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Pseudo Dubbel 1.0

After a semi-successful brew last weekend with the sous vide setup, I altered a few components to try to get a smoother and more efficient process.  Today's setup included:
  • 19 quart plastic bin
  • Anova sous vide cooker
  • 3 gallon pot
  • Instant Pot sous vide cooker
  • Mesh basket made by Arbor Fabricating for the PicoBrew Zymatic
  • 4 gallon kettle
  • Two one-gallon plastic pitchers
My goal for today's brew was to see if I could improve on the efficiency of the previous brew while also making brewing and cleanup easier.

I also wanted to see if I could create something like a Belgian style Dubbel with intense dark fruit flavors.  I'm calling it a Pseudo Dubbel because it mixes Belgian yeast, candi syrup, and Special B malt with British hops, British malt, and Viking Malt from Finland.  The Viking Pale Ale malt gives us a somewhat European base. Special B and D-90 syrup should provide some dark fruit flavor.  Caramel 120L should also provide some dark caramel and dark fruit flavors.  The Bramling Cross hops should add a blackcurrent, blackberry, and plum flavor - especially when added late in the boil.  The Wyeast 1762 yeast should help intensify those dark fruit flavors.  I'm hoping this mix of ingredients will just about max out the dark fruit flavors in the finished beer.  This remains to be seen, of course. 

Ingredients

5 pounds Viking Pale Ale Malt
3 ounces Special B Malt
4.5 ounces Caramel 120L Malt
1.5 ounces English Medium Crystal Malt
1/8 tsp. Irish Moss
1.8 gallons mash water
1.23 gallons sparge water
1 packet (Sept. 2019 dated) Wyeast 1762 Belgian yeast
3.5 ounces D-90 Candi Syrup
0.3 ounces Bramling Cross hops @ 6.5% AA (15 min.)
0.7 ounces Bramling Cross hops @ 6.5% AA (5 min.)

Brewfather estimates the brew to have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Size:  2.0 gallons (1.75 actual)
  • Original Gravity: 1.045 SG (1.067 actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
  • IBUs:  21
  • ABV: 7.3%
  • SRM:  17
  • Fermenter: Spock
Mash schedule:
  • 20 minutes at 120F (Beta Glucan and Protein Rest)
  • 45 minutes at 140F (Alpha Amylase Rest)
  • 45 minutes at 158F (Beta Amylase Rest)
  • 20 minutes Mash Out and Sparge at 168F
Mash going on in the back, sparge water in front

Draining the grain, and sparging (not shown)
Boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes:  No additions
  • 15 minutes:  0.3 ounces Bramling Cross hops
  • 5 minutes: 0.7 ounces Bramling Cross hops and immersion chiller
  • 0 minutes:  Remove hops and begin chilling
Post-boil, chill to 75F and transfer to fermenter.

1.75 gallons in the fermenter

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

11/16/2019:  My last run through with the sous vide setup yielded a very low efficiency (43%) and unexpectedly low original gravity.  I hoped to resolve that with this batch... or at least improve on it.

The mesh basket, plastic bin, and sous vide cooker were an OK combination for the mash process, but the sous vide cooker struggled to keep the grain bed at temp.  Temperature measurements taken at different spots in the grain bed showed as much as a 20-degree Fahrenheit difference from the sous vide setting.  To help compensate for this, I mashed longer than normal.  I also had trouble hitting the water level needed by the sous vide cooker, so I ended up adding some of the sparge water to the mash to keep things working smoothly. 

Pre-boil volume was a little low, but gravity registered about 1.060 SG, which was higher than I was hoping for.  Post-boil volume was only 1.75 gallons, but gravity registered 1.068 SG, which is right in range for a Dubbel and more than I was hoping for.  The yeast packet had swelled, so I went ahead and pitched it before going upstairs.

11/18/2019:  Gravity is down to 1.011 SG today.  That's within a point of the expected FG from the Brewfather app, so fermentation may well be done.

11/20/2019:  Gravity has held at 1.011 SG for about two days now.  That means fermentation is probably over.

12/5/2019:  Gravity has held at 1.010 SG for several days. Time to bottle.

1/10/2020:  The beer has been bottled for a couple of weeks but I've yet to chill and taste test it.  The sample from the fermenter at bottling had a decent flavor but was more dry than I wanted.  If I brew this again, I'll need to use The Grainfather and a higher mash temp to keep more residual sugars.

1/20/2020:  The beer pours a deep ruby with finger-thick beige head.  The aroma mixes dark fruit, sweet malt, and maybe a touch of leather.  The flavor starts with a moderate dark fruit note, a nice mild caramel, and finishing with a touch lingering bitterness.  For being basically an experiment, it may be the best of the dubbels I've made to date.  I'd like to re-do it now at 2.5 gallon size in The Grainfather where I can better control mash temperatures and draw out all the flavor in this grain bill.

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