Sunday, June 24, 2018

Centennial Blonde Ale 1.0

Centennial Blonde Ale 1.0
Some time ago, when searching for some good recipes, I found a Centennial Blonde Ale recipe that had been voted the top recipe by visitors to HomeBrewTalk.com. I've wanted to brew it for a while, and finally got around to doing it today.

Ingredients

3 pounds 2-row Pale Ale Malt
5 ounces Cara-Pils/Dextrine Malt
3.5 ounces Caramel/Crystal 10L Malt
3.5 ounces Swaen Vienna Malt
0.10 ounces Centennial hops pellets @ 10.8% AA (55 min.)
0.15 ounces Centennial hops pellets @ 10.8% AA (35 min.)
0.15 ounces Cascade hops pellets @ 6.9% AA (20 min.)
0.15 ounces Cascade hops pellets @ 6.9% AA (5 min.)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 packet Lallemand Nottingham Ale Yeast
3 gallons of starting water in keg

For a mash schedule, I've modified the High-Efficiency Mash Schedule in the Zymatic Recipe Crafter to hold the mash at 150F for 90 minutes, followed by 30 minutes at 154F, leaving the rest the same.

Boil schedule will be:
  • 60 minutes:  No hops
  • 55 minutes: 0.10 ounces of Centennial
  • 35 minutes: 0.15 ounces of Centennial
  • 20 minutes: 0.15 ounces of Cascade
  • 5 minutes: 0.15 ounces of Cascade
According to PicoBrew's recipe crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.040 SG (actual was 1.043 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG (actual was 1.005 SG)
  • IBUs: 22
  • SRM: 4.0
  • ABV: 3.9%  (actual was 4.99%)
  • Volume: 2.5 gallons (actual was approximately 2.25 gallons)
As is my usual process, the beer will be pumped into a sanitized kettle after brewing, the sanitized immersion chiller dropped into it, and the beer chilled to a yeast-safe temperature.  The beer will then be transferred to a sanitized fermenter, yeast and Clarity Ferm added, and a Tilt Hydrometer dropped into it for monitoring purposes.

Post-Brew Notes

06/24/2018:  The beer came up slightly low in volume and slightly high in gravity. I decided to ignore the 3-point difference in SG and the quart of volume to avoid possibly over-diluting the beer, especially given that 3 points of gravity may well be within a reasonable margin of error. The refractometer measured gravity at 10.9 Brix, which (when calibrated) works out to 1.045 SG which also is close to the 1.043 SG that the Tilt Hydrometer measured. This works out to a Brew House Efficiency of 72.1% for this batch. The Nottingham yeast and Clarity Ferm were pitched into the 76F wort before the fermenter was sealed.

Since the Notthingham yeast prefers cooler temperatures for fermentation, I decided to see if I could chill the beer a bit further. I wrapped some ice packs used for a cooler around the fermenter, along with a damp towel. Within an hour the fermenter temperature dropped to 70F and as of this writing is continuing to drop. The ambient 68F temperature in the basement should help to keep the fermentation temperature down a little, but I'll have to keep an eye on it.

06/25/2018:  The ice packs and damp towel got the beer down to around 69F by morning. I replaced the thin ice packs with some thicker ones used for shipping food at around 7:30am. By 11:30am, the temperature in the fermenter had dropped to about 66F. The temperature has held there since then, though I've replaced the ice packs in the meantime. The gravity has dropped from the original 1.043 SG down to its current 1.014 SG. That's about 67.4% attenuation and 3.8% ABV in about 24 hours. If the yeast continues working at this rate, it should hit the expected final gravity of 1.010 SG by this time tomorrow night.

06/26/2018:  The beer's gravity has been holding steadily at 1.008 SG now for about eight hours now. That's 81.4% attenuation and 4.6% ABV. That's a bit more than expected, but not too far out of line.

06/27/2018: The gravity continues to hold steady at 1.008 SG, so it appears that primary fermentation is complete. I'll give it another day or two to ensure it's really finished, then treat it with gelatin finings and cold crash it.

06/30/2018: The gravity has dropped slightly to 1.007 SG, and has been holding there for about two days now.

07/01/2018: The scatter plot below shows the gravity of the beer from the time the yeast was pitched until now. Each dot represents a gravity reading at 15 minute intervals. The yeast seemed to begin fermenting around 3 hours after pitching. It seemed to peak around 15-24 hours after pitching, and had substantially completed fermentation by about 4-5 days.


A teaspoon of gelatin was bloomed in distilled water and heated to 155-160F before adding to the fermenter. The fermenter was then placed in a mini-fridge to cold crash and clear up before bottling.

07/05/2018: The beer is looking pretty clear, and I needed to free up the mini-fridge for the Cream Ale that's right behind it (process-wise), so I bottled the beer today using 4 small carbonation drops per bottle (medium carbonation). Yield was 23 bottles with virtually no extra beer. The yeast was compacted nicely in the bottom of the fermenter. The Tilt registered 1.005 SG at bottling and 38F. Although I'll reserve judgment until the beer finishes conditioning, a sample of the small amount of leftover beer seemed merely "OK" and not particularly tasty (or particularly bad) to me.

07/15/2018: The beer has carbonated nicely and was removed from the 76F hotbox in preparation for labeling and sharing with others.

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