Yesterday, we decided to cook up what I think would be the third version of an as-yet-untasted Belgian Pale Ale. Our third batch, as it were.
- First batch – Fermentation issue with suckback.
- Second batch – Rushed, from kettle to keg, in 10 days to meet competition deadlines. Needless to say. Initial tasting were not impressive. Throwaway batch…
- Third batch – TBD… Here we are.
I figured it would be fun if I went through the average brew day here at Benesh Brewing.
RISE AND SHINE
8am. I’ve been trying to start brewing earlier in the day so I am done by 1pm. I used to start at 11am and since the rule is no beer until 12-noon I would be nice and buzzed as the brew process was happening, and focus would drift and I would finish by 8-ish. By starting earlier, I can stave off the drinks until around the boil process is almost over, and…it just works better this way.
Where to start though? It’s 8am. I need crack my grains.
I already know I am brewing a Belgian Pale Ale. Its actually for my brothers upcoming wedding. Even though this is my 3rd iteration in as many weeks, I still originally brewed it with the idea of leaving it in the keg for a month before the wedding. That 1-month leisure period is now burned up and this is what Im looking at:
Brew: 1 day
Ferment: 3 weeks minimum, 4 weeks maximum
Keg & Carbonate: Two weeks
Bottle: 1 day.
This brewed March 15. That means this should be ready to drink sometime between April 21st-April 28th. The wedding is April 30th. Yikes! Lets get going.
I need to work out my water profile while the Mash water is heating up. I know that I want a water profile similar to what is available in Antwerp for our Belgian Pale Ale. We always start with RO water that is purchased from our resident water dealer. Its cheap in bulk and its nearly stripped of everything so I can build the profile myself. A little gypsum here, baking soda there. Calcium Chloride, Epsom salts, etc. The Bru’n water software will let you pick a water profile from a dropdown list, let you input what type of water you are using or the water profile of the water you might use, and then through a
series of manually input variables, you can best match your water by gallon with the profile selected. Its pretty neato!
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Oh, thats just the mash water thermometer. Its hit my target temp for Mash-In. My grains are all crushed per my settings, and now I will mash-in, or dough-in while using my Mash Paddle. Making sure the grains don’t form an alliance to keep the water from penetrating their membrane, I’ll us the big mash paddle to break them up.
When all is said and done, I’ll adjust the temperature on the burner so that the mash stays a consistent temp that fits my mash schedule. Speaking of mash temp. There are a couple of different mash techniques you might be aware of. I use a circulation mash.this.
This is how the it works:
Mash Tun sits on a burner. The mash spigot, located at the bottom of the tun, is open and the mash is constantly recirculated via a pump through the sparge arm to the top of the tun. The theory is that the warmer wort(still becoming, anyway) located on the bottom of the tun near the burner will recycle up to the top of the mash, trickle through the grains and keep the temperature happy.
Its a real necessity when using stainless mash tanks as they cool much much much quicker than the standard home-
brew insulated igloos. I’m not knocking those by any mean
s, but did I mention this added be
nefit of circ-mashing: Clarity. Your wort will be cleaner and clearer coming out of the tun into the kettle. As the recirculation is happening, many many tiny little particles of grain get filtered through the entire grain bed, eventually becoming trapped and filling in little gaps. As the individual little pathways of water are sorted out, the clarity improves dramatically. Check out this photo below, from left to right: Mash-in, 30 mins, and Mash-out.
Looks great, right? Sparge time:
I brew 7 gallon batches with the intent of fermenting 6. This gives me an entire gallon to pull from for tastes, test gravity reads, etc. Look at all that wort to the right. Nice and clear, right? In my particular brewing situation, I boil off roughly about 1.4 gallons per hour of rigorous boiling.
While the Mash-out is taking place(usually about 10 minutes – oh, did I not mention that in a recirc mash you don’t need to spend an hour mashing out? Just set that spigot to full speed, and fly-sparse like normal…except 4 times faster. Efficiency is already pretty taken care of with the recirculation mash. I average about 1/4-1/2 gallon more pull than BeerSmith calculates, and usually .002 or .003 gravity points higher as well.
Now that all the nice clean wort has been pulled, its time to get the kettle back up to a boil. Meanwhile, I am going to lay out all my additions for the boil. The hops, and in this case, some ground up coriander and just a little bit of home-made belgian-style beet sugar rock
A few ounces of Goldings and my personal all-time favorite hop, Czech Saaz for finishing.
These additions go into a hop-spider I found online. Pretty sure its made for another brewing system, but it works wonders.
Here is an overhead of the boil:
And, here is an overview of the tiny space I am crammed into:
Lots of hoses. I’ll explain them to you – I’ve been hooking this up since the boil started, so all I would have to do at flame-out is open the spigot into my fermentations vessel:
Kettle has a hose into the plate chiller, which outlets into the fermentation tank. The smaller kettle on the left is filled with just-above-freezing water(ice and water). It outlets to the pump which outlets into the plate chiller and that outlets back into the chill-kettle.
I made a mistake not taking a picture of the yeast-starter I’ve been working on. But, here is the gist: Belgian Ale Yeast, I made a 1.2Litre starter for this back. And I pitched it into this SS Brewbucket tank, which I highly recommend. I’ll tell you, the sooner you can let go of the translucence of the glass carboy you will be free. This is safer, lighter, easier to clean, easier to get your beer out of – with one exception, its pretty idiot proof: SUCKBACK.
When you go to free your beer of its dark, cold chamber, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pull your blow-off tube out of the blow-off bucket, lest you suck all that crap
back into the kettle(RIP, Belgian Pale Ale Batch 1). I’ve made 30 or so batches in this bucket, and I make that mistake nearly every time. You would think I would put a post it note or safety tape or something on the spigot so I remember before I evacuate its contents.
Hope this helps explain the brewing process. I’m glad to help in anyway I can if you have any questions.
These are manufactures I use and recommend:
As for sites to buy stuff:
And, for yeast. If you can get it at a home-brew store please do. While shipping it isn’t the worst thing, even more online retailers will admit it is not recommended. I’ve received yeast from an unnamed bigger home-brew company that was over 2 months old. At that point, yeast viability is probably hovering around 70%. Most home-brew stores will throw away yeast that is older than a month.
Would love to hear your questions or feedback. firstname.lastname@example.org