I brewed last weekend, and somehow my efficiency was way up.
— Andrew Rohne (@HamBrew807) February 4, 2017
According to BeerSmith, my mash efficiency is 87% and my overall brewhouse efficiency is 97%. I don’t believe that second number at all, but the first is pretty damn important to me, and it is wildly better than what I’ve done in the past.
I took one of my last recipes – an IIPA where I got 60% mash efficiency – and took a look in Bru’n Water. Using my water report found on the Internet and what I added based on Palmer’s spreadsheet, my mash pH was likely close to 5.68 after the 4 grams of gypsum and 1 mL of lactic acid. What I should have done was 4 grams of gypsum and 4.5 mL of lactic acid. That would have put my mash pH around 5.34.
Of course this could be a fluke. I did mash in high (the strike water started at 158ºF, I stirred it down to 155ºF), so there could be that. So there will be a part 4 and a part 5. One will be with a past recipe with a revised water adjustment profile, and another will be about my Ward Labs report… once I run a Ward Labs report!
I’m not making resolutions, because the calendar shouldn’t dictate things like that, but it’s a breaking point.
Several good things happened in the past year…
- I became more interested in brewing maltier styles despite still drinking hoppy styles.
- I read Brew Like A Monk and Homebrew All-Stars. Both excellent books.
- I improved my efficiency a little. I’m still below where I want to be, though.
- I won a bronze medal. I can now call myself an award winning homebrewer! 😂
- I started into water adjustments.
- I started kegging.
- I started, and then stopped, fooling around with my system.
- I brewed my first sour.
As usual, improved efficiency. I pulled a sample of wort out of the mash tun during my prior brew day, and it was 122°F. Considering I was targeting and hitting 156°F, this is concerning. I am tempted to move to a cylindrical cooler.
I’m going to learn more. I started reading Wood & Beer just after Christmas, and then I bought Experimental Homebrewing (kindle) because I caught it when it was $2. I may also read the Brewing Elements series, particularly after reading how Cincinnati breweries work with their water.
I’m going to slightly expand the Batavia Basement Brewery. I intend to get two more Better Bottles. I’m going to get a 10 gallon kettle (and I might go ahead and get 12 or 15 just in case). I might do something to be able to control fermentation.
Not everything I do will be related to capital improvements. I’m going to brew at least two new-to-me styles (and by new-to-me, we’re talking styles I haven’t made, not styles I haven’t drank!). One will likely be a Belgian Dubbel. I’m going to make some quick-reference papers/cards to help me remember how I want to do things (like gelatin fining, kegging). I’m going to improve my kegging process.
The recipe is fairly simple, I’ve posted it before but I’ve made a few changes.
|Batch Size||Boil Time||IBU||SRM||Est. OG||Est. FG||ABV|
|5.5 gal||60 min||12.7 IBUs||13.5 SRM||1.053||1.012||5.4 %|
|Name||Cat.||OG Range||FG Range||IBU||SRM||Carb||ABV|
|Flanders Red Ale||23 B||1.048 - 1.057||1.002 - 1.012||10 - 25||10 - 16||2 - 2.7||4.6 - 6.5 %|
|Pilsner (2 Row) Bel||8 lbs||71.11|
|Wheat - Red Malt (Briess)||1.5 lbs||13.33|
|Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L||8 oz||4.44|
|Oats, Flaked||8 oz||4.44|
|Vienna Malt (Briess)||8 oz||4.44|
|Carafa II||4 oz||2.22|
|Tettnang, U.S.||1 oz||60 min||Boil||Leaf||4.5|
|Lactic Acid||1.00 ml||60 min||Mash||Water Agent|
|Irish Moss||1.00 tsp||15 min||Boil||Fining|
|Roselare Belgian Blend (3763)||Wyeast Labs||80%||55°F - 80°F|
|Mash In||156°F||90 min|
|Download this recipe's BeerXML file|
Note: in the above, ignore the aging part, this is going to take a while… Also, my hops may not be very strong. I’m using year+ old homegrown hops, and in the past I think their strength has been low.
