Home > Brew session > Last brew of the decade

Last brew of the decade

Despite some minor hiccups, I managed to squeeze one more batch of homebrewing into 2009 before the decade elapsed. What I had originally envisioned as a Belgian 2.5 (somewhere between a dubbel and a strong dark) had to be tweaked into a new recipe due to somewhat sluggish yeast performance. I made up a starter on tuesday morning, anticipating a brew on Wednesday, and come wednesday morning there was almost no activity. Sometime late wednesday evening the stater showed signs of life, however I felt it prudent to go with a lower ABV beer to ensure the yeast was healthy enough to complete the job. The 2.5 became a belgian 1.5 (somewhere between a singel and a dubbel) and will serve as the “starter batch” for its bigger, meaner brother sometime in early 2010.

I realized pretty quickly that the past 2 months off had left me out of practice, and I forgot some basic day-before preparation things (like pre-boiling the kettle valve) that dragged the day on longer than it should have been. I also ended up fighting the freezing temperatures somewhat in that I had forgotten to pull the garden hose inside, and I spent a good portion of the boil trying to thaw it out before I needed it for the cooling stage. Despite all that, the batch seemed to go pretty well – my wort came out a gorgeous color (even before adding the dark candi syrup), crystal clear, and I got the 10 gallons cooled down in 15 minutes flat – man, I love brewing in the winter!

One thing I admired (again) is how well I seem to sparge the grains without dragging any of the nasty tannins and other off flavors out of the husks. The domed tupperware lid I use forms a perfect wort-hot liquor liquid/liquid interface that is clearly visible when you look in the tun. Once the wort drains below the top of the grain bed, the hot water instantly starts pulling out the remaining sugars, and I never seem to over-sparge the mash before collecting the total amount. The resulting efficiencies usually run in the 75-85% range. It seems to combine the best aspects of both continuous (high efficiency) and batch sparge (no tannins) techniques.

I think in 2010 I need to convert this (highly effective) tupperware design in to a more durable stainless one. I’ve been eyeing a product at Toledo Metal Spinning that looks promising. I am not sure whether it’s the lip or the gradual contour that creates the separation – hopefully the lip because curved lids are about 4X the price. I will also need to build the support and liquid supply tubing, and attach the float valve for my pump skid control box so it automatically controls the liquid level… I think I’m also going to try to brew another lager or two this year – My standard octoberfest and maibock are obviously candidates, but I really want to try my hand at a nice bock as well. I think that might have to be next after the belgian 2.5 so I can take advantage of the colder temperatures.

Categories: Brew session
  1. January 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Sounds good! I’ve got a Cherry Wit in the primary and I’m lagering a Pilsner in my 2nd kegerator at the moment. 🙂

  2. January 3, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Sounds like yours went better than mine … which was non-existent! My last ingredients never showed before the weekend, the Belgian Candy Syrup. Damn HDYB for not carrying it!

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