Brew day video / Other updates

I made a video when I brewed the English Mild from this post – it’s not instructional or anything, but at least shows a bit of my process.

Take a look and let me know what you think. It was fun to make – I’ll probably make another at some point.

 

Some other updates:

  • Started brewing on an induction plate instead of the stove – have on successful batch done that I’ll post about when it’s ready and I’ll probably do another post showing the induction plate at work as well as some of the other changes I made.
  • Brewed an ESB that just plain did not taste right – not sure what happened or I would have done a post on that.
  • Have a Mild (from the prior post and video) competing in MCAB this weekend – will post if that places.

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English Mild – take 5

DSC_0537 HDR copy small

For my first batch in about 6 months I figured I’d start with the last recipe I had worked on before I took a break from brewing. If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know I’ve brewed quite a few Mild’s and never quite been happy with them (even though some have done quite well in competition). It’s not my favorite style to drink, but for some reason I keep brewing them! It’s also a category I qualified for in the MCAB competition so I figured if I liked this one I’ll use it as my entry. I spent a fair amount of time on this recipe and also got some help after trying several of another homebrewer’s Mild’s. The homebrewer in question recently won BOS at Midwinter with, you guessed it, a Mild.

The biggest change is using Mild Ale malt as the basemalt instead of my typical Floor Malted Marris Otter. I also greatly increased the Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal and removed the higher-kilned malts (leaving only Pale Chocolate). I also added some Golden Naked Oats since they contribute some unique flavor and texture and finished with a bit of domestic Crystal 60 (a bit sweeter than the English equivalent I think). For hops I stuck with Goldings and added a small 5 min addition to enhance that “English character” judges love to hunt for. Stuck with my usual WLP002 for the yeast – althought I have to admit I’ve enjoyed Wyeast 1469 in other Milds and will likely have to give that a try at some point.

Mild 5.0

60 Min boil

Mash at 152F for 60 mins

1.038 OG

1.013 FG

17 IBU at 60 mins – EKG

2 IBU at 5 mins – EKG

79% Briess Ashburne Mild Ale Malt (5.3L)

3% Briess Crystal 60  (60L)

9% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal (160L)

3% Simpson’s Pale Chocolate Malt (220L)

6% Simpson’s Golden Naked Oats (10L)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

30 seconds O2 (2.5 gallon batch)

Hit gravity and volume – fermented down to target as well.

DSC_1254

Here are some notes I wrote when working on this recipe: Looking for a quaffable mild with flavors of bread/toast/biscuit, light chocolate, hint of roast, hint of coffee, burnt sugar and some dark fruit, caramel/toffee, nuttiness. Want some slight silkiness/creaminess from the oats. The diff types of crystal malt in addition to different lovibonds should add some complexity and help achieve the flavors I’m looking for. 5 min addition of EKG should help with an assertive “English Beer” character. Pale chocolate should underline the toastiness with hints of chocolate, roast and even coffee.

The Mild Ale malt definitely helped with this, but even beyond that I must finally be learning something about recipe formulation because this beer hits all those descriptors – so much so that I see no need to go too in depth with a description.  There is a definite sweetness from the basemalt – you can pick that up separately from the crystal sweetness. It’s got a lot of toasted bread qualities and hints of coffee and chocolate.  It’s slightly creamy from the oats – not so much that you really notice though (probably wouldn’t call that out if you didn’t know there were oats). The only change I’d consider is adding a small amount of a darker chocolate malt – both to make the beer darker and to add a little more roast character.

I sent this into the March Mashness competition and I’ll likely send it to MCAB in April.

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Overdue 2013 updates – State of the Brewery 2014

It’s been an age since my last post. Due to a new job and a pregnant wife (due any day now) I had to take a hiatus from brewing last fall and haven’t quite gotten back into it yet (hopefully this Spring). I ended pretty strong by brewing a Russian Imperial Stout and an American Barleywine, among a few other batches.

