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bierblog: September 2009 Archives

September 21, 2009

double quadrupel

quad quad quad. the first batch [brewday blog] back in 2007 was 5 gallons and debued on tap at volo during cask days. the 2008 batch [brewday blog] was doubled to 10 gallons, with half getting aged on calvados oak and corked + caged and the other half going on tap at my place. after the success of both, we knew it'd make a comeback this year. we decided to double it again and make 20 gallons. while we usually do 20 gallons on a typical brewday, this was the first time we'd done 20 gallons of a single recipe. our gear can't handle a single batch that big, so it was brewed up as two separate but identical 10 gallon batches to be blended back together later. there was a slight shift in the bittering hops, but otherwise the final recipe was about the same as the last two years.

peter/icemachine joined us for the brewday. we like helping teach other brewers how all-grain works and always appreciate an extra brewmonkey to help along the way.

the brewday went pretty smoothly. the mill was being a little grouchy since it's overdue for being oiled, so between batches i applied a couple of drops of vegetable oil and ran some old grain through to make sure it was clean. much smoother the second time around. aside from that it was business as usual.

the mill filled up and rolling through the first batch of grain.

the grain for both batches, one in blue and the other in red. these bins from ikea are really handy.

first batch awaiting strike water. the mash was basically right up to the top on this one. one of those times when having a second 15.5gal keggle would be helpful. most of the time these 50 litre/13gal keggles work fine, or we can juggle things so the bigger batch is in our big keggle, but with two identical big batches we had no other choice.

peter cleaning one of the little keggles and me looking on. at this point we had two batches mashing and were about to get our sparge water heating. it was all-pots-on-deck here.

fast forward to the end of the mash. batch #1 had just finished vorlauf and we were collecting first runnings for the magic elixir. here eric was adding the first bag of demerara. yeah, i said first bag - a total of 8.5 pounds were used. i love the character that demerara adds to dark belgians.

more first runnings being collected.

we decided it was beer-thirty and poured a pitcher of our gonzo clone.

me adding the rest of the demerara as we started to collect the first runnings from the second batch.

once we were done collecting runnings it was time to get the magic elixir boiling. as soon as it approached a boil it immediately boiled over. we tried dropping the temperature down, but it boiled over again. it was about to boil over for a third time when we decided this was going to be annoying. we generally don't skim the elixirs, but in this case we had to. after a few minutes of clearing off the hot break we were able to get a good strong boil going without it boiling over (for now anyway). later on it still boiled over a couple of times, but it was mostly hassle-free.

you can see the mess it was making down teh sides and on the inner rim of the keggle. we had to clean the burner out a couple of times along the way.

eric was pretty excited about the double batch of quad and had to throw up a double set of horns as a result. peter was in the background helping out with the sparging.

we discovered a giant spider in the corner of the garage. however, since he had already caught two yellow jackets in his web, we figured he was helping us out and we left him alone.

the elixir getting angry again. at this point it had boiled down and had over 2gal of headspace, yet still managed to boil over a couple more times.

another view of the carnage on the keggle. from about 6.5 gallons initially it was down below the center weld of the pot, so somewhere under 4 gallons. we usually let them boil a little longer, but we needed the second burner for the second batch.

we split the elixir between the two batches, slowly adding it back to the boiling wort.

batch #1 chilling out and #2 boiling away.

brewday lunch: some badass sausage, potato, and cabbage soup, homebrew, and a few bottles that peter brought from highlander brew co.

peter, the brew monkey for the day.

one last shoot of the beers in the same state as above. by now we were almost done boiling #2.

we took the yeast cake from our dubbel [brewday blog] and split it in two for these batches. we ended up with about 22 gallons of sweet tasty quad wort at an OG of 1.102 - right on target for both gravity and volume. after oxygenating them it was no time before the yeast were going nuts. by morning both fermenters were blowing off and making a mess. the basement smelled heavenly. can't wait until we can drink it!

