Monday, May 20, 2019

1933 Lees Bitter Clone 1.0

A couple of years ago, I received Robert Pattinson's book The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. as a gift from a family member.  The first of the recipes that caught my attention (and I really can't tell you why) was the 1933 Lees Bitter recipe.  I tried to brew it once, earlier in my brewing career, and ended up tossing it out because the caps I used didn't seal properly on the bottles. This left the beer flat and oxidized.  This is my second go at the recipe.  It is a simple recipe, the ingredients aren't too expensive, and the process straightforward.  It also sounds like a fairly easy beer to drink, a good one for the upcoming summer months.

I recently lost a whole lot of my homebrew to an infection that went undiscovered for months.  I'm fairly certain the infection came from a bottling wand used on the infected batches. I replaced it and used the new one to bottle my recent Belgian Dubbel. If that batch is clear of infection in 2-3 months, then the corresponding fermenter has a clean bill of health. If not, it gets tossed too (it's a PET one anyway, so not expensive to trash).  For this batch, I'm using a brand new fermenter. If it is cleared of any infection, then I was probably correct about the bottling wand.

Ingredients

5 pounds of Munton's 2-row Pale Malt
4 ounces of Lyle's Golden Syrup (for "No. 1 Invert Sugar" in the recipe)
0.35 ounces of Northern Brewer hops @ 9% AA (60 min. - sub for Brewer's Gold)
0.20 ounces of Saaz hops @ 5.4% AA (30 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer (mash)
1/2 tsp. Gypsum (my choice, added to mash water)
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (added to mash water)
1/4 tablet Whirlfloc (20 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (added to boil, 15 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (15 min.)
1 packet of Safale S-04 English Ale Yeast (a substitute for Wyeast 1318)
7.4 liters Mash Water (8.4 cm. deep in Brewie+)
7.0 liters Sparge Water (8.0 cm. deep in Brewie+)

I didn't have Brewer's Gold but since it's only being used for brewing, I went with German Northern Brewer as a substitute.  I had some Czech Saaz hops I could have used, but I wanted to get rid of the US Saaz, so I used that instead. The amounts used in the original Lees recipe would have resulted in about 12 IBUs, so I adjusted the amounts to bring the bitterness level more in line with the style. I was afraid 12 IBUs might have been too cloying.

Additional characteristics and notes (actual values where available):
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons estimated (2.5 gallons actual)
  • BJCP Category:  11.C Strong Bitter
    (I chose that category because of the 5% ABV)
  • Original Gravity: 1.049 SG estimated (1.052 SG actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.036 SG estimated (11.8 Brix actual, 1.049 SG approx.)
  • Pre-Boil Volume: 13.4 liters estimated (13 cm. deep, 11.4 liters actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.011 SG estimated 
  • IBUs: 34
  • SRM: 5.0
  • ABV: 5.03%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.693 estimated 
  • Fermenter Used: Spock
  • Bottling Wand Used: (not applicable yet)
  • Carbonation Method: (not applicable yet)
  • Fermentation Temperature: 68F
(For those who are wondering, measuring wort depth in the Brewie+ is a good way to estimate mash water, sparge water, pre-boil, and post-boil volume. Brewie+ support indicates that if you measure wort depth in centimeters and multiply the depth by 0.88 you'll obtain the approximate volume of liquid in liters. If your machine loads more or less water than expected, you can use this to know when to add or remove water from the kettle.  I use pounds and ounces for grain measurement because that's how most of us in the USA order it from homebrew shops.)

Mash Schedule

I decided to dissolve the Lyle's Golden Syrup in with the mash/sparge water to avoid the need to add it later in the boil. This would also allow it to caramelize during the boil with the other sugars from the grain, hopefully resulting in a greater depth of flavor.

The original Lees recipe indicates an underlet mash at 156F. That's not too different from what my system does, heating both from the bottom and as wort flows around to the top of the grain bed. It will have to be good enough.
  • 10 minutes Mash In at 104F
  • 30 minutes Mash Step 1 at 152F
  • 40 minutes Mash Step 2 at 156F
  • 20 minutes Mash Out and Sparge at 168F
Post-mash and pre-boil, volume should have been 13.4 liters. It actually came out around 11.4 liters, so I added a liter of water to bring it to 12.4.  A gravity reading came up at 1.049 SG after conversion from Brix and a refractometer adjustment, so I'll likely need to dilute it more after the boil with distilled water.  I'd rather do that than over-dilute it before the boil (since it's not possible to extend a boil with the Brewie+ once the recipe program is underway).  The good news is that I discovered an error in my sparge water calculations that should resolve the issue moving forward.

Boil Schedule

The original Lees recipe used a 90-minute boil, so I am sticking with that:
  • 90 minutes: No hop additions
  • 60 minutes: Add Northern Brewer bittering hops
  • 30 minutes: Add Saaz (US) flavor hops
  • 20 minutes: Add Whirlfloc
  • 15 minutes: Add Yeast Nutrient and Brewtan B 
  • 00 minutes: Chill to 68F
Fermentation Plan

The Safale S-04 strain is known for producing a mild tartness if it is allowed to ferment at too high a temperature. The book does not advise on fermentation temperature for the recipe, so that's apparently going to be up to me.  I know from experience (and a past recipe using S-04) that fermenting near the upper end of its 64-75F range will result in a clear sourness, which I do not want in this beer. My plan is to ferment it at 64F and allow it to run longer than normal, then give it some time at 50F to "lager" a bit and mellow out before bottling.

Trying the S-04 yeast at 64F will also prove instructive for another recipe I've been trying to perfect. Some time ago, I bought a bottle of Coniston's Old Man ale, an English brown ale. The beer had a very mild tartness to it, which I had attempted to reproduce. However, I think I fermented it for too long at too high a temperature and the tartness was pronounced in my beer, versus restrained in the Coniston version. If this beer exhibits a very mild tartness, I think I will be a step closer to perfecting the Old Man Ale clone.

My plan will be to bottle it with 2 or 3 small carbonation tablets, which equates to low or very-low carbonation, consistent with an English cask-conditioned ale.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

05/20/2019:  I have used an Excel spreadsheet to help me calculate mash and sparge water volumes. I realized today that the template I'm using contains a calculation error and this is causing me to end up with too little wort at the start of the boil.  Specifically, I was not removing grain absorption from the mash water before calculating the amount of sparge water needed to reach the target pre-boil volume.  As a result, I tended to come up 1-2 liters short at the start of the boil. While this is easy enough to correct ("just add water") I'd rather not have to manually correct it. I think I've got the spreadhseet sorted now, so that future batches should turn out OK.

The gravity post-brew came out around 1.060 SG, but the volume was below the 2.5 gallons I expected, so I added distilled water to the fermenter to bring the volume up to the desired amount. This dropped the gravity from 1.060 SG down to 1.052 SG. I considered adding more distilled water to bring the gravity down to the intended 1.049 SG but thought better of it.  The initial wort temperature was 70F, which was much higher than I wanted, so I waited for it to drop to ambient basement temperature. Then I'll pitch the yeast and let the fermentation temperature control system get it down to 64F (hopefully before the yeast really gets going).

09:00PM:  The yeast has been pitched and the fermenter sealed up in the temperature control setup, with the temp set to 64F.  The full package of S-04 was used.According to the yeast calculator on Brewer's Friend, this should be enough yeast to handle the batch with a little to spare.

05/21/2019: Gravity is down to 1.043.

05/22/2019: Gravity is down to 1.018.

05/23/2019: Gravity is down to 1.011.

05/24/2019: Gravity is down to 1.010.

05/25/2019. Gravity is holding at 1.011 SG. Looks like primary fermentation is complete. I'm going to give the yeast time to clean up any diacetyl or other byproducts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How A Bacterial Infection in Your Beer Can Ruin Your Weekend

Late last year, I started brewing various British beer styles to become familiar with them. My goal was to have a collection of beers I could enter into this year's SODZ British Beer Fest homebrew competition. I'd managed to brew an Ordinary Bitter, a Scottish 80 Shilling, Irish Red Ale, British Brown Ale, and others.  I entered four of these into the Barley's competition this year. Two came back with terrible scores because they gushed out of the bottle on the judges. 

