Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beer Updates: El Dorado Amber Ale, California Vanilla Porter, Gondwana IPA

Over the past two weeks, there has been some action on various batches. This is all summarized below.

  • On April 7, one week after brewing, I transferred the El Dorado Amber Ale over to the secondary fermenter. Gravity at this point was 1.014, down from 1.053; this equals 6.5% abv and 72.6% apparent attenuation.
  • I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets, aiming for two weeks of dry hopping prior to bottling
  • After seven days of vanilla beans in the secondary fermenter, this beer was ready to bottle. I recently got a second-hand set of "PhilTap" minikegs (thanks, Dad!), and this was the first batch to get the PhilTap treatment, along with the Gondwana IPA.
  • At bottling, gravity was 1.014, down from 1.064. This indicates 6.6% abv and 77.0% apparent attenuation.
  • The kegs were each carbonated with 1.5 tbs of corn sugar. The remaining 1.9 gallons were carbonated with 1.65 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 0.5 cup of water (target carbonation=2.6 volumes).
  • The total yield for this batch was: 2 5-L mini-kegs, 11 12-oz bottles, 3 22-oz. bottles, and 1 16-oz. grolsch bottle.
  • After 17 days of dry hopping with 2 oz. of Citra hops pellets, this beer was ready to package. As I was transferring it out, I was hit with a fantastic hops aroma - a fantastic bouquet of passionfruit with a little citrus. These also held up in the tasting.
  • At bottling, gravity was 1.008, down from 1.047. This equals 5.1% abv, and an apparent attenuation of 82.3%.
  • The kegs were carbonated with 1.5 tbs of corn sugar. The remaining 1.5 gallons was primed with 1.45 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 0.5 cup water.
  • The total yield for this batch was 2 5-L mini-kegs, 8 12-oz bottles, 2 22-oz. bottles, and 1 16-oz. Grolsch bottle.
  • After a week, I tapped one of the mini-kegs. The result is beautiful! The hops aroma is still fantastic, although the beer doesn't have a lot of body (not surprising given the high fermentability). Even so, the flavor is quite clean, which is nice after my early worries.
Gondwana IPA, first pour from the mini-keg

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rodinia IPA

For one of the last batches of the "season", I opted for another all-grain IPA. This was a chance to try out a few new ingredients as well as a new recipe style. For my first IPA of the brewing season (an extract beer), I found that it ended up a little too sweet for my tastes. Some reading suggested that crystal malt could be behind this (although I only had 8 oz. in that recipe--on the other hand, it was fairly high gravity, too, at 1.070 s.g., but most of my extract IPAs have been on the sweet side). So, I decided to try a crystal-free recipe.

Additionally, I've been wanting to try some new hops varieties. The owner of my local homebrew shop said they had something called Nelson Sauvin in stock, and he had been wanting to try it too. That was good enough for me, so into my recipe it went! Pretty much everywhere I read said, "No equivalents" for substitutions...and the variety is usually described as having "white wine" character, so that sounded like an awesome dry hopping opportunity. I also wanted to use up some of the partial bags of hops pellets in my freezer, so Northern Brewers and Nugget went into the kettle too. With the mix of hops origins (New Zealand, Europe, and North America), and with my tradition this year of naming batches after various supercontinents, "Rodinia IPA" seemed appropriate.

Rodinia IPA
  • 13 lbs. pale malt
  • 2 lbs. Munich malt
  • 0.95 oz. Northern Brewers hops pellets (8.5% alpha) - 60 minutes boil
  • 1.4 oz. Nugget hops pellets (14.0% alpha) - 20 minutes boil
  • 1 oz. Nelson Sauvin hops pellets (12.0% alpha) - 1 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss (10 minutes boil)
  • 1 pkg. BRY-97 American West Coast Yeast (Danstar - 11 g)
  • 1 oz. Nelson Sauvin hops pellets (12.0% alpha) - 14 days dry hop
Steps
  • I mashed in with 4.75 gallons of water to achieve a temperature of ~153° (which stabilized here about 15 minutes in). By the end of the mash, the temperature was at 150°. I collected 3 gallons of wort, and sparged with 3.25 gallons of water at 170°. From this, I collected 3.4 gallons of wort.
  • In total, I collected 6.4 gallons of wort, with a preboil gravity of 1.061. This works out to 71.3% efficiency--not too bad!
  • I heated the wort to boiling, planning for a 90 minute total boil with successive hop additions. The Northern Brewer hops were boiled for 60 minutes, Nugget hops for 20 minutes, and Irish moss for 10 minutes. An ounce of Nelson Suavin was added a minute before flame-out.
  • Using my wort chiller, I chilled the wort down to 70°, whirlpooled, and let it sit for 15 minutes. During this time, I rehydrated the yeast.
  • I transferred the wort to the primary fermenter. This resulted in 4.3 gallons, with a starting gravity of 1.076. This is quite a bit higher than expected (1.071 from BeerSmith)--I suspect the reason is because I ran a very vigorous boil. From the 6.4 gallons of originally collected wort, and assuming the typical 0.5 gallon of sludge left behind in the kettle, that's a total of 1.6 gallons boiled off over the 90 minutes. BeerSmith had only assumed 0.75 gallons (0.5 gallons/hour), so I might need to adjust that in the future.
  • I pitched the yeast immediately before sealing up the primary fermenter (a carboy). 24 hours on, I'm not seeing any visible fermentation activity. I'm not entirely sure if this is due to the relatively high gravity of the wort, or if it is a character of BRY-97. My past batches with this yeast have also been slow to start, and this also was mentioned on other sources. In any case, if I don't see activity within 48 hours from the initial pitch, I'll probably repitch the yeast.
  • This batch was brewed on 12 April 2014. At this writing, the beer is at about 65° for the primary fermentation.

