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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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Day 162 Brew Day! McQuinn’s Robust Porter

Becoming a porter.

Becoming a porter.

I got this recipe from my LHBS (Local Home Brew Shop) as a recipe of the month at 1/2 price! It came as a pumpkin porter, but since I already have a Scottish pumpkin ale in the works, I decided to “de-pumpkin-ni-fie” the recipe, add a little maltodextrin and just make a Robust Porter. The name McQuinn comes from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name…and it sounds good for a porter!

I’m trying to input my recipes and brewing sessions into Brewer’s Friend online, but they include some technical stuff that I’m not into yet. They also do not account for things like sugars or fermentables that aren’t part of the “mash” or grain steep. (I’m doing BIAB–brew in a bag–all grain brewing).

All set to brew, BIAB style.

All set to brew, BIAB style.

So, when going from end of mash specific gravity reading, to pre-boil, to end of boil, the calculations show my conversion of grain to sugar and mash efficiency to be over 100% I’m also getting confused on water volume, grain absorbtion, boil off rate, etc. I start with 6 gallons in the kettle to mash, I know the grain absorbs some and the calculations have a standard default. Then I do what I’m calling a modified “sparge” where I drain heated water over the grains to hopefully wash out some more sugars from the grains…so, I’m adding about 2 gallons back.

My "modified sparge" set-up. Hey...it seems to work!

My “modified sparge” set-up. Hey…it seems to work!

Starting at 6 gallons and adding 2 gallons, minus what the grains absorbed, should leave me with about 7 gallons, but I swear I had 8 for the start of my boil. Had to keep the boil slow for most of the hour, because of the volume. Then I wound up with a slam full fermentation bucket.

Pitching the yeast in a "slam full" bucket of aerated wort.

Pitching the yeast in a “slam full” bucket of aerated wort.

I had to actually pull out a gallon to process separately, after I pitched the yeast. I used an oxygen tank with an aeration stone to aerate the wort for two minutes. I’m using Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast. I was supposed to have 5.5 gallons after the boil.

The other thing that throws me off on all-grain brewing is the amount of trub. If you want a nice clear beer, you rack maybe 5.25 gallons off of 6 gallons and the rack again to 4-1/2 for bottling. I don’t care too much about getting a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) so much as I was a good beer and I want my 5 gallons! Ah well. C’est la biere!

So, I keep trying to tweak the brewing program and make notes that explain discrepancies, but it can be confusing. The main thing is that the actual brewing went well…except the temperature dropped in the mash at one point and I fired the burner to boost it and I over-shot from the 153 target, up to 157F. I stirred constantly for over 15 minutes to get it back down. Temperature control in the mash is the bane of my beer making! I’m not sure how it would do in an accurately judged competition, but my stuff still seems to come out pretty well, so I guess it’s okay. At the end of the brew, the color looks good and the OG reading is spot-on at 1.063 with an anticipated ABV of 6.32%.

Chilling the boiled wort in an ice bath...maybe a copper coil chiller for Christmas?

Chilling the boiled wort in an ice bath…maybe a copper coil chiller for Christmas?

Despite the brewing program confusion and water volume weirdness, this should be a pretty decent porter…and I have an extra gallon or so to experiment with. I’m using blow off tubes, since this is a dark beer and the volume is high.

Hit my numbers and still had more that I could fit in the fermentation bucket.

Hit my numbers and still had more that I could fit in the fermentation bucket.

I may wind up combining them at secondary and then dividing them again at bottling time and add cold brewed coffee to one half or one quarter.

If anyone would like the details of the recipe, I am happy to share…let’s see how it turns out, though!

Update: 10/6/14   The porter has been chugging away all day!

Update: 10/8/14   It has only been a couple of days since brewing and the porter has already gone through a quick chugging fermentation period and by yesterday afternoon, had already slowed substantially. I think I might go ahead and switch from blow off tubes to regular airlocks. I don’t know if this is normal for Mangrove Jack’s British Ale Yeast…I have to assume so.

Day 3 after brewing, small jug...action substantially slowed.

Day 3 after brewing, small jug…action substantially slowed.

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Day 133 Brew Day! Citra Saison with Harvested Yeast Starter

Setting up for brewing

Setting up for brewing

This was an uncharacteristic brew day for me. I usually don’t brew on weekdays. Certainly not Mondays. But the starter I had hoped to pitch in a Citra Saison pushed me back a day. I have never harvested yeast and never made a starter before now and I was afraid that the starter was going to be too weak. I worked out a boost for the starter (see previous post) and moved the brew back a day.

