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Spunding Valve Build

I’ve been wanting to build a spunding valve for a while now.  At least since I was trying to carbonate with gyle, but finally got most everything collected when I started brewing Belgians.  Once I started thinking about how to age my Belgian Dark Strong, I finally felt the urgency to get the final piece – a flare-to-npt coupler.  I had to resort to eBay and hope against hope that what I was buying would fit the bill, but luckily it (mostly) did.  There was a bit of a lip inside the flare end that I ground down with a Dremel tool, but otherwise got everything to fit pretty snuggly.

Most of the parts I got from a local second-hand gadget store.  It’s been a pretty awesome place for various electronics projects I’ve done and I happened to find a 0-30 PSI valve with a T coupling (pictures to come).  Once I was able to connect the gas quick disconnect to the T (with the coupler from eBay), I was finally set.

Testing

Before using on an actual brew, I want to test the gauge accuracy and ability for the contraption to hold pressure:

~8:45 Friday morning:  charge keg to 20 PSI per regulator.  Spunding gauge reads 20 PSI as well (on the high side of the line).

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Fall 2015 ESB Brew

Alright, this definitely didn’t happen when I expected it to.  I’ve taken quite the break from brewing, ’cause honestly it’s kind of a lot of work and it’s been more of a chore lately.  It feels like it’s been long enough now, and the weather’s good, that I’ll try to pick it up again.  Instead of trying to juggle two starters with one stir plate – like I was going for with my comments below – I think I’ll stick with a 5-gallon batch and use the WLP002.

While the Dubbel & Dark Strong experiences have been fun, I think I need a good house beer brew.  ESB is the obvious go-to, but unlike previous brews, I think I want to make this a little drier (probably because of the Belgian beer immersion I’ve been in).  I typically use the Wyeast 1968, partly because I liked the residual sweetness it gave me.  Now I think I want to try something different.  In fact, it seems like it would be fun to do a 10-gallon batch and pitch 5 gallons with 1968 (or White Lab’s equivalent – WLP002) and the other 5 gallons with a test yeast that’s supposed to attenuate more.

Wow, there a lot of White Labs english ale yeasts!  I think I’m down to WLP006 – Bedford Ale Yeast (in-season now), WLP007 – Dry English Ale Yeast, and WLP085 – English Ale blend.  These are all the ones – in season now (WLP039 – East Midlands Ale Yeast also sounds viable, but is only available in fall) – that have high attenuation.  I think I’ll just have to go into the shop and pick from the ones available.  I’m not sure if I can count on any particular one being around, but I think I have presented them in my order of preference (006->007->085) in case more than one is available.

I think I’ll just re-use my latest ESB recipe.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew day (10/25/15)

  • pre-boil gravity:  13.75 Brix
  • <140° F – 3:16
  • <100° F – 6:50
  • <80° F – 11:26
  • <70° F – 17:31

Belgian Dark Strong

Despite some misgivings (complex grain bill, no candi syrup, high mash temp) I’m going to brew a Belgian Dark Strong ale using Jamil’s recipe from c. 2007.

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew day (7/12/15)

Cooldown:

<140:  4:13
<100:  8:45
<80:  14:11
<70:  21:32
stop @69:  23:04

Added remainder of D2 candi syrup leftover from Dubbel (~4 oz).

OG: 1.084, much lower than 1.107 goal.  Likely ran off too much since 2 gallons were left in kettle after filling fermenter.  This combined with the likely fill of the fermenter beyond 5 gallons means I left a significant amount of sugar behind.  I.e., 2 gallons left behind + >5 gallons in the fermenter results in >7 gallons brewed when 6.25 gallons were planned.

Using Beersmith’s ‘Dilution Tool’ indicates having too much volume would account for only ~11 points (diluting 6.25 gallons of 1.107 wort with 3 quarts of water yields 7 gallons (what I ended up with) at 1.096) => ~12 points unaccounted for.  Generously adding a quart for fermenter overfill (leading to 7.25 gallons brewed) accounts for an additional 4 points leaving 8 points.

Other than poor sparge, what would account for this?  Maybe it’s small enough to be in the error (i.e., homebrewing isn’t an exact science).  It makes me wonder though if high gravity sparging/mashing is more lossy?

