It’s my second favorite time of the year. You guessed it, winter beer brewing season! While I enjoy brewing any and all type of beer, for some of the brews that is where the enjoyment stopped. Winter beers with their rich and sweet malty flavors paired with whatever deliciousness that we choose to add in fermentation, now that is something I can look forward to long after brew day is over. Most of our big bodied brews will require 4-6 months of aging to hit peak flavor, and that can seem like an eternity! At the same time though, it gives me something to look forward to. This brew day was an anniversary brew for me, and one year ago I brewed a Chocolate Beavr Nutz kit from Midwest and was able to hide a bomber from myself. Needless to say we drank it, and my how the flavors were so pronounced and just was a pure delight for my palate. This brew was a rebrew of our first “named” beer, only this time it was on the new brewing system.
Goodnight Gracie 2.0 – Brown Ale
There was a slight scramble the day prior to brewing to get all the specialty grains, hops, and yeast in order. We frequent our local Friar Tuck’s as they have a big, reasonably price, homebrew section. The grain bill on this brew was huge, for a 10g batch we stuffed in 30 pounds of grain! As always the recipe seemed to be more of a loose set of guidelines than a set in stone recipe. We added a little more chocolate malt than was called for and a little less of others. The grains used were as follows:
- Pale Malt 2-Row
- Chocolate Malt
- Roaster Barley
- Flaked Oats
- Crystal 120L
This brew should end up being a nice bodied palate pleaser for sure! This was the first time brewing this recipe on our new keggle system, so it would be comparison time. Our last brewing was in Nov 2015 and the mash temp plummeted in my garage, driving the efficiency down into the low 50%’s. With the new system, and a summer brew, we were able to maintain an efficiency in the upper 60% range. There are still a lot of room for improvement, and a learning curve on new equipment. I mean with that much grain we were losing some mash water over the top of our mash tun. There might have been a little too much water in there as well since we trusted the 5g keg marking lines that on there from the factory.
We started a little later than we usually would with a big all grain brew. Upon arrival we took a quick inventory of supplies to make sure a run to Friar Tucks wasn’t needed and then started milling grain. When we could barely fit the just the base malts in a five gallon bucket I knew it was going to be a good beer. Once the mash water was up to temp it was time to slowly start doughing in. This is when we discovered we could barely fit all the grain in the tun. Once it was all in there and stirred up we noticed that a little was spilling over the sides. And then the tragic discovery, we still had a couple pounds of flaked oats to add. With a little love and patience it all fit in. Mashing was uneventful, and this time we only lost a few degrees. I will be making an insulation wrap to go around the tun to increase heat retention for future brews. Sparging would be another part of the day that went off without a hitch. Now for the boil, ugh, the boil. With only having one old burner to use it takes forever to get 13g of water past the hot break and to a rolling boil. This would prove to be the longest part of the day, and would allow for plenty of time for online shopping for replacement burners. We are always open to suggestions! Once the boil started it was a simple hop schedule of 60min, 20min, and flameout. Using our little wort chiller would be another exercise in patients, and another long discussion about where we could find some extra money for upgrades. The wort was chilled and the 10g was split evenly into 2 big mouth bubblers for fermentation. Two packets of US-05 were pitched in each carboy and fermentation was underway.
I still do not have my fermentation chamber build completed yet so I had to do what any home brewer would, and turn my thermostat down to 680 to make my whole house a fermentation chamber. Within 12 hours there was vigorous activity and bubbles coming out the top of my airlock. I thought this was going to be my first blowout, and of course it would happen inside, but it was just a little bubbles and only flirted with disaster. My cousin on the other hand was not as lucky. He ferments in a chest freezer that died on him sometime during day 2. His chamber temps hit 800 and we aren’t sure if it was for long enough to have stopped fermentation. Tomorrow will mark 2 week in primary and we will plan to transfer to kegs for secondary. We decided to keg condition this brew, which I’m excited about because I had some difficulty forced carbonating my portion of the Saison. The idea of setting a corney off in a closet for a few months and the just adding serving pressure sounds great. This brew will be served for my birthday bash in October, so there might be a little follow up to this article with the final stats and of course how it tastes.
Since I am posting this a lot later than I wanted to, I was able to taste the uncarbonated beer as I transferred from carboy to keg. Oh my! The roast flavors that were present were and absolute treat. There was also a nice complementary chocolate flavor that came through, but not too strong. The beer ended up at 6.8% ABV before kegging and might pick up just as little more as the remaining yeast eats the priming sugar. I can say that I am truly excited to tap this keg in a couple of months! Cheers!