Friday, February 13, 2009

Ernests' 60/- ale (light)

The first brew was Ernests' 60/- ale (light). Here is the rundown and the notes of how it went as it happened.

Measuring efficiency on this series is beyond my mental capacity it seems. I am generally getting an 80% and up efficiency these days. However with this series I am unsure how to accurately measure due to the fact that I am caramelizing the first gallon of runnings down to 1 quart. Essentially making my own LME! I took a gravity reading of it on the second brew and it was off the scale on my hydrometer!

6 lb. 4 oz. of Marris Otter
2 oz. roasted barley

Mash at 155F for 60 minutes

Collect one gallon and boil down to 1 quart in a separate pot. Collect rest of run-off and sparge.

Boil for 2 hours (120 minutes) adding 21 g (.75 oz) of Golding pellet hops at 60 minutes.

3 g Irish moss at 15 minutes.

Cool to the mid 60's and pitch decanted starter.

Ferment at (hopefully) 62F for 3 weeks. Rack to keg and condition cold (low 50's or maybe in the kegerator) for 2-3 more weeks. Force carb for a week at 1 volume to start. Maybe raise it higher to taste. I am still trying to work out the "perfect" carbonation for these styles that is close to authentic.

That was the plan. Here was the reality:
Brew day 22 November, 2008

Had some trouble hitting my mash temp with this small grain bill. My mashtun is a 48 qt. "ice cube" cooler. Next time I will try preheating, using a "floating top" to reduce dead space, and using a slightly higher water to grist ratio. I used my usual 1.25 qt./lb. this time.

I wanted a mash temp of 155 and I got 149. I won't go into the details but I tried unsuccessfully to correct it. May be a bit thin in the end. (It was, but still highly drinkable)

Here it is 1 gallon of first runnings boiling on the stove. I decide to boil on the stove and use a smaller heavy bottomed pot (SS with encapsulated AL) so it would no be too hot and not scorch. I have tried this technique with my propane burner in a thinner pot before and had some wicked scorching.
Here it is about an hour later (okay maybe I will use the heavier pot on the propane burner next time!) reduced to about 1 quart.

and here we have a little over quart of thick syrup wort. yum.

My preboil gravity was a bit high at 1.026 (should have been 1.023.) and I am not sure if that is to do with the caramelization which the brew software does not allow for or my ever increasing efficiency. Perhaps a combination of the 2 as I have been seeing my efficiency climb the last few brews.

I collected 7.50 gallons (least I thought I did???) after the intial first runnings so I would have a grand total of 7.75 to get me through the 2 hour boil. I started the boil as I was waiting for the caramelization to finish. When I measured after adding the quart I had 7.50??? I do not think I evaporated a quart in the time it was coming up to boil but who knows.

I boiled for 2 hours as planned, but tried to maintain a fairly easy boil/simmer so as not to end up too high of a SG. I was pretty much on target volume wise and about 4 points too high @ 1.036. Slightly over the mark for a Scottish light. So I added 1 qt. of boiled/cooled water I had waiting knowing I may be high. OG ended up being 1.033. Not too bad. Should have been 1.032.

I had crash cooled the starter and decanted about 1 qt. off. I poured some into the brew pot right before racking and then dumped the thick slurry into the carboy. It was cooled to 64F. Set it down in the brew room in a tub of water and closed the door. Closing the door will make the ambient about mid 50's which will hopefully maintain a nice cool 62F Ferment. Then when initial ferment cools down it will bring it down in the mid fifties for a nice cool malty conditioning.

24 November , 2008

This is certainly going to be a learning experience. I am finding that I am "flying by the seat of my pants" in many regards. Brewing software can not help me. I realized the color would be darker than anticipated by the software, so I shot for the low end of SRM for style. The result from the caramelization was a nice bronze to chestnut color. Actually more what I was hoping for.

Gravity is another area that I am finding I will have to make changes on the fly. Pre-boil I think will always be a bit off due to to heavy concentration of the caramelizing. Not a good time to try and get a handle on efficiency! Plus the long 2 hour boil is another factor I am not used to.

Perhaps too many new variables... Ah well, so far so good.

Fermentation is going alright if a bit slow. It is rather cool after all. It was spot on temp wise but I kept fiddling with it last night. The ambient temp was about 54F with the door closed on the brew room. Tub of water had the aquarium heater in it and was reading 58F. Fermenter itself was at 60F. I opened the door at about 11 pm and fiddled with the heater. Should have left it alone. It was 66 on the fermenter this morning. 70F in the water bath. Added some ice, closed the door. Will watch closely.

