Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Been Awhile

As you can easily see, it's been awhile since I posted on the blog, and I thought that an update might be in order. Here are a few things I have been working on and brewing. After the last brew when I tested my efficiency, stabilized my system, and began to work on my own brewing "software" a lot has happened.

I brewed a partigyle Wee Heavy with Heather Tips and a Scottish 90- that was aged on Oak and Laproiage Islay Scotch. The beers didn't turn out as I'd liked. They are way too fruity and not very malty. The 90- is much further down this line than the Wee Heavy. All of this is recipe based. I added both c120 & Special B which added tons of fruit and none of the caramel and subtle dark fruits I was looking for. The peat malt came off quite phenolic. Using 1056 subdued any maltiness I was looking for and through off lots of fruit. I have already reworked the recipe to remove the c120 and Special B, and added French CaraMunich and CaraVienna for light caramel and toasted sugar, and British Dark Crystal for more of the same, and went for 1968 London ESB to pull of a heavily malty character.

I also brewed a second partigyle, a 10.6% Imperial Stout with Chipotle & Cherries, and a Session Stout with Orange and Cinnamon. The big beer was fermented for 3 1/2 weeks, then aged 1 week with Chipotle and 3.75# Sweet Cherries, then another 3 weeks with just the cherries, then aged 1 more week on its own before bottling. It is quite smooth, fruity, dark, rich, chocolaty, and a slight roast. The second beer was quite devoid of character. I took a tip from Gordon Strong and cold steep some more Chocolate Malt, C75, and Black Patent, boiled it with more orange zest, and added it to the fermenter. I also added Malto-Dextrin at bottling for some more body and also offset all the oil from the orange zest so there is still great foam and head retention.

For Christmas I got my refractometer and and an aquarium temp control unit (I will post more about this in another post). I also got a second Better Bottle which was great for my next brew session. I did a "SmAsH" (Single Malt and Single Hop) type beer. I say type because I used Magnums for the bittering addition since EKGs are low in Alpha Acids and way too expensive. I used Great Western Pale Malt, and finished the batch with 3oz of EKG hops in the last 15 minutes of the boil. I then split the 8 gallon batch into 2 Better Bottles and pitched 2 different yeasts: WY 1968 London ESB and WY 1469 West Yorkshire. Come end of fermentation I used the new temp controller to up the temp for a Diacetyl Rest. I then crashed the beers to clear them. The whole thing went great, but I ended up under carbonating them since the app calculates based on temp and I used the crashed temp not the ferment temp.

My library finally got Farmhouse Ales after a year of waiting for it. While reading it I brewed a simple Saison using the WY special Farmhouse Ale strain. I mashed at 147*F, the same that I did last Summer when I brewed my two Saisons using the Dupont strain WY 3724 Belgian Saison, but the beer didn't finish as low as I had hoped (the 3724 took the beers down to 1.004 & 1.005, 3726 to 1.008). After a week in the Better Bottle at a constant 75*F, I primed and bottled in champagne bottles for added stability against the higher carbonation and the possibility that the beer might not have been finished at bottling.

I have also made a lot more adjustments to the brewing spread sheet I created. I added a refractometer adjustment section that takes the Brix and calculates OG, efficiency, and once fermentation is finished converts for alcohol to give FG, and ABV. I also added all of the malts with gravity, Lovibond, and cost from the homebrew shop as well as flavor descriptions. I was able to get a list compiled of all the hops in one of the fridges with all the Alpha Acids. I will be adding the cost and flavor aroma profiles for all of the hops as well and adding the second fridge's stock as well.

I also used my temp controlled fridge to maintain a constant 71*F to carbonate the Saison and my Imperial Stout. I will be posting some taste reviews soon on all these beers once they are carbed up and ready, so be watching for these blogs as well as a how-to-build your own dual stage temp controller for $40 (why pay $150 for a Johnson or Ranco).

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