Competition-wise I did not have as strong of a performance in 2013 as I did in 2012, however I am still pretty happy with the results overall (getting two beers to 2nd round of NHC was pretty cool even though neither placed in the 2nd round):

Summary:

2013 summary

2013 stats

The scoresheets I got back from the 2nd round of the NHC were a bit confusing and it doesn’t seem like the judges ever agreed on the APA (3 very different opinions with similar scores). There were 3 scoresheets for each – here’s a summary:

APA – Sheet 1 (36): Too much fruitiness – needs more hops, Sheet 2 (35): Large malt presence – needs more hops (no mention of fruit), Sheet 3 (38): A little sweet – otherwise excellent

Specialty – Scottish Ale – Between 80/- and Wee Heavy – Sheet 1 (37): A little thin – wee light, Sheet 2 (38): More of a Wee Heavy than Specialty, Sheet 3 (38): Should have entered as Strong Scotch Ale

I sent some subpar beers to the State Fair this year and my results reflect that (no placement). I’ll add that I was pretty let down in the judging/feedback from this competition (lots of non-ranked judges, vague comments, contradictory scoresheets, etc.), but I know I didn’t send my best group of beers in either.

In the year ahead I will for sure do some brewing, but probably not to the extent that I did in 2013. I’ll probably get back into it with some 2.5 gallon batches and work up to some 5 gallon batches when the weather improves. I’m sure it will take a few batches to get back into the swing of things, but I’ll make sure to do some blog posts as I go.

I entered my English Barleywine, Russian Imperial Stout and American Barleywine in Upper Mississippi Mashout – have no idea how any of them will do. The English Barleywine got a 30 back in August – should have improved some since then. I’ll have to do some posts on the RIS and American Barleywine pretty soon here – I’m really happy with how those turned out. The RIS was an attempt at a Surly Darkness clone (like the hoppier 2011 version) and the American Barleywine is similar to Jamil’s BCS recipe.

Cheers to you all in the New Year

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Northfarthing 70/- (Scottish Ale)

Scottish Ale 5.20.13

I really love a good Scottish Ale. The best examples have a distinct clean malt profile with some residual sweetness. The 60/-, 70/- and 80/- (for some historical information click here) are all fairly sessionable and light. They can be tricky to brew right because the OG is quite low, yet you don’t want them to finish dry or sweet – they need balance.

I’ve brewed Jamil’s Scottish Ales before and his recipe is very solid. For this batch I decided I wanted to start with the recipe for my Robert the Bruce clone attempt, but I didn’t want it to be quite as big or sweet so I scaled back the specialty grains a bit and also used California Ale (WLP001) yeast instead of English Ale (WLP002) – mainly because I needed to build up some 001, but also to clean up the flavor profile a bit. I also swapped the 2 Row for Marris Otter as I thought some MO nuttiness would complement the recipe nicely.

Northfarthing 70/-

2.5 finished gallons (3.5 gallon batch size – .75 left in kettle, .25 left in fermenter)

Brewed 4/20

Kegged 5/5

90 min boil

Mash @ 158*

1.038 OG

1.016 FG

86% Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter (4.5L)

4% Weyermann Caramunich I

4% Weyermann Melanoiden Malt

2% Briess Crystal 10L

2% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

1% Fawcett Pale Chocolate Malt

.5% Simpson’s Black Malt

.5% Simpson’s Roasted Barley

90 Min Centennial to 19 IBU

Fermented at 62* F.

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: Nutty, caramelly, cleanly MALTY, light roast. Malt sweetness is an accurate descriptor. No hop aroma, no esters, no diacetyl. Definitely would consider this to have a complex malt aroma. No alcohol. Slightly grainy as it warms – especially in the finish.

Appearance: Deep amber, some ruby. Brilliantly clear, offwhite head with good retention.

