Thursday, December 31, 2009

2 Stouts, 1 Mash! (Safe For Work)

(RIS on the right, second runnings beer on the left)

In the Mild Ale post a while back I suggested that a Mild would be a great beer to try to brew in conjunction with a strong ale, as a Part-Gyle brew. Most people know what that is, but in case you don't, it's a brewing method where the mash is run off in different batches. The first runnings make a strong beer, and as the mash is sparged out with hot water, the progressively weaker runnings make more average or even "small" beers. This technique dates from when mash tuns were made of wood (since they didn't need to exposed to a flame, it was cheaper than metal and could be built bigger than the boil kettle for economy.) The multiple runnings from a large mash tun can be fermented together or separately, or combined in a number of creative ways according to the brewer's creative urges.

I decided to take this approach on a batch of Imperial Stout. It's a longer brew day, but for the modest price of an ounce or two of hops, a second beer can be made. It's kind of a no-lose situation because even if the beer isn't great, you have hardly wasted any additional resources.

Above you can see the base mash, which was about 25 pounds of grain The grain bill is a little atypical of an Imperial Stout, as I added a little German smoked malt and peated malt for a smoky complexity to blend with the roasty and caramel flavors. After doing some research, I expected the first 6 gallon batch to come in at about 1.090, and the second batch to come in at 1.050-1.060 O.G. But as you will see, the extract split was much more dramatic with that, with the beers starting at 1.101 and 1.041 respectively. I was fine and actually very happy with those results!

Here are color samples of the first beer on the left and the second beer on the right. Flavor-wise, the first wort tasted very much like an imperial stout and the second beer tasted like a nutty, toasty and fairly peaty brown beer (so not really a stout after all). The peated malt was surprisingly much more noticable in the second beer. Of course there are less sugars and other flavors to hide behind, but I would have thought that the smoke presence would have been proportionally less in the second beer too.

Here's a better color sample of the second wort, maybe it's coming in at 20+ SRM in color.

Here's the recipe. A note first on the mineral additions for this mash: I have a feeling that the water adjustment was wack on this beer. I have some serious questions about John Palmer's water addition calculator, specifically the Residual Alkalinity it suggests for stout-colored worts. I am looking into it and there is an interesting thread here on the BN forum where I am really trying to get a better understanding on mineral additions for dark beers.

"2 Stouts, 1 Mash" RIS and peated "small beer"

Base Mash:
19 lb. 2-row pale malt
1.5 lb. British Roasted Barley 575L
1.5 lb. German Rauchmalt
1 lb . Chocolate malt 400L
.5 lb. Munton's extra-dark crystal malt 200L
.5 lb. Crystal 120L
.5 lb. Crystal 70
.5 lb. peated malt

Mash in 7 gallons of water to 149 degrees for 40 minutes, then add 1 gallon boiling water to raise to 152 for 30 minutes.
Mineral additions: 10 gr. chalk, 1 gr. calcium chloride, 12 gr. baking soda

Sparge with 9 gallons H2O at 168

First Runnings RIS:
7 gallons pre-boil, 5.9 gallons post-boil
O.G. 1.101 F.G. 1.028 ABV 9.8% IBU's 91
Collect 7 gallons at 1.085 (67% of potential extract)
Boil 60 minutes on outside burner
35 gr. Chinook whole 10% AA 60 min
8 gr. Centennial whole 7% AA 60 min
8 gr. Newport whole 10% AA 60 min
5 gr. Zeus whole 14% AA 60 min
40 gr. Magnum whole 10% 30 min
Wyeast nutrient & whirlfloc at 10 min.
(This beer might get some French oak chips after fermented, depending on a flavor analysis.)

Second Runnings peaty brown beer:
7 gallons pre-boil, 5.8 gallons post-boil
O.G. 1.041 F.G. 1.010 ABV 4.1% IBU's 23
Collect 7 gallons at 1.034 (27% of potential extract)
Boil on stovetop for 90 minutes
17 gr. Horizon pellets 8.2% AA 55 min
Wyeast nutrient & whirlfloc at 10 min
14 gr. Glacier pellets 4.5% AA 5 min

Both beers were chilled to about 66 degrees with the plate chiller and fermented with Cali ale yeast. Fermentation started at 60 degrees and worked its way up to 65 in the first few days.

Racked both beers to keg on 1/18/09. Second runnings beer tastes surprisingly excellent, I guess I expected it to be compromised in flavor some way but it tastes like a great brown porter with a mellow background of smokiness. RIS is pretty hardcore, not really even remotely drinkable at this point. Very sharp, almost acrid in the roastiness and noticable alcohol, although not fuselly. It probably just needs some months to age.

