Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Brew Day to Remember

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This past Saturday some friends came over for some #hobbitlife festivities, chiefly the drinking and brewing of ale and the breaking of bread. There were lots of chips/snack mixes, Oatmeal Stout Chili, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Espresso/Oatmeal Stouts and some Meatball Sandwiches. Many a pint of Oatmeal Stout and Janet’s Brown Ale were imbibed as well as some meads. It was a bit chilly, but the burner and some spooning/heavy petting kept us warm enough. We ended up chilling the wort in the basement since the hose outside was frozen solid, the temp dropped so rapidly on Thanksgiving I never had time to bring the hose inside. Didn’t realize this until now, but this was the 20th batch of 2012, hoping to squeeze 2-3 more in before year end.

In the past, we’ve found that our mash efficiency really suffers with grainbills above 16 pounds or so of grain (to get to around 1.070 or so). Initially, to brew this Barleywine (targeting 1.100 OG) I figured we’d be best off just getting some Marris Otter malt extract to get us from 1.065 or so to 1.100. Before I bought the ingredients I remembered reading about a double brew to produce a strong wort (Radical Brewing). Essentially you mash once, collect the wort, and mash again (with new grain) in said wort. I did some google searching and found that some BIABers had attempted this with good results. BIAB actually lends itself to a double brew better then any other all grain brewing method I’d have to say. We really weren’t sure how this would work out, but with a strategy formed and a goal in mind we forged ahead.

 
The recipe was pretty basic, I’ll post it below as well, but the grist was just 24 pounds of Floor Malted Marris Otter, a half pound of Simpsons Medium Crystal and a half pound of Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal. The grain was split evenly into 2 bags (12 lbs MO, .25 Medium Crystal, .25 Extra Dark Crystal) and each mash was done at 148F for 75 minutes. Since the sach rest was at a lower temp and we wanted to drive up both efficiency and fermentability we figured an extra 15 minutes for each mash would maybe help, but certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.

I really went back and forth on the hopping. Part of me wanted to use all EKG with a 4-5 oz bittering addition, but ultimately I decided to use some higher alpha UK Target hops for the bittering addition (2 oz). I figured the cleaner bittering would be welcome and we could still add plenty of EKG at 10, 5 and 0 mins (1 oz at each). I’m planning to brew an Old Ale soon enough (likely an 1845 clone or something close) and will feature a huge EKG load at 60 mins in that brew instead.

For the yeast selection there was never really a question on deviating from the ever staunch, ever steadful WLP002 English Ale Yeast (WY1968 aka Fullers strain). I use this yeast for the vast majority of British/American ales that I make. A lot of brewers would shy away from using this yeast, convinced it would leave too much residual sweetness, but I have faith. I’m thinking it’ll bring the beer to around 1.020-1.025 within about a week, but we’ll see. I pitched directly on top of the yeast cake from Crichollow Mild 3.0 brewed a week prior to brew day. I was hesitant to do this, but Dawson (MZA on WordPress/Gravatar, blog here) answered some questions I had about pitching on a yeast cake (and about this recipe) and gave me the courage to try it without washing the yeast between. If anyone has tried washing WLP002 you’ll understand why I didn’t want to wash the yeast for a beer this big.

The double brew went really well. We just used the standard amount of water We’d use for 25 lbs of grain (according to beersmith). For the first mash we used our original pillowcase style grain bag.

After 75 minutes we removed the bag and put it in a bucket with an upside-down colander to drain.

Gravity after mash 1 was 1.038.

We raised the wort back up to strike temp and put the 2nd set of grain in the new bag that is shaped like men’s underwear. Once that mash was over we raised the bag and heated up to mashout temp and let the 2nd bag sit for about 10 mins. After mashout we raised the bag and let it drain while heating up to boil. The preboil gravity after Mash 2 was 1.078.

Here is where we hit our only snag of the day, the wort was so thick it wouldn’t drain effectively. We ended up having to squeeze the bag quite a bit, typically we don’t squeeze at all.

Our preboil volume was short by a quarter gallon, all in all not the end of the world. Next time we do a big beer we’ll account for more grain absorpotion. We thought about adding water back, but decided to just boil the 8 gallons and end up with 6.25 gallons post-boil instead of 6.5 gallons (which we did). This resulted in a bit more trub ending up in the Better Bottle, but that shouldn’t really matter in this beer.

The wort was chilled to 64 before racking onto the yeast cake and adding O2 for 90 seconds at a fairly high rate. The OG was 1.102.