Monday, March 31, 2014

El Dorado Amber Ale

Now having an all-grain amber ale, IPA, and porter under my belt, I decided to try another all-grain amber ale. I based this recipe off of Amarillo Amber Ale from BYO magazine. I made some small substitutions for what was available at my local (and awesome) homebrew store, primarily in switching up the Weyermann malts with approximate equivalents. I also ended up using El Dorado and Nugget for the hops (they had just run out of Amarillo!). As I designed this recipe in BeerSmith, I was super excited to try a whole bunch of new grains and hops.; this sort of beer geekery is why I got into homebrewing! And even better, this was my most successful all-grain brewing session. I scored 75% efficiency, my best to date.

El Dorado Amber Ale
  • 9.3 lbs. Best Malz Pilsen malt
  • 0.25 lbs. aromatic malt
  • 0.25 lbs. 40° crystal malt
  • 0.25 lbs. carastan malt
  • 0.25 lbs. caravienne malt
  • 0.1875 lbs. chocolate malt
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer
  • 0.5 oz. Nugget hops pellets (14.4% alpha acid) - 30 minutes boil
  • 0.5 oz. El Dorado hops pellets (15% alpha acid) - 10 minutes boil
  • 0.5 oz. El Dorado hops pellets (15% alpha acid) - 5 minutes boil
  • 0.5 oz. El Dorado hops pellets (15% alpha acid) - 14 days dry hop
  • 1/2 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1 pkg. SafAle English Ale Yeast S04
Steps
  • Add 1 tbs. of 5.2 pH stabilizer to grist
  • Add 13.5 quarts of water at 170° to grist in mash tun, for target temperature of 152°. The temperature stabilized here within 5 minutes, and only dropped 1 degree over the entire 60 minutes of mashing.
  • Mash for 60 minutes, add 1 gallon of water at 170°. I collected 3.5 gallons of runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.1 gallons of water at 170°. The temperature settled at 160°. I let the mash tun sit for 10 minutes, and then I collected 3.4 gallons of runnings. This totaled 6.9 gallons of wort collected; with a gravity of 1.042, I calculate 75% efficiency for my mash.
  • Because I had collected such a volume of wort, I elected to boil for a total of 90 minutes. Once I had the wort to a boil, it boiled for 60 minutes before the first hop addition.
  • At 60 minutes, I added 0.5 oz. Nugget hops pellets.
  • At 75 minutes, I added the Irish moss.
  • At 80 minutes, I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets.
  • At 85 minutes, I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets.
  • At 90 minutes, I removed the pot from the heat, and began cooling it with my wort chiller.
  • It took around 30 minutes to cool the wort to 75°. From here, I transferred the wort to my primary fermenter.
  • I proofed the yeast in 1 cup of 85° degree water, and pitched it. The space where I am fermenting is about 65° ambient temperature--perfect for this yeast strain.
  • I collected 5 gallons of wort, with a starting gravity of 1.053 (at 60°). Once I had adjusted the mash efficiency in BeerSmith for my system, I was exactly on the nose for o.g. This will potentially yield ~5.2% abv.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beer Updates: California Vanilla Porter, Gondwana IPA, Fake Tire 3.0

I haven't done a brewing session in two weeks (life has been busy!), but I have been dabbling in a few other beer-related activities. These are outlined below.