Brew day went generally without a hitch.
I mashed in with 3.5 gal of water at 174F, which settled to 156F. I let it rest, stirring occasionally, for 80 minutes when I added about a gallon of water at 190F. After 10 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected 3.5 (ish) gallons of wort, and batch sparged with around 3.25 gallons of water at 190F, which rested at 165F (about 5F below the target 170F). After all that, the pre-boil gravity was 1.057.
Boil was the standard one hour boil. 15 minutes prior to the end of the boil, I started the pump through the plate chiller, discarding the first little bit that pushed through and then recirculating through the boil kettle, creating a whirlpool. At the end of the hour, I set the PID to a low temperature (50-ish F) and turned the cold water on to the plate chiller. Chilling to about 70F took under 15 minutes.
It’s fermenting away now…
Somehow, I’m going to get some oak in this. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, so maybe this will help…
12/28/2016: Brewed, SG 1.051. Forgot to get pH reading.
1/5/2017: 1.008, pH 4.15. No acidity. Very bready.
1/14/2017: 1.008, pH 4.23. Light acidity. Still bready, but acid beginning to counter malt sweetness.
1/29/2017: 1.008, pH 4.34. More acid. pH meter is clearly fucked. It needs more time, but bready-ness is generally gone.
(this will be updated as things change)
I’ve had some organization issues in the homebrewery, so I decided to use some Christmas money to fix.
The shelves are wire shelves from Target. I only used four of the five shelves. The bottom two shelves are tall enough for a keg or carboy, and the uppers are good for bottles and other glassware. The bottom shelf is off the floor enough that I can sweep under it and get a mop under it if necessary.
I do have future plans to move more stuff around – I want the keezer closer to the stairs (currently it is as far from the stairs as possible), and I want to eventually change the sink to a double-tub sink.
I’m sitting here one chapter into my gift…
If you haven’t listened to the podcasts about the book, they are worth a listen (Basic Brewing Radio May 19, 2016 episode, BeerSmith). The basic premise of the book is to interview some all-stars to try and spread their knowledge. Since it would be a mess otherwise, the all-stars are broken out into four archetypes: Recipe (and Ingredient) Innovator, The Scientist (and Process Nerd), The Old School Master, and The Wild One.
I took the test. Like many others, I fall into multiple groups, but mostly the Scientist and Process Nerd. Old School Master, Innovator, and Wild are the other three places, with the scores from Scientist, Old School, and Innovator being fairly close.
Also for Christmas I got a pH meter. Shocking after seeing my architype.
Cheers and Merry Christmas!
On November 20, I brewed my biggest (and most successful in terms of numbers) beer – a double IPA. Recipe inspiration came from MadTree’s High series, which is a series of IIPAs that are quite popular and very well rated (note: there are three “highs” that I know of, the Galaxy and Citra, which are linked in the text, and Azacca which is not… but it’s also f**king tasty! There may have also been a Mosaic High).
The recipes are similar. I did a fair bit of ‘back of the napkin’ analysis on the two beers, looking at the percentages of grain, the AAU at each addition, etc. I ended up with the recipe below.
