With a converted 10 gallon cooler (ball valve and screen installed at the bottom), I was ready to go. I thought a good first beer would be to try a new iteration of my amber ale.
Fake Tire Amber Ale 3.0
- 7.5 lbs pale malt (2 row)
- 0.5 lbs. Victory malt
- 0.5 lbs. Munich malt
- 0.5 lbs. 40° crystal malt
- 0.5 lbs. 20° crystal malt
- 0.5 lbs. Cara-Pils malt
- 0.25 lbs. chocolate malt
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (60 minute boil)
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5 minute boil)
- 1 tsp. Irish moss
- 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast US-05
- Mash in ~13 qts. of water at 165° with malt for 1 hour. This resulted in a temperature of 154 degrees within 5 minutes, but it ended up at 145° by the end of the hour.
- Decanted liquid, added 1 gallon of water, brought temperature up to 146°.
- Decanted liquid, added 3 gallons water, brought temperature to 148°.
- Decanted liquid, which had a specific gravity of 1.034 at 60 degrees. The volume in the kettle was around 5 gallons.
- Heated to boil, added first addition of Cascade hops, boiled for 45 minutes, added Irish moss, boiled for another 10 minutes, added second addition of Cascade hops.
- After the 60 minute boil, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort to around 70 degrees.
- I transferred the wort to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast (which had been rehydrated in 1 cup of water). The wort fermented at ~68°.
- The starting gravity was 1.045 at 60°, with a starting volume of 4 gallons.
This was definitely a learning experience! I had done a fair bit of reading on all of this, but even so there were a few bumps along the way. For starters, I learned that my "trusty" digital thermometer reads about 20° too low! This happened hard way when I mashed the grains to discover a ridiculously low-gravity wort--perhaps 1.020. A little investigation with other thermometers revealed that my main digital thermometer had a bad sensor (maybe from moisture?). In any case, I tossed that wort and started over. It sucks to have wasted the time and materials, but it was a useful lesson.
Even after all of that, my efficiency in sugar extraction was still not great (~50%, where I should be hitting ~70% at least). I attribute this in part to the fairly low temperatures that the mash ended at (145°, on the very lowest end of where I should be). Next time, I am going to preheat my cooler/mash tun to mitigate some cooling. I also pulled off all of the "liquor" after each water addition, which I later realized I shouldn't have...so, I will aim for pulling off equal amounts of liquor next time, rather than draining the whole thing.
Despite all of that, I am eager to improve my technique and make the next batch. The amber ale really took off in the fermenter, and should be ready to go to the secondary very soon.