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ESB Summer 2018

Well, it’s become clear that my off-taste is due to an infection. Probably in the keezer lines. I didn’t get to drinking the 2nd 5 gallons of my last ESB for longer than normal which led to a pretty funky beer that’s pretty clearly an intense version of the more subtle off-flavor I’ve been tasting.

In response, I’ve torn apart, cleaned, and sanitized everything metal that touches my chilled wort and replaced everything plastic. Knowing that I can make a pretty solid ESB to test the effectiveness of my cleaning operation, I’m repeating my previous 10-gallon ESB.

I also got a new bulkhead fitting so I can attach a proper pick up tube (my previous bulkhead is messed up with welding slag – see my Brewing Stand slideshow), hoping to be able to perform a 3-tier cleanup operation rather than lugging my kettle out to the yard, spraying it out and flipping it over a few times (not to mention leaving less wort behind in the kettle).  It’s not great for the back.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (8/20/2018)

I assumed my ~1 oz. of goldings leftover and another 2 oz. from the brewshop would be enough.  That was clearly wrong, since I needed to replace 1.5 oz. of 17.5% Columbus.  Luckily I found some ~15% Nugget.  I still think I under-hopped, but we’ll see how it turns out.

Knowing my pick up tube would give me more volume, I didn’t runoff to my normal mark during lauter.  It turns out I underestimated what I needed.  I was able to fill up my 6-gallon fermenter pretty well, but my 5-gallon fermenter was only about half full.

Finally, I accidentally bought whole leaf hops instead of pellets.  A mistake I’ve been pretty good at avoiding.  This is the first time I’ve made it since I got my pump and whirlpool setup and it was a bummer not to be able to use it this time because the pick up tube got clogged immediately.  I ended up using a sanitized racking cane, instead.

Fermentation

Vigorous fermentation after more than 12 hours, but less than 20 (16-ish?).  I setup the blowoff tube on the full fermenter.  I’m thinking that was pretty necessary.

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New England IPA

Like many, I’ve become fascinated with the “New England IPA” fad.  Also known as a “juicy IPA” or “hazy IPA” I expect this is really a “hey, we make good hoppy beers, too” situation, but at least it’s a neat innovation (when done properly).

Admittedly, I’m coming to the party late.  This style has been around a while and I’ve only recently heard of it.  Honestly, it really just sounds like a good idea: emphasizing fruit flavors of some hops.  I haven’t had a lot of examples, and what I have had hasn’t been earth shaking.  That said, I still wanna brew one, especially after finding a pretty neat-sounding recipe from Gordon Strong at BYO.

I don’t know when I might make it, but I want to post this to capture some thoughts I’ve had while they’re fresh.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Notes

The following process does not quickly chill the wort. Most importantly, it lengthens the time >140 °F which is when DMS is formed. Given the 75-minute boil and highly modified malts, this is probably not a problem. It will also tend to reduce the effectiveness of the cold break, but this is fine for a beer that’s expected to be hazy.

0-minute Amarillo gets added at knock-out
Other 0-minute additions get added to whirlpool once below 180 °F. “Allow to stand for 20 minutes then chill to 64 °F (18 °C) and rack to the fermenter.” Based on these instructions, I think I should just leave the wort whirlpooling without turning on the hose for chilling until the <180 °F additions have been in the whirlpool for 20 minutes. In other words, start the whirlpool as usual, ~5 minutes before knock out. At knockout, add Amarillo. Once below 180 °F, add remaining 0-minute hops. After 20 minutes, turn on hose for typical chilling regime.

"Oxygenate, then pitch the yeast. Start fermentation at 64 °F (18 °C), allowing temperature to rise naturally as fermentation progresses. Mix the dry hops and divide into three equal portions. The first portion gets added after two days of active fermentation. The second portion gets added at the end of fermentation.

The third portion gets added three days after fermentation ends. Allow each dry hop addition to be in contact with the beer for two to three days, then remove."

ESB Spring 2018

While I’m not super happy with how my beers are turning out, they’ve been drinkable, so I’m going back to 10 gallon batches. Just dusting off a somewhat old recipe here for the old standby.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (6/10/18):

Using 4 pints of starter wort from my canned starter brew. Missing my Erlenmeyer since move last summer and couldn’t get the stir plate to not throw the bar on the curved bottom of a 1 gallon jug so I resorted to two separate administrations of a few seconds of oxygenation followed by intermittent shaking. After each side of oxygen, I let the jug sit undisturbed for 30+ minutes before shaking.