Flavor: Clean malt flavors with some malty sweetness hits you up front followed by caramel, toffee and nuttiness. Very faint roast, but mostly clean malt dominates. Again, complex malt flavors. Hop bitterness supports, but is in the background. Finishes moderately dry with some sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low to moderately low carbonation. You can feel some dextrins on your palate.

Overall Impression: Very clean, very balanced. Tastes like a Scottish ale for sure, would be improved if finishing gravity was slightly lower – maybe 1.014, but I think this would compete well as is especially as it continues to improve from cold conditioning.

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Wight Dust (Zombie Dust clone)

Wight.Dust

I’ve only had a few sips of Zombie Dust when a friend brought a bottle over and I liked it enough to pick up some Citra and look around for a clone recipe. This beer is ridiculously popular for a smallish brewery out of Indiana that pretty much sells all of it at the brewery – I think it sets itself apart because of it’s rich malt character, it’s APA-like low bitterness, and because of the uniqueness of Citra hops. A lot of people seem to think of it as an IPA because it’s a stronger than an APA in terms of ABV, but this really does fall into the APA category for me. It just isn’t bitter enough to make me think IPA and I think bitterness is more of a determining factor with the APA/IPA styles.

DSC_2483

I hadn’t used Citra very much prior to this beer and will definitely add it to the list of hops to buy in bulk next year. For my tastes I probably wouldn’t single hop a beer with it again (unless I made this recipe again), but I know that Heretic uses it with CTZ in their flagship beer Evil Twin which is one of my favorite beers – I could huff that aroma all day long.

It was pretty easy to find a recipe for this as there are 2 very popular threads on Homebrewtalk.com (here and here) with the same recipe that has been tweaked by the OP based on his findings as well as others that have brewed his recipe and provided feedback. I didn’t change the grist much besides increasing the Melanoiden malt a bit and mashing lower (I mashed at 150* where the recipe calls for 152* – I think the OP used a different yeast at first). I also decided to adjust the hopping by moving the 60, 15, 10, 5, and 1 minute additions into a 10 minute addition and a large hopstand for 30 minutes after the boil. I also increased the additions slightly since I try to produce 6.5 gallons of wort as opposed to the 6 gallons the recipe called for.

Here is the recipe I brewed:

Wight Dust:

5 finished gallons (6.5 gallon batch size – 1.25 left in kettle, 5.25 into carboy)

90 minute boil

Mash 150*

1.062 OG (targeting 1.065 – boil off was low)

1.018 FG

80.6% Rahr 2 Row

7.7% Weyermann Munich (8L)

3.9% Briess CaraPils

3.9% Briess Caramel 60L

3.9% Weyermann Melanoiden

21.3 grams Citra 13.9% FWH

56.8 grams Citra 13.9% 10 mins

120.7 grams Citra 13.9% 30 minute hot steep (aka hopstand or whirlpool)

85.2 grams Citra 13.9% Dry hop for 8 days

WLP002

Pitch at 63, let rise to 66F. As fermentation wraps up increase temp to 68F. When within about .002 gravity points of target final gravity add dry hops. After 3 days cold crash for 3 days before packaging.

The aroma is intense – tropical & citrus fruit with some slight dank and malt aromas mixed in. I’m not a fan of tropical fruit, but the aroma in this is pretty specatcular. There is no grassy or other off aromas that I’ve read some people get when using too much Citra. There is a pretty high bitterness for a beer that had no bittering hops added besides a small addition of first worth hops. The flavor is also quite fruity, but it’s kept in check by the bitterness and the firm malt backbone. When I first smelled this beer I feared it would taste like fruit juice, but it certainly does not. This one has a nice tongue-grabbing mouthfeel that I believe I get from the hop-stand and high dry hopping rates. I had to fine this with gelatin as I was not very careful when racking and ended up disturbing the trub-cake in the primary after cold crashing. It now pours a beautifully clear orange/gold with off white head.

I don’t have any Zombie Dust to compare so I really can’t say how I’d change this from a cloning perspective. I really don’t think I’d change anything if I brewed this again – it’s a great beer as it is.

