Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Moving on up to All Grain!

Well, the time had come to start thinking about  doing this brewing malarkey properly. And that, friends, means mashing.

No more malt extract, just the pure grain. It's kind of tricky, because, it appears,  temperature and pH control is pretty crucial. I'll be honest, I left the pH thing alone. There were lots of other things to worry about, and I was pretty secure that my pH ranges were not way out because of the bottled water I use...and pH movement would come from the grain. Ah, well, I thought give it a go.

But I have no mash tun. Fear not, though, for a found an alternative, the brew in a bag method (BIAB). Again, thank the Lord for t'internet. I know that a few purists get a bit sniffy about extracting into largish volumes of water etc., but this is still experimental stuff for me, so I decided to give it a bash. The basic principles are the same, add grain to water at a certain temperature, and leave at that temperature for about 90 minutes. As I only do small brews this meant that I could do the whole thing in my boiler (just) without the need to sparge (wash) the grains afterwards - another potential difficulty.

Well, it went ok.....just need to practice controlling the temperature better. Many BIABers tend to mash in a pot and insulate it, a la many of the mash tuns you can buy, but I went for the tweak the thermostat option on the boiler. All I can say is that I overshot the temperature quite a lot - all that means is that I extract more non-fermentable sugars,  so I end up with a fuller beer, sweeter, but lower in alcohol. As it was an oatmeal stout, not really an issue [Conversely, mashing at too low a temperature liberates lots of fermentables, giving higher alcohol but thinner tasting beer]. Anyway, the recipe is here.

One problem I did have was the bloody OG again. It was WAY under that predicted from the recipe. Those nice folk at had given me a handy calculator for scaling recipes, but I had a devil of a job understanding it. A few posts, and I've cracked it. The efficiency on Hopville is incorrectly defined....that calculates my 'Efficiency into bottle' and you lose loads. It assumes 75%, when in reality I get 55%!! Sorry, this is sounding technical now, but simply put, if you define the terms properly, I would NEVER get the gravities I had hoped for (and thus, not the strengths). By recalculating on the basis of this Damascene moment, I realised I was short on my grain bill by about a third!! DOH

This revelation also explains why all of my recipes have been coming up short on the OG readings, apart from my first brew that was extract only!![so doesn't suffer from extraction issues!]....So back to Hopville to reprogramme all my recipes :-{

However, apart from all of this, operationally the process wasn't too bad...felt quite realistic in a way. OK, so this time my stout comes out a 4% not 5%, but that shouldn't be an issue. Just waiting to see what it tastes like now...thinking of kegging this.

As the days get longer, and warmer, thoughts now turning to a lighter, Dalley-esque, beer, with a nice pale malt. J wants me to try a weißbier after sharing my bottle of Schneider Weisser Tap 5....a wapping 8% but UTTERLY GLORIOUS......mmmm, that might have to wait!

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