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.


Pale Ale with Medusa

>> Saturday, August 10, 2019

Today I'm brewing an American Pale Ale. This is a new recipe I'm trying out. Like my recent Kellerbier, the majority of the base malt is from Root Shoot Malting out of Colorado. This beer will also feature another ingredient native to Colorado, Multi-head hops, also known under the brand name Medusa. These hops are a Neomexicanus variety, which are hops that are native to the Southwest and reportedly thrive in dry and hot climates. I planted some in my yard earlier this spring, and they almost didn't make it due to the abnormally cool and wet spring we had in Utah. It'll be at least another year before I can harvest any, so the hops in this recipe were all purchased.

Descriptions for Medusa indicate it has quite a bit of tropical and citrus character, but also a substantial dank component. I'm pairing it with some other hop varieties that will hopefully emphasize the fruity character and keep the dank in check.  Additionally,  the I'm using Imperial's Kveiking blend which is said to also contribute bright tropical notes in the finished beer.  Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today.

6.1875# Root Shoot Pale Malt
2.25# Crisp Organic Pale Malt
12oz Weyermann Barke Munich Malt 
6oz Weyermann Cara Munich II
1g BrewTan B (mash)
2.5ml Hopshot (45 min)
3.5g Mosaic Cryo (20 min)
14g Medusa (15 min)
3.5g Mosaic Cryo (5 min)
14 g Medusa (5 min)
4.66g BCAA (5 min)
7g Medusa (0 min)
3.5g Mosaic Cryo (Whirlpool 170F)
3.5g Amarillo Cryo (Whirlpool 170F)
7g Medusa (Whirlpool 170F)
7g Amarillo Cryo (0 min)
57g Medusa (dry hop 3 days)
28g Citra Cryo (dry hop 3 days)
14g Mosaic Cryo (dry hop 3 days)
Kveiking Yeast Blend
Wyeast Nutrient

Mash at 154F, 90 min boil, ferment warm.

Water Profile
To 10 gallons RO water, add:
10.0g Gypsum
0.3g Epsom Salt
5.4g Calcium Chloride

Additional Notes
I've been playing around with Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) in my lagers because it's supposed to minimize diacetyl production and speed the uptake of what is produced. I hadn't planned on using BCAA in ale recipes because yeast clean up diacetyl just fine at warmer ale temperatures.  However, I read something (can't seem to find it now) about how kveik strains may struggle if BCAA levels are low, and/or have a hard time utilizing BCAA compared to more domesticated yeast. As a precaution, I'm supplementing the wort with a low dosage of BCAA in addition to Wyeast Nutrient.I

Brewing Notes
No issues. First runnings came in about 18.5 brix (~1.074), pre-boil at 11.9 brix (1.047), and post-boil at 14.9 brix (~1.059), so a couple points higher than target (1.055). The hop blend smelled really nice going into the boil. I chilled down to about 92F before transferring to fermenter, aerating well, and pitching yeast.

Update 8/12/2019
I forgot to post an update yesterday, but it was very actively fermenting by yesterday morning. A lot of people report some of the kveik strains finishing fermentation within a couple days. I don't have a Tilt for this one, so I haven't been able to plot the fermentation. I just checked it (8/12 7am) and it's still fermenting away with a bubble about out the blow-off about every .75 seconds.

Update 10/17/2019
I just realized I never posted comments about the finished beer. This beer turned out really nice. Notes for next time, it could use a bit more bittering but I really enjoyed the hop flavor and aroma which was citrusy, tropical, basically all the good things that are typical of modern American hops. One interesting note, this beer turned out extremely hazy, very similar to NEIPAs.  In fact, some of the feedback I got from this entry in 2019 Beehive Brewoff was asking the lines of judges assuming this was entered as a pale ale by mistake, and that it was really a hazy IPA. I know that certain kviek strains are very flocculant, sometimes presenting challenges keeping them in suspension, but this blend seems to have at least one strain that doesn't flocc well. I'd like to try brewing this beer again, probably with US-05 and see if it clears better.


Purple Corn Pre-Prohibition Pilsner

>> Sunday, August 04, 2019

Today I'm brewing a variation of the Pre-Prohibition Pilsner that I brewed a few years back. I'm incorporating some home-malted purple corn in place of the flaked corn used in the original recipe. You may ask, why am I doing a purple corn Pilsner? Is it because purple corn Pilsners are all the rage outside of Utah, and Utah has been slow to catch on? Well no, it's just because it's fun to experiment with different ingredients. One note: when using corn malt, you need to crack it before you can mill it. I put mine in the blender on its lowest speed for 10-20 seconds. You want tho crack the kernels, not make flour. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today.

7.25# Rahr Standard 6-Row
1.75# Home-Malted Purple Corn
0.25# Cara-Pils
1.0g BrewTan B (dissolved in warm water, mash)
4ml Hopshot (60 min)
11g Cluster (10 min)
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (dissolved in warm water or wort, 5 min)
Saflager W-34/70

Step mash: 30 min at 122F, 45 min at 158F, mashout at 168F for 10 min. 90  minute boil. Chill to 51F then ramp up to 55F over 48 hours. Perform a diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.020.

Water Profile
To 10 gallons of distilled water, add:

  • 0.8g Gypsum
  • 0.2g Pickling Salt
  • 2.2g Epsom Salt
  • 0.8g Calcium Chloride
  • 0.8g Baking Soda
  • 0.4g Chalk
Brewing Notes
I was a little high on the initial step; about 130F. I added some ice cubes to my heat exchanger to drop the temps. The rest of the brew day went well with no issues. The wort looks like grape soda. OG came in at 1.052 (~13.7 brix). I was able to chill down to 65F, and it'll continue to chill down to 51F overnight before I aerate and pitch yeast.
1st Runnings; Pre-boil; Post-boil
Update 8/7/2019
The yeast took a little bit to get going, but gravity is down to 1.044 this morning.

Update 8/8/2019
Gravity is down to 1.035 this morning per Tilt. I should be able to start ramping temps up for a diacetyl rest Friday night or Saturday morning.

Update 8/15/2019
I hooked up my CO2 reservoir this morning and have started dropping temps for the cold crash. On that note, I used to ramp temps down for the cold crash because the school of thought was that too rapid of a drop could cause off flavors (from yeast releasing compounds). However, a recent Brulosophy experiment seemed to show that quick vs. slow temp drops doesn't have a negative impact, so I've been letting it go as fast a my little ferm chambers will go.