Sorry for the gap. A bit of writers block as I realized how many things I have to write about. You’d think that would make things easier, but no, not for me. I am going to keep using the proper brewing terms for things, and plan to post a “brewer’s lexicon” soon to help out neophytes.
Back on the 5th, I brewed two beers using some of my new equipment. Joining me was my boss, Eric, who is interested in getting started in homebrewing, and my father, Curt, who has helped out on at least a third of my batches.
Our first beer was an All-Grain Rye IPA, based on Denny Conn’s Rye IPA, which I brewed last year, with some changes to increase the hoppyness. Last year I dubbed this one Jack the RIPA, and I think it will keep that name. I quite liked it last time, and I plan to keep brewing this every 2nd or 3rd batch so that I have a good recipe to iterate on.
My basic recipie was as follows:
- 12lb US 2-Row
- 3lb Rye Malt
- 12oz Caramel 60L
- 8oz Carapils
- 8oz White Wheat
- 4oz Caramel 40L
- 1oz Newport (9.3AA) First Wort Hopped
- 1oz Columbus (14.5AA) 60 Min
- 1oz Mt Hood (5.2AA) 30 Min
- 3oz Amarillo in Hop Back
- 1oz Columbus Dry-Hopped
- 1oz Amarillo Dry-Hopped
- Mash at 153°F for 60 minutes
- Boil for 70 minutes
- Use a large starter of WLP051-California Ale V, and ferment cool, ~66°F.
This should result in a beer with an Original Gravity of 1.075 and Final Gravity of 1.020 with around 7.5% ABV, if we presume 70% efficiency, and around ~100-110 IBUs.
How did it go? Well, I had several major issues. First, I missed my mash in temperature by about 4°F too low, and had to greatly increase the amount of water in the mash. I think I need better compensate for my larger cooler, and winter temperatures of my ingredients. The pump was great for getting hot water safely to the Mash Lauter Tun and Hot Liquor Tank. Once I had 7 gallons collected, I added hops and started boiling. When I got near the end of the boil, I hooked the pump up in a loop and recirculated boiling wort through it to sanitize the pump. I filled by sanitized hopback with whole leaf hops, and hooked it up when the boil time was up. I used the hopback with an immersion chiller, so i recirculated the wort through the hopback and onto the cooling coils. It seemed to work great for the first 3-5 minutes, but then Curt noticed nothing was coming out of the pump.
We deduced something was wrong with the hopback. After tinkering with the flow and tubing, we disassembled the hopback. It appears that the hopback, which is supposed to work as a filter, worked too well, and had caught all 3oz of pellet hops inside the whole leaf hops, and jammed up. In the future, I will need to bag the pellet hops, or perhaps just run the pump more gently, to not compact the hops.
After the beer was cooled, and being moved to the fermenter (again using the pump, which made things much easier), we took a gravity reading. We got only 1.064 as the original gravity, or a whole 11 gravity points under the target, and giving a mash efficiency of only 63%. I think several things may have gone wrong here. My first, and greatest suspect, is my grind from my grain mill, as I discovered with the next batch that one of the rollers was gummed up. Also, missing my target mash temperature, although I got it corrected quickly, probably decreased the efficacy of the sparging. Also, I should have taken the gravity before the boil, as if I had known earlier, I could have boiled for longer to concentrate the wort, or added some malt extract or sugars.
Photo of my brew day setup. The orange cooler is the HLT, the white cooler is the MLT, the Brew Kettle is a 10 gallon Blichmann, and the march pump is connecting all of them. Here I am recirculating the mash to clarify the wort.
The second batch was an extract with grains recipe of Southern English Brown Ale, based on the recipe in Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. I did this recipe for two reasons: One, there are no good commercial examples in the US, so I needed to brew it to try it, and two, I had 5lb of Liquid Malt Extract lying around that I needed to use, and that is what the recipe used. Also, it would a quick counterpoint to Eric about the complexities of all grain brewing, and I could use dry yeast, to keep things cheap and simple.
The Southern English Brown Ale seemed to go off without a hitch, except for the aforementioned roller jamming up on the grain mill. But we got that fixed by scraping malt dust off the edge of the free roller (only one of the two is motor driven). We hit our gravity target by 1 point, and got it fermenting right away.