28 May 2016

posted by benjy edwards

After giving the Bo Pils two weeks in primary, it is time to re-use the yeast.  I really liked the India Pale Lager we made the last time we used lager yeast, so this is the same recipe, with virtually no changes.  The mash is a mixture of pilsner, two-row, and a bit of Maris Otter to make up the gravity since we didn’t have enough pilsner malt, plus Munich and carapils.  The target OG is 1.060, and actual gravity ended up at 1.057.  The mash was a single infusion at 1.048 for good wort fermentability, and the rest was for 30 minutes.

Hops for this IPL are Cashmere for bittering and a combination of Citra and Centennial late in the boil.  Unusually, we didn’t go crazy with the amounts of hops, targeting a rather sedate 65 IBU.  The brew session went very smoothly, and despite some concerns about racking the Bo Pils from the Speidel, a novel task with the new fermenter, that went well too.  Since the beer is all in one vessel, the only trick is to fill the first keg to the top and switch it to the next keg at the right time.  The Bo Pils was quite nice out of the fermenter, though quite cloudy.  However, that is to be expected with lager yeast, and should clear during the long lagering period.

The next batch will likely be the final lager, not sure quite what.  Perhaps another IPL, or could be an amber lager such as Oktoberfest.

14 May 2016

posted by benjy edwards

It has only been a couple of weeks since we used the English ale yeast for the final time, but recently I have gotten the urge to brew another Bohemian pilsner.  We already had a packet of the Bohemian lager dry yeast from Mangrove Jack’s and almost 20 pounds of Best Heidelberg malt, so we ordered a pound of Saaz and got another dry yeast, the Saflager S-23 from Fermentis.  I only ordered the hops on Wednesday, so the plan was to use Sonnet Goldings we already had, but the Saaz happened to arrive early on Saturday, in time to brew with them.

The grist was the Best malt supplement with a few pounds of Great Western pilsner malt, plus 3/4 of a pound of melanoidin.  Target mash temp is 152F, but it was 153F for most of the half hour mash rest.  Hops are Sovereign and Belma for bittering, with charges of Saaz at 20, 10, 5, and 0 minutes left in the boil.

Since our usual fermentation fridge is unable to maintain lagering temps, the plan is to use the new Speidel 60 litre plastic fermenter, which fits inside (just!) the newer, side-by-side fridge for primary fermentation in the low 50s and then also lager it in the low 30s.  I have not yet decided if we will lager it in the Speidel or rack to corny kegs for that period.  It may depend on whether we have kegs available after primary fermentation is complete, because we kegged the Pliny clone today using our last two empty kegs!

While on the topic, during the vorlauf of the pilsner, we racked the Pliny clone off the first dry hop and into the kegs with a second dry hop of Centennial, Simcoe, and Cascade (the latter substituting for Columbus, which we do not have).  The gravity was down to 1.015, so this should end up at about 7.5% ABV.  Clarity was very good, perhaps down to a combination of an extra week in primary plus the dry hops acting as a filter.

After that, we filled the boil kettle and took our pre-boil gravity, which was several points higher than expected.  This was somewhat alleviated by adding more liquor to the boil after the volume had been reduced by evaporation.  The OG ended up at 1.053, still a bit higher than our target of 1.048, but which will yield an expected ABV in the 5.0% to 5.5% range, typical of a Bo Pils.

After the boil and a short steeping period, it was time to chill and rack to the Speidel.  This involved wheeling the brewing structure over to the fridge and instead of using our tee line from the chiller to the two carboys, one longer line into the top of the Speidel.  This worked fine except when one of Colin’s friends pulled on the cooling water hose, which moved the chiller and caused the output line to fall out of the Speidel, with a minor loss of wort and a quick re-sanitizing of the tube with spray alcohol.

Once the kettle was empty, the 60 litre fermenter was 2/3 full, so we had about 40 litres, or 10.5 gallons.  The dry yeast was prepared by hydrating in a small about of boiled water cooled to 73F and put on a stir plate for half an hour, and pitched after oxygenating for 4 minutes at half a litre of O2 per minute flow rate.

The wort was around 74F when racked, so the temperature controller was set to cool it down to 52F, which took about 10 hours.  All that remains now is to see when fermentation begins.

4 May 2016

posted by benjy edwards

No, this is not an extra mid-week brew day, but rather an update to the Pliny the Elder batch.  It is time to dry hop in the primary, so we added .75 ounces of Centennial, .75 ounces of Columbus, and 1 oz. of Simcoe to each fermenter.  This beer was so active in fermenting that we collected at least half a gallon of blowoff during the first couple of days.  The airlocks are back on now, but there was quite a bit of yeast and wort in the blowoff bucket.  We will let the hops sit on the wort for ten days, and then keg with a second dry hop next weekend.