NZ Pilsner 2020

>> Sunday, February 23, 2020

Up today is a slightly modified version of the Port Road Pilsner recipe I brewed a couple months back. I tweaked the hop additions a bit and increased the grain bill slightly.

Other "new stuff", I recently purchased the Ultimate Sparge Arm for my brew system and this is the first batch I'll be using it on. There wasn't any major problems with my original arm, but I did have to occasionally switch out the silicone hose used to connect the siphon sprayer to the end of the arm. The reason for this was so I could more finely adjust the height of the sparge arm based on grain bill and batch size. I gotta say, the Ultimate Sparge Arm is pretty awesome...well thought out and simple but functional design. I'm able to drop the arm all the way to the top of the false bottom, or raise it all the way to the brim of the mash tun.

False bottom support
One additional change, I modded my false bottom ever so slightly and this will also be the first batch using this mod. I use a domed false bottom from Morebeer and it's the original one I bought years ago back when my mash tun was based on a Rubbermaid cooler.  I noticed sometimes it would start to dent/deform/collapse with huge grain bills. The mod was to add a short section of 14mm OD copper pipe which functions as a stand to support the middle of the false bottom. This little support/stand was drilled in several places to allow the wort to flow freely. I'm hoping this simple mod will provide enough support to solve the occasional collapsing issue.

Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today.

7.5# - GW Pure Idaho Pilsner Malt
0.5# - Weyermann Carahell Malt
2oz - Weyermann Acidulated Malt
1.0g BrewTan B (Dissolved in mash)
3ml Hopshot (60 min)
8.0g - NZ Motueka (10 min)
18.0g - NZ Nelson Sauvin (10 min)
28.0g - NZ Riwaka (10 min)
3.0g - Loral Cryohop (10 min)
18.0g - NZ Motueka Pallet (Flame Out)
28.0g - NZ Nelson Sauvin (Flame Out)
28.0g - NZ Riwaka (FlameOut)
3.0g - Loral Cryohop (Flameout)
28.0g - NZ Riwaka (Dry Hop)
7.0g - Loral Cryohops (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 10.5 gallons of RO water, add:
3.81g Gypsum
2.67g Epsom Salt
4.58g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
No issues. The sparge arm worked great and actually looked like it was doing a better job of not disturbing the grain bed. The false bottom stand also worked well, but I really wasn't expecting any issues because the grain bill was pretty small to begin with.

Update 2/26/2020
Gravity is down to ~1.039 this morning, so things are progressing.

Update 2/27/2020
Gravity is reading ~1.030 this morning, however I'm not confident that is super accurate. I'm only logging gravity once per hour and the Tilt has a tendency to wobble a bit during active fermentation. So bottom line, I don't take the readings as gospel, but they are helpful in showing a trend. As you can see in the graph below, yesterday there was a steady drop 1.039 to about 1.037, then it jumped back up to 1.040 to 1.041, then a sharp drop to 1.030 at 5am this morning. That could be when a glob of yeast slid off the Tilt. Long story short, I don't get too hung up on the individual readings, rather I'm looking at the overall trend.

Update 3/5/2020
Dry hops went in today. I'll let these ride for a few days then hook up my CO2 reservoir and start cold crashing.

Update 3/22/2020
It took me longer than I'd planned, but this finally was kegged today. The leftover hops smelled amazing.


Golden Sour Solera

>> Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Today I'm brewing a repeat of sorts for another sour barrel project. This beer will be going into a 30 gallon barrel where it will age on Bootleg Biology MTF Funk Island Mega Blend. The grain bill is basically the same one used for our club barrel project, Big Bad Barrel #3. Big Bad Barrel #3 was a little boring on its own, kind of a blank slate, but it ended up being amazing with fruit, dry hops, etc.

This is another collaboration brew with friends, this time with Brandon, Chaz, Devin, Jeff, and Nate. We're planning on doing this beer solera style, so we'll let it age for a while then pull off 10 gallons and replace with 10 gallons of fresh beer. This process will be repeated about once a year or whenever the beer it's ready. The following recipe is scaled for 10 gallons. 

10.5# Great Western Pure Idaho Pilsner Malt
2.6# Spelt Malt
56g Aged Hops (60 min)
Yeast Nutrient
Blend of Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison and White Labs WLP013 London Ale Yeast

Mash at 160F. Collect  ~9.0 gallons, then top up to ~11.75 gallons. 90 minute boil, ferment at room temp.

Water Profile
I don't get too fancy with my sour beer water profiles. We have fairly hard water here, so if I'm not completely building water from scratch, I usually at least dilute tap water with RO water for light colored beers. This time I went with a 50/50 blend of carbon filtered tap water and RO water.

Brewing Notes
I started fairly early today at about 6:45am. No issues during the brew session. Target on this batch is 1.040. The last time I brewed it, it came out at 1.041. This time I'm pretty much at 1.040 (10.2 Brix). 

I'm doing primary in a Sankey keg with the spear removed. Usually I split 10 gallon batches between two fermenters, but I figured I might as well ferment in one vessel. 

Details for Barrel #03
I've been collecting more barrels, so I've started numbering them. This one is #03 and is a 30 gallon whiskey barrel originally from Sugarhouse Distillery. The 2nd fill was a stout at Kiitos Brewing. I then got my hands on it...where it sat in my basement long enough to completely dry out. Ideally, you never want this to happen as it's possible you may never get the barrel to seal back up.
To rehab the barrel, I ran it through a steam session with my homemade barrel steamer. Next, I tightened up the hoops a bit. This was followed by a session using the French Method for rehydration, then more steaming sessions, and finally a fill with holding solution. 
The purpose of all these steps was two-fold. First, to rehydrate the barrel so that it was watertight. Second, to neutralize the barrel because we're not really looking for a ton of spirit or oak character. The last step to get this barrel ready to age our beer was the top half of the barrel was waxed as were the heads. Spirit barrels have thinner staves compared to wine barrels, so the wax is an attempt to reduce oxygen permeability and therefore oxygen transfer during the aging period.
Update 2/11/2020
I didn't use my Tilt with this batch, so I don't know exactly where things are at fermentation-wise, but it was showing signs of fermentation yesterday morning with a bubble about once per 2 seconds. There's about 5 gallons of headspace, so I'm not too concerned about needing a blowoff. The fermenter is in my utility room, which is probably about 67-68F this time of year.

Update 3/7/2020
We brewed the last 10 gallons for the barrel today. No issues with the brew session.

3/7/20 Gravity Readings