Sunday, January 27, 2013

Batch 3: Papa Bear Porter: Primary Fermentation

I "patiently" waited for 36 hours after pitching the yeast without any activity in the airlock so I removed the lid from the fermenting pail, planning to measure the gravity and agitate the beer, but I was surprised to see a thick, bubbling krausen so I quickly put the lid back on and almost immediately saw the airlock start to bubble.

The bubbling didn't last very long, though, so I suspect that there is just a weak seal between the pail and lid which shouldn't be a problem during active fermentation since the internal pressure will constantly be forcing CO2 out of any leak, not allowing contaminants into the pail. I really look forward to buying a 6.5 gallon carboy so I don't have to use the pail in the future.

I let the primary fermentation go for two weeks and measured the specific gravity at 1.015 (corrected from 1.014 at 68º). (I also measured 1.029 [corrected from 1.028 at 66º] on days six and again on seven and 1.014 [corrected from 1.013 at 67º] on day 12.) I carefully siphoned the beer off the trub and into my 5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation. I plan to let this condition for a week.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Batch 3: Papa Bear Porter: Brewing Day

I took an unorthodox approach to this brew. I realized that if I set the tea aside as planned that it wouldn't have gotten a hot or cold break so I elected essentially to do two boils. We'll see how it turns out. Here is the program:
  1. Boil 1.5 gallons of water, and set aside to cool.
  2. Steep 1/2 lb. crystal 60L malt, 1/2 lb. chocolate malt, and 1/4 lb. black malt in 2 gallons of water at 160º ±10º for 30 minutes.
  3. Bring tea to boil until break (approx. 20 minutes).
  4. Chill tea in ice bath in sink to 80º. (I like to add salt to the bath to lower the temperature.)
  5. Put tea in sanitized brew pail, and set aside.
  6. Add 3.3 lb. of pale LME to 3 gallons of warm water, and stir till dissolved.
  7. Bring to boil until break (approx. 20 minutes).
  8. Hop.
    1. 0.5 oz. Magnum hops T-60 minutes.
    2. 0.8 oz. Willamette hops T-40 minutes.
    3. 0.5 oz. Willamette hops T-20 minutes.
  9. Add 6.6 lb. of pale LME at knockout, and let stand for 10 minutes. (Whereas I would usually try to rinse all of the LME from the plastic containers, I was sure to leave plenty of LME behind since I didn't really want an entire 9.9 lb. of fermentables in the wort.)
  10. Chill wort in ice bath to 80º.
  11. Add wort to tea in brew pail, and add cooled boiled water to just over 5 gallon-mark (or approx. 3 inches from top of pail).
  12. Measure original gravity.
  13. Let wort cool to 70º.
  14. Aerate the wort by pouring back and forth between sanitized pails.
  15. Pitch Wyeast American Ale Yeast (#1056).
The original gravity ended up being 1.067 (corrected from 1.064 at 84º). I plan to let this ferment for about two weeks before racking for secondary fermentation in a glass carboy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Batch 3: Papa Bear Porter: Ingredients

I picked up the ingredients for my next batch today at 5 Points Growlers Beer & Brew Supply. I tweaked the recipe for John Palmer's "Port O'Palmer" from How to Brew, which he writes is based on Sierra Nevada's Porter. This brew has a special purpose. I'm heading up to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a weekend late next month with my wife and several of our friends, and a few of them requested that I make a batch of homebrew for the excursion. I'm naming the beer after the cabin we'll be renting, Papa Bear's Lodge. Here's what I got:
  • 10 lb. – pale liquid malt extract (LME)
  • 8 oz. – crystal 60L malt
  • 8 oz. – chocolate malt
  • 4 oz. – black malt 
  • 0.5 oz. – Magnum hops 
  • 1.25 oz. – Willamette hops
  • 1 packet – Wyeast American Ale Yeast (#1056)
The shop was out of Horizon hops so I'm substituting Magnum. They also didn't have black patent malt so I'm substituting black malt. I decided to up the base malt by 50% to bring the ABV closer to 6% or 7%. (Hey, you only live once, right?)

The guy at the shop offered a couple tips that I think I might try. First, he suggested steeping the specialty grains, setting the tea aside, and only adding it to the wort at knockout to avoid drawing out the acridity of the chocolate and black malts. Second, he recommended doing a secondary fermentation to get the beer off the trub earlier, something I haven't done yet. On the advice of friends, I've been reluctant to do an open primary fermentation and to move the beer to a secondary for fear of oxidization, but I figure it's worth a go.

I'm also going to try only using a third of the LME in the boil and adding the rest at knockout. I think I've been caramelizing some of the sugars by boiling all of the LME in earlier batches. I'm not sure that it's necessarily affected the taste, but each of my previous beers has been darker than expected (not that that will matter with a porter, though). Moreover, I remember reading somewhere that limiting the amount of LME in the boil can help with hop utilization so that'll be a bonus.