Fake Tire Amber Ale
The Fake Tire 3.0 Amber Ale was bottled on March 23. Final gravity was 1.008; with a starting gravity of 1.045, this means I have 4.8% abv. I added 3.5 oz. of corn sugar dissolved in 2 cups of water. The total yield was 11 12-oz bottles, 7 22-oz bottles, and 8 16-oz bottles (grolsch).

Gondwana IPA
As noted before, this beer has had a bit of a roller coaster of flavors that has finally evened out on the positive side. On March 19, I added 2 oz. of Citra pellet hops for dry hopping. After these have had a full two weeks in the fermenter, I will bottle.

California Vanilla Porter
In order to achieve the eponymous vanilla flavor for this porter, I cut up and scraped 4 Madagascar vanilla beans and then soaked all of them in 2 oz. of vodka. They soaked for 10 days, and generated a really tasty and nice-smelling extract. Today, I finally got to transferring the porter from the primary fermenter into the secondary (after 15 days--the beer was brewed on March 15, and transferred on March 30). The beer is quite tasty, and weighs in at 1.014. Down from 1.064, that means the beer weighs in at 6.4% abv. Right before I sealed up the secondary, I tossed in the vanilla extract (plus pods). I figure I will bottle this in about a week.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

California Vanilla Porter

California Vanilla Porter
  • 5 lbs. US pale malt (2 row)
  • 5 lbs. Maris Otter pale malt
  • 1 lbs 60° crystal malt
  • 1 lbs. Vienna malt
  • 0.75 lb. chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lb. carapils malt
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (60 minutes bittering)
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (30 minutes bittering)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss (15 minutes boil)
  • 1 pkg. Danstar Nottingham yeast
  • 4 Madagascar vanilla beans (cut up and soaked in a 2 ounces of vodka), added to the secondary
Steps
  • I added a tablespoon of 5.2 pH stabilizer to the grist prior to mashing in, to help counteract previously suspected pH problems.
  • Mash in with 16.8 quarts of water at 170°. This resulted in a mash that stabilized at 153° within 10 minutes. The temperature was down to 152° by 30 minutes, and 151° by 60 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 0.5 gallons of water at 170°, and collected the first runnings. The gravity from these was 1.074 (at 60°).
  • I then added 3 gallons of water at 170°, stirred the mash, and let it sit for 10 minutes. I collected the rest of the wort for a total starting volume (pre-boil) of 6.25 gallons. The gravity at the start of the boil was 1.052 (at 60°), indicating a mash efficiency of around 70%.
  • I started the boil, adding 1 oz. of whole Cascade hops. After 30 minutes, I added an additional ounce of whole Cascade hops. For the final 15 minutes, I added 1 tsp. of Irish moss.
  • I cooled the wort down to 78° using my cooling coil, which took ~25 minutes.
  • I pitched the rehydrated yeast. Fermentation had visibly started within 12 hours.
  • Starting gravity was 1.064 at 60°; approximately 4.85 gallons of wort were in the fermenter.
Notes
  • I plan to add the vanilla to the secondary fermenter.
  • This is the first all-grain batch for which I feel like things went fairly smoothly--finally a decent mash efficiency (I suspect I fixed a lingering pH issue), and a good batch of wort at the end.
  • This beer was brewed on Saturday, March 15.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Laurasia IPA Bottled, Gondwana IPA Update

After a week of dry-hopping with 2 oz. of Simcoe hops pellets, I bottled the Laurasia IPA (8 March 2014). The gravity was unchanged from last check, at 1.020, resulting in a final abv of 6.5%. I added 4 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup of water. The final volume in the bottling bucket was 4.5 gallons, yielding 15 12-oz bottles, 13 18-oz. Grolsch bottles, and 6 22-oz. bottles.

I transferred the Gondwana IPA to the secondary fermenter on 9 March 2014. The gravity measured 1.010, down from 1.047, yielding an abv of 4.8%. Somewhat distressingly, there was a bit of a vegetal aroma and flavor to the beer; this had come off strong after the mash, but disappeared after the boil. With the aroma's reappearance, I was worried that I would have to toss out the beer. But, I rechecked a week later (16 March 2014), and the beer tasted and smelled just fine. A good argument for patience!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fake Tire 3.0 and Laurasia IPA updates

On Thursday, February 27, I transferred the Fake Tire 3.0 (my first all-grain batch) over to the secondary fermenter. The gravity was down to 1.006, which works out to 5.1% abv. This is certainly the most I've ever had a beer ferment out, and I suspect this was due to the unintentionally low mash temperature.

On Saturday, March 1, I added 2 oz. of Simcoe hops pellets to the Laurasia IPA, for dry hopping.