31 December 2005

posted by benjy edwards

The last day of the year, New Year’s Eve, was the final brewing session and report of the year.  We made the second batch of Wadworth 6X, the first being brewed back in 2003.  The mash was tiny, just 15 pounds of pale, a bit of crystal and a touch of black malt, yet we still achieved an original gravity of 1.042.  Hops during the boil were Fuggle and Willamette, none in the hopback.  The brew was trouble-free, but I changed the water treatment so that the gypsum was added to the mash instead of the sparge liquor.  It didn’t seem to reduce the pH of the mash by very much (5.01 instead of about 5.05 to 5.10 in the last few brews).  I did add a couple of tablespoons of calcium carbonate to the mash as well.
On brew day, the Two Hearted clone brewed two weeks ago was racked to secondary, and the yeast in the primary used for the Wadworth clone.  Gravities were in the high teens.  On Monday I swapped five gallons of the Dark Chocolate Stout for five of John’s Belhaven clone.  The night before brewing I replaced three of the valves on the co2 manifold in serving tank 1 with check valves and then connected the manifold to the cask breather so all three valves are fed by the breather for the three handpumps.  That should stop the previous problems I’d had where pulling on one of the handpumps would create a vacuum in the other gas lines and pull beer into the breather lines.

17 December 2005

posted by benjy edwards

Since one can never have enough pale ale, we brewed another batch of the Two Hearted Ale copy.  There was snow on the ground again, so this brew day started with shoveling a path out to the winter brewhouse.  Mash went fine, the sparge went a little quicker than usual, collected all within 45 minutes.  The gravity turned out well though, got to 1.057 with a
target of 1.058.  Hops were all Centennial, and for once I didn’t overhop it, sticking to the target IBU instead.  One primary of the Black Sheep was racked to secondary, and the other was racked to a corny keg for conditioning and serving on the handpump.  No primings needed.
There was one space left in the co2 freezer, so I kegged up the Black Chocolate Stout fermented with the English ale yeast.  Gravity didn’t drop at all in the two weeks in secondary, but since it was alreay 1.019 it’s probably a good thing.  To add a bit more complexity to the beer, I made a syrup of 8 tablespoons of cocoa powder in hot water, let it steep for 15 minutes  at about 170F, then added it to the keg.  It made an immediate difference, you can taste the chocolate flavour.

10 December 2005

posted by benjy edwards

I was leaning toward brewing a pale ale of some sort, but one of the two yeast cultures I had (London Ale) was last used in the Black Chocolate Stout recipe, and so it was very dark and probably shouldn’t be pitched into a very light coloured ale.  While not a brown ale or porter, the Black Sheep Special Ale clone I chose to brew is quite dark for a pale ale, just a little bit lighter than the typical brown ale.  Original gravity was 1.052, and it was hopped with Fuggles and Goldings.  The other yeast strain, used for the first time, from a starter, was British Ale.  No other batches were racked; I left the Black Chocolate Stout to sit in secondary for another week.

4 December 2005

posted by benjy edwards

No time to brew more beer this weekend, but Sunday left time to transfer several batches.  The second half of the Alpha King clone was racked to cask and primed with half a cup of corn sugar, along with over an ounce each of Centennial, Columbus and Cascade.  Also, the Christmas Ale was kegged and force-carbonated.  Sampling out of the secondary, the beer didn’t have spiciness to it, so about a quarter of an ounce of Cassia chunks were added to the keg, along with two ounces of grated ginger.  The effect was immediately noticeable, and will probably continue to increase a bit before fading over time.  Typically, the Christmas Ale is gone within a few weeks, so it probably won’t have time to fade before it is all drunk.

Finally, the Black Chocolate Stout was racked to secondary after a week on the yeast.  The English batch dropped all the way down to 1.019, which was 80% attentuation from the 1.090 OG, while the London didn’t perform as strongly, remaining at 1.031.