Jul 19, 2008

Slightly Oilier Bohunk

My brewery witnessed a major improvement this week with the addition of a chest freezer to control fermentation temperatures. Originally I was planning on brewing a Bavarian Lager similar to Bittburger or Ayinger's Jahrhundert, but the hops I need are unavailable. Fortunately Saaz are, so I will be making some Bohemian Pilsner. (later) As you will see, the gravity ended up being well higher than the mark, so this does not qualify as a Bohemian Pilsner.

Target Gravity = 1.055

O.G. = 1.068
F.G. = 1.016
ABV = 6.8%

Target IBU = 40

Malt Bill:

80% Pilsner Malt -- 10.5 lbs
10% Munich I -- 1.3 lbs
5% Carapils -- .7 lb
5% Carahel -- .7 lb

Hop Schedule:

1 oz Sterling (7% AA) -- 75 minutes
1 oz Sterling (7% AA) -- 45 minutes
1 oz Saaz (3.4 % AA) -- 15 minutes

I am going to try another multi-step mash like the one I used with the Gold Glove Leapday Ale. There will be two steps: a protein rest for 30 minutes @ 144 degrees, and then an hour @ 156. Here is the equation I will use:

Initial Infusion Equation:
Strike Water Temperature Tw = (.2/r)(T2 - T1) + T2

Mash Infusion Equation:
Wa = (T2 - T1)(.2G + Wm)/(Tw - T2)

r = The ratio of water to grain in quarts per pound.
Wa = The amount of boiling water added (in quarts).
Wm = The total amount of water in the mash (in quarts).
T1 = The initial temperature (¡F) of the mash.
T2 = The target temperature (¡F) of the mash.
Tw = The actual temperature (¡F) of the infusion water.
G = The amount of grain in the mash (in pounds).
Initial Infusion:

(.2/.75)(144-75)+144 =
(.2666)(69)+144=162 degrees

13.2 lbs of grain x .75 quarts = 9.9 quarts / 2.5 gallons of 162 degree water

Mash Infusion:

(156-144)(26.4+9.9) / (210-156)
(12)(36.3) /54
435.6 / 54 = 8 quarts / 2 gallons boiling water

30 minutes in: The temperature was reading a little under 130, so I have no idea about what happened. I went ahead and added the 2 gallons of boiling water, and set the timer for another 30 minutes. I will then check out what is going on and see if another step infusion is needed. I probably should have used more than .75 quarts per pound of grain.
59 minutes in: I get three different temperature readings with three different thermometers. One says 138; one says 152; one says 158. AHHHHH!
61 minutes in: I just compared three thermometers in a pot of water that was already on its way to boiling, and they read the same. I then checked my mash with one of the thermometers other than the one I leave in there, and I got a reading of 158 -- two degrees hotter than I wanted. I am going to go with this. Maybe leaving the thermometer in the mash is a bad idea.

Reflections of the Brewday: I learned a thing or two today. First, I think leaving the thermometer in the mash is the source of much unnecessary stress. The other two thermometers (which measured the same as the one in the mash when placed in 100 degree water) showed that the one left in the mash was inaccurate since it read differently than the other two when they were placed in the mash. Secondly, running off my wort too quickly was certainly the reason for my shitty efficiency -- so much that this beer will turn out much stronger since I calculated for 70% efficiency, a lower figure to compensate for my poor performance of late, and I ended up being 79% efficient. I am not complaining at all about that. It is better to figure out what what causing poor efficiency than hit a target gravity on the nose. I will next time. The original gravity of this batch ended up being 1.068, when I was planning for 1.055. This also means I will need to recalculate the IBUs for this one since the wort was denser than I figured for.

