Saturday, December 3, 2011

Black Fri.P.A (Black Friday Black IPA)

So... what's better than waiting outside all night in the cold to line up and participate in the mindless consumerism that is Black Friday??? Sleeping in and brewing, that's what. I did the all nighter at Best Buy thing one year... it was terrible... never again. Now I  find more constructive ways to spend the day after Thanksgiving... This year, I brewed a Black IPA for the first time.

But first... tonight I'm drinking my Imperial Pumpkin Ale.
This is the S-04 yeast version of my Pumpkin Ale... I'm a little bummed, I'm not totally in love with it this year. It's not full terrible, totally drinkable, but just a little off. I'm thinking the cause might be the weak boil I had due to the way the keggle was sitting on my new burner. One of the reasons we boil the beer for an hour or more is to boil out impurities like DMS. While the grain I used for this beer isn't especially high in DMS like say pilsner malt, it's still present. My palate isn't trained enough to figure out if there is just a little DMS in the pumpkin ale, but I think something isn't right... I plan on bottling and bringing some down to the brewstore, the guys there can tell me what's up.

So that leads me to the first project of brewday, modifying my new burner to get the most out of it. I need to be able to get a decent boil in my keggle for these ten gallon batches.

Here's the issue... the pot is supposed to sit down inside the upper ring, 3 inches above the burner. Keggle sits with upper ring just inside the bottom rim of keggle and the bottom of the keggle actually sits more like 6 inches off the burner. So I need to get the burner about 3 inches closer to the bottom of the keggle.

I started by raising up the lower collar that houses the burner assembly. Unbolted, drilled new holes about an inch higher up on the legs, slid collar up (and burner with it), and bolted into place. Burner now sits 5 inches below the bottom of the keg. Next I unbolted the upper ring, and bobbed about 2 of the 3 inches off of the upper legs with sawzall... drilled new holes in the remaining 1 inch stubs and bolted ring back in place. And the keg now sits 3 inches over the burner, perfect... almost... now the keggle is now placed precariously on the upper ring. A ten gallon spill would be pretty awful, so I looked around and found the grate from my old charcoal grill would be the perfect thing to lay over the top of the burner and sit the keggle on. Kinda ghetto (that's how I roll)... but it works.

Edit: forgot to add the after pic of burner mod...

Drastic difference in height... Also, as an added bonus I think this burner will hold up better to the wind now.

On to the brewday! Been wanting to do a Black IPA (AKA Cascadian Dark Ale) for a while now, and what better time than Black Friday? I borrowed the recipe from Scooby_Brew on HBT (found here) I adapted the recipe to my expected efficiency (about 83%) and came out with this for an 11 gallon batch:

21 lbs American 2 row
2 lbs Crystal/Caramel 10L
2 lbs Carafa II Special
1 lb Special Roast

So 26 lbs of grain at 1.125 qt/lb (my typical water/grist ratio) is just about the absolute max my 10 gallon mash tun can handle... I was shooting for 152 degree mash temp... I missed low at 147, but since my tun was too full to add hot water to raise it up, I had no choice but to roll with it.

For my hop schedule I decided to try something new on this IPA. Typically all hops are added during the boil. bittering hops at 60 minutes, flavor hops at 30ish aroma hops at 15 or less... In lieu of the 60 minute addition I chose to use First Wort Hops. Hops are added to the kettle as the first runnings are coming out of the Mash Tun. They just hang out there in the hot, unboiled wort for the entire mash out, sparge, and heating to boil processes...

hop schedule is:
2 oz Centennial hops FWH
2 oz Cascade hops at 45 minutes
2 oz Willamette hops at 15 minutes
2 oz Cascade hops at flame out
2 oz Cascade hops dryhop 1 week

The FWH in the kettle as first runnings are draining in... Also, check out that color! Hence the name Black IPA...
Getting a little more comfortable with my ten gallon process, this brewday was a breeze. Total zen mode action happening here... So... triple batch sparge (I've found my mash tun is not big enough to handle enough water to do just two sparges), 60 minute boil (much improved due to burner modifications), chill, and drain...

Draining boiled and chilled wort into the first of the two fermentors. I couldn't get over the color... this is my first All Grain dark beer, and I was a little doubtful that I would get black beer from what looked like a relatively normal colored grain bill... Just using dry yeast (US-05) in both fermentors for this batch, nothing exciting. But IPA isn't really about the yeast, it's about the hops.

My pre-pitching gravity sample... 1.072 84% efficiency FTW!

Two fermentors are now chugging away, nice and cool in the basement. Fermenting at 65 degrees should give a nice clean ester profile from the yeast and let the hops and malt really shine through. I'll let them sit for a few weeks, add the dryhops and let sit another week before kegging.

So... What's next for HRA? Well, after spending almost $80 (paying full retail at hombrew store) in ingredients on this brewday, I think it's time I started making this hobby more cost effective. It's been said before, if you are looking to get into homebrewing to save money, you won't. There is always equipment to buy, things to build... but there are savings to be had on brewday. There are several ways to save a buck without sacrificing the quality of your beer. Buying grain and hops in bulk and washing/reusing yeast are the first two that come to mind. There are a few pieces of equipment needed to do these, but these ones actually pay for themselves in just a few batches (total justification!) I'll be talking about them as they come along, but that's the direction I'm going right now... That's it for now... Later.

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