 64F
The fermentation plan is to allow the beer to free-ferment in a cool corner of the basement.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

02/02/2019: The brew went well, without any mishaps or problems. The wort came out one SG point above the estimate. Volume came out a big above the estimate, implying a greater efficiency than I've been estimating previously. Wort temperature in the fermenter registered 74F, so I chose not to pitch the yeast right away. I placed the fermenter in a colder (approx. 62F) section of the basement overnight to cool down.

02/03/2019: The beer is now registering a temperature of 62F. This is below the yeast's recommended fermentation range (which is 65-72F), but that should be just fine.

11:45am: I pitched a full package of Lallemand ESB yeast directly onto the 62F wort. At the time the yeast was pitched, the gravity registered 1.040 SG.

02/04/2019 9pm: Gravity has dropped from 1.040 SG to 1.014 SG today. 

02/05/2019 9:38pm: Gravity has dropped as low as 1.009 SG but currently reads 1.014 SG and the temperature registers as 63F. A sample extracted from the fermenter was very dry and grainy, so the beer may be at its final gravity.

02/12/2019:  Gravity is registering 1.015 SG now, at a temperature of 59F, which is the ambient temperature in that part of the basement right now.

02/17/2019: The beer was bottled today with six small carbonation tablets per bottle.

02/24/2019: The beer has a beautiful deep ruby reddish brown color with thin off-white head. Aroma is roasty, chocolatey, and a touch nutty. No hops in the aroma (consistent with the style). Flavor is malty, roasty, Mouthfeel is light-to-medium. Finish is mildy roasty. There is a subtle tartness in it as well.