Projects and Thoughts

Duo Brew Day

When Brew Free or Die announced a Dynamic Duo club competition I knew two things: that I was in, and I’d be brewing with my buddy Mike. What wasn’t immediately obvious was what we’d be brewing, but I did have a hunch. This fall Mike brewed a very tasty version of Mike McDole’s famous recipe, Janet’s Brown, A hoppy american brown ale.  I have just brewed a not so tasty american brown ale (story for another day), and both of us agree the style is quite enjoyable. The club competition is named Dynamic duo.

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Two brewers team up to brew a 1.040-1.050 beer using only two hops and two malts. With that in mind, I tried to reworked the Janet’s Brown ale recipe down to just two malts, two hops, and bring the gravity down. One thing I tried to keep in mind when scaling the recipe is maintaing the BU:GU ratio. Simplifying the hops in the recipe was easy, just swap out the Centennial dry hop for more cascade. Slimming the grain bill was a bit more of a challenge, going from 5 malts to 2. First we swapped the american two row, for English Marris Otter, dropping the Wheat, CaraPills, C-40, and Chocolate Malt in favor of Chocolate wheat. We though an English Pale malt would bring character and body which should cover the two row, the c-40 and the carapills. Mike and I also felt the chocolate wheat was a solid replacement for the chocolate and wheat malt. Hopefully we’ll get some chocolate malt and the wheat malt aspects in one. In addition to those changes, we were going to increase the mash temp to 156/158 to make up for the missing body malts, and caramelize some of the first runnings to add some additional unfermentable sugars to the beer.

Brewday. Brewing on the road is an adventure. With a family, a job, training for a marathon, and small farm I’ve got a busy life and tight time table for everything. I arrived a bit early, as Mike was filtering water, setting up for the brew day. We quickly got started washing some gear and filling his hlt with water, while I weighted the final grain bill, and milled the grain. I managed to not jam his mill, or over weigh his scale like the first time I used them.

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While mike was prepping the water he noticed the ball valve on his kettle was a skew. Mike took it inside for a closer look, somehow his nipple managed to break in half. While the strike water was coming up to temp we had to figure out how to fix the mash tun, or the day would be have been a total waste. We decided to make use of his old cooler, w/out a valve or braid to mash. This would give us more time to come up with a lauter tun. We mashed in at the target for the printed recipe (151). In writing the recipe, I’d target 154/156, but we missed it in translation. While we were mashing, Mike dug out a box of misc parts and we tried few combinations before we managed to come up with a functional mash braid using a copper stub, a hose clamp and a stainless braid (after showing Mike 1/2 of his braids were actually plastic). We managed to hook this up to Mike’s HLT. When the mash was complete, hot side aeration be dammed, we dumped the steaming hot mash into the stainless kettle with braid, and allowed it to settle, then ran off. We batch sparged twice and collected our desired runnings (about 8g). When comparing gravity using our refractometers we saw a difference of a few points between the two. Of course we neglected to take a hydrometer reading to see who’s was accurate. We also had to collect runnings into mike’s fermenters instead of his boil kettle because we were lautering in his hlt. This slowed the brew day as I normally try to heat this to boiling as the second sparge is running off.

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All the earlier messing around with the mash tun and the fact we were using the boil kettle as an HLT prevented us from the plan of reducing some of the first runnings down to caramel to make it less fermentable. Otherwise boil was uneventful, we hit Mike’s typical boil off and hit our expected OG of 1.045. We ran off about 6.5 gallons into two fermenters after chilling. I took 1.5 for me, and Mike got 5. We oxygenated using a O2 and a stone for 30 seconds, and pitched a 1.5L starter of Wyeast 1968 London ESB. My 1.5 gallons started bubbling away less than 18hrs after pitching and was rattling away in the kitchen for a few days. Mike’s took off equally well. With the small volume I took home I didn’t take an FG, Mike’s 5g’s finished out at 1.012. Mike dry hopped with casade, while I tried a new method. I made a hop tea using my dry hops and 1/4 cup 170* water, Steeped it until cool, and then add that to secondary. After I’d saved the yeast for a future batch, since I almost always use 1968. Mike has kegged his version, and I bottled mine. I think both will be ready for tasting in the next week or so.

This was an interesting challenge, I think the beer will be good, but I’m not sure if our changes / missteps will matter. If it’s thin, I know what we need to address next time. For expierments sake, I wish I had moved my beer off dry hops after 4 days, instead of 10, but time didn’t permit it. So I doubt my dry hop expierment is worht really evaluating. I doubt our beer will taste like a baby version of Janet’s Brown Ale, but I think it should be an enjoyable lower abv hoppy brown ale, and that’s what we set out to make. I think the beer has the potential for a mid pack finish in the duo competition. The competitors are good brewers, and likely making more proven recipes. I think it depends on the judges and who it has to go head to head with. Results to follow, and if we win, much bragging to follow.
Janets Baby – Dynamic Duo
American Brown Ale
All Grain – 6.00 gal
Starting Gravity: 1.0450 SG
Final Gravity: 1.0120 SG
Mash Profile: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge (154 for 60). 165 mash out.
164.00 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.00 SRM)  94.1 %
10.24 oz Chocolate Wheat Malt (400.00 SRM)  5.9 %
Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient

11.34 g Nugget [13.00 %] – First Wort 0.0 min
11.34 g Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min
14.17 g Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min
22.68 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min
31.18 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 15.0 min
53.86 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days

London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) 1.5L starter.

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