Finally Built the Keggerator

This has been a long time coming. Finally I have draft beer in my condo. This build has been planned for about 3 or 4 months now. The goal was simple, 1 mini fridge, 3 taps. So maybe not as simple as I made is sounds. After a month of snooping online and carefully measuring everything a friend said “Why not do a build similar to this?”. So I ditched all my other ideas and used that post as a guide.

First was finding that mini fridge. A Danby 4.4 cubic foot mini fridge. This one to be a little more specific. There are a few different colour schemes so pick whatever you like. For me black is sexy so I went with that.

Next you obviously need kegs and all the other bits and pieces. You will need ball lock kegs to make this fit. Two 5 gal kegs and 1 that is 3 gal or less. For me 3 gal and 2.5 gal were the same price so 3 gal it is! Make sure to do a good PBW soak and such even if the kegs are new. Star san them and then purge out and leave ready for closed transfers.

So you have all your parts. Now it is time to get it all together so that you never leave home again because you beer on tap. You’re going to need some tools and a bit of know how. You will need:

  • Drill
  • Drill bits (most important is the step bit)
  • Utility knife (FRESH BLADE)
  • Silicone
  • Silicone gun
  • Rivets
  • Rivet gun
  • Nylon clamps appropriate to tubing O.D.
  • Zipties
  • Round/flat file
  • Large Adjustable Wrench
  • 2 appropriately sized electrical grommets
  • Spray foam

18009607_10155017881565336_248241449_n-e1492457177918.jpgWhen you take the fridge out of the box there should be some grey plastic protecting the medal door Keep it for later. Start out by removing all the shelves and other loose things on the door and inside the main body. Then remove the 3 screws on the back for the top and then the 3 screws holding the door hinge. Keep those in a pint glass somewhere safe. Remove the door. Now see all that annoying stuff jutting out of the door? We need to get rid of that to make room for kegs. Remove the door seal. Get your utility knife and fresh blade out and start to carve along all the 90 degree areas. Once through get your blade as close to parallel with the door and start to shave those pesky bits off. Eventually it’ll just fall right off and look something like this.

Now at this point all the kegs can fit in there but we will need our gas lines in and out taps. Next step is going to be the most tricky one so go slow. We need to add our 3 taps in. For drilling into the face of the door I used a stepped drill bit that went all the way up to 7/8″. Just large enough for the tap tail pieces. So I carefully measured my centers of where I wanted them (high up on the door) and drilled a 1/8″ pilot hole. After that I got out the step bit and in about 1 min I had all 3 holes drilled out. This is what a step bit looks like.17965707_10155017881750336_582663923_nAnd here is what the door looks like.

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Now the back looks pretty ugly so my OCD said I should clean it up a bit. Remember that grey plastic from earlier? Well it fits almost perfectly on one dimension and when you trim off the excess it fits perfectly. Get out some silicone (outdoor silicone is best) and lather that thing up. Now you have a less ugly inside. Once the silicone has set drill out the back piece with a 7/8″ bit and carefully file the metal to remove any spurs.

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While the silicone is setting it’s time to work on the other part of the fridge. This build doesn’t allow for the CO2 tank to be in the fridge so you’ll want some holes in there. Because of my short line length I couldn’t make them go through the easy place in the bottom. So I had to go through the side. With your knife carefully carve off a credit card sized piece of the inside plastic. Then with a spoon or something dull scoop out the plastic to expose the outside metal. If you are like me you will have found some wire/tube covered in aluminium tape. I have no idea what this is but it is probably best not to damage it.

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I put mine in right above the step in the back. Now its time to drill and make sure you miss that tube/wire. Depending on the grommet size you will have to drill an appropriately sized hole. I used 3/4″ grommets and they were a touch small and needed to be filed down in the bottom to accommodate the crimp clamp on my gas lines.

