(19) Sunday, July 4, 2010 Brew Day

Today I am going to make a recipe from Fred Bonjour, of the AHA Governing Committee, that he posted in a thread asking, “Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?”

I weighed and crushed my grains and set up the brewery last night. First thing I need to do today is start heating the strike water.

8:43 — Strike water is heating.

The taste of Simpson’s Golden Promise is not initially sweet, but has a nice malt flavor with a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Weyermann® Light Munich has a nuttier, grainier flavor.

Castle Aromatic is much harder with an earthy flavor.

Flaked Barley is relatively tasteless. Simple flakes of starch.

Briess Caramel 20L tastes vaguely sweet.

Briess Caramel 60L tastes of darker sugars and dried fruit. Beginning to taste slightly burnt.

I got myself a stainless steel dipper. Filled to the brim it holds a quart. It has some markings, but they appear to be in random locations.

9:22 — Mashing. I believe it is 150–152°F. I took a pH reading with some litmus papers and it looks to be about 5.0. Lower than I expected. I will not make any adjustment. I will be back out later to start the sparge water heating.

Update: It could be that “pH papers are made to be used on room temperature samples.”

The hops are supposed to be:

Amount Description IBU
2.00 oz Amarillo (leaf) [9.4 %] (60 min) 72.2 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.5 %] (15 min) 6.3
1.00 oz Cascade [5.5 %] (1 min) 3.9

My Amarillo are pellets, but I use a bag and I understand the gain from the pellets over the leaf and the loss from the bag over loose cancel out. They are also 8.2% alpha acid, but the recipe makes it look like the 2 ounces was the target.

My Cascade are 4.0% AA.

10:29 — Finished infusion and vorlauf and now I am lautering. Mash is not terribly clear. Tastes sweet, but not as sweet as some I have had. The temperature dropped about 5 °F during the mash. I need to learn how to do a starch test. First runnings are 19.2 Brix (1.077 SG). Only got 2.75 gallons from the mash. I expected 3.36 gallons.

10:41 — Sparging. With second runnings the batch comes to 5.75 gallons. Expected 6.71. Almost a gallon short. Second runnings are 6.8 Brix (1.027). Vaguely sweet. Combined gravity is 12.0 Brix (1.047 SG). Should be 12.7 (1.048). Sparging more to make the boil volume would only reduce the boil gravity, so I am going to go with what I have.

10:58 — Heating to boil.

Cleaning mash tun. I scooped out the spent grain into a bowl and stuck it in the fridge so it does not spoil. Gretchen plans to make a spent grain bread.

11:23 — Boiling.

11:25 — Bittering hops are in.

12:10 — Flavor hops are in, as is the immersion chiller so it has time to sanitize.

12:24 — Aroma hops are in.

12:25 — Flame out and chilling.

1:05 — I have given up on chilling. By the way, it helps to turn on the water at the tap. I cannot get the wort below 80 °F. The ground water appears to be about 75 °F. I could be fighting the air temperature and the sun on the garden hose. I am transferring to the carboy and I will chill it further in the refrigerator. Original gravity is 14.5 Brix (1.057 SG). Target was 1.048.

I see now that when I was deciding whether to sparge more I looked at the original gravity, not the boil gravity. The boil gravity should have been 1.041. Since I do not know the volume, I cannot calculate the amount of water to add to fix it. My record stands unbroken!

5:00 — The wort has chilled to about 69 °F, I am going to call it. Pitched the yeast. I rehydrated it in a zip lock bag — something John Palmer recommended in a recent podcast. It worked well and the baggie smelled of peaches when I opened it. The carboy is sitting in the coldest corner of the basement — about 61 °F — with an airlock attached. Everything is cleaned and drying on the porch. The animals are fed and now it is time to grill some pork chops for dinner.

Happy 4th of July everybody!

Update — It is 5:44 a.m. on Tuesday (7/6). Beer is fermenting actively. Temperature is 72 °F. This one could be fruity!

Update — It is Wednesday (7/7). Beer temperature is 75 °F. This is going to be rocket fuel. =(

Update — It is Saturday (7/24). Beer temperature is 74 °F. Bottling with 4 ounces of corn sugar. There is just about 4 gallons of beer. Surprisingly, it does not taste awful. Final gravity is 6.8 Brix (1.008 FG).That seems kind of low, but maybe the insane fermentation temperatures helped it along. That works out to 6.6% ABV and 187 Calories.

Update — It is Saturday (7/31). I put one bottle in the refrigerator yesterday to check the carbonation progress. I just sampled it. It is carbonated. It pours a hazy, turbulent cascade of bubbles with a thick creamy head. It is light copper in color. It has a nice balanced aroma with a mix of citrus hops and beery malt. It is smooth on the tongue with a chewy mouthfeel. Flavor is balanced, as well, with a lasting bitter aftertaste. No sign of any of the off flavors or aromas I expected. Based on how much I messed up this batch, I am surprised it is even drinkable. Now I wonder if I ever try again and get it right, whether I will be disappointed that it does not taste like this one.

If there is anything to learn from this, it is that no matter what you do, you will make beer. It may not be what you were planning, but it will be beer. Relax. Don’t worry. Have a home brew.

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