Sour Dubbel on Plums

>> Sunday, October 07, 2018

Today we're doing a group brew for our 15 gallon sour bourbon barrel. This is our fourth fill overall for this barrel, so it won't have dominate bourbon flavors, but we're likely to stop pick up some oak. The beers that have gone in this barrel so far:

  1. Imperial Stout (Get Out Stout)
  2. Imperial Porter (Chasing Abbey)
  3. Golden Sour (BJRR Golden Sour with Coffee)
The recipe we're brewing today is inspired by this one from the Mad Fermentationist. We're doing some slight modifications for our version, such as grain substitutions. One that I'm kind of excited about is we're using malt from Solstice Malt, Utah's first maltster since the 1960s. After the souring that will take place during barrel aging, we'll put this beer on plums. Here's the beer as we're brewing it today:

This recipe is for 5 gallons. Our total batch size is 15 gallons, so this recipe 3x.

Target OG 1.058
10.0# Solstice Pale Malt - Genie
1.0# D-180 Belgian Candi Syrup (secondary, at barrel filling)
0.5# Simpsons Double Roasted Crystal
1.5 oz Aged hops (60 min)boil
Yeast Nutrient
WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale

Mash at 158F, 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
No major issues, but a couple of minor ones. First, I'm not sure if the Solstice Genie is less plump than the base malts I usually use, or maybe my mill was just having issues, but on the first pass there were quite a few uncrushed or barely crushed grains. I ended up fiddling with the gap and ran the grains through a second time and it worked well. It's probably about time to disassemble the mill and perform some maintenance.

We basically did one ten gallon batch on my system followed by a five gallon batch on my buddy's system. The 10 gallon portion came out with an OG of 1.064, and the remaining five came out at 1.055.

Update 10/8/2018
I pitched the yeast last night around 7:30PM and fermentation is very active this morning. I was hoping I could get away without using a blow-off, but I'm afraid I'm going to come home to a mess tonight if I don't.

Update 10/10/2018
Thankfully, this batch never had a messy blow off. As of this morning, the Tilt I put into one off the three fermenters is reading ~1.008. I'm kind of blown away that this yeast was able to tear through the sugars as fast as it has.


Barrel Steamer

>> Saturday, October 06, 2018

Today I'm posting about a new piece of equipment in my arsenal that I just finished building, a barrel steamer.  Credit for the design goes to Beer Diary as mine is completely based on theirs.

For those that are into barrel-aged beers, barrel steamers can come in pretty handy. They can be used for the following:
  • Cleaning barrels - the heat and moisture breaks down residue that can accumulate during aging.
  • Sanitizing barrels - steamers can help sanitize to a degree, by killing off yeast and bacteria. 
  • Re-hydrating barrels - the steam is very effective for swelling the wood if you've had a barrel that has sat dry for an extended period of time.
  • Neutralizing barrels - the steamer can be used to reduce barrel flavor contribution (oak as well as wine and spirits).
The build is pretty straightforward. Basically you need some kind of steam generator to supply the steam, then a wand that delivers the steam to the barrel. I built the wand using the following parts:
  • (1) 1/2" FNPT tee
  • (1) 1/2" MNPT x 1/4" MNPT reducer
  • (1) 1/2" MNPT x 1/2" compression fitting
  • (1) 1/2" compression fitting plug/cap
  • (1) 1/2" OD tubing (length as appropriate for your build)
  • (1) 1/2" MNPT camlock fitting
  • (1) 1/2" camlock barb fitting (not full flow)
  • (1) wooden handle, in my case made from a section of barrel stave
Beer Diary used 1/2" copper tubing for their build. I went all stainless primarily because I had some spare stainless parts around my brewery. For example, I bought some stainless tubing a little while back for some blow-off setups. I also had spare camlock fittings.

For assembly, the fittings are screwed together as shown. The reducer is used to attach the handle and it's plugged with silicone sealant to direct the steam down the wand instead of into the handle. I used Teflon tape on all the threaded fittings so that they don't leak. I drilled five small holes (1/16") holes along the length of tubing at various angle, and these are used to emit the steam. 

As for the steam generator itself, it's a Wagner 705 Wallpaper Steamer that I got off of local classifieds for $25. I clipped the original fitting off the end of the hose and installed the 1/2" camlock barb fitting. This makes it so I can easily detach the wand from the hose and dump water from both the hose and the wand (after everything has cooled down).

To use the steamer, I fill the reservoir with dechlorinated water.  It takes about 10 minutes for the steamer to heat up and it'll go for about an hour before needing refilling. 

