Sunday, 23 September 2012

Brew Day: Old 'n Brewed

The second of three "traditional English Ales" being brewed for my sister's wedding next month.

A fresh/newly brewed Old Ale in returnable bottles seems to fit each each line of the old wedding tradition/poem (if we modify the last one) which gave this beer it's name:
Something old,
something new.
Something borrowed,
something brewed.
The recipe is Theakston Old Peculier from the Brew Your Own British Real Ale book, with a very slight increase in gravity and Magnum hops used in place of Challenger.
Old 'n Brewed
Style: Old Ale
Batch Size: 24.00 L  
Boil Size: 33.10 L
Estimated OG: 1.059 SG
Estimated IBU: 29.4 IBU
Estimated Color: 24.1 SRM
Brewhouse Expected 75.0 %, Achieved 80%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

5.50 kg  Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett)
0.30 kg  Crystal Malt - (Simpsons) (57.0 SRM)
0.21 kg  Chocolate (Simpsons) (630.0 SRM)

14.00 gm  Magnum (11) [12.20%]  (90 min)  21.3 IBU
14.00 gm  Fuggles [5.60%]  (90 min)  9.0 IBU
15.00 gm  Goldings (HG 12) [4.50%]  (10 min)  1.5 IBU
5.00 gm  Goldings (HG 12) [4.50%]  (Dry Hop 3 days)

1.00 gm  Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash)
1.00 gm  Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) (Boil)
1.50 gm  Calcium Carbonate (Chalk) (Boil)
5.00 gm  Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) (Mash)
10.00 gm  Calcium Chloride (Mash)

1.00 gm  Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 min)
3.60 gm  Brewbrite (Polyclar) (Boil 10.0 min)

F40 (BrewLab #F40) (2.2L Starter)

Mash Schedule: Medium-Full Body, HERMS Step Mash
Mash In  Add 16L of water, rest @ 55.0 C  5 min
Maltase Rest  63.0 C  15 min
Dextrinization Rest  72.0 C  60 min
Mash Out  78.0 C  10 min
Grain bill in the new grain hopper:
The new hopper holds the 6kg of grain with ample-room to spare, so it will be big enough to hold all the grain for most-any single batch of beer.

Water adjustment salt additions added to the mash (more were added to the boil):

The new Kaixian pump and new HERMS vessel:

Having recently reduced the roller-spacing to produce a finer grain crush (and increase efficiency) there is more fine flour in the mash.  While this was fine, last batch, with the less powerful little brown solar pump, with the new Kaixian pump (used here for the first time) the grain bed compacted and severely restricted the mash recirculation rate.  I resolved the problem with two 200g additions of Rice Hulls, giving the grain bed time to settle before turning on the pump, and then only opening the valve (on the pump outlet) slowly, however the mash-in step took much longer while it was all sorted out.

Before I build my brew-stand I wanted to brew with a single-level configuration (easier to see, maintain and manage than the HLT on a higher level), but since I prefer to fly-sparge, a second pump was used:
To achieve the required slow fly-sparge flow rate (0.5 to 1L per min) the outlet valve on each pump was mostly-closed, but - hopefully - being magnetic drive pumps this should not hurt them ... but time will tell.

With the addition of the Rice Hulls - and some stirring and 'chopping' of the top of the grain bed, there was no noticeable channeling, even at the end of the sparge:

A much more homogeneous grain-bed than last time:

The pre-boil gravity reading indicated that the efficiency would be a little higher than expected, so I added slightly more bittering hops to a total of about 31.5 IBU.

10 min additions of Brewbrite, Yeast Nutrient and Golding Hops:

These Kaixian pumps are only rated for use up to 80degC, and when tested slowed dramatically when pumping boiling cleaning water.  When emptying the kettle it might be better to put the pump on the cold-side of the plate chiller, but I wanted to see if/how the pump would work on the hot-side.  At the end of teh boil, the pump worked fine to recirculate hot water (95C) to sanitize the plate-chiller and then it worked without issue to drain the kettle (immediately after boiling):
The pump provided for a much higher flow-rate than gravity or the little brown solar pump, and the fermentor was filled in just a few minutes, however, even when the cooling tap water flow was as high as possible (something I have never needed to do before) the 30-plate plate chiller did not quite chill the wort as effectively as usual.  At this time of year, when the tap water is about 15degC, wort into the fermentor is usually only a couple of degrees warmer, but was about 21.5degC.  Next time I'll need to throttle the pump just a little so the plate chiller has enough time better cool the wort.

It's only the second time I've used Brewbrite (Polyclar) - a  mix of purified food grade Carrageenan and specially modified PVPP - which is intended to be both kettle and fermentor finnings.  So far I've not noticed as much break material forming in the kettle, but will see how clear the beer turns out - it looked OK going into the fermentor:

I used a stronger aquarium air-pump to aerate the wort this time - it still didn't like the stainless air-stone, but it did produce significant surface-disturbance and even over-flow bubbling:
The fermentor opening (and bubbles) are protected under a sheet of cling-wrap, but it still made a bit of a mess.

Since it's a higher gravity Old Ale, I was planning to re-aerate the wort 12 and then 24 hours after pitching the yeast, especially since the volume of east in the starter flask appeared to be slightly less than expected.  So I left the air-line in the fermentor when it was put in the fridge:

However, the next morning (12 hours after pitching) the yeast was crawling out of the top of the fermentor, and there was no way I'd be able to re-aerate without making significantly more mess:

To prevent any additional over-flow mess, I made a blow-off cap and ran the blow-off tube into a glass bottle.  Even thought it was pitched less than a day ago, the yeast is very active and was climbing up the blow-off tube just 5 mins after it was attached:

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