Gose 2015

>> Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lacto fermentation 24 hours after pitching
Today I'm brewing a Gose. This beer is a sour beer native to Goslar, Germany and is one of the few German styles that was exempt from the strict German Beer Purity law (Reinheitsgebot).

At one of our recent brew club meetings, one of our members brought an example of a Gose from Westbrook Brewing. The tartness level reminded me of a Berliner Weisse but it had added complexity from the salt and coriander additions. I decided to give this one a go so here's my first attempt at the style.  Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it:

3.0# Weyermann Pilsner Malt
4.5# Weyermann Pale Wheat Malt
0.5# Weyermann Acidulated Malt
0.5# Rice Hulls
14g Aged Hops (60 min)
28g Coriander (whirlpool)
21g Trader Joes Himalayan Sea Salt (whirlpool)
0.5t Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus pitched for 4-5 days before yeast (same as my Berliner Weisse process)
WLP029 German Ale/ Kölsch Yeast

Mash at 149F for 60 minutes, 90 minute boil, ferment at 67F.

Update 3/27/2015
I went ahead and pitched the Kölsch yeast today.

Update 4/7/2015
Pulled a sample tonight. It definitely has some sulfur notes from the yeast, but that's very common with this strain and it should dissipate over the next few weeks. The sourness level is lower than I was shooting for, but it's noticeable. Coriander is a little lower than I wanted too. Saltiness is probably just about right...it's noticeable, but it's not overpowering. I'd like more tartness and coriander, but this is probably much closer to style than what I intended. 


Little Giant Pump

Today I'm doing another little equipment write-up. I recently managed to get my hands on a Little Giant 3-MD-MT-HC pump. I don't want to brag, but the normal price on these is in the ballpark of $180. I found this one at a local discount store for $69.99...then I found out at the register that it was on sale for $49.99; score! I'm sorry to say it was the only one on the shelf or I may have picked up a couple for spares.

The main reason I wanted this pump was to pump wort from the mash tun into the boil kettle. I've been gravity feeding to the boil kettle which means I had to lift the full BK up onto my burner. It wasn't so bad when I was doing 5 gallon batches in my old 8 gallon pot, but the keggle is a back breaker even with 5 gallon batches; 10 gallon batches are pretty impossible to lift without a helper.

I decided I wouldn't mount this pump to my brew stand. Instead I made a little portable mount for it so I can move it wherever needed. The mount is made with some scrap 1.5" square tubing, 1/8" plate, and 7/8" OD round tubing. It was finished off with a coat of red paint, a handlebar grip, some stick on silicone feet and a few square tubing caps. I didn't include a splash guard on the pump mount. The reason is I figured the way I plan on using this pump, I probably won't need one. The only time I've needed on with my current setup is when I have a boilover, something that's easily remedied by paying attention during the boil.
I outfitted the pump with cam locks and a ball valve just like my March pump. Also like the March pumps, this pump uses a magnetic coupling so it's no problem to use a ball valve to throttle the output which I'll have to do to avoid pulling mash liquor too fast and compacting the grain bed.

To control the pump, I added a switch to my control panel. The pump is then plugged into an outlet controlled by the switch on my brew stand. 

One nice feature with this pump is it's very easy to disassemble the pump head for cleaning. Simple remove the four wing nuts and the pump head slips right off; that's all there is to it. The March pumps aren't too difficult either, but they're not quite as easy (or tooless) as the LG pumps.

That's about all there is to it...it's pretty self explanatory, so I'm not sure what else to say about it. Here are some pics that might help others considering something similar.


Nitro Setup

>> Thursday, February 26, 2015

This first batch got a little over carb'd

Today I'm doing a little bit of an equipment write-up. I really like nitro beers and will often order a pint of Polygamy Porter or whatever else they might have on nitro when I go to The Bayou, my local favorite beer bar. There's just something about that creamy head and extra smooth mouthfeel that is really nice. Also, due to the reduced carbonation level, nitro beers tend to be less filling than traditional draft beer. As most of my friends will probably tell you, this post is long overdue. I've been promising them nitro beer on tap for a long time and it took me a while to work out the kinks, but I finally have a working setup.

I recently (five months ago is recent, right?) decided to move forward with my plans to have a nitro offering on tap. I had a stout faucet that I'd bought years ago, but until now I'd never gotten around to buying the rest of the equipment needed to complete my nitro setup. My original plan was pretty simple; get a spare tank, fill it with beergas (g-mix), and enjoy some nitro beers. Those plans ended up changing a bit along the way but I think I ended up with a pretty solid system.

The first thing I did was order a 40CF Nitrogen tank. I got mine from Scott R (a.k.a. ezryder) via homebrewtalk.com. Scott sells a variety of used tanks (CO2, O2, Nitrogen) all of which have current hydro stamps and are priced well below anything I could find locally. Scott was great to work with and shipped the tank before he'd even received my payment. I'd definitely order from Scott again. To contact Scott directly, email him at sscotty2@nospam_hotmail.com and remove the "nospam_" portion.

