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Brew Day Belgo Paleo

Ready to Brew!

Ready to Brew!

Brew Day! I’m actually writing this on the day after, but it was a long day. I had to help prepare for my older daughter’s baby shower and, after brewing and planting several things in the garden, I had to go help with the clean up. I was sore and tired last night!

First, I want to address the fact that I have had an ongoing problem with overcarbonation in several of my brews. Most have been darker beers…stout, porter, Scottish ale; but that may not necessarily have anything to do with it. I’ve tried backing down on priming sugar, extending the fermentation period, careful sanitizing procedures. I have been wondering if maybe the equipment I’m using or the bottles may need replacing or heavy duty cleaning, rather than rinsing and sanitizing. Before this brew, I soaked EVERYTHING in a solution of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda…carboy, buckets, utensils, hoses, siphon, airlocks and stoppers. Before I bottle, I will soak the bottles in the same solution, run them through the dishwasher (including heated drying cycle), and sanitizing. If this batch winds up overcarbing, I will have NO clue what to try next. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The recipe I brewed is a Belgian Pale Ale called Belgo Paleo and it sounds pretty good. It uses Green Bullet hops for buttering, Tettnang at 30 minutes and Saaz at 15 minutes and dry hop. The yeast is a packet of dry Safbrew Abbaye.

Pellet hops

Pellet hops

I followed my usual brew day procedures, with one exception: I used my new stainless steel wort chiller for the first time!

New stainless steel wort chiller

New stainless steel wort chiller

I didn’t have to buy 8 bags of ice this time! I set up the chiller with hoses and kept it in a bucket of sanitizer until ready to use. I put the chiller in the kettle for the last 15 minutes of the boil, to sanitize it.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to manage leak-proof connections and a little water sprayed into the wort. It was right after flame-out, and I’m hoping it didn’t ruin the batch. I wrapped the connection in paper towels and the dripping happened away from the kettle, instead of into it. The chiller worked like a champ and my wort was down to pitching temp in under twenty minutes.

Most difficult part of the day? Pouring the wort from the kettle (actually, a S/S stock pot) through a funnel into the glass carboy. Next time, I’ll use a siphon! Should have aerated it well, though! And it’s a good thing, because the oxygen tank I have connected to an aerating “stone” evidently had the valve knocked open somehow and the canister was empty.

Ready for fermentation to start.

Ready for fermentation to start.

So, pitched the yeast and put on the airlock. There was action late last night and I heard that the Abbaye yeast is aggressive, so I switch the airlock to a blow-off tube set-up …

After fermenting 24 hours.

After fermenting 24 hours.

Blow-off tube and wrapped to keep light out.

Blow-off tube and wrapped to keep light out.

…and wrapped the carboy with a blanket to keep out light. The wort chugged all day today and is doing well, I think. As of tonight, about 32 hours after pitching the yeast, the bubbling has slowed slightly to once every few seconds.

Update: Steinpilz Gose: my brewbuddy came by and got the balance of the gose into a keg and is going to force carbonate it. I’m going to stick a couple of bottles in the fridge and we’ll compare when ready. Looking forward to that!

 

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Brew Day! Steinpilz Gose

Dried porcini mushrooms, salt , hops (Willamette), and acidulated malt.

Dried porcini mushrooms, salt , hops (Willamette), and acidulated malt.

This has the potential to be really good, if I get it right…but it may sound pretty gross. I’ve brewed a beer today in a German style that is relatively obscure, but making a big comeback. The style is called “Gose” and is pronounced “goe-zuh”. Rather than go into a lengthy description, here’s a link that covers the history and details very well:

http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/Gose.html

If you just want the brief version, it’s a beer made from barley and wheat malts and has a slightly sour and salty taste, usually with coriander. No, that’s not the most appealing description; but it really is quite good. Very refreshing. Every drink makes you want to take another! So, here’s where I push the limits even more: mushrooms! Instead of coriander, I’m flavoring my gose with dried porcini mushrooms. In German, porcinis are known by the name “steinpilz”, so, my beer is Steinpilz Gose. Stay with me now…the slightly salty/sour flavor, I believe, will go well with a savory pairing like the earthy flavors of the dried porcinis. I did a little tasting ahead of time…lighter beer with  few drops of porcini “tea” added. Actually, it was interesting and tasty! The trick will be getting the balance right. I want an earthy background note…not an aggressive flavor that would readily be identified as mushroom.