10.6.08 -- Figured that if I want to start my diacetyl rest 75% of the way through fermentation, I should turn the temp up once the gravity reads 1.031. (68 GU x .74 attenuation = 18) -- (31 is 25% of the way from 18 to 68, thus a gravity reading of 1.031 would denote 75% fermented.)
10.10.08 -- Used new "thief" to check gravity. 1.041.
10.13.08 -- Refigured IBUs (58.53) while sanitizing my "thief" and found that I was way off on my math originally (left out an important zero), so this beer will be way hoppier than expected. Since the beer will be stonger too, the GU:BU ratio still fits a Bohemian Pilsner (.86). Later: gravity measures 1.032 right now. I turned the temp up to around 68. Will probably rack to primary in a couple days.
10.17.08 -- Racked into secondary and placed in freezer at 34 degrees. I will leave it here as long as I can, knowing that if I need the room in the freezer, I can keg it and put it in the fridge which is at 40 degrees.
11.14.08 -- Measured final gravity at around 1.016 and then kegged. May be a bit early, but I had to make room in the chest freezer for Munich Dunkel
11.21.08 -- Debuted this beer a night or two ago, and I am very impressed. The head retention is wonderful, yet the beer still needs to clear a little -- probably due to a little collection of yeast that has settled to the bottom of the keg. The beer has wonderful body, perhaps more than a Bohemian Pilsner should, but with the O.G. I ended up with, seems appropriate. Hop level seems to be where I want it too.
12.26.08 -- Blew out before I could get a good picture.

Your Favorite Band Sucks Episode 7

Here ya go. I even took out most of the dumb ass talking. I will add the track listings as soon as someone gives enough of a shit to listen to it and perhaps ask me, "what was that bangin' ass song after that other kick ass shit?". I'm holding my breath, chin nuts.

El Jeffe Weizen

I figured Hefeweizen would be the next wise choice to ferment while the weather is still warm. Knowing that a target fermentation temperature of 70 degrees is preferred, mine will probably do its thing around 75. I did not do major calculations on this one. Instead, I used books at the brewshop to come up with a very simple Hefeweizen recipe:

The Malt Bill:

7.25 lbs Wheat
5 lbs Pilsner

The Hops:

1 oz Spalt (3.5%AA) -- 60 minutes
.5 oz Spalt (3.5%AA) -- 15 minutes

IBU = 15.97

Weihanstephaner Yeast

4 gallons strike water at 165 degrees hoping for a 150 degree mash. This is the first time I am calculating my heat loss at 15 instead of ten degrees. This would have gotten me right on the money this time.50 Minutes into the mash: temperature was about 142, which is crazy. I am heating up one quart of water to add.
63 Minutes into the mash: I added a quart of 200 degree water, and I am not doing anything else until I sparge.

This ended up with an O.G. of 1.045, which is a little sad = around 60%, which I cannot believe since I primed the tun and wrapped it in a sleeping bag. After a little research, I suspect my sparging techniques are to blame. I let it run out too fast when I should let the sparge water sit in the grains for a few minutes. I boiled about a half pound of DME to add to the fermenter which is not yet active. I do not see the harm in this, and it should boost the O.G. to somewhere in the 1.048 neighborhood. I will not know the exact figure, but at least this is a learning experience.

Click to play El Jeffe Weizen
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8.31.08 -- We had an explosion this morning. When am I going to learn and use a blow-off tube? Temperature hung in there around 70 yesterday, but was 73-74 this morning. I moved it to where I can blow the fan on it.
9.3.08 -- Putting ice jugs in the water in which the carboy sits has been helping, but this crude method of temperature control provides results that are anything but precise. I have read the temperature as low as 68 degrees and as high as 74. Things could be worse.

9.26.08 -- Debuted this one last night with my good pal Meat Snacks. My first impressions are that this is a good, very normal heffeweisen. While it lacks some of the character found in other examples that have been brewed for centuries, it is still very pleasing. The crude temperature control methods seemed to have worked okay since the banana flavors are not present.

11.12.08 -- All done.



American Keller Beer -- January 22, 2012
Cask-Conditioned Kellerbier -- January 22, 2012
Ugly American -- January 22, 2012
Curley's Wife -- April 2, 2012
Mordecai Brown -- June 7, 2012
Mordecai Bruin -- June 7, 2012
Captured Wild Yeast Test Beer -- July 15, 2012
Ugly American Yella Beer -- July 15, 2012
Grisette -- July 30, 2012
Cyrus Wheat IPA - September 29, 2-12
Black and Mild - December 15, 2012
Ornery Old Bock -- December 31, 2012