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Once this is done stick something in there and fill the rest with spray foam. Let set. While that is setting rivet in the manifold/tubing and also add a 90° street elbow to the manifold. If you’re using aluminium rivets and a cheap rivet gun you may need pliers to snip off the bits that the gun leaves behind. Remember the file these down. As well If you have a manifold like me you may need to “modify” your rivet gun by filing it down to make it smaller. Before riveting add some silicone to really keep it in place. Once this is done go have a beer and come back to finish the job the next day. 18009750_10155017882270336_1977035638_n
Once everything has set it’s time to do the final steps. Run the lines where you want them and rivet them in with nylon clamps. Put the taps in and zip tie/rivet the tubes into place and re assemble everything/tighten all the fittings. Now all you need to do is put beer in there to chill and carbonate. Some ball lock kegs have a lip around the bottom that juts out a 1/4″. I found this made things a bit too tight to fit so I took a hot knife and cut it down. The small keg in the back is prone to tip forward so I put in a chunk of wood to hold it up. Solid American white oak because no other wood will do.
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And the big reveal!
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Why I Quit Gimmick Brewing and Why You Should Too

Disclaimer: I’m actually not going to dictate how you should brew. If you like brewing gimmicky beers all the power to you. However, humor me and give this a read/some consideration.

roguealeThis image does not belong to me. If I am breaking copyright please let me know and I will remove immediately. 

Like many of you reading this I started off by brewing beer kits. All the ingredients were there, recipe in front of me and all I had to do was follow it. Perfect! I had a 1 gal system so I could brew often and practice often. I started with a stout, then an IPA, a Belgian blonde and then got a little different. I brewed a jalapeno saison.

“Cool!”, I thought to myself, “I can use thing I find tasty and improve upone other beer styles!”. Oh how naive I was.

After those first 4 brews it was time for me to write my own recipes. I started with an imperial black IPA that actually turned out pretty decent. MO, midnight wheat and C15 was a great combo. After being excited with my success I though I could make only good beer with my own recipes. I’m a genius! I should become a brewer! Oh boy time for my next great idea! So time for the next brew. An imperial wit with lemon and raspberry and hopped with citra. That’s delicious sounding! So in my 1 gal of wort using 6 row cause you know, diastatic power is important. You see where this is going right? So I juiced my 1 lemon and then cut it all up. I added the juice and the entire lemon. Pith and all. Then for raspberries I decided to use a can of jam cause, more sugar = more ABV right? Holy hell was that an awful beer.

I got a bit discouraged and decided to take a break from brewing. My buddy wanted to try so I wrote a chocolate stout recipe. with some cocoa powder in the mash. Probably way more than was needed. It was pure chocolate. No beer. If there was an off flavour there was know way of knowing. And we thought it was delicious. “More chocolate than any commercial beer”, we said to eachother. So for the next many months all I brewed was out there beers. Biere de Garde with pineapple juice, licorice root coffee stout, peated malt RIS, smoked apple session stout, Lavender oak aged blonde ale, root beer APA and this list goes on. Basically it was X beer with X weird ingredient. The problem with all these beers? Some of them were kinda off but I had no way of knowing what it was. The X ingredient added masked fully whatever off flavour was there.

September 2016 strikes and I go to my first homebrew club meeting. I try what other people have and I see a trend. The excellent beers are a classic style like ESB, APA, Dark Mild and stuff like that. The beers that made me think “Hmm, maybe not” were the out there beers like a chili porter, ginger lemon APA and my beers. My beers. How come my beers sucked compared to a boring as hell ESB? My IPA has 5 different hops in it! I have always been under the impression more is better. More ingredients and more ABV!

So I decided to try brewing more classic styles and follow the 2015 BJCP guidlines. Suddenly I got a 3rd place in the saison category after a few months. My palate was picking up the subtle pleasant flavours of all the different styles. I signed up for a BJCP tasting course to learn more. Now with confidence I can tell you why a Munich Helles is my preference when compared to an American Lager. And I also can tell you why I prefer my 2 malt, single hopped saison from my old IPA with 5 malts and 5 hops. More effort and care.

My beer recipes on standard beers went from 5-10 malts, 3-7 hops + some flavouring to 2-5 malts, 1-3 hops and the odd flavouring if it seems like it would benefit the beer already made. Simplicity. Making sure that every ingredient benefits the brew and is not muddying the others. When there is an off flavour now I can locate it fairly easily.

Because I now am brewing base beers I can begin to develop more out there beers again. But now with purpose. Like a big brett porter. A few local breweries use a baltic porter as their base and the add some brett creating a beautiful funky, dark, smooth and complex beer. So I plan to add some B. Lambicus because unlike B. anomalus, Lambicus cannot ferment lactose. As well the deep cherry flavours given off from Lambicus should pair perfectly with some pale chocolate malt giving the beer a black forest cake like flavour. Baltic porter will be a better choice than American Imperial stout becuase the heavy roast may clash with the delicate brett character.

