Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SPLIT BATCH - SAISON & ENGLISH IPA


I've been experimenting a lot recently with split batches. The goal is to make 10 gallons of a single wort, then split it into two 5 gallon carboys to ferment seperately for two different beers. Once the Wort is finished there's a couple options you can have to create two different beers.

You can add extra fermentables, color/character malts, different yeast, dry hopping/hopback, etc. In order to add extra fermentables (like sugar or DME) and/or color/character malts they first need to be boiled & cooled in order to sanitize them. Some people will just add the fermentables straight into the fermenter . As long as you do this during High Krausen, there shouldn't be a risk of infection. I like to play it safe & I'll boil the extra wort separately for 15 minutes, then cool to fermentation temperature & throw it in the fermenter after I pitch the yeast.

For this batch I ran the first half straight into the fermenter for the Saison & ran the second half through a hopback for the English IPA. The English IPA recipe I used was based on a historical recipe posted here: (http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2010/11/lets-brew-wednesday-1928-barclay_18.html). I was curious to see how the older IPAs stack up to the current "Modern" IPAs.

The historic EIPA was a lot different than what we are used to when we think about IPAs today.  The beer was bitter but not that hoppy. The East Kent GOldings have a mnore subdued flavor than the modern American hops. Overall it was closer to a modern English Pale Ale than a modern EIPA>

SAISON

Saison (6 Gallons, ~80% Eff, Tinseth)

OG: 1.041
IBU: 4
ABV: 4.1%
SRM: 3.7

6 lbs - German Pilz (Weyerman)
1.5lb - Domestic 2-Row (Rahr)
1 lbs - Wheat (Marminster Floor Malted)
.5 lbs - Crystal 10

.75 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 2.4% @ First Wort Hop
.25 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 2.4% @ 10 min
.5 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 2.4% @ 0

1 pack Danstar Belle Saison Dry Yeast, rehydrated

Mashed 60 min @ 156, 1.5 qt/lb
Pitched at 68 degrees
Let it free rise up to 73 degrees

Look - Light yellow, slightly hazy with a small white head
Aroma - Funky fruity slightly phenolic yeast & sweet malt
Mouthfeel - Medium-thin, crisp
Taste - Classic Saison flavor, not much more to say haha. Funky yeast, earthy hops, grainy.

Notes: I was really pleased with this new dry yeast. It has the classic Saison flavor you expect (maybe a little more phenolic than the Dupont strain) which means I will be using it again for sure. It's about the same price as liquid yeast but the shelf life is really the advantage to using this yeast. Nice to have a good Saison yeast on hand just in case.


HISTORICAL ENGLISH IPA

English IPA (6 Gallons, ~80% Eff, Tinseth)

OG: 1.051
IBU: 4
ABV: 5.4%
SRM: 6.5

6 lbs - German Pilz (Weyerman)
1 lbs - Wheat (Marminster Floor Malted) Steeped Separately
1.5lb - Domestic 2-Row (Rahr)
.5 lbs - Crystal 10
.5 lbs - Simpson's Medium Crystal
11 oz - Lyle's Golden Syrup (Invert Sugar)
1 lb - Carapils

.75 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 2.4% @ First Wort Hop
.5 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 2.4% @ 10 min
.25 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 2.4% @ 0
3 oz - East Kent Goldings (Whole Leaf) 6.3% Dry Hop

2 packs Safale S-04 Dry Yeast, re-hydrated

Mashed 60 min @ 156, 1.5 qt/lb
Pitched at 62 degrees
Let rise to 65 degrees

Look - Copper, brilliantly clear with a thick off white head
Aroma - Sweet Malts, Light Earthy Hops
Mouthfeel - Light bodied
Taste - Sweet grainy malts followed by a firm bitterness. Slight EKG hop flavor.

Notes: Overall this historical recipe is closer to a modern EPA than a modern EIPA. It was an interesting beer to brew.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

LIGHT AMERICAN LAGER

Yeah I know, Light Lagers are the favorite target of beer snobs. The truth is, they could be considered the most popular session beers in the world. I'm not opposed to a nice light refreshing Lager every once in a while so I figured I'd give it a shot and try and brew one.