Having brewed for several years now, and having not varied my sanitation practices much, I was in complete denial when the Barley's judges suggested that the beer had been infected. When the same thing happened with two different beers at the SODZ competition, I could no longer deny it. I had a bacterial infection somewhere. But where?

Given my brewing process, I had the following candidates:
  • Brewing System:  If the plumbing inside either the PicoBrew Zymatic or the Brewie+ became infected, specifically on the cold side, then the beer might be infected going into the fermenter. However, this seemed unlikely. I tentatively ruled it out.
  • Fermenter:  If one or more fermenters had an infection that survived a PBW clean and Star San sanitization, that could be passed on to the beer.  If this was the cause of my infection, it would impact any beer brewed in that fermenter.  A good indicator would be if I could identify infected batches vs. uninfected ones, and trace that back to a fermenter.
  • Bottling Wand:  I only owned two bottling wands. If one of those was infected, it would infect every bottle filled with that wand, but not batches filled from the other wand (unless both were infected).  
  • Carbonation Drops:  I had been picking these up by hand and placing them into the bottles with my fingers (which had been washed and spent a lot of time in Star San). There was a small chance this could have infected the tablets and then the bottle. If this was the case, every batch I bottled would be infected.
  • Bottle Caps:  This seemed unlikely. In general, my caps soak in Star San until I pull them out to put them on the bottle. I can't rule it out, but it's not a top suspect.
To start narrowing things down, I needed evidence. I began by opening a bottle from each batch I had on hand. A bottle from January 2018 was fine. A bottle from February gushed like crazy.  A bottle from a week or so later didn't.  Over the next two days, I opened at least one bottle from every batch I had made over the past year that I still had on hand. 

The result was depressing. Probably 65% of the batches showed clear signs of infection.  Some gushed beer 3-4 feet from the bottle. Others gushed only inches away.  In the end, at least 75% of the beer I had made in the past 14-16 months was infected and had to be tossed out.  About a dozen batches were fine. A few were overcarbonated but didn't appear to be infected.  I spent hours dumping entire batches of beer down the drain, rinsing the bottles clean, and removing the labels. 

It became clear that the brewing systems most likely weren't the culprit. I had at least one batch from each of them that wasn't infected, and batches from both that were. If the system was infected, I would expect all of its batches to be infected.  That left the fermenters and bottling wands.

As I got to some of the more-recent batches, a pattern began to emerge. There were four fermenters I used most-often in 2018 and 2019. They both featured a half-inch spigot. The other two featured a 3/8" spigot. Why was that important?  It meant that I used a different bottling wand with two of the fermenters than I used with the other two. It quickly became clear that batches bottled through the half-inch wand were all showing signs of infection, while batches bottled through the 3/8" wand were just fine.  I had my smoking gun. The half-inch wand was infected (and possibly the two fermenters, but I'd start with the wand).

I tossed both bottling wands and ordered new ones. That would hopefully clear the infection. I also made some adjustments to my procedures, in the hope that this will catch any future infections more quickly so that I never have to toss as much home brew again as I did this weekend.

From here on, my bottling procedure will change to:
  • Bottles should (continue to) get a hot tap water rinse until visually clean, then run through the dishwasher without any other dishes to minimize the risk of food particles causing infection. Bottles then need to be soaked in fresh Star San for further insurance. (This has been my process all along.)
  • Where possible, soak the bottling wand in boiling or near-boiling water to clean and sanitize it, then go a step further by soaking in Star San. In theory, this would eliminate an infection in the wand going forward. (This is a change. I used to use PBW to clean and Star San to sanitize, but that's clearly not good enough, at least not all the time.)
  • Caps will be soaked in Star San before use. (I've always done this.)
  • Stainless tongs will be sanitized and used to load the carbonation drops, to ensure that no bacteria from my hands enters the bottle. The tongs may be boiled or sanitized with the wand. (This is new.)
  • When a batch is bottled, record the fermenter used, bottling wand used, carbonation drop type, and where appropriate, the number of drops per bottle.  (I have not done this in the past.)
  • After any batch has been in the bottle for 30-90 days, open a bottle to check for over-carbonation and signs of gushing. If any signs are detected, check additional bottles.  (This is something I've also not done in the past, and it really "bit me" this time.)
  • If an infection is found check bottles from any other batches that went through the same wand and/or fermenter to ensure there are no gushers in there. Stop using that fermenter and/or wand until the infection is found and removed. (This should prevent me from having to dump a huge number of batches as I did this time, and result in only losing 1-3 before the infection is found.)
I noticed, too, that you can tell the difference between a bacterial infection and simple over-carbonation, at least in this case.  Overcarbonation resulted in a slow, gradual foaming of the beer up through the neck of the bottle and down the side. Maybe a third of the beer would foam out if you let it.  The infection caused a rapid expulsion of foamy beer through the neck of the bottle, and looked more like it was boiling out of the bottle than just foaming. 

Tonight I bottled a Belgian Dubbel from one of the four fermenters I use regularly. I made sure to hit the spigot with Star San before use, and to soak the new bottling wand and connecting tubing in Star San as well.  If this batch turns up infected, I'll know it's the fermenter... though this was one of the 3/8" spigots, so I'm inclined to think it will turn out fine.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Margarita Cream Ale 1.0

While inventorying my home brewing supplies over the weekend, I realized I had a lot of flaked corn, which made me think a Cream Ale might be nice.  I also saw some dark agave nectar I'd bought a long time ago on clearance, which delivers a tequila-like flavor when fermented.  I figured adding some orange peel, lemon peel, lime zest, and lime juice might just bring that margarita flavor home. I could add some Hallertau hops (lemony) and Mandarina Bavaria (orange) to further enhance the flavor.

I started with a national competition-winning Cream Ale recipe from the American Homebrewing Association web site as the base, then layered on Mandarina Bavaria hops, agave nectar, lime zest and lime juice, orange and lemon peel, and set things up in the Brewie+.

Ingredients

2 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt
2 pounds Briess 2-row Pale Malt
9 ounces Flaked Corn
7 ounces Corn Sugar (mash)
4 ounces Acid Malt
4.2 ounces Dark Agave Nectar (flameout)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer (mash)
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
0.20 ounces Hallertau hops pellets @ 4.4% AA (60 min.)
0.30 ounces Hallertau hops pellets @ 4.4% AA (5 min.)
0.30 ounces Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets @ 9.2% AA (5 min.)
1 lime's worth of zest and juice (zest @ 5 min, juice at flameout)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (20 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (15 min.)
1/2 ounce Bitter Orange Peel (15 min.)
1/2 ounce Lemon Peel (15 min.)
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss (15 min.)
1 package WLP029 White Labs Kolsch Ale yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
4 tsp. Real Lime powder (bottling)
2 oz. Brewer's Best Lime Flavor (bottling)

11.6 liters of mash water (13.2 cm deep in the kettle)
(Note: The correct mash water should be 7.8 liters, 8.9 cm)

5.0 liters of sparge water (5.7 cm deep in the kettle)
(Note: The correct sparge water should be 7 liters, 8.0 cm)

Brewer's Friend estimates that the beer will have the following qualities:
  • BJCP Style: 6.A Cream Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (~10L) (2.64 actual)
  • Original Gravity: 1.055 SG (1.057 actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.045 SG/10.3 Brix (approx.)
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 SG (1.013 SG actual)
  • ABV: 5.32%
  • IBUs: 12.9
  • SRM: 3.6
  • Pre-Boil Volume: 13.2 Liters (approx.)
  • Fermenter: Pike
  • Bottling Wand: Stainless
Mash Schedule

This batch will employ a fairly simple mash schedule:
  • Mash in for 15 minutes at 135F
  • Mash at 145F for 35 minutes (Beta rest)
  • Mash at 165F for 25 minutes (Alpha rest)
  • Mash out at 172F for 5 minutes
Boil Schedule

A 60-minute boil will be used, with the following schedule:
  • 60 minutes: Hallertau
  • 20 minutes: Brewtan B
  • 15 minutes: Yeast Nutrient, Irish Moss, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel
  • 5 minutes: Lime Zest, Hallertau, Mandarina Bavaria
  • 0 minutes (whirlpool): Lime Juice
Fermentation Plan

The White Labs Kolsch Yeast I'm using here should produce a fairly clean beer if we can keep the fermentation temperature at about 65F.  My fermentation plan is:
  • Days 1-10: Ferment at 65F using temperature control
  • Days 10+: Ferment at ambient temperatures in the basement
After the final gravity is reached and held for a week, the beer will be bottle-conditioned.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

05/05/2019:  The ingredients were gathered, measured, and loaded into the Brewie+.  The lime was zested and juiced, with the zest being added to the machine and the juice held for flameout.