The fermentation brought it up to 66F (where it will ferment for the first 2 days) and a blow off tube was needed within 7 hours. At the 2 day mark I’m setting the temp controller to 68F to encourage the yeast to keep working.

It was really fun to brew a beer like this with some BFFs. The beer will be good for years to come and we’ll enjoy it together, but the event itself and the memories are something we’ll have forever.

#hobbitlife for life

WC for life

Gaffer’s Reserve:

5 gallons

60 minute boil

1.102 OG

96% Floor Malted Marris Otter

2% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

2% Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal

Mash half of grist at 148 for 75 minutes, remove and mash 2nd half of grist at 148 for 75 minutes

2 0z Target at 60 mins

1 oz EKG at 10, 5 and 0 minutes

WLP002

Pitch at 63F-64F, let free rise to 66F, when fermentation starts to slow down (day 2-3) raise temp to 68F

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is nearly here, lots of brewing stuff on my mind:

  • Kitchen remodel is nearly complete at Bag End – not brewing related, but deal with it
  • Janet’s Brown Ale is tasting mighty fine
  • Crickhollow Mild 3.0 is fermenting away, should be ready to keg in time to pitch an upcoming big beer on the yeast cake (stay tuned) – will be trying the oxygen free transfer “system” out for the first time
  • Fermentation Chamber of Secrets 3.0 is performing admirably – had to take apart the old chamber as I built it in front of the water shut off for the house
  • Oatmeal Stout Chili batch 2 is on the horizon
  • Weather isn’t too cold here in MN, shouldn’t make brewing this Saturday too difficult (chilling with frozen hoses doesn’t work well)
  • Got scoresheets back from LOTMW (1st 1st) and SCH*ABC V (2nd 3rd) with some useful feedback as I get ready to rebrew Hamfast the Gaffer (Pliny clone) and Bagshot Pale (APA)
  • Have 4 batches planned between now and mid-December, good times

Mild 3.0 in the Fermentation Chamber of Secrets 3.0

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Crickhollow Mild: A Recipe in Transformation

I became interested in brewing a Mild for several reasons. Historically it was a beer that was served in virtually every pub in London, but in the 20th century became nearly extinct. It’s typically a session beer, but has some real depth in it’s flavor (think toast, chocolate, burnt sugar, sometimes coffee). Mild is a very drinkable beer, you can have pint after pint and not become full or drunk, which makes it a great breakfast or lunch beer. It’s great for cooking as well.

One of the greatest advantages is that it’s a great starter beer – a beer that I’ll throw a single White Labs vial or Wyeast smack pack to grow up some yeast for other beers. The reason it’s so great as a starter beer is because the OG is low meaning a single vial or smack pack is sufficient (assuming it’s relatively fresh) to pitch. A lower OG obviously also results in a lower ABV which does not stress the yeast as much. It’s also a low IBU beer, which again makes the yeast more viable for repitching since it won’t have all the isomerized acids clinging to the cell walls. Lastly, Mild is a great beer to cask condition.

I first brewed Jamil’s recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, but I used all UK ingredients where he has the domestic varieties listed for the most part.

Version 1.0:

84.3% Floor Malted MO

6% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

4.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

3% Pale Chocolate

1.9% English Black Malt

Mash at 154F for 90 mins

1.037 OG, 1.012 FG

17 IBU (EKG)

WLP002

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

I thought this turned out to be a really delicious beer, but the black malt seemed to bring with it a peppery astringent flavor and the roast was a little over the top. This also tasted a little thin and finished dry. This was a really beautiful beer though, not quite black, with ruby highlights. I entered this in 3 competitions and it ended up with a 33, 24.5 and 29.5 – one judge picked up phenolics, but the rest didn’t comment on that. I’m not sure if there was a process issue or if there was just too much black malt.

Version 2.0
84.7% Floor Malted MO

5.8% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

5.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

3.7% Pale Chocolate

Mash at 154F for 60 mins

1.036 OG, 1.012 FG

20 IBU (Styrian Goldings – wanted to use this up, would typically use EKG)

WLP002

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

In this version I dropped the black malt and increased the Pale Chocolate hoping to get rid of any astringency/peppery flavors. I also mashed for 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes. I used to always mash for 90 minutes, but I consistently experienced a thinness in the body so I have since reduced mash time to 60 minutes unless I really want to dry something out. I’m not sure if it was my imagination or not, but I think it’s made a difference. If nothing else it’s made my brew day shorter while only hurting efficiency by a small amount.