Posted by grub at 12:08 PM

September 8, 2009

markham hops 2009

we're into the fourth year of hop growth (2008, 2007, and 2006 harvests), and it hasn't gone all that well. about a month back i noticed that my centennial plants were covered in bugs. the few cones that had formed were turning black and the plants themselves were in pretty rough shape. i climbed up the ladder to see if there was anything worth salvaging, but it was too late. i ended up cutting the 4 of them down and disposing them, hoping that they wouldn't cross over to the cascades. already half my expected harvest was gone.

luckily, the cascades seemed more resistant to the bugs and still seemed to be progressing well. the harvest didn't look as big as the previous year, likely due to a combination of another cool summer and too much shade from the tree in my neighbour's yard that has grown significantly in the last two years. as usual, labour day weekend seemed to be about the right time for me to harvest.

jenn and i harvesting.

the rest of the cascade vines on the ground.

cascade hops! pretty good sized cones this year, even if the total harvest was small.

eric found a little one.

me harvesting away.

the final haul. i think this is about half of what we got last year. hopefully next summer will be better!

Posted by grub at 10:48 AM

barrel aging in markham

barrel aged beers... they can range from the wild and funky beers of belgium to things like bourbon and brandy barrel aged beers in the US and everything in between. eric and i have been talking about doing some barrel aging for a while now, and have done a bunch of successful experimenting with oak cubes (plain oak in the oaked wee heavy, merlot + oak in the merlot stout, plain oak and bourbon + oak in parts of the breakfast brown ale, calvados + oak in half of the 2008 monk's elixir, and brandy + oak in the old toby), but the idea of using a real barrel is just more exciting.

eric got an old wine barrel from his dad, somthing like 10 gallons in volume, and we had aspirations to try putting it to use. however, after being dry for many years, we just couldn't get it to hold a seal. we spent days trying to tighten up the rings and filling it with water, but a few of the gaps just didn't seem like they were ever going to close. we figure we can still take it apart and turn it into a whole bunch of oak staves, but our quest for an actual barrel was still on.

we're fans of applewood, a great little winery just up the road in stoufville. they make some pretty awesome stuff using entirely fruit and honey from ontario. mead, port, ciders, fruit wines, and all sorts of other cool stuff. eric and i first made a visit to them on a saturday afternoon back in december '08. after chatting with Matt for a few minutes and mentioning brewing he immediately said "you aren't those hopocalypse guys, are you?". we got a bit of a laugh out of that and ended up staying and chatting with him until an hour after they'd officially closed for the night. we both walked out with a box of their stuff and i think some of it didn't even last the weekend.

since then we've visited a few more times and eric has talked with Matt via email. we've been looking at getting a barrel and since he regularly uses them, we figured he was a good resource about where to get them and how to maintain them. well, as it turned out Matt recently emptied one of his barrels, a 47 litre medium toast american oak barrel, and asked us if we could put it to use. the barrel has held one of his meads for the last year and we thought that could work well with a beer, so we jumped at the chance. Matt's only request was that we hook him up with the final result from whatever we put in the barrel. sounds like a great deal to me.

so in late august jenn and i dropped in, restocked on some iced apple liqueur and other treats and picked up the barrel. it actually still had a wee bit of mead still in the bottom and it smelled amazing. this was going to be cool!

back in october of '08, eric had a batch of his pumpkin ale that he put into a cask for sharing at chris+kyoko's halloween party, so i threw together a quick stand for it. as it turned out, that stand was a great size for holding the newly-acquired barrel.

now for what to put in it. we knew we'd need something higher-gravity to hold up to the barrel and the mead character. the next brewday was already planned out, so we didn't really have anything new to put in, but we did have a few beers aging in secondary. notably, we had my half of our most recent old ale and russian imperial stout. we both immediately thought of firestone walker and their anniversary beers, which are blends of several barrel aged beers. we figured that both the RIS and old ale would work well with the barrel, and would get us most of the volume we'd need to fill it. eric and i decided we'd put them in and just split his previously bottled half of each batch. we also had the gonzo clone ready to go to secondary, so we used some of that to top it off and dry hopped the rest.

