Beer Update: Vaalbara Session IPA & Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone

Today was a bit of “housekeeping” with my two latest brews–one batch to bottle, one batch to transfer to the secondary fermenter.

Vaalbara Session IPA
After two weeks of dry-hopping, I was ready to bottle this batch. The final gravity was 1.011; with a starting gravity of 1.045, this works out to 4.6% abv. The flavor and aroma are both quite pleasant!

The final yield as two 5-L mini-kegs (each primed with 1.5 tbs corn sugar), 3 12-oz. bottles (primed with one carbonation drop each), and 2 22-oz. bottles (primed with two carbonation drops each). Given the small volume that was not kegged, I didn’t feel the desire to mess around with corn sugar.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone
This beer has been in the primary for just over two weeks, so it was high time to move it to the secondary fermenter. The gravity is down to 1.016 from 1.060, or about 5.8% abv. Even better, it’s delicious! The beer has a nice roasty flavor (thank you, roasted barley!), black color, and is very definitely a “robust” porter. I’m going to let it sit in the secondary fermenter for at least two weeks, at around 66°.

In other news…
I tapped one of the Gondwana Pale Ale 1.1 mini-kegs. The beer is quite tasty, with well-balanced hops and malts, as well as a fantastic Citra hop aroma. The recipe is a keeper! If I have any minor complaint at the moment, it is that the carbonation is a little lower than I might like. I suspect this is because the keg has been kept cool (~66°), so a few more weeks of conditioning and carbonation are in order for the other keg.

Vaalbara Session IPA

Continuing my series of pale ales and IPAs named after supercontinents, we are now on to Vaalbara Session IPA. Vaalbara is the theorized “first” supercontinent. It’s an appropriate name, because in many ways I’m back to my brewing roots–relatively simple malt bill, and classic American hops. This recipe is modified from that of Oregon Original IPA, as published in North American Clone Brews. As a general aside about this book, it has some interesting recipes, which unfortunately often require a fair bit of tweaking to achieve stated gravity, etc. In any case, they provide inspiration.

My efficiency was rather low on this batch, and I will chalk it up to a abnormally coarse crush on the mill at my LHBS. Usually they are pretty good about staying on top of this, and I’ve never had an issue before, so I am guessing this is a fluke. While looking at the milled grains, I remember thinking, “Hmm, this looks kinda coarse.” That’s what I get for not listening to my gut. In any case, it has spurred me to look into getting a grain mill so that I have a little more control and consistency. Additionally, the low efficiency resulted in a lower-than-calculated starting gravity, so I changed the recipe title from “IPA” to “Session IPA”.

Vaalbara Session IPA

  • 10 lbs. 2 row malt (2.0 SRM)
  • 1.5 lbs biscuit malt
  • 1 lbs. 20° crystal malt
  • 0.75 oz. Chinook hops pellets (bittering, first addition; 13.00% alpha, 3.4% beta)
  • 1 oz. Cascade hops pellets (bittering, second addition; 7.3% alpha, 5.3% beta)
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade hops pellets (dry-hopping; 7.3% alpha, 5.3% beta)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1 pkg. Safale US-05 dry yeast (11 g)
  • I mashed in with 4 gallons of water at 164°. The mash was too low in temperature [note to self: continue to adjust properties for equipment in BeerSmith], so I added 2 quarts of boiling water, which when stirred in brought the mash up to 154° (stable still after 30 minutes).
  • I drained the mash tun, and added 3.25 gallons of water at 186 degrees. This stabilized the mash at 166°.
  • In total, I collected ~6.25 gallons of wort, with a starting gravity estimated at 1.037. This calculates out to 52% efficiency; probably so low due to a coarse crush.
  • I boiled the wort down for 30 minutes at a vigorous boil, to bump up the gravity a touch. By the end of this phase, I had approximately 5.5 gallons.
  • After 30 minutes, I added the Chinook hops (which thus had a total of 60 minutes boiling).
  • After another 30 minutes, I added 1 oz. of Cascade hops (which thus had a total of 30 minutes boiling). At this point, I had approximately 5.1 gallons.
  • After another 15 minutes, I added 1 tsp. of Irish moss (which thus had a total of 15 minutes boiling). I was down to ~4.6 gallons by this point.
  • After a total of 90 minutes of boiling, I turned off the heat and cooled the wort down to around 82° with my wort chiller.
  • I ended up with 4 gallons of wort in the primary fermenter. I pitched the yeast, and sealed up the whole thing. I will be fermenting at 66°.
  • I brewed the beer on Saturday, August 23. By the next morning, the fermenter was happily percolating along.
  • Starting gravity is 1.045 at 60°. This should work out to around 4.6% abv.