One word of should come as no surprise, but steam is hot. The metal parts will get very hot, so use common sense so as not to burn yourself.
End of wand

Handle and Tee


2018 New Zealand Pilsner

>> Sunday, September 16, 2018

I've recently been drawn more and more to lagers, so today I'm brewing a New Zealand Pilsner inspired by NZED Pilsner from Salt Fire Brewing. This isn't a clone, just something in the same vein.

This beer is basically a German Pilsner base featuring New Zealand hops. I'm shooting for a bit more hop character than a typical German Pils. Here's the beer as I'm brewing it today.

6.75# Weyermann Bohemian Floor Malted Pilsner
1.0# Avangard German Pale
14g Green Bullet (60 min)
14g Pacific Jade (5 min)
14g Waimea (5 min)
7g Green Bullet (Whirlpool @170F)
7g Pacific Jade (Whirlpool @170F)
7g Waimea (Whirlpool @170F)
Imperial Global Yeast
Yeast Nutrient
7g Green Bullet (Dryhop)
7g Pacific Jade (Dryhop)
7g Waimea (Dryhop)

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
I'm using the same water profile I used for a German Pils I made a couple years ago. To 10 gallons of distilled water, add:

  • 4.0g Gypsum
  • 2.8g Epsom Salt
  • 4.8g Calcium Chloride
Brewing Notes
No issues. Mash pH measured 5.25. Post-boil pH measured 5.36. OG measured 12 brix (1.047). I only got the temp down to ~70F, so I won't be pitching the yeast until it gets down closer to 46F, likely tomorrow morning.

Update 9/17/2018
I pitched the yeast tonight, about 24 hours after transferring into the fermenter. I noticed my Czech Pils had an acetaldehyde problem and I'm thinking it's most likely due to under-pitching or oxygen exposure post-fermentation. To be safe, I pitched a second pouch of Global in addition to the one I've been stepping up.

Update 9/19/2018
Fermentation is plugging along. I'm using my Tilt Hydrometer to monitor the temp and gravity. I forgot to calibrate it before transferring the wort to the fermenter, so it was reading a few points low compared to the refractometer reading (1.045 vs 1.047). As of this morning, it's dropped to around ~1.036. This is an approximation because during active fermentation, the gravity readings can vary a little bit.

One nice thing, the Tilt's temp reading is really close to the reading I get from my temp controller with the probe attached to the side of my fermenter (typically no more than 0.5F difference). I know a lot of brewers swear that thermowells will give you more accurate readings, but I tried using one with my current hot liquor tank back when I first built it, and I found that sometimes it was off but as much as 7F. I'd move the probe around slightly, and the temp would change, so it seemed like it wasn't making good contact with the interior of the thermowell. Some kind of thermal paste would probably have resolved this issue, but I didn't want to have to deal with messy paste anytime I pulled the probe out for cleaning of the HLT.  7F isn't much of a concern when it comes to a hot liquor tank, but that's huge for fermentation, so I just don't trust thermowell readings for fermentation.

Update 9/20/2018
Gravity is down to 1.027 this morning. At this rate, I should definitely be starting the diacetyl rest before the weekend is over.

I'm still mulling over the dry hop additions. I want the NZ hops to be apparent, but I also want the base beer to come through. I'm probably going to wait until after the d-rest and see where the hop flavor and aroma are at. I'll probably also take a look at dry hopping rates for some IPL recipes so that I (hopefully) don't overdo it.

Update 9/21/2018
Gravity is down to ~1.015 this morning so I'm starting to raise the temps for the diacetyl rest. I use an Inkbird ITC-310T-B temp controller for the diacetyl rest as well as the cold crash that follows. It's nice because I can program up to 12 steps at a time, so it will automatically raise and lower ferm temps for me. There's a bit of sulfur in the aroma in the ferm chamber, but that's fairly normal with this strain and it'll take care of itself in time.

Update 9/24/2018
Gravity is down to ~1.008 this morning. For the dry hopping, I think I'm going to go with 7g of Waimea, 7g of Pacific Jade, and 7g of Green Bullet. I'll probably start DH in a couple days.

Update 9/25/2018
I checked the gravity tonight and it's showing a 1.011 which seems crazy, but the gravity readings can jump around a little bit depending on activity, yeast rafts, krausen, etc.

Update 9/26/2018
I added the dry hops tonight. I went with 7g of each for Green Bullet, Pacific Jade, and Waimea.

Update 10/6/2018
I kegged this beer tonight and put it in my keezer under about 14 psi off CO2. The Tilt was showing a finished gravity of 1.008, consistent with the reading on 9/24. I ended up using a Brulosophy-inspired mylar balloon for the cold crashing. Basically, The balloon acts as a CO2 reservoir so that it doesn't draw any oxygen in during the cold crash.