I screwed up calculating the mash and sparge water. Noticing that the spreadsheet I've been using for a while doesn't incorporate the grain absorption amount into its mash water calculations, I fixed that. But in doing so, I forgot to adjust the grain volume to match the current recipe, so everything was calculated for about twice as much grain. I should have used 6.8 liters but ended up using 11.6 (which made for a very thin mash).  Later on, instead of 12.4 liters of pre-boil volume, I had 13.2 liters.

Mash pH read anywhere from 4.7 to 5.3 depending on where the meter entered the mash liquid. I may have added too much Acid malt, but that was based on the recommendation of Brewer's Friend.

Pre-boil gravity read 11 Brix (which adjusts to about 1.045 SG on my refractometer) and the volume read approximately 13.2 liters instead of the expected 12.4 liters, so I opened the lid on the Brewie to increase boil-off rate with the goal of hitting my targets.  This boiled off enough water to bring the final volume and gravity into line with the recipe targets.

During the boil, I noticed at times that the Brewie did not seem to be pushing wort through the hop cages.  There seemed to be a clog in the system that resolved itself, then reappeared, and resolved itself again. That, or a pump may be failing.  Given that it's only 5 months old, a clog seems more likely.

Post-boil, the gravity registered 1.057 SG on the Tilt Hydrometer and the temperature read 66F. I pitched the yeast and set the temperature control to hold it at 65F.  Volume read between 2.5 gallons and 2.75 gallons.

05/08/2019:  The gravity has been dropping as expected since the yeast was pitched. Below are the lowest gravities recorded for each day since the yeast was pitched:
  • 5/5/2019:  1.057 SG (65F)
  • 5/6/2018:  1.049 SG (65F)
  • 5/7/2019:  1.032 SG (65F)
  • 5/8/2019:  1.022 SG (Temp raised to 66F)
05/09/2019:  Gravity is down to 1.017 SG. Temp is holding at 66F.  I'm planning to increase it to 69F later tonight to help the yeast reach final gravity.

05/14/2019:  Gravity is down to 1.013 SG, down from 1.014 SG yesterday. Temp is holding at 65F.

05/19/2019:  Gravity has held at 1.013 SG for several days now.  Today, I added 2 teaspoons of Real Lime powder and 2 ounces of Brewer's Best Lime Flavoring to the fermenter and stirred it in.  The beer was then bottled with Brewer's Best Carbonation Tablets. It has a lime/margarita aroma and the combination of Agave, Bitter Orange Peel, and Lime gives it a nice subtle margarita flavor.  Most bottles received 3 tablets, a few received 2, 4, or 5 to gauge how different carbonation levels might affect the beer's flavor and mouthfeel.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

In Search of... Malt Complexity

I've placed a lot of malt-forward styles into competition in the last two years. These are styles that tend to appeal to me, such as the Dark Mild, Scottish Export, Extra Strong Bitter, and Dry Irish Stout. To be fair, I had brewed many of these styles for the very first time, and from recipes found on the Internet (which probably had good pedigrees, but who's to say). The fact that they did not do well may have boiled down to them being mediocre recipes to start with, or a lack of experience on my part brewing the styles, or the fact that I've changed brewing systems twice in the last two years. Regardless, a common comment from judges over the last three years of my brewing competition experience has been that some of my beers (not all, or even most) lacked malt complexity.

The first time I got that comment, I assumed that the judge meant that I hadn't used a good balance of specialty malts. When I tweaked the grist on one of those recipes and entered the next competition, the scores did improve a little. The comment cropped up more often this year, which convinced me that I needed to do a deeper dive into the subject.  If you're running into this same comment, what I'm about to share may help you, too.

Malt complexity can be impacted at each stage of the brewing process:
  • Recipe creation:  Choosing the right types of barley (and other grains) for the grist is important. Studying the BJCP criteria's list of ingredients and reviewing winning recipes for the style you're brewing can help here.
  • Mashing:  The mash process is all about breaking down proteins, starches, and sugars with enzymes present in the grain. Adding different mash rests rather than doing a single temperature rest can help alter the body, mouthfeel, and malt flavor complexity.
  • Boiling:  A rolling boil is important to kettle caramelization and driving off unwanted flavors like DMS. Lengthening the boil can help increase caramelization and deepen malt flavors, resulting in improved complexity.  It can also help to pull off a portion of the wort and boil it down very rapidly, then return it to the brew kettle.
  • Fermentation:  Choosing a yeast strain that accentuates malt flavors rather than hops can also improve the malt complexity of the finished beer. Depending on the style of beer you're making, there are usually several yeast strains available, each with differing impacts on the finished beer. You'll want to choose one that delivers what you're looking for.
I'm going to dive a little deeper into each of these areas.

Recipe Creation

There are a number of ways your recipe can impact the malt complexity and body:
  • There is a good list of barley variations and their impact on the beer here:
    https://www.brewcabin.com/malted-barley/
  • Base Malts: These form the background flavor of the beer.
    • Pilsner:  pale color and delicate flavor, perfect for lagers and pale ales
    • Pale Malts:  light color with biscuit and honey flavors
      • British pale malt tends to be darker but more flavorful
      • American two-row is between a pilsner and a British pale with honey and grain flavor
      • American six-row is great for starch conversion but less flavorful than two-row
    • Pale Ale Malts:  developed specifically for English-style Pale Ales. They are darker in color than pale malts
    • Vienna and Munich Malts: These are a foundation for beers that require sweet caramel flavors without dark colors
    • Extra-pale malts may display herbal notes and grassy or hay-like flavors and aromas
    • English pale ale malts like Maris Otter and Golden Promise develop a sharp, biscuity character that suits bitters and pale ales
    • North American "lager" malts often are very neutral and lack the character needed for some styles
    • Vienna malt brings out sweet, caramelly notes recognizable in a Vienna lager or Marzen
    • Munich malt brings sweet, toasty, cookie type flavors
  • Specialty Malts:  Depending on the style, you can add specialty malts, increase or decrease the amount of specialty malts, or choose malts from a different supplier to increase complexity.
    • Carapils/Dextrine malt will add body and head retention. Use as 5-20% of the grist in darker beers and 5-10% in lighter ones.
    • Some North American pale malts can give edgy or phenolic astringency
    • European malts often show more character and aroma
    • Pale malts in the 10 Lovibond range contribute sweet caramel, cotton candy, and honey notes
    • Malts in the 20 Lovibond range contribute some golden raisin flavors
    • Pale Ales and IPAs are often accented with some raisiny caramel malt, often with a mix of lager and pale malts, possibly with Vienna or Caramel 10L for sweetness
    • Lighter caramel malts tend to provide a beer's main flavor while darker varieties plan a supporting role. Dark crystal malts can overwhelm a beer's flavor.
    • Biscuit malt adds nutty, toasted biscuit flavors, like a more-intense Vienna malt
    • Amber malt is similar to biscuit, but has more complex flavors like toffee, nuts, and baked bread, and more bitterness
    • Brown malt has toffee, bready, nutty flavors but can dry out a beer if overused. It's best used in moderation to add complexity.
    • Chocolate malt offers a slight burnt flavor, coffee and chocolate aroma/flavor, and astringency
    • Black malt gives a deep color addition, but can add astringency unless it's huskless
    • Roasted barley isn't really malted, but adds roasted flavor
    • Acidulated (Acid) malt adds sour flavors, and a little can add sharpness and reduce mash pH.
    • Smoked malt is useful in some styles but can be overwhelming depending on the degree of smoke flavor
    • Peated malt is smoked using peat instead of wood. It's more for whiskey than beer, and some say it can make a beer taste like a Band-Aid bandage.
    • Wheat malt has a high protein content and can add a thicker, long-lasting head along with bready flavors
    • Rye malt adds a spicy flavor and works well with hops
    • Oat malt can fill out a beer's flavor and gives it a smooth mouthfeel. 
  • Maltodextrin can be added to enhance body
  • Lactose can add sweetness, body, and mouthfeel
  • Flaked Barley and oats should be less than 15% of your grist in most cases
  • If you're using a more-attenuating yeast strain, add proteins/dextrins to fill in the body
Mash Schedule Impacts

