I brewed my Pilsner last Saturday, just as the snow ended. The snow setting made brewing a real treat compared to the normal blustery winter brew day. The recipe for this beer was pretty simple and the grain crush went quickly. Even though it was cold out, my mash water heated up quickly. My goal was to use a high water to grain ratio at low temperatures to get as much sugar out of the grain as possible, I ended up putting four gallons of water into ten pounds of grain. This gave me a 1.6:1 quart to pound of grain ratio. Typically this ratio is closer to 1.25:1. I have been doing these higher ratios recently and I have found that my efficiency has gone up, so I’m sticking with it.
I mashed for 90 minutes hitting my target of 151 °F through the whole mash. I then added my strike water at 175°F and let the whole thing rest for another ten minutes. Once everything was completed I began my boil. I went for a 75 minute boil this time around as I collected a bit more wort than I was anticipating. I added my whole leaf Hallertau hops at 60 minutes as you can see below.
I rarely use whole leaf hops, but they look awesome in the beer. For the next 45 minutes I read my book while waiting for the next hop addition. At 15 minutes I added the Sterling hops (pellets), my wort chiller, and the Irish moss. At 10 minutes I added a yeast nutrient that I have had good success with. Come fame out I turned on the wort chiller water. At this time I also begin transferring a different lager beer from the fermentor to the keg. Doing two things at once is nice, but also hectic.
I had to switch between checking on the beer transfer and stirring the wort to help it cool more quickly. As the completed beer finished its transfer, I put the airlock back on the fermentor in order to protect the yeast cake from the air. The wort cooled down to 60 °F in about 20 minutes and I decided to put it in the fermentor. The whole leaf hops tried to clog my auto-siphon but they did not succeed. After all of the wort was in the fermentor I shook it up to make sure that the yeast mixed with the beer and to make sure that it was properly oxygenated.
My target goal of 1.053 was hit dead on. I really love hitting my goals and I am going to continue to do a looser mash and longer mash time as the success that I have had with it continues to impress. Within six hours this beer was producing bubbles in the airlock. I plan on leaving it in my basement for a month at 55 °F. From there I will keg it and lager it at colder temperatures for two to four weeks. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I transfer it over to the keg. Continue reading →
This is the first Brew Day post that I have done in almost half a year. I am really trying to document my homebrewing more this year and this far I think that I have done a decent job. My Brown Porter recipe was pretty straight forward and didn’t have a complicated hopping schedule or anything else that would cause difficulty. I am getting more used to using my grain mill now, as this is the third batch of beer brewed using it, and I think that I have all of the kinks worked out.
The image above shows that nice grain crush that my grain mill has been giving me. While I crushed the grains, the mash water was heating up on the burner outside. Once the water reached the correct temperature, I combined it with the grain in my cooler and hit 152 degrees Fahrenheit on the dot. Go me!
Pictured above this are the cracked grains pre-water. You can clearly see the darker grains, chocolate and roasted barely, that will give the beer its darker color. I then drained the first runnings out of the cooler and added the strike water. I held the strike water in the cooler for about ten minutes before draining it as well. I collected a little over six gallons total. I then boiled for an hour and followed the hopping schedule as noted in the recipe.
At 15 minutes I added the wort chiller and Irish Moss in addition to the hops. At the 10 minute mark I added some yeast nutrient as well. I boiled off a little over a half a gallon of water during the hour long boil. During the winter, the water coming into the wort chiller is super cold and this beer cooled down from 212 to 65 in about 15 minutes. During this time I transferred the IPA to a keg. I then put my new Brown Porter wort right on top of the yeast cake from the IPA. I left the hop particles at the bottom of the boil kettle and collected five gallons of beer. I did better than my expected gravity of 1.052 by getting a 1.053. It was the first time that I have ever done better than expect. I generally fall a few points below where I want to be. I think it was mostly due to the higher water to grain ratio of ~1.6 qt/lb then the normal 1.25 qt/lb. I started seeing bubbles in the airlock within two hours of this beer being put into the fermentor.
As a sidenote: I had to hook up a blow-off tube for this one because the fermentation was very active.
I will have some tasting notes up for this one as soon as it is ready to drink. The same goes for my IPA. Continue reading →
Last Saturday around the time of this post I had a chance to brew my Belgian Dubbel. The wife went to see the Time Travelers Wife, which gave me a few hours of time to brew. The whole idea behind the beer was to save some money on yeast and have another Belgian style beer on-hand since I’m really digging Belgian beers right now, so is the wife. I ordered from Austin Homebrew Supply again and followed the ingredients that I had originally set-out on using. I didn’t order a half pound of wheat malt from them becasue I already had a pound on hand. One problem, they shorted me a half pound of Belgian Pale malt. Crap.
I decided to go on with brewing anyway and get that half pound reimbursed at another time. I threw all of the grain into the mash tun and heated my strike water to 165ºF. Being that I roughly had 6.5 lbs of grain and wanted to keep a water to grain ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound the 2 gallons of water reached that temperature very quickly. I then let it all sit there for an hour and again, it only dropped 2ºF from 152ºF to 150ºF in that hour. I’m really happy with my new mash tun.
On my last brew, I had a terrible efficiency, so I wanted to fix that up a bit. I collected my first runnings and threw it back on top of the grain and collected it again. My thinking was that the water was still hot and I could grab some extra sugar. I heated up another two gallons of water to 180ºF for the second and third runnings. On both I let them sit in the mash tun for 10 minutes. By the end I had collected 3.5 gallons of wort for the boil.
I did my 60 minute boil using .5 oz of Styrian Goldings hops and 1 oz of Saaz hops for 15 minutes. I also threw in some Irish Moss to try and help clarity. Why I didn’t do this for the Tripel is still a good question. I cooled down the wort and pitched it on top of the yeast cake from the Tripel as that is now in a carboy.
I was shooting for a gravity of 1.062 but actually got 1.053. It was better than the Tripel but still pretty poor. Only 65% or so. I’m not sure if the problem is coming my mash, the water, or how Austin Homebrew Supply is crushing the grain. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter after talking to some people my the local homebrew club. Maybe new brew I will borrow on of their grain mills.
This brew marks my first experience with Belgian candy sugar as well. I used a dark variety of it. I was a bit concerned about scorching, but during the wait time with the second and third runnings I dumped all of it (1/2 lb) into the boil kettle and stirred like a madman. The kettle was sitting on the floor under the mash tun. The liquid was still hot and it dissolved pretty quickly. No scorching at all! I’ll have a few updates on both of my beers soon.