Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Brewing, and another try at live blogging...

Today is a brew day, and I'm going to live blog it for thoese of you out there stuck at work. I'll be working from home during the brew, trying to figure out if extra-marital affairs of the over 55 population correlate to religion. I tried this before -- the blogging, not the old-people sex -- with limited succcess. I got bored and thought the post was getting pretty boring as well. This time I'll try to toss in some antecdotes, some pictures and some better descriptions.

The beer turned out crappy, by the way, due to my fucking up with the yeast. See, I had hoped to pitch on a yeast cake, but it was a low flocculent yeast, and I was worried about pitching essentially onto the remains of the last beer, as a cake hadn't really formed well. So I pitched an un-expanded pack of Wyeast, as I didn't want to expand it and waste it. Now I know an expanded pack lasts for weeks in the freezer- so I'll do that next time.

Here is today's recipe, my first with Beer Smith. [Sidebar: I'm really pleased with Beer Smith] 

Style: Special/Best/Premium Bitter
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.25 gal      
Boil Size: 7.32 gal
Estimated OG: 1.042 SG
Estimated Color: 9.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 28.4 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      
6 lbs 8.0 oz  Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
12.0 oz         Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
8.0 oz        Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM)
6.0 oz           Victory Malt (25.0 SRM)
1.00 oz         Williamette [4.80 %]  (60 min)
0.50 oz        Willamette [4.30 %]  (Dry Hop 7 days)
0.50 oz         Williamette [4.80 %]  (30 min)
0.50 oz         Williamette [4.80 %]  (10 min)
0.26 tsp       Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 min)
1.00 gm       Salt (Mash 60.0 min)
2.00 gm       Baking Soda (Mash 60.0 min)
5.00 gm       Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash 60.0 min)
22.00 gm    Gypsum  (Mash 60.0 min)
Yeast           London Ale (Wyeast Labs #1028) [Starter 500ml ]

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body
Total Grain Weight: 8.13 lb
Single Infusion, Medium Body
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp     
60 min        Mash In             Add 9.99 qt of water at 168.3 F     152.0 F       
10 min        Mash Out           Add 6.00 qt of water at 200.7 F     168.0 F       

We'll fly sparge with about 5 gallons of 168F water. Nothing has happened yet, but I'll keep updating this post throughout the day, maybe with some pictures. Right now I'm waiting for my brewing buddy to show up, then we'll clean, organize and get the mash on.

11am- still haven't started brewing. I'm trying to dial in my system a bit more. just under 5" is 5 gallons, and 5 3/8" is 5.75 gallons, which should get me 5.25 gallons with .5 gallon of trub left in the pot, I hope. Today I'll shoot for 6" of beer.  I'm guessing with my boil off I need *about* 7 gallons to start. This should let me boil off just over a gallon of wort during my boil (maybe more, beersmith calculates I need 7.38 gallons). That measurement is just over 6.5 (7 gallons). I'll shoot for 6.5" to boil down to just over 5" of beer. This should let me get a nice 5 gallons-ish. For mash, 2 gallons is 2", 2.5 gallons is 2.5".

We mashed in 8#6oz of grain with 10qts of 168F water, which turned out to be a hair high, due to my monkeying with beersmith. I'm getting drastically varying readings, as the mash tun is barely 1/4 full, so the top and bottom of the mash have very different temps (6F difference). 5 minutes in our mash we were at 155F, 15 in we were are 152, and 30 min in we are still at 152F. We're going to start getting our 5 gallons up to 178F (the HLT eats about 10F), so we can sparge at 168F. After an hour we'll try to get our 6qts up to 200F for the mashout, definitely needed with the short grain bed today.

Well, the water is up for mashout and sparge, but the grain hasn't converted after almost two hours. I forgot to put a coat on the cooler, which I usually do. Between that and some intentional heat loss earlier due to a high mash in, It got down to the mid 140s. I just added a quart of boiling water to try and get the temp back up to around 152, then I'll sit it for another 10 minutes. I'll then mash out as discussed earlier and hope it works out. Next time, I'll trust the computer! Gah!

