Sunday, November 17, 2013

Batch 6: Papa Bear Porter: Primary Fermentation

I let the primary fermentation go for two weeks and measured the specific gravity at 1.014, which puts the ABV just under 7%. I halved two vanilla beans, and cut the halves into 1" pieces, which I added to the sanitized carboy. I carefully siphoned the beer off the trub and into the carboy for secondary fermentation. The sample, like the previous batch, has strong coffee notes and some subtle hints of chocolate. I suspect that the vanilla flavor will add some smoothness and complexity. I plan to let this condition for two weeks before bottling.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Note on Swamp Coolers

I'm currently using a "swamp cooler" to regulate my fermentation temperature for the first time, and it is working surprisingly well. I'm giving this a shot in the hopes of eliminating some off flavors that all of my beers so far have been exhibiting and that I suspect is due to making the yeast "sweat" (i.e. straining the yeast by fermenting at higher-than-recommended temperatures). I started simply by immersing the brew pail about three-fourths of the way up in two store-bought bags worth of ice water in a storage container. The water temperature hovered around 32º for several hours but, after about 24 hours, rose to about 70º. I added a 2L bottle of frozen water at that point, which dropped the temperature back down to about 60º. Over nearly three days, the temperature slowly rose to just under 70º at which time I added a new frozen bottle. I'll continue this process of monitoring the temperature and swapping frozen bottles throughout the primary and secondary fermentations.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Batch 6: Papa Bear Porter: Ingredients/Brewing Day

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 two packets of Wyeast American Ale Yeast (#1056).
I forgot to measure the original gravity, but the previous batch ended up being 1.067 so I'm going to go with that. I'm using a "swamp cooler" this time to keep the temperature of the beer between 60º and 72º during fermentation. I'm simply immersing the brew pail in ice water in a storage container. As the ice melts, I'll keep an eye on the temperature and swap 2L bottles of frozen water as needed. I plan to let this ferment for about two weeks before racking for secondary fermentation in a glass carboy. I'm going to try adding a vanilla bean or two to the secondary.

total cost of ingredients  = $68.41
estimated cost per bottle = $ 1.37