Projects and Thoughts

Pales in Comparision: Collaboration with Bow Bog Brewing

Hydrometer reading of rye pale ale


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This beer is a collaboration beer with my good friend Mike, of Bow Bog Brewing. We have been homebrewing in parallel for the past few years, and have had many an exchange recently about technique, ingredients, and various projects. We both have a similar focus on sourcing our ingredients locally, and trying to build our own equipment, and are at a similar experience level brewing. So when we went in on a few sacks of grain from Valley Malt late last year we started talking about a beer we would both brew. Only in the last month or so did we finally decide to brew it separately and compare the results. We designed the recipe around Valley malts, and our enjoyment of pale ales. I threw out a hop bill, Mike put together a malt bill, and I tossed it into BeerSmith. I’m really looking forward to trying these beers head to head, not to see who is better, but rather get an understanding of how the same recipe can turn out different. The recipe we cam up with is here: I believe we plan to compare the results in early April, hopefully we can have a joint post to discuss the finer points. (Gloat mostly).

Another late night brew session, this one without major issues. I missed my mash temp (145 instead of 150), I didn’t have immediate means to to raise it. So I did a 75 minute mash in an attempt to ensure conversion, and hoped this would be sufficient. I tried to raise the temp for the first sparge, but still didn’t get to where I wanted to be. Second sparge hit it, but I’m sure my overall efficiency was affected. Vally Malt has a reputation of being a bit less efficient, but I’m still too new to have any real concept of that. The low mash temp might pose a problem with fermentability, but rye adds body, at 20% I’m hoping the beer won’t be to dry. I used a pound of rice hulls in the mash and had no issues with runoff. Rye and Wheat make up 205 of the grist, since they don’t have hulls like barley it can be an issue. I also have not yet adjusted my mill and I am getting some flour during milling. I collected my desired boil volume without much effort. Hurray for rice hulls. My only deviation from the recipe was a 1/4 oz of Simcoe found in my freezer that needed a home, so I tossed it in at the 30 minute mark (oops). As for the rest of the hops, I did a small bittering charge, I tried a late hop method one of my homebrew club members recommended. At 0 instead of adding the hops and immediately cooling, I pitched my hops, chilled to below 180. In theory this will prevent further isomerization, but allow additional hop flavor and aroma. I hit volume post boil, and volume into the fermentor, despite a fair amount of trube /hop matter losses. This is a problem that’s exacerbated because I use both whole cone hops and pellets. If I stuck to one or the other I’d have a much easier time resolving this sticking point. I’m invested to hear where folks stand on this. Growing my own hops means I’m likely to always have whole cone hops in my freezer, do I really need to do one or the other?

My gravity low at 1.055,  I think with the low hop rate it should hold up just fine, and the rye should lend plenty of texture to the beer. I pitched a single vial of wlp001 at 1:30 am. I intend to ferment this a little warm, 70, and dry hop warm as well. Aiming for dry hop when the beer is 80% -90% fermented.

Changes for next time:

Hit my mash temp: This is a no brainer. This is only my second batch brewing three vessel all grain. Preheat my cooler, and adjust the estimates for beersmith for strike temp should do it. I would like to move my Brewmometer to my mash tun where it would be more useful. Stick to an insta read for the boil kettle.

Brew during daylight hrs. This might take a day off, or having a sitter. Night brewing is ok, but by the end of the night I’m exhausted, and don’t always think clearly.

Tune my burner: My cheap walmart turkey fryer can hold a quality blue flame, which results in this awful black soot over everything. I’m hoping I can tune it to burn a little cleaner. The soot ring on the sink is enough to get my exiled from brewing if I’m not careful.

Oxygenate – I don’t feel I’m shaking the carboy enough, and it’s kinda scary sloshing a 6g glass bottle around. I’m on the fence wether to get a oxagen tank and regulator, or just get a simple hepa air pump. I’m leaning toward oxagen tank so I can do a very quick burst of o2 and be done, and not have to wait an additional 30 minutes pumping air through the wort. Thoughts?

All in all it was a successful brew night, I’m looking forward to see how this turns out. I want to brew a rye saison in the future, but I’m fresh out of rye. I hope to be able to pick up more from Valley Malt in the future, but tracking them down can be tricky, and shipping is really pricy. Here are some other Rye Recipes that might be interesting to you:

Yeast of Burden’s Autumnal Saison Lewy Brewing’s Mustache Ryed The December 2012 edition of BYO has the recipe for Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

2 thoughts on “Pales in Comparision: Collaboration with Bow Bog Brewing”

  1. Shawn says:

    You’re right, this recipe is quite similar to my Daymark clone. We may have to do another homebrew exchange in the future!

    I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with using both whole cones and pellets, unless you really are finding that it decreases your final volume. Are you squeezing the excess wort out of the whole hops with a spoon or something, before you transfer to your fermenter?

    I also still shake to aerate. I realize it isn’t ideal, but I still haven’t upgraded to anything better. I shake for about 3 minutes before and after pitching the yeast.

  2. m750 says:

    My main qualm with using hops and cones is that I’m not aware of a way to stop both, mesh works for pellets, but cones clog it right up. A false bottom works for cones, but not for pellets. I’ve had no success with whirlpooling, but truth be told it’s not something I can do too well. I move my boil kettle to my basement for transfer, and try to whirlpool then transfer, but it rarely settles. I’ve just started targeting more kettle losses. I’m going to fabricate a false bottom before I try a heady topper clone, because the volume of hops going into that will leave me with no wort if I’m not careful. I think a 7+ g boil will hopefully result in a full 5g carboy, but I’m not sure.
    I managed to find a really cheap air pump, so I’m going to go that route for my next beer, if I can find a stone for equally cheap.

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