There are a few ways that I have read about to achieve the savory/sour component. Traditionally, lacto bacillus is used at some point (which varies, depending on who you ask). Another way is to create a sour mash ahead of your brew day…a little involved for my skill and equipment profile. And the lacto can be tricky, too. I settled for the use of acidulated malt.

I brew using a method referred to as “BIAB”, “Brew In A Bag”. The “mash-in” step is pretty standard…the milled wheat and barley malts are brought up to 149F and held there for 60 minutes.

Wrapped in a blanket and a "survivior" blanket to hold mash temperature.

Wrapped in a blanket and a “survivior” blanket to hold mash temperature.

Instead of draining the grains and going on to the boil, however, the acidulated malt is added and the temperature held at 149F for an additional 45 minutes. The reason for doing this is that the acid in the acidulated malt could inhibit saccharification (the conversion of starches to sugars. After the second mash step, the brew proceeds as normal.

Getting the water amount right has been a little tricky for me, but I wound up with 5-3/4 gallons of wort, after the boil. The original gravity is substantially higher than the target, though…1.054 instead of 1.045. Not a huge deal…more alcohol, but I just wonder why? Was I supposed drain and remove the first round of grain and just mash the acidulated malt? (As opposed to adding the acidulated malt to the existing grains and mashing ALL of them for the additional 45 minutes.)

Anyway, chilled the wort, aerated it,

Aerating with an oxygen "stone".

Aerating with an oxygen “stone”.

and pitched the German Ale/ Kolsh yeast. There’s not a lot of headspace in the carboy…I’ll have a blow-off tube ready, just in case.

About 5-3/4 gallons in primary fermentation.

About 5-3/4 gallons in primary fermentation.

When it’s done, I think a friend of mine is going to keg half of the batch to see how that compares to bottling. I’ve had an issue with overcarbonation that I can’t seem to figure out. My beer hits an optimum point and then, another month or more, and they start to get overcarbed. I’m looking forward to seeing how that “gose”! (Sorry.)

Update 2/22/15: Had to install the blow-off tube this morning. I guess those yeasties are happy!

Blow-off tube...yeast is chowing down!

Blow-off tube…yeast is chowing down!

 

 

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Brew Day! Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

"The Con"

“The Con”

I prepared yesterday by purchasing my ingredients, getting my propane tank refilled, and buying 7 bags of ice.  The first thing I did was activate the “smack pack” of yeast that I used in this batch. It’s recommended to do so, 3 hours in advance of pitching. I’m brewing Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout, a recipe highly rated by several brewers and created by a brewer and moderator at the Home Brew Talk website. The recipe can be found at:   http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f68/yoopers-oatmeal-stout-210376/

The yeast is Wyeast British Ale II (#1335) and my batch is dated Dec 10th, so it’s very fresh!

Wyeast British Ale II (#1335)

Wyeast British Ale II (#1335)

It is supposed to supply 100 billion cells. The next step was setting up “The Con”. Basically, a table, a chair, the propane, burner, strike water and all the supplies/equipment…and a cup of coffee.

My local home brew supply shop was able to pretty closely duplicate the ingredients for me. I used 10 oz of Thomas Faucette Pale Chocolate Malt in place of the “Crisp”, Bairds 70-80L for the Caramel/Crystal Malt 80L, and Breiss for the 350 SRM Chocolate Malt. I also upped my Maris Otter to 8 lbs to satisfy my recipe builder program’s efficiency number estimate. (Brewer’s Friend) One other thing: I split my hops into 1 oz at 60 minutes and 1 oz at 30 minutes. Brewer’s friend estimated the IBU’s would be too high if I did 2 oz at 60 minutes.

For the process, I used the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method that I have be doing since early last Spring. I heated my water to 159F and added my grains. I stirred to break up all the dry balls. My poor long plastic spoon needs to be replaced by a mash paddle! (Santa?) I turned off the burner and wrapped the pot with a blanket and a “space blanket” to try to maintain the temperature.

Wrapped for temperature retention.

Wrapped for temperature retention.

After 15 minutes, I checked the temperature and it had dropped to 154F. I gave the mash a burner boost, but overshot it up to 162F…rats!

Steeping grains, BIAB.

Steeping grains, BIAB.

I stirred constantly for a few minutes, but the temp wasn’t dropping very fast, so I added approx. 24oz of cold Culligan bottled water. I had the mash temp back down to just above the target 156F with 25 minutes to go in the mash. I wrapped it all back up again and it finished right on target. I hope the variation didn’t hurt too much.

