I was going to brew another batch of CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA today. I was going to use the yeast I harvested from my last batch. I made a starter with some of it earlier this week. When I could see stuff starting to grow in the jug, it was the wrong color. It was black. After a few days a nice layer of yeast started to develop, as well, but I was fairly certain it was contaminated. I wasn’t worried, though, as I had some S-04 for emergency use. This morning I decided to sample the starter beer. It was not bad. It was extremely dry, so I’m guessing that whatever the other inhabitant of the flask is, it is much better at converting sugars than the yeast is. It was an interesting flavor and might make a quite refreshing drink, but it was not beer. I decided to go ahead and use the dry yeast.
Then this morning, while I was gathering my brewing gear and ingredients, I wondered whether the strange taste and behavior of the starter was because I accidentally used the Wheat DME from the recipe rather than Plain Light DME. They both came in one-pound bags. They both look roughly the same. I madly searched through my stuff and found the half-used bag of DME. Luckily it was the right stuff. Unfortunately, I could not find the Wheat DME. I searched back through my receipts until I found the correct sheet, only to find that I had forgotten to order any in the first place. So, lacking one of the major fermentables, I will not be brewing what I planned today.
Fortunately, I am getting smart in my old age, or maybe just humble and recognizing that I am an idiot but with proper planning I can account for it. It turns out that I had two sets of ingredients in the brew queue, so today I will be doing a partial mash version of the McQuaker’s Oatmeal Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles.
I’m going to do this live-blog style, so look for updates throughout the day.
10:00 a.m. — Preheating oven to 300 °F so I can toast my oats.
10:04 a.m. — 1 pound flaked oats into oven on a sheet pan.
10:09 a.m. — Weighing grains. 8 ounces of Whole Roasted Barley (smells amazing, tastes a bit like coffee grounds). 2 pounds American two-row (smells grainy and tastes like a slightly sweet breakfast cereal). 8 ounces Crystal 80L (smells lightly malty, tastes grainy ands slightly sweet). 12 ounces of Victory Malt (smells lightly malty, tastes like popcorn husks). 12 ounces Chocolate Malt (smells nutty, tastes quite bitter like burnt coffee).
10:18 a.m. — Stirred oats in oven.
10:27 a.m. — Removed oats from oven.
10:36 a.m. — Added toasted oats to crushed grains.
10:42 a.m. — Heating 8.25 quarts of water to 165 °F.
10:56 a.m. — Immersing grain bag in mash liquor and stirring. Mash temperature is 154 °F.
11:28 a.m. — Mash temperature dropped to 150 °F. Heating to 155 °F. Off to set up the brewery.
11:52 a.m. — Heating another two gallons of water to 165 °F.
11:58 a.m. — Lifted the grain bag out of the first pot and let it drain for a minute before transferring it to the other and remixing.
12:08 p.m. — Removed grain bag and let drain and then discarded the grain on the compost pile. Added the wort from the first pot. Measured out 5 pounds 6.4 ounces of Marris Otter LME and added it to the pot and stirred to dissolve. Resulting in 3.75 gallons in my brew pot.
12:35 p.m. — Added 3.25 gallons to get to 7 gallons.
12:50 p.m. — Pre-boil gravity is 1.047 (11.6 °P). Started heating towards the boil. Gas on high.
1:00 p.m. — It‘s one o‘clock and it’s time for lunch. Tum te tum te tum.
1:18 p.m. — Measured out 1.8 ounces of English Kent Goldings (%AA unknown). Starting to re-hydrate dry yeast.
1:28 p.m. — Boiled (and now cooling) 0.5 cups water to use to rehydrate yeast.
1:34 p.m. — Wort is boiling. Added hops and started a 60 minute timer. Reduced gas to medium.
2:07 p.m. — Added dry yeast to the now cool water.
2:15 p.m. — 20 minutes remaining. Added wort chiller to kettle to sterilize.
2:20 p.m. — 15 minutes remaining. Added whirlfloc tablet.
2:25 p.m. — 10 minutes remaining. Added 0.5 teaspoons yeast nutrient.
2:35 p.m. — Flame out… and we’re chillin’.
2:49 p.m. — Chilled to 68 °F. Removed chiller, stir to whirlpool, and lid on.
3:09 p.m. — Transferring to fermenter.
3:45 p.m. — Transfered to fermenter. OG is 1.056 (13.7 °P). Shaking to aerate.
3:55 p.m. — Pitching yeast.
4:15 p.m. — Fermenter moved to fermentation chiller and blowoff tube attached. Temperature controller set at 67±1 °F. Time to clean up.
Update: 15 hours later — 7:00 a.m. the next morning — and we have active yeast.
Update: 2 weeks later — March 21 at 9:51 a.m. — Final gravity is 7.5 °P. With an OG of 1.056, that gives an FG of 1.013 (5.7% ABV, 233 calories per pint). Predicted FG was 1.016. Beer is ready to prime and package. Priming with 4.3 ounces of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water. This batch filled 44 pint bottles (5.5 gallons).
Update: 4 weeks later — April 5 at 2:34 p.m. — I’ve actually been sampling this for a few days now and it is definitely done. Very dark. Black (opaque). Thick, brown, long-lasting head. Very malty aroma smelling faintly of coffee ice cream. Very smooth. Very clean tasting. Most of the specialty malts are just noticeable as hints of flavors. Hints of coffee and chocolate. Slight bitterness. I will definitely enjoy this and make it again.