Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Batch Small Beer

We really went big with the final beer for the upcoming wedding in a month. Not big in aroma, body, color or taste, but really big in size. A brewing record for me was made last Friday with a 13 gallon batch of small beer. This sort of volume, in a light style, will quench the thirst of their guests, while the two bigger beers will provide distinctive