Friday, December 22, 2017

Belgian Dubbel v4.0

First bottle of the Dubbel
After brewing the Pico Pale Ale in the Zymatic on Wednesday, I decided to try another recipe today.  There is a clone recipe for Chimay Red (a Belgian Dubbel) on the American Homebrewing Association web site that I've wanted to try.  The thing I've always disliked about Chimay lies in the hop flavor it has.  The clone recipe used East Kent Goldings, which rarely agrees with my palate. I decided to substitute Styrian Celeia for the EKG and finish with Czech Saaz.  I like that combination in Belgian ales.  At brew time, I discovered I did not have any Crystal 100L but did have Crystal 80L, so I decided to use that instead.

Ingredients

5 pounds, 2 ounces Belgian Pale Ale Malt
9 ounces Aromatic Malt
5 ounces Crystal 80L
5 ounces Corn Sugar dissolved into mash water
0.70 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (60 min.)
0.50 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (30 min.)
0.25 ounces Czech Saaz hops @ 3% AA (10 min.)
1/8 tsp. Yeast Nutrient added with Saaz
1/4 Whirlfloc tablet added with Saaz
1 packet of T-58 dry yeast

The Picobrew Recipe Crafter estimates the following characteristics for the brew:
  • OG: 1.064
  • FG: 1.0147
  • IBU: 20
  • SRM: 12
  • ABV: 6.4%
  • Starting Water: 3.14 gallons
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
After brewing, my actual result was an original gravity of 17.5 Brix which, when adjusted for the refractometer's correction factor, works out to 1.074 SG or 18.0 "actual" Brix.  That works out to an efficiency of about 79% for the brew.

Mash Schedule

Place 3 gallons plus 18 ounces water to Zymatic Corny Keg
Dough in at 102F for 20 minutes
Mash Step 1 at 152F for 30 minutes
Mash Step 2 at 154F for 60 minutes
Mash Out at 175F for 10 minutes
Boil at 207F for 60 minutes

Boil Schedule

60 minutes: Add 0.7 ounces Styrian Celeia
30 minutes: Add 0.5 ounces Styrian Celeia
10 minutes: Add 0.25 ounces Czech Saaz, Yeast Nutrient, and Whirlfloc

After the boil, I set the controls to "Chill" the wort, but actually pumped it out and into a 4-gallon kettle.  I carried the kettle to my sink and inserted an immersion chiller.  Running the cold December tap water through the immersion chiller allowed me to get the wort down to 68F in a few minutes.  I'll probably use this method going forward, as it worked very well.

Fermentation

I then used a hard pour to get the wort into a fermenter and pitched the yeast immediately.  As I tend to do for Belgian ales, I'm going to let this one free-rise until it's finished fermenting.  I may apply a fermwrap late in primary fermentation to stress the yeast a bit, but we'll see.

Post-Mortem and Other Notes

After the mess I found yesterday, I decided to monitor today's process from end to end.  I learned that about two-thirds of the way through the mash, the wort began to generate a lot of foam. It took multiple doses of Anti-foam to keep it from spilling out of the tray and wasting beer.  I suspect the lines are picking up air somewhere, but I am unsure where.  I hear what might be air-slurping sounds in the in-line filter, so that's my best guess at this point.

I'd like the beer to have a bit more of a reddish color, but that didn't happen. Next time around, if this is a decent brew, I'd do Crystal 100L or 120L.

Although it increases the Zymatic's run time, I think step mashing with a mash out step makes a lot of sense.  The device's efficiency with a single infusion mash (based on the Pico Pale Ale recipe) is in the vicinity of 60%.  With a step mash, that increases to 79%.

I'll also be doing some digging to see if I can identify the source of the air leak in the lines, as that seems to be kicking up a lot of foam during the mash. Hopefully it's something I can find and fix.

Display showing the mash step underway

Grain at the start of the mash

Notice all the dried foam on top of the tray - this batch generated a lot!
12/22/2017:  After doing some research in the Zymatic forums last night, I discovered that there are a number of places where an air leak could occur. Some of these can be fixed by the owner of the device, while others would require service by the manufacturer.  The manufacturer-required problems would be internal connections between the pump and various water lines within the Zymatic.  (Opening the device voids the warranty.)  The rest of the potential air leaks stem from a finite number of places:
  • If not enough water is loaded into the keg, the pump will suck in air from inside the keg when the water level is below the level of the pipes inside the keg.  This can be solved by making sure you put enough water in the keg at the start of brewing and checking on the level during the brew.
  • If the keg posts are loose, air can seep in when the Zymatic is drawing in water.
  • If the ball lock connectors are not attached properly or are defective, air can be pulled in.
  • Where the lines connect to the ball lock connectors, if the connection is not secure, air can be drawn in.
  • Where the "black" ball lock connector line connects with the in-line filter, air can be drawn in. Similarly, where the line connects to the other side of the in-line filter, air can be drawn in.
  • If the in-line filter itself is cracked, not properly closed, or otherwise defective, the pump could draw air in while pulling liquid through.
  • If the connection between the wort lines and the side of the Zymatic is not complete, air can be drawn in through there.
  • If the washer between the ports on the side of the Zymatic and the wort lines is missing, deformed, cracked, etc., air can be drawn in.
Before the next brew, I'm going to double-check all of these to ensure that they are as secure as possible. I hear what sounds like an air leak during brewing at the in-line wort filter and possibly inside the Zymatic where liquid is drawn inside from that same line.  

On a side note, the airlock on the fermenter for this beer is bubbling away nicely, indicating that the yeast is working hard on the sugar in it.

12/24/2017:  Airlock activity has slowed or stopped at this point, indicating that primary fermentation is over.  I'll let it sit on the yeast cake a few more days before either transferring to secondary or bottling.

12/27/2017:  The final gravity for the beer registered as 1.020 and the final volume appeared to be about 2 gallons.  This works out to about 5.8% ABV instead of the expected 6.4%.  The beer was bottled using carbonation drops (the cough-drop-sized ones) at a rate of 2 drops per 12-ounce bottle, 3 drops per 16-ounce bottle, and 4 drops for a 22-ounce bottle.

01/03/2018:  The first bottle was refrigerated last night and opened today. It was extremely carbonated, generating more foam than beer in the glass despite a slow, careful pour.  The photo at the start of the post was taken after it had settled a bit.  The beer pours a deep orange brown color with some copper to it. The head is very creamy and long-lasting, leaving behind considerable lacing. There is some diacetyl in the aroma, since it is still a relatively "new" beer. This will likely dissipate in time. The flavor is very balanced between malt and hops, with neither dominating. It starts primarily malty and sweet, with a medium body. As you start to swallow, the hops bitterness swells up and becomes clear but not unpleasant. The finish is a lingering malt sweetness and hops bitterness. All things considered, it's not a bad beer, but not my ideal Dubbel.  Better than some I've made but not the best I've ever had.

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