Last week I visited my homebrew shop, Cachette du Bootlegger with a simple list of ingredients for six batches that I had on my up-coming ‘brew list’. What I thought would be an easy in & out of the store actually turned out to be one hell of a shopping day.
While I ended up with all the hops and grains I came for, I also left with a lot more. Specifically, I upgraded to buying a 55lb bag of 2-row malted barley instead of the approximate 30lbs (separated among recipes) that I had planned on; a grain mill so that I could avoid the crushing fee per pound that I had been paying up until now and more importantly in order to brew fresher beers; a shit-ton of additional hops and specialty grains; and some extra bottles (never hurts to have them lying around)!
Throughout the next few days I planned the brew days that were to come and jesus did they ever end up long!
The goal of the day was to brew an all-grain version of my award winning Chocolate Porter. I had been waiting to attempt this for a long-time and all of the factors to do so were finally in place. The most exciting part of the day was using my new grain mill for the first time.
Before actually filling it with the grain to be used in the recipe, I was informed that milling about half a pound of grain in order to remove any loose metal within the mill was recommended. While it really sucked to have to waste any grain at all, it was worth it for the safety of my beer!
After milling almost 13 pounds of 2-row, black patent and crystal malt, it was time to mash! I decided to take a chance and mash for 60 minutes, even though I really wanted to do it for 90 in order to make certain I achieved my gravity. In the end, it proved my instincts were right, as I missed it by about .008, which is quite a lot for a ‘Robust Porter’. Hopefully the final product will not suffer too badly.
As soon as the mashing was done, the first runnings were drained and the batch sparged. Once enough liquid was collected (a little less than 6 gallons), the wort was transferred to the stove top for boiling! A standard 60 minute boil then ensued with the addition of Northern Brewer hops for bittering and Tettnanger for flavoring and aroma. Most importantly, the start of the boil saw unsweetened Bakers Chocolate join the rest of the wort-crew!
It wasn’t long before the boil came to an end and the wort needed to be cooled, separated from the hops and chocolate (as much as possible) and transferred to the primary fermentor. Due to a lack of cooling resources, the yeast was only pitched the next morning, after the wort was sealed up and left to cool.
Another interesting part of this experiment was that it was the first time using my washed yeast in a batch larger than 1 gallon. How will it all turn out? We’ll have to wait and see
The next day started off pretty much the same, except that I had to begin it by pitching the yeast into my Porter. I was also up a lot earlier because my plan was to brew two batches with the same bunch of grains and that would require a few more hours!
Today’s primary brew as going to be a nice hoppy IPA. The goal was to hit around 6% alcohol, which I think it will, and greater than 60 IBUs. It ended up at 77, which is more than I could have asked for!
The grain bill was about 15lbs of 2-row, crystal and aromatic malted barley. As a brewer, I enjoy tasting the barley as is, to distinguish the flavor profiles even before they are mashed and I have to say, aromatic barley kicks ass in flavor!!!
This time, the mash was 90 minutes, while the boil remained at the standard sixty. A mixture of Perle & Syrian Goldings was used to give this India Pale Ale a bitter back bone, pleasant taste and sweet aroma. Finally, the brew will be oak-ed in the secondary in order to give that authentic barrel feeling that an IPA should have.
Immediately after transfer to the secondary, I added enough water to the mash-tun and left over grains to get myself a second batch. I let the grains and 170F water sit for 2 hours before draining the liquid off and boiling for another hour. I added cinnamon, brown sugar and only a small amount of hops to the boil in order to give it an added kick. This one looks to some kind of Pale Ale, although with less bitterness than traditionally. In any case, as I actually kegged it yesterday after just 4.5 days in the primary, it reached approximately 3.5% ABV. I’ll know how it tastes in about 2 weeks
Sadly, this brew actually came with one glass carboy casualty as the heat from the wort caused it to split in half. If that wasn’t enough, my plastic carboy (that took the place of my broken friend) became badly deformed due to the wort and was chucked today. I guess that’s what I get for skipping the cooling just to go to bed early…
Well, that’s it! 3 beer in 2 days, all thanks to 1 big trip to my homebrew shop!