31 March 2013

posted by benjy edwards

The double IPA, our clone of Boneyard’s Hop Venom, has been in the primary for two weeks now, ten days of which was on a dry-hop of Cascade and Simcoe.  Time to keg!  I put in 1.5 ounces of Cascade and 2 ounces of Simcoe in each keg yesterday, and purged them with co2.  Today the gravity on both fermenters was down to 1.010, which is fantastic attenuation for a double IPA with an original gravity of 1.080.  That is 87.5% apparent attenuation for the English Ale yeast.  People complain that it doesn’t attenuate well, but in my experience that is not true.  If you pitch an adequate amount and keep it at the right temperate, taking care to increase the temp as the yeast activity slows, it will ferment very well indeed.

Anyway, that makes this beer 9.2% ABV right now, and with a couple point drop while it conditions in the keg, it will end up at 9.5% ABV.  Boneyard’s beer is listed as 10%, so pretty close.  The aroma out of the primary was amazing, and it tasted great as well.  The colour has a very nice orange hue, perhaps a bit darker than the Boneyard, but I will have to do a side-by-side comparison to make sure.  I have high hopes for this batch.

23 March 2013

posted by benjy edwards

We’re not brewing today, but the batches brewed last weekend need some care and feeding.  The Hop Venom clone was dry-hopped in the primary after four days of fermentation, so on Wednesday night I added two ounces of Simcoe and an ounce of Cascade to each fermenter.  These were whole hops.  I’ll leave the beer to sit on those hops for ten days, so next weekend this beer will be kegged and dry-hopped further.

The Boathouse IPA brewed from the same mash was dry-hopped and kegged today.  The low mash temperature created a very fermentable wort, as I discovered when taking the specific gravity.  The two fermenters differed by a point, at 1.008 and 1.009.  Given a couple of point drop in the keg, these should turn out around 6.2% and 6.3% ABV, which is in IPA territory for strength.  We had some extra wort after kegging, which went into a growler.  At one week old, the beer is surprisingly smooth and not as bitter as I was expecting, given that it is a calculated 167 IBU, with about 2.5 pounds of hops added during the boil!  I dry-hopped each keg with one ounce of homegrown Cascade and 1.5 ounces of commercial Chinook.

I saved the yeast from one of the IPA fermenters and used it to make 5 gallons of cider.  I put in four gallons of apple juice and supplemented that with about three quarters of a gallon of freshly juiced Fuji apples.  The yeast was very active, and managed to foam up through the airlock even with considerable headspace in the carboy.

16 March 2013

posted by benjy edwards

Today is the last brew with this pitch of WLP002 yeast, so it’s time for some big beers.  The recipes are Boathouse IPA hopped with the Oregon City hops grown by our friend Brian, and a new double IPA recipe based on Hop Venom from Boneyard Brewing in Bend, Oregon.  We brewed a massively hopped IPA last year with Brian’s hops and it turned out extremely well, so with this year’s crop of even more hops, we can go all out again, using a total of 36 ounces of hops in the boil.  That is 2.25 pounds of hops in a ten gallon batch, which works out to a hopping rate of 6.75 pounds per barrel!  That’s not including the 6.5 ounces of hops added to the mash.

The madness began with the Hop Venom.  66 pounds of malt were mashed at around 148F for an hour.  The grist was an entire bag of Briess two-row, along with Maris Otter and crystal 40, plus the 6.5 ounces of homegrown Galena alluded to above.  The first runnings went to the Hop Venom clone, with only a small fraction of sparge liquor added to the kettle to reach a pre-boil gravity of 1.065.  Bittering hops were Summit and Centennial pellets, with flavour and aroma additions of Centennial, Simcoe, and Cascade.  I also added Cascade and Simcoe at flameout, and extended the steep to 30 minutes, as recommended in a recent Brew Your Own magazine article.  The hops left in the kettle after racking smelled fantastic.  I also added a pound and a half of corn sugar with a few minutes left in the boil, to not only boost the gravity but to keep the finished beer dry.   Original gravity was 1.080, a couple of points shy of the target.

After the Hop Venom wort was collected, the mash was sparged to collect the Boathouse IPA wort.  I first-wort-hopped this beer with 8 ounces of Galena, and knowing that I could not fill the kettle to the usual level with hops already in there, I saved some wort to add back to the boil after the volume had reduced enough.  I’ve always found hops early in the boil to actually encourage boil-overs, whereas a lot of commercial brewers think it prevents them.  Again I had trouble with boilovers, and I removed the first wort hops before I added the bittering addition at 60 minutes, because I knew the total hop load in this beer would cause problems.  Judging from the much lower than expected starting gravity (1.054 instead of 1.066), I think I must have added back too much wort, which diluted it.  Despite putting in over 2 pounds of hops during the boil, we ended up with six gallons in each fermenter, which is the usual amount.  The extra pound or so of hops would have absorbed more than the usual volume of wort, so to hit my target gravity I should have added less wort and yielded a lower volume.

Brewing two such hoppy beers makes for a long brew day, about an hour over our usual double batch time.  The main reason is because weighing out and adding so much hops cuts down on the time I have to do other things during the boil, like cleaning equipment and prepping for the chill.  In the end though, things went pretty well, with the only snag being the low OG of the IPA.  I think I’ll have to consider it a pale ale, since it will be about 6% ABV.  A ridiculously hoppy one, of course!  Beyond the Galena FWH and bittering, the hops were Chinook and Cascade for flavour and aroma.  This beer received steep hops too, but the wort only stood for about 15 minutes before commencing the chill.