First wort is 1.032 at 146F = 1.050. 
We'll run out between 6.5 and 7" of wort (around 7 to 7.5 gallons) and will boil down to 6 gallons. I figure we'll have .75 loss in deadspace in the bottom of the kettle (trub)... We put 7" (7.5 gallons) into boil. Cock-up of the day, I hold the ruler up with a magnet, which I just dropped into the bottom of my metal, ferrous, stainless steel pot. Ha!

Alright, so I've got the wort about boiling. The gravity going into the pot was 1.037, so I have 90% efficency from the mash into the pot. That's pretty awesome, but I lose a ton of efficency in the boil because I can't get enough heat on it. Yeast issue now- I have 2 starters going, a scottish yeast and an old 1028 that I stored. The 1028 is from the fall, the scottish from the winter. I tasted both (they've been fermenting for like a week). The Scottish tastes bland, but the English tastes like rubber. So I'm not sure what to do, continue making the bitter and pitch it onto Scottish, use the English anyway, or change over to making a scottish (one hop addition and kettle carmalize a gallon / gallon and a half... I'm thinking just go to scottish, the base is similar, if this is a tad too adjuncty for a scottish...

Alright. We've decided to scrap the english yeast. It tastes like rubber and is probably beyond dead, despite its fermenting out. Luckily, and historically, the Scottish 70/ is akin to an English bitter with Scottish water and scottish yeast, less hops and more carmel. Well, we just ran out of English yeast, so our English bitter is a scottish ale. DODGE AND WEAVE PEOPLE, KEEP UP, KEEP UP! So, same recipe. One hop addition of .75oz of Willamette for 60 min. I've got a 5qts burning away on another pot, we'll let it go as we cool the main beer down, hoping it will carmelize down to around .5 gallons by the time the rest of the beer is cool. Then we'll cool that, put it in, take a gravity reading and move along. I'd like to thank the English for letting me down again! Bah! So, accidental Scottish ale, welcome into being. Sure, we were drunk on bad rye beer when we went into that mini-golf windmill, but we made something beautiful. Hell, my last accident (a scottish ale turned porter) took a medal in a new brewer category. So, Scotland, he're to sloppy creation and wonderful accidents!

Got 5 gallons, pitched yeast at a little over 70F. We got 89% efficency out of the grains!! but only  70% out of the system, meaning that our boiling isn't working right. We are either getting to low of a heat from the stove to get a rolling boil, or something else. I'm thinking we might need to boil with the lid part-way on to keep the heat in. Having the extra pot might have limited our boil temp too. 

Pitched a yeast slurry- the beer on top of the starter was pretty tasty and smoky. The wort was good and had some nice nuttiness thanks, I think, to the victory. The wort wasn't very sweet due to the low temp, but had a nice color and taste. Next time I won't be so afraid of the carmel and will be sure to further insulate the mash tun (doubly stupid as there is a coat hook and a coat behind where the tun goes. It sucks about the yeast, thankfully I had a backup and tasted before the hop additions. I think we saved ourselves here- but I clearly need to get the mash temp stuff down and trust my calculations. A good brew day, and hopefully it'll ferment out for kegging on Friday, for a party Sunday (a stretch, I know).


  1. "I'm trying to dial in my system a bit more."

    See... that's where our brewing styles differ. At that point, instead of working on getting our system dialed-in, Paddy and I would be working on getting ourselves tuned-up.

  2. here is hoping for a pleasant surprise. You at least had fun during the process I hope.

  3. Indeed. Went well, tasted good and I'm pretty happy with it. I wanted to make a Scottish ale anyway- I just wish I had left it mashed in at a higher temp!

  4. I like that Scottish ale yeast, nice and malty. You may wanna try chilling your wort down further before pitching your yeast and let it free rise until your fermentation temps. It will give you a cleaner maltiness. Wierd that it took two hours to convert, what kind of thermometre are you using? Great blog, lots of fun to read!!