Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#83: Oktoberfest

Started the 1 gallon recipe testing for Emma's recipe book today. Very smooth process, though not my normal process. New to me processes included using the oven for mashing, 2-step infusion mashing, and a different sparge technique (which worked great for this amount of grain, but wouldn't really work for me in a larger scale... basically using a metal strainer to suspend the grains, passing the wort through it multiple times between two vessels). I had a bit of a problem holding temps in the oven consistently, but it never really got far out of range. I did, however, have to pull the pot three times during the 90 minute mash to put it on the stovetop to bump the temps. Followed her processes, even when tempted to throw back to normal processes. 

Things learned:
- I was quickly reminded why I moved outside to the turkey fryer now. Slow to reach boils, testy wife due to aromas, etc.
- I really value my grain bags and/or wish I had a finer mesh strainer. Had to fish some grain out after the sparge. Also, I have an eight inch strainer, but would need to use a 12 inch strainer to do a larger batch.
- It was a really, really long brew day for only 1 gallon of wort

I had a fun time doing this little project, and I think it will be a fine brew. It was estimated 1.056 SG, and even though I overestimated the volumes (was maybe at 1.2 gallons or a bit less at the end), I hit 1.053, so I had good efficiency. I won't post the recipe here (as it doesn't belong to me... buy the book!), but it was a good mix of munich, vienna, and german pils, along with traditional hop varieties. The yeasties were happily forming a krausen at 52 degrees within hours of pitching.

While the book I'm testing for isn't due out until 2015, here's her first book: Amazon link


Sunday, March 9, 2014

#81/82: Old Ale (yeast variants)

Some of the homebrew club guys in the area had started a multi-club barrel project that I have been following. Basically the project consisted of an old ale recipe, fermented with a local wild yeast and aged in a Beans Creek Winery Cynthiana wine barrel.  Though I wasn't participating in the project, I was given the opportunity to purchase a vial of the yeast and was given access to the recipe, so I decided to give it a go for my own purposes. I may get some oak cubes soaked in the Beans Creek wine, or I may do something else...  not sure yet.

My original plan, which I should have followed through on, was to order the ingredients as they devised it, but to split the ingredients into two.  I originally intended to have a 3 gallon brew day with the purchased yeast, and then later do the other 2 gallons with some S-04 that I need to use. The plan was to either simply bottle this second batch and be able to compare the differences the yeast varieties imparted, or to blend them at bottling time. The main reason I intended to do this plan was my uncertainty about doing a hi-grav 5 gallon brew on my equipment.  My equipment works great for 3 gallon brews of all types.  I've done a few 5 gallon batches, but always of the lo grav variety.  

This morning, however, I decided to go ahead and do both brews in conjunction, doing a 5 gallon brewday, but splitting it into two fermenters.  In hindsight I should have stuck to the original plan.  I ran into some issues related to the sheer volume of grain and wort that I was able to overcome (though with a hit to the OG), but it really would have been easier to do the two smaller brews.  No matter...  it will still be a tasty brew.

One issue was that I overestimated the boil off, and thus ended up with 5.5 gallons of wort. I know the boil off rates for 3 gallon pretty well, but really don't have the 5 gallon dialed in well. I also found that thevolume of grains didn't work well with my grain bag and my eBIAB pot for the mash. I normally get 65-70% efficiency with my BIAB, but in this case I only got 57ish% after taking into account the variation of wort volume.  I would surmise that that was simply because I couldn't stir well with the grain being packed more tightly than normal which led to the subpar efficiency.  The original recipe was set at 75% efficiency, so I already knew I wouldn't hit their 9% abv estimate, but I ended up with an estimate of 6% instead of my estimate of 7.5%.  I'm really not terribly concerned about this, as I'm not contributing my wort to the barrel and thus have a lot less concern about hitting their numbers.  Still, I likely would have done better doing this as three gallons.  Ah well... lesson learned.

Side note: I tried out the cold steeping technique for dark grains detailed on the AHA website. This may well have caused a bit of my efficiency problems as well.

The yeast used in the three gallon was HS2 blended with brett L from Southyeast Labs.  The HS2 is a yeast harvested from honeysuckle at Blackberry Farms.  It is said to have "an excellent red wine quality and peppery finish."  The addition of the brett will provide some farmhouse notes as well.  So the two gallon batch with S-04 should be a totally different beer.  Should be fun to compare.

I figure I'll bottle the S-04 batch in a few weeks, but I will likely let the HS2 batch set in a secondary for several months, likely on oak cubes (possibly ones soaked in the wine to emulate the main project if I'm able to secure them).
Base recipe, adjusted to account for the crappy efficiency:

Cynthiana Old Ale                                        
Old Ale


Type: All Grain Date: 2/10/2014
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Time: 115 min Brewhouse Efficiency: 57.00

Amount Item Type % or IBU
11.50 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 70.77 %
1.00 lb Amber Malt (22.0 SRM) Grain 6.15 %
1.00 lb Crystal Dark - 77L (Crisp) (75.0 SRM) Grain 6.15 %
1.00 lb Special B (Dingemans) (147.5 SRM) Grain 6.15 %
0.75 lb Extra Special (Briess) (130.0 SRM) Grain 4.62 %
0.56 lb Carapils (Hoepfner) (2.0 SRM) Grain 3.45 %
0.44 lb Barley, Flaked (Thomas Fawcett) (2.0 SRM) Grain 2.71 %
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (60 min) Hops 14.2 IBU
2.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (20 min) Hops 17.1 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.00 %
Bitterness: 31.3 IBU Calories: 279 cal/pint
Est Color: 27.2 SRM