Doppelbock 2019

>> Sunday, November 03, 2019

1st - pre - post boil
Today I'm brewing another Doppelbock. My last Doppelbock ending up taking a silver medal in one comp, and gold medal in another. My only complaint with that beer was that the finishing gravity was a bit high, resulting in a fairly sweet beer; it wasn't cloying, but it was close. I want something big and rich, but also drinkable, so I'm hoping to counter too much sweetness by reducing the grain bill a bit (resulting in an overall lower starting gravity) and using a yeast that has a higher alcohol tolerance. I'm also going to skip the decoction mash and go with a simple single infusion mash. I'm using Wyeast 2487-PC Hella Bock Lager for this batch and the description is as follows:
Direct from the Austrian Alps, this strain will produce rich, full-bodied and malty beers with a complex flavor profile and a great mouth feel. Attenuates well while still leaving plenty of malt character and body. Beers fermented with this strain will benefit from a temperature rise for a diacetyl rest at the end of primary fermentation.
Flocculation: Medium
Attenuation: 70-74%
Temp: 48-56F
ABV Tolerance: 12%
Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today. Please note, this is a 5 gallon batch-sized recipe, whereas the last Doppelbock was only 2.5 gallons:

12# 1oz Weyermann Barke Munich Malt*
3# 7oz Viking Pilsner Malt
1.75# Weyermann® CARAMUNICH® Type 3
1.0g BrewTan B (mash)
40g German Hallertau Mittelfrüh (60 min)
8.2g German Hallertau Mittelfrüh (30 min)
Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in warm water, 5 min)
Wyeast 2487-PC Hella Bock Lager, 2 packs

Water - To 11 gallons distilled water, add:
1.89g - Epsom salt
5.03g - Baking soda
11.16g - Chalk

Mash at 155F, 90 minute boil, chill to 50F then ramp up to 55F over 5 days. Start diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.025.

*My LHBS was running low on the Barke Munich so I had to substitute in 3.72# Weyermann Munich I

Brewing Notes
No issues. OG came in at ~22.7 brix (1.092). The wort is currently chilling down to my pitching temp of 50F.

Update 11/3/2019 8pm
I was able to chill down to 50F and pitch yeast by 8pm.

Update 11/4/2019 6:30pm
Gravity is down a couple points to 1.090. I'm also seeing positive pressure in the fermenter. 

Update 11/5/2019 2:30PM
Gravity is down to 1.083, so almost 10 points from the starting gravity of 1.092. This yeast seems to be doing a great job of tackling this beer, especially considering it has a relatively high starting gravity. 

Update 11/6/2019 6:00AM
Gravity is reading ~1.076 this morning, still chugging along.

Update 11/7/2019 9AM
Tilt is currently reading 1.070. it dawned on me this morning...this may not be the correct gravity. I changed the battery in the Tilt right before using it for this beer. The initial reading was high, so I calibrated the high reading to match the refractometer reading, but since it was already in the fermenter, I wasn't able to calibrate the low reading (in water). So, there's a good chance this isn't correct. I'll probably let it go until the weekend, then pull a sample for a refractometer reading.

Update 11/8/2019
The Tilt is reading 1.066 this morning.

Update 11/20/2019
Fermentation is going slower than I was expecting, but it's still plugging along. My Tilt is currently reading 1.038. I'm going to let it keep going until gravity is stable over a few days' time.


Port Road Pilsner - NZ Pilsner

>> Sunday, October 27, 2019

I had two kegs kick in the past week and haven't brewed since before Beehive Brew-off, so it's time to get a batch going. Today I'm brewing another New Zealand Pilsner, but this one is based on a recipe I found on a New Zealand homebrew site. This recipe is a clone attempt for Panhead Port Road Pilsner which is cited as one of the commercial examples that defines the NZ Pilsner style in the BJCP Guidelines.

Here's the description of the beer from the brewery:

Pilsner is famously Czech in origin, but here we've gone for a South Pacific hop profile in keeping with the people who brew it and drink it. Passionfruit, grapefruit and sauvignon blanc characters abound, stacked up on a robust malt base that's partly German, partly Kiwi.
Key to this recipe is the Riwaka hops. Judging by my perusing of NZ homebrew sites, Riwaka hops are readily available in their home country, but they reportedly just made their first ever appearance in the U.S. homebrew market, and I recently order a bunch from Yakima Valley Hops. I'd been stalking the YVH site for weeks, and literally bought the hops minutes after they were listed in stock, so it's safe to say I was anxiously awaiting their release in the U.S. and I'm super excited to try them out in this beer.

The recipe for this beer is a bit different than the one I've been tweaking and refining. The last couple versions of mine have incorporated varying amounts of Weyermann Cara Red to give it a deep golden color. Color-wise, this recipe today is going to be at the lighter end of the spectrum based on the BJCP Guidelines. The base malt for this beer is Root Shoot Pilsner Malt from neighboring Colorado. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today:

7# 7oz - Root Shoot Pilsner Malt (93.7%)
6oz - Weyermann Carahell Malt (4.7%)
2oz - Weyermann Acidulated Malt (1.6 %)
3ml Hopshot (60 min)
10g - NZ Motueka (10 min)
20g - NZ Nelson Sauvin (10 min)
30g - NZ Riwaka (10 min)
20g - NZ Motueka Pallet (Flame Out)
30g - NZ Nelson Sauvin (Flame Out)
30g - NZ Riwaka (FlameOut)
40g - NZ Riwaka (Dry Hop)
Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in water or wort, 5 min)
S04 or Saflager W-34/70

Mash at 151F, 90 min boil, start fermentation at 46F, ramp up to 52F over 6 days, diacetyl rest when gravity ~1.016.