Here's a quick little side project that Clarissa and I did: Irish cream. We did this internet recipe straight up, and damn, it's good! We're having some in our coffee right now. The Bushmills is pretty cheap Irish Whiskey, but it's just fine for this kind of sweet, rich cocktail. You'll never drink Bailey's again after making this yourself, and it's very easy.

Cheers, Happy New Year everyone. Be safe. Don't be a cheapskate, get a damn cab!
Sean & Clarissa

Friday, December 25, 2009

Plate Chiller and Hop Taquito Tested, and a Strong Saision with Brett

Because I'm a poor, unemployed bastard, I spent Christmas Eve out here on my own instead of traveling to see my family, which may not be the best way to spend the holidays, but it does make for some great brew sessions (wait til you see what I have lined up for tomorrow). Mainly this brew session was all about testing the new "Hop Taquito" as I am calling it since it's a smaller version of the "Hop Taco" I based it off of, and testing out the Shirron plate chiller that I am borrowing from Alex. He also gave me a couple bottles of Seven to take home recently, which made a nice accompaniment to the brewday.

I took some pretty detailed notes on the plate chiller's performance, and I'll post them here. I had not used it or even hooked it up to test it before the brew session, so I was expecting something to go awfully wrong, but wort cooling and straining went off without a hitch. In the winter, at least, when the tap water is cold, the plate chiller works like a charm. In the summer, I imagine you might need an pre-chiller of some sort (like running the line through a bucket of ice water to get it below 50 if possible).

I'll go ahead and set out the beer recipe and then go into the pictures and detail of the chilling process. A strong Brett-ified saison is not original in the sense that it's probably been done unintentionally for over a century, as well as currently being brewed intentionally by many breweries both foreign and domestic, but it's exactly what I wanted to brew. The commercial example I was really inspired by was Russian River Publication. If this beer turns out anything close to that or Ommegang Ommegeddon (a good bottle, not a too young or overly funky one), I'll be very happy! This should be ready in time for late spring/summer drinking.

Currently un-named Saison
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 5.9 gallons post-boil
O.G. 1.066 (effectively 1.070) F.G. 1.006 (at bottling) ABV 8.5% IBU's 40

8.5 lb. Great Western Pils malt
1 lb. wheat malt
.5 lb. torrified wheat (just something I got for free and wanted to use up)
1.5 lb. Munich malt 8-10L
.5 lb. Munton's crystal 50-60 L
.5 lb. turbinado sugar (fairly dark)
(.5 lb. Malto-Dextrin powder added after transfer to secondary)

26 gr. Magnum whole hops 12% AA 60 minutes
56 gr. Willamette whole hops 4.7% AA 0 min

Water: Going for a hoppy profile, added 3 gr. gypsum/ 1 gr. calcium chloride to the mash. Same amount to boil kettle.

Mash in 4 gallons of water, 149 for 30 minutes, then 152 for 30 minutes.
Sparge with 5 gallons at 168
Collect 7 gallons at 1.053 = 81% efficiency

Boil 90 minutes, hops as noted.
Wyeast nutrient & Whirlfloc at 10 min

(See below for chilling details)

Pitched yeast from a 2 liter stirplate starter of WLP 566, 4 month old tube. (This shit took off like gangbusters despite the age, so once again I think Jamil's yeast viability calculator is a bit on the pessimistic side. It said the tube would be at 10% viability.)

Oxygen for 90 seconds
Start ferment at 66, warmed to 83 degrees over 2 weeks.

Racked to secondary on 1/12/10. 1.008. Tastes really nice, bitter and hoppy but balanced. Removed about 1 qt. to force carbonate, just to get a sample of the clean beer with 566 only.
Added. .5 lb. malto-dextrin powder dissolved in boiling water to the secondary to give the brett some food, upping the O.G. to 1.070. Added 1 pack of Wyeast B. Brux.

2/24/10 Pulled a flavor/gravity sample. 1.006, 8.5% ABV. Brett fermentation has been active and the brett character is very pronounced. Estery, light acidity, and light alcohol notes. Flavor is bitter and hoppy with brett barnyard, but a fairly sweet malt presence at the same time. No signs of fermentation stopping yet...

3/24/10 Racked to keg, which I will use as a bottling bucket. Damn, this is a brett bomb! In a good way, but not a beginner brett beer. Definitely for the afficionado. A brassy, perfumey aroma with a sour baby diaper funk.

OK, now here's the data I collected of the cooling and straining process. I had the bright idea of attaching a "fermometer" to the bottom of the carboy to get an early reading on what temp I was running off the wort at, and that seemed to do a great job. I actually started in a little cold at 64, so I increased the wort flow out of the pot to warm it up a bit.