I “tea bag” dunked & drained the grains a couple of times.

Tea bag dunk and drain.

Tea bag dunk and drain.

I also do a “modified sparge” that I have pictured in my journal before…I missed taking a photo this time. Basically, it’s a bottling bucket and tubing set up on a tall recycle container and I drain the water, in this case 1 gallon water at 167F, over the grains. The idea is to rinse additional sugars from the grains. Then I made sure the grains were well drained and squeezed out as best as I could, without burning myself. (I later added the grains to my compost container…I still have some in the freezer for making doggie treats.)

I checked the pre-boil specific gravity with my refractometer and it was 1.041…on target. I transferred the wort to the bottling bucket to measure the volume. It was right to the rim, which is 7 gallons.

measuring the pre-boil wort in a bottling bucket.

measuring the pre-boil wort in a bottling bucket.

I poured the wort back into the brew pot and re-lit the burner.

IMG_20141221_133516678

The boil was good…added 1oz of Willamette hops pellets at 60 minutes got a vigorous boil going.

IMG_20141221_141450364

I missed my 30 minute hop (also 1oz Willamette )addition by 5 minutes, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. Post boil SG was 1.066 amd the volume looked a little low, so I added 1/2 gallon cold Culligan bottled water and immersed the brew pot into an ice water bath.

Ice water bath to chill.

Ice water bath to chill.

I used 6 bags of ice and managed to get the temperature down to 72F in less than 25 minutes. A copper coiled wort chiller would be nice, though. (Uh…Santa?!) I checked the OG with both a hydrometer and refractometer. The hydrometer sample was 69F and the reading was 1.055. The refractometer was 1.056. After correcting the hydrometer reading for the sample temperature, the readings agreed at 1.056. I transferred the wort to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation and aerated it with oxygen for two minutes…

Hydrometer sample and oxygen stone aerator.

Hydrometer sample and oxygen stone aerator.

…and then pitched the yeast and sealed the lid.  The volume in the bucket appears to be about 6-1/2 gallons and is close enough to the top that I decided to go ahead and set up a blow-off tube, just in case. Now we wait for the yeast to start partying! According to the estimates, I’m almost dead-on the numbers. I should finish within about .05 of the ABV percentage projection.

Wort aerated and yeast pitched.

Wort aerated and yeast pitched.

When primary fermentation is done, I plan to split the wort and use 2 gallons to make a gingerbread version. Need to research those additions. I do plan to include some freshly grated ginger root. It really made a difference in my Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale, evidently. I had some guys at the local home brew shop taste it and the one I think has the most experience picked up on it right away. I assume the other componants will be ground ginger, ground cinnamon, vanilla (bean or extract?) … maybe some molasses? Not too much, though. It is fermentable and I found that a small amount really made a nice difference in a cider that I did earlier this year. Okay…updates as needed to follow!

Update: As of the next morning, there was no noticable activity. I sanitized around the lid and opened just enough that I heard some fizziness. I resealed the lid. By a few hours later, I could hear a regular chugging in the overflow liquid. So…things are good!

 

 

 

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Day 155 SG Check on Samhain Ale

Yesterday, I could see that the activity in the blow-off tube had slowed way down…in fact, it had slowed the day before. I decided to remove the blow-off tube and install an airlock. (And took a quick photo.)

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale. 4 days in primary and activity slowing.

Last night and today, I haven’t seen any activity. I’m not convinced that it has finished fermenting yet, though, so I took a SG reading and it’s at 1.031 (corrected from 1.030 @ 74.3F). According to the recipe, it should make it to 1.023 to finish, so I’ll let it keep going. It’s only been 4 days since brewing. I don’t need to be terribly concerned with fermentation being quite done in primary, however, because it will go into secondary with more pumpkin, spice, and a vanilla bean (soaked in vodka). The sugar in the pumpkin could cause a little more fermentation, so I’m planning on giving it plenty of time. Then, I’ll probably do a tertiary for final clearing.

The hydrometer sample has gone into the refrigerator for a look at how it clears, color and flavor…later, but a small taste yielded a very nice flavor that I am quite pleased with, so far.

Hydrometer sample...nice color.

Hydrometer sample…nice color.

My ciders and muscadine wine continue to condition. The crab apple/pear/Cripps blend actually still has some airlock activity in primary, so another week? Probably.

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