Water Profile
To 11 gallons of distilled water, add:
4.0g Gypsum
2.8g Epsom Salt
4.8g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
I collected a bit more mash liquor than I was planning on. Usually I shoot for about 6.75 gallons per-boil volume, and I ended up with a little more than 7.25. In cases like this, I'll tend to boil a little harder. No other issues. OG came in ~11.8 brix (1.046). I was able to chill down to about 58F, so the beer will chill overnight before pitching yeast.
L to R, 1st runnings, pre-boil, post-boil
Update 10/28/2019
Temps were down to ~46.5F this morning, so I was able to aerate and pitch before heading into work this morning.

Update 10/29/2019
Gravity is down to 1.039 this morning.

Update 10/30/2019
Things seem to be rolling right along this morning with readings varying between 1.034 and 1.038. this is a sign that the fermentation is active enough that it's causing the Tilt to rock back and forth a bit, so while it's hard to get an accurate gravity measurement, it's a good thing because it implies there's a good healthy fermentation taking place.

Update 10/31/2019
Gravity is down to ~1.028 this morning. 

Update 11/4/2019
I forgot to log it, but gravity was down to 1.018 on Friday 11/1, so I started ramping the temp up to 63F for the diacetyl rest. Gravity is down to 1.014 today.

Update 11/6/2019
Dry hops were added today. I'll let these go until probably 11/10, then start cold crashing in preparation of kegging.

Update 11/10/2019
I started cold crashing today. 

Update 11/15/2019
I kegged this beer tonight. Gravity was down from 1.046 to 1.011, for an ABV ~4.6%.


Rauchbier 2019

>> Sunday, August 11, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Rauchbier, a style I've brewed several times before. For this version, I'm starting off with what is essentially an Oktoberfest/Märzen grain bill. In order to add the smokey component, I cold-smoked the entire grain bill, except for the Carafa III, with Pecan... that's correct, the entire grain bill. Pecan isn't quite traditional, but I really liked the character that the Pecan contributed to my Lichtenhainer, so I'm going with it.

Like the Lichtenhainer, I added 9.5ml RO water per pound of grain before cold-smoking. This helps the smoke "stick" to the grain. The grain was cold-smoked for about 3 hours with Pecan. I ran into a bit of an issue during the smoking process; both drive wheels on my drum smoker broke loose from the epoxy that held them to the drive shaft. I ended up drilling some holes in the drive shaft, then pinning the wheels with finish nails. The initial smoke was about an hour followed by about two additional hours after the fix. The grain was then allowed to rest/condition/mellow for a week before the beer brewday.

Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today. As I mentioned above, all grain except the Carafa was cold-smoked.

6.0 # Viking Pilsner
4.4375 Weyermann Munich Type I
0.4375 Weyermann Vienna
0.125 Weyermann Caramunich Type III
0.125 Weyermann Melanoidin
0.250 Weyermann Carafa Special III (lauter)
1.0g BrewTan B (dissolved in warm water, mash)
4ml Hopshot (60 min)
28g Tradition (Flameout)
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in warm water/wort, 5 min)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager

Mash at 155F, 90 minute boil, chill to 51F then ramp temps up to 55F over 4 days. Perform a diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.020.

Water Profile
Use distilled or RO water. You do not want any chlorine or chloramine present or you'll almost certainly have chlorophenol problems. To 10 gallons distilled water, add:

  • 2.0g Gypsum
  • 2.4g Epsom Salt
  • 5.2g Calcium Chloride
  • 2.0g Baking Soda
Brewing Notes
No issues. First Runnings, Pre, and Post-boil came in at 21.1 brix (1.085), 13.3 (1.052) and 17 (1.068) respectively. Gravity-wise, it's a tad higher than I was shooting for, but not too far off from style guidelines. I tasted the first runnings and it was pretty intensely smoky. I'm ok with that though because the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is one of my favorites and is also intensely smoky. It mellowed a bit by the end off the boil, and will mellow more by the end of fermentation, but it's definitely going to be more assertive than most of my smoked beers. I'm hoping this beer is finished in time for me to enter it in Beehive Brew-off. I'm interested in seeing how judges will receive an assertive smoked beer like this.

Update 8/12/2019 - AM
Like most of my summertime lagers, this beer chilled overnight. It's down to 51F this morning so I aerated and pitched the yeast. The Tilt has been logging back and forth between 1.067 and 1.068, so it's probably right at 1.0675.

Update 8/12/2019 - PM
Forgot to mention, the yeast I pitched for this beer was the cake from my Keller-rado beer, which was the cake from my Czech Pils. This will be the last beer I pitch this yeast into, but I definitely have a ton of healthy yeast. By lunchtime today, I was already seeing the gravity starting to drop, and after work it's already dropped almost 10 points to ~1.059. If it continues at this rate, it should definitely be done in time for Beehive.

Update 8/13/2019
I may have been a little too optimistic yesterday as the gravity is actually reading a little higher this morning. The low readings yesterday were likely caused by yeast buildup on the Tilt, causing it to read lower than the actual gravity. The gravity is currently reading 1.063, which is more realistic than the drop I saw yesterday (the low was all the way down to 1.048 on one reading).

Update 8/15/2019
Tilt gravity readings are down to ~1.032 this morning. I've been slowly ramping the temps up to 55F. It'll remain here until gravity gets in the neighborhood of 1.020, when I'll start ramping the temps up for the diacetyl rest.

Update 10/13/2019
I finally got around to kegging this beer today. I was going to enter it in Beehive Brew-off, but after tasting it before the comp, I realized it was way too smoky to do well in a competition. So, I decided to let it ride for a while. It's still on the assertive side, but it has mellowed a bit and I expect it to continue to do so.