Monday, November 7, 2011

Batch #6 - American Pale Ale (Extract, Full-Boil, Non-kit)

For batch #6 I'm taking a baby step toward all-grain. For this batch I'm going to do a full-boil extract brew using DME only.  I'm going to also move away from the kits I've been using and make up my own simple Pale Ale recipe.

First task at hand is upgrading my brew kettle.  I wish I had sprung for an 8 or 10 gallon pot initially over the 6 gallon model but lesson learned.  Next is to get a chiller.  Cooling 2-3 gallons in an ice bath is pretty easy but I don't think there is an efficient way to rapidly cool 5 gallons of wort without a chiller.

  • 5 pounds Light Dry Malt Extract (DME) - Munton's Light
  • 1 pound Amber Dry Malt Extract (DME) - Munton's Amber
  • 1 pound Crystal/Caramel Malt 40L grain for steeping (color + fermentable)
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade Hops for bittering
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade Hops for aroma
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (an Irish Moss product)
  • Yeast - American Ale from Wyeast #1056
  • 5 oz. Corn Sugar (Dextrose) for priming (bottle conditioning)
  • 6 gallons of drinking water
  1. Two days before brewing session make a yeast starter.
  2. Bring 5.5 gallons of water up to a temperature of approximately 158 degrees.
  3. Pour all of the Crystal/Caramel Malt into a grain sock and submerge in water for 20 minutes to steep. Maintain a temperature between 150-165 degrees for steeping.  Be careful not to let temperature rise to 170 or above to prevent off flavors from being introduced.
  4. Remove grain sock and allow excess water to drip back into pot.  (Do not squeeze)
  5. Bring wort to a gentle rolling boil, remove from heat and add 3 pounds of the Light Dry Malt Extract and 1 pound Amber Dry Malt Extract (DME) and stir vigorously to dissolve.  Return to heat and resume boil.
  6. Add 1.5 oz. Cascade Hops for bittering.
  7. Boil for 40 minutes.
  8. Add remaining 2 pounds Light Dry Malt Extract (DME).
  9. Add 1 Whirlfloc tablet (an Irish Moss product).
  10. Boil for 15 minutes.
  11. Add 1.5 oz. Cascade Hops for aroma.
  12. Boil for 5 minutes and terminate boil.
  13. Chill wort to 70 degrees or less and transfer to primary fermentation (strain).
  14. Take OG reading with hydrometer - target is 1.056.
  15. Optional - add water to get OG to target range.
  16. Pitch yeast.
  17. Ferment in primary for 4-7 days.
  18. Take second specific gravity reading.
  19. Move to secondary fermentation for an additional 10 days or more.
  20. Take final specific gravity reading.
  21. Prepare priming sugar and add to bottling bucket.
  22. Transfer wort to bottling bucket and bottle.
  23. Bottle condition for 30 days.
Notes, Results and Lessons Learned:
  • Brew Day - December 5, 2011
    • Stop watch quit working for initial 40 minute boil so had to estimate.  Not too concerned.
    • Yeast starter seemed to work well.  Lots of activity within a couple of hours.  I was a little concerned that the activity in the yeast starter had ceased before I pitched it but it didn't seem to matter.  Pitched the whole starter - did not drain off wort beforehand.
  • Transfer to secondary fermentation - December 12, 2011 (7 days in Primary)
    • Forgot to add the airlock floater for about an hour.  Hopefully no contaminants reached the beer.
  • Bottling Day - December 24, 2011 (12 days in Secondary, 2 days longer than planned)
  • Fermentation temperature (range) - 61-66 degrees.  Would have preferred a constant 68 degrees but since fermentation was done in the basement I could not control it.
  • Estimated Original Gravity - 1.056
    • Actual Original Gravity 1.068!  Did not add water at end of boil to adjust.  Consider doing a 6 gallon full boil next time.
  • Estimated Final Gravity - 1.012
    • Actual Final Gravity - 1.020
    • Took a specific gravity reading when transferring to secondary fermentation and got a reading of 1.020.  The sample contained a fair amount of trub so I don't know how accurate it was.  This would translate to an ABV of 6.3% or .5% higher than expected.
  • Estimated ABV - 5.8%
    • Actual ABV - 6.3
  • Priming sugar may have carmelized.  I dumped all 5 ounces in the boiling water and it clung to the bottom a bit.  It broke up and seemed fine but wonder if it will affect the taste.
    • Next time I need to remove from heat and slowly stir in to water and then return to heat.
  • Remember to aerate the wort well when pitching the yeast.  Full boils will lessen the oxygen in the wort which is needed to fuel the yeast.
    • Pitched yeast, covered carboy with sanitized aluminum foil and shook vigorously.  This seemed to have worked fine.
  • I'm going to try and perfect this recipe before moving on to a different recipe/style.  Main objectives for Batch #8:
    • Start with a pre-boil water level of 5.7 gallons as prescribed by BeerSmith.
    • STRAIN this batch!
    • Consider using a blow-off tube.
    • Use the hydrometer and keep your results for reference.
    • Aerate well.
    • Pay close attention to fermentation temperatures - keep them constant.  Shoot for 67-68 degrees.
    • This style probably does not require a yeast starter as the specifications on the Wyeast site indicate it can handle a full batch based on my style stats.  Follow these instructions carefully.
    • Don't be so anxious to transfer to secondary.  Let the yeast do it's job.  Use a hydrometer to assess when/if it is time to go to secondary.
The Verdict:
  • Opened a bottle at 13 days and was disappointed that it was not more carbonated.  It also had a sweet taste which probably indicates the yeast did not fully do it's job.  It may still come around with more time.  Additionally, the area where it was bottles conditioned dipped into the 50's which may have made the yeast go dormant.  I brought 4 bottles upstairs where the temperature is more stable and agitated them on a daily basis for several days to try and get the yeast going again.  Time will tell...

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