Monday, October 12, 2015

McClouds Kilt Brew day

Well SWMBO was out of town, at a charity softball tournament in Wichita, Ks.   So what else would I do... time to brew.  Scottish Export Brew.  I know I had promised an all grain small batch brew day, but well... I changed my mind.   The decision to change to a 5.5 gallon partial mash was motivated by two factors.  First,  I have a friend who loves 90 shilling, and I wanted to see if I could make it up to his standards.  Second,  when I went to bottle the Oktoberfest, it became clear that it was going to need to be cold crashed for a while.  So, when life hands you lemons... make a 5.5 gallon partial mash batch of beer, and put the lemons on the counter in the fruit basket. (really put them in the fruit basket or you get in trouble...she means it)

Began by organizing my stuff.   As you can see I was using Safale S-04.  One of my all time favorite yeasts.    I also used 5 star pH stabilizer for the mash and for the rinse water.  Thank goodness I had it because something funky is going on with our local water.  The pH out of the tap is very inconsistent.  If you are going to do a lot of all grain brewing, you need to learn a little bit about water chemistry.  You don't have to learn everything.  You don't have to nerd out over the water  book from brewers publications.   But you do need to know what to do when the pH is too low or too high.  The easiest way to handle your water chemistry is to down load Bru'N Water, or EZwater Calculator.  (I actually use EZ). Get your local water report, input the variables.  For each batch you should put it into the calculator and see what adjustments you need to make.  If you are doing a partial mash you need to treat the water adjustments like a BIAB with rinse.  My initial mash pH was coming in at 6.8... what the what?  never seen that before.  I didn't have gypsum, or calcium chloride.   So... I tried 5.2 pH stabilizer.  Now, where I live the water is nearly perfect for brewing.  So I usually use a 1/3 dosage (1/3rd of a teaspoon) of 5.2 as an insurance policy to make sure things stay good, and I don't have to use acidulated malt every time I brew. But today a full teaspoon.  Fortunately, it worked, my pH came up to "5.25ish".  But this week I will go buy some gypsum and some calcium chloride.

The mash was misbehaving.  Had to regulate temperatures a lot more than I usually do.  Think it is time to fill the cavity of the electric turkey fryer with expanding foam.  Fortunately I am a contractor, and I have access to a foam rig.  Should take about 10 seconds to do that this week. Normally, I set it at 150, and it stays at 150.   (Remember for partial mash I don't worry about mashing at any temperature other than 150, if I think it needs more body... I add wheat malt,  more silky texture...oats) You get the picture.

In two other pots I got my rinse water, and my DME water ready.   This procedure is great.   And with it I almost always hit my numbers spot on, or slightly exceed them.   Today was no exception my post mash gravity was 1.035 I knew that the DME,  2 # in 2 gallons was going to be 1.044 Plus rinse water of a gallon. So I would be at about 1.035 pre boil.

Please notice that the pot is off the stove when I add my DME.  It has been heated to about 130 F.  But it is off of the stove.   The DME gets mixed in thoroughly. Nothing is stuck to the bottom.  Normally I bring it very slowly to 190 so that the color is not darkened.  Today I was a little more aggressive with my heating, hey its a dark amber colored beer...  at the end of the mash, I added the DME solution, and rinsed the grains.  This created 6.75 gallons of wort.

So here is the Cajun Injector at maximum capacity. 6.75 gallons of wort.  For a 90 minute boil, at 12.5% boil off rate, I ended up with 5.5 gallons of wort.   I used  Kettle Defoamer 105 from 5 star chemicals.   I knew boil over was a real threat. And I'll tell you, 1 drop was not enough, but 3 drops kept everything kosher.   If you are having troubles with boil overs, this is a great product.   The photo is right after it has started it's boil.

From here on pretty standard brew day.  Hops at 90, 45 and 0 all cascade, the recipe is posted in the previous post.  I rehydrated the safale S 04. Fermentation had started up with in a couple of hours, and is still going strong this morning. Fermenting at 68 F.   This yeast is rated for optimum performance up to 68, so I'm probably on the high side, but I want some of the fruity esters with this scottish beer, so I'm not worrying about it.

Chilling took forever,  I have to get my big chiller back from the knucklehead who currently has it.... I chilled this batch with my 25 lft stainless chiller, and it took 45 Minutes to chill... ouch. Think the next 5.5 gallon batch I'll be heading back to using ice to chill, it is so much faster and I have yet to have a problem with it... but like I said when I posted about it, "check back with me, I've only been doing it for 20 years." But the color was perfect for this style of beer.

Seriously though,  I know there is risk of some microbe getting into my beer when I chill with Ice, But until I can afford a Jaded brewing Hydra... or Talos wort chiller I will probably just chill 5.5 gallon batches with Ice.

Upcoming priorities,  Build the new fermentation chamber.   I'll post all about it.  Then it is time to get a couple of tap a draft systems.   If you, like me are primarily a small batch brewer, the tap a draft is perfect.  Just doing a little quick math.  1.5 gallons fits in each tap a draft.   I brew 2.25 gallons, and generally get 2 gallons to package.  So I'll fill 1 tap a draft and 1 two liter bottle with every batch, perfect.  And with the tap a draft system there is no need to modify anything.

Next up on deck is Raspberry Wheat.  The holidays are coming and I know the family will put down the beer.  Need to have their favorites ready.

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