The mash schedule you follow for a brew can also impact the malt complexity:
  • Proteins break down in the 113-131F range at a pH between 5.1 and 5.3. Breaking these down will lighten the body of the beer and may impact head retention.
  • Starches break down into sugars best in the 150-162F range at a pH of 5.3 to 5.7.
  • According to one source, a few degrees Fahrenheit and a tenth of a pH point can make a world of difference in creating complex malt flavor.
  • Having at least two temperature rests in the saccharification range will make for a more complex beer.
  • If brewing with wheat, add a rest at 113F (ferulic acid rest) to bring out clove characteristics associated with wheat beers, and a saccharification rest in the mid-150F range.
  • If you're using a lot of specialty malts, mashing in at 140F and stepping into the mid-150's will facilitate fermentability while retaining body.
Boil Schedule Factors

Activity during the boil also impacts malt complexity:
  • Pilsners and wheat beers are generally boiled 60 minutes or less to maintain the light color
  • Scottish ales, porters, stouts, and other darker styles can be boiled up to 2 hours in order to get enough kettle caramelization, color, and complexity.
  • Varying your boil time as little as 15 minutes can make a difference, especially if you're maintaining a rolling boil. Try a two-hour boil to start, dialing it back if the effect is too intense. Some styles, like barleywines, may even boil up to 5 hours.
  • In general, the longer you boil, the more caramelization you'll have in the kettle and the more intense the malt flavors will be.
  • Use kettle caramelization for the right styles and dial in the right boil length for your setup.
  • You can concentrate a portion of the wort (improving caramelization and complexity) by pulling off a bit of it, boiling that down very hard (reducing volume by half) and adding it back to the kettle. This works well in styles like:
    • Bock
    • Doppelbock
    • Wee Heavy
    • Old Ale
    • Barleywine
    • Imperial Stout
    • Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Fermentation Factors

By the time you've reached the point of fermenting the beer, nearly all the heavy-lifting in terms of developing malt complexity has probably been achieved. Still you can tweak things further:
  • A less-attenuating yeast strain will leave behind malt sugars and increase the body of the finished beer.
  • Some strains emphasize malt flavors (like Scottish Ale strains) while others will bring out the hop flavors. Choosing a different strain can impact malt aroma and flavor.
  • Some fining agents reportedly lighten the body of the beer, so take care when using those. (I didn't find much specific detail on which fining agents do this.)
Incorporating this Information in Your Brewing

Learning and reading all this won't help much if I don't put some of it into practice to improve my brewing. Here's how I intend to start playing around with these suggestions to improve my beer:
  • Grain Bill:  For styles that need more body, I'll be looking to add oats, maltodextrin, Carapils/Dextrine malt, and/or Melanoidin, and mash at higher temperatures.
  • Mash: The Brewie+ and the PicoBrew Zymatic I used before that both make it fairly easy to implement multi-step mashes and keep them on track. I'll continue to play around with adding steps, lengthening or shortening some, etc., to try to improve body and complexity.  I think these automated systems seem to have trouble delivering a full-bodied beer, so I may need to compensate for this in the grain bill.
  • Boil:  The Brewie+ and the Zymatic both tend to boil below the 212F "true boil" temperature.  I regularly see the Brewie+ boiling in the 205-209F range. You would definitely not call it a rolling boil compared to some propane-fueled kettles (or even some stove tops) but there is a decent amount of roll to it.  Still, I'm considering drawing off and concentrating a portion of the wort on the kitchen stove as a way of boosting caramelization and possibly the body of the finished beer.  I'm also going to start lengthening the boil times on the theory that the lower boil temperature of the Brewie+ delivers less or "slower" caramelization in the kettle, and that extending the boil length will increase the caramelization overall.
  • Fermentation:  If all the above isn't getting me the results I want, I'll have to start experimenting with less-attenuating yeast strains to see if that helps.
As with many things in brewing, research and experimentation should help improve the beer.

I hope you've found this post useful and/or interesting.






Saturday, April 27, 2019

Belgian Dubbel 5.0

I've been able to brew Trappist Single, Tripel, and Quad (Dark Strong) ales that I'm happy with. One of my Tripels placed at the Ohio State Fair. Two of my Dark Strong Ales finished in the top three at Barley's Ale House. The one Trappist style I've brewed repeatedly but never been happy with is the Dubbel.

It's not that I don't know what I want from a Dubbel. I want a nice deep ruby red color with a decent head and clarity. I want a noticeable aroma of dark fruit (prune/plum) and noble hops (preferably Saaz). I want a touch of sweetness, but not to a cloying degree, to bring out that dark fruit. A mild phenolic quality, manifesting as peppery or clove-like notes would be ideal. The body should lean toward medium. The beer should finish dry and clean.

I found a recipe on Beer and Brewing that is attributed to Andy Mitchell, a brewer at New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado. I'm swapping out the East Kent Goldings hops (which I've never liked in a Belgian style beer) for a mix of Whitbread Goldings for bittering and Czech Saaz for flavor/aroma. I'm also going to add some chopped raisins and prunes in the whirlpool to see if I can't dial up the dark fruit flavors in the finished beer. A locally-made Dubbel I tried a few years ago included plums in the recipe, and it was one of the best Dubbels I've had, so I'm hopeful that

Ingredients

3 pounds Dingeman's Pilsen Malt
1 pound plus 5 ounces Weyermann Munich I Malt
8 ounces Caramunich I Malt
7 ounces Gambrinus Honey Malt
4 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt
2 ounces Dingeman's Special B Malt
1 ounce Dingeman's Chocolate Malt
1 pound Corn Sugar (added to mash)
4 ounces Golden Raisins, chopped
4 ounces Prunes, chopped
0.30 ounces Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) hops @ 7.1%AA (60 min.)
0.25 ounces Czech Saaz hops @ 5.4% AA (15 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (boil - 20 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 package Safbrew BE-256 ale yeast
6.5 liters mash water
6.9 liters sparge water

BeerSmith estimates the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Category: 26B Belgian Dubbel
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (2.75 gallons actual)
  • Original Gravity: 1.066 SG estimated (1.068 SG actual)
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.049 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.007 SG estimated (1.012 SG actual)
  • IBUs: 21.5 estimated (19.1 adjusted estimate)
  • SRM: 16.6
  • ABV: 8.0% estimated (7.7% actual)
  • Fermenter: O'Reilly
Mash Schedule

The following mash schedule was programmed into the Brewie+ system:
  • 10 minute Ferulic Acid Rest at 113F (to help the yeast express itself)
  • 20 minute Beta Rest at 144F
  • 40 minute Alpha Rest at 158F
  • 2 minute Mash Out at 168F
  • 20 minute Sparge at 168F
Boil Schedule

To enhance the malt complexity in this malt-forward style, a 90-minute boil will be used for this batch, as below:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: WGV hops
  • 20 minutes: Brewtan B and 1/3 of the prune/raisin mix
  • 15 minutes: Yeast Nutrient, Irish Moss, Czech Saaz, and 1/3 of the prune/raisin mix
  • 0 minutes: Remaining runes and raisins, steeped through chilling/whirlpool and removed
The wort will be chilled to 63F and transferred to a sanitized plastic bucket fermenter.

