Jun 19, 2006

What's brewing? 6/19/06

New feature!
By way of explanation, I've been meaning to keep a homebrewing notebook to record recipes and methods, what worked, what didn't, etc. If you're interested or even curious about homebrewing, read on! Otherwise, this'll just be for my benefit.

So I'm getting a late start on this notebook. I'm already working on my fifth batch since rejoining the ranks of homebrewers in Fall '05, and I've got paper records of several brews made back in '97-'01. Abridged info for past brews may eventually find their way online, but for now let's deal with what's in the carboy...

It's an amber ale, modified from the Wild Hogge Amber Ale recipe in Clone Brews. Their description:
Straight from the British island of Berumuda, this satisfying, thirst-quenching light amber ale has a caramel, malty, hoppy nose and flavor. The aftertaste of this full-bodied alt beer is smooth and slightly sweet.
I started this one on 6/14 as a partial mash, like all my beers lately. The grain bill was

- 2lb British 2-row pale malt
- 12oz 60L US crystal malt
- 4oz Vienna malt
- 4oz chocolate malt

mashed by step infusion, for 30 minutes at around 130F, then for 10 minutes at 140F, and another 50 minutes at about 148F. Three steps simply because the recommended amount of added boiling water did not raise the mash temp to 150 on the first shot. 148 was a compromise, but I suspect that my mash efficiency was well below the target 75%. Anyway, I sparged with 1.5gal water at 170F and began boil. At 60 minutes, added

- 4.5lb light DME
- 8oz malto-dextrin (this adds body, as the sugar is largely unfermentable)
- 3/4oz Northern Brewer 8%AA bittering hops

Added water to 2.5gal in the brew kettle. At 45 minutes, added

- 1oz Styrian Goldings flavor hops
- 1tsp Irish moss

At 13 minutes, added

1/2oz Tettnanger aroma hops

Boiled for 2 more minutes, and strained wort into primary fermenter. Original gravity: 1.055, a little lower than the target range, possibly due to poor mash.

I had a nice 8oz yeast starter going in the fridge (two strains - German ale and American ale - because both were a tad on the old side), but I couldn't pitch that night because our hot apartment just wasn't allowing the wort to cool below 80F. When I pitched the next morning, I dumped the yeast starter direct from the fridge into the wort in my rush out the door, not thinking about temperature shock. But did this kill off the yeast? Nope. I returned home to find the wort bubbling away happily.

On 6/18 I racked to the secondary, and added a small handful (15-20?) of boiled whole allspice berries in the process. I'm hoping this gives just a hint of clovey, cinnamony goodness without going overboard. Gravity at transfer was 1.015, almost down to the target final gravity. The air in our apartment is easily over 80F during the day now, so I've wrapped a wet towel around the carboy to cool the beer down a bit. Today there was still some foamy action on top, though the airlock is relatively static.

All that remains for this one is bottling. My next four brews are destined to be Belgian styles. I've got some Orval yeast waiting for me in the refrigerator, and three Wyeast pitchables on the way from Northern Brewer.


At 6/20/2006 12:03 PM, Blogger John said...

That's quite the technical description. I had to look up sparged, though I vaguely remembered hearing you talk about wort in the past. There's some nice out-of-context phrasing in there, too, especially "I racked to the secondary."

Maybe I mentioned this article (PDF link) to you at one point. It's about a brewer here in Chicago who's going to publish a book on ancient brews. He's considered one of the best homebrewers in the land. I'll tell him to look out for Bohn brews.


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