This version turned out quite well, it’s very toasty and the malt is about what I want. It tastes a little to clean though and is a bit one noted in flavor. This scored a 29.5 as well in the only competition I entered it in and got 2nd in the English Brown Ale category. Both judges agreed it needs a bit more body and needs to be a bit more malt forward. One judge recommended increasing bitterness, the other said to reduce.

Version 3.0

This has not been brewed yet, planning to brew it this weekend.

82.9% Floor Malted MO

5.7% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

2.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

5.7% Pale Chocolate

2.8% English Black Malt

Mash at 155F for 60 mins

1.038 target OG / 1.013 target FG

17 IBU (EKG)

WLP002

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

In this version I’m trying to increase the body (mashing a degree higher) and make this a bit more malt forward. I’m going to bring the IBU back to about 17 like version 1.0. I’m reducing the Extra Dark Crystal and making it up with some Crisp Amber Malt which I think will bring some maltiness and complexity to the flavor profile (hopefully a hint of roast without any astringency, some subtle coffee flavor, and additional breadiness). I also like the fact that Fullers commissioned the maltsters in the UK to recreate Amber malt after reviewing historical brewing records for their commemorative beer 1845. Seems fitting to use it here since Mild is an older style. I’m still debating on whether or not to reduce the pale chocolate and maybe add some English Chocolate Malt, but I don’t want to tweak too many things at once.

 
My goal here is to get to a point where I’m happy with this recipe. I’ll enter it in some competitions, but ultimately want a beer that I’ll almost always have on hand around the house. I also want a good base recipe that I can wood age at some point and maybe smoke as well (smoked oaked mild). If you read this in the next day or two please give me some feedback on the recipe which I plan to brew in a couple days.

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Oatmeal Stout Chili

Winter is Coming….time for chili.

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1 onion – chopped
4 garlic cloves – minced
1 pound ground beef
.75-1 lbs chopped sirloin (I like to use venison when available) – trim fat
1 (14.5 oz) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
Oatmeal stout 16 oz
Coffee 16 oz (dark roast)
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 (14 oz) can beef broth
1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
3.5 tbs chili powder
1 tbs cocoa power
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (reduce if you don’t like spicy chili)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 can kidney beans
2 cans black beans
2 Jalapeno peppers (optional) – slice

Cook ground beef and chopped sirloin, combine all other ingredients in a large crock pot. Depending on time, go high for 4 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
Enjoy with an oatmeal stout and some fresh bread.

Ivy Bush Oat Stout:

OG: 1.059

SRM: 36

IBU: 38

60 Minute Boil

Mash at 154F

75% – Floor Malted Marris Otter

6.7% – Flaked Oats (toasted at 350 for 30 minutes)

5% – Victory Malt

3.3% – UK Dark Crystal

3.3% – UK Roasted Barley

2.5% – UK Chocolate Malt

2.5% – UK Pale Chocolate Malt

1.7% – UK Extra Dark Crystal

East Kent Goldings  to 38 IBU – 60 minutes

White Labs WLP002 – Pitch at 62F, let rise to 66F – hold there for at least 3 days, raise temp to 68F and allow fermentation to finish.

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Hoppy Halloween results

I received scoresheets and prizes last weekend from the Hoppy Halloween competition put on by the Prairie Homebrewing Companions. This club is pretty hardcore about this competition, respect.

The results were posted live on facebook during the awards banquet – it was pretty cool to follow along, especially since 6/7 beers that I entered received a medal. I didn’t end up winning the conical for best in show, but never truly expected to.  I ended up having 2 beers in the best in show round so I did what I could.

Click Image to enlarge:

The feedback was generally very good, but some were off the mark (guessing recipe, telling me to add something that was already there, etc). I’ll be taking the feedback into account as I rebrew the Mild, APA, IPA, IIPA in Nov/Dec for some upcoming competitions in Jan/Feb.

Ended up with a lot of prizes, some t-shirts, hat, New Zealand Hops, grains, bottle opener, 7.5g stainless kettle and a temp controller. Most precious of all though are, of course, the medals:

The lanyards are way superior to the typical red, white and blue. The skulls and mummies were clearly a labor of love. The engraving on the back for the category and place is a nice touch as well, much better than the usual sticker.

Bagshot Pale (APA) and Hamfast the Gaffer (IIPA) are both in competitions (Land of the Muddy Waters & SCH*ABC V) this weekend, will post after those results are up on Saturday or Sunday. I’m a little worried that these are out of their prime, but hopefully I get some useful feedback regardless.

Original post on Hoppy Halloween

Overall Competition Results page

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