Final Boil Volume: 6.1 gallons (accounting for shrinkage that would be 5.9 gal after chilling)
Whirlpool stirred for: 1 minute
Whirlpool settled for: 10 minutes
Cold water temp: 44 degrees
Cold water flow rate: 1.25 gallons per minute
Hot wort flow rate: .5 gallons per minute (10 minutes to fill carboy to 5.5 gal)
Wort temp in Carboy: 65-66
Wort left over in Kettle: less than .5 gallons

Towards the end of runnoff, I tilted the kettle to help drain out most of the wort. That's what was left, and I can probably get even more if I rotate the pickup tube down a bit more. I still need to try the Taquito with pellet hops, but using whole hops, it was a tremendous success!

Oh, and one last note on cleaning an sanitization of the plate chiller: I'm sure there are numerous viable ways to do this. Since I don't have a pump, recirculating hot wort is out, but I wanted to do a "Hot Kill" phase. That could either be done with boiling water or I've heard of some people doing it in the oven. Before brewing, I took all the tubes off and did an overnight Oxiclean soak and then sanitized it. On brewday, I got a little pot of water boiling and poured it into the wort and water sides of the plate chiller and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. It really got hot, and stayed hot, which was a relief to me. No way I am trusting this thing to get sanitized with chemicals when I can't even see inside it! The tubes were soaked in the sparge water pot for 15 minutes or so, and then everything stayed in sanitizer until I was ready to hook it up. Cleaning is as simple as an Oxiclean soak and sanitizer dip.

Merry Christmas Brewers and Beer Geeks! Here's hoping you get that special bottle, or brewing equipment you've been wanting under the tree.

Senior Wonton

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hop Taco Constructed: Another brutally labor intensive project!

I've been working on a better way to strain my wort, so that I can use the Shirron plate chiller that Alex (from Upright) loaned me to try out. I needed to make sure I'm not letting any hop particulate into the plate chiller that could stop the flow and be a real pain in the ass to clean out later.

Why change from am immersion chiller, that works just great, to a plate chiller? Well, my last batches of beer brewed with Cali ale yeast showed a little of the "ring around the bottle neck" that indicates non-beer yeast contamination. This contamination, if that's indeed what it is, isn't tastable by myself or anyone else that I've let taste the beers, but it still bothers me. It could be from the fact that I'm chilling my wort about 15 feet from the neighbor's compost heap! Or not, but it was pretty stinky the last time I brewed. I also changed out all my beer hoses in case there was any infection there.

So, once I have the plate chiller hooked up, I'll rule out the problem of wild funk floating in from the decomposing food so close to my beloved beer. I did some web research, which mainly consisted of going to the KOTMF website to check out how they made a cheap DIY version of the Hop Stopper.

I scored some cheap materials totaling less than $5, with about a 6 inch SS strainer from a thrift store, and some copper wire (medium and thin copper scored out of some electrical wiring from a metal shop. I'm hoping that this size will be fine for 5 or 10 gallon batches. The screen is not "fine". It's just regular old SS screen with maybe 1/8 inch holes.

I started by cutting out the screen from the strainer, and then bent the ragged edges in so I would have a good edge to sew shut. Then I just started at one edge with the fine copper wire and sewed it up. I couldn't figure out how the hell the KOTMF managed to get a hose clamp to attach the screen to the tube, so I just sewed around that as well as I could too.

Before I sewed the tube in, I worked in a little piece of medium gauge coper wire to keep the tube suspended in the middle of the screen. Then I just sewed the Taco shut all the way, and things looked good! We'll see how things go on brewday. The first brew will be with about 2 oz. whole hops, then I'll try pellets if that works out well.

It took me at least 2 hours to construct this thing, so be prepared if you try to make this to spend some time. It will be worth it if it works well!

I don't know if anybody cares about this stuff, but here are some pictures of me and Clarissa's "Christmas" meals. We celebrated on Sunday, since she's going home for a while to see her family. We started off the morning with some "eggs in the hole", made with some really fantastic rosemary bread that we pick up at the PSU farmer's market. We are totally addicted to this bread and we usually finish the loaf within a day of buying it. The beer is Trader Joe's Doppelbock, which is another great contract-brewed lager from Gordon Biersch. Seriously, try it if you haven't yet.

Dinner was the main attraction of course. I bought a leg of lamb at the farmer's market also, which we marinated for 1 day in some cheap wine (Smoking Loon, don't buy it!), and lots of garlic, shallots, rosemary, and thai basil. We hit it with some coarse salt and pepper and roasted that sucker for about an hour at 375, til it hit an internal temp of 120 degrees (a nice medium once it's rested for 20 minutes). The lamb turned out amazingly, and the sides complimented it well.

We served the lamb with a celery root puree, sauteed hedgehog mushrooms, and kale sauteed with raisins and whole cumin seed. The wine is from a small winery in Oregon that we actually bought in New York. It's really tasty, so if you ever see Montebruno, give it a try. We met the winemaker, who used to brew for Deschutes and helped them expand to their current (I think 50 bbl) system.