The milk stout and hoppy brown ale brewed a week ago were kegged today.  No dry hops for the stout of course, but I did dry hop the brown ale with two ounces of Cascade per keg.  Racking gravity on the stout was 1.020, while the brown reached 1.013.  Both tasted very good right out of primary.

All told, including the hops used in today’s batches and the dry hops for the brown ale, we used almost four pounds of hops.  I think most brewers would agree that that is on the high side.

9 March 2013

posted by benjy edwards

Today is another double batch day, but this time we’re brewing two dark beers, Boathouse Milk Stout and a second batch of the hoppy brown ale, dubbed Simma’ Down Brown.  The grists are not the same for a brown ale and a sweet stout, of course, so we just mashed the Maris Otter, Special B, and aromatic malt for the brown ale, then once the wort was collected for it, I capped the mash with the dark malts needed for the stout.  These included chocolate, black, and 85L English crystal.  This method works very well to get two beers of differing colours from the same mash.  Gordon Strong, a renowned homebrewer, popularized the concept of adding the dark roasted malts after the mash.  His reasoning for doing so is that the dark grains drive the mash pH down, and rather than adjusting the mash liquor pH by adding salts to compensate, just add the dark grains after the mash is complete.

Speaking of the mash pH, with just the Special B and aromatic along with Maris Otter, the pH was 5.2; perfect.  Only a bit of sodium chloride (table salt) and calcium chloride was added to the mash.  Sparge liquor was 5.57 with 2 ml lactic acid in 25 gallons.  After an hour mash, the brown ale wort was collected at a pre-boil gravity of 1.036.  At 15 minutes left in the boil I added 1.3 pounds of corn sugar for extra gravity, and with 5 minutes left half a pound of dark treacle went in.  The starting gravity was 1.049, just a bit higher than target.  Hops in the brown were Northern Brewer and Willamette for bittering, and Cascade for flavour and aroma late in the boil.  This beer will be dry-hopped with Cascade as well.

While the brown ale was reaching the boil, the mash was capped as I mentioned above, then run off to the second kettle.  Colour was good, the dark grains making the wort considerably darker than the brown ale.  This beer has a wonderful aroma while it is boiling.  Hops are a single addition of Northern Brewer and Willamette at 60 minutes left in the boil.  I also added half a pound of treacle with 5 minutes left, but the main sugar addition is of course lactose, which characterises the milk stout style.  2.3 pounds of lactose was added with 15 minutes remaining.  The target gravity for the stout was .1057, which we hit spot on.  The brown ale was chilled after a short steep of the knockout Cascade addition, and the stout cooled following that.  Both beers were pitched with the full yeast culture from the previous batches.

The Boathouse pale ale and the Golden Arrow clone were racked to corny kegs and dry-hopped.  The pale ale was hopped with Chinook and Centennial, while the Golden Arrow has Styrian Goldings.  Gravities on the two were 1.013 and 1.009 respectively.  The pale ale will end up at 6% while the Golden Arrow is 3.3%.  Sampling the Golden Arrow from the fermenter showed that it was a bit lighter in body than the usual stronger version, but not very significantly so.  Next week is the planned double IPA and IPA from a big mash in the 26 gallon kettle.  That will be the last brew session with this yeast pitch.


2 March 2013

posted by benjy edwards

Today is the second double batch with this pitch of yeast.  Again brewing two ales from the same mash, but this time I chose to split the wort unevenly, so as to create worts of different specific gravity.  I knew that to get an OG of 1.048 for an American pale ale, I should have a pre-boil gravity of 1.040, but I thought I might get a higher mash efficiency than the spreadsheet calculated, so I opted to runoff more wort and less hot liquor into the first kettle.  Unfortunately, I overdid it rather badly, ending up with a pre-boil gravity of 1.046, and an OG post-boil of 1.057.  The effect on the other wort, a cask session bitter (clone of Golden Arrow, one of our favourites), was that I got a starting gravity of 1.032 instead of the 1.040 target.

The grist was Maris Otter and 6% English amber malt, which I chose to experiment with in place of crystal.  I hopped the American pale ale with Willamette for bittering, and additions of Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook at 20 minutes and 10 minutes remaining, then a final charge of Chinook at flameout.  I kept the hopping rate for the Golden Arrow at the usual for a 1.040 OG beer, but since the actual OG was 1.032 it will be relatively more bitter than previous batches.  I expect to notice a difference in the body and flavour as compared to previous batches, but to what extent remains to be seen.  I think differences of less than 5 gravity points are not discernible, but 8 points is a lot, especially at this low end of the scale.

Other than that mishap, the brew day went very well.  Wort clarity was excellent, and despite a brief scare with a slow runoff through the chiller for the APA, it freed up and racked ok.  With no pellets in that batch, the reason for the brief slowdown is a mystery.  I did use some pellets in the Golden Arrow, but added most of them at the end of the boil, and the percentage to whole hops was less than one-third.

When gathering the hops needed for the two recipes, I noticed that we are very low on Fuggle and Cascade, so a couple of pounds of each of those are ordered.  The two batches from last week were kegged up, dry-hopping the Hophead with Cascade and the Boathouse Bitter with Belma.  Racking gravities were low, both at 1.010.  Next week the plan is to brew a couple of dark beers from a single mash, either the hoppy brown ale or an old ale, combined with a milk stout.