Projects and Thoughts

Mild brew night with friends

I’ve taken a layoff from brewing and beer related activities which doesn’t make for a very exciting homebrewing blog. The good news is, for the first time in nearly two months, I brewed. While I did not really need beer, I’ve been feeling the pull. When I started planning I didn’t have anything specific in mind when I started eyeing recipes. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, I always have ideas, but nothing was screaming to me, brew me next. After having brewed a hoppy pale session beer, and a very hoppy double ipa, I wanted something malty, low gravity, and on the darker end of the spectrum. I wanted a recipe I trusted, and wasn’t going to screw up. Since I was feeling rusty, despite visiting for some brew nights. My mind has been any where but brewing. I hadn’t been doing any planning, listening to blogs, or anything to keep me in the game.The worst part about the layoff is that my last brew night had gone very well. I hit my volumes, numbers, times, everything went smoothly on the wort production side of things. I really wanted to parlay that into a good brewing streak, hopefully I was not too rusty and can keep that momentum.

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The recipe I chose was from Brewing Classic Styles, the recipe for the english mild, a 3% dark session beer. Not something that has a long shelf life, but something that isn’t too hoppy so it won’t fade too fast. Another thing going for it was the recommended yeast, wyeast 1968, which is a yeast I’m quite fond of, and familiar with, and I had a pouch in my fridge. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and only made minimal substitutions. The recipe I used can be found here:

IMG_2680The recipe has a simple hop profile, and the grain bill is tiny. For my 3.5g batch, I used less than 5lbs of grain, and a single hop at 60. My plan was to use my BIAB process to brew a small batch. This simpler method, that is less involved, has less cleanup, and should be faster. I use my 7g turkey fryer pot, a very large grain bag, and my turkey fryer. For some reason I’ve yet to fully understand, most BIAB mashes call for a 90 minute mash. When a reliable resource I found on the topic indicates thin mashes are actually more efficient, and faster. The only trick with such a large mash, and an uninsulated pot is keeping the temp up, w/out direct firing the pot, and cooking the enzymes out of the mash. Well, lets

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just say that might have happened. I hit my initial strike temp, of 156, but it was dropping like a rock over the first 30 minutes. So I fired up the burner, but it quickly rose to 165 or higher. I am not terribly concerned, as the wort sat in the Alpha and Beta amylase zones for a solid 1/2 hr before I raised the temp. Assuming Kai is right, conversion was quick. I love how fast the Lautering is with the biab method. Crank the heat, wait until 170ish, and yanked out the bag, and set it aside to finish draining. Not only do you save time allowing the grain to drain, but as JD pointed out to me during the brew night, you don’t lose nearly as much heat. You go from 150 or 170 directly to flame. The boil was uneventful as we chatted about brewing, hop farming, compressing hops, and other beer related topics. As the night came to a close I realized I was going to be quite a bit high on post boil volume. I was having a very relaxed night, and I hadn’t measured pre mash water volume, pre boil volume, or taken a pre boil gravity. I wasn’t concerned about math.  Not to sound brash, but I was going for the Charlie P method. Relax. I do know exactly how high I filled the pot, and next time I’ll go lower. This higher than expected volume resulted in a difference of a 1.030 beer instead of a 1.035 beer. Hopefully this isn’t too washed out to be worthy of drinking.

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For the cold side, Chilling a small batch like this, that doesn’t have a whirlpool step, or late hopping is easy. The chiller knocks it down in no time flat. I used the funnel filter as the turkey pot does not have a ball valve, and even with just 14g of hops there’s a lot of sludge in there. I pitched a 1.5l starter of 1968, hit it with some o2 from the new o2 setup, and it was bubbling away less than 6 hours later at 8am. All in all this was a very smooth brew night.

The first I’ve ever had company while brewing, and the first I’ve drank a beer or two while brewing. I don’t intend on making a habit of not measuring, and not taking detailed notes, or drinking and brewing, having company made the time fly. The next thing I knew it was well past midnight, and I was ready to pitch.

Current status is the fermentation went crazy for about 1-2 days, and has all but stopped. I’m going to rouse the yeast to see if I can get some more activity going, but this beer could already be nearly done in less than 3 days. 1.030 isn’t a whole lot of sugar, and I way over pitched, using a starter. At least I should have a sizable cake to wash and pitch.

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