Sunday, May 20, 2012

Results are in

Well, it was a close poll with Imperial Stout and Barley Wine leading the charge and ending in a tie (See results below)!  Since, there was a tie I decided to cast my own vote out there and make the final decision.....Imperial Stout

I headed over to the Flying Barrel Saturday to pick up my specialty grain ingredients.  I also decided to purchase another keg to bring my total to 4.  I have a two-tap system, but between this party coming up in two weeks and the planned aging of a larger beer like this imperial stout, I thought it was necessary to increase serving tank capacity!

I think I will be brewing this bad boy on Memorial day! Stay tuned...

Shegogue Brew Next Brew Results

Friday, May 18, 2012

High Gravity Brewing

As my poll stands now, a high gravity beer is in the future.  What constitutes high gravity?  This differs from person-to-person, but I like to think anything with a starting gravity of 1.060 as high gravity.  There are many challenges when brewing a high gravity beer.  I hope to discuss the potential areas to-watch out for, as a written post to my readers, but also as checklist to myself to produce a quality beer.

Extract Efficiency - Generally in a high gravity beer there will be less, if any, water used for sparging.  This is due to the increased grain bill and volume of liquid needed to be collected for the boil.  This means that the chances for extracting all the sugars (through sparging) like one normal does is not possible.  In general homebrewers tend to agree that your efficiency will suffer 10%-15% from your normal.  Trial and error is key for this, but as a first time All Grain high gravity brew, I will have to guestimate.

Longer Boil - A lot of times to increase the amount of sugar in the wort, a brewer will employ the use of a longer boil. This increased boil time will evaporate more water and result in a more concentrated sugar content in the wort.  This technique is used on a lot of bigger beers

Simple Sugar - Often a frowned upon ingredient in homebrewing circles, a simple sugar can be a critical component of a high gravity beer.  Up to a certain level the use of all grains can produce to many unfermentable sugars and create a beer that is too thick and full bodied.  Although tasty, it would be hard to consume more than 4 oz of such a beer.  Simple sugars are used in a lot of high gravity beers like belgian triples and imperial IPAs.  10%+ simple sugar or so, depending on recipe, can greatly increase the drinkability of a beer and not impart any thin or cidery flavor impact.

(Large amounts of Sugar used at Fordham Brewery for their Sodas)

Hops - There is a lot of science behind this, but with higher gravity wort your hop utilization rate drops significantly.  This will require more hops then one would expect.  I highly recommend brewing software to help formulate an IBU estimate.  Additionally, a lot of high gravity beers will be aged for months to years.  The bitterness will fade over time.  You also need to balance out the higher expected final gravity (residual sweetness) associated with a big beer through a higher IBU level.

Yeast - Lets face it, yeast health and happiness is always important to producing great beer, but brewing a high gravity beer it is imperative. High gravity beers produce a very stressful environment for the yeast. If you can't get the correct amount of healthy yeast, I recommend not brewing this style.  I plan on using a rinsed yeast cake from my pale ale (which I really need to keg, but guess that will happen next week).  If you don't have access to a large yeast cake then you should use multiple packs of rehydrated dry yeast.  Properly control the temperature of fermentation, and make sure to aerate the wort prior to pitching.

Recipe - Balancing a high gravity beer is a tricky procedure.  I highly recommend working with a known recipe for a first attempt.  You want to focus on factors to produce a beer that your palate will enjoy.  The yeast I am using is WLP002 which is a low attenuating english yeast.  I plan on mashing really low for longer than usual and potential using some table sugar to dry things out.  As always, keep detailed notes so changes can be made to future brews.

High Gravity Brews require more prep time, more brewday time, and more waiting time until you can consume.  Given the time associated with a high gravity beer I want to do all that I can to make it successful. Hopefully my first experience will be positive.  Unfortunately we will have to wait a half a year or so to find out!

Monday, May 14, 2012

What should I brew Next?

I have made a poll over to the right.  All my kegs and fermenters are about to be holding beer, but I  have time this month to brew.  So I think Id like to make something that can age about 6 months or so!  Check out the options to the right and vote, and then post your comments, thoughts and/or reasons on this post!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Witty Welker - Belgian Witbier

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I was asked to brew some beer for an upcoming house-warming party.  Saturday was the day to brew, and I produced what I think will be a delightful Witbier in just 3 weeks time.  FYI - I didn't take any pictures, so this post will be a bit wordy.

I accidentally picked up malted wheat instead of flaked wheat when I was at the homebrew store a few weeks ago, so I went with it.  Not necessarily authentic to style, but it will be very close (kinda a cross between a hefe and a wit).  I picked up an organic orange and organic grapefruit to zest.  I also stopped in a local Indian Grocery store here in Germantown for some Coriander (I have heard the coriander sold at Indian groceries are more potent and spicy).

My grist was pretty simple:
5 lbs Pale Ale Malt (48%)
5 lbs Wheat Malt (48%)
8 oz Carapils Malt (4%)

I hopped with a bittering addition of cascade for approximately 21 IBUS (Rager).  And I added the coriander (.5oz), Orange/Grapefruit zest, and a bag of pure chamomile tea at 5 minutes to the end of the boil.  I cooled my wort, oxygenated and pitched a 1 Liter starter of WLP400 Belgian Wit Yeast and I am keeping at 68* and will let it rise a few degrees after a few days.

So for you style nazis you will note that I didnt use flaked wheat or oats.  I have done some research and this should still produce a fairly tasty with in the style, but maybe not give that straight from Belgium twange!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Where's the Beer?

May 5, is celebrated by most as Cinco de Mayo for a day of Mexican cuisine and margaritas.  However, it was also National Homebrew day.  A day for people to spread the knowledge and love of homebrewing beer, wine and mead.  Unfortunately, I was not able to brew beer this weekend or participate in a "Big Brew Day" (Multiple homebrewers meet up to brew large batches of a beer together), but I did spread some of the homebrew love - Packed up a 6-pack of the Mild and Helles for my family in Delaware.

As the post is titled, I have been posed the question of "Where's the beer?"  I have been asked to provide the beverages for our neighbors housing warming party.  I will be brewing up a batch next weekend to try and get a quick turn-a-round and have the beer ready for June 2nd.  I normally like to have the beer take its time and mature naturally, but I will need to push this beer along to meet the strict consumption deadline!  May is gonna be a big brewing month - stay tuned!