Piety and scholarship under Lupulos.

Monday, April 27, 2009

First all grain batch

I did my first all grain batch yesterday. Let me begin by saying that all grain is way easier than you can imagine. Its reputation for difficulty must be a hangover from days when you had to do all the calculations by hand. Nowadays, tools like hopville.com make it a snap.

I designed a recipe called Santa Ana Garden. There's a lemon tree in front of the Santa Ana house I stayed in and I made lemonade from it once. The citrusy hops I placed in this one (including Amarillo, which means "yellow" in Spanish) evoke that memory.

The grain bill is fashioned after McDole's Pliny the Elder clone.

Some notes on the recipe:
  1. I put 1oz Cascade in the mash itself. There is growing popularity for this method as a way to infuse the beer with more flavor and aroma without adding bitterness. Though the science is not well understood by beer nerds, the idea is that the sub-boiling mash temperatures allow the hop flavors to be more fully extracted into the wort before boiling off, and they'll tend to keep throughout the full boil.
  2. I used some yeast collected from Bell's bottles as described earlier in this blog
  3. I'm using a method to keep the primary fermenter cool, since the apartment was in the mid 80s for most of the weekend. Warm temperatures for fermentation cause serious off flavors. I put it in a cooler in the closet and fill the cooler with water. I put ice packs in in the morning. I've measure the temperature at various times and the water temperature is about 67, which is ideal

And mistakes:
  1. I forgot to put the sugar in. Cane sugar is a way to build the alcohol and body of the beer without adding flavor or color.
  2. I did not calculate water loss in the grain bed correctly, and ended up with about 2 gallons of beer.
  3. I forgot to put Irish Moss in, so did not benefit from its coagulative properties and hence threw away more trubbed-up beer
Given the mistakes, I ended up with a variant recipe which I describe here. The loss of water means a higher gravity. Not the worst thing in the world, I suppose.

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