Fermentation Schedule

The yeast will be allowed to free-rise until approximately 67% attenuation takes place, at which time I'll raise the temperature to 73F and hold it until final gravity is reached.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

04/27/2019:  If you look at the Beer and Brewing recipe, you'll notice I swapped some of the Munich I malt for Honey malt. I did this, honestly, because I'd run out of Munich I and had some Honey malt to use up. They're by no means ideal substitutes, but I thought it would be interesting to see how it turned out.  I also swapped East Kent Goldings in their recipe with WGV and Saaz, which is more to my liking in Belgian styles.

My yeast package was older than I realized, so I smacked the nutrient pack and shook it up. I allowed it to warm up while I ran a sanitizing cycle on the brewing system and prepared the ingredients. In the end, I decided it would be best to drop the yeast into a starter and raise up the cell population before pitching it into the wort. To help things along, I poured a bottle of Trappistes Rochefort 10, then swirled the last half-inch of it until the yeast seemed to be in suspension and added that to the starter as well. (This should be more or less the same yeast strain as 1762, by the way.)



At the end of the process, I pumped approximately 2.25 gallons into the fermenter at a gravity of about 1.080 SG. I diluted this down with distilled water to a gravity of 1.068 and a volume of 2.75 gallons in the fermenter.  All of this impacts bitterness, dropping the beer to 19.1 IBUs from the original 21.5 IBUs. The increased gravity also brings the estimated ABV up to 8.0% from 7.8%.  If it ferments out as expected, this is going to be a fairly strong Dubbel.

I sealed the fermenter without pitching the yeast, as the package of 1762 had a distinctly autolyzed aroma to it when I opened it. Despite that, I dropped it into a 1 liter starter wort to see if there is enough viable yeast there to ferment the beer. If not, I'll either use the package of Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast I have on hand or make a trip to the LHBS for a new package of 1762 or White Labs WLP540.

04/28/2019:  The starter of Wyeast 1762 didn't seem to raise any yeast, even after dregs from a bottle of Trappistes Rochefort 10 were added to it. My package of Ardennes yeast was also old, so I ended up pitching a package of dry Safbrew BE-256 yeast, which is a Belgian strain that should be the most suitable among those I have available.

05/05/2019:  The gravity has been slowly dropping since the BE-256 was pitched into it.  The Tilt Hydrometer readings have shown a continued decline. Here at the lowest hydrometer readings for each day since the yeast was pitched:
  • 4/29/2019: 1.050 SG
  • 4/30/2019: 1.017 SG
  • 5/1/2019: 1.015 SG
  • 5/2/2019: 1.014 SG
  • 5/3/2019: 1.014 SG
  • 5/4/2019: 1.013 SG
Based on this, it looks like there is still a slow fermentation going on, so I'm hesitant to bottle the beer for fear of overcarbonating it.  (I've had a few beers do this recently, and suspect that bottling too soon is the issue.)

05/08/2019:  Gravity has continued to hold at 1.013 SG.  I've raised the temperature on the fermenter to 77F to ensure that there is no sugar remaining to ferment before bottling.  Concerned that the issue in recent overcarbonation might be a bacterial residue in the bottling wands, I've ordered replacements and will not bottle this beer until they arrive.

05/09/2019:  I've raised the temperature for the beer to 77F to help the yeast finish cleaning up before bottling.

05/11/2019:  The beer has held at 1.013 SG now for a week, so I think it's safe to call this "final gravity" for the batch.  BeerSmith estimated the final gravity at 1.007 SG, but it may have been assuming a lower mash temp than I used, or its estimates for the yeast strain were off.  Either way, I think we're ready to bottle this one.

05/14/2019:  I bottled the beer today. It was in my 2.5 gallon translucent plastic fermenter with the screw-on lid, pictured above, passed through the new stainless bottling wand.  Sanitized metal tongs were used to drop 3 carbonation tablets into each regular bottle and 4 into each Belgian style bottle.  Yield was 28 twelve ounce bottles. The bottles were placed inside a sealed plastic cooler with no heat.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Irish Red Ale 4.0

I am starting to feel cursed that I am unable to brew an Irish Red Ale, a style that I really enjoy drinking.  My first attempt brewed fine but didn't taste like I thought it should (and it wasn't my recipe). The second attempt had a volume and gravity issue that watered it down. It was drinkable but hardly memorable. The third attempt stalled during fermentation at too high a gravity. I tried to fix that with glucoamylase and ended up with a "Brut Irish Red Ale" that was drinkable but not what I wanted, either.  This time I am hoping to nail it.

I'm creating my own recipe this time around, loosely based on those I've seen online. I'm using Maris Otter for an authentic base, layering on some Caramel 40L for a caramel flavor, 120L for some color and dark fruit, roasted barley for more color and a touch of flavor, and Melanoidin malt for body, red coloring, and foam stability.  I'm using a single dose of East Kent Goldings for authentic bittering, Brewtan B for shelf stability, and Irish Moss to help brighten it (with gelatin in secondary if needed).  As usual, I'm including Clarity Ferm to reduce gluten so that my gluten-intolerant friends are able to enjoy the beer as well (so far they've found it drinkable and enjoyable).

Ingredients

4.5 pounds Maris Otter Malt
3 ounces Melanoidin Malt
3 ounces Caramel 40L
2 ounces Caramel 120L
1 ounce Roasted Barley
0.40 ounces East Kent Goldings hops @ 6.1% AA (60 min.)
A few pellets of Whitbread Goldings Variety hops @ 7.1% AA (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast nutrient
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (boil)
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss (15 min.)
1/4 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
6.0 Liters of Mash Water
7.0 Liters of Sparge Water

BeerSmith estimates the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 15.A Irish Red Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (2.8 actual)
  • Original Gravity: 1.047 SG estimated (1.045 actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.038 SG (1.038 actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
  • IBU: 20.7 (19.6 actual)
  • SRM: 13.6 (12.6 actual)
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.44
  • Fermenter: Pike
  • Bottling Wand: 1/2" Plastic (retired)
These characteristics place it at the upper end for gravity, toward the lower end for bitterness, toward the upper end for color (I'm aiming for a nice red color), and toward the upper end for alcohol content.

Mash Schedule

Here is the mash schedule I'll be using:
  • 5 minutes Mash in at 95F
  • 10 minutes Beta Glucanase rest at 113F (help ensure clarity)
  • 15 minutes Conversion at 142F 
  • 30 minutes Conversion 2 at 153F
  • 15 minutes Conversion 3 at 160F (three rests to help with malt complexity)
  • 5 minutes Mash out at 168F
  • 20 minutes Sparge at 170F
The point of the complex mash it to help bring out some malt complexity in the finished beer. Competition judges have criticized some of my recent British styles for a lack of malt complexity, so I am hoping to dial that up here and see how it goes.

Boil Schedule

I'm going with an 80-minute boil on this one to try to leverage kettle caramelization to enhance malt complexity:
  • 80 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: East Kent Goldings
  • 20 minutes: Brewtan B
  • 15 minutes: Irish Moss and yeast Nutrient
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 65F
Wort will then be moved to a sanitized and cleaned fermenter with temperature control.

Fermentation Plan

The yeast's optimum range is between 62F and 72F.  I plan to aim for a temperature of 67F and hold it there through fermentation, perhaps raising it to 72F toward the end, to help the yeast clean up and reach final gravity. The yeast nutrient is there to help it. I'll be pitching the entire package to ensure a healthy yeast population, since I don't plan to brew any more Irish styles for a while.