With tank in hand, I headed to my local Airgas store to get it filled with beergas. This is when I ran into my first hurdle. I had anticipated having to leave my tank since most gas suppliers won't fill beergas tanks on demand. The Airgas guys were very helpful but unfortunately they had to break the bad news to me; they wouldn't be able to fill my 40CF tank. I'd asked about beergas a while back (at least a year or two ago) and they said they could do it, but I neglected to ask if there were special conditions/requirements. In this case they indicated they were only able to fill the larger cylinders common in the restaurant/bar industry (120CF??). They were however willing to trade me straight across for either a 60CF tank of pure nitrogen or a 60CF 60% N2 / 40% CO2 gas blend. I knew the 60/40 blends weren't recommended for nitro beers as they tended to over carbonate the beer. The other option of using straight Nitrogen was less than ideal because of the opposite issue...under-carbonated flat beer as you progress through the keg. So I had to figure out a plan B.

It just so happened that I'd been looking at some gas blenders on ebay. Gas blenders mix gas on the fly which means you hook up a CO2 tank and a Nitrogen tank to the blender and out comes the perfect blend for serving nitro beers. The pro's are nitrogen and CO2 are cheaper to purchase separately than in a blend, and the blenders are designed to provide the ideal ratio for nitrogen beers. The con is these things are freaking expensive...usually anywhere from $600 to $1200 for the cheaper models.  Sometimes you can find really good deals on used ones, which is what I was counting on for my plan B. So I decided to take the Airgas guys up on their offer to trade tanks and crossed my fingers in hopes of getting my hands on an affordable blender.

As I mentioned, I'd seen a couple used blenders on ebay. After missing out on the first one (Trumix TM100) I managed to win a Micromatic MM200. This blender is able to dispense two different blends, one for Nitro beers and one for non-Nitro Ales/Lagers. The ratios for each are Nitro = 75% N2 / 25% CO2 and Ales/Lagers = 30% N2 / 70% CO2. The Ale/Lager blend is really intended for long draw systems to keep from over carbonating the beer. That isn't a concern on my setup so I won't be using the Ale/Lager blend at all.

So now I had my stout faucet, my original CO2 tank, my 60CF Nitrogen tank, and my MM200 gas blender. I still needed a Nitrogen regulator and a couple secondary regulators. The secondary regulators are needed because the blender requires relatively high pressures, so one is used to reduce the pressure of the CO2 going to my non-nitro beer, and the other is used to step down the pressure ofmthe CO2/N2 blend for the nitro tap. I was lucky to find some regulators at a local store that deals in surplus and salvaged equipment (e.g. freight damaged goods). The secondary regulators were both brand new in box model 8011's from Micromatic. The price seemed great at $30 each. This is where I ran into another hurdle. I hooked everything up only to find one of the regulators was defective. After a lot of time spent troubleshooting, I took the defective regulator back and exchanged it for another one. This one also turned out to be defective (safety valve leaked). I headed back to the store to exchange it again and this time I got a good one. On the plus side, everything in the store was on sale for 50% off, so they refunded me $15 on the exchange.

Next up I pressure tested the whole system and this is when I ran into my last hurdle. The mixer and all the tubing connecting the various components tested fine, but as soon as I connected the keg, it would bleed down to about 20PSI overnight. The nitro beers are typically dispensed between 35 and 45 PSI, so this was definitely a problem; bad pours plus gas leaking to the atmosphere. The challenge with this kind of leak is it's so slow it's really hard to detect. Adventures in Homebrewing came to the rescue in the form of a sale...brand new ball lock kegs for $75. That wasn't far off from the going rate on used kegs, and I'd really wanted to get a few more kegs ever since upgrading my keezer from three to five taps, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a couple.  With a new keg in hand, I used a jumper to transfer from the old keg to the new one and thankfully it held pressure just fine.

To sum things up, I ended up spending a bit more than I'd originally planned, but I ended up with a pretty nice nitro setup. I may not always have a nitro beer on tap, but I'll probably have one in the regular rotation. I'm looking forward to trying out beers besides stouts on nitro...an English Bitter...perhaps an IPA. Anyway, here are a few pics of the various components and how I put things together.

First up below is the stout faucet. As you can see, it's much more...stout :) than the regular faucet. Something to consider when building a coffin for your keezer and you want to make sure you have enough room to pour.

Next up is the gas mixer. There's a nitrogen in port and a CO2 in port. If either gas runs out, the unit shuts off the flow of the blend. The tee on the CO2 in runs a line over to the CO2 secondary for dispensing non-nitro beers. I tend to run mine around 12 PSI.

The last pic shows the secondary regulators mounted on the board to the left of the mixer. I'm currently serving nitro beers at about 40 PSI. You do have to carb the beer to a little over one volume before dispensing on nitro. This first keg got a little over carb'd, so the first couple pours were a little too foamy. They eventually settled down to the nice dense creamy head associated with nitro beers, but it took a minute or two.

Stout faucet compared to regular faucet
The gas mixer
Secondary regulators


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