Friday, May 27, 2016

Advanced Mashing for advanced results

This is a beer for the common man of France,
The French country ale shares it's heritage with
Biere de Garde, but unlike BDG doesn't need
long periods of lagering to finish malty and clean.
John is out of town for the Holiday weekend.  So that leaves the rest of the Counterbrew team to carry the torch. The infusion mash Tripel will have to wait a week.  So we're brewing at Mark's this weekend. We are making a french country ale, not a saison, not a farmhouse ale.  This beer is not yeast centric. It's a rich malty clean country ale. If you want to get technical this is a Biere de Garde.  But it doesn't really need to be lagered because we are using K97 Kolsch yeast.  It will be clean at packaging.   We will be step mashing  8 lbs of grain in the turkey fryer, then pulling a decoction to raise to mash out, adding even more malt flavor and color.  It's going to be a lot of stirring, but we are up for it.  Stirring?  Yes, stirring.  When ever you are doing a step mash, and applying direct heat, you should stir your mash.   Your goal is to keep the temperature consistent through out the mash and to keep the areas close to the fire from over heating. So if the element is on, we are stirring.

What?  You can't use a spoon to keep temperatures consistent, you have to have a eHERMs, recirculating wort, blue tooth controlled wort production machine!

Well yes, yes you can use a spoon.  I can and do all the time.  It's just home brew.  You can do what ever you want.  And I want to brew 3.5 gallons of a french country ale with a luxurious malt profile and mouth feel.   And they way you do that?  You step mash, and you do a decoction.  Both techniques have been covered ad nauseum on this blog, recently.  So I won't get into too much detail on that today.

Wait a minute, hold on now you're brewing a weird size.  What the holy heck?  Why can't you just do things the way the beer police say to do them? 

Well in truth, at Mark's we dont want to make a 5 gallon batch.  He lives in a loft.  We don't want to carry beer from the kitchen to the laundry room for chilling.   So we make a smaller batch and chill it with an ice batch in the sink.

This weekend we will be showing you that you can combine techniques.  They are just tools.  And we'll be applying the knowledge we have built with you on this site to use step mashing and decoction,

So here is the recipe, and the process.  Just in case you want to brew along.

color will be
between these
Belle Terre - 3.5 gallon biere de garde - really a french country ale.
1.074 OG
1.014 FG
24 IBUs
11 SRM - may be slightly higher due to the decoction
7.9% ABV

5.5 lbs of Vienna Malt -
the longer
you decoct
the darker
the color
.75 lbs of Munich
.75 lbs of C20
1.0 lbs of Table Sugar
.50 lbs of Aromatic
.50 lbs of Biscuit

.6 oz of Northern Brewer at First Wort  9% AA = 5.4 AAUs
.5 oz of Strisselspalt at 25 Minutes to go in the boil 4% AA = 2 AAUs
.5 oz of Strisselspalt at 10 Minutes to go in the boil 4% AA = 2 AAUs

1 tsp of yeast nutrient

Fermentis K97 Yeast 2 packages.  Added Dry to chilled wort

The Mash
The grains will strike into 4.5  Gallons of 120 F water - The grains will rest at 115 F for 15 Minutes
The mash will be stirred and heated to 132 F - where it will rest for 15 minutes
The mash will be stirred and heated to 146 F - where it will rest for 30 Minutes
A decoction will be pulled and brought to a boil for 15 minutes  no need to rest at 150 -
The decoction will be added back into the main mash to raise the temperature to 168 F.
The grains will be pulled and set on a rack above the kettle to drain. squeeze to get to volume.
The pre boil volume should be about 4 Gallons.

From here on out it is just like any other batch.


  1. Thumbs up on the odd batch size! I've done the occasional 2.5 or 3 gallon batch (diverging from my typical 5), especially if it's a high alcohol style or something "weird" that I will enjoy but won't enjoy 5 gallons worth.

    What brand of yeast nutrient do you use?

    1. We usually use Wyeast. But we're trying a new one this weekend. I for one have never accepted the idea that batch sizes should be 5,10,15 gallons.

  2. I have been using BSG Fermax when I do use nutrient -- it seems to do the trick, although my main issue is that the company only publishes suggested doses for wine rather than beer (1 tsp. per gallon is waaaay too much). I have ended up using about 1/2 tsp. per 5 gallons, although this is more based on guess and opinions from various internet forums than any real knowledge. At my first use, I added 2 tsp. The wort ended up with a very odd smell (presumably urea) that thankfully disappeared during fermentation. I recognize that most companies have an interest in keeping some stuff proprietary, but I wish there were precise data available on what we're actually adding with the various nutrient brands, to peg the doses more appropriately!

    1. Great comment. I think if you contacted BSG, they would share with you "in general" what is in the product. They are pretty damned fantastic to work with. I prefer not to add fermax or any of the other krausen limiting chemicals. Not because of any off flavor or bias, but rather because I just try to keep things simple. My mash and fermentation schedules tend to be complicated. So anything else I can simplify, gets simplified. Thanks for reading

    2. Thanks!

      Does Fermax actually have an effect on the krausen? Or were you thinking of FermCapS? I do use FermCap when making yeast starters (to prevent them from foaming over on the stove), but don't add it to the main boil for the same reasons you mention.

  3. You're correct. FermCap was what I was thinking of.

  4. You're correct. FermCap was what I was thinking of.