Pre-boil:. 1.051

Cool down:

  • <140°F: 5:18
  • <100°F: 5:03
  • <80°F: 6:00
  • ~70°F: 6:12

OG: 1.056

Not looking like I got proper boil off, though the surface was certainly turning over. I guess with double the volume, it needs to be more vigorous to get the same percentage. I need to refresh my memory on how that’s desirable. Naively, a constant vigorous-ness is what you want for color and flavor development – such that there is in the boil – but that will lead to a constant boil off volume. I recall a constant percentage being desirable, though.

Beyond the low O.G., I had quite a bit of leftover wort in the kettle after filling the kegs. I saved a liter for gyle but ended up collecting an additional 1+ gallons of clear wort that I dumped. I’ll need to do some calculations to see how much was too low a boil-off and how much was too much into the kettle. I ended up adding a gallon or so of water after the lauter.

Fermentation

Pitched at 6:30 on brew day from starter.

In Rubbermaid cooler at 70°F setup with blowoff tubes.

Slow bubbling after 12 hours, ramping to rising krausen and rapid bubbling in<24 hours. After 36 hours, blowing off.

Awesome, characteristic ESB aroma.

Sample after 6 days: 1.013. light color, just a shade darker than straw. Light caramel flavor, warming alcohol.

Starter

Going to make 2 gallons of starter wort for canning (1.5 gal) and for starting a yeast repitch for my Belgian Dark Strong that’s stalled out.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Belgian Dark Strong – Winter 2018

Brewed the same recipe as previously. I recall it being really good, though I didn’t give any updates in the blog post.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (3/11/2018)

Terrible.

Actually it didn’t turn bad until the end when I started the cooldown. I forget how exactly, but a hose popped off my pump when I was recirculating, causing wort to spray all over the garage. After that my garden hose outlet popped off twice spraying the garage with hot water. I was an idiot and had the outlet crimped shut by a propane tank sitting on it. I popped the hose off twice before I realized.

After all that, I succeeded in getting a little under 5 gallons into the fermentor at 1.107. Much better OG than last time.

Pitched about 1 cup of yeast collected from my dubbel about three weeks ago. Aerated with O2 for 1 minute.

Fermentation

In Rubbermaid in garage with aquarium heater at ~68.

Krausen and airlock activity after <20 hours, continuing pretty vigorously for 4 or 5 days. It actually steadily grew in intensity until it started blowing off. I didn’t initially set up a blow off tube, thinking the <5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon carboy would be fine.

Pretty soon after blowing off, fermentation slowed considerably.

Sample after ~6 days: 1.070! Very sweet, as expected based on the gravity, but not bad. Bitterness is very minor and alcohol is smooth. I was worried that I was fermenting too warm for the gravity, but I would expect the fusel alcohol to have come out by now if it would, so the smoothness is a relief. Bumped up the aquarium heater a couple degrees to hopefully kick fermentation up a little. There’s an awful lot of sugar to still finish off. I may need to throw in a higher-attenuating yeast if it doesn’t keep dropping steadily.

Sample after ~10 days: 1.060. I kicked up the fermentation temperature a few degrees since the start. Initially it was about 66F for a few days, then up to ~68F for a few more, and now up to ~70 or so. Booziness in the aroma, sort of a rum and coke smell. Not nearly as sweet and more firm bitterness especially on the back end. No noticeable alcohol.

Sample after 15 days: 1.052. Still chugging along, at least. Maybe it will eventually finish. Not much has changed flavor- or aroma-wise since the last sample. Still sweet, though not sickly sweet. Firm bitterness. Most alcohol is apparent in the aroma, not so much the flavor.

Sample after 23 days (after returning from vacation): Still 1.052. I roused the yeast by shaking the carboy. If I don’t see a gravity drop after a couple days, I may need to pitch some new yeast. Given the time (close to 4 weeks), I think I’ll rack to a secondary and pitch. 4 weeks is in my head as a guideline for getting beer off the yeast, at least at ale temperatures.

Sample after 27 days: 1.050, so it actually dropped a couple points. I don’t think that’s enough to where I’ll give it more time to finish up. I’m going to pick up a packet of dry yeast (US-05, maybe) and add it after I rack to secondary. The taste, aroma, mouthfeel, etc. are basically unaffected, which is to say, pretty tasty.

After previous sample, racked to secondary, leaving most trub behind. Pitched hydrated and grown (in ~1.5L starter) packet of Safbrew T-58 ~28 days after initial pitch (was same price as US-05, so I figured I might as well). Steady airlock activity after <6 hours, so maybe I have some hope to get this down to a respectable FG.

