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Old 07-23-2012, 03:42 PM   #21
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Took a gravity reading yesterday while preparing to bottle a different batch. All of the various calculators I had plugged the recipe into said the FG would only ferment down to 1.021, or 1.019 at the lowest. Yesterday's reading was at 1.012, so I guess I had some over-achieving yeast.

I poured some in a glass as a sample. The aroma and taste were pretty much dead on what I was hoping for. Rich, malty, caramelly, fruity, and spicy with a complex, but subdued hop profile. No single aspect of the aroma or flavor dominates. Many layers balanced evenly. I'm going to transfer to secondary in the near future for some bulk aging before I bottle it.

With my lower than planned OG, it looks like this brew is close to 8% ABV. It was supposed to be slightly higher than that, but I'm happy with this first attempt of this recipe so far. I've already started making a few adjustments to the recipe for when I get around to a 2nd attempt.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:28 PM   #22
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So, I decided to just go ahead and type up a full/detailed report of my brew day. Nobody else might read this or comment, but I wanted to share it anyway.

Yeast:

1.5 L starter made from one smack pack of Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes

I made the starter the day before I intended to brew, but my schedule changed and it had 2 days to ferment out before I brewed. So, when the fermentation was finished, I put it into the fridge until brew day. Then took it out of the fridge as I was starting to prep for the brew in order to let it come to room temp before it was time to pitch it.

Fermentables:

2 lbs. Belgian Pale malt
1 lbs. Belgian CaraVienne
1 lbs. Belgian CaraMunich
8 oz. Belgian Special B

6 lbs. NB Munich LME
1 lbs. Belgian Candi Syrup - Amber 45
1 lbs. Corn Sugar

I intended to do a BIAB mash for the 4.5 lbs of grain, but the bag didn't cooperate. So, I ended up with the grains loose in the kettle, and then had to strain them out. I lost control of my mash temps just a bit, which might have contributed to lower efficiency. Also, I might not have used enough water to sparge/rinse the grains.

Hop schedule:

60 minute boil

0.5 oz. Sterling at 60 min.
0.5 oz. Sterling at 55 min.
0.25 oz. Sterling at 47 min.
0.25 oz. Sterling at 40 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Rainier at 34 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Rainier at 28 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Hood at 24 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Hood at 21 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Rainier at 18 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Rainier at 15 min.
0.25 oz. Sterling at 12 min.
0.25 oz. Sterling at 10 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Hood at 8 min.
0.25 oz. Mt. Hood at 6 min.
0.25 oz. Styrian Goldings at 4 min.
0.25 oz. Styrian Goldings at 2 min.
0.25 oz. Styrian Goldings at 1 min.
0.25 oz. Styrian Goldings at flameout

This was my attempt to approximate a continuous hopping (ala Dogfish Head). My wife was keeping an eye on the hop schedule. I was keeping an eye on the clock. My dad was hanging around asking all kinds of questions and smelling the hops constantly. It was a fun and busy boil. Nailed all the timings and didn't have anything even close to a boil over. Although, the only time it started to really foam up at all was actually near the end of the boil. In the last 10 minutes, every hop addition caused some foaming. A fair amount of stirring kept it at bay, though.

Chilled the wort down below 100 F within 20 minutes. Then got it down to 80 F by the 30 minute mark. At that point, I poured it into the fermenter and added the top-off water. This was when I made one of my mistakes. I added too much water. I shook the daylights out of it to combine the wort and added water, then took a gravity reading. Ended up with 1.070 for the OG, which was quite a bit lower than I expected. Most likely because of the extra water added and also lower than expected efficiency from the mash. But anyway, the added water and time taken for the OG reading got it down to 73 F and I went ahead and pitched the entire 1.5 L starter and got the airlock in place. Adding too much water to top off and then adding the full 1.5 L starter made my 5 gallon recipe into a 5.5 gallon batch. I took a couple minutes to organize a few things so they would be ready to be cleaned. Then before taking the carboy to the basement, I already noticed some fermentation activity. Letting the starter come up to room temp and pitching the whole thing made for the quickest starting fermentation I've ever had.

Anyway, took it to the coolest spot in the basement (had another batch sitting at a steady 68 F) to keep the fermentation from getting too hot. Left it there for 2 days and it stayed at about 73F the whole time. Then moved it upstairs where it was able to rise up to a steady 75 F and it actually hit 77 F briefly before calming down.

It has been sitting at about 73 F since then. I took a gravity reading a few days ago when I was bottling another batch. It was at 1.012, which is significantly lower than any of the predictions from various online/app calculators. Although, I'm sure they just figure the predictions based on the published attenuation predictions from Wyeast, which I'm sure are conservative estimates.

I'm planning on doing a fair amount of bulk aging (at least a few more weeks or so), so I will be transferring it to secondary in the near future. I'm just waiting, because I want to brew another batch that I can pitch right on top of the yeast cake from this batch.

