Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brewing of a Scottish Ale and Racking the Wheat

A lot went on this past weeks with brewing. First, starting yeast so to make yeast active and make enough of them to make a quality beer. Second, brewing a batch. Third, racking beer that was made last week. Fourth making another yeast starter. And fifth brewing a small batch. I will break this up into two blogs. Many reason for not getting these up fresh; I started my field season for research on my zoology doctorate and writing my masters thesis.

Making a yeast starter is very easy and there are many way at doing it. Personally, I don't build up because it lessen the chance at infection. This particular yeast starter was made from dry yeast. You really don't have to do it, but I prefer my yeast active to minimize the of wild yeast or bacteria to get into the beer and making it non-drinkable. To do this for what I brew (1-hectoliter), I took some dry malt extract (DME) and carefully poured it into a flask. I added water to the 1000-mL mark and added aluminum foil to the top. Then I put it on the stove. I was extra careful not to over-boil, once I saw movement in the solution, I turned down the heat. After 15-min of boiling and the DME was dissovled, I removed the flask from the heat and put it in a sink of cold water.  Be careful while doing this, because some glass will tend to break when suddenly changing temperature.

 When the solution was room temperature to the touch through the glass, I started adding dry yeast (Safale US-05). 

First I dipped the scissors into Iodophor to sanitize them. I also dipped the top of each packet before cutting them in the Iodophor and shook it dry. Once I added all of the packets (5 for my brew) I let it sit over night before adding it to the wort. For most starters (White Labs and W-Yeast) you want to make a starter 3 days in advance.

Our latest brew was a Scottish Ale. Our preference for a Scottish is less sweet and more hops (mostly because Brandon and I are hop heads). One of our favorite brews is Founders Dirty Bastard, a Scottish, that we wanted to mimic. It has the hop and malt quality that we love in a beer. Though, we didn't want a clone, we did want something close. Here is the grain bill:

Pale Malt (2-row) – 70.0 #
Crystal 60 Malt – 7.0 #
Carapils Malt – 3.0 #
Roated Barley Malt – 3.0 #
Rye Malt – 3.0 #

With the malt, we added a 5-gallon bucket of rice hulls to make the run-off of the mash easier. We added aboot 30-gallons of 176ºF water to the grain to get a final mash temperature of 152ºF. 

We wanted to raise the mash temperature up to 158ºF, so we did a decoction. For this, we took 5-gallons grain and wort out of the mashtun, and put it in 8-gallon kettle and boiled it down to 3-gallons. This, not only adds more caramel, but steps up our mash temperature. We added the decoction back into the mashtun and let it mash for 60 min. During this time, I had breakfast, which was a Great Divide Yeti Stout.

For the run off, we connected a line from the mashtun to the boil kettle for the transfer. We didn't want to let the wort splash around in the kettle to prevent off-flavors in the final beer. If the wort is let to oxidize on the hot side, it will get a musty off-flavor in the beer. The pre-boil gravity 1.068, 6 points low (projected to be 1.074).

During the boil, we racked the beer in the fermenter, which was the wheat beer that we made 2-weeks prior. We serve our beer out of Cornelius kegs, and we run our beer through a 1-micron filter to get rid of excess yeast and other particulates. We filled 4 corny kegs with this batch.

To the boil we added both Chinook, Cascade and East Kent Golding hops. The hop addition were the following:

Chinook – 6.0 oz. (60 min.) 13.0% AA
Cascade – 6.0 oz. (15 min.) 5.0% AA
East Kent Golding – 3.0 oz. (15 min.) 5.0% AA
East Kent Golding – 3.0 oz. (1 min.) 5.0% AA

During the boil we also clean the fermenter and cycled an acid wash through the system to clean. We then cycled rinse water and Iodophor. After a 90-min boil, we transfered the wort, through a plate chiller, to the fermenter. The original gravity for this beer was 1.076, down from a projected 1.089, giving us a 65% efficiency. In the transfer, we use a spray ball on the end of the transfer line in the fermenter to allow plenty aeration. During the transfer, we added the yeast starter to it.

The whole process, mashing, boiling, racking, and transferring, took around 10 hours. Soon we will have the wheat up at the Quarter Barrel. We do have a tap handle, and are now serving the Mumrath IPA.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hop Tending

This past weekend, I finally went home to my parents to see the kids. The girls are growing so tall, it brings a tear to my eye. :') The “kids” are of course the hop plants that my parents have started on their property. In the spring of 2010 my parents started growing hops. Some of it is, of course, for me to use in homebrewing and the like. Some of them are for re-sale at Nelson's Herbs, my mum's greenhouse business.

The hops are grown in rows along guide wires. There are five rows, for five varieties, and of each variety, there are 5 vines, or rhizomes. The varieties that my parents have are: Cascade, Chinook, Hallertau Magnum, Mt. Hood, and Santium. Also, in the display gardens for Nelson's Herbs, my mum has 2 Tettnager rhizomes planted.

Last year, off of the one-year vines, I got approximately 2-paper grocery bags full. There were a little extra that my mum harvested for merchandise.

This year, when I got to the hop bed, I had to complete a couple of chores. First, trim the hops back to two or three vines for maximum production. Second, spread bedding of straw to keep moisture in. This took me aboot three hours to complete. Very pleased with what I did accomplish, I hope to have a great harvest for next year and plenty left for sale and fellow homebrewers to buy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brewing of a Wheat Ale

With summer quickly coming to us here in Ohio (though it doesn't really seem that way with all the rain), Brandon and I wanted to brew something for the summer. Sunday we decided to brew a wheat ale. Firstly, because we both love Three Floyds Gumball Head and secondly, we needed to try something different. So, I went searching for a recipe that practically a clone of Gumball Head. I found a recipe for a 5-gallon batch and from there, I plugged it into my trusty beersmith. This is what came out.

Grain Bill:
26.4 pounds of 2-row Pale-Ale
21.2 pounds of White Wheat Ale
5.3 pounds of Cara-Vienna

Because the Wheat Ale can get all gummy, with the gains, I added a 5-gallon bucket of rice hulls to the grain and made sure it was plenty mixed. This grain bill seems a little light. We added our water of 180°F to the grain and had to add a little bit of cold water, because the mash was a little high and got it down from 160°F to 152°F. While we mashed, we also did a hefty cleaning of the fermenter, plate chiller, and pump. We did a acid wash for 30-minutes or so. In that time we drained the grains off into the boil kettle, I added our first-wort hops and took a pre-boil gravity. 

Noticing that the gravity was a little low, we took 8 gallons of wort off and did a hard boil in the back kitchen. To a 5-gallon kettle we added 3-gallons of wort and boiled that down to half. In a 10-gallon kettle we added 5 gallons and 2 pounds of pale and did a decoction. We also boiled that down to half the volume and drained off the wort from the grains and added both kettles back into the boil.

Hop Addition:
1.32 oz. Amarillo Hops First-wort
1.32 oz. Cascade Hops 60-min.
2.64 oz. Amarillo Hops 15 Min.
2.64 oz. Amarillo Hops 5 Min.
2.64 oz. Amarillo Hops Flame Out

While boiling we finished cycling rinse water in the fermenter, plate chiller, and pump, and then cycled Iodiophor. The boiled wort was then transferred up to the fermenter, through the plate chiller, to which I added 5 packets Fermentis US-05 yeast that was cultured for a day. It was closed off and the blow-off tube was connected. Time to clean up. What made this easy clean is that we came up with a way to connect a stainless-steel hose braid to the boil kettle to keep the hops out of the pump and chiller. Can't wait to try. Original gravity of 1.042, Pre-Boil 1.038.