Monday, December 20, 2010

HUGE Baltic Porter & small beer - with Sean Burke

I had been kicking around some "collaboration brewing" ideas with my friend Sean Burke, and we both knew that we didn't want to do something normal. It was our first time brewing together, and we wanted to do something with some gusto. We were both enthused by the idea of a Baltic Porter, and we toyed with the idea of doing some home-smoked malt in it, before ditching that idea because neither of us has a smoker. We finally settled on trying for a huge Baltic Porter and a small beer from the second runnings. We might mess with half the batch by adding oak and/or spirits.

Neither of us knew just quite how huge the Baltic Porter would really be, and we were pretty shocked to see it is one of the highest O.G. beers that either of us have ever brewed, and a lager at that.
The brewday really maxed out my "brewhouse's" capabilities, and because of this we ran into a few classic homebrew-y snags. I found myself apologizing quite a few times for the unforeseen problems, not to mention wishing that we had Sean's march pump on hand for the end of the boil.
For starters, we mashed in a keggle with an EZ-masher, but not only did we slightly scorch the grain bed when trying to raise the temp a bit, but we also knocked loose the EZ-masher screen in the process somehow, and the result was a completely stuck mash. Luckily we had an extra cooler mash-tun on hand, or we would have been totally, completely screwed!
After transfering the entire mash to the cooler, things went pretty smooth until the end of the boil, when we found ourselves losing the siphon, losing flow through the heat exchanger! That was fixable by getting the pot higher and having someone stand up there stirring the kettle to free up any hops from the kettle screen, so it could run freely to the fermenter. This was somewhat exacerbated, I'm sure, by the incredibly viscous 1.117 O.G. wort.

Despite all the setbacks, we had a fun time and didn't get too stressed out about the little snafu's. We also managed to get a pretty decent small beer out of the process which came in at 1.030 O.G. I fermented mine as a "dark mild", pitching the Wyeast West Yorkshire ale yeast. It is already drinking pretty well after only 8 days and comes in at a sessionable 2.5%. It's a decent beer, but it could use some more caramel sweetness, without which it comes off as slightly roasty and harsh. Still, it's hard not to like a sessionable, easy to drink ale that was fast and basically free to make.

Sean pitched his portion with a lager yeast which he plans to use as a giant starter wort for another lager. It will be interesting to try the small beers side by side.
The huge Baltic Porter got a full (5 gallon batch) yeast cake pitch of 3rd generation Bohemian Lager yeast, from the just-transferred rauchbier that is tasting really nice. I did not post that recipe here, so here it is: Jamil's rauchbier from Brewing Classic Styles, brewed with 70% Rauchmalt. That's the recipe. I obviously haven't tried it fully lagered yet, but all I can say is, try brewing it. It's great. We drank a full pint of green lager that had been held aside for a flavor/gravity sample, and it already tasted super fine. 70% is not too much smoke, and seems quite gentle so far.

Our cat "Chk Chk Chk" also hung out for the brewday, but she was pretty lazy. She mostly sat around and whined, occasionally entertaining herself by jumping onto the kegerator, which I try to keep as a sanitary work surface, and leaving muddy paw prints all over it. Damned good-for-nothing cats.

A couple things about the recipe:
1) The pre-boil/post boil gravities on the baltic porter don't work out. So I'm not sure what went wrong there but the O.G. was 1.117. Possible a combination of inaccurate pre-boil reading and post-boil volume measurement?
2) As you will see with the grainbill and hop timings, we weren't really concerned with stylistic accuracy here, just making what sounded great.

Main Mash:
27 lb. Weyermann Pils
10 lb. Briess Munich 10 L
1 lb. C-60
2 lb. C-77
1 lb. C-120
1 lb. pale chocolate
1 lb. chocolate
1 lb. Carafa special II

Mash: 11 gallons at 152ish, for almost 2 hours by the time we actually got it transferred to the cooler.
Sparge: 21 gallons at 170
Continuous fly-sparge, switching over to second kettle once first kettle was full.

Beer 1: Baltic Porter
13.5 gallons pre-boil 1.090 (???Doesn't add up)
Boil 90 min:

25 gr. Magnum pellet 11.5% AA 90 min
44 gr. Warrior pellet 15.8% AA 90 min
yeast nutrient & whirlfloc 10 min
56 gr. Sterling whole 7% AA 0 min
11.5 gallons post-boil
oxygen for 2.5 minutes
pitch full yeast cake of Wyeast 2124 at 54 degrees
1.117 O.G., 68 IBUs
Fermented at 50 for 8 days, then raised to 56 when bubbles slowed down.
1/2/11 Racked to secondary fermenter, tastes very promising but still at 1.050. Looks like the primary yeast shit the bed right at 9% ABV. Looking into pitching more yeast, hoping to get it down to 1.035.

Beer 2: "small beer / dark mild"
10.5 gallons pre-boil at 1.022
Boil 90 min
8 oz. Belgian amber candi sugar rocks 90 min
28 gr. Northern Brewer whole 7.8% 35 min
O.G. 1.030
15 IBU
Fermented my half with Wyeast West Yorkshire at 68-70
F.G. 1.011, ABV 2.5%

1 comment:

Darren said...

you have my sympathy, really hate the stuck mash and having to unload and reload the tun. It is a badge of honor for the home brewer though