Monday, January 14, 2008

Second Brew: Belgian Tripel

On our second brew we made several changes from our first;
  • We wanted to do a full-wort boil to see if the pot could hold it
  • We took an original gravity reading
  • We are going to use a heater for the primary fermentation period
  • We plan to rack to a secondary fermenter
On the full-wort boil, I neglected to factor in the volume that the extract would add to the wort, so our 8 gallon brew pot was filled to 6.75 gallons and when we added the bittering hops it boiled over. We didn't lose too much since I expected it to foam up and was ready to cut the heat.

Because of the excess volume and the boilover, I was especially keen to determine the original gravity, thinking that we could boil off the excess (since I didn't know how much was in the pot for sure, and I didn't want to overfill the fermenter) I forgot that original gravity should be read at 60 degrees (f) and our reading was ~1.058 which was 0.015 too low. The problem was, I had already added the aroma hops. So we boiled for another 15 minutes or so until I realized that my reading was worthless since the reading was taken using wort at ~180 degrees (f) and we stopped the boil. We cooled the wort with Brad's new 25 ft chiller, and took another reading, this time it came to 1.078, and moved the wort to the fermenter and pitched the yeast. We ended up having to add 1.5 quarts of water.

I neglected to take another OG reading after adding the water, but we can figure it out approximately based on the water added.

Lessons learned: Include all components when determining how much water to use;
Mark off a spoon so you can to know how much wort is the the pot,
Don't add the aroma hops until you are SURE that you are done boiling.
Take your gravity reading after adding water to the fermenter.

Specialty Grains

* 0.5 lbs. Dingemans Caramel Pils


* 9.15 lbs. Gold Malt Syrup
* 1 lbs. Clear Belgian Candi Sugar

Boil Additions

* 1 oz. Styrian Aurora (60 min) - reduced to ~3/4 oz since we did a full wort boil.
* 1 oz. Saaz (15 min) - It should have been 1 min but...

In addition to the above changes, we also needed to heat the fermenter due to the low night temperatures here in San Diego right now. I purchased a Kenwood oil-filled radiant heater at Home Depot for $26.00 and we are using a remote temperature sensor placed next to the carboy (similar this one from Oregon Scientific) to keep tabs on it. 2 days in and it seems to be working well, the temperature stays between 71 and 72 degrees (f) even though the nighttime temps in Brad's garage are probably down to 55. The carboy sits under the stairs and we used some blankets to section it off from the rest of the garage and to retain the heat in that space.

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