Ramping up for the National Homebrewers Association conference, my club is going to be serving our beers at club night! I’ve (perhaps foolishly) agreed to provide three kegs, using some of my more tried-and-true recipes. First out: Gondwana Pale Ale. I’ve made this recipe in two previous iterations, and have modified the grain and hops bill just a touch as my techniques are refined. Additionally, I’ll be using a liquid yeast starter (WLP001) instead of dried yeast (Safeale US-05).
Gondwana Pale Ale 1.2
- 8.25 lbs. 2-row malt
- 0.85 lbs. Vienna malt
- 0.45 lbs. carapils malt
- 0.45 lbs. crystal 40 malt
- 1 oz. Citra hops (pellets, 13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), 35 minute boil
- 1 oz. Citra hops (pellets, 13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), 1 minute boil
- 2 oz. Citra hops (pellets, 13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), dry hop 14 days
- 1 tsp. Irish moss (boil 10 minutes)
- 1 pkg. California Ale Yeast (White Labs, WLP001); prepared 24 hours in advance in 1L starter
- I mashed in with 3.185 gallons of water at 164°, nailing 152° on the nose for a mash temperature. This had declined to 151° after 10 minutes and 150.4° after 35 minutes.
- I added 1.18 gallons of water at 190°, which brought the temperature up to 154°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collcted 3.25 gallons of wort.
- I added 3.18 gallons of water at 185°, which brought the mash temperature up to 172°. This was a touch high, so I added .125 cups of ice cubes, which brought the temperature down to 165°. I let it sit for another 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the wort.
- All told, I collected 6.95 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.037. This works out to ~72% efficiency. Because my efficiencies have been a touch low the last two batches (compared to the usual 75%+), I rechecked the gap on the rollers on my grain mill. Sure enough, they had slipped out just a touch, so I readjusted them back to 0.039.
- I brought the wort to a boil and added the first hops charge after 25 minutes (for a 35 minute total boil).
- I added the Irish moss after 50 minutes of boiling.
- I added the second hops charge 1 minute before flame-out. At flame out, I removed the “old” hops, left the “new” ones in to steep, and cooled the wort. Once it was down to ~75°, I transferred the wort to the fermenter and pitched the yeast.
- I have ~5.5 gallons of beer in the carboy, with a gravity of 1.048 (exactly where I was at for my last batch, too!). I’ll be fermenting it at 66°.
- Within 12 hours after pitching the yeast, fermentation was well under way.
- I brewed this beer on Saturday, April 11.
Over the past two weeks, there has been some action on various batches. This is all summarized below.
- On April 7, one week after brewing, I transferred the El Dorado Amber Ale over to the secondary fermenter. Gravity at this point was 1.014, down from 1.053; this equals 6.5% abv and 72.6% apparent attenuation.
- I added 0.5 oz. of El Dorado hops pellets, aiming for two weeks of dry hopping prior to bottling
- After seven days of vanilla beans in the secondary fermenter, this beer was ready to bottle. I recently got a second-hand set of “PhilTap” minikegs (thanks, Dad!), and this was the first batch to get the PhilTap treatment, along with the Gondwana IPA.
- At bottling, gravity was 1.014, down from 1.064. This indicates 6.6% abv and 77.0% apparent attenuation.
- The kegs were each carbonated with 1.5 tbs of corn sugar. The remaining 1.9 gallons were carbonated with 1.65 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 0.5 cup of water (target carbonation=2.6 volumes).
- The total yield for this batch was: 2 5-L mini-kegs, 11 12-oz bottles, 3 22-oz. bottles, and 1 16-oz. grolsch bottle.
- After 17 days of dry hopping with 2 oz. of Citra hops pellets, this beer was ready to package. As I was transferring it out, I was hit with a fantastic hops aroma – a fantastic bouquet of passionfruit with a little citrus. These also held up in the tasting.
- At bottling, gravity was 1.008, down from 1.047. This equals 5.1% abv, and an apparent attenuation of 82.3%.
- The kegs were carbonated with 1.5 tbs of corn sugar. The remaining 1.5 gallons was primed with 1.45 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 0.5 cup water.
- The total yield for this batch was 2 5-L mini-kegs, 8 12-oz bottles, 2 22-oz. bottles, and 1 16-oz. Grolsch bottle.
- After a week, I tapped one of the mini-kegs. The result is beautiful! The hops aroma is still fantastic, although the beer doesn’t have a lot of body (not surprising given the high fermentability). Even so, the flavor is quite clean, which is nice after my early worries.
|Gondwana IPA, first pour from the mini-keg
I haven’t done a brewing session in two weeks (life has been busy!), but I have been dabbling in a few other beer-related activities. These are outlined below.