Technically speaking there's really no reason to homebrew a light lager except for the challenge. They're readily available & you can literally buy them cheaper than you can homebrew them. 

For the first attempt, I wanted to keep it as close to the BJCP guidelines as possible. I went with the traditional 6-Row malt instead of the much more popular 2-Row variety for authenticity. Taste-wise they're pretty similar. A lot of people will describe the flavor of 6-Row as having a more pronounced "grain" flavor in comparison to 2-Row. This seems to be a pretty fair description from my experience. Also the extra enzymes in the 6-Row will help convert the starches in the corn, which does not contain any enzymes. I usually use rice in my lagers instead because I like the neutral flavor it gives to the beer but again corn is more traditional. 'Murica.

As with all session beers, the generally low alcohol/malt/hop flavor will allow any flaw to come out very easily. It's even more true for light lagers. Drinkability is also a key component of the style and the low flavors mixed with a light body make for a drink you can, well drink a lot of. You want the beer to finish dry but not so dry it becomes overly thin. I chose to use my favorite Lager yeast, the German Bock strain which attenuates well but still manages to leave behind the perception of a malty finish somehow. 

Light American Lager (6 Gallons, ~80% Eff, Tinseth)

OG: 1.038
IBU: 10
ABV: 3.8%
SRM: 3

7 lbs - Domestic 6-Row
2 lbs - Briess Flaked Maize
1.5 oz. - Rice Hulls (added to the last 15 minutes of the mash)
.5 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 4.2% @ First Wort Hop
.25 oz - Czech Saaz (Whole Leaf) 4.2% @ 30 Min

Yeast: 2 packs WLP833 German Bock (2 liter starter, no stir plate)

Mashed 60 min @ 151, 1.5 qt/lb
Fermented for one month at 50 degrees.
Stored for two months at 42 degrees.

Look - Light yellow/straw colored, clear
Aroma - Sweet malt, grains, corn, light earthy hops
Mouthfeel - Light-medium, finishes dry but with a nice malt presence, slight carbonic bite 
Taste - Sweet grains with a hint of corn, minimal spicy hop flavor lingers in the finish

Notes:
Overall this is a highly drinkable beer & I'm really happy with how it came out. I was surprised how much it tasted like your run of the mill light lager, except with more flavor. The only criticism I have is that it probably has too much hop & malt flavor. I underestimated how little the malt flavor would mask the hop flavor. I'm used to brewing all malt beers for the most part. 6-Row isn't necessarily a flavorless malt but when you combine it with such a high percentage of corn, the amount of malt you taste drops off pretty substantially. 

This of course is the whole point of a light lager and contributes to its drinkability, so just keep it in mind. I would definitely drop the second hop addition and if I was to enter this into a competition I would probably enter it as a Standard American Lager, for fear of it being too flavorful, as weird as that sounds. 

10 GALLON ALL-GRAIN APARTMENT BREWERY

After moving from a house with a basement & a brewstand I had to make some changes in order to be able to brew the same amount in a 1 bedroom ~650 sq. ft. apartment. In full disclosure it helps to be a bachelor haha.

Brewing
Instead of the two natural gas Blichman burners I had on my previous system I only have my stove as my single heat source now. It has 4 burners but its small stove & as you can see from the pictures below, the boil kettle takes up all four burners. The stove does an OK job of bringing 12 gallons of wort to a boil. Not nearly as fast as the natural gas burners but not too terrible either. Maybe 45 min on average.

It's illegal to have a propane burner where I live & I don't have an accessible roof for a charcoal burner (which would be less than optimal anyway).  I thought about an induction heater but ultimately decided against it because my HLT wasn't really magnetic enough & I was worried about the weight possibly damaging the element.

So in the end I decided to convert my HLT into an Electric HLT with a hot water heater element. There are people out there who brew entirely with electric water heaters and report good results. Lucky for me, there are a ton of really good tutorials on the internet for how to properly install a hot water heater element on an HLT. I ended up using these instructions which I would recommend  The instructions were clear & all the parts meticulously listed. I'm not the most mechanically inclined but I can follow directions haha.

