Brew Day – SMASH Centennial, Vol 2 – 8/31/18

This is the next iteration of what I’ve been affectionately calling my “build-a-beer” series. If you read the first SMASH post, you know that I’ve taken a single base malt and a single hop, and made a beer. For volume 2, I’ve kept the same recipe, but added a specialty malt (caramel 20) so I can compare the two side by side, and see how caramel 20 changes the taste & color. I was cognizant to adjust down my base malt when I added the caramel 20 to keep the color, ABV, and bitterness within expected ranges for the beer style.

Also, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning how to fine tune my BeerSmith2 application. I might have mentioned it before, but its worth revisiting…not only is BeerSmith2 a great resource for recipes, but its also a great tool for designing beers if you spend the time to set up your various profiles:

  • equipment profiles
  • mash profiles
  • fermentation profiles

Going through that process has made me more aware of my equipment, and the nuances of how my brewing practices can affect the beer. Youtube has a lot of great videos. A guy on YouTube called Brulosophy has some great tutorials on setting up these profiles. The creator of BeerSmith2 has videos as well, but I find it to be a nice additional perspective to get user tips from the guy that DIDN’T design it.

The Recipe:


Brew notes (I’m not going to regurgitate all of the steps – just the ones that are important):

  • 60 minute mash
  • Hop adds at 60 min, 45 min, 30 min, 15 min, and flame out

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.048 (exceed pre-boil efficiency)
  • 1.95 gallons
  • OG – 1.073 , FG – 1.022

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

Bought ingredients at my local homebrew store (Bacchus & Barleycorn).


Brew day notes:

  • Date: 8/31
  • Stove top BIAB set up (used nylon paint straining bag)
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4 hours
  • Brew day beer of choice:
    • n/a – on babysitting duty!
  • Brew day music of choice:
    • n/a – Had “Two and a Half Men,” season 3 going in the background
  • Actual OG: 1.069 – pretty close to target – need to get my boil volumes under better control on the stovetop
  • Final OG: 1.030
  • Final ABV: 3.4%
    • It doesn’t taste bad, so I’m going to bottle it. Lesson learned – watch your mash temps you dope!
  • What went well: nailed the pre-boil gravity by milling my grains again. Looks like that fixed my problem.
  • What went bad: other than being better with my boil volumes, things were smooth.
  • Hardware notes: nothing new to report
  • Fermentation notes: this thing started off with a VIGOROUS fermentation. I didn’t leave enough head space in my 2 gallon fermenter, so it bubbled out of the airlock.
    • 9/10 update – added dry hops
    • 9/17 update – removed dry hops, checked gravity – only at 1.030 – give it another week. Also changed airlock – that thing was nasty with hops and blow off.
    • 9/22 – still reading 1.030. Wondering if too much yeast came out as it bubbled out of the airlock…
    • 9/30 update – this has been a stubborn beer. Hasn’t moved since 9/22. Thought maybe some sediment in solution was pumping up the gravity, so I cold crashed it and redrew. No change. Decided today to repitch a 2nd packet of dry Fermentis S-04 to try and restart fermentation. Beer smells good and I like the color from the Caramel 20. I just want those last 8-10 gravity points before I bottle it. Will monitor to see if 2nd fermentation happens after yeast addition.
    • 10/6 – Still stuck at 1.030 after pitching a pack of S-05. I didn’t aerate at the time of the 2nd pitching. So, as a last effort, I aerated the 1.030 batch and re-agitated everything. I’ll give it 48 hours. If I don’t see any signs of fermentation, I’ll just call it quits and bottle what will be a highly sessionable 3.8% IPA.
      • This bugs me. I reviewed my notes and thought back through the brew day. There aren’t signs of infection. The temp in my basement is nice and stable to promote a good fermentation. The initial fermentation was quick and vigorous. No issues there. My only apprehension was that a lot of the bucket contents bubbled out of the fermenter (I didn’t leave enough head space). I was concerned that maybe those conditions contributed to this issue. I started doing some reading on what can stop a fermentation. The good news is that my headspace observation didn’t play into this. What I did find is too high of a mash temp could lead to unfermentable chains of sugar getting into your wort. You’ll still hit your pre-boil numbers and post-boil numbers (since they are sugar), but, when the rubber meets the road and fermentation commences, once the fermentable sugars are eaten, the yeast can’t do anything with the longer chain sugars, and you get a stuck fermentation. I reviewed my BIAB stovetop process, and think I found the issue. To maintain mash temp, I set my oven to 150 degrees (hold) temp, and then put my kettle into the oven for the duration of the mash. My intent wasn’t to heat up the mash, it was to maintain the current mash temp (since uninsulated kettles lose heat). I didn’t check the mash temp at the end of the mash – I just strained and plowed ahead. If the temp crept up above 160 degrees, I probably pulled those long-chain sugars that you don’t want. So, I’ll chalk this up as a big lesson learned, and will do two things:
        • First – no more oven preheating – just treat the oven like an insulated box (seemed to work okay for the SMASH volume 1)
        • Second – check the mash temp during and at the end. I’m not going to take it for granted that my mash temp will stay put once I put it in the oven.
    • 10/8 – no activity whatsoever. I’ll buy the long chain sugar theory and call it a day. Stuff tastes okay. Its sweet – but lacks the alcohol to balance that out. It’s not like I’ll be choking it down. It will be a subtle reminder to watch your mash temps when doing stovetop work. Also, I decided that I want to pivot my SMaSH work to cascade hops. I learned what I wanted with the centennial – it has a bit of a piney backbone. That is all I need to know.


Have you ever brewed this style beer before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!


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