16 March 2012

posted by benjy edwards

We have a couple of corny kegs free now, so time to keg up the latest batch of Boathouse IPA.  The fermenters were dry-hopped a week ago after four days of fermentation, and the beer smelled great in there. One fermenter was hopped with two ounces each of Amarillo and Simcoe, while the other got two ounces each of Columbus and Citra.

Continuing the different dry-hop treatment, the half dry-hopped with Columbus and Citra got more of the same, while the Amarillo and Simcoe batch got more Amarillo in the keg, along with an equal amount of Citra.  The last of the Simcoe hops we have are being saved for dry-hopping the Simcoe IPA.  Both fermenters had dropped down to 1.014 from 1.066, so this will be 7%.  Flavour and aroma on both were excellent, with a bit more hop character coming from the Columbus/Citra batch.

Speaking of the Simcoe IPA, we also dry-hopped that in the primary with two ounces of Simcoe.  We have a couple of ounces left for keg dry-hopping next week.  Once another corny keg is free, we can keg that.

10 March 2012

posted by benjy edwards

So I thought I was finished using this yeast culture, but on Thursday it occurred to me that I should have some Simcoe IPA on tap for an upcoming visit by our friends Scott and Jenny next month, and I happen to have enough 2011 Simcoe left for a 5 gallon batch.  I got a large mesh grain bag from the local brew shop and tried my hand at our first brew-in-a-bag batch on Saturday night, after the boys went to bed.

14.5 pounds of Maris Otter, Vienna, carapils and wheat went into the bag in the ten gallon kettle at 153 degrees F.  After an hour rest, I simply lifted the bag up and allowed it to drain for about 15 minutes while the wort heated up to the boil.  The boil was kept to 60 minutes, with Columbus hops for bittering once the wort reached the boil, with additions of Simcoe at 30, 15, 5, and 0 minutes.  As soon as the boil finished, I chilled the wort with an immersion chiller, which worked surprisingly quickly, achieving 75F in about 10 minutes.  I agitated the chiller the entire time and speed up the process and to encourage the late hops to contribute aroma.  So far, the BIAB process had worked great.

The only snag came when trying to separate the wort from the huge hop mass.  Siphoning via gravity with a Surescreen on the racking cane did not work, so the plan B I had as my backup was to pour the wort into the fermenter using a large funnel and screen.  This worked, but the copious hops had to be removed from the funnel constantly, and resulted in the loss of at least half a gallon of wort absorbed by all of the hops.  The original gravity target of 1.068 was reached, but with only 4.5 gallons making it to the primary.  The yeast was repitched from last week’s Boathouse Bitter.

The Bitter was racked into a corny keg and the 5 gallon cask, with 3 ounces of Willamette dry-hopped in the cask, and 3 ounces of Fuggle dry-hop in the corny keg.  The gravity was down to 1.008, which from the OG of 1.030 should make it 3% ABV. Next weekend I will probably tap the pin without the use of the breather, making sure to drink it within 3 or 4 days.

Overall, brew-in-the bag worked pretty well, and saves about an hour and a half from an all-grain brew day.  Using the boil kettle with the ball valve would allow for easier wort runoff, but the problem there is putting the grain in the bag in the kettle on top of the bazooka screen for the hops would deform or destroy the screen.  A better alternative would be to use the mash tun with its false bottom as the hop filter, and the grain could sit right on the false bottom.  This would also enable raising the temperature to mash-out, with no risk of melting the grain bag from the heat of the burner on the bottom of the kettle.

3 March 2012

posted by benjy edwards

Today is the last brew day before a break.  The yeast has been repitched three times so far, with this being the fourth.  It could get repitched at least once more, but I have already made five batches, with today being batches six and seven, so that’s plenty of beer.  In fact, we’re running short on corny kegs to package the beer.

The beers today are Boathouse IPA and an ordinary bitter from the second runnings.  The mash tun was maxed out again, at over 39 pounds of malt, comprising domestic two-row from Great Western, some kiln amber, carapils, and Vienna.  There was no space in the mash tun for any hops, but six ounces of the Galena from Brian in Portland went into the kettle as a first wort hop.  Those were strained out at 60 minutes, with the first bittering charge of Galena added.  Chinook and Cascade were added at 45, 30, 15, and 5 minutes, with Chinook at flameout and steeped for 10 minutes before beginning the chill.  Overall, almost 2.5 pounds of hops went into the IPA.  Original gravity was 1.066, one point higher than target.  I was pleased that I hit that gravity, as it can be tricky using the refractometer while collecting the wort to estimate what the OG will be after the boil.  The OG of the bitter turned out to be 1.030, which is good for a light session ale.  It should clock in at 2.8% ABV.  Hopped with Admiral for bittering and Willamette for flavour and aroma, it should be about 45 IBU.

Friday night I sanitized four kegs, dry-hopping a pair of them with Cascade for the hoppy brown ale.  The old ale was racked into the non-hopped kegs on Saturday, and the Boathouse brown was racked onto the dry-hop.  Gravities were a touch higher than expected, the brown ale at 1.016 and the old ale down to 1.014.  Next week I will rack one fermenter of the bitter to a corny keg, with the other one going into the pin, our five gallon cask.  At 2.8% ABV, the pin can be served without the cask breather, since it will go within three or four days.  The plan is to dry hop the IPA in the fermenter after fermentation subsides, then after a week on those hops, rack to kegs with a second dry hop.  That schedule worked very well for the Double IPA brewed on New Year’s Day.

This was the third double batch day using the new 26 gallon HLT, and it proceeded without a hitch.  I think the process is as it should be, and the total time of the brew day has always been less than an hour longer than a single batch.