Monday, February 25, 2013

#23 and New Mash Tun

I haven't been super active with this blog recently and there are a few things on backlog (especially tastings of 4 or 5 beers and a few book reviews) but today I brewed a new beer and used a new system recently so that moved to the top of the list.  My #23 is named in honor of both my 23rd batch and myself being 23 years old for less than another month.  Since batch 24 will probably be the only other batch that is equal to my age I decided to do this one right by doing a big Belgian quad with 23 pounds of fermentables.
My new 10 gallon mash tun with over 20 pounds of grain in it

One of my favorite styles for a long time with beers like Westvleteren 12 and St. Bernardus 12 being particular favorites and having recently finished "Brew Like a Monk" it seemed time to go for it.  In an attempt to emulate those beers I am using the Wyeast Trappist High Gravity yeast.  Due to Midwest Supplies leaving out a pound of aromatic I modified my recipe to use 20 lbs of Pilsner, 1 pound of special b, .5 pounds of biscuit malt and 1.5 pounds of a variety of sugars (including corn syrup, white table sugar and brown sugar).  Aiming for a near 1.100 OG could lead to some difficulties with attenuation but I am excited to truly try to make a beer of this style.

To go along with this huge batch I also am doing my first non-biab all-grain brew with my new 10 gallon mash tun!  While brew day was annoying in a few days (yeast had been left out since arriving, 1 lb of aromatic grain was missing, the brew tun was slightly messed up, didn't have enough water and the water filters were going slow) I managed to finally hit my mash temp (151 F) after a prolonged period between 120 and 130 while I went to purchase and then boil distilled water.  So far I'm liking the all-grain set-up much more than BIAB but I will have to see how the final product comes out to make a real determination.
This one had a very active hot break

Note: I also ran a second mash on the malt to make a table beer with some old Abbey Ale II yeast I made a starter for.

Cooled to 63F, transferred to 6 gallon better bottle, aerated by shaking for 5 minutes and pitched two swollen smack packs of Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity.  OG came in at a disappointingly low 1.080 (the small beer however did come in at a gravity of 1.055).

This thing took off over night to the point where it blew out the blow off tube!  The most active fermentation I have ever seen.  Made a huge mess but at least I was able to top crop some of the krausen from it.

Fermentation is not nearly as strong as it was for the first few days but still going fairly strong.  Small beer is also still fairly active and giving off strong bubblegum notes.

Fermentation still seems to be going slowly. Sample was at 1.021 gravity, much higher than expected. Color was light and flavor was sweet, boozy, lightly fruity and somewhat bitter. Decided to make another couple pounds of candi sugar to get this closer to where I want it.
Small beer is down to 1.013, probably still has a ways to go. Extremely hazy with protein chunks, I think I grabbed too much of the krausen when sampling. Flavor is a bit fruitier but again too bitter.

Gravity on big beer, #23, down to 1.016. Bottled with 3.3 oz of sugar. Small beer, #24, is finally carbed. Fairly light and tasty with definite Belgian aromas, will need to do a full tasting soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

#22 - IPA Tasting

If there is one hard rule about homebrew it's that the best batches are gone too soon and the worst stay around too long. This beer, fortunately, has flown by. Down to the last bottle of a 5 gallon bath after just over a month. Time for a tasting.

A- solid off white head that fades to one finger. Very clear bright orange color. Leaves beautiful lace on the way down, as seen in the second picture. Right where I wanted it.

S- luscious fruit and citrus hops with a bit of honey. Melon, lavender, rose, lemon. Lots going on in the hop forest.

T- bright warm lightly toasty malt on the from with a bitingly bitter finish. The hop flavor has already faded a bit, still a nice lemony fruity flavor there but surprisingly faded much quicker than the beautiful aroma.

M- medium in body and carbonation. Very enjoyable with a bit of creaminess from the oats counteracting the otherwise dry body.

O- one of, if not the, best beers I have made to this point. I would gladly serve this or order it from a professional brewery, a bit different than the standard but I'm glad. This is good beer.