Yesterday my pal Amber--an aspiring homebrewer--came over to help me make a fresh batch. I was intending to make a brown ale as my lovely bride is fond of brown ales, but I didn't have the right combination of ingredients. I went with an amber and named it for my assistant. I've been experimenting with making beers from only the first runnings off the mash and skipping the sparge step. It's a bit wasteful as I have to nearly double the amount of grains I'd normally use, but I am curious about the flavor possibilities. I like to concentrate sometimes on one aspect of the process in order to learn a bit for another batch down the road. Grain flavors are complex and require much study and experimenting! We mashed 17 pounds of Briess 2-row pale malt and a half-pound each of Victory and Carafa 2 . Five gallons of liquor in the mash tun at 175ºF settled out at 152ºF for an hour. Then we simply drained the wort and we got about three gallons which the refractometer told us was 23% sugar (23ºP) or about 1.092 SG. John Palmer's wort calculator told us to expect 11ºP (1.044) when it was diluted in the kettle to seven gallons and 14ºP (1.056) when the boil reduced it to five gallons. We wound up with 13ºP (1.052) which I though was just dandy. I used a new hop, a California-grown organic variety called Horizon. We gave the brew 20 grams of whole cones (10.2% α-acids) for 60 minutes and 20 grams again for 30 minutes. We pitched it with Safale-04 at just about 4:00 in the afternoon and it was fermenting vigorously a few hours later. I think we've got a winner. Thanks, Amber!
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