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).

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