If the beer seems hazy, I may drop in gelatin finings to clear it up before bottling.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

04/25/2019:  Ingredients were gathered and loaded into the Brewie+.  I programmed it with the mash and boil schedules and waited near it while it loaded the mash water, returning a bit later when it loaded sparge water. I adjusted the volumes to ensure that they were on track, but ended up adding some to the mash to cover all the grain.

After brewing, gravity registered 1.045 SG on the Tilt Hydrometer and the temperature read 75F. I pitched the yeast and set the temperature control to 67F.  I ended up with over 2.75 gallons of wort, something along the lines of 2.8 gallons.



04/27/2019:  The yeast seemed to get off to a slow start, but is now on its way. The gravity is currently 1.025 SG and the temperature is holding at 67F.  That's about 44% attenuation at this point.

04/28/2019:  The gravity is down to 1.016 SG and continuing to decrease.  The temperature has been raised to 72F to encourage the yeast to finish up.

04/29/2019:  The gravity is down to 1.013 SG, two points from the expected final gravity. The temperature has continued to hold at 72F.

05/05/2019:  The gravity seems to be holding at 1.013 SG.  It's held there for a week now, so I think it's time to bottle this one.

05/06/2019:  The beer was bottled using three small carbonation tablets per bottle (low carbonation). A few bottles were dosed with only two tablets, and one bottle with a single tablet. I've had some beers lately start gushing out of the bottle unexpectedly. While I suspect that this is the result of bacterial infection in one of my bottling wands, there is a possibility that it's a combination of being bottled before final gravity was reached and/or being over-primed. If it's a bacterial issue (and the bottling wand I used was the infected one), then even the 1-tablet and 2-tablet bottles in this batch should gush when opened. If it's an issue of final gravity and/or over-priming, then the 3-tablet bottles might gush - but the 1 and 2 tablet bottles should have a more reasonable level of carbonation.

05/12/2019:  Unfortunately, I've had yet-another failure in the Irish Red Ale style. This time around, I I learned that the bottling wand I used for this batch had become infected with an unknown strain of bacteria. Every bottle of this beer gushes itself empty when opened.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Azacca Belma Pale Ale 1.0

While browsing of the online homebrew supply shop web sites, I discovered that they had both Belma and Azacca hops on sale. Having never used either, I decided to order some and craft a Pale Ale recipe around them.  I'd also wanted to try the relatively new Omega Yeast OYL-091 Hornindal Kveik yeast.  This recipe is the culmnation of that recipe design.  The flavor and aroma contributions from this combination should harmonize pretty well:
  • Azacca hops: Citrus and mango notes with a little orchard fruit.
  • Belma hops: Clean with a very orange, slight grapefruit, tropical pineapple, strawberry, and melon aroma.
  • Hornindal Kveik yeast: Complements fruit-forward hops with its aromas of fresh pineapple, mango, and tangerine. Fermenting at high temperatures (up to 95F) will intensify the aromas and speed up fermentation.
Blend all that and we should get lots of nice citrus, mango, pineapple, and grapfruit aromas and flavors. I plan to intensify that by using only later-addition hops and whirlpooling with a bit of the hops after flameout.

Ingredients

5 pounds 2-row Brewer's Malt
4 ounces Caravienne Malt
3 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt
2 ounces Caramel 20L Malt
2 ounces Flaked Corn
0.18 ounces Azacca hops @ 11.6% AA (20 min.)
0.18 ounces Belma hops @ 11.6% AA (20 min.)
0.18 ounces Azacca hops @ 11.6% AA (10 min.)
0.18 ounces Belma hops @ 11.6% AA (10 min.)
0.15 ounces Azacca hops @ 11.6% AA (10 min. whirlpool 156-176F)
0.15 ounces Belma hops @ 11.6% AA (10 min. whirlpool 156-176F)
0.25 ounces Azacca hops (dry hop)
0.25 ounces Belma hops (dry hop)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (15 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (boil - 20 min.)
1/4 tablet Whirlfloc
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
6.7 liters mash water
6.7 liters sparge water

BeerSmith estimates the beer to have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 18.B American Pale Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.6 gallons
  • IBUs: 33.4
  • SRM: 5.7
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • Original Gravity: 1.052 SG (actual was 1.053 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.009 SG
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.65
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 138F for 30 minutes
  • Mash at 157F for 45 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minute
  • Sparge at 168F for 15 minutes
Boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes: No additions
  • 20 minutes: Azacca and Belma hops, plus Brewtan B
  • 10 minutes: Azacca and Belma hops, plus yeast nutrient and whirlfloc
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 176F then whirlpool and dry hop 10 minutes with 0.15 ounces each of Azacca and Belma hops, then chill to a yeast-safe temperature
Fermentation plan:
  • Pitch yeast and Clarity Ferm
  • Place fermenter in an insulated bag with a heating element, set temperature to 80F.
  • Seal the bag and allow the yeast to maintain a temp of at least 80F through fermentation, raising to 95F after 65-70% attenuated and add dry hops of Azacca and Belma for 3-4 days.
I plan to bottle with a single Coopers carbonation drop per 12-ounce bottle. I don't plan to cold-crash or add finings.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

04/13/2019:  At the last minute, I decided to add the Carapils to the recipe to ensure some body and a nice head on the beer. I also decided to toss in a couple of ounces of flaked corn I had lying around that needed to be used.  Pre-boil gravity registered at 1.051 SG on a refractometer.

Post-boil, after the built-in chiller had dropped the temp to 176F, I paused the process. I dropped in a muslin bag with the Azacca and Belma whirlpool charge and began stirring the wort around for the next ten minutes. After that, I resumed the chilling process and got to work sanitizing a fermenter. By the time I'd finished with the fermenter, the wort was down to a yeast-safe temp. I pumped it into the fermenter and was pleased to see it registered 2.5 gallons (my target volume). When I dropped in a Tilt Hydrometer (and tested a couple of drops on the refractometer), but measurements yielded the same 1.053 SG.  I pitched the entire yeast package and Clarity Ferm.

I then moved the beer into one of my large Igloo coolers, added a heat wrap, and configured temperature control to keep the inside of the chamber to 85F (at least initially) and see about getting the beer up closer to the top of the yeast's range. This will maximize the yeast's aroma and flavor contributions - and speed up fermentation.

04/14/2019:  It's roughly 12 hours since I pitched the yeast. Temperature in the fermenter is now up to 74F and the gravity has dropped from 1.053 SG down to 1.048 SG, which implies the yeast is alive and well in its new environment.

04/16/2019: The Tilt Pi stopped communicating with the Tilt Hydrometers yesterday. After the SD card was reimaged and reconfigured, it worked again. Today the gravity of the beer is reported as 1.027 SG and the temperature as 83F.

04/19/2019:  The gravity is down to 1.014 SG. The temperature is up to 86F, owing to an increase in the temperature of the fermentation chamber.

04/21/2019: The gravity is down to 1.013 SG. Temperature is holding at 86F but I plan to increase the temp in the fermentation chamber later today to try to get it up in the 90F-98F range.  At this point we're only about 4 points away from the expected final gravity.

04/24/2019:  The gravity is down to 1.009 SG today. The temperature is up to 98F. It seems that the increase above 90F really helped this yeast get going.  I need to remember that for next time if I decide to brew this again. It wants to ferment very warm and may need a starter.

04/27/2019:  The gravity held at a consistent 1.009 SG for three days, but late last night began intermittently reading 1.008 SG. This suggests to me that fermentation may not be complete yet. I'm going to give it another day or two at 97F to see if there's any change before bottling. I think this is why I've had some batches overcarbonate and gush... fermentation wasn't truly finished and ended up continuing in the bottle.

04/28/2019:  After several days now at 97F and gravity holding at 1.009 SG, I've turned off the temperature control system and am allowing the beer to drop down to room temperature on its own inside the insulated chamber. I'll most likely bottle the beer in the next night or two.