In keeping with the Lord of the Rings/Shire inspired theme of this blog I figured I should start explaining what some of the names of these beers mean. When I am following a clone recipe I try to use that beer’s name as inspiration for the clone. There aren’t zombies in Middle Earth, but there are a few forms of undead. I decided the closest thing to zombies were the Barrow-Wights that Frodo, Sam, Merry & Pippin encounter in the Barrow-downs. That led me to “Wight Dust.”

If you can get your hands on some Citra brew this – it’s a fantastic beer.

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Ivy Bush Bitter 1.0

Ivy_Bush_Bitter_1.0

We’ve had glimmers of Spring here in MN, but as I write this it’s snowing outside on May 1st… Back in late March I thought it would be nice to have a nice malty low ABV pale ale to drink to ring in Spring. I also needed to build up some yeast (WLP002) for a few upcoming batches so an Ordinary Bitter seemed to fit the bill. I had just spent a weekend in Wisconsin drinking New Glarus beers so I decided on a Spotted Cow type Bitter since that’s nice and drinkable – exactly what I’m looking for here. In addition to that I knew I could be drinking it inside 2 weeks.

I stuck with my go-to English base malt in Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter and decided to just use one specialty malt, in this case Baird’s Carastan (37L). I had some Northern Brewer hops in the freezer and knew they’d be perfect for this one.

Ivy Bush Bitter 1.0

2.5 finished gallons (3.5 gallon batch size – .75 left in kettle, .25 left in fermenter)

Brewed 3/28

Kegged 4/7

60 min boil

Mash @ 150*

1.038 OG

1.011 FG

90% Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter (4.5L)

10% Baird’s Carastan (37L)

60 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% to 30 IBU

15 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% to 4 IBU

0 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% equal amount from 15 min addition

 

The aroma is quite malty, there is a bit of fruity esters, caramel and a hint of toast as well. There is some hop character, but not a lot. The caramel and toast qualities are more pronounced now at about the 5 week mark than they were even a week ago. In short, it smells like an English Beer. The bitterness dominates the flavor until you swallow when you are hit with malt/bread and caramel. There is, again, some fruitiness, but I don’t get a lot of toasty flavors (would like some). There is some hop flavor as well – it hits me as EKG with a hing of noble hops. The finish is dry with no lingering bitterness – just leaves you craving the next sip. As expected the color is pale gold, very clear (no finings needed) with great head retention and small bubbles. Remember to serve these around 50* and keep the carbonation low with these delicate English ales. I probably would not brew this exact recipe again for a MN spring, but this would make a great beer on a hot summer day. This would be a great beer to serve on cask.

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NHC Round 1 Results

NHC.2013

I received my scoresheets today from NHC Round 1 this morning. I had entered 4 beers and 2 advanced. I was hoping at least 1 would advance so pretty cool that 2 made it. I had actually tried the winning APA after the Mini BOS concluded and was about 75% sure it was mine, but I literally got one sip since so many people wanted to try it and had just been drinking Dark Lagers and eating chips so I couldn’t tell for sure and didn’t want to let myself believe it was for sure mine. As you can see above the APA advanced with a whopping score of 30 – that’s right the lowest possible score to be eligible for the 2nd round – I’ll wear that like a badge of honor. The judges for the APA were not even National in rank and one of the Mini BOS judges was a Grandmaster III so I’m pretty much disregarding the scoresheets. It was clearly a low scoring flight if a 30 advanced to Mini BOS.

I’ll be rebrewing the APA with no recipe changes in the next couple of weeks to be ready for Round 2 judging.

My Robert the Bruce clone was entered in the Specialty Category and scored a much more respectable 43.5. I won’t need to rebrew that beer. The Mild that got 1st at UMMO and 3rd at March Mashness scored a 39.5 and advanced to the Mini BOS, but did not place. My special Bitter did not score well with a 27 as I expected, it had the off flavor I posted about here, but by the time I realized it wasn’t going away it was too late to edit my entries.