I went with a 120v heating element because I don't have a 220v outlet in my apartment.  Also, I'm just using it to heat water so it doesn't have to be strong enough to boil or anything like that.  The single heating element works just as well as my stove. It heats up the strike water to ~170 F in 45 minutes. In the future if I ever have the time I might add another heating element & insulation to the outside of the HLT, to speed it up.

Having an Electric Kettle helps to speed up the brewing process by allowing me to heat the sparge water while I'm mashing without having to move it off the stove to make room for the boil kettle. With only the stove as the heat source you have to sparge into buckets and then transfer that to the boil kettle after the HLT is empty & light enough to move.

The Waterproof Enclosure for the Heating Element


































Inside the HLT

Extension cord





















Storage
The free standing shelf is from Ikea & the best part is you can move the shelves anywhere which makes it easy to fit large bulky things like the mash tun etc.

Brew Tower
It's a More Beer stainless pump & chiller stand. I also added my RV water filter to it to make things easier for me.



Filling the Electric HLT





























Boiling

Sanitizing before chilling

































Running off the Chilled Wort


























Fermenting
Fermentation temperature control is one of the most important factors for consistent & high quality beer.  I have a 7 cu ft GE chest freezer which holds two 6 gallon Better Bottles perfectly. There's a little cut out in my living room and it fits nicely in there as you can see from the pictures.



















































Bonus
I also took the time convert all my Polysulfone disconnects over to Stainless Steel & I added a hop rocket!



































Hope this helps anyone worried about brewing in an Apartment.  Now let's get back to the beer!

Monday, September 24, 2012

SESSION AMERICAN PALE ALE

One of the holy grails of session brewing is an American Pale Ale.  A few breweries have been making really good sessionable, low alcohol American Pale Ales. Notch Brewing's American Session Ale is a good example of what I'm talking about. The challenge comes from making the beer flavorful & drinkable without being either cloyingly sweet or too dry. The hops can quickly overpower a low alcohol beer and throw it out of balance. Below is probably the third version of this recipe I've brewed & the first one I'm really (but not completely) happy with.

Session APA (BJCP Description)
(6 Gallons, ~80% Eff, Tinseth)

OG: 1.042
FG: 1.009
IBU: 10
ABV: 4%
SRM: 7.3

* 7.5 lbs - 2-Row Maris Otter
* 1 lb - Simpsons Medium Crystal
* .5 lbs - White Wheat Malt (Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pale Wheat - 2 Lovibond)
* .5 lbs - Vienna Malt

* .25 oz Chinook (Whole) 16% FWH
* .5 oz Cascade (Whole Leaf) 8.8% @ 15 min
* .5 oz Cascade (Whole Leaf) 8.8% @ 5 min 
* 1.5 oz Cascade (Whole Leaf) 8.8% @ 0 min 
* 1.5 oz Chinook (Whole Leaf) 16% @ 0 min
* 1 oz Columbus (Pellets) Dry Hop for 14 Days

* Yeast:
Wyeast 1318 London Ale III - Washed

* Mashed 60 min @ 156, 1.5 qt/lb


Tasting Notes:
Look - Bright orange, off white head that sticks around (thanks hops!), slight chill haze
Aroma -  Big piney-resinous and slightly citrusy hop nose. Fruity esters show up at the end.
Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, crisp with a dry finish from the hops
Taste - Bitter piney hops, sweet bready/grainy malt backbone, firm bitterness but smooth

Notes:  Overall I'm getting closer to the "perfect" pale ale.  This is pretty close to where I want it. I might switch out some of the medium crystal for light crystal just because it's a little dark for a pale ale but that's purely cosmetic. I'm happy with the hop schedule so now it's time to scale it down. I really want to be able to brew a 3.5% hoppy APA (easier said than done). The only change I'm going to make is to reduce the base malt. Per Jamil's writings/discussions on scaling down beers. This is to ensure the beer doesn't dry out too much.