|Batch Size||Boil Time||IBU||SRM||Est. OG||Est. FG||ABV|
|5.5 gal||60 min||123.7 IBUs||5.9 SRM||1.074||1.014||7.8 %|
|Name||Cat.||OG Range||FG Range||IBU||SRM||Carb||ABV|
|Double IPA||22 A||1.065 - 1.085||1.008 - 1.018||60 - 120||6 - 14||2.4 - 2.9||7.5 - 10 %|
|Pilsner (Hoepfner)||10.5 lbs||72.41|
|Vienna Malt (Briess)||2.25 lbs||15.52|
|Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L||8 oz||3.45|
|Carapils (Briess)||4 oz||1.72|
|Corn Sugar (Dextrose)||1 lbs||6.9|
|El Dorado||1 oz||60 min||Boil||Pellet||15|
|Galena||1 oz||60 min||Boil||Pellet||12.5|
|Centennial||0.5 oz||30 min||Boil||Pellet||10|
|Mosaic (HBC 369)||0.5 oz||30 min||Boil||Pellet||12.3|
|Centennial||0.5 oz||15 min||Boil||Pellet||10|
|Mosaic (HBC 369)||0.5 oz||15 min||Boil||Pellet||12.3|
|Centennial||1 oz||15 min||Aroma||Pellet||10|
|Mosaic (HBC 369)||1 oz||15 min||Aroma||Pellet||12.3|
|Centennial||2 oz||0 min||Dry Hop||Pellet||10|
|Mosaic (HBC 369)||2 oz||0 min||Dry Hop||Pellet||12.3|
|Chinook||1.5 oz||0 min||Dry Hop||Pellet||13|
|Citra||1 oz||0 min||Dry Hop||Pellet||12|
|Mash In||152°F||60 min|
|Download this recipe's BeerXML file|
I kept closer to the size of the Citra High recipe, mostly because I am still working through efficiency issues (it’s getting better, though). I still didn’t get MadTree’s efficiency, but to be fair, I’m targeting 75%, not 82%!
I’m happy to say that the only issues during brew day was how long it took and higher than expected grain absorption. I started later in the day (around 2:30 PM) and it didn’t end until maybe 6:30PM. There were no stuck sparges, clogged lines or chillers, boil boiled. I ended up with about 4.5 gallons into the fermenter, which is less than the 5.5 gallons I was targeting. However, the lower volume works better with my 7.5 – 8 gallon kettle.
Throughout fermentation, the temperature (as measured on the side of the fermenter) stayed at 68, which is a nice perfect temperature.
Aroma: Grapefruit mostly
Appearance: Copper, opaque. White head that starts thick and persists as a thin head.
Taste: Tongue lashing bitterness with citrus tones. Some alcohol flavor.
Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, slight citrusy tartness lingers past the dry finish.
Overall Impression: I’m biased, but I love this beer. I’ve been drinking the heck out of this!
What’s Next With This Recipe?
I want to try two things – one is maybe a little less bitterness. The other is honey instead of sugar. I’m wondering if some Orange Blossom honey would work well with the citrus based hops.
Unauthorized? Yeah maybe. This is in plain sight, so it’s fair game, right? I’m not a journalist anyway…
There is another new “brewery” coming to Cincinnati, Mio’s Pizza in Anderson (at the corner of Eight Mile and Clough Pike).
I go to this Mio’s somewhat regularly (the pizza is great, and the beer list is excellent), and I also go to Paradise Brewing regularly (because homebrewing!). I initially heard about Mio’s plans at Paradise, and saw them coming to fruition over the last few visits.
Based on the plan, it looks like one 2 bbl fermenter, so obviously not a huge production so it seems highly likely they will still maintain their excellent selection of craft beers*. One of the things talked about with some of the newer craft breweries is a return to having neighborhood breweries. This seems to fall in line with that, but with brewing being second to food. Given the small scale of production, that’s probably going to be fine.
I haven’t talked to the owners or anything, but since they are growing hops outside and they have good pizza and service, I’ll definitely give their beers a try, and I’ll be monitoring their progress… as I drop by to have a pizza with the family.
Update: This was supposed to post on November 21, but it did not. A few weeks (or less) after writing, I stopped in and was told by a waiter that their brewery will be more educational/community, which will be pretty cool!
‘* = the beers I can remember include MadTree Pilgrim, Nowhere In Particular Batch 4, Stone Enjoy By 7/25/16 Tangerine IPA, Figleaf Iso-Trope, Old Firehouse The Chief, Jackie O’s Firefly Amber, Urban Artifact Kicksled.
I’ve been thinking about my next homebrew being a Belgian Strong Dark Beer. In the research process, I found two Chop & Brew Episodes, and both use dark candi syrup. Since I’m tight (a little) and since it’s basically sugar, I decided to make my own.