 

Beer Entered Date Brewed BJCP Category Score Place
Crickhollow Mild 3.0 11/17/2012 11A 39.5 N/A
Bagshot Pale 3.0 2/23/2013 10A 30 1st
Bucklebury Bitter 2/7/2013 8B 27.5 N/A
Northfarthing Ale 12/27/2012 23A 43.5 2nd

 

On second thought I might even brew 2 versions of the APA and see which I prefer and in case I screw something up so I have a contingency plan – I have 3 bottles from the last batch, but they’d be 4 months old when judged so that isn’t much of a back up plan. I’m pretty confident in my brewing, but this is NHC after all..

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Off flavor issue, other updates

I had several posts planned for some batches that are now in kegs, but due to an off flavor that kept rearing it’s ugly head I decided to condense some batches into this post.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a big believer that BIAB (mash in a bag) is as good a method as other methods of all grain brewing – after all it’s basically batch sparging without the sparge and a simpler/quicker lauter. That being said I had several batches in the last few months that had a fairly strong grainy flavor to them that was not there by design. It started with Crickhollow Mild 3.0 and I thought it was caused by the Amber malt I added to it, but I have since realized that the bag I was using (purchased from an online vendor) from that batch on was allowing too much husk material to remain behind after removing the bag. Boiling a little bit of husk material isn’t the end of the world, but when you find a bunch in the trub after you rack to a fermenter you probably have too much. I have since replaced that bag with another homemade bag for my 2.5 gallon batch setup, and am using my original bag until I can get another bag made up for my 5 gallon setup. At first I thought I might be having PH issues as I’ve never really had to pay attention to mash PH it didn’t seem likely. I figured if a new bag didn’t fix the issue I’d dig deeper, but as usual the simplest answer was the right answer.

The reason it took me so long to figure this out is that the grainy flavor was only coming through on batches that utilized Marris Otter as the base malt. Those happened to be batches that were a bit more subtle (Mild, English Bitters, etc) as opposed to batches that I used Domestic 2 Row in (APAs, IPAs, IIPAs, Robert the Bruce clone, Barleywine) – all of which used the same bag. I’m not sure if this is due to the size of the base malt (MO might be slightly smaller than 2 Row) or if the bigger flavors have masked the grainy flavor in the batches that used 2 Row.

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild 3.0

The grainy flavor didn’t prevent Crickhollow Mild 3.0 from doing well in competitions so far (38 and 39.5 so far 1st and 3rd) so I ended up entering it at NHC since I didn’t really want to drink it. Luckily some grainy flavor/astringency is allowed within that style, but one judge did say it made the beer finish a little dry and 3/4 scoresheets said additional sweetness would improve.

The batch I’m most concerned about this flavor in is my Special Bitter that I sent to NHC. I don’t think this off flavor would help that beer at all so I decided to add some Polyclar to the keg to try to strip the tannins/proteins that I believe were causing that flavor. It definitely helped, but it didn’t get rid of all of it so I don’t have much hope for this one advancing to the 2nd round.

I brewed another Mild as my first batch with the small batch setup and had just gotten to the point of realizing that there might be too much grain in the kettle when I saw some swirling around during the boil as you can see in the picture below:

grain_in_boil

I strained a lot of it out during the boil, but obviously I couldn’t get it all out at this point in the process. The batch did turn out to be a lot more drinkable than the Mild 3.0 version and the grainy flavor does seem to be fading the longer it cold conditions. If my Mild happens to make it to the 2nd round I might send Mild 4.0 vs Mild 3.0 to Philly if for no other reason than I like 4.0 better and it has a little more malt complexity.

As a true test I decided to brew a really light flavored Ordinary Bitter (90% MO, 10% Carastan) which I’ll post up in a week or two when it’s ready, but initial samples out of the keg had no trace of grainy/husky/tannic flavors.

