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