Or I could go off the deep end with a tequila and lime oak aged gose. A coworker/new brewer came up with this idea after a local brewery did not produce their annual Sour saison aged in tequila barrels. I couldn’t argue that sour and tequila do not go together so here I am helping him come up with something good. Tequila, lime and salt all in a less than 5 ABV beverage? Sounds like summer is already here. By using the MTF gose as the base recipe we already have a tried and true gose. Now to tweek it. For adding the tequila and oak portion I have soaked 30 grams of heavy toast oak in about 100 ml of tequila that will be strained and added to the fermentor after week 1 of fermentation. The heavy toast oak should impart the mild smoke and spicy character I love in a good tequila. For the lime I have the zest of 2 limes in the tequila oak mixture and, will add about 2 oz zest to the end of boil as a 15-20 min “zest stand”.

So what I am saying is experimentation is good and all but, before going down that road get a recipe or style you know is good. Critically think about what you can add to it to achieve your desired final product. And while you think about that have a glass of a classic English bitter.

Cheers,
MD

I Think I Now Know 7

I seems every month there is a new “This is it hop”. A few months ago Idaho 7 (Who has a few other aliases) blew up a bit. Heck even a favourite local brew pud of mine did a single hop pale ale with it. I figured it was time for me to get back to the basics and do a “not so SMaSH”. As many of us know SMaSH does not stand for a beer that’ll get you smashed (experience may vary user to user) but rather means Single Hop and Single Malt. SMaSH recipes are mainly used by newer brewers who are trying to learn what different ingredients taste like. So here I am, ready to learn what Idaho 7 tastes like in a NEIPA.

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I Think I Now Know 7

Water:

Still I am tweaking my water profile until I get it just right for this style of deliciousness.

  • Calcium: 127
  • Chloride: 160
  • Sulfate: 96
  • SO42-/Cl- ratio: 0.6

Mash pH 5.2

Mash:

  • Mash in at 153 and hold for 60 min. 1.75 qt/lbs
  • Raise via induction to 168 for 10 min
  • Fly sparge with 168

Grist:

This is where this beer become s a “no so” SMaSH. I still am playing with my grain bill for this style so flaked oats and caramel oats are used.

  • 74.7% Thomas Fawcett Pearl
  • 16.8% OiO Toasted Oat Flakes
  • 4.2% Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
  • 4.2% Lactose (added at flameout)

Hotside

30 min boil

  • 15 min Whirlfoc+nutrient (Why has no company made this combo tablet yet?)
  • Flamout and chill to 180F
  • Whirlpool via pump for 20 min
  • Add 1 oz of Idaho 7 hop hash 31.4% AA (~39 IBUs) not a typo
  • Add 5/8 oz Idaho 7 14.1% AA (~11 IBUs)
  • Let temp drop naturally over whirlpool
  • Chill to 68F

Cold Side

  • Pitch Escarpment Labs Vermont ale yeast @ 1 mill cells/ml/p
  • When Krausen begins to dry hop with 3 oz Idaho 7 14.1% AA
  • KEG when ready with 1.375 oz Idaho 7 14.1% AA

Targets

  • OG: 1.054
  • FG: 1.013
  • ABV: 5.2
  • IBU: ~ 50
  • BU/GU: 94

This was my first 30 min boil and threw my BHE off by about 5% but overall everything else went well. Filled my first keg with the beer for the Full Sized Red Wine Barrel contribution this coming Saturday. Going to let that barrel rest for about 3 months. All of my kegging equipment (aside from the fridge) is now purchased and ready to go! Build will be on the 15th of this month. This Idaho 7 NEIPA will be the first beer that flows through a tap of my own.

Traditional German Brewday

Last week I asked reddit their opinion on brewing a maibock. Mai have been a bad idea. I ended up doing a decoction an then just for fun I chose to follow the Reinheitsgebot. Having never done a decoction I learned a few valuable lessons.

  • Manual decoction calculations are hard
  • Decoction smells amazing
  • Decoctions sputter and burn you. Gloves required
  • Kettle scorches suck
  • Decoction has an impact on the beer. Naysayers be damned!
  • Fortified my opinion that charcuterie boards are essential for brewing

Recipe and Process

Water:

Tap. Following the Reinheitsgebot does not allow for acids and brewing salts. That being said here is my horrible tap water.