After I got everything all set up and ready to go, I got my BIAB (Brew In A Bag) in place and heated my strike water, 6 gallons.  The goal was 150F…water went to 154F and I mashed in. The water only dropped 1/2 degree though. I turned off the heat and made a run for ice. When I returned, the temp was 150.2F. Over the next 45 minutes, I tried my best to maintain the target temperature of 150F; however, it was probably more consistently in the 153F range.

After the BIAB (Boil In A Bag) steep and "sparge"

After the BIAB (Boil In A Bag) steep and “sparge”

Here is where I will talk about my changes to the original recipe that I found online. First of all, I decided to do Pale Malt 2 row, instead of Pilsner. Two reasons: sale on Pale and 60 minute boil instead of 90 minute. (Some recommend Pilsner boil for 90 to reduce chance of off flavors.) Next, I added 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss at 15 minutes left in the boil to aid clarity. I also realized that I had forgotten to buy 1 pound of Belgian Clear Candi Syrup…made a run to the closest brew shop, only to find that they are closed on Mondays. Aaaargh! So, I substituted a pound of raw North Carolina honey, instead (at 10 minutes left in the boil). I am also planning on adding a dry hop step to secondary. The recipe calls for Citra hops to be added 1/2 oz at 30 minutes and 1/2 oz at 10 minutes left in the boil. I am a big Citra fan, so I am going to add an ounce in secondary.

Okay, back to the procedures: After the 1 hour mash in, I did my usual “tea bag” style dunking and draining of the bag, using a large pizza screen over the pot for support. I then set up a bottling bucket with 2 gallons of sparge water at about 150F and used the spigot with some hose on it to do an improvised sparge. I’ve used this method that, as far as I know, I made up, a few times and I think it helps a little. This left me with a rather full kettle, so the boil was a challenge and had to be monitored pretty carefully.

The pizza screen was helpful in the tea bag style sparging and in helping keep bugs and debris out.

The pizza screen was helpful in the tea bag style sparging and in helping keep bugs and debris out.

I set timers for my additions and all of that went well. Did my usual ice bath chill and managed to get the temperature of the wort down to about 90F, pretty quickly…good temperature for Belle Saison yeast.

Now, I wanted to use my glass carboy for primary fermentation, so I could have a visual on activity. The problem is getting 7 gallons of wort from a stock pot into a heavy glass 6 gallon carboy using a funnel. I struggled and spilled a bit, trying to figure out a grip and pouring into a small target that filled quickly. I could see that wasn’t going to cut it, so I poured about 3/4 of the wort into the bottling bucket I had used for the sparging, and then went through the spigot and hose into the carboy. Obviously, I was going to have too much wort, so, rather than toss it, I grabbed and sanitized a one gallon carboy and put the rest of the wort into it.

I used my oxygen tank to oxygenate the big carboy for two minutes and the little one for one minute. Between the refractometer reading of 1.048 and the hydrometer reading, corrected for temperature to 1.044, I’m  going to estimate 1.046 OG.* Rather than try to decant my yeast starter, I decided to swirl the flask to mix it well and pitch the whole thing…guesstimating some for the smaller batch. The starter wort used pale DME (Dry Malt Extract), so it shouldn’t hurt the flavor of the beer. The recipe doesn’t give a projected FG, but Belle Saison is pretty aggressive, so I’m betting on around 1.002 for the big batch. So, maybe a 5.78% ABV? I would be happy with that.

Here's the volume of wort I wound up with.

Here’s the volume of wort I wound up with and my flask of starter yeast.

I have no clue what to expect for the one gallon batch, because I’m going to add one pound of fresh cherries to secondary fermentation, rather than dry hopping it, and the sugar in the cherries will surely kick fermentation back into gear. I currently have the whole cherries in the freezer with some vodka. When it comes time to rack the small batch, I’ll crush the cherries into the vodka a little to release some juice and add it all. I’ll probably use a 2 gallon bucket that I use for ciders to do the small batch secondary, so I have a wide opening with which to work.