So, I guess that's it for now. I know this reiterated some of what I wrote in other posts, but I wanted to get as complete an account of that brew day as possible and have it all together as one post. This was my first attempt brewing from an original recipe, so the more details I keep track of, the more control I'll have over what I adjust when I brew it again. I was in the middle of reading Brew Like A Monk on this brew day, and have since finished the book. I definitely took some pointers from the book and will use the information therein as I make adjustments and create other new recipes in the future. Very good book.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:57 PM   #23
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Sounds like a fun brew day.

Holy hop schedule batman...wow, bet that keep you busy. Takes some serious concentration to keep all that straight.

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Old 12-14-2012, 02:48 PM   #24
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Well, it's been five months since I brewed this batch. And just a couple months since it was bottled. At this point it is tasting better and better every time I crack open a bottle.

The first couple bottles I tried (2 & 3 weeks after bottling) were not very good at all. There was pretty much a complete lack of aroma and flavor. I think that was from a combination of super hot alcohol presence and the CO2 not being thoroughly absorbed into the liquid. So, the CO2 dissipated quickly after pouring, taking most of the aroma with it. Then the alcohol over-whelmed everything else.

Luckily, I didn't post a stupid 'is my beer ruined' thread. Believe me, I thought about it. When I did go to bottle, I found that the airlock on the secondary had gone pretty much dry. So, as I tasted the first couple bottles, I thought all of the aroma 'escaped' through the airlock. Then I thought it must be oxidized. All kinds of crazy thoughts went through my mind making me regret ever brewing the batch.

I didn't panic too much though. I just decided to let it sit. The original plan was to let it age until Christmas time. So, after those first couple bottles, I didn't try it again until Thanksgiving. I put a couple bottles in the fridge about 3 or 4 days before Thanksgiving and they were significantly better than what I had tasted before. Some dark fruit flavors were starting to come forward, and I was actually able to detect some sort of aroma. It was the hops! Great Scott! I thought all hop presence would have faded in the months since the brewday, especially with the airlock going dry. But no, the hop presence was actually coming forward more and more every time I cracked a bottle open.

I just had a bottle last night and the fruit flavors are blowing me away at this point. It was my first beer of the day, and dinner had been a few hours earlier, so my palate was pretty well fresh for getting the full flavor of the brew. Man, was it good. Delicious fruity flavors that seem to be getting brighter as it ages (even some cherry notes, along with the dried/dark fruit I had noticed earlier). Spicyness from the hops and yeast melding together. The hop bitterness is starting to cut through the fruity malt flavors. I can imagine if this ended at a higher OG, it could very easily have been cloying because of a combination of real sweetness and the perceived sweetness of the fruit flavors.

I have had a few bottles over the last couple weeks and it is noticeably different and better every time. I think I'll get a few chilling for Christmas and New Years, then set aside a good number to age longer. I might save some for NEXT Christmas and brew a new batch (with some alterations) in the meantime for comparison.

On Thanksgiving, I planned on sharing this and samples of a couple other batches with whoever wanted to try them, but nobody was really interested in beer that day. As this gets better and better, I'm perfectly OK with nobody else wanting to try it. More for me that way.

The main change I'm planning on making the next time around is aiming for a higher OG and ABV, and also switching to pilsener as the base malt/extract and a darker candi syrup. That might mean I have to brew it earlier in the year to have it ready for next Christmas, but I'm ok with that. I will keep a closer eye on the airlock, though.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:19 PM   #25
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congrats on the tasty beer. as you've discovered, big beers need time. Save as many as you can for 6+ months.

the aroma did not 'escape' through the dried airlock. even if there is liquid in there, escaping gases will blow through that liquid - so dry or not, the same is going to happen. the liquid does nothing to "retain" aromas. it only acts as a one-way valve to prevent outside air (which contains oxygen and contaminants, things best left on the outside) from getting in. in many instances you wouldn't want to keep those aromas. some fermentations are downright stinky. do a search on this forum for "rhino farts".

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What hops should I grow? Hop grower's comparison table. Looking for cheap honey?

Drinking: a farmhouse with ECY08 & brett blend, wet-hopped harvest ale x 2, second runnings dark ale with vanilla
Fermenting: (nothing active)
Aging: imperial chocolate stout, sour cherry mead, oud bruin & a few other sours, acerglyn, a BDSA
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:53 PM   #26
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Yeah, I've figured that out by now. My newb-brewer brain just went stupid when the beer didn't taste the way I thought it would. I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Turns out my mistake was just plain impatience, and luckily that mistake can be fixed pretty easily in this situation.

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On deck - a few single hopped pale ales - Cascade, Calypso, and Legacy
Primary/Secondary - Chris' Tall Ale (a Belgian golden ale); The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; Northern Brewer's Oud Bruin de Table / nada
Bottled - a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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