Dessert was a very rich and tasty, but ugly, chocolate mousse. No picture, sorry! I'm not a great pastry chef.

So, I'll be brewing a lightly spiced saison on Christmas eve, and hopefully a parti-gyle brew of an imperial stout/stout on Christmas day. Cheers, people, enjoy your holidays and brew strong!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hankering for a pint o' Mild Ale

To all you competitive homebrewers out there, this is from the AHA website:

January/February 2010

The Session Challenge – English Brown Ales

Entry deadline is Tuesday, February 16, 2010. Judging will be held Saturday, February 20, 2010. Entry fee is $7. Make checks payable to American Homebrewers Association.

Remember that you have to advance past the club round in your local AHA recognized homebrew club. These beers are very quick to brew due to the low gravity and high-floculating English yeast strains, so you've got no excuses! Even if you bottle condition, this could probably be ready within 2 weeks. You might want to make 10 gallons, because it's going to get drank up faster than you think, and then you'll want more.

English session beers are a realm that I rarely delve into. But I have to admit after all the 1.060+ beers I've been making recently (I think only one of my Portland brews came in below that), I've felt the urge to make an utterly sessionable beer. I decided to skip the Northern & Southern English brown ales and go straight for the Mild. It's an esoteric and under-brewed style, especially commercially. I think I have only had one commercial example of a mild ever, and it was over the typical ABV level at about 5.5%. Strike that, Earth Bread + Brewery had a golden mild on draught when we went there shortly after it opened, and it was delicious. Mild also might be a great style to look into if you are interested in doing a parti-gyle second runnings brew from a strong ale. If you need to add more body/color to the second runnings beer, you can "cap" the mash with additional specialty malts after running off the first beer.

I brewed up this recipe with a new friend, Paul Key, who is a fan of English session beers, and directed me to this cool website, which has a ton of historical brew-log information, mainly on English ales. Milds can range from golden-copper to fairly dark brown, but this recipe is the classic brown color, focusing on a characteristic English malt profile from Marris Otter, a healthy portion of crystal malts, and a touch of black malt. There is also some brown malt in our grist, which I have never tried before, but it seems to add a really nice toasty background. Many of the historical commercial mild recipes use dark brewing syrups, but we decided not to go that route and instead focus on getting the color and flavor from easily available specialty malts.

I decided to name this beer for my dad, who called me when we were brewing this. My dad pretty much can't stand beer because he thinks the aftertaste is unpleasant (from the bitterness & alcohol flavor I guess, although he does enjoy the occasional Jello-shot). As I was describing the beer we were making he said "That sounds like something I might actually like!" I think he's right, so I'll send him some for Christmas since I probably won't make it back to Ohio this year.

Dale's Mild

Recipe is for 13 gallons pre-boil, 11.2 gallons post-boil, all grain

O.G. 1.041 F.G. 1.015 ABV 3.5% IBU's 21

12 lb. Glen Eagle Marris Otter Malt

.75 lb. crystal 70

1 lb. crystal 120

.5 lb. brown malt

.25 lb black malt

61 gr. American Goldings whole 5%AA 60 min

Mineral additions were to get an RA of 115 for proper mash pH, and a balanced chloride:sulfate ratio.

Mash at 152 for 60 min (5 gallons of water, mineral additions were 3 gr. chalk, 3 gr. baking soda, 1 gr. gypsum, 1 gr. calcium chloride)

Sparge with 5 gallons at 170

Collect 8 gallons at 1.057 = 85% efficiency

We took a last runnings gravity and the gravity was 1.023, so we probably could have sparged with at least 1 more gallon.

Topped up in the kettle to 13 gallons.

Boil 60 minutes, added 3 gr. gypsum & 3 gr. calcium chloride to the kettle.

Wyeast nutrient & Whirlfloc at 10 min

Chilled to 66, oxygenated for 60 seconds per carboy

Pitched an appropriate slurry of Wyeast "London Ale III" obtained from Hopworks.

Fermented at 68 for 6 days, then raised to 72 over the last 2 days help dry it out.

Racked to keg on 12/15/09. Tastes awesome. I'm not sure if this is a better example of a mild or maybe a Southern English brown. There is a light roasty note and quite a bit of caramel, although not a lot of dark fruit. It's got a complex and distinctive English aroma and there's a distinctive tobacco note to the malt. Maybe I'll let a few English Ale experts try it and see what they think.

1/30/09: Unfortunately I was not able to enter this in either local club as a club-only entry. The OBC, for some reason, did not do a brown ale club-only last month, instead deciding to do an in-house pale ale competition. PDX brewers did have one, but despite my best efforts I was not able to get over to Beaverton to drop my beer off for their competition. I was really disappointed not to enter this, but you know, life goes on. I still have some bottles set aside for NHC.