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Kitchen Brown Ale

March 5, 2014

The ESB turned out a little drier and more bitter than I generally like.  While I am tempted to just do a re-brew, I think I will instead brew a brown ale.  Contrary to my memory (I thought I was pretty consistently disappointed with my brown ales), I seem to have liked my last brews of this, so I’m not going to mess with the recipe

Recipe

Brown Ale – Beersmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (3/9/14)

Returned to the dual kettle approach (4 gallon and ~1.5 gallon).  By the time the boil was over, enough had boiled off from both that I could combine them in the larger one and chill together.  Another excellent cooldown with the pump and whirlpool took less than 10 minutes from flameout to <70°.  Unfortunately, despite trying to pre-warm the chiller tubing by running hot tap water through, immersing it 5 minutes before flameout dropped the wort below boiling and it never recovered (thanks to the weak burner on the kitchen stove).  So you can likely add those five minutes to the cooldown time to account for DMS creation without boiling it off.  Considering I dropped below 140° (the level above which DMS is formed, IIRC) after about 3 minutes, 8 minutes isn’t too bad.

Unlike the ESB, I properly monitored gravities during the process, checking pre-boil gravities of both kettles with the refractometer.  The larger one that received the first runnings read 15.25 Brix (~1.062) while the smaller was 10.75 (~1.043).  After measuring, I transferred between the two using a 2-cup liquid measuring cup to even them out a bit.  Final gravity when running off was at 1.065.  After adding 1 gallon of tap water, I should have an O.G. of 1.052.  I didn’t bother to directly measure because I didn’t have anything really appropriate to get a sample with and felt comfortable with just using the correction and eyeballing the volumes.

Also unlike the ESB, I used my paint strainers to keep the break and hops out of the fermenter.  I was a little disappointed with the crud that made it into the ESB but the strainer seemed to work really well this time.  The wort ran off really clear and during clean up, I scooped out several handfuls of junk from the bottom of the kettle.

Pitched ~0.7 cups of thick yeast collected from the ESB.  Mr. Malty indicated I should add 0.6 cups considering 70% viability (having harvested ~2 weeks ago).  I just realized that I forgot to adjust the slider to account for the thickness of the slurry.  Considering it had sat undisturbed for about a week, it was pretty thick, so I could have gotten away with less.  I did think to adjust the non-yeast percentage for the highest setting considering all the trub I couldn’t get out from the ESB.  All in all, my belief is that it’s pretty hard for a homebrewer to overpitch so I think by overshooting Mr. Malty’s estimates, I should still be fine and failed conservatively.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Added 2.5 g CaCl2 about halfway through the mash
  • Forgot to compensate for higher alpha acid hops (5.3% instead of 4%) so I may end up with higher bitterness than expected

Fermentation

Placed in Rubbermaid tub in the closet with aquarium heater.  I haven’t been so satisfied with the yeast character of my brews lately, particularly the aroma, so I’m going to try to ferment a little warmer this time at about 71°.  I’ve been shooting for 69° or so over the last several using Wyeast 1968 (which is most of them), ramping up a few degrees a day over the last few days.

Overall, a pretty subdued fermentation.  As usual, I started with a 3-piece airlock for ease of cleaning if there’s blowoff.  Despite krausen formation in less than 24 hours (IIRC, it had built to a good head by the evening, ~8 hours after pitching), the airlock was not showing activity.  I made sure the stopper and airlock were properly seated and not likely to be leaking, but no activity appeared.  After the second day when the krausen had largely fallen, I took a flashlight and verified that gas was certainly being created in the beer and should have been escaping the airlock.  Pressing down on the stopper released some gas and caused the inner cap to drop below the sanitizer level, allowing me to see it rise again and stay put.  It would appear that the escape of the gas was just gentle enough to keep the airlock carefully balanced on the surface of the sanitzer.

Despite this odd airlock behavior, the faint smell has been promising.  Unlike my last several brews which haven’t had much aroma during fermentation, this one is smelling just right.  I’m pretty confident that it’s due to the higher temperature, but I suppose the fact that it’s a hefty re-pitch can’t be discounted either.

All in all, fermentation gave good indications.

Kegging

Ran out of ESB after this had been fermenting for a little less than a week, so it ended up getting crashed after about 5 days of fermentation and kegged on the 6th.  Given that the krausen had largely dropped after day 2 and the beer looked pretty bright prior to crashing, I didn’t have any hesitation.  It might not do it well in competition, but this is a beer for drinking at home.

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From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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