Fermentation

Began in Rubbermaid in garage with garden hose water @ ~68F.  Overnight, rose to 72F despite ice packs with slow blowoff tube bubbling.  By lunch, temperature had increased to 74F and bubbling had likewise increased to good rate.  Decided to move to smaller Rubbermaid in the garage fridge with aquarium heater.  After about 3 hours, temp had dropped to 69F, bubble rate was not noticeably affected and krausen had worked its way up to the neck (and had started getting through blowoff tube to jar of sanitizer).

Hopefully initial high temperatures don’t negatively affect the beer.  Will try to slowly ramp temp up as fermentation abates.

Sample after 11 days:  1.030.  Pretty sweet, but pretty darn good.  Hopefully it continues to attenuate and dries out, but it might not be horrible if it didn’t drop too much.  Not sure how much “to-style” it would be, but it could still be pretty good, maybe a bit like a barleywine.  I had feared/expected a high finish to this, but hopefully it can get a little lower.

Belgian Dubbel

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Dough in: 11:50 @ 149°F
Lauter End:  1:15
Pre-boil:  12.25 Brix
Boil Start:  1:33
Gravity after 30 minutes:  13.25 Brix
Hops:  38g Tettnang @4.8%
Gravity after 60 minutes:   13.50 Brix
Flameout:  3:06
Cooldown:
<140:  3:15
<100:  6:26
<80:  10:07
<70:  14:31
Stop @67 :  17:33
OG: 16.25 Brix (1.067)
FG: 1.011
ABV: 7.35%
Apparent Attenuation: 83%

Fermentation:

Trouble keeping Rubbermaid cool in garage with ice packs, so moved to keezer after a day. Was ~66° in the Rubbermaid, dropped to 64°in keezer. Started ramping up temperature after 3 or 4 days and airlock activity slowed down. Ramped up to 70°over ~4 days. Put back in Rubbermaid in garage after ~8 days, maintaining 72°.

Sample after ~10 days: 1.017. Boozy aroma, but not in flavor. Sweet.

Sample after 14 days: 1.015. Still pretty boozy, but drier, not sweet and noticed the alcohol in the flavor.

Sample after 18 days:  1.011.  Pretty surprised it dropped so much, the airlock didn’t seem to be doing anything anymore for at least a couple of days.  Flavor and aroma not so much different from before.  Booze might be a little more subdued.

Crashed after 3 weeks, 2 days prior to leaving town.

Kegged after 4 weeks.

Impressions

Initial (Flat in keg @ 32°):  dry, rummy flavor.  No strong alcohol as I noticed in warm samples.  Time will tell if it induces headaches at volume, but drinking ~4 oz. or so has not.  Same umami undertone as my other beers.  While visiting West Sixth Brewing in Lexington, KY I noticed the same.  They claim it’s intentional in their Brown due to some nut addition (hazelnut?) but I also noticed it in their schwartzbier.

Carbonated (~1.5 weeks from kegging):  Loving this beer.  A little hazy.  A little more alcohol, not quite as drinkable when warm (though not “harsh”).  Want to keg a 12-pack for long-term storage and a 6-pack for competition.  I’d really like to see how others perceive it.

Belgian Pale Ale

Desire to get into belgians.  To get good yeast re-use going to go through pale ale, dubbel, strong dark cycle.

Using Jamil’s Pale Ale recipe, notably changing yeast to WLP530 from the suggested WLP550 to have more appropriate yeast for the dubbel (and hopefully the strong dark).

Recipe

Beersmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Pre-boil: 11.75 Brix
Adjusted to 90 minute boil
1.04 oz. Goldings @ 4.9%

Cool down:
<120°F: 4:04
<100 °F: 6:07
<80 °F: 8:40
<70 °F: 11:55
Stop at 64F: 13:23

Winter Brown Ale

Recipe

Beersmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew day (2/1/15)

* mash in @1:25 @~156°F
* mash out @~2:30 @~198°F
* sparge @~2:35 @~165°F
* boil @3:25 (~Super Bowl kickoff)
* cool down <90 @~7.5 minutes
* end ~4:35 @~68°F after ~11:35

Winter Brown Porter

Recipe

Beersmith Recipe / Brewsheet