Rustic Farmhouse Ale

I am unsure if you are supposed to pronounce it (Says-on) (Say-sun)or (Sas-son), so I am avoiding the term "Saison" in favor of a description of what it is: a French / Belgian beer made with available ingredients with a strength so to fortify but not get the farm hands who drank it completely sloshed so they could continue doing their work. Okay, I do know how to pronounce Saison, but saying I did not lent itself well to that lovely first sentence, huh?
Many recipes warn drinkers to the surprising strength of Saison. Mine should clock in at around 1.070. Since this beer seems to have a history of including what you have on hand without overcalculating, I am rounding the weights. For example 1.6 becomes 1.5 and 1.93 becomes 2. This will also be my first time using Rye (which should add spiciness) and Piloncillo (a partially refined sugar from my favorite supermercado).

Another thing that got me all excited was the fact that this style loves hot weather. Some people ferment this one at temperatures upward of 90 degrees. Hot Damn. I wish I knew this years ago.

Rustic Farmhouse Ale:
Target Gravity: 1.070
Original Gravity: 1.066

Malt Bill:

9.33 lbs (60%) Pilsner Malt
1.5 lbs (10%) Munich I
2 lbs (10%) Rye
1.5 lbs (10%) Wheat

1 lb Piloncillo (in boil)

2 oz Saaz (3.8%AA) -- 90 minutes
1 oz Mount Hood (3.7%AA) -- 60 minutes
1 oz East Kent Goldings (5.6%AA) -- 30 minutes
.5 oz Saaz (3.8%AA) -- 15 minutes

35 IBU

Big Belgian Saison Yeast Starter -- about two quarts, maybe unnecessary . . . (the starter part that is).
Recipe Cost = $39 (which includes ice and water)
4.65 gallons of strike water
3.14 gallons sparge water needed
Brewday Notes:
My last beer, Noc-a-homa II suffered from temperature losses almost all the way through the mash. I suppose this was because I thought that since it was the summer time, I did not need to prime the tun with boiling water or cover it with blankets. This time I primed it, and got down my zero-degree sleeping bag to wrap it up. I will be surprised if I loose much heat at all.
16 minutes into mash: temperature was around 152-153, so I am pleased. I also know the thermometer needs a little time to get it all the way up sometimes, so I am good. I am not going to check again for a while.
64 minutes into the mash: temperature was right around 150. It surprises me that I am losing any heat at all, but I am not going to worry. I need to stop worrying so much about temperatures (not that they are not important); a fluxuation of a few degrees should not get me all riled up. This is a rustic beer anyhow.

Since the O.G. (1.060) came out a little bit lower like last time, I am going to have to recalculate my efficiency. It is not at the 75% I have been using anymore.


9.33 lbs Pilsner Malt x 36 = 335.88
1.5 lbs Munich I x 35 = 52.5
2 lbs Rye x 29 = 58
1.5 lbs Wheat x 38 = 57
1 lb Piloncillo x 46 = 46

335.88 + 52.5 + 58 + 57 + 46 = 553.8 (total potential gravity)
6 gallons x 66 (1.066) = 396

396 / 553.8 =
72% Efficiency (not bad)

-- Just like I heard Saison yeast was supposed to do, this beer bubbled away for about two days, which included a small but messy explosion, and then pooped out. I took it and a thermometer upstairs, and proceeded to wait a couple days for it to actually warm up. Once the rain and nice cool weather abated, it is bubbling again in the mid - to - high 80s upstairs.
8.23.08 -- We have had rainy / cloudy weather (which is such a rare blessing for us), and I think that has caused fermentation to come to a halt. It was in the mid 70s this morning, and I know that is not enough to keep this going. It did spend quite a few days in the 80s. I am going to wait until the weather heats up, and see if that causes it to wake up. If it does not, I will assume it should be racked in to the secondary. My wet hops arrived in the mail today.
8.25.08 -- I figured racking the beer into the secondary carboy would be best done upstairs so not to lug the beer up and down. I was largely correct except for a small spill (approximately one half-gallon) that got through the floor and rained down through the ceiling downstairs. It was minor, but it did not appear to be to my wife who had a minor conniption about the whole thing. She still loves me, and the gravity measured 1.013, so much fermentation has already happened.
8.29.08 -- After no additional activity, I kegged it, and it still had a gravity of 1.013. I turned the gas up more on this one to give it the carbonation character it needs. ABV should be 6.9%.
9.3.08 -- After getting gassed for five days, this beer is ready, and my first impressions are very positive. The beer is a bright gold color, and has nice spicy complexities. More later. . .
10.9.08 -- There is absolutely no reason I won't brew this up every summer. This beer is so pretty and complex. The Rye gives it a bit of a sour apple essence, and the Belgian yeast provides a spicey edge. Perhaps I will continue exploring the possibilities of Saison and other Belgian styles.