  • Calcium: 82
  • Magnesium: 46 (this is why I usually cut with distilled water)
  • Sodium: 26
  • Chloride: 82
  • Sulfate: 66
  • Alkalinity: 210
  • pH: ~8

Aside from the shitty Magnesium content this profile is fairly close to Düsseldorf water. Perfect for Altbier so I figured it should make a palatable Maibock.

Mash pH was adjusted with Acidulated Malt to ~5.5.

Grist:

  • 56.4% Weyermann Floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt
  • 28.3% Weyermann Vienna Malt
  • 5.4% Weyermann CaraHell
  • 5.4% Weyermann CaraMunich I
  • 3.5% Weyermann Acidulated Malt
  • 1% Weyermann Melanoidin Malt

Mash:

Here is where things get fun.

Start by heating up your carefully measured volume (1.5 qt/lbs) of water to strike temp. Infuse to get a temp of 97F. Rest for 20 min. Pull off your calculated thick mash amount and begin to heat. Do not stir much because kettle scotches/caramelization is awesome right?  Stir and feel the sugars stuck to the bottom and curse loudly 3-4 times. Once decoction pull has reached 148F rest for 15 min. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. You will notice now that the kettle scorch/caramelization has somehow been lifted off. I chalk that up to the mash pH. When the grain begins to boil have your hand as close to the mash as possible so that you burn your fingers when it sputters. Curse and put on some rubber lab gloves to avoid too many more burns. Boil for 15 min. Add decoction back to your mashtun. Miss temp by 10 degrees as curse again. Staggered cursing is much more effective than cursing prior to mashing. Re work your calculations to ensure the next 2 decoctions hit the right temp. Let the rest of the process go smoothly.

Decoction 1

  • Mash in 97F rest for 20 min
  • Pull decoction portion and heat to 148 then rest for 15 min
  • Boil decoction for 15 min
  • Add back to mashtun and hit 125F (target 135F)

Decoction 2

  • Rest for 5 min
  • Pull decoction portion and heat to 148 then rest for 15 min
  • Boil decoction for 5 min
  • Add back to mashtun and hit 150F (target 148F)

Decoction 3

  • Rest for 45 min
  • Pull decoction portion and Boil for 5 min
  • Add back to mashtun and hit 167F (target 168F)

Vorlauf and then fly sparge @168 to collect appropriate kettle volume.

Boil:

Stir like crazy when the hot break forms. No ferm cap = easy boil over. The FWH addition helped keep that fairly in check. No boil over!

60 min total

  • FWH with 0.5 oz German Magnum 13.9% AA (20 IBU)*
  • 20 min 0.9 oz Czech Saaz 2.6% AA (4 IBU)
  • 10 min 1.1 oz Czech Saaz 2.6% AA (3 IBU)
  • Chill to 50F

Pitch Wyeast Bavarian Lager 2206 @ 1.75 million cells/ml/P

Ferment at 53F

I still have to do a diacetyl rest and then lager as cold as possible for 2 weeks.

Stats:

  • OG: 1.071 (1 point higher than expected)
  • FG: N/A 1.016 expected
  • IBU: 27
  • SRM: Unknown but the decoction certainly darkened it! ~ 10
  • BU/GU: 39
  • ABV: 7.13 expected

*I calculate my IBU of FWH the same way as I do with 60 min boil additions as I find FWH calculators widely vary. YMMV.

Thoughts:

The people of reddit do not lie. It was a day long event of 7.5 hours total including cleanup. People claim decoctions do nothing, I call BS. Aromas I have never smelled before were wafting all around my brew space. The wort was some of the best I have tasted. The colour got pretty dark! Aside from my first screw up it went well and I enjoyed doing this historical brewing method.

This coming brewday I will take things a little easier with a single hop NEIPA using Idaho 7.

This years magnum is resinous. Check out that hop nugget!

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The 23 year Old Lambic Homebrew

Been busy this week and am still dialing in my recipe for tomorrows Maibock. Beer will be my first decoction and will follow the Reinheitgebot. Details to follow in another post. For now a story. Disclaimer: a few minor details have been fabricated because I (and even Ed) may not know them.

