|MA Prepping for a big brew day!|
|3 Hoppy Extract kits ready for Action|
We have set out to answer that question in our recent series on extract excellence. We were armed with 3 IPA kits from NorthernBrewer. We had the Karma Citra, the Grapefruit Pulpin, and the Dead Ringer kits. Northern Brewer kits are great, and we're so proud to have them as a partner here at Counterbrew. Now most of you know who Northern Brewer is, but just in case you don't. Northern Brewer is the largest home brew store in North America, and has one of the best websites you will experience. They also produce brewingTV. (Which has provided so many of us wonderful wasted hours on YouTube.) We set out to use the techniques we have learned in the Extract Excellence series. Full volume boil, late addition of extract, pre-dissolving your extract, rousing the yeast for full attenuation, and using yeast nutrient.
|Fonzie in the rain, where's Ritchie Cunningham?|
The night before we brewed John treated all of the water we would need with campden tablets to purify the water and to remove chlorine and chloramine. It is a pretty straight forward process. we were using 19.5 gallons of water total, so it was as simple as crushing up two campden tablets and splitting it up between the water. Normally we would make a yeast starter as well, but John realized we were out of DME... so we decided to just re-hydrate and use a little extra.
On brew day the storms were rolling in. We decided to have each guy handle a batch of beer, with me floating between the batches. John was using the beast 231 K BTU banjo burner. Jake was on his old turkey fryer, and MA was on the Cajun injector. All three systems did a great job. But it is no surprise that John was finished first.
The first thing that we did was bring our treated water (brewing liquor) to temperature. When you do an extract (kit or your own) the first thing you tend to do is steep grains. Grains steep anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. We put them in as the water is heating and pull them as the water approaches 170 F. We do not want to extract tannin from the grains and we have not treated this water for pH. So letting the water get above 170 F would be a risky move. As they are steeping we occasionally poke at them with a spoon and stir them around.
After the grains steeped for 20 to 30 minutes and when the water reached 170 F, we pulled the grains and squeezed the grain bags into the wort. It was now time to use one of our most important tricks to making great extract home brew, pre dissolving the wort. We pre dissolve the wort in a separate pot so that we have no risk of scorching our extract in the kettles. The next video is dark, but John gets his point across well. We also use some of the hot water to get all of the extract out of the containers it came in. Great tips that keep your extract from scorching or even getting too dark. But one thing you have to accept is that extract will be darker than all grain brew. It is just the nature of the beast.
|late extract addition|
|Jake's odd method for checking|
the OG of a beer.
At the end of the boil each batch was chilled with our jaded hydra. Ground water temps are above ale temps right now, so we could only chill to about 74 F. But John's basement is at 66 F. So we just set the batches in the basement to finish coming down to fermentation temperatures. The batches were pitched the next morning after a brief aeration.
John nailed his initial gravity of 1.050 coming in at 1.048. Jake was shooting for 1.064 and got 1.060. Mark Anthony was shooting for 1.055 and got 1.050, but also produced an entire extra gallon of wort. So he clearly actually got some sugars from the steeping. The Cajun injector heats much more slowly than the other kettles. So the steep was much longer. What we think happened is that he actually extracted and mash converted sugars from the steeping. Because with an extra gallon of wort his numbers should have been much lower.
Jake and John will stay on top of rousing the batches and making the nutrient additions to make sure these batches have every chance to attenuate as much as possible. And we will of course report back to you all about how these beers turn out. I'm looking forward to trying these. They were darker than their all gran versions. But not crazy dark. I think they are going to be excellent.