NHC 2013

In other news I stewarded at the St. Paul judging center for NHC last weekend. It was the first time I had volunteered at a competition and I had a great time. Thanks to the 2 bottle format for Round 1 us stewards got to try whatever beers we wanted when the judges were done with them. It was pretty cool to try some beers and sit in with the judges as they discussed them or to have a beer and read the scoresheets that they handed you for it. If any of you have the opportunity to help out with a competition I’d highly recommend it, even something as boring sounding as ‘stewarding’ turned out to be quite fun.

It was interesting to see how beers are handled, judged, etc. I was surprised how subjective the Mini BOS process is – it taught me that you really have to nail a beer to get place, let along get 1st place. Any little flaw, or deviation from style, slight imbalance WILL prevent you from placing – assuming there is some decent competition in your category.

I’ll have some more posts up soon as I have several batches fermenting/conditioning at the moment.

Cheers

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Bagshot Pale 3.0 – APA

APA_3.0

I spoke to the first and second iteration of this recipe in this post so I’ll keep this post brief. Obviously this is the third iteration of this recipe – I brewed this one with NHC in mind. I liked the previous versions a lot, but I think I nailed exactly what I was going for the third time.

I entered both previous versions in 3 competitions each and ended up with some pretty good results. In one competition it was dinged for high diacetyl, which I think was probably from another beer in that flight because the same batch did well in 2 other competitions and I never picked up any diacetyl. I took the feedback from all the scoresheets giving more weight to the 2nd version as well as my notes and decided on a few changes:

  • The hop flavor seemed a bit muddled so I decided to move the Amarillo from the Dry Hop and use it all in the hopstand while moving the Centennial from the hopstand to dry hop. I really liked the aroma of Janet’s Brown Ale which was dry hopped with 2 oz Centennial. I also thought having Cascade and Amarillo in the hopstand without Centennial would focus the flavors a bit more.
  • I thought the bitterness could be a bit higher and some scoresheets more or less concurred, but I didn’t want to add a large bittering addition – in an attempt to preserve the integrity of the original recipe (which focuses on the “whirlpool” hop stand for nearly all bitterness) I decided to use the water profile I use for all my other hoppy beers, which is the one Tasty McDole uses (I had previously used Firestone Walker’s profile for this recipe). I do not know much about water chemistry, but I know this profile works and accentuates bitterness so I figured this was a pretty safe change without modifying the hopping schedule.
  • A couple of scoresheets mentioned malt aroma as being a bit low. The style guideline says low-moderate for both malt aroma and flavor so I opted to increase the Victory from 3.6% to 5.8%. I’m hoping that gets me a hint of malty/toasty aroma as it was pretty much all hop aroma before – hopefully the 2.2% increase was enough to be noticed. I modified the grist percentage for everything to accommodate this change, but only slightly from version 2.0.

Bagshot Pale 3.0:

5 finished gallons (6.5 gallon batch size – 1.25 left in kettle, 5.25 into carboy)

90 minute boil

1.054 OG

1.014 FG

73% Rahr 2 Row

15.4% Weyermann Munich (8L)

5.8% Briess CaraPils

5.8% Briess Victory Malt

5 grams Cascade 5.6% 90 mins

5 grams Cascade 5.6% 30 mins

46.8 grams Cascade 5.6% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

56.8 grams Amarillo 9.2% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

28.4 grams Cascade 5.6% Dry hop for 6 days

56.8 grams Centennial 8.7% Dry hop for 6 days

WLP002

Pitch at 63, let rise to 66F. As fermentation wraps up increase temp to 68F. When within about .002 gravity points of target final gravity add dry hops. After 3 days cold crash for 3 days before packaging.

