So, brewday has come and gone. I thought I would share with you.
I would start with a recipe, but the whole thing is somewhat convoluted as we did a parti-gyle and made two different beers. So I'll give you a list of procceses and fill in recipe details where they make sense.
We started by mashing 16 lbs of Crisp Marris Otter in 8 gallons at 150 for 60 minutes.
Then we sparged that and used 6.7 gallons of the resulting wort to mash back in at 123 with (we saved the rest of the runoff for later):
9 lbs Crisp Maris Otter
4.5 lbs Vienna
4 lbs Wheat malt
2 lbs Caramunich
2 lbs Torrified Wheat
We immediately pulled a decoction of 3.5 gallons. We were able to hold a rest at 123 for 20 minutes, quickly bring it to 150 for 20 minutes, and boil for 12 minutes to add back in about 60 minutes later and bring the main mash, amazingly now holding at 122, up to 150. We held it there for 40 minutes and pulled another 3.5 gallon decoction, this one much thinner than the last, and boiled it less than 5 minutes, and brought the main mash up to 170 after just less than 60 total minutes at 150. I was hoping to get it a little hotter, maybe 172, because I knew there to be somewhere on the order of a ****ton of sugar in there, and I wanted it to be fluid.
We tried to fly sparge the entire mash, which in retrospect was a huge mistake. Batch sparging would have been the way to go. As it was, the sparge took forever and got stuck twice. The third time we dumped the entire mash into a clean kettle, cleaned our sparge lines and false bottom, put it back together with more water at 172 and started over. Essentially a half-assed frustrated batch sparge a little too late.
But once our kettle was full to 8 gallons it tasted wonderfull! The level of sweetness was mind-blowing. Unsure of our efficiency in that terrible sparge, we opted to wait until after the boil to take a gravity. We were shooting for about 1.090 and then we'd boost it to 1.105 with a pound or so of candi sugar. We thought sure it was lower, but it did taste good, so we continued on.
We let the sparge continue, now at a predictable and manageable rate, into two clean buckets. When it finally stopped running sweet we had 12.5 gallons waiting for us. We threw in an ounce of Perle and an ounce of Strisselspalt for a first wort hopping. This would become the Que Sera Saison.
Meanwhile, we continued with the Beer'n'Bread Barleywine
2.5 oz Magnum at 60 minutes
1 lb candi sugar at 15 minutes
.75 oz Kent Goldings leaf at flame out
We chilled this and pitched a monster 2nd generation starter of 1084 Irish ale yeast to almost exactly 5 gallons after boil loss. Now, here's the amazing part. We took a gravity reading and were astounded to read a gravity of 1.134. Immediately we were concerned about 2 things.
1.) Somehow all the sugar from the entire mash ran into the first 8 gallons and we would have an incredibly weak saison.
2.)The Irish ale yeast, which is fine up to gravities of 1.100 and even higher on a good day, will have a really hard time with 1.134.
On to Que Sera Saison:
Boiled the already hopped wort to hot break and started a 60 minute timer. Then we added .75 oz of Strisselspalt at flameout, along with .25 oz of the Goldings Leaf. I think we also added some Magnum at the beginning too. To be honest, the whole idea of the Que Sera Saison is that we didn't want to waste a whole bunch of perfectly good wort taking first runnings for the monster barleywine. And our attitude is pretty much, whatever will beer we'll drink, so Que Sera Sera.
Long story short, we chilled and added our Saison yeast and got a gravity of 1.052, which was what we had been aiming for before our Barleywine came in a full 29 points over our estimate.
After a 17 hour brewday, both beers are now resting comfortably in the brew closet. But within hours of pitching, the barleywine erupted in a fit of orgasmic fury and threw off 1.5 gallons in the blowoff. So now he's only 3.5 gallons. The Saisons also, somewhat surprisingly, blew off their airlocks, but didn't turn into volcanos like the barleywine.
So now we play the waiting game. I'll be sure to tell you how it turned out.