Monday, October 26, 2009

Hargrave's Holiday Hangover

Hargrave Holiday Hangover
Style: Imperial Stout
Calories: 293
IBU's: 44.36
Primary: 7 days @ 68°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 72°F
Aging: 21 days @ 74°F
Color: 52.3 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
15.00 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) UK
0.50 lbs Biscuit Malt
0.50 lbs Black (Patent) Malt
1.00 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.50 lbs Caramunich Malt
0.50 lbs Roasted Barley

2.00 ozs Goldings, East Kent - 60 mins
1.00 ozs Cascade - 60 mins
1.00 ozs Fuggles - 10 mins

1.0 pkg Manchester Ale - White Labs WLP038

2 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp Nutmeg, 1 tsp Allspice, 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract, and 1 tsp Ground Cloves.

Happy Holidays everyone! I know its 2 months early, but in the world of brew, I'm late. I am shocked at the recommended waiting times for most holiday brews. 4-6 months in the bottle. That means I would need to wait the normal 3-4 weeks for fermentation and aging and an additional 4-6 months. I'd have to make my Holiday Brew in March! So forget that. Two months is all I got so 2 months it will be. I tapped the Almond Brown this weekend. A full two weeks before I intended to because I am broke and in need of a brew. I can tell the flavors have not fully developed. You see the more complex the beer, the longer it takes for the flavors to mellow and blend, and this brew is a doozy.

The additions and some of the ingredients might sound like the recipes below, the Almond Brown and the Punkin' Porter. I don't always make these thick porters in fact I rarely do so, but I do enjoy writing about them. An ale is a very forgiving beer and a dark one even more so. I feel more free to experiment and take risks. Just so you know, I've made several beer less noteworthy in between the ones I blog about. I've just bottled my Istrouma Pale Ale, a hoppy Baton Rouge Brew. I've fiddled with the recipe several times and I think I've got it where I want it. The hops profile is heavy, just as I like it, the ABV is a decent 7%, but the yield was only 3.5 gallons. I need to fix that. On the other side of the coin I made a Fat Tire Amber Ale, which is a clone recipe of the fine beer made by the New Belgian Brewery in Fort Collins, CO (a shame we don't get that here in Louisiana). In that brew I got the 5 gallons I was after, but fell short of the intended ABV, around 4%. I am writing about this because first off it's a Holiday brew and second it is the largest beer I've ever made. Although I am not particularly fond of the style and less so of the label, this is defiantly an Imperial Stout.

I asked my wife what should we make for our Holiday brew? She likes her brews spicy and she told me to go ahead and make it super alcoholic. I said sure why not, and I reached into my old bag of tricks. Reading through various recipes I settled on the recipe shown above. Normally my grain bill is around 10 to 12 lbs, this one totaled 18. I've made 10gallon recipes with 18lbs, this is 5! In addition to the massive amounts of malt I've settled on some adjuncts sugars. Into the brew kettle I added 16oz of Louisiana's own Steen's Cane Syrup. I enjoy using Louisiana ingredients, and Cane Syrup is known for its potent fermentation possibilities. Also when I transfer from Primary to Secondary fermentation vessels I will add an amount of pure Maple Syrup, just for the holidays. I have used these tricks before to impart flavor and up the ABV, but a new trick I'm trying is the double fermentation process.

At an OG of 1.090, which is what I measured yesterday after all was said and done, the ABV could be as much as 10%, but will probably be somewhere around 8 or 9%. At this high gravity brewers yeast will fizzle out. In about a week I will transfer to secondary and, along with the maple syrup, I will add a packet of Champagne Yeast. Champagne Yeast differs from Brewer's Yeast in two respects, it can live at higher ABV and it imparts a dry, more tart taste.

The high-gravity tolerance is desirable, but the tart taste is not. That is why I am starting with the Brewer's Yeast which will do the bulk of the fermentation. I intended on White Labs London Ale Yeast WLP-013, but the homebrew store was out. The owner recommended the standard English Yeast, but I wanted more specific region not less. So I settled on Manchester Yeast. For those of you who don't know, in the country of England there is the metropolitan of London, and a borough of London is Manchester - so I elected a more specific geographical region. Moreover, the Manchester region is home of some of my favorite things. Boddington's Pub Ale is brewed there. It is like a cream ale Guinness. Its brewery is on a street called Strangeways, which brings me to the other Manchester link, The Smiths. I love The Smith, and although their lead singer, Morissey, is kind of a tool his songs are great. My favorite album is Strangeways, Here We Come. The signs were too great I elected to use the Manchester Ale Yeast with a little too much enthusiasm, the homebrew store owner may never know the source of my zeal.