The Story

February 20, 1994. It was a mild day in Toronto of about 4C outside when Young Ed got out his brew gear. After a recent trip to Belgium he had discovered the beauty of mixed fermentation. As A homebrewer he knew his next tasks: Research and brew. This was the early days of the internet. No Reddit. No homebrew forums. And certainly no examples available for purchase in Canada. He went forth with confidence. He mashed, boiled and pitched. Once fermentation had stopped in late September he had a brilliant idea. Store it in a corny kegs under the stairs at the family cottage. It could age and evolve uninterrupted there without the temptation of consumption. Brilliant!

Soon after putting his precious cargo to sleep his wide gave birth to their more previous cargo. As we all know babies = homebrew ghosting. Fast forward to 2015. Ed had awoken the beast and begun homebrewing again. He join his local (kick ass) homebrew club. Also while cleaning the family cottage he discovered an old soda keg. Full. Of what you ask? A beverage that rivals that of the best Belgian lambic brewers. Split the batch, some straight and some aged on raspberries for 4 months. Tasting his 2 new babies he knew what needed to be done. Enter it in the largest homebrew competition in Canada. The Brew Slam part of Brewer of the Year.

Well This beverage took best in show. Ed won the opportunity to do a Pro/Am brew at a local craft brewery. Obviously the brewery didnt have 22 years (how old it was when it was judged) to wait for this beer so they went down a different path. A Black NEIPA with raspberries. Long story short the beer was/is amazing and is the 3rd highest rated beer on untappd of that brewery.

How did I manage to get a bottle? Once upon a time after a few homebrews I commented on a picture he posted of the beer saying “I would offer my soul for just a sip”. A few months later I got a FB message asking if my soul was still available. Ed needed a small flavour. I said sure (picked up his plate chiller from an out of towner and held it until I next saw him) and was rewarded far more than I deserved for just being a decent dude. A bottle of the legendary now 23 year old lambic. The beer sat in my fridge for 2 weeks until last evening when my SO and I sipped and cherished the beverage as dinner was cooking. Ed has been keeping my soul in the fridge with a few pints and occasionally lets the dogs play with it.

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Review

Appearance:
Crystal clear until the dregs started to slip in. Ruby red. It looked as if we were drinking a liquid gemstone. A few bubbles but nothing that could form a head. Almost like a toned down Champagne.

Aroma:
Extremely clean lactic acidity. Tart raspberries and other field berries. Zero off aromas. Mild tropical fruit and funk. More pleasant than a vast majority of commercial examples.

Flavour:
Bright and clean lactic acidity with a firm tartness. Raspberry tang, Aged hop funk and hay. immediately brought 3F Golden Blend to mind but with raspberries. A wide array of flavours that my palate can only describe as “complexity” in a good way.

Mouthfeel:
Moderately low carbonation. Mildly sweet after the initial tartness that then finished refreshingly dry. Strong lactic acidity. Fairly thin well attenuated body. Draws the cheeks in slightly and begs for another sip.

Overall Impression:
I know I hyped myself about this but holy hell. IMO This kicks the crap out of any North American made sour I have ever had. Even some Belgian lambics fail to compete with this. This is 3F and Cantillon level. It is no wonder this took best in show. Guess I need to forget about some beers for 20+ years!

In case you are wondering what yeast was used… Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend and some various dregs from back in the day. Stale Hallertau, 65% 2 row and 35% soft wheat

Full Sized Red Wine Barrel

My apologies for not having a weekly post last week. My SOs Grandmother had an extremely close call that kept me from creating a post. Love this blog but family obviously comes first. Instead I made a quick post on imgur of my set up. You can view it here.

Anyways, recently GTA brews aka the homebrew club I belong to acquired a full sized barrel. As part of the team of dirrectors I have paired up with a few others with organizing this project. I have yet to actually see the barrel in person but from what I am told it came from a Niagara winery called Pillitteri. We believe  it previously held Cab Franc. This barrel is going to be held by our good friends at Muddy York. If in the area you have gotta try their stork derby stout! That stuff is to die for. Because Muddy York is a business and a way of life for Jeff (the owner) he has told us the barrel cannot be buggy. We decided to go with a clean imperial saison. Something that will be ready for the summer (hopefully) and benefits from a wine note.

