|The finished beer|
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+.
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 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
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
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)
05/14/2019: 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.
05/29/2019: A bottle of the beer was placed in the freezer for an hour to chill to a good drinking temperature. This is also a check to see if any signs of a bacterial infection linger. If so, this implicates the "Pike" fermenter as the source of infection and merits disposing of it. It's a relatively inexpensive PET wide-mouth carboy, so I will have no problem trashing it if it's infected.
- Appearance: Hazy yellow with thin white head
- Aroma: The aroma is very much that of a margarita. Lime and a tequila-like agave scent dominates. I don't think it could be much more what I wanted in this regard.
- Mouthfeel: Medium bodied
- Flavor: Lime hits first, then a strong agave note dominates. Bitterness level is balanced pretty well.
- Overall: It's definitely margarita-like, both in flavor and aroma. However, the agave nectar comes across very strongly. It's strong enough, in fact, that it seems like a margarita that's been made with too much tequila and has been watered down a little. In the next iteration, I'd increase the amount of lime by maybe 20-30% and dial the agave nectar down by half. I'd also swap out some of the base malts for some Caramel/Crystal 10L to give it some more sweetness. All that said, for a first attempt, I'm pretty happy with it.