Sample after 33 days: 1.033. Decent attenuation after ~5 days of the repitch. Carboy slowly bubbling (every 10 seconds or so), having kept fairly steady activity the whole time.

Impressions

Going off memory. I bottled up 4 bombers, naturally carbonated, for posterity but otherwise the keg’s been dry for a few weeks. My recollection was that it was pretty good except for the cloying sweetness. I’ll have to give a more thoughtful impression once I crack into one of the bottles.

Belgian Dubbel Winter 2018

It’s been almost a year since I last brewed! Gonna re-brew a belgian. With the little bit of off-flavor I’ve had with my non-belgians, I’m gonna stick with something where I won’t have to worry about it (or maybe it’s just hidden in the other flavors of belgians). Plus, this beer was delicious last time.

My plan was to split this brew over 2 days. Mashing and sparging the first day; boiling, pitching, etc. the second. I succeeded in achieving that plan, but I don’t think I want to try it again. It just felt like I had 2 brew days and man, are they starting to feel like work.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day – part 1 (2/3/2018)

Dough-in: 1:30

Lauter: ~3:00

Good lauter with the fly sparge (i.e., no clogs). Took ~20 minutes, turning on the pump at the end when I felt confident that I had enough liquid left to get me topped off.

Heated to 190°+ F before transferring to a couple pots to keep on the stove inside (I don’t want to leave it all in the garage overnight). I figure at this point, separated from the grains and headed to 190, there’s not much to worry about.

Brew Day – part 2 (2/4/2018)

Chill

<140: 2:27

<100: 2:40

<80: 2:40

<70: 2:19

Stop at 65: 1:49

OG: 1.071

Finally feel like I didn’t over-sparge. I ended up tilting the kettle a little at the end and still ended up a little shy of normal in my 6-gallon carboy. Normally I overdue it enough to over-top my carboy (i.e., I’m usually nervous when I remember that I should have accounted for my starter wort). As a result, my gravities are a little on the low side.

This time, I ran off a good amount and kept the boil pretty vigorous for the 90 minutes. The result, I think, was a good boil volume and gravity ended up a tad high, actually. I guess what I should really take away is that I need to get a proper measuring instrument. I long ago lost a makeshift marked wooden dowel I made shortly after getting my kettle.

Fermentation

Starter didn’t show much activity after being on the stir plate from before noon until after 7:00. Hopefully there’s not a problem.

Aerated 1 minute

Pitched ~7:30 pm

Not much activity after 12 hours (some bubbles on the surface). Good krausen within 24 hours, though.

Sample after 5 days: 1.021. very bitter, sharp in the back of the throat. Very cloudy.

Sample after 8 days: 1.014. actually less bitter. Alcohol in the aroma, not really tasting it, though. Dark fruit maltiness. Maybe it’s in my head, but the candy syrup send to be coming through.

Sample after 10 days: 1.010. bitterness continues to lessen. Malt mellowing a bit. Less sweetness, drying out.

Impressions

I’m nearing the end of the keg.  It’s been stored at 45F for the last 3 – 4 weeks and carbonated to ~2.5 volumes.

A little over-bitter.  Very clear, dark amber.  Light caramel and dark fruit aroma.  Firm bitterness throughout.  Somewhat sweet, caramelly flavor.  Smooth but somewhat sharp mouthfeel, perhaps from the bitterness, maybe from carbonation; dry finish.  Overall, the over-bitterness detracts substantially.  It’s still highly drinkable as an over-caramel american (i.e., bitter) brown, maybe.

Spring 2017 Scottish

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (2/26/17)

Pre-boil:  1.052

OG: 1.058

Cooldown

  • <140 F: 2:35
  • <100 F: 4:30
  • <80 F: 2:38
  • <70 F: 3:10
  • Stop @68 F: 2:12

Fermentation

Yeast was old (bought in ~November) and the starter didn’t show a lot of activity.  I’m not super optimistic that fermentation will be too vigorous and I expect to notice some fermentation problems (fusel alcohol, etc) in the final product but hopefully it’s not too bad.

12 hours later:  smooth, unblemished surface.  I expect it’s taking longer for the yeast to grow to an appropriate population to get going well.  Unfortunately, that probably means more growth than I hoped for (though not more than I expected).

<24 hours: good krausen.  Not so vigorous that the blow-off is necessary, but it’s setup in case

36 hours: vigorous fermentation, though still not enough to require the blowoff

48 hours: not much change from 12 hours ago, still pretty steady

60 hours:. Slowing, krausen dropping, but still steady

At 68F for the first 4 days when activity was vigorous to stay, then ramp to 75F when activity mostly stopped.