Sunday, February 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Stout goes to the keg

Beer number 175 fermented out rather quickly and finished at a surprising 1.010, a little lower than I anticipated. Perhaps these first-runnings brews are richer in fermentables than I expected. Regardless, it looked and smelled great. I put the beer into two 2-1/2 gallon stainless steel kegs with 50 grams of corn sugar each. I expect to condition them for about two weeks. The closet is usually around 64 ºF (it varies from 62 to 66 ºF) and that should be just about right.

It is going to be a marvelous brew for St. Patrick's Day. I can't wait to taste the chocolate rye malt!

Today is the Ides of February (Idus Febrarius).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Elevenses Ale: status report

I was unenthusiastic about batch number 174, Elevenses Ale. The rye flavor didn't really come through--I need to use more next time. The earthiness of the Northern Brewer hops was overpowering and I couldn't get a sense of the beer. So, I gave it a little more time. We drew off and dove into a couple of pints each tonight. The hop flavors are still strong and distinctive, but they've softened enough to let the malt speak. There's a light sweetness and easy dry finish there and it's coming to the fore as the beer ages. I believe strongly that what homebrew needs, other than a fanatical devotion to cleanliness, is TIME. Wait. Be patient. Relax. The longer the beer spends in a dark, cool place, the better. Beer ages beautifully in the bottle and the keg. If your home-cooked batch is a little rough around the ages, just give it another week and it will improve markedly. I did that with Elevenses Ale and it has matured into a lovely beer.

a.d. V Id. Feb.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Brew Day: Stout for St. Patrick

I missed the Stupor Bowl. I spent the day brewing. It was a clear, warm, sunny day, odd for February around here, but welcome nonetheless. It all worked out as planned, and I got over 5 gallons of nice, clean-looking wort with an original gravity of 1.052 (13 ºP). I used TWO packs of Safale-04 instead of one and I hope I can rack this beer before the week is out.

This is going to be a very delicious and refreshing stout. I can't wait for St. Patrick's Day!!

a.d. VIII Id. Feb.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Stout: MMXI

I ran my last 18 lbs. of 2-row malt through the mill today in anticipation of a no-sparge brew tomorrow. I'm also going to make a tea of steeped dark grains: 1 pound of dehusked Carafa II, 1 pound of chocolate rye, and 1/2 pound of black patent. This I'll do in the brew kettle with a couple of gallons of liquor while the mash is cooking. I'll throw in a pound of flaked barley as well and then take the first runnings only. We'll see what we come up with after dilution to the full 28-L brew length. If it is a lower gravity brew I'll make a dry stout and if it is a higher gravity brew I'll make a sweet stout. How's that sound? I love making a stout for St. Patrick's Day!

Jeffrey Donovan at the The Pro-Mash website explains the finer points of "no-sparge" and "first-runnings" brewing:
No-sparge mashing is simply collecting the first running from the mash tun as opposed to sparging out the additional sugars . . . 'Pure' no-sparging is to simply take the first running when the mash is complete. 'Batch' sparging is to add an additional infusion of water at the end of the mash, but to sill not-sparge the mash in the traditional 'rinsing of the grains' fashion.
I usually batch sparge because I can still taste the sweet sugars in the malt after taking the first runnings. I have to decide to let that go this time and simply blend whatever I get with the black liquor I make it the kettle. When I top it off I will know the expected gravity and decide on the hops. I think I'll stick with the high-alpha Admiral variety that I've used before. I want a grain flavor, with just enough hops to balance the malt. I don't want to taste the hops so much as notice the clean bitterness. It is a tough thing to get right. Sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday.

Non. Feb.