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November 27, 2005

frozen brewing

Yesterday was another brew day for the biergotter crew, and an interesting one it was. The day got off to a bit of a rocky start. we were planning to get started around 9am, and at 8:30 i got a call from Rob. he had slept through his alarm and was still in waterloo (approx 2 hours away), so he was going to be late. since he was picking Tim up on the way, that left Jayc and i to get things rolling in their absence. with two batches planned for the day, we knew it was going to be a long one. jay and i finalized the details of the recipes for the day while watching friday's episode of aqua teen hunger force, and started to work.

as it turned out, tim and rob got to within 5min of my house, but got stopped by a parade. apparently i was smack in the middle of the parade route that bounded the major roads in all 4 directions. by the time they managed to get through that and find there way to my place they were nearly 3 hours late. we told rob that the moral of the story was to wake up when the alarm went off so that you didn't hit the parade, but he was still unhappy :)

by that point we had the first batch, a Rochefort 10 clone, well underway. unfortunately, since we were kept kind of busy with this we didn't really start working on the other batch, a badass imperial stout, until after rob and tim arrived. we finished grinding the grain for the stout around 2pm. by this point the Rochefort was mostly finished, so we were free to focus our attention on this batch.

for the stout we had big ideas. until now we've been limited to a 30 pound maximum for our grain bill due to the size of our cooler tun. this works out great for 5 gallon batches, but is limiting when working on a 10 gallon batch of something with high gravity. we've used sugar and dry malt extract in the past to boost up gravity, but this time we wanted to do it purely with grain. we also have an older smaller tun in a bucket that holds about 15 pounds of grain, so we decided to go for a 45 pound batch and just use both tuns. we figured the easiest way to do this was to treat the beer as two separate batches, splitting the grain bill so that 2/3 of the pale malt went into each batch, and then just split up the specialty grains between them. we decided that to give the impy a little more body and malty character we would use the smaller 15# batch and mash it higher. we also thought that instead of just running both tuns into the kettle it would be more exciting to do it "doble" style, running the liquor from the "high" tun down into the "low" one (see photos below).

the grain bill was split so the "low" mash was 21# of 2 row along with the brown, biscuit, and victory malts (total 30#). the "high" mash was the remaining 10.5# of 2 row and the chocolate, black patent, crystal, and roasted barley. the "low" batch was mashed at 152F, the "high" batch at 158F. The runnings from the "high" mash flowed into the "low" mash. sparge water was added to the "high" mash and it worked its way down into the "low" tun. about 14.75 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.083 was collected. At this point the runnings from the "low" tun were still fairly high, so we gathered an additional 2 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.050. The extra 2 gallons was boiled down until less than 0.5 gallon remained. we tried to take a gravity of this "magic elixer" and found that our hydrometer only went up to 1.170. At 120F, that works out to 1.180, so we know it was at least that. we took 1 quart of this and added it to the main wort at flameout. even with a 90 min boil on the wort we only boild off about 2 gallons, which yielded 12 gallons going into primary, with the remaining gallon donated to the beer gods...

Everyone brought beer to sample. on hand were our most recent ipa (brewed in september), our scottish ale (brewed in june), zywiec porter, bell's 20th anniversary ale, dark horse crooked tree ipa (which makes me think of pavement), ommegang hennepin ale, stoudt's double ipa, stoudt's fat dog imperial oatmeal stout, and stoudt's scarlet lady ale esb. an interesting mix of beer that we all enjoyed.

lots of new records for us today:
-latest brew day (nov 26)
-coldest brew day (-3C)
-longest brew day (9am-2am)
-largest grain bill (45#)
-highest gravity all grain (1.100)
-highest yearly brew total (~75 gallons)

on with the photos...

yes, it's winter here in the toronto area, with several inches of snow falling over the last few days. it was fairly cold (slightly below freezing), but there was no wind so the weather wasn't too bad for brewing. first infusion of water for the Rochefort heating up on the burner.

jay grinding the grain for the rochefort clone.

the 15# grain bill waiting for its first infusion.