04/29/2019:  Today the beer was bottled, using 1 Coopers carbonation tablet per 12-ounce bottle, and placed in the "hot box" with the temperature set to 98F.  A sample taken from the end of the bottling bucket had a hint of a cracker or biscuit-like malt bit to it, some somewhat muddy (to me) citrus notes that remind me of orange with a bit of pith to it. I'll reserve judgment until it's had a couple of weeks in the bottle but my initial take is that it's "OK" but nothing fantastic. I harvested the yeast to use in another beer soon.  The yeast flocculates into a fairly thin, compact layer in the fermenter and seems to impart a little of a Saison-like funk to the flavor, reminding me a little of beers that included Brettanomyces.

05/11/2019:  The beer is mildly carbonated at this point. There is an aroma of fresh orange (pith mostly) to the beer. It's not as bitter as it should be for the style, but it's not cloying, either. If I do this recipe again, I need to increase the hop amounts to aim for perhaps 40 IBUs.

Monday, April 8, 2019

MadTree PsycHOPathy Clone 1.0

MadTree PsycHOPathy is an American IPA brewed in Cincinnati by MadTree Brewing.  They post the recipes for all of their beers on their web site. These recipes list the ingredients and most of the vial information for the beer, but omit some of the details you might need to precisely replicate their beer. However, if you ask nicely, I've found that they will fill in the blanks.  For example, they told me the mash temperature they use is 149.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  I'll use 149F myself, knowing that the temp in the Brewie+ varies a little during mashing, so it will hover around 149.5.

I took MadTree's published recipe and reproduced the grain bill for the Brewie+ and ran that through my mill.  I then took the alpha acid values for all the hops and reworked the amounts so that I am getting approximately the same number of IBUs from all my hop additions that MadTree gets from theirs (according to the published recipe).  This should mimic their hop flavor profile as best I can reproduce it.  The resulting recipe and process appears below.

Ingredients

6 pounds, 7 ounces of 2-row Pale Malt
1 pound, 6 ounces of Vienna Malt
3 ounces of Carapils/Dextrine Malt
3 ounces of Caramel 40L Malt
0.20 ounces of Galena hops pellets @ 13.8% AA (60 min.)
0.21 ounces of Chinook hoops pellets @ 11.6% AA (45 min.)
0.37 ounces of Centennial hops pellets @ 10.8% AA (30 min.)
0.42 ounces of Centennial hops pellets @ 10.8% AA (15 min.)
0.35 ounces of Cascade hops pellets @ 6.9% AA (15 min Whirlpool)
0.09 ounces of Centennial hops pellets @ 10.8% AA (15 min Whirlpool)
0.90 ounces of Centennial hops pellets (dry hop 3-7 days)
0.55 ounces of Chinook hops pellets (dry hop 3-7 days)
1 package Wyeast 1272 American Ale II yeast
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (15 min.)
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash water)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (boil 30 min.)
1/4 tablet Whirlfloc (15 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer (mash)
1/2 tsp. Gypsum (mash)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm

8.8 liters of mash water (approx.)
6.2 liters of sparge water (approx.)

BeerSmith estimates the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 21.A American IPA
  • Batch Size: 2.9 gallons (actual was approximately 2.9 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.064 SG (15.3 Brix) estimated (1.057 SG actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.052 SG (12.5 Brix) estimated, actual was 1.061 at 11 liters, diluted to 1.053 and 13.2 liters
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 SG 
  • ABV: 6.9% 
  • IBU: 71 
  • SRM: 6.4
  • BU/GU Ratio: 1.103
Mash Schedule
  • Mash in at 140F for 15 minutes
  • Mash at 149F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 168F for 15 minutes 
Boil Schedule
  • 60 minutes: Galena hops 
  • 45 minutes: Chinook hops 
  • 30 minutes: Centennial hops (0.37 oz.) plus Brewtan B 
  • 15 minutes: Centennial hops (0.42 oz.) plus yeast nutrient and whirlfloc
  • 0 minutes: Heat off, add whirlpool hops (Centennial and Cascade)
  • Whirlpool 15 minutes with hops
  • Chill to 62F
Fermentation Plan
  • Ferment at 60-66F for 7-10 days or until gravity is approximately 1.020 SG.
  • Add Dry Hops and leave until FG is reached or 3-4 days, whichever is longer.
  • Add gelatin finings and cold crash until clear.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

04/08/2019: The water loads were a little high and had to be adjusted slightly. However, I did notice that the mash water level was too low to cover all the grain so I ended up adding back about 48 ounces.  Sparge water also loaded high, so I adjusted it down by about a liter or so.

Gravity read 17.1 Brix (1.072 SG) late in the mash before the sparge water was added.

Pre-boil gravity was 14.5 Brix (1.061 SG) and volume was estimated to be 11 liters.  This gives a brew house efficiency for this batch of 76.6%

Adding water to dilute it a bit to get the gravity closer to the estimate of 1.052 SG pre-boil gravity. This raised the volume to 13.2 liters and dropped the gravity to 12.75 Brix or approximately 1.053 SG.

Post-Brew approximately 2.9 gallons ended up in the fermenter at 60F and a gravity of 1.057 SG per the Tilt Hydrometer. US-05 yeast was pitched along with Clarity Ferm.

04/09/2019:  The beer has warmed from 60F to 62F since the yeast was pitched last night. The cooler temperature must have kept the US-05 sleepy, as it showed no sign of fermentation for about 20 hours, when the gravity of the wort began to drop.  Gravity has only dropped a point or two in 24 hours, but I expect that will start to pick up.

04/10/2019:  The beer has warmed up to 64F and the gravity has dropped to 1.040 SG. That is 29.31% attenuation and approximately 2.2% ABV.

04/12/2019:  Gravity is down as low as 1.017 SG (though it's varied as high as 1.024 SG) and the temperature has gone as high as 65F (but currently 63F).  Tonight I dry-hopped it.  If past experience is any indicator, this will spur some additional fermentation and bring the gravity down further, perhaps lower than the estimated 1.014 SG.

04/14/2019:  Since dry-hopping, the beer has reached its estimated FG and seems (for the last several hours at least) to pretty much be holding there.  I'll need to bottle it in the next 2-5 days to avoid any grassy notes from the dry hops.  For now, I'm waiting to make sure it really has reached FG since dry hops can spur additional fermentation activity, which can lead to burst and overflowing bottles if you bottle the beer too soon.

04/16/2019: The beer has been holding in the 1.014-1.015 SG range and should be ready to bottle.

04/18/2019:  The beer was bottled with a single Coopers carbonation drop per bottle.

04/27/2019: A test bottle was chilled and opened. It was compared to a can of the MadTree beer. The color of my version was a bit darker, and the hop aroma less evident despite a long contact time with the dry hops. The flavor was very close, though. Mine exhibits a bit of diacetyl that the real beer lacks, and I'm hopeful that the yeast will clear this up.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Dry Irish Stout 1.0

Having managed to get three successive batches out of the Brewie+ which hit my volume and gravity goals, today I decided to brew a Dry Irish Stout for possible competition. I like the style and I have never brewed it before, so it seemed like a good time to try.

I began by reviewing some articles online about brewing the style, then by considering the BJCP criteria for it. I took one of the published recipes and tweaked it to suit my taste (hopefully).  I added Melanoidin malt and Carapils to try to get the beer to have a nice head on it. I used Willamette hops and Bramling Cross for a little twist to the style, while not taking it too far off base. The Bramling Cross hops are used in British stouts and reportedly carries fruity, citrusy notes with some blackcurrant, loganberry, gooseberry, and lemon - sometimes even with vanilla. That should all do nicely in the stout. I'm adding gypsum to help punch up the hops, since I'm hopping it toward the lower end of the style (the style's range is 25-45 IBUs, and I'm aiming for 30).

