Czech Premium Pale Lager 2019

>> Sunday, July 07, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Czech Premium Pale Lager. I've brewed this beer three times now, with somewhat mixed results. The first time I brewed it, it won gold in competition. The next time, it got a brett infection from my counter-pressure bottle filler (the reason why I now always pasteurize the bottle filler before and after using). The third attempt had an acetaldehyde issue, a problem I had on a couple beers I was trying to rush to get ready for competition last year. For this beer, I'm hoping for a return to the gold medal example.

I'm changing the recipe slightly, using a different base malt and different yeast this time. I always like to experiment with new I'm ingredients, so that's the reason for changing up the malt.  Yeast-wise,  I want to try out 2124 in a few beers, so I'm hoping to reuse the yeast cake. I'm also doing a little experimenting based on comments in a recent Brewing Network podcast.

In S1 E12 of Hop and Brew School from The Brewing Network, Nick mentions using a small amount of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) as a yeast supplement to reduce the chance of diacetyl in finished beer. The only problem is he didn't provide much info with respect to usage/dosage. I sent a question to The BN on this subject, but it will likely be a while before their next Q&A show. I also posted a question about this subject on Reddit, and I was directed to a research paper titled, Influence of valine and other amino acids on total diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione levels during fermentation of brewer’s wort.

Assuming I'm interpreting the findings correctly from this paper, supplementing between 100-300mg Valine per liter of wort, can reduce the overall amount of diacetyl produced, and seemingly increase the uptake of diacetyl at the end of fermentation. In my layman's interpretation, it basically means extra insurance against diacetyl issues and it could shorten the turnaround time when brewing lagers.

I went ahead and ordered some unflavored BCAA 2:1:1 from MyProtien and I'm going to try using it in this recipe. I'm planning on shooting for the low end of the 100-300mg/l dosage. Per the nutrition label on my package, each 7g of BCAA 2:1:1 contains:

  • 2.5g Leucine
  • 1.25g Isoleucine
  • 1.25g Valine
  • 2g Carbohydrates
That means at a dosage rate of 560mg/l BCAA, we're getting 200mg Leucine, 100mg Isoleucine, 100mg Valine, and 160mg Carbohydrates. A 5 gallon batch is ~19l, so 19*560 = 10640mg/5 gallons or 10.64g/5 gallons of BCAA would be the proper dosage to yield 100mg/l Valine. I could only find one other reference of a Homebrewer using BCAA, and that was with gluten-free brewing. The dosage rate mentioned was 0.5 tablespoon per 5 gallons. I weighed 0.5T and it came out to 4.66g. I decided it would be better to be a little low than too high, so on this first round, I'm going with 1T (9.32g).

If you're brewing a Czech Lager, you definitely want soft water. If you're in the same situation as me and your tap water is hard, plan on getting some distilled or RO water Here's the recipe as I'm making it today:

5 Gallons

8.0# 11 oz. Weyermann Barke Pilsner
9 oz Briess Carapils
1.0g BrewTan B in mash
34g Czech Saaz (60 min)
41g Czech Saaz (30 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz (10 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz (0 min)
Wyeast 2124
Wyeast Nutrient (5 min)
9.32g BCAA (5 min)

Mash at 154F. Start fermentation at 45F, ramping temps up to ~50F over 5 days. Start diacetyl rest when gravity is down to around 1.020. For the d-rest, I tend to bump it up a couple of degrees morning and night until I got about 65F. I leave it there for a couple of days before I start cold crashing.

Water Recipe
10 gallons distilled water
0.55g Epsom Salt
0.33g Calcium Chloride
0.44g Baking Soda
0.44g Chalk

Brewing Notes
No major issues. I was also kegging my latest batch of NZ Pilsner and had a very minor boil-over while attending to that. I would guesstimate I lost about 6-12 ounces of wort. I was only able to chill down to 70F, so it'll have to chill a while before I pitch the yeast. Gravity measured 1.055 per the Tilt.

Update 7/9/2019
I aerated and pitched the yeast last night. I also finally got logging working on my Tilt Hydrometer. I'm not sure exactly what the problem was, but I could never get it to write to the Google Sheets when I was hosting it on my own Google account. I ended up doing a couple things. First, I did some tweaks on my Nexus 6P to enable Always On Display and prevent it from going into sleep mode when charging. Then I upgraded to the Tilt 2 app, and now I'm successfully logging to the cloud using the default logging option. It'll be nice to be able to check gravity and temp from anywhere, especially with lagers and timing the diacetyl rest.

Update 7/10/2019 AM
I'm starting to get a little worried, I haven't seen any change to gravity yet and no signs obvious signs of fermentation. I'm crossing my fingers that we see something tonight.

Update 7/10/2019 PM
When I got home from work tonight, I was finally seeing signs of fermentation.

This is pure speculation, but I'm wondering if the higher concentration of amino acids could have contributed to an increase in the lag time as the yeast were trying to absorb all of the available nutrients. It would be impossible to confirm that at home without access to specialized equipment. About the only option I have is to repeat the conditions as closely as possible on another batch, and see if I experience similar results.

