Friday, February 8, 2008

4th Brew: All-grain American Ale

On Monday night (Feb 4th) we completed our first all-grain brew. It is the same basic recipe as our first extract brew:

11lbs 2-row
8oz - Caramel 60L
1 oz Cascade Hops @60 min
1/3 oz Cascade Hops @15 min
1/3 oz Cascade Hops @10 min
1/3 oz Cascade Hops @5 min
1/3 oz Cascade Hops @0 min
California Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP001)
4 oz of Rice hulls to aid in sparging

The entire process took 6 hours, as follows:
  • 4pm-5:30pm Setup - I sanitized everything with a mild bleach solution and rinsed, set up the brewery, and measured 3 gallons into the Mash Keg and 5 gallons into the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT)., This was our first time working with our new brewery, in the future it should only take ~30 minutes
  • 5:30~6:15pm - Mash in and 20 minute rest @153 degrees(f). Our temperature drop was about 13 degrees(f), and we only expected a 10degree drop so we had to apply heat to bring the mash back up to temperature.
  • 6:15 ~ 6:30pm - Recirculate, we added 1/2 gallon since it was kind of a thick mash. It took 1 gallon for the run-off to clear.
  • 6:30 ~ 7:30pm - Sparge using 4.5 gallons at 170 degrees (f). Since the mash keg was a little low, we had to do the last gallon by draining to a 1 qt measuring cup, then pouring through a filter into the brew kettle.
  • 7:30 ~ 7:45pm - Finish Sparge, and move Brew Keg to the burner.
  • 7:45 ~ 8:45pm - Boil the Wort. We added 1 oz of hops, boiled for 50 minutes, added 1/2 oz hops, boiled for 5 minutes, inserted the Wort Chiller, boiled for 5 minutes, added 1/2 oz hops, and started chilling
  • 9:00 ~ 9:30pm - Chill the wort and sanitize the fermenter and shiphon equipment.
  • 9:30 ~ 9:45pm - Siphon the wort into the Fermenter and pitch the yeast starter.
  • 9:45 ~ 10:45pm - Cleanup.
Our Original Gravity reading was 1.056, our yield was 4.5 gallons (partially because we used whole hops since that is all that is left for Cascade). Our efficiency was ~65% which was not very good.

Changes I will make for next time:

  1. Use 5.5 gallons of Sparge Water
  2. Wrap the mash keg (a few inches above the bottom) in Reflextix or some other durable insulation so it can hold temperature longer without external heat.
  3. Use Irish Moss - This should help during fermentation.
  4. Do a step mash, This should help increase our efficiency, and hopefully give us beer that isn't quite as sweet. We can also do an iodine test on the mash liquid to see if the starches have converted.
  • Protein Rest: 122 degrees (f) for 30 min, this will break up the proteins
  • Beta Rest: 150 degrees (f) for 20 min, this will allow most of the dextrins to convert to fermentable sugars.
  • Alpha Rest: 158 degrees (f) for 15 min, this will complete the mash.
As I write this, the fermenter is bubbling away downstairs, the krausen (the foam on top of the beer) has not cleared yet, so I need to wait another couple days before I rack it to the secondary fermenter.

Update:I have brewed this same basic recipe 3 more times, trying to find a better blend of hops and sweetness, with my last effort yielding the best results.

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