Thus I named my "New Year Beer." Happy Xmas, me buckos! It was bloody fookin' cold this a.m., the merc running at 16 F. I waited until noon to get started. It was at least in the high 20's and low 30's most of the afternoon. I wound up mashing 13 pounds of pale malt with the 3 lbs. of other stuff (pilsener, wheat, chocolate, and three kinds of caramel). Sixteen pounds along with 16 quarts of liquor (4 gals.) is the ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM my mash tun (5 gal. Gott cooler) can hold. I managed to extract 2 gallons of 1.098 wort from that. I just dumped the contents of the tun into my priming bucket (5 gal. plastic pail) with a cloth straining bag. Hi-tech lautering, eh? Skipping the sparge, I had to let the damn thing drip for a while, but that's how it goes. I added 5 gallons of liquor and we started cooking. The bittering hops were Northern Brewer, 1 ounce for 1 hour. That isn't a whole lot of IBUs, but I want to taste the malt on these "first runnings" brews. I flavored the beer with 3 additions of organic German Perle (another 7 Bridges score!), 1/2 ounce at 20, 10 and 5 minutes each. Yummmmmmmm. The Kolsch yeast (how do you make a fookin' umlaut, eh?) still has me worried, but I pitched it at just about 1700 hours PST. The final yield was only 4-1/2 gallons at 1.040 (10 degrees Plato). It is 66 F in the fermenting room (hall closet) right now. We'll check it out tomorrow--Boxing Day!
p.s. I tapped PTF Porter and it is THE BOMB!!! The "first runnings" give a sweet, syrupy quality to the beer. I could increase the roast malt flavor and play with the hops a bit for a skosh more bitterness, but the rich, malty taste is quite delicious. Merry Everything, lads!