Update 7/12/2019
Gravity is down to 1.041 this morning.

Update 7/16/2019
Gravity was down to 1.020 yesterday, so I started ramping the temps up. Gravity is down to 1.014 today.


Dickel-barrel Barleywine Project

>> Sunday, June 30, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Barleywine for a club barrel project. This is recipe is based on a medal-winning recipe from Mike Hahn, one of the very talented Homebrewers in the ZZHOPS homebrewing club. This beer will be going into a Dickel Bourbon barrel for aging and should be ready just in time for winter. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today for 5 gallons:

18# Maris Otter Crisp
2# Crisp Dark Crystal
2# Cristp Medium Crystal
1# Dingmanns Aromatic
1# Weyermann Melanoidin
1# Dingmanns Biscuit
6ml Hopshot (60 min)
28g EKG (20 min)
28g EKG (2 min)
Imperial House
Wyeast Nutrient

Mash 155F, 90min boil, ferment at 62F

Brewing Notes
No issues during this session.  Post-boil gravity came in at 1.115 according to my Tilt Hydrometer. That's a little higher than I was anticipating. I'm hoping everyone else's contribution is a bit lower gravity than mine, or this is going to be a huge beer.

First runnings off mash
Update 7/1/2019
I was a little concerned whether my yeast starter was big enough for this beer. I was very much relieved this morning when I could see it was showing active signs of fermentation. Gravity is down to about  1.101 tonight.

Update 7/7/2019
Gravity is down to 1.036. The published alcohol tolerance for this yeast is 10%, and it's currently sitting at 10.8%. I'm not sure how much further it will go, but it seems like it's still working on the sugars, as it's dropped four points since yesterday.

Update 7/9/2019
Gravity is down to 1.032 today, so things are slowing down, but the yeast still seem to be "working".

Update 7/12/2019
Gravity is down to 1.031, and has been holding there for about 48 hours. I'm still seeing some positive pressure, but I think that's just off-gassing residual CO2, so I suspect I won't see any additional gravity drop. I'm fairly sure there are still unfermented sugars present, it's just that we've reached the alcohol tolerance limit for this yeast. I think there's a really good chance we'll see some fermentation activity in the barrel since some of the other batches had lower OGs. Once they're all blended and the alcohol level from my contribution is diluted, the residual yeast will most likely chew up additional sugars.

Update 7/16/2019
Gravity is now reading 1.030. We're planning on filling the barrel on 7/28, so I'll be transferring this to keg soon.


Malting Corn

>> Friday, June 28, 2019

Last year I brewed my interpretation of a Wari Chicha, incorporating home malted purple corn. I've been tossing some ideas around in my head in regards to using the corn malt in another beer, so I figured I'd document my process. Here it is:

  1. Step 1, acquire some purple corn for malting. Really, any corn should work as long as it's not too old or been treated in some way to keep it from germinating. Here's the brand I bought at my local international market.
    Inca's Food, Maid Morado
  2. If your corn came on the cob like mine did, the next step is to remove the kernels from the cob. 
  3. Next, transfer your kernels to a colander and wash the corn with cool tap water. My pre-soaking weight of my dried corn was 966g.
  4. Transfer the kernels to a suitable container, such as a bucket. Top off with cool tap water, about 1" over the kernels. Soak for about five hours.
  5. Transfer corn to colander to drain. Leave it in the colander for about two hours.
    Kernels are more translucent after a soak
  6. Transfer back to a suitable container and top up with fresh water. Leave to soak overnight.
  7. Transfer back to colander and rinse well with cool tap water.  Transfer back to suitable container and top up with fresh water.
  8. 24-28 hours after starting first soak, transfer corn to your colander and rinse well. At this point, the soaked kernels weighed in at 1154g, so an increase of 188g.
    Looks like purple pomegranate
  9. Line a large shallow dish/pan with damp paper towels or dampened dish towel. Transfer corn to the dish and spread it out into a thin layer. Cover with another dampened towel and set it in a warm place.
  10. Check your corn at least a couple times per day. Both times I've done this, they've grown extremely fast. Once the shoots are about 2x the length of the kernel, it's time to dry them.
    Sprouted corn
  11. I use a food dehydrator to dry the malted corn and stop the germination process. Set food dehydrator to between 100 and 125F. Once the kernels have lost 14.2g per .45kg, it's time to increase the temps. In my case, this meant when the weight was down from 1154g to ~1118g.
  12. Increase food dehydrator temp to between 140 and 160F. It's done when the kernels have lost 85g per .45kg of its original weight. In my case, this meant down from 1154 to ~936g.
  13. Next, preheat oven to 176F. 
  14. Kiln corn malt for about four hours at 176F.
  15. Lastly, transfer corn malt to a pillow case and put it in the clothes tumble dryer for about 10 minutes to knock the shoots off.
At this point, the malt is ready to use. I store it same as I would any other grain. When it's time to mill, it seems to mill more easily if you partially crack/crush the grain first. That's about all there is to it. Cheers!