Sunday, August 17, 2008

Brew Day

Things worked well today. I ran 3 gallons of liquor at 170 ºF into the mash tun. Stirred in the malt--13 pounds. It was a bit lumpy, and took a bit of work to smooth it out and get an even temperature. There was just enough liquid to pool a bit on the top of the grain bed. It settled out at 148 ºF. I added 2 tsp. of gypsum. After 30 minutes, it had dropped 5 degrees. I added 2 gallons of boiling water at that point. This made the mash soupy, and it was easier to stir and mix the hot and cold spots. The mash was 156 ºF, just about perfect. After 30 minutes it had dropped 2 degrees. I re-circulated 10 quarts of runoff, collected about a gallon in the kettle, then sparged. I used 4 gallons (initial 170 ºF) and collected 6 gallons of wort. I topped up with a gallon of carbon-filtered municipal water and we started cooking. I wound up with 5 gallons at 1.065 or 16 ºP after a 70-minute boil and 4 hop additions. I used whole Perle hops, an ounce for 60 minutes, 1/2 ounce for 40 minutes, 1/2 ounce for 20 minutes, and 1/2 ounce for 10 minutes. That's about 50 IBUs, according to Dr. Bob, so I'm glad I got a pretty big beer. My brewhouse efficiency seems around 65%, so that means I'm getting approximately the equivalent of 8.5 pounds of malt extract. It looked like I was only going to have 4-1/2 gallons in the carboy, but I tipped the kettle to top it up to the 5 line. The last part was cloudy with trub. I left about a quart of sludge in the kettle. The yeast pack that was nearly a year old took a full week but it was completely swollen this morning. It was Wyeast 1187 (Ringwood Ale), and I had the 125 mL packet so I pitched it directly in the carboy. It was warm in the closet, 74 ºF, so I expect a vigorous fermentation tomorrow.

I called this brew FULL SEASON ALE because it is number 162, a full season in major league baseball. It should be ready to drink just as the regular season ends!

a.d. XV Kal. Sep.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Formulation Day 2

This is my 50th post here at FSB!

Doctor Bob Technical didn't confine himself to malt. No, he made a slide rule for hops as well. He called it the Hop-Go-Round.

Check out Alephenalia Publications, Seattle WA 98122. They don't seem to have a web presence, but we all know Dr. Bob is Randy Mosher, the man behind Radical Brewing. This is a great little device, and we'll see what it says for our new batch of brew.

For bittering, one ounce of Whole Organic Perle Hops (@ 8.1% α-acids), assuming a 25% efficiency in an hour-long boil, should yield 32 IBUs. The chart suggests less than 25% with a high-gravity wort, but I've always just bracketed readings for 20 and 25% to give me a ballpark figure. At 20% I get 25 IBUs.

I weighed out several half-ounce sets of the hops, and I think I'll have two or three flavoring additions. A half-ounce for 15 minutes is about 10-15% utilization. That gives us 6-9 IBUs. Another half-ounce for 5 minutes (5%) is 3 more IBUs. The total is 34-44. If the wort is not too big or sweet, that could be a nice match. We'll see what I do on brew day.

a.d. III Id. Aug

Formulation Day

According to Doctor Bob Technical (Randy Mosher) and his Amazing Wheel of Beer, if I mash 13 lbs. of 2-row malt I should get an OG of 1.070 at 70% efficiency. That's about 17 ºP. If I only get 60%, it drops 2 ºP. That 's 15 ºP or about 1.060. That's pretty strong wort. I'll have to balance it with a series of hop additions. Note that I have modified the original slide rule with a compromise line marked in orange. There really wasn't a spot for North American 2-row pale malt, and I took some thoughts from John Palmer's How-to-Brew (hence the notes) to settle on that line. (I forget what the "80%" is for!) I'm not sure this slide rule of Mr. Mosher's is available any more. That's too bad, I've been using mine for years. I love stuff that doesn't need batteries.

a.d. III Id. Aug.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ready to Rock!

The 7 Bridges shipment just arrived. I want to try their new domestic (Vancouver, Washington) organic malt. The full sack (50 lbs.) price is $42.00 and they charge $8.00 to crush and repackage. The body blow is the shipping cost, $21.59 for standard UPS ground. I received four packages: two 12-lb. and two 13-lb. bags.

Great Western Malting Co. is an independent subsidiary within the ConAgra network. It is tough to find anything on ConAgra Malt, and I got the story of the mergers here, here, and here.

These guys aren't too happy with ConAgra. I wonder if they know that Great Western produces organic malt! Regardless, the arrival of the order from 7 Bridges means the brew season will begin soon.

a.d. VII Id. Aug.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Saving the world, one beer at a time

One organic craft brew at a time, that is.

Hard to argue with a fellow whose motto is:


Check out The Beer Activist, Chris O'Brien. My pal and co-worker KV is a big fan of FSB's brews. He's always reading interesting stuff while I bury my head in 50's noir. He turned me on to this book, but I'll admit to not yet adding it to my pile. So that's it, then. It is a must read.

Thanks to the good folks at 7 Bridges for pointing the way.

BTW, we intend to resume brewing here very soon. We'll be home throughout the rest of the summer and fall. Astute domestic climate control and liberal use of the swamp cooler will beat the heat and enable proper fermentation temperatures.

I think a refreshing pale ale is long overdue, don't you?

a.d. III Non. Aug.