Brew Day – CLONE – Iechyd Da Walloon Belgian Dark – 9-23-18

Figured I should try another belgian beer now that I have my efficiency issues ironed out. Since I have a hefe in the 5 gallon tank, I decided to do a belgian clone from my BYO magazine as a small batch.

Ended up doing a 1L starter since I didn’t have my dry yeast for this (Fermentis BE 256), and the liquid yeast at the store only had 100 billion yeast cells (this style beer needed more). Didn’t want to waste $$$ on a 2nd smack pack, so I made a starter with some DME.

To better dial in my efficiency, I did a stovetop test to see what is my actual boil off rate. As it turns out, the default in BeerSmith was way off compared to my stovetop. Once I adjusted it down to meet my actual set up, my volumes were much more accurate. Just goes to show – learn the software you are using, and you’ll get great results.

I’m really excited for this beer. The wort was crazy sweet.

The Recipe:

Iechyd Da Waloon Beligan Dark

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

  • 75 minute mash
  • 60 minute boil
  • Add belgian candi syrup at 60 min (stir to make sure it doesn’t settle to the bottom and scorch
  • Hops @ 60 min

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.069
    • missed by a hair – 1.067
  • 1.75 gallons
    • nailed it
  • OG – 1.086 , FG – 1.012
    • Killed the OG. Brewhouse efficiency over 83%!

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

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

 

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 9/23
  • Stove top BIAB set up (used nylon paint straining bag)
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4 hours
  • Brew day beer of choice:
    • KBS baby!!!
  • Brew day music of choice:
    • n/a – rolling with Two and a Half Men, season 3 in the background, then some FOOTBALL!
  • Actual OG: 1.101 – this beer might kill somebody 🙂 This blew away my brewhouse efficiency estimates. I really dialed in my boil volumes this go around, and it appears to have paid off.
  • Final OG: 1.032
  • Final ABV: 9.2%
  • What went well: the wort tasted so darn sweet!
  • What went bad: missed pre-boil gravity, but that turned out to be a non-issue.
  • Fermentation notes:
    • Brew day update – the airlock is bubbling 6 hours after putting in the fermenter!
    • 10/6 update – 1.034 – not sure how much lower it will go.
    • 10/13 update – 1.032, 2 days in a row. I’m happy with the result, but wonder if I left some efficiency on the table. In my SMaSH Centennial + caramel 20 post, I talked about a problem I had with my mash temp and holding in an oven. For this batch, I used a similar technique, but the oven wasn’t as hot. I wonder if a few longer chain sugars were pulled out by the mash temp rising a bit. That would explain the OG being so much higher than the recipe called for.  I won’t pout too much – this is a delicious 9% belgian dark beer. I’m actually drinking the room temp sample in a tulip glass as I type this. It is amazing. I’m cold crashing it now, and will bottle tomorrow during FOOTBALL!

 

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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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:

SMASH + C20

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!

Brew Day – SMaSH Centennial – BIAB – 8/18/18

HULK SMASH!

Okay – I got that out of the way.

A while back, I read an article in BYO about creating Single Malt and Single Hop beers (called SMaSH beers). This is a way for a brewer to really isolate the nuances of the ingredients. For this first (of many) experiments, I’m making a beer with just 2 row maris otter and centennial hops. Once that is out of the fermenter, I’ll repeat the recipe, but sub in either a 2nd hop, or maybe a specialty grain (like caramel 20) – just to compare the two beers side by side. It should be a fun next couple of months as I make these smaller batches and really get to know my ingredients.

As an aside – doing these smaller batches is kind of fun. I can do the entire exercise right in the kitchen while I’m watching my kid play in the living room. That is in contrast to when I’d have to have my local mom watch him while brewing a bigger batch in the garage (I don’t want him out in the garage for hours on end with me – kid is too young).

And finally, I’m really digging the BIAB set up. Its such a cleaner way to homebrew. I actually got a larger brew bag for my 10 gallon mash tun. I thought it would be silly at first, but then I read in some forums that people started doing it to make clean up easier, and they LOVED IT. They wonder why they weren’t doing it all along. So, for my next large batch (I have a Burton style ale cued up), I’ll be experimenting with a brew bag for my 10 gallon mash tun.

 

The Recipe (all grain):

SMaSH centennial.JPG

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

  • Single step mash @ 158 F
  • Hop additions at 60, 45, 30, 15, 0
  • Rehydrate yeast towards end of boil (30 minutes stir plate, balance of time at rest)

Target numbers:

  • Pre boil SG: 1.032
  • 1.15 gallons
  • OG – 1.068, FG – 1.020

This will be bottled once it reaches its final gravity.

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

 

Brew day notes:

  • Date: 8/18
  • Stove top BIAB set up (used nylon paint straining bag)
  • Total time (including cleaning): 4.5 hours
    • Everything went nearly perfect!
  • Brew day beer of choice:
    • N/A – was baby sitting, so drank some Yogi Ginkgo Clarity tea – the stuff is awesome
  • Brew day music of choice: N/A – had season 2 of Two and a Half Men going in the background
  • Actual OG: 1.039 – OVER THE TARGET – exceeded brewhouse efficiency!
    • BOOM. This was my first time milling my own grains (since I think that has been a big source of my recent pre-boil efficiency. Bought a Cereal Killer and hand calibrated it myself to 0.030″
  • Final OG: TBD
  • Final ABV: TBD
  • What went well: pretty much everything but my post boil gravity. I need to be a little more vigilant in measuring my liquid volumes after the mash. I need to add some gradient marks or a measuring stick to my stovetop equipment.
  • What went bad: Nothing really – just going to work on measuring liquid volumes and improving my post-boil efficiency.
  • Hardware notes: need to adapt equipment for measuring post mash volumes. I’m questioning the accuracy of my thermometers. I calibrated using the ice water method, but when the bimetallic stem thermometer said my water was at 162 degrees F, and I used a digital bluetooth thermometer to monitor the mash, the temp shot up to 170+ degrees F. I need to figure that out. Can’t have my strike water over 170 degrees F – that will hinder conversion. Oh, and, I love my new grain mill!!!!!

 

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!