Brewing Journey Pt 3

Brewing Different Styles

Testing my skills and developing new ones by doing new things

Several styles and new equipment and processes

I let this ferment go for 12 days. The first 3 were fierce with the Nottingham yeast. 9 days at 18 degrees +- 0.5 then one degree higher for the last 3 days. See the following for the transfer method. I am using 5 PSI pressure to transfer and using my home style spunding valve to release keg pressure. I turned off the heat two days ago and let the fermenter cool naturally to 11.5 degrees. Looks to be 6% alcohol and quite clear. Lets’ see what happens in the keg after 2 weeks in that. I have added no additional conditioning sugars and will leave it self carbonate then bring it up to 10 PSI in the keg, if needed. This one will be darker but not as dark as I thought. I will once again use the bottom contents of the fermenter to bottle some of the ale.It may only be a bottle or two this time because I had 20l in the fermenter. It was actually 4 bottles before I got to the heavy sediment. Quite efficient really. The bulb was enough to hold all the precipitated yeast and with no dry hopping there was not much else in the fermenter.

Brew #5 Bottle/kegging. Brew #4 tasting

Laundry Brewery.jpg

Here is the result of Brew #4

Amberish Ale.jpg

The bottled version was more yeasty, probably because it was from the bottom of the fermenter after I had filled the keg. Probably a little too much carbonation but I am unsure. The first glass from the keg went into the sink (15 July). Quite a lot of sediment and very frothy. Second glass was much better and still a bit cloudy. Later glasses were clearer still and poured well. Keg temperature 12 degrees the same as the laundry. Malty sweetness is more evident in the keg ale than from the bottle – drier finish form the bottle too. The bottle, had 3 g of glucose added … interesting. The bitterness is noticeable and pleasant after the first mouthful. I could drink this often. 5-5.5% alcohol by the calculations.

Tasting Brew #5
A week after transfer to the keg and Brew #5 tastes good from the keg. This may be a bad thing because a litre disappeared on Friday evening. I still cannot work out how the glass emptied so fast. A week of conditioning seems to have mellowed the brew and the yeastiness is less evidenced. Pleasantly, there seemed to be minimal sediment when pouring from the keg this time – perhaps it was the different yeast. Initial carbonation was a little low with not enough tongue tingle (is that an official term?) going on for me and it was around 6 PSI. I put the CO2 on for an hour at 10 PSI and it was better by then. I may give it another charge or two this weekend (21 July) while tasting more then leave it alone for a while. Temperature of the keg was just over 13 degrees because the nights have been milder so there may have been a bit of fermentation but not much because the pressure was not much above transfer pressure – I suppose a couple of PSI is significant over a week in Winter.

The colour is a bit darker than Brew#4 and the malt is more pronounced. Alcohol tastes/feels lower but should be around the same as Brew#4 There is good bitterness and a nice balance over the whole palate. A slightly watery feel in the mouth may be due to carbonation being low. Also perhaps being a week since transfer.

I am interested to see what it is like after a few weeks. Might post tasting notes weekly …

Other Things
I have planted some hop rhizomes in pots so that they can be well exposed to the cold. Goldings and Chinook. Dug the garden bed to about 40cm deep then built on top of that a raised bed 40cm higher. Gypsum turned into the clay at the bottom, a half cubic metre of compost mixed in and then next weekend I will add cow manure and more compost to the raised bed, sprinkle powdered clay over it then a large amount of stone dust from a mason. stone dust is usually a better fertiliser than chemicals and the clay dust also has good nutrient and water retention properties to balance out the quick drainage of the compost. I will show how I make the framework for the hops to grow up as I do it. Basically 3m high square aluminium posts with a similar cross bar. U bolts for attaching guy ropes and the whole frame inserts into concreted square tubes with a snug fit. Then all I do is attach the twine to some more u bolts to make a good climbing frame for the hops. The frame will get a lot of sun and I can protect it a little in peak summer. Windbreak provided by the house and a fence. Irrigation via drippers and a controller that adjusts the amount of water according to humidity and temperature. It should work.

In September, I will have a partially raised bed (20cm or so) for the barley crop. It will be at least 10 square metres and possibly 20. Depends on some other ideas I have. I would prefer to have planted potatoes or similar as a winter crop to prepare the soil … next year

Brew #5 after 3 weeks.jpg

Brew #5 after 3 weeks.
Mellowed a little and a nice colour. Some of the edge is gone. Quite a lot to like. Malt is still there.

This is about Batch 13 and a bit about the Kolsch experiment.

Batch #12 was the Grandfather Strong Ale. That is the name I am giving it. I settles on Strong Ale rather than Porter or Amber Ale because it is not either of them. It may not strictly be a Strong Ale either because I am not confident it was ever kept for months before drinking in Ballarat 1850s style. It would have been drunk fairly soon, I think.