i overshot the temp on the first infusion, so took advantage of the cold weather to help cool it down. this wasn't happening quite fast enough so i ended up pulling a couple quarts and replacing it with cold water. this brought us right where we wanted. this was our coldest brew day, and because the grain and equipment was all pretty cold we had to adjust for this, going with slightly higher temps for each infusion in order to make sure we hit the correct temperature. the protein rests were fine, but we needed some heating to bring us up to saccharification temps. we also had to keep a closer eye on our temperatures, giving a bit of heat around 40 minutes into the sacc. rest.

the bag of maris otter waiting for use in the stout. our usual 2-row is a bit thin and unexciting, so we decided to find some maris otter for this batch. as it turned out, it's even cheaper than what we're currently useing. we have to head over to detroit to get it, but considering most of us end up in windsor fairly regularly that's not a problem. we'll be using alot more of this in the future.

heating up the rochefort to mash out temperature.

jay stirring the pot, and the arrival of rob (on the left) and tim (right).

we didn't waste any time putting them to work. here's rob working on the grind for the stout. can you tell he's injoying it?

here's the rochefort approaching boil and tim skimming the skum.

the grain for the stout, crushed and ready. the "low" one on the left, and the "high" on the right.

the rochefort in full boil.

tim checking the temps for one of the first infusion on the stout.

we moved the burners into the garage to help keep us warm. my burner is right inside as it doesn't get nearly as hot as jay's jet burner. we kept his closer to the door as it gets pretty hot.

rob's really excited about the stout. here you see him checking on them. sort of looks like he's trying to guard them from everyone else and keep them for himself...

mmmm...tasty. can you tell which one has all the roasted grains?

chiller ready for action. had to bring the hoses in the house for a while to thaw them out before we could do this. then we left the chiller sitting out for a few hours and it turned into a rock, so we had to bring it inside to thaw out too.

the tuns setup and waiting. the "high" tun was also elevated with respect to the "low" one, so it's more than just mash temp.

mashing out on the "low" pot.

the tuns filled and waiting. check out how black the flow from the "high" tun is.

yep, light isn't even getting through it. hopefully the final product will be this impressive!

that's me (russ) dumping the last of the mash into the cooler.

jay prepping the tinfoil on top of the 'high' tun. think he's having fun?

the runnings from the "high" tun quickly turned the "low" one black.

tasty hot black liquor.

can't get enough pics of this setup. the flow from the "high" tun stayed super black all the way to the end, and it didn't take long before the "low" tun looked the same.

tim on skimming duty again. we had to be really careful with this one as it's the fullest we've ever pushed our kettle. at just shy of 15 gallons, there wasn't much headspace if it decided to boil over. fortunately after skimming most of the hot break we didn't have much trouble.

by the time we got the imperial stout up to a boil it was after 10pm. it'd been dark for hours, and especially with the steam we had to use a flashlight to see what we were doing. here we see jay helping tim see the skum for skimming.

this is the pot of what we were calling the "magic elixer". the final 2 gallons of runnings were put on to boil, and probably spent about 2 hours boiling while the main wort got up to and ran its 90 minute boil. the result was under a half gallon of super sweet liquor. it tasted alot like molasses, with strong hints of caramel and licorice.

we decided to use a quart of the elixer, adding it to the main wort at flame out.

frost on the propane tank...think it was cold?

so when the day was done it was 2am and we had 12 gallons of imperial stout and 6 gallons of our rochefort 10 clone. all were aerated with oxygen and a 0.5micron stone for about a minute, then again after 10 and 14 hours. the plan is to dissolve a pound of candi sugar and add it to the primary after a few days, then add the second pound a few days later.

stay tuned for fermentation photos...

update: nov 28/2005, 8:30pm

just took some photos of the fermentataion, and they're both looking great!

this is the rochefort clone. it's in an extra-large carboy, so there's plenty of head space. even so, there's a serious layer of krausen on top.

damn that impy looks fine. it's blowing off like mad and making a mess in the pot. good use for the aluminum pot that came with my "turkey fryer" burner.

Posted by grub at November 27, 2005 1:29 PM

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