Sunday, March 30, 2008

Brew 6- Big Brew

I am exhausted. Yesterday I completed my most ambitious brew to date: I finished 4 different ales in one night.

After tasting our basic Pale Ale as an all-grain, I am still not that happy with the flavor profile. It is better, and I do like it, but it is too flowery and although not as sweet as our extract brew, still a bit too sweet. I was wondering what the following would do:
  • Change the boil times of the flavor/aroma hops
  • Use a different flavor/aroma hop
  • Use a different yeast
The problem is that I don't have enough faith in my brewing technique to compare brews done 2 months apart, if I mash in at a different temperature, mess something up etc., the taste difference could be a combination of factors. I wanted to isolate the above areas and focus on them.

So, I decide to do 4 brews at once. This is where having a large mash/sparge tun really pays off. I beefed up the malt bill to 8.5 gallons of yield, brewed it all up into 11.5 gallons of wort, then split the wort into 1 kettle of 7.5 gallons, and 1 of 4 gallons and started the boil.

10 minutes into the boil, one of my propane tanks ran out! I got another tank and proceeded with the boil, with one kettle 20 minutes behind the other in total boil time. For both batches, I used Cascade as the bittering hop, 1.25 ounces for the large batch, .75 for the small one. After that..

Large BatchSmall Batch
20 Min remaining.5 oz of Cascade.4 oz of Fuggle
10 Min Remaining.5 oz of Cascade.3 oz of Fuggle
0 Min .2 oz of Fuggle

Both batches have 34 units of bitterness, within the range of an American Ale, and they are both more bitter than our last recipe which should offset the sweetness. Both had an original gravity of 1.060, the upper limit of an American Ale.

For the large batch, I fermented with a California Ale yeast from a starter 5 hours old (it had just started bubbling) in a 6.5 gal carboy.

The small batch was split 3 ways:
1 Gal of liquid London Ale Yeast
1 Gal of Safeale US-56 Dry Yeast, hydrated 2 hours before pitching
1 Gal of Coopers Dry Ale Yeast, hydrated 2 hours before pitching

I would really like to have tried some other ale yeasts too, but the bill was getting higher and higher, so I decided to economize.

I squeezed the fermenting ale into my warm-box, next to the conditioning porter, and went to bed at 1am. It was exhausting but I really, really had a good time. I was so busy that I didn't even sit down except for about 15 minutes during the mash rest.

Within 8 hours of pitching the dry yeast was bubbling, and within 12 hours the liquid was also bubbling. In about 5 days I will rack them all to secondary, and by this time next month I should be able to compare the results!


Andrew Campbell said...

Eric: when you started with 'finished four ales in an evening,' my first thought was that I would be unconscious and under the table. Then I realised you were brewing not tasting.

Any favorites from this month's BOTM selection? I was pleasantly surprised by the Penn Dark Lager -- the two Lake Placid's were okay, but I have to think that I just don't like wheat beers. I can't remember the last one I enjoyed.


Eric said...

Alas my BOTM membership was only for 2 months and at $20/month I guess I would rather purchase the ingredients to make my own!

I remember I used to like wheat beer with italian food, but I also haven't had one I like lately. I have an extract kit from NorthernBrewer for an American Wheat Ale that I will probably brew up late this month. I will keep you posted.

Andrew Campbell said...

E: I'm not sure how long my membership will hold out for... it's 'rent' from a friend for storing his motorbike in my garage. I love getting random beer by mail -- but, as to be expected, it's occasionally a mixed bag of good, great, and ugly. If you can get it out West, check out the Brooklyn Brewery beers... their IPA is nice, their lager is very good. Planning to enjoy a nice Ruination this evening... hopefully there'll be food, too.