The Champagne yeast will dry out the stout so hopefully it will taste like a Guinness - not too sweet, dry, and more roasty. In addition to this impressive gravity I got more yield than I can handle. I wanted to make sure I didn't short change myself nor my friends, to whom this beer will be a holiday gift, so I went a little overboard with my water. The extra grain bulk called for 5.5 gallons of mash water and 4.5 gallons of sparge water. I stuck to the 5.5 gallons of mash, but used 6 gallons of sparge. This gave me about 7 gallons of sweet water. Because of the high gravity and the excess water I boiled hard for 1 hour and 45 minutes, but still came out with 5.5gallons of beer. The brew barley fits in my 6 gallon carboy and when I came home today, about 18 hours since pitching the yeast, it was overflowing. What's incredible to me is that even with the excess water I achieved an OG of 1.090. The yeast is reacting violently and I had to replace my 3-piece air lock with a lenght of tube submerged into a cup of water. This device will allow the CO2 to flow more quickly and hopefully quell the possible explosion. This will truly be a big beer - just in time for the holidays!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Punkin' Porter

Punkin' Porter
Style: Brown Porter
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.11 %
IBU's: 30.28
Primary: 7 days @ 68°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 72°F
Aging: 21 days @ 74°F
Color: 37.4 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
1.00 lbs Black (Patent) Malt
1.50 lbs Pale Malt (6 Row) US
8.00 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US
0.50 lbs Caramunich Malt

1.00 ozs Hallertauer - 60 mins
1.00 ozs Cascade - 20 mins
0.50 ozs Hallertauer - 10 mins

1.0 pkg California Ale V - White Labs WLP051

Roast one small cooking pumpkin with innards removed for 30 min at 350, scoop out meat and add to grain. Mash for 90 min. Add 1 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and any other seasoning at flameout (end of boil).

I am finding out the iBrewmaster application is buggy and needs updates fairly often. It is good to know that the people over there are hard at work, but their errors have caused me a bit of grief lately. A recent update duplicated all my beers on schedule and I had no way to delete the bogus batches. So I backed up all my recipes and current schedule with their email feature, then uninstalled it and reinstalled it. I spent some time re-inputting my recipes and schedules and now it works like a charm. Another area of grief was the huge disparity between the estimated number and my actual results. For example, see the Almond Brown Recipe in which an 7.99% ABV was estimated from an OG of 1.084 while I ended up with 4.19% from an OG of 1.050. I wasn't upset by this limitation, I just felt inefficient - a quality I cannot tolerate. Well, a recent update has remedied my shortcomings. I suppose a change in the algorithms was the key reason for this update, because now all my number look great. The update now has my Brown recipe at 5.63% from an OG of 1.059 which is very near my 1.050. Also I never adjusted for the temperature of my wort when the gravity reading was taken. So the 1.050 should be more like 1.056, but I cannot be certain of that figure. Other recipes are right on the money though. I now have an exact match between estimated and actual OG, or close to that. So while it is at times frustrating, I am still happy with this app and it is now a vital part of my brewing process. I will continue to support it and extol it praise to anyone who will hear me.

Today I crafted my harvest time Punkin' Porter. I made this recipe last year as a partial mash recipe. This brew is very special to me because not only do we enjoy it on or near Thanksgiving, but it is my birthday brew. Every few years or so my birthday falls on Thanksgiving itself. This year it occurs the day before. However, my date of birth is a very common one. In high school a classmate and I had the same birthday and my best friend's was the day before. Another close friend of mine has her birthday the day after and she shares that date with my father in law. I have a hypothesis to explain this phenomenon. If you count 9 months back from November you arrive at February. With a small leap of faith, you could say we were all conceived on that international day of getting it on, St. Valentine's day.