The decided recipe for everyone to brew is as follows. We are allowing for substitutions if need be for obvious reasons. The recipe is written according to my system.

Imperial Barrel Aged Saison

Water:

  • Balanced profile
  • 80 Calcium
  • 75 Chloride
  • 80 Sulfate
  • Mash pH: 5.2

Grist:

  • 66.7% Chateau Pilsen Malt (10 lbs)
  • 26.7% Weyermann Pale Wheat Malt (4 lbs)
  • 6.6% Weyerman Spelt Malt (1 lbs)

Mash:

  • Mash in at 148F and hold for 60 min with 5 gal (1.33 qt/lbs)
  • Raise Via Induction to 168 for 10 min for mashout
  • Fly sparge @ 168 slowly
  • Collect 7 gal

Boil:

60 min total
FWH with 0.9 oz German Magnum 11.8% AA (29.7 IBU)*
15 min add Yeast Nutrient and Whirlfloc
10 min 2 oz Czech Saaz 2.6% AA (5.3 IBU)
Chill to 68F

Fermentation:

  • Pitch Wyeast 3711 French Saison @ 1 000 000 cells/ml/P
  • Start at 68 and allow to rise to whatever its a saison!
  • Ferment out for 2 weeks
  • Take 1 liter for clean comparison
  • Transfer to barrel with everyone’s contribution and age until “ready”
  • Bottle condition 2 gal with 3.4 vols (cork and cage), Brett 1.4 gal, Fruit remainder.

Targets:

  • OG: 1.075
  • FG: ~1.005
  • IBU: 35
  • SRM: 4
  • Carboy Volume: 5.5 gal
  • BU/GU: 0.47

At the end of it all I will be able to have 4 of the same base beer to do a sampling with!

*I calculate my IBU of FWH the same way as I do with 60 min boil additions as I find FWH calculators widely vary. YMMV.

Last Brew Days

In the past 2 weeks I brewed up a whopping 22 gallons. 6 gallong of ESB (Best Bitter) for my SO, 10 gallons of Rare Barrel golden sour blend 5.5 gal of Flanders red and 0.5 gal of extra wort from the Flanders brewday that I am attempting a spontaneous experiment on.

The ESB (Best Bitter) brew day went off nearly without a hitch. Had an open ball lock when I began to mash in. Luckily I cause it and only had an oz or 2 of water to wipe up. My SO joined me for that brewday and we had our most enjoyable brew day yet. Shes really getting the hand of this whole brewing thing! 7 day gravity sample of that beer was beautiful and I plan to bottle it this coming Saturday.

The 10 gallon of sour base beer was brewed last Saturday with a friend and fellow homebrewer at his house. We split it onto a 5.5 gal and 4.5 gal (homebrewers and their damned different sized fermentors) batch. The 5.5 has been dubbed Sour Boy and has an amalgamation of 5 dregs from mixed fermentation sour beers and a health pitch of Cali ale yeast form Escarpment Labs. The 4.5 was dubbed Funk Girl and has Orval and Limberlost dregs, some of my wild captured sacch/hanseni and a health pitch of Cali ale yeast form Escarpment Labs. Sour Girl got a little excited and blew her top off after a few days. This was my first drink while I brew day and drinking certainly slowed us down. Lots of fun was had though since I did not have to drive afterwards.

The Flanders red was a perfect brew day. Extra volume and 1 point higher than my expected OG. Efficiency was amazing! The wort was pitched with 3763 Roeselare, WLP665 Flemish Ale Blend, WLP 575 Belgian Style Ale Blend and 5 various Flemish style dregs. The extra 1/2 of spontaneous experimental beer has not yet done anything. Waiting game for now.

Cheers,
MD

Brewing for others: ESB

Saisons, sours and IPAs are all I have brewed this year. And for a good reason! I have 5 IPAs going into a competition this week. I need a change up though and my better half needs something in her pint glass after work. Time for something a little more simple and lower in ABV. An ESB. Actually a Best Bitter but she likes the term ESB better so who am I to argue? And what a perfect time to brew one with my bulk hop order coming in. Half pound each of Cascade and Mosaic and a full pound each of German Magnum, Hallertau Mittelfruh, Huell Melon, Mandrina Bavaria, Citra and EKG. With a fresh batch of EKG coming in my SO and I say down and discussed what she wants in her ESB. We came up with:

  • Moderately high body
  • Bitter (but not too much)
  • Restrained caramel/leaning more toffee (She HATES caramel)
  • Little hint of burnt sugar/raisin/prune (A bit out of style but complimentary)
  • A bit sweet (But not cloying)
  • Sessionable (Low ABV and not overpowering in flavour)

With those guidelines we developed this recipe with a little bit of reddit feedback.