Off to the interwebs, I found a post by Mad Fermentationist that mentioned a Ryan Brews post in the comments. Looking at the Ryan Brews page, I used pickling lime and DAP (yeast nutrient, I used LD Carlson, which I had on hand).
I only scaled the recipe up, so I used:
1 pound sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp pickling lime
1 tsp yeast nutrient
I brought it to a boil and held it to around 280º – 300ºF for 40 minutes. After that, I removed it from the heat, let it cool for a few, and added 1/3 cup of water and stirred it in to make it a syrup.
The two things I will do differently next time:
- Dissolve the lime and dap in the water before adding it to the sugar. I had a lot of large flakes that I think (operative word!) are from the lime.
- Use a better thermometer setup. My grill thermometer was reading 280º for a while including in boiling water, so I hope the thermocouple isn’t ruined. I’m letting it dry and will test it later. Edit a few days later: the thermocouple is saying 129º while sitting next to the food thermocouple reading 73º. I’ve ordered a replacement!
Cleanup of this stuff isn’t too difficult, the best way is to boil everything, even if you don’t make it to a boil, very hot water can dissolve the sugar/caramel.
So after the low mash efficiency last few beers AND my perception (note 1) of low mash efficiency in my last beer, I started looking at water more.
After looking at my options, I found a page on Braukaiser, and ended up purchasing an aquarium test kit that tests GH, KH, pH, NO2, and NO3. The NO2 and NO3 are unnecessary for brewing, and I had 0 ppm for both of those anyway. Using the spreadsheet and my 180ppm measurements for both GH and KH, I found Ca = 51 ppm and Mg = 13 ppm.
That’s not too different from my old measurements:
Ca: old 54, new 51
Mg: old 13, new 13
The two interesting differences are alkalinity and pH.
Alkalinity: old 123, new 180
pH: Old 8.1, new 7.5.
The total alkalinity is a concern – that’s the ability of the water to buffer changes in acidity. And my pH is lower than expected. So I may not have had the wort in the proper pH range. This could be why I’ve had efficiency problems.
That being typed, I need a good pH meter. That’s really the only point that I came to after all this.
Note 1: I initially thought that I had really poor efficiency, and there is a problem somewhere in my measurements… particularly not taking a pre-boil gravity. I have the first running and the second running and the OG, and I determined a potential amount of sugar in the two runnings and it may be okay. The real problem was that I had far too much strike water and didn’t make any adjustments. I DID figure out that if I use Denny Conn’s method, I can safely assume his assumption that 10 pounds of grain absorbs 1 gallon of strike water, because mine is a hair over that.
On to the next beer!
When I started writing this, I was sitting and waiting on the mash. This was my first brew since my attempt at the Redneck RIMS.
I’m not trying that again. I don’t think it was smart to cobble together some stuff and do something that just made things more difficult. I’ve been reading a lot, and a few posts on the Beer Simple Blog kinda got me to change from trying to make RIMS happen to just concentrate on making beer.
Last Sunday’s beer was inspired by Great Lakes’ Nosferatu. It’s an awesome beer. I don’t brew clone beers, but I DO use clone recipes as starting points. I changed the base malt to Maris Otter, and I’m using all Chinook hops. I’m using Northwest Ale yeast, too. When I initially typed this, I was in the mash and temps were looking good (154 – 155). Unfortunately, there were other problems, but in the end, I have about 4.5 gallons of beer and I learned a few things for the next time.
- Dried hope cones go into a bag, because despite what I’ve read in someone else’s brewing book, they don’t create a “filter bed”, they get stuck in pumps and plate chillers.
- Better Bottles can’t handle 200ºF wort. They tell us this, and we’d do well to remember.
- Expect that pumps change how much water your grain “absorbs”.
- Speaking of pumps, standardizing all fittings to one singular fitting (i.e. cam locks or tri-clamps) is probably a good thing to do.
- Disasters will happen. Even homebrewing should have a disaster recovery plan (backup pumping system, a backup method to chill wort isn’t bad either, backup measurement devices, etc.).