the first problem was how to fill the barrel. to siphon we needed to get the fermenters up higher than the barrel, so we improvised with some wood i had in the basement and one of our brewing pots. looked risky, but did the trick. sounds like a good reason to finally build a rig for moving beer with co2.

eric posing as the first thread, the old ale, starts going in.

a little closer view.

my turn.

second thread, the ris, going in.

checking the fill level as we approach the end of the RIS. it was already smelling pretty damn good.

the barrel, full and ready for a long rest.

so now we just wait. it smells pretty excellent right now. we're going to check on it from time to time and see how it progresses. we also thought it would be neat to add a little of every beer we make between now and whenever we bottle it. you likely won't taste the other beers, but it'll be neat to know that we've got something like a year's worth of beer going into the barrel. we'll keep you posted on how it progresses.

Posted by grub at 10:47 AM

September 7, 2009

5 hour solo

On saturday September 5th we brewed up 10 gallons each of saison and dubbel. The next day Russ was at a family BBQ, and I was kicking around with nothing to do. Jenn asked me why I didn't brew during the day, and I had no good answer. With no work the next day, I decided it would be a good idea! This was around 4:15 in the afternoon, so I knew it would go late, but that's never stopped me. I've been wanting to do a nice dry Irish stout for quite a while, and figured this would be a good opportunity to test a new recipe. I consulted Designing Great Beers to get a feel for the recipe, and went to the basement to take a look at ingredients. Luckily we had everything I needed. I had to switch out regular chocolate malt for a bit of chocolate rye malt we had left, but I didn't think half a pound would make any difference if it was rye or not. I weighed out the total bill of 8 pounds of grain and got things ready in the garage. It really is pretty funny dealing with tiny amounts of grain after some of our monster brewdays of late. I think from coming up with the recipe to mashing in was about half an hour.

The crushed grain awaiting mash water.

Fast forward to me starting the vorlauf and rinsing the rest of the sugar our of the mash tun.

Adding the mash to the tun.

Stouty goodness!

me cleaning the keggle in preparation for sparging.

Checking the runoff while vorlaufing.

Adding the first runnings back in while it cleared up.

Now its ready for the sparge.

Looking pretty good going into the keggle.

Stout coming up to a boil.

You're gonna die, clown!

Everything was cleaned up, wort oxygenated, and yeast pitched and done by 9:15 pm. From recipe formulation to done in the house in under 5 hours is pretty good I think. Solo brewing isn't so bad when working with 5 gallon batches, I think I'll have to do it again!

Posted by viggo at 10:46 AM

September 6, 2009

saison + dubbel

well, the brewing year has started its turn toward cooler temperatures, and we hadn't had a chance to use our saison yeast yet. with the temperature forecast looking a little warmer over the next few days, we decided it would be a good time to reprise last year's dirty ape saision [brewday blog], this time with different ops and a different yeast strain. the final result was dirty ape 2. if the weather cooperates we might even get another hot stretch and be able to use the yeast cake for another super saision...

looking ahead to our next brewday, we really wanted to bring back our very popular quad. last year we made our little monk dubbel [brewday blog] to generate a big yeast cake for it. this year we figured that would be a good idea to do again, so we brewed up another little monk.

this is one of those brewdays where we were busy and didn't really remember to take many pictures, but here they are anyway.

both beers mashing and some sparge water coming up to temp.

saison.

dubbel.

getting ready for the dueling sparges.

eric adding the sugar into the saison.

spinnakers blue bridge dipa, ready for review.

both beers done boiling. the one on the left was done boiling and ready to transfer, the one on the left was chilling.

another brewday done. the saison stayed in the garage to ferment in the warmer temperature and the dubbel went down to the basement.

Posted by grub at 10:43 AM

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