Thursday, March 26, 2015

Westminster 1839 Porter Brew Day & Ordinary People Bottling

Tuesday morning, I went outside to grab my mash tun for some cleaning, and I knew that day had to be brew day. I prepped everything, got my mash going, and did a bunch of cleaning and sanitizing during the mash. During the boil, I racked Ordinary People to secondary, because I needed the yeast for the porter but there was still a little ferm action in the jug. I bottled it today, as FG was on point and fermentation had clearly died down. Ended up with 9 bottles of what should be a very tasty session beer.

Brew day of the porter went really well. I was very conscientious about sanitation, wort chilling was fast and efficient, the whirlpool/trub removal went really well, and I pitched a nice large volume of healthy yeast. Additionally, I collected a heaping volume of wort that I ended up boiling down for about an hour before adding my first hop addition, and the extra kettle caramelization should result in a really nice malt profile. My efficiency was 69%, which is a little low for my system (I usually get somewhere between 70-75%), but I still got an OG of 1.051, which should still give me a really nice ~5% ABV beer. I am really looking forward to this one, as the original version of this recipe (everything the same, but fermented with a different yeast strain) was my single favorite batch I've ever brewed. Here are a couple shots from brew day:

Blanket-insulated mash tun:

Siphoning Ordinary People to secondary to finish fermentation:

Siphoning clear, trub-free wort after the whirlpool:


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ordinary People Brew Day

Oh man, what a treat this was! When you are used to the sweaty, exhausting, and at times cumbersome act of brewing 5-gallon batches, with all that grain and water, brewing 1-gallon batches is a welcome change to the routine. I found that my brew day on Tuesday evening went much faster, as I was able to bring the wort to a boil and cool it to pitching temps much faster with the smaller quantity, plus cleanup was much easier and faster. I also found that certain elements, like the mash, were more accurate and easy, though the monitored brewpot method requires much more vigilance than the cooler method. In terms of efficiency, I hit my target OG on the money. At the end of the day, I was very happy and satisfied, and in many ways reminded of why I love brewing in the first place. Fermentation was off like a shot by this morning, and still trucking along vigorously now more than 24 hours later! I did a bit of live tweeting during the brew day, which was quite fun. And now...some pictures from the day!

A bamboo spatula makes for a perfect tiny mash paddle
Mash accuracy
Even had time to enjoy a barleywine
Vigorous fermentation by the next morning


Thursday, March 12, 2015

My return to the game

For those of you that have been faithful readers of this blog in the past, you are well aware of the fact I haven't been brewing much in the last couple of years, as well as my propensity for lengthy (sometimes involuntary) hiatuses. Frankly, this makes me sad. I have plenty of free time, a little disposable income, and a fiery passion for beer. I would like to return to the days when I was brewing more consistently, firstly because I miss having homebrew in the house. Secondly--and perhaps most importantly--beer is a creative outlet for me. I'm starting to feel like a bedridden Keith Jarrett with all of these ideas whirring around in my head and nowhere to exercise them, and at this point I feel like I owe it to myself to get things rolling again. I'm hoping these upcoming batches will serve as my very own The Melody at Night, with You. 

Recently, I read an article (which I of course can't relocate at the moment, but for which I will post a link when I do find it) about brewing one-gallon batches of in lieu of making yeast starters (small batches of unhopped beer meant solely to stimulate yeast growth and get a proper volume of yeast to pitch into a 5-gallon batch). I don't always make starters, but in an attempt to hone my methods a bit and take my beer to the next level, I'm going to try and avoid underpitching from hear on out. To save my more casual beer fans from too much jargon, this way the yeast will do what it's supposed to, and the beer will taste better and be the correct ABV.

I have planned a simple but classic 1-gallon ordinary bitter to build up a nice yeast cake for my all-time favorite recipe, the Westminster 1839 Porter. Here are the two recipes:

Ordinary People:
Target OG: 1.038
Target FG: 1.012
Target ABV: 3.3%
Target IBU: 29
Projected SRM: 12°L (copper/amber)

1 lb Maris Otter
4 oz Crystal 60L
1 oz brown sugar

12 g (for accuracy) East Kent Goldings @30 min
7 g East Kent Goldings @flameout

WLP002 English Ale yeast

Westminster 1839 Porter:
Target OG: 1.057
Target FG: 1.019
Target ABV: 5%
Target IBU: 45
Projected SRM: 32°L (VERY dark, almost opaque)

8 lbs Maris Otter
2 lbs Brown malt
8 oz Black patent malt

2.5 oz Fuggles @60 minutes
1.5 oz Fuggles @5 minutes

WLP002 English Ale yeast cake from Ordinary People

I'm very excited about these. The porter was really tasty last time, and I just love a good, quaffable English bitter. If the porter comes out as well as last time, I've got my eye on a May competition in Philly...but more on that later.

Thanks for reading, and PROST!