I cannot take full credit for this recipe, nor the name. I got the Partial Mash, or Mini-Mash, recipe from a wonderful book, Extreme Brewing, by a man who is now my craftbrew hero, Sam Calagione, of Delaware's Dogfishhead Craft Brewery. A friend of mine found it at a bookstore he was employed by at the time and bought it for me. I had been brewing for several years at the time, but the book's chapter "Brewing Step-By-Step: A-Z Brown Ale" not only showed how to brew an extract recipe with large picture illustrations, but also illuminated some techniques I still use to this day. Calagione writes about the history of alcohol and its evolution from fermented sugar water to the incredible diversity we see today. With the history and knowledge to guide him he goes farther than most brewers dare to and shares his philosophy of anything goes brewing, known as Extreme Brewing. After reading this book I felt more confident as a brewer. I felt I had the power to craft any beer I wanted any way I chose to. I stopped buying kits recipes and instead ordered my own ingredients and my own hops. I followed and used many of the "Extreme Recipes" he gives in his book, all of them Mini-Mash or Extract only, and even adapted some to meet my personal taste. I started making additions to my beer on a whim. Adding extra hops, a pound of honey, cane syrup, literally anything I wanted and they all came out fine. I did not destroy any brews with my straying from a recipe, although some of them might have been a bit too "extreme." I have calmed down a great deal since then, but not as much as to adhere to the German Purity Laws of Reinheitsgebot - which could be thought of as the opposite of extreme brewing - Barley, Hops, Water, Yeast, and NOTHING ELSE.

This beer is an All-Grain Recipe and it has been my task and pleasure to adapt extract recipes from the past into all-grain recipe. As I mention, I adapted this from Sam Calagione's Punkin' Porter Recipe. It is a Partial or Mini-Mash Recipe in which Grains are used, but only special grains. The bulk sugar-source will come from the Malt Extract, a syrup derived from mashed grains rinsed with water and with the water boiled off, leaving mostly sugar. In any all-grain adaptation the specialty grains are kept constant, but the sugars are also grain, usually 2-Row. Two-Row Barley is the brewers grain. Also called Pale Male it gives maximum amounts of sugar with minimum amounts of color alteration. Calagione's recipe called for light malt extract, amber malt extract, and dark malt extract to give the porter its dark brown hue. Knowing that these ingredients would impart a lot of sugar I compensated with 8lbs of Pale Malt. The color I had to handle in a different way. The most common way to adjust color is with Crystal Malt also known as Caramel Malt. It comes in a variety of darkness measure in Degrees Lovibond (L). They differ by roasting times and range somewhere between 10L to 120L. I decided to use a special type of Caramel Malt known a Caramunich which is somewhere between 30-48L, somewhere around Amber Color. The other color augmenter was a specialty grain chosen by Calagione, Black Patent Malt. Black Patent registers off the chart of Lovibond at somewhere around 500L, and it will turn the brightest of beers black as the Devil's heart. One very interesting fact I learned from Calagione's recipe is to include a small amount of 6-row malt. There are two types of barley, 6-row and 2-row, named for their number of stems. 6-row is said to have more protein which can cloud a beer, but it also has more enzymes for mashing. The pumpkin added is like the grains in that its tough starches need to be converted to sugars for fermentation and flavor. 2-row doesn't produce enough robust enzymes to take care of its own starches and the pumpkin, but 6-row has enough to spare. This recipe requires a mash to make the pumpkin part of the brew. I followed the recipe as a Partial Mash, and adapted it for all-grain. I could have added more. Chocolate is always nice in a porter or perhaps Roasted Barley for that roasted aromas and coffee taste, but I took the Almond Brown recipe as a warning not to over complicate a beer. I want the Pumpkin to come through so I chose not to make it too "extreme."

This morning I halved the Pumpkin, removed the innards, and roasted it in my oven at 350 for 30min. I didn't have to, but I roasted it to make it easier to scoop out the meat. I did this and added it to my mash water, 3.75 gallon with 2tsp of gypsum to harden it - up the pH. Letting it sit and do its thing for 90 minutes, I readied everything else. I sparged (rinsed) the grains with 5.5 gallons of water and boiled it for an hour with 1oz of Hallertauer hops. Twenty minutes before the end, or 40 minutes since, I added 2/3 of an ounce of Cascade and the other 1/3 55 min in or 5 min from the end. Due to an ordering mistake I did not get the extra 0.5oz Hallertauer hops the recipe called for so I improvised. At flame out I let my wife choose the spices and she added a teaspoon of Nutmeg, Allspice, Cinnamon, and two teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice, which is just more of the same. The weather has finally cooled here in South Louisiana, and perhaps I will maintain a decent storage temperature this time, if the summer is indeed over. I will follow the schedule for fermentation and bottle this brew rather than keg it. Bottles last longer and, even though it will be my birthday, it is easier to give them as gifts this way. Last year I saved one until May, the beginning of summer, and it was tainted. Ironically the pumpkin spoiled it, but, like the seasons, even great brews must pass.