Your Favorite Band Sucks Podcasts:

Episode One

Episode Two: blues

Episode Three: mouth a little to close to the mic, but the music is good.

Episode Four: from the vault . . .

Episode Five: a little dirty, dead, and wilco

Episode Six: thought to be at the time my finest work

Episode Seven: the latest and greatest

I Used to Make Playlists While Brewing Beer:

Jul 13, 2008

Peasant Beer

Peasant Beer
O.G. 1.026

F.G. 1.012

1.83% ABV

I read somewhere how brewers of old would brew three batches of beer each brewing session. One would be strong, one would be pretty regular, and the last would be super weak beer for the peasants. Peasants were encouraged to drink it since they knew it was sanitary. I am getting about three gallons of water up to sparge temperature and adding it to the grains from Noc-a-Homa I.P.A. II.

I added a 1/2 oz. of Challenger (7%AA) at around 60 min, and then the other half with about 15 min to go.

I collected about 2.5 - 2.75 gallons of wort.

7.21.08 -- Bottled two gallons of peasant beer, and primed with about 4.5 oz of dextrose.8.31.08 -- See the Red Stripe bottles? I am drinking one of them now (see picture). It only filled the big liter glass half way, but when you are a peasant with beer, the glass is always . . . forget it. This beer is not bad at all. This, that I poured just to take a picure of, is something I think I will actually finish. The smell of this beer is not very inviting since there is no real malt or hop aroma to cover up the stinky, which is mild. The taste is very neutral, kind of like an NA beer or maybe even "premium light". Mouthfeel is very sparkley and watery, which would be refreshing for a peasant who just lugged a big cart of ox shit up a hill. I am deciding now not to dump these. I may dump a growler if I need it.
10.25.08 -- Drank nearly a whole growler of this while brewing "37 / 37 Jr." . . . pissed a lot and hardly caught a buzz.

Noc-a-homa I.P.A. (II)

Noc-a-Homa I.P.A.
O.G. 1.053

52.6 IBUs

This is the second batch of this recipe.

You can read how the loss of heat I was experiencing cost me some gravity. This recipe should have been 1.060. I am sure it will still be good.

Efficiency = 66% -- lowest since beginning to record


26 Minutes In: Temperature is under 150 degrees (we want 155), so I am boiling 2 cups of water to add.

33 Minutes In: Added the water. I will check again in ten minutes.

44 Minutes In: Added another 2 cups of boiling water because the temp was still under 150.

50 Minutes In: Added yet another two cups of boiling water. The temp did not move much at all (it was only six minutes). I will wait a full ten minutes to see what is going on. This issue seems very familiar. Maybe my thermometer has an issue?

65: Again.

83: Temp was 146, a full nine degrees less than what I need with only seven minutes to go. I added 4 cups of boiling water, and will add more time to the mash. So far I have added an extra twelve cups (1.5 quarts of water).

Other Notes:

7.21.08 -- Racked into secondary after a week of fermenting between 74-77 degrees. A little warm, I know. This will be a good opportunity to see how the higher temperature affects the beer since I can remember well what the last batch, which fermented closer to 70-73, tasted like. I also chose to dry hop this one with 1.5 oz of EKG instead of the 1 oz in the last one. Gravity read 1.020 at transfer tim

7.27.08 -- Kegged the beer. The gravity still read 1.020, which means this beer will be a little weak (4.3% ABV)
9.26.08 -- This beer blew last Sunday when I was watching the Falcons' game. This was by far not my best work, but a good beer nonetheless. In other words, if I would have picked up a six-pack of this without knowing what I was getting, I would not have been too disappointed. The beer certainly lacked the body I was going for, but it still matured into something nice.