Ingredients

5 pounds, 5 ounces Maris Otter malt
1 pound 5 ounces Flaked Barley
10.6 ounces Roasted Barley
2.7 ounces Melanoidin Malt
2.7 ounces Pale Chocolate Malt
2.7 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt
2.7 ounces Acid Malt
1 ounce Willamette hops pellets @ 4.2% AA (40 min.)
0.35 ounces Bramling Cross hops pellets @ 6.5% AA (20 min.)
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash water)
1/2 tsp. Gypsum (added to sparge water)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (15 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (10 min.)
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer (added with grain)
10.2 liters of mash water
5.7 liters of sparge water

BeerSmith 3 estimates the following qualities for this beer:
  • Batch Size: 3.5 gallons (3.75 actual)
  • BJCP Style: 15.B Irish Stout
  • Original Gravity: 1.048 SG estimated (1.047 SG actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.040 SG estimated (1.040 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.012 SG estimated
  • IBUs: 30
  • SRM: 39
  • ABV: 4.8% estimated
  • BU/GU ratio: 0.618 estimated
The mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 145F for 15 minutes
  • Mash step 1 at 152F for 30 minutes
  • Mash step 2 at 158F for 30 minutes
  • Mash out and sparge at 168F for 10 minutes
Boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes: No additions
  • 40 minutes: Willamette hops
  • 20 minutes: Bramling Cross hops
  • 15 minutes: Brewtan B
  • 10 minutes: Yeast nutrient
The Brewie+ was instructed to chill the wort to 62F after the boil was over.

Fermentation plan:
  • Pitch WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast and White Labs Clarity ferm (for gluten removal)
  • Ferment at 65-68F for 7-14 days until final gravity is reached
Following the end of primary fermentation, bottle direct from the primary fermenter and use either 1 large carbonation drop or 5 small tablets per 12-ounce bottle.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

03/24/2019:  I apparently ordered two extra pounds of Maris Otter malt when I ordered grain for this recipe. My original plan was 2.64 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.042 SG. When I opened the bag from the homebrew shop, I noticed the extra Maris Otter in it (and it was mixed with all the other grains, so extracting it wasn't really an option). To correct that, I scaled the recipe up to 3.5 gallons. Fortunately, I had enough extra specialty malt on hand to reach that volume. The 4.8% ABV is a little above the BJCP criteria for the style but I'm hoping it will be close enough that no one knocks my score down for it in competition.

The Brewie appeared to load the correct amount of water for the mash process, and required no adjustment by me. For the sparge, it loaded about 3 liters more than I wanted, so I removed that excess water before adding the gypsum to it. I held onto the extra water, however, as I wanted to use it if the pre-boil volume was too low later on or the gravity too high.

The mash appeared to go well, with the wort achieving a nice deep brown color pretty early on.

During the mash, before the sparge started, a refractometer reading was 19.0 Brix. That represents standard gravity of approximately 1.081. Assuming the sparge water dilutes that quite a bit, we would still appear to be on track for a 1.048 SG original gravity.

After the sparge, the wort level was much lower than expected. I ended up adding back the water I removed during the mash/sparge process and a little extra to hit the expected depth of 18.0 cm in the kettle pre-boil.

The refractometer registered 11.1 Brix pre-boil at an estimated 15.8 liters (4.17 gallons) in the kettle. That works out to a gravity of approximately 1.046 SG. One of the tilt hydrometers registered the gravity 1.033 SG pre-boil. I figure reality is somewhere between those two figures, perhaps around 1.0395 or 1.040 - which is where my calculations had estimated it would be.

In the fermenter, the gravity read around 1.052 SG. After adding the yeast slurry and some distilled water, I got that to 1.048 with a volume just a hair under the 4-gallon mark in the fermenter. The temperature of the wort at that point registered 59F.

03/25/2019: Roughly 14 hours after the yeast was pitched, we're seeing fermentation activity. Gravity is registering 1.043 SG this morning, down from 1.052 SG last night.  The temperature is reading 61F, up from 59F when the yeast was pitched but well below the yeast's optimum range.

03/26/2019: Gravity is down to 1.022 SG and the temperature is up to 66F. This represents 51% attenuation and 3.15% ABV. We're about 10 points away from the estimated final gravity of 1.012.

03/28/2019:  Gravity is now 1.015 SG and the temperature is down to 61F. This represents 68% attenuation and 4.2% ABV.

04/02/2019:  Gravity has held at 1.015 SG for a few days now, so it should be ready to bottle.

04/07/2019:  The beer was bottled today, with four small carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation).  A flat, warm sample from the end of the bottling process had a nice chocolatey and roasty flavor to it. I'm looking forward to the finished beer.

Citra Pale Ale 1.0 (Testing Pale Ale 2)

With some satisfaction that the issue with the Brewie+ overshooting target volumes being possibly solved (by removing excess water after loading), I decided to try one more recipe to see if I could consistently hit my volume and gravity targets. I decided to try another Pale Ale with a blend of Simcoe, Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo hops.

Ingredients

5 pounds Briess 2-row Pale Malt
12 ounces Caramel 10L Malt
8 ounces Munich Malt
1/2 tsp. Citric Acid added to mash water
0.10 ounces Simcoe Pellets @ 13.6% AA (60 min.)
0.10 ounces Cascade Pellets @ 6.9% AA (25 min.)
0.10 ounces Citra Pellets @ 13% AA (25 min.)
0.10 ounces Amarillo Pellets @ 8.6% AA (25 min.)
0.10 ounces Cascade Pellets @ 6.9% AA (10 min.)
0.10 ounces Citra Pellets @ 13% AA (10 min.)
0.10 ounces Amarillo Pellets @ 8.6% AA (10 min.)
0.10 ounces Citra Pellets @ 13% AA (0 min.)
0.10 ounces Amarillo Pellets @ 8.6% AA (0 min.)
0.10 ounces Cascade Pellets @ 6.9% AA (0 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash water
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss at 15 min.
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
6.6 liters mash water
5.8 liters sparge water

BeerSmith estimated the following qualities for this beer:
  • BJCP Style: 18.B American Pale Ale
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was 2.5 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.057 SG (actual was 1.057 SG)
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.046 SG (actual was not measured)
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG (actual was 1.019 SG)
  • IBUs: 34.4
  • SRM: 6.2
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • BU/GU: 0.605
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in 15 minutes at 104F
  • Mash at 150F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 15 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water
Boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes: Simcoe addition
  • 25 minutes: Citra, Cascade, Amarillo
  • 10 minutes: Citra, Cascade, Amarillo
  • 0 minutes: Citra, Cascade, Amarillo
Fermentation schedule:
  • Keep fermenter in an area of the basement with an ambient temp of 60-62F, which should keep the beer in the same temperature range throughout fermentation.
  • When FG is reached, prime and bottle.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

03/10/2019: The final volume was right at the 2.5 gallon mark in the fermenter. The yeast took off about 12 hours after pitching. The ambient basement temperature held the beer at 60-62F throughout fermentation so it was a nice clean ferment. Final gravity reached 1.019 SG.

03/19/2019: The beer was bottled today, using carbonation tablets to a "high" level of carbonation (since recently I've noticed many of the beers seemed pretty flat).

03/24/2019: I took a bottle of the beer and placed it in the fridge to test carbonation and flavor. It's a little early but I wanted to know if we were getting carbonation or not.

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.

03/24/2019: I added some glucoamylase enzyme to try to encourage further fermentation, as the gravity is registering 1.023 SG - outside the style's recommended range of 1.010 SG to 1.014 SG.

03/26/2019: Gravity is registering 1.018 SG today, temperature 62F. That's 68.4% attenuation and 5.12% ABV.

03/28/2019: Gravity has dropped to 1.007 SG today, temperature 61F. That's 88.7% attenuation and 7.2% ABV. The enzyme has taken the beer far past what I expected, and gravity still seems to be dropping.

04/03/2019:  Gravity has dropped all the way to 0.999 SG. That represents 7.61% ABV and a hypothetical 101.75% attenuation. I didn't expect the beer to taste so great, having been fermented down that low, but a sample pulled from the fermenter was quite drinkable - but a bit too light in color and perhaps a bit too thin in body to be a true Irish Red Ale now. I'm considering entering it into competition as an experimental "Brut Irish Red Ale".

04/07/2019:  The gravity has held at (essentially) 1.000 SG for several days. I bottled it today with four small carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation).

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!