I have found that this beer is very drinkable after a week in the keg, but even better if you wait until about 6 weeks from brew day. This particular version has an intensely citrusy and spicy aroma with hints of orange,  grapefruit and some clean malt character. The spiciness is a bit higher than in 2.0 and I’m really liking it – overall the aroma screams American C hops, and more importantly it screams American Pale Ale. The color is golden with a hint of orange – brilliantly clear (it’s lighter than the picture above shows – had trouble with lighting). The bitterness and moderate carbonation hit you first, but the flavor quickly shifts to citrus/grapefruit with some breadiness and orange flavor. I don’t pick up any toastiness still, that is one thing I’d consider trying to increase, but it’s just so drinkable as is I think any more malt character might detract from the beer overall. The finish is dry by design with a hint of lingering bitterness and even hop flavor. The older it gets the more the malt flavor comes through (as the hops fade).

I entered this in NHC, but category 10 is never easy so I’m not holding my breath.

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New Small Batch Brew Setup

stovetop

As a true northerner I’ve always embraced winter brewing outside/in the garage, however when your hoses to your immersion chiller freeze up and you’re forced to carry a 15 gallon kettle with 6.5 gallons of wort from the garage down to the basement to chill you start to think about what could be done differently.

As I was thinking about winter brewing I also thought about summer brewing in the garage – here in MN it gets fairly hot (90*+) and humid from June – August, which is more unappealing to me than brewing at 0* or below, but at least I can run water through my chiller. This basically means that with my unattached garage and no plumbing there I end up with about 5-6 months of decent outdoor brewing – not good enough.

It was clear to me at this point that I needed to figure out an indoor setup. I thought about trying to make a basement setup, but with no dedicated area and the prospect of ventilation and gas plumbing it just wasn’t feasible (for me). I thought about an electric setup, but opted not to risk killing myself since I know nothing about electrical engineering and it would still mean figuring out a dedicated space and ventilation. This left the stove-top, which luckily we had just replaced and happened to get a stove with a pretty powerful burner (what a coincidence, right?).

burner

Knowing what I had to work with it was time to choose a batch size – shooting for 5 gallons of finished beer isn’t ideal on a stove top. I also want to branch out a bit and experiment with recipe formulation as I mostly stick to brewing established recipes – albeit with significant tweaks at times – so I wanted to keep the batch size around 2-3 gallons. Applying the KISS methodology the clear winner was 2.5 gallon batches since those scale pretty much linearly to my normal 5 gallon batch size.

In a typical 5 gallon batch I aim to produce 6.5 gallons of wort and leave 1.25 gallons of wort/trub in the kettle while transferring 5.25 gallons into the fermenter. For the 2.5 gallon batches I’m producing 3.25 gallons of wort and leaving .5 gallons in the kettle. Both batch sizes leave .25 gallons in the fermenter. I’ll have to increase batch size for beers that use a ton of hops or for beers I plan to secondary.

I really wanted my process to be as identical as possible between the 2 setups as I’ll still brew 5 gallon batches and want to be able to brew the same beer on either setup. I ferment in 6 gallon better bottles now so 3 gallon seemed like the logical choice for the half-sized batches, but I also hate dealing with blowoff tubes and losing beer to blowoff so I opted for the 5 gallon better bottles. I end up with a lot of headspace, but I do fairly short primaries anyway and don’t think I introduce much oxygen after pitching (I mostly rack to kegs with CO2 in a closed environment, etc.). I’ll probably secondary in 3 gallon better bottles (and up my batch size a bit) when I brew bigger beers unless I break them into 1 gallon jugs and maybe oak half or something.

For a kettle I ended up going with the Morebeer 8 gallon Heavy Duty Brew Kettle. I have the 15 gallon version and love it (welded fittings, retains heat well, solid) so that was an easy choice. There is also basically no chance of a boilover with if I leave the lid off and I am not about to risk that on our new stove (I would never hear the end of it and probably be kicked back out to the garage).

I plan to bottle a lot of these batches, but will also likely get a couple 2.5 gallon kegs. I’m sure 5 gallon kegs will work fine, but it’d be nice to have a couple 2.5 gallon kegs.

I’ll get a brew sesh post up soon – stay tuned.

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