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