ESB (Best Bitter)

Water

  • Calcium: 100
  • Chloride: 80
  • Sulfate: 121
  • Mash pH: 5.4
  • SO4/Cl: 1.5

Grist:

  • 92.1% Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter (8.75 Lbs)
  • 5.3% Thomas Fawcett Crystal 45 (1/2 Lbs)
  • 2.6% Briess Crystal 120 (1/4 Lbs)

Mash:

  • Mash in at 152F and hold for 60 min (1.5 qt/lbs)
  • Raise Via Induction to 168 for 10 min for mashout
  • Fly sparge (yes I know batch would be more traditional) @ 168 slowly

Boil:

  • 60 min total
  • FWH with 1.625oz EKG 5.2% AA (29.5 IBU)*
  • 15 min Whirlfloc + Nutrient
  • 15 min 0.625 oz EKG 5.2% AA (5.5 IBU)
  • Chill to 68F

Fermentation:

  • Pitch Wyeast 1768 Best Bitter @ 750 000 cells/ml/P
  • Start at 68 and allow to rise to 72
  • Swirl fermentor in morning and evening to avoid stalling
  • Bottle condition with 2 vols

Targets:

  • OG: 1.047
  • FG: 1.013
  • IBU: 35
  • BU/GU: 0.76
  • SRM 9.25
  • ABV 4.3
  • Fermentor Volume: 6 gal

*I calculate my IBU of FWH the same way as I do with 60 min boil additions as I find FWH calculators widely vary. YMMV.

Last Brew Day

Was a lesson. I was just finished brew day. I started to pump water through my immersion chiller as I used my pump to whirlpool. Hands free chilling. I was busy scrubbing away. Once it got down to 68 I turned off my pump and IC. This is where disaster struck. I neglected to turn off my induction burner. As I was transferring the wort to my fermentor I dumped my yeast in when transfer was almost complete, looked up as the thermometer to see it reading 100! DAMNIT. I turned the plate off and touched the side of my SS brew bucket. It was warm. Too warm. Thank god I had a growler full with the same yeast. Transfer the finished carbonated beer out and left the cake with some fresh cooled wort for a new starter. Long story short sometimes being quick is not good. Growler was shared with a few friends that evening with multiple other beers as I was celebrating my birthday.

Fun Fact: That was my wild Sacch/Hanseni that I love so much. I put the fermentor in the fridge (about 58F it’s a poor fridge) while letting the growler culture wake up. Came back and it was just fermenting! Pitched more yeast to be safe.

First Czar (Faux Bourbon Barrel) Review

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Appearance:
Jet black. Black hole black. No light escapes. Pours a low light brown head –iPhone pictures do not do justice– that drops in a few minutes to a ring and a thin film of head. Red wine like legs from the ABV.

Aroma:
Toffee and raisin malt notes up front. Mild dark chocolate roast. Low spice from the hops. Oak and coconut. Bourbon barrel.Extrmely low soft alcohol note. Toast with a honey drizzle.

Mouthfeel:
Very full body. Low alcohol warmth. Well balanced finish that is neither overly dry nor cloyingly sweet. Low carbonation. Begs to be drank in small sips at a time. Velvety and rich.

Flavour:
Molasses and black forest cake. Raisin, prune and caramel sweets. Heavily toasted bread. background notes of rich chocolate. Bourbon and oak begin to revile themselves more as the beer warms. Brings out a coconut note.

Overall Impression:
Patting myself on the back for this one. As my first RIS (or any Imp black ale) this is a solid sipper. The beer is mainly malt, complimentary notes from the barrel aging and a faint hint of hops. This beer should cellar well until next year. Hopefully oxygen does not get to it before hand.

Next Time:
Switch WLP001 with a high ABV tolerant English strain. Something like 007 to add some light yeasty easters. Carbonate 0.1-0.2 vols more.

Cheers,
MD