Still not a very active fermentation. Minimal to no airlock activity. A few bubbles yesterday. None today and actually pressure has reversed. A 1/2" thick crust of yeast floating on top formed yesterday afternoon. Has not really increased too much. Pretty much just yeast and break, no foam or bubbles Not much motion inside. Patience.

It is not a great shot. My camera is suckin' harder all the time! Especially batteries. It would appear that it has already reached high krauesen but the residue on the glass is just from getting rocked. As I said, it is just a crust of yeast/break and not really any bubble/foam action. I have managed to bring the temp back down to about 63F. Still watching it. Ambient temp and water bath temp are now 55F with the door closed. I unplugged the heater for the time being. Hopefully it does not drop...

On another note...

The hydro sample I neglected to dump is fermenting nicely

26 November, 2008

Ferment is going nicely. I missed the exact time it "took off" but I estimate it was somewhere between hour 28-35. It was pretty nice and active all yesterday churning and frothing and bubbling vigorously. I am glad now that I made a starter despite its low SG. I think considering the cool ferment temp it was a wise idea. Have been able to maintain about 61F after my initial slip-up the first 12 hours or so where it got up to 66F.

It is slowing back down today. The temp is starting to slide down as the vigorous activity is declining. I am taking steps to maintain it at 61F or so. The ambient temp is 54F the water bath is 58F which is where the fermenter is headed towards. I opened the door to the room as it was at 62F ambient when I checked it last week with the door open. I will nudge the aquarium heater up a bit at a time if necessary too.

Then it is just waiting. After about 3 weeks I will rack to keg, purge air and then keep it in the brew room with the door closed to condition in the mid 50's. Wash the yeast and then it is 70/- time...

12 December, 2008
Took a reading today and Ernest's' 60/- is done at 1.010. Have been dropping the temp slowly over the last few days by closing up the room. It has been at about 56F.

Sample was nice and clean and clear. Nice auburn to amber color. Smooth and very drinkable. Does not stand out in any way in particular. Malty but not sweet. Balanced and kind of unremarkable at this point.

Going to keg and wash the yeast in the next day or so. Not exactly 3 weeks but I am going by "feel" here. It seems done. Then I will let it cold condition for a few more weeks. Then the hard part. Finding time to brew the next round of Charles' 70/-

This project is going to take me a while. Kind of want to brew some Bitter ol' Woodchuck APA right now too. Very doubtful I will get a double brew day. I suppose this project takes priority so the yeast does not sit too long.

December 13, 2008
Where things stand. Ernest's 60/- has been kegged and is sitting in a cool room in the low 50's. Yeast has been washed and I repitched some of it into a new starter which is currently on the stir plate.

Reviewing my process to try and improve somethings that did not go quite right last time. Like not being able to achieve my mash temp...

17 December, 2008

Unfortunate news for my 60/-. Sadly, do to my consumption out pacing my production, my 60/- won't be getting as long a cold conditioning as I had planned. Put it on gas yesterday as I am running dangerously low on beer.

I will let it carb at serving temp at least so as not to rush it too much.

25 December, 2008

I did tap the 60/- before I had hoped to.

Tastes great. It is still not quite fully carbed has no head and is a bit cloudy since it did not get its full cold conditioning. Other than that it is smooth and malty and very clean. I have heard that the kettle caramelization can be perceived as diacetyl but I do not taste it. I am extremely sensitive to diacetyl I will mention and not at all fond of it. I think the key here is a slow cool ferment. I am guessing that people get that perception when the Scottish yeast ( or others) are fermented warmer (normal ale temps) along with the kettle caramelization. Purely speculation I suppose, but that is my theory.

Once it gets where I want it I will be sure to post a pic of a pint.

I am really looking forward to, and hope that I have the self control to, have all the series available to do side by side comparisons at some point. I suppose I will have to bottle a few of each from the keg and set them aside so I do not drink it all up.

27 January, 2009

Oh, and here it is. Not the best shot but here ya go. The first of the series. Ernest's 60/-

It has cleared greatly since I first tapped it (prematurely). It is really tasty. Very nice and malty. Slightly sweet and toasty. Kind of like my favorite cereal (since I was a kid) grapenuts. Or like chewing on malt.

I am really pleased with this. It is a really easy drinking pint. I will certainly do 10 gallons at a time in the future as it is a bit more work with all the time and the caramelization process. Could use a bit more body but as mentioned earlier I did have trouble achieving and maintaining the mash temp I was aiming for.

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