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Oktoberfest!Oktoberfest!

Yes, it’s that time of year already. I christened my 5.5 gallon batch with a 1.8L starter of German Lager yeast, WPL830, yesterday at 5:00pm.

IngredientAmount
Munich Malt5 lb
Pilsner Malt5 lb
Vienna Malt3 lb
Hallertauer1.5 ounce (60)
Hallertauer.5 ounce (20)
WLP830 (German Lager)1.8 Litre

Everything went very smoothly. I treated my water with salts to boost the water profile (tsp epsom salt, tsp calcium chloride, ph stabilizer).  Mashed at 156 for 50 minutes. Got 2.8 gallons on the first run at 16 brix @ 140 degrees for a 1.078. Sort of confirmed by a hydrometer reading of 1.054 @ 140 degrees = 1.070 approximately. Second run at 1.25 gallons with 10.5 brix @ 142 degrees for 1.043, hydrometer 1.030 @ 142 for 1.046. Third run at 1.5 gallons at 6.5 brix @ 148 degrees for 1.020. And a fourth run of 1.3 gallons which was nearly water and I only used about a quart.  The pre-boil gravity was 1.056. I boiled for one hour. Cooled the wort to 63 degrees (which is the temperature of my basement where the starter had been sitting) and pitched. OG was at 1.050 which I’ll discuss in a minute. Hooked up to my handy-dandy Johnson control unit/heater set up and threw the fermenter in the refrigerator at 53 degrees. Now I’ll just wait for nature to take it’s course.

Per the above, I continue to have issues, for some inexplicable reason, with my gravities at OG time. I cannot understand how a wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1.056 can boil for one hour and come out at 1.050. That seems impossible. Water should evaporate and sugar should not. I confirmed with the refractometer which showed even lower. This is a source of endless confusion for me. I can understand if one over-collects on the sparge and then has too much water in the kettle, but I measured the pre-boil gravity… Regardless, I may have to take another tack and do some calculations on pre-boil gravity, evaporation rates, and so on to see if I can estimate the OG. But the fact that the tools reported something else is highly upsetting. In the end, I guess, it’s all about what the beer tastes like. But still.

Outdoor BrewOutdoor Brew

Spent part of Monday brewing outdoors. The first time I’ve done that. I purchased a Blichmann floor burner from Grape and Granary a few years back and just hadn’t gotten around to using it; well, now I can say that I have.

The burner is fantastic and connects to a propane tank. It puts out 72,000 BTU’s per hour which translates to a whole lot of heat for fast boils. I am used to brewing in my kitchen where I use a standard gas range. The time to boil was a great delay in the brew day for me. After lautering and sparging and collecting the wort into the boil kettle, the time from that 160 or so degrees to 212 was too much. It could take nearly an hour just to get to boil. I didn’t time things out specifically, but I would swear that the Blichmann was heating water at around 10 degrees every five minutes, maybe even faster. So in approximately twenty to twenty-five minute it was boiling. It happened so fast, in fact, that I had my first boil over in years, even with fermcap. But it was outdoors, so only the ants were pissed (and me later, when I had to scrub the pot).

Another upshot with outdoor brewing is that I just ran the hose to the kettle and used the hose to connect to the Blichmann plate chiller that I have. The excess water that comes in chilling the wort went straight into the garden beds for the very thirsty pumpkins, cucumbers, and peppers. The main drawback was that the water temperature was very difficult to get down, with the nearly 100 degree heat, so I could only chill the wort to 77 degrees, which is a bit high for pitching (but I did it anyway).

I brewed a Brown Ale with lots of Cascade and Nugget hops. The Nugget came straight from my backyard, circa 2011 (vacuum sealed in the freezer). It was a low gravity extract beer which I am using as a yeast starter (essentially) for an all-grain Imperial Red (Nosferatu clone) that I’ll brew in a week or two.

Brew Day!Brew Day!

Took my floating holiday from work today and am brewing an Arrogant Bastard clone; the wonder work of Stone Brewing Co. (I’ll add some holiday spices in the secondary to give it a proper Christmas kick.)

Using the following recipe, which I picked up at Homebrew Talk:

  • 11.5 pounds pale two-row malt
  • 1.0 pounds crystal 120
  • 0.5 lb Special-B
  • 0.75 lb Biscuit
  • 0.5 lb Aromatic
  • 0.5 lb CaraMunich
  • 1.25 oz chinook pellets (12.5 aa%) (15.6 AAUs) @ 90 min
  • 1.0 oz chinook pellets (12.5 AAUs) @ 30 min
  • 0.5 oz chinook pellets (6.25 AAUs) @ flame out
  • 1 tsp Irish moss
  • White Labs WLP007 or WLP001 (English Ale Yeast)

Preparation:
Mash at 155 degrees for 60 minutes. Boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops according to schedule. Add Irish Moss last 5 minutes of the boil. Cool wort and pitch yeast. Primary ferment at about 68 F for 7 to 10 days. Secondary fermentation optional. 

Specifics:
Style Strong Ale
Recipe Type All Grain
Batch Size 5 gallons
Original Gravity 1.074
Final Gravity 1.018
Boiling Time 90 minutes
Primary Fermentation Glass, ~ 68 F, 7-10 days
Secondary Fermentation optional
Other Specifics 75 IBUs, about 7% abv.