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Tut Henket Too

Years ago, working with Dr. Pat McGovern, Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione produced a line of ancient ales, including one based on information found in Egyptian heiroglyphics and (I think) some pottery shards.  The resulting beer, which Dogfish Head labeled "Ta Henket" seemed to do well in the market initially, then vanished, reportedly due to low sales.  I was always a fan of that beer, and bought it whenever I found it.  With it off the market, my only hope is to brew my own version.  Fortunately, Dr. Pat's book contains an extract-based homebrew recipe for Ta Henket.

My first attempt at brewing the beer met with some success.  It was a bit darker than the Dogfish Head beer, but nonetheless pretty tasty after it aged for several months.  One of my friends took a particular liking to it, and I only have about three bottles of it left.

I've decided for this batch to shift away from malt extract to a Pilsner malt base. This should lighten the color of the beer and reduce the cost to brew it a little.

6 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt
1 pound Bob's Red Mill Emmer Farro
1 pound Briess White Wheat
1 pound Briess Caramel/Crystal 40L Malt
3.8 gallons of mash water
2.25 gallons of sparge water, plus enough to reach pre-boil vol. 5.4 gallons
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
3 tsp. Gypsum
0.7 ounces of German Northern Brewer hops pellets @ 4.8% AA (FWH)
4 ounces Date Syrup (15 min.)
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss (15 min.)
3 tsp. Za'Atar Spice Mix
0.5 ounces Chamomile
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B
1 package BE-134

According to Brewfather, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Size: 5.0 gallons
  • Original Gravity:  1.047 SG expected (1.047 actual)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.044 SG expected (1.044 actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.005 SG expected
  • IBUs: 13
  • SRM: 7.7
  • ABV: 5.6% estimated 
  • Fermenter:  7.5 gallon SS Brew Tech Bucket 
  • Bottling Wand: Stainless 1
  • Carbonation Method: Brewer's Best Conditioning Tablets, 3 per small bottle
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in 15 minutes at 113F
  • Mash at 120F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 140F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 156F for 40 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water
Boil schedule:
  • Add hops while heating to boiling
  • 60 minutes: No additions
  • 15 minutes: Add date syrup, Brewtan B
  • 5 minutes: Add chamomile, Za'Atar spice mix
  • 0 minutes: No additions
Fermentation Plan:
  • Pitch yeast at 67F
  • Allow to free-rise so long as it doesn't reach the yeast's top-end temp of 82F.
After fermentation, the beer will need several months in the bottle for the spices to achieve optimal flavor.

Post-Brewing Notes and Observations

04/11/2020:  The Emmer Farro did not much like going through my grain crusher, and jammed it several times before it all went through. I ended up running it through a second time to make sure it all crushed properly.  The Pilsner malt only went through once.

While the grain sparged, I began heating the wort to boiling. By the time the wort got to around 195, the sparge was complete.  I found myself about a half-gallon short, so I added spring water to hit the pre-boil volume of 5.4 gallons.  I ended up with about 4.75 gallons in the fermenter. Adding enough water to hit the 5.0 gallon mark, which diluted the wort down to the 1.047 SG original gravity I was aiming for.

04/12/2020:  The yeast has definitely taken off.  Gravity is down to 1.041 SG, and the temperature has dropped to 66F.  When the yeast really starts going, I expect the temperature to increase a bit, but stay well within its upper range of 82F.

04/13/2020:  Gravity is 1.028 SG, temp is holding at 69F.

04/14/2020:  Gravity is 1.013 SG.  Temp is 67F.  While fermentation maybe slowing down, I don't think it's stopped yet.

04/15/2020:  Gravity is down to 1.006 SG, temp is 65F. Fermentation looks to be slowing down but I'm not sure it's stopped yet. We'll see.

04/16/2020:  Gravity is 1.003 SG today, temp is 64F.

04/17/2020:  Gravity is 1.002 SG today. Temp is 63F.

04/19/2020:  Gravity is fluctuating between 1.001 and 1.002 SG, mostly sitting on 1.002.  That represents 6.1% ABV and 89% attenuation.  I tasted a little of this from the fermenter yesterday and was really pleased with it.  I'm looking forward to getting it bottled and conditioned.

04/28/2020:  Gravity has been sitting at 1.000 SG for about four days now.  Temp is 64F.

05/03/2020:  The beer was bottled today in a mix of 22 and 12 ounce bottles, using Brewer's Best Conditioning Tablets, three per bottle (low carbonation).  The flavor of the beer has changed considerably from my taste test back on April 19. It's now more dry and less spicy, but still quite enjoyable.

05/13/2020:  Tonight I opened a bottle of the beer I had chilled a couple of days ago.  The beer had the most amazing aroma, a mix of fruit and spice.  It made you want to start drinking it immediately, though I have to admit it didn't resemble the aroma of a real Ta Henket, which was a touch more musty and spicy, kind of like what I imagine it's like to step into an Egyptian tomb.  The flavor had changed yet again. This time the spices seemed a little harsher and I picked up a touch of astringency on the finish.  Still, it's actually a tasty beer at this point.  From experience, I know it will continue to change periodically for a few months before settling in on a more final flavor profile.


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