The recipe calls for a week each for both primary and secondary; however, my Hi-Nelson Saison needed a little over two weeks for primary and then a week for secondary. And the small batch may go longer in secondary. I’ll probably even rack the small batch to a tertiary stage to clarify once it’s off the fruit. Probably back into a glass carboy again so I can judge the clarity.

The big question mark is whether my yeast starter was going to work. The yeast was pitched at 3:15 p.m. and the carboys were set on a heating pad, on the lowest setting. At 6:30, there was no activity evident and the glass felt pretty cool.

Carboys on the heating pad.

Carboys on the heating pad. (Beside some Hi-Nelson Saison with Hibiscus and some Diet Root Beer (Truvia)

I upped the heating pad to medium and wrapped the carboys in a “Space Blanket”. By 9:30 p.m., they were both chugging along in the airlocks…not violently, but good, frequent bubbles every second or two. Success!!! Woo hoo!!!

Heating pad AND Space Blanket...now we're chugging!

Heating pad AND Space Blanket…now we’re chugging!

I cold crashed the hydrometer sample just to see what it looks like and how it tastes at this stage. Obviously malty and sweet at this point, but it seems like it will be nice and clean, light bitterness and the hops should shine through on the main batch and the Belle Saison should add a little spice and funk. The little cherry batch should be really interesting!

Hydrometer sample, cold crashed and easier to get a read. And a taste for evaluation.

Hydrometer sample, cold crashed and easier to get a read. And a taste for evaluation.

*I also let this sample come to room temperature and took another hydrometer reading. at 74.2F and 1.046, adjusted to 1.047, so that will be my new OG to go with. I read the hydrometer with no contacts or glasses and it was much easier to get a good read, so I feel confident with that figure. (An additional refractometer reading, of course, calls it 1.048, so…whatever!) Could be around 6% ABV…anywhere in that  5.75 to 6.05% range is close enough.

For the original version of the recipe, go to this link or cut and paste into your browser:

http://www.danielshomebrew.blogspot.com/2014/01/citra-saison.html

Always give credit where due!

Update: Okay…the following morning, the airlocks were fouled. I quickly set up blow offs and the yeast is going at it, big time! Definitely had enough yeast!

 

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Day 113 Brew Day!!! Something a Little Different. Rye PA?

The set-up.

The set-up.

It’s been a long brew day. I slept late and got a late start. After getting an idea about what I was going to brew, running to the local brew shop, topping of the propane tank and getting ice, I still had to organize, set-up and sanitize! I think I finally turned the burner on at about 2 p.m. I just finished…well, still have some more clean up to do…and it’s 7:45 p.m.

I was hoping to make a scotch ale; however, the recipes and comments I was hearing were all pretty much saying that I needed to be able to maintain a fermentation temperature of 68F for the first week and sometimes down in the 50’s for another 10 days. Since I don’t have anyway of temperature regulation, I decided I needed to go another way. In looking at styles that do better in warmer temperatures, I found a recipe for a wheat beer, with an option for rye, that sounded interesting. So, I started tweaking it and headed for the HBS to get further  input.  The original recipe I found is here:

http://thebrewhut.com/brewblog.php?page=recipeDetail&&filter=brewmaster&id=62&pg=2

I always like to give credit to originator! So, here’s what I did. First, I went with regular wheat, not red. Maybe some other time. I also decided to pick up some Citra hops, because I really liked what they did for a similar brew. I also remembered that I had a little Vanguard hops left in the freezer at home. And rather than go with a Weihenstephaner yeast, I decided to go US-05. This should help with my higher fermentation temperatures. For the honey in the recipe, I opted for orange blossom and instead of Lemon Zinger Tea, I’m going for Lemon zest soaked in vodka for the secondary…maybe some orange zest, too. Maybe I’ll call it “Rye Sense of Humor American RyePA”.

Gots all my pertinents and such.

Gots all my pertinents and such.

On to the brew: I pretty much followed the recipe. There are two hops varieties in addition to the hops I decided to add. Bittering hops at 60 minutes, Cascade. Aroma hops at 30 minutes and 5 minutes, Hallertau and again at 5 minutes.  I added the Vanguard at the 30 minute marks, as well and the citrus at flameout.

My BIAB process went pretty smoothly, except it is hard to nail down that target temperature and regulate it there. I heated the strike water to 168 (a tad higher than I anticipated). I let it come down a little  before adding the grains. The grains only got it down to around 158F. I left the lid off and stirred a lot to try to bring it down to 152F. I went through that a couple time before it was ready to mash out.

