The eighteenth attempt at all grain brewing focused on two new techniques. Firstly, I ditched BIAB. I was getting hacked off with poor fermentation, driven by the lack of fermentable sugars rather than poor fermentation conditions. I wondered whether a proper sparge would give me better results.
So I commandeered an old cool box, heated my mash water, and started to dough in at the rate of around 2.5 litres of water per kilo of malt. My recipe was derived from Greg Hughes' American Pale, with a little more malt (since batch sparging has a lower efficiency) and some Carapils for body. Batch sparging was really simple, especially if I just let the grains still sit in the bag I used for BIAB. My only issue was that the cool box had so much headspace, the mash dropped well below 65C. In the end, this only ended up a higher gravity beer (remember, MALT: more alcohol, less temperature), perhaps with a little less body than I would have liked. I may have solved this for the future by purchasing a small cool box!
The boil was done with Ahtanum hops....for no reason than they were on offer, and I had never used them before. Have to say that I like these; nice gentle citrus but no aggressive bitterness. Even so, to get the balance right, I used ALL a packet of hops in the boil, including a lot at flameout. The recipe looked something like:
Original Gravity: 1.051
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV (standard): 5.26%
IBU (tinseth): 46.17
SRM (morey): 5.65
2.19 kg - United Kingdom - Maris Otter Pale (95.2%)
0.11 kg - German - Carapils (4.8%)
35 g - Ahtanum, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 3.8, Use: Boil for 70 min, IBU: 35.83
15 g - Ahtanum, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 3.8, Use: Boil for 15 min, IBU: 7.38
15 g - Ahtanum, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 3.8, Use: Boil for 5 min, IBU: 2.96
35 g - Ahtanum, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 3.8, Use: Boil for 0 min
1) Infusion, Temp: 65 C, Time: 60 min, Amount: 5.3 L
2) Sparge, Temp: 65 C, Time: 20 min, Amount: 7.7 L, Batch sparge
Starting Mash Thickness: 3 L/kg
I fermented with WLP001, hoping these hops would come through.
My second change was how I stored the beer. I hate bottling, and my pressure barrels were leaking all the time. So I invested in a mini Cornelius Keg from Brew UK.
To begin with it was a bit of a faff, but, once you sorted your carbon dioxide tank and regulator out, I can see why so many homebrewers never go back to them. There is an issue of storing the beer at the right carbonation levels if you only drink a couple of pints at a time, but I'll live with that. What is cooler than tapping off a beer from a keg?
And the final product? Well there is very little aroma from these hops, which I am a bit disappointed with given the large dumping it got at flameout. The balance is good, however. Yes, you can tell it has that North American character, but it is much less in your face. so I approve. It is cloudy, which might be the result of so much cold break, or the high hopping. I may have also forgot to fine!!! No matter, it isn't yeast (he hopes), so I should be fine!! The best thing , however, is that I hit or exceeded gravities and the beer doesn't have that odd something I was getting with all my BIABs. So, a ethod to try again....maybe with something darker next time!
Oh, one warning point....just remember your pressures and how the gas in/beer out lines and tap work...I, absent mindedly, forgot, fixing the beer out connector sans tap. I am now covered in beer!!!