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June 24, 2006

wee heavy + coffee porter mayhem!

today was another brew day. the plan for today was two follow-on batches using the yeast cakes from the "single malt scotch" ale: an oaked wee heavy (our first time using oak) and eric's project, a clone of Hair of the Dog's Fred. unfortunately, eric is having more back troubles, and between that and scheduling issues he wasn't able to come out today. so i threw his half of the yeast cake in the fridge for later use, and decided to go ahead with the wee heavy. eric also recently graduated and has joined the "real world". i don't think he's enjoying the schedule as much as student life ;)

since none of the biergotter regulars were available, i asked taavi if he'd like to come out again for the brew day. that's when he let me know that he'd recently got engaged and asked if i'd consider making all the beer for his wedding. i congradulated him and said that it would be an interesting and fun project. since the wedding is scheduled for august of next year, we had lots of time to decide on recipes and do some trial batches. i think that the bulk of the beer will be something along the lines of our pale ale, but we'll probably also do a batch or two for those with more "educated" tastes. when i asked about what sort of things he likes to drink, the first thing he mentioned was mill street's coffee porter. as i love almost all things porter, including mill street's porter, and i've long been considering trying a coffee porter, i was definitely interested. i started with our sweet johnny porter and came up with what i'm currently calling java johnny porter. it's a fairly straight robust porter, but i'll be cold steeping some coffee and adding it at bottling time. delicious!

the day started around 9:00am. i went out to the garage to set things up for the brew day and found that almost everything was covered in a layer of dirt, shingle bits, and wood chips. we had our roof redone yesterday, and it appears that all kinds of crap rained down when they were stripping off the old shingles. maybe it's only really an issue since our roof was definitely past its prime. taavi arrived at about 9:30, which turned out to be perfect timing as i'd just finished cleanup and had started weighing out the grain for the two batches.

the other change for today was no more protein rests. so far we've been doing them with all of our all-grain batches, but as i've learned more i don't think it's necessary. these days malts are very well modified, so in general there's no need to do a protein rest. i tested this out on our last brew day, skipping this rest for the pale ale v2. it turned out just as good as the previous run and we had no problems with efficiency either.

our usual brew day procedure is heat up 1 quart of water per pound of grain to 130F, mix well, and when we're not at 122F we'd heat it to reach that point. this would rest for 30 minutes. then we'd boil 1/2 quart of water per pound of grain, add that and then heat it until the grain is at the desired temp for the saccarification rest (150F-160F) and rest there for an hour. with the last brew of the pale ale, i did the same thing, but without a rest between adding the 1 qt/lb at 130F and adding the 1/2 qt/lb at boiling. that worked out ok, but is kind of annoying. this time i decided to try out a feature in promash that i've never used before, the strike temp too. this thing is pretty cool. i stuck in the mash tun thermal mass (i used 0 as a first try), total grain weight, water/grain ratio or total water, the desired strike temp, and the current grain temp. i did this for the two batches and when i did the dough in both batches exactly hit their target temps for the sacc rest. this was much easier (and faster) than our usual procedure.

started both batches pretty much at the same time, with the sacc rest for the wee heavy starting about 15min before the porter. i wanted to run them pretty much in parallel to minimize time for the brew day, but then realized that the one thing i can't do in parallel is chilling, and with the extra 30min on the boil of hte wee heavy, i'd have them finsihing at almost the same time. however, that didn't account for differences in the time to sparge both of them. the smaller grain bill on the porter and the bucket tun made the grain bed set quickly and the sparge on this one was done quite fast. actually ended up with the porter reaching a boil 30min before the wee heavy, and with the extra boil time on the wee heavy it meant we ended up with an hour between when the two would finish. just enough time to chill the porter, transfer it into the fermenter, and get ready for the second batch.

when the yeast was pitched and everything was cleaned up it wasn't even 5:00pm yet. pretty good for two batches.

on with the photos!

the barley crusher tearing through some grain. man i love this thing. best brewing investment so far.

the wee heavy grain, waiting for dough in.

water for the wee heavy rising towards the target of 167F.

jenn came out to say hello and checked on the water for the porter.

exterior view of the new bucket tun, for use with "small" batches (under 15#).

interior view of the tun. the manifold is a ring of soft copper tubing with slits cut about every quarter inch, then a small piece of tubing joining it with one end of the hose barb. the other end of the hose barb goes out through a hole in the side of the bucket and has a hose attached for collecting sweet sweet wort. there's also a few pieces from the old cooler manifold, which finally died after the last batch. one piece raises it up off the bottom of the bucket, the other lifts it and helps push it away from the side, closer to the center of the bucket.

the new copper manifold for the cooler. the two pieces in the center are scraps that are used for positioning the manifold in the center of the tun and raised up off the bottom.

that's me positioning the new maifold in the cooler. the first piece of copper tubing is used to lift it off the bottom of the cooler and help keep the rubber stopper in place.

final position of the tun. there's an elbow and small piece of tubing on the upper left end to hold it away from the side and off the bottom. the outlet is actually hidden at the lower right end of the photo.

that's me again, this time checking on the vorlauf of the porter. already nice and clear!

collecting the sweet sweet wort for the porter.

and collection for the wee heavy.

close up view of the porter. note the adjustable wrench on the right hand side of the image. picked up this tip from one of the guys who sent us an ask biergotter message. richard dropped us a note and tim and i went out to visit one of his brew days. we sampled some of each other's beers and traded stories. when i first noticed him using an adjustable wrench to control the flow from his tun i thought it was a little odd, but then i tried it out and it's great. hose clamps never seem to stop in just the right spot, but wiht the adjustable wrench you can set it to exactly where you want.

close up on the wee heavy too. another adjustable wrench in use here too.

promash and lunch: sausages, munchos, and the resurrection of the edmund fitzgerald. damn this stuff is good!

hops ready for addition. on the left is the 15min and 0min fuggle additions for the porter (60min addition of northdown had already gone in), and on the right is the 90min northern brewer addition and 10min fuggle addition for the wee heavy.

the porter, happily boiling away.

the wee heavy, not quite boiling yet.

shinny copper manifolds!

the porter heading into the fermenter. taavi looks like a proud father with his first beer.

damn your eyes, porter!

the remains of the scotch ale. about a half gallon of beer and a whole lot of yeasty goodness.

the wee heavy heading into the fermenter.

post brew day carnage. 3 kegs in front, one of the two propane tanks, cooler tun, two burners and extra grain under the table, two 5gal pots and one 10gal pot, bucket tun, bin with all the odds and ends.

both batches in the fermenters. porter on the left and wee heavy on the right.

next up: rob and i will be brewing up 10 gallons of an arrogant bastard clone. chinooky goodness!

Posted by grub at June 24, 2006 7:05 PM

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