New pieces of equipment etc:

  • A chest freezer with adjustable temperature from -24 to +10 degrees. Holds 2 x 19 litre kegs and 3 x 4-10. Kolsch in there now to lager or something like that …
  • Lactic and phosphoric acid to adjust acidity. CaOH2 does the reverse. Lactic used in Brew #13
  • Triclover fitting to make a home-made pressure transfer for the Grainfather Fermenter. Successfully trialled yesterday with a transfer direct to keg. Far better than using the pump and faster too
  • Properly setup wort cooler. Now using the immeresion cooler in the kitchen sink and recirculating for 2 minutes to get the wort from boiling to 85 degrees quickly. Did a hopstand with 30g of Galaxy hop pellets for 20 minutes while the wort cooled to 82 degrees. Then cooled again recirculating for 15 minutes down to 45 degrees with a change of water in the sink. Quite efficient but for the water usage. See below for the Brew #13 story.
  • A dangly stainless steel ball thing for hops. Worked well.
  • Irish moss flocculator. Probably did what it was supposed to do but I am not sure it is needed.
  • better weighing tools. Jewellers scales for the chemicals. 0-50kg scales for malt and keg weighing. See Batch #12
  • A collection of buckets for the malt, crushed grain and water transfer
  • Let water stand overnight to remove the noticeable chlorine. Soon to have a filtration system in the kitchen to remove a wade variety of water contents. It will muck up the calculations …

Batch #12 was kegged after a three week fermentation where the cold crashing was done in the Grainfather Fermenter. Glycol cools the fermenter so I left it to “lager” on the yeast for a week. Then I carbonated by giving the keg a burst of CO2 at 14 PSI while the keg was still cool around 8 degrees. Two bursts at 2 hour intervals and then the keg into the fridge/freezer. Another burst this morning and at midday keg steady at 8 degrees. It seems to work ok. Compared with the fermentasaurus it is a bit more work but the temperature and other factors are more controlled. I could have transferred to the fermentasaurus for a “secondary” but wanted to see how this approach worked out.

The pressure transfer setup I made was good for 3 PSI transfer pressure. I used a white connector to the IN post of the keg and nothing on the end of the tubing attached. I consider that the constant flow of beer keeps air/oxygen out well enough given the thin tubing. I considered using a blow off bottle but decided it was too anal retentive to own up to in public. Transfer was done in a little over 5 minutes compared to using a pump. It was much cleaner and easier to sanitise/clean up. Personally, I think that the Grainfather Fermenter should come standard with a Triclover ball lock post for a spunding valve or blow off bottle connection rather than the airlock and bung. Then it could be more easily used for pressure transfer. The double butterfly valve and its arrangement pushing the outlet above trub/yeast is ideally suited to a pressure transfer. The setup I made was cobbled together instead of using a simple and readily available connector for the CO2. 3 PSI is fine for transferring so no problems there.

If I was designing a next gen version of the Grainfather fermenter, I would make sure there is a lid that handles higher pressure (10 PSI would be good enough) and a 4″ triclover connector so that readily available attachments (ie with gas and liquid posts and a hook for doing dry hopping) can be used. The rest of what it does id good. Very good. Maybe they could do what they have done with their brewer and have a phone and recipe controlled fermentation schedule. It is a pain setting it up on a small screen at floor level.

With fermentation under pressure and the connections to allow no-opening additions, there would be no need for another vessel – as I think is needed now.

Brew #13 – American Pale Ale

This is another learning brew. I want to learn about hops, what I need to get clear beer and to see if I can do it well enough. I chose Galaxy hops for every hop purpose. I introduced a hopstand step. 10g at 70 minutes in the boil. 30g for the hopstand at 85 degrees through to cooling and transfer to the fermenter. I will not dry hop this time to see what I get. Theoretically the hopstand will have given me about what I want and I need to isolate the steps and consequences a bit more.

I paid strict attention to pH this time and to the water additives. Mashing was at 67 degrees because I needed to maintain some gravity when using US05 yeast. Here is that I used:

  • Voyager Compass – 4 kg
  • Voyager Munich – 400g
  • Simpsons pale Crystal – 100g
  • 200g Maltodextrin powder (becasue I could not work out a way to get the gravity up enough otherwise). Lazy but possibly effective. I hit the projected OG of 1.057 exactly
  • Galaxy hops 10g at 70 minutes on the boil. 30g hopstand
  • CaSO4, CaCl2, NaHCO3, MgSO4 and NaCl to adjust water
  • 2ml Lactic Acid to adjust mash pH. I tested and then added 2.5ml more to get the 5.3-5.35 pH I was after. The difference is probably not great but the aim was to pay attention to the pH.

Process changes were in doing the hopstand and an improved cooling method. I was quite happy with both and they worked together well. Overall, I found that I saved around 2 hours compared to Brew #10 which was the last one I timed. Started at 2 PM. Finished with cleanup and fermenting by 9:55. Plenty of time to do other things while getting alerts to start the next step. Simple things like having buckets and other items ready – rather than searching for them one at a time – helps. I now have a shelf in a cabinet with the equipment I need ready to use.

CO2 bubbles started relatively slowly at around 13 hours after pitching. No attenuation after 17 hours. Still, it is going. We will know whether it is a a good batch in 3 weeks.

Ok, new year and I have a couple of days to do things brewing.

Firstly a report on Brew #13. A major disappointment. It seemed like it was going well until tasting it from the keg … it was conditioned for 3 weeks and the keg leaked gas. While leaking gas it may also have taken in some air. Hard to tell but, instead of having a strong Galaxy hop flavour, it was dull and uninteresting. On top of that it had probably oxidised. That means I will have to try again with the process I was testing to see if the process or equipment is the issue.

Cricket season has meant that I have been unable to do much at all since October. This next 10 days, I plan to do two batches. One a repeat of the galaxy pale ale and the other will be a different pale ale with some wheat. At the same time I will be doing some malting. More soon but back to a brew with an easy boil (outside) for the pale ale. No way would I be putting this much heat and steam in the house in this weather.

I promise some pictures.



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