Fake Tire Amber Ale
The Fake Tire 3.0 Amber Ale was bottled on March 23. Final gravity was 1.008; with a starting gravity of 1.045, this means I have 4.8% abv. I added 3.5 oz. of corn sugar dissolved in 2 cups of water. The total yield was 11 12-oz bottles, 7 22-oz bottles, and 8 16-oz bottles (grolsch).
As noted before, this beer has had a bit of a roller coaster of flavors that has finally evened out on the positive side. On March 19, I added 2 oz. of Citra pellet hops for dry hopping. After these have had a full two weeks in the fermenter, I will bottle.
California Vanilla Porter
In order to achieve the eponymous vanilla flavor for this porter, I cut up and scraped 4 Madagascar vanilla beans and then soaked all of them in 2 oz. of vodka. They soaked for 10 days, and generated a really tasty and nice-smelling extract. Today, I finally got to transferring the porter from the primary fermenter into the secondary (after 15 days–the beer was brewed on March 15, and transferred on March 30). The beer is quite tasty, and weighs in at 1.014. Down from 1.064, that means the beer weighs in at 6.4% abv. Right before I sealed up the secondary, I tossed in the vanilla extract (plus pods). I figure I will bottle this in about a week.
After a week of dry-hopping with 2 oz. of Simcoe hops pellets, I bottled the Laurasia IPA (8 March 2014). The gravity was unchanged from last check, at 1.020, resulting in a final abv of 6.5%. I added 4 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup of water. The final volume in the bottling bucket was 4.5 gallons, yielding 15 12-oz bottles, 13 18-oz. Grolsch bottles, and 6 22-oz. bottles.
I transferred the Gondwana IPA to the secondary fermenter on 9 March 2014. The gravity measured 1.010, down from 1.047, yielding an abv of 4.8%. Somewhat distressingly, there was a bit of a vegetal aroma and flavor to the beer; this had come off strong after the mash, but disappeared after the boil. With the aroma’s reappearance, I was worried that I would have to toss out the beer. But, I rechecked a week later (16 March 2014), and the beer tasted and smelled just fine. A good argument for patience!
After my first experimental all-grain batch, I decided to refine my technique further and attempt an IPA this time. The previous batch had issues with temperature control and poor mash efficiency. The former was resolved by insulating the cooler lid with spray-foam and preheating the cooler/tun with hot water, as well as waterproofing my thermometer leads with silicone tape. I attempted to resolve the second issue by double-milling the grain at the local homebrew store as well as by improving temperature control as noted. Temperature control was much improved, although my efficiency still isn’t where I want it to be (~57% mash efficiency). In any case, brewing science marches on.
- 9.5 lbs. pale malt (2 row US)
- 1 lb. Vienna malt
- 0.5 lb. cara-pils malt
- 0.5 lb. 40° crystal malt
- 0.5 lb. 20° crystal malt
- 3 oz. Cascade whole hops (bittering)
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (late addition aroma, 5 minutes before flame-out)
- 1 tsp. Irish moss (last 15 minutes of boil)
- 1 package of Safale American Yeast (US-05)
- 2 oz. Citra hops pellets (dry hop)
- Mash-in with 15.4 quarts of water at 173°. I stirred once, after 30 minutes. The mash temperature ended at 154° after 60 minutes. The mash ended up at about 75 minutes, due to the time required to heat the sparge water.
- I sparged with 0.62 gallons of water at 170°, stirred, and let it sit for 10 minutes. I collected 2.78 gallons before the tun ran out of liquid. I then sparged with 3.22 gallons of water at 170°, stirred, let it sit for 15 minutes, and decanted. This round collected 3.34 gallons.
- In total, I collected 6.12 gallons of wort, with a gravity of 1.040 at 60°. This equals a mash efficiency of 56.7% as calculated by BeerSmith.
- I heated the wort to boiling and added the 3 oz. of whole Cascade hops. At the 45 minute mark, I added the Irish moss. At the 55 minute mark, I tossed in the final Cascade addition.
- It took about 25 minutes to get the wort down to 70°, using the wort chiller. I then whirlpooled the wort and let it sit for 20 minutes before transferring to the fermenter.
- In the end, I had 4.75 gallons of wort with a starting gravity of 1.047 at 60° This is a bit lower than conventional style for an IPA, but I figure that is just par for the course as I figure out this new mode of brewing.
- I pitched the yeast, and left the beer to ferment at an ambient temperature of ~62°.
- Mash efficiency is still lower than I like; next time I might aim for hotter sparge water to mobilize more of the sugars, and I will probably adjust my grain bill to compensate for a lower efficiency. I’ll give it another try or two, but I am wondering if the crack I’m getting from the mill at the local homebrew supply is too coarse.