Boil in a Bag, all-grain.

Boil in a Bag, all-grain.

The mash out, on the other hand, went smoothly. I hit the temp and I was able to maintain it pretty steadily for 15 minutes. Then it was on to the boil. I started with 7 gallons and went through most of the process as planned.

Dunking and draining...no sparging.

Dunking and draining…no sparging.

DSC04805

 

I did, however, have in my mind that the last two BIAB brews I did have a bunch of trub and tit really cut into the amount of beer I made. So, at the end, I added a gallon of  cold water which, of course, dropped my specific gravity reading.

I decided to pull a gallon of wort and re-boil it with another 1/2 pound of honey and a 1-3/8 oz chunk of piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar). I chilled that down and added it back. The refractometer was reading 1.047…I did a hydrometer check and it was reading 1.050 at 73F…that would be 1.051 corrected for temperature. Anyway,  I took one last refractometer reading and, low and behold, it matched the hydrometer at 1.051! I stuck the rest of the sample in the fridge to check the color later.

The Boil

The Boil

I had already rehydrated the yeast, so I went ahead and pitched it. Then I rocked the fermention bucket for 5 minutes to aerate. I’m going to go ahead and put a blow-off tube on this bucket, because it is pretty full. It would not take much krausen to foul an airlock!

Blow-off, in place and ready.

Blow-off, in place and ready.

Now it’s time to finish up a little cleaning before I yawn myself to sleep!

Update: Sample tube…clear separation. Lots of trub! I really like the flavor of this wort…this has great potential!

Wort hydrometer sample...checking for trub, color, aroma, flavor.

Wort hydrometer sample…checking for trub, color, aroma, flavor.

 

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Day 91 Brew Day, First All-Grain, Brew in a Bag!

Brew in a Bag (BIAB), all-grain.

Brew in a Bag (BIAB), all-grain.

Today was my first experience with an all-grain brew! I took a class and got supplies a couple of weeks ago and today was a beautiful day for brewing. I probably wouldn’t get another chance for a couple of weeks, so I went for it.  Everything went surprisingly well. The target temperature for the mash in was 150 F. That was supposed to be accomplished by adding the grain to the full volume of water ( 6.25 gallons) heated to 158F. The temperature actually went to 155 and didn’t get down to 150 until the last 15 out of 60 minutes with no heat on.

The set-up.

The set-up.

I dunked and drained the bag a few times. The refractometer showed an SG of around 1.042…supposed to end up at 1.053, so I was a little worried. I put the bag back down in and raised the temp to 168F  to mash out.

Saccharification...ooo!

Saccharification…ooo!

Next, I cut the flame and allowed the bag to drain well…SG still looked low.

Drain the grain.

Drain the grain.

I went ahead with the 60 minute boil and hop additions at 60, 15, 5 and 1 minutes. I also added 1 teaspoon Irish Moss with 15 minutes left to boil. With the concentration from the boil, the SG was up to about 1.062.

Boil.

Boil.

I did the ice tub chill-down of the wort and it went reasonably quickly. I rehydrated the dry yeast in water while I finished cooling the wort. I then transferred the wort to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation. I wound up with just under 5 gallons. I added water to bring it up to about 5-1/2 gallons and the FG nailed the 1.053 target! (Using my hydrometer and correcting for temperature.) The sample was malty/sweet (which will convert) and very tasty. It actually separated pretty quickly and the wort is a nice color.

Nice color in the sample.

Nice color in the sample.

I put the sample in the fridge to look at/taste again later. I pitched the yeast at about 1:45 pm. Over the next few hours, I did not see any action in the airlock and I noticed a small drip around the spigot. I decided around 7:00 pm, that I should go ahead and transfer to another bucket, since efforts to tighten the spigot did not stop the leak. I took advantage of the opportunity to aerate some more in the process of the transfer. I also realized that the temperature in the house had gone up to 77F, so I turned on the A/C. Crossing my fingers that I get some action overnight. I am a little concerned with the temperature fluctuations. The wife will complain about the house being too cold and how much it costs, when she gets home from a business trip in a couple of days. Then the temp will go up again. The yeast’s  upper range is up to 71F  for fermentation temps, ideally. It could have an effect, but it should be ok, at worst. (I hope!)

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