Projects and Thoughts

Taking a second chop at the daisy cutter.

A month after my first attempt at brewing a daisy cutter clone I brewed this recipe. My first brew session wasn’t the smoothest, but I did hit my numbers and volume, so it wasn’t all bad. The beer isn’t bad either but It’s a work in progress. I gave a few bottles to friends, and I’m looking forward to some constructive feedback. The aroma was nice, but not what I wanted. The color is good, but darker than the original. The residual sweetness is good, it seems clean, dry, but does not have nearly enough hop flavor. The aroma is also too candy like. With that in mind, along with my first batch missteps, I had some process changes and recipe changes in mind.

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I wanted to not screw up my milling, now that I’ve used it a handful of times, I’ve sorted that out. From the first batch’s stuck sparge I learned to use a BIAB bag for my grains as a liner in my cooler. I lowered the mash temperature, to achieve a drier beer, I also increased mash time from 60-90 minutes. Not because I felt this first example had too much body, but because the original has an fg of 1.007. Two other ways to achieve this will be to use a more attenuative yeast, and swap out the marris otter for us two row. I’ll try those in later batches. With the lack of hop flavor, I wanted to adjusted the hop timing. I thought I’d get a ton of hop flavor by pushing the late hops to huge whirlpool addition. I was wrong. So I split the large whirlpool addition into a  good size Centennial and Amarillo addition at 10m and a still substantial 0 minute addition. I wanted to reduce the candy like aroma, so I increased the Simcoe and Columbus 0m edition. Also as part of the experimentation and evolution of this beer, I added gypsum and calcium cloride to the mash to get a better hop flavor punch and increase calcium. I targeted 50ppm calcium, 100ppm sulfate, 50ppm chlorides. With all the changes I did still try to keep some controls. I kept the malt bill the same, only reducing acid malt to maintain a mash target ph of 5.2. I didn’t feel the grain bill was an issue with the beer. Otherwise I planed for the brewing process for the beer to mirror the first batch, without the mistakes. I wanted do my best to iron out the hickups in my process and make it repeatable.

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The brew night went well, I hit my mash temp w/out issue, although I nearly forgot my mash salts. I mashed for 90m. I’m finding this time of year, I barely lose a degree over the mash time. I didn’t take mash ph. My run off was easy and w/out issue. My pre boil gravity (1.046) was higher than the first batch. That should have been expected, since I had sparge issues the first time, and ended up going no sparge. However, I didn’t take a good preboil volume measurement, so I didn’t know exactly what mash efficiency was. My boil was uneventful, albeit late starting at 10:45. I managed to chill to 65 and ran off the right amount so my carboy did not blow off. I aerated for 60 seconds w/02. I then added my beer bug and got it setup and tared. I nearly forgot to pitch my yeast. Normally I make a yeast starter, but since I brewed on a bit of a whim, I didn’t have time to make one. Instead, I pitched a generous 1/2 pint of yeast slurry from the prior batch. I had it coming up to temperature in the kitchen while brewing. When all was said and done, it was 1:15 and I had some issues getting my beer bug properly calibrated after messing with the taring. You can tell from the batch info, the logging is all wrong.

The beer fermented for a week in primary, was on dry hops for 5 days, and is now carbonating in a keg. I’ve been trying to minimize 02 contact since hoppy beers really don’t hold up well to oxidation. When transferring from primary, I hooked up a carboy cap with racking cane and a c02 tank. I had a heck of a time getting the beer transferred off dry hops. I’m sure this will result in oxidation, and a lot of hop sludge in the keg. I can’t remember how I transferred the first batch off dry hops, I thought I used the same method this time, but clearly I did not. My racking cane kept jamming with hop debris, and I had to clear it a few times. Always disappointing to get a beer so close to right, only to have a screw up late in the game that will negatively impact the beer.

Brewing successive batches has been enlightening. When you are brewing with goal of consistency and predictability, you can find areas in your process which aren’t tuned for it. This is the first time I’ve tried to repeat the same recipe and process nearly back to back, and get slightly improved results. Things like hitting a consistent mash temperature, knowing your run off volumes, trub losses, mash efficiency, boil off rate all need to be calibrated, so you can make them consistent. When you control the grain bill, and hop additions, and don’t get consistent output it can be discouraging. However it’s a learning opportunity, and chance to hone my skills. Consistency is something that every commercial brewer strives for, and is something that every home brewer should be aiming for too. As I write up batch 2, Batch 3 is in primary ready to be transferred to dry hop tonight or tomorrow. I’ll do a very quick write up on that in the next few days.

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First Attempt:
This Recipe:

Changes implemented for Batch 3.

Increase mash salts. Try 100ppm calcium, 100ppm chloride, 100ppm sulfate.
Try all two row instead of Two row and Marris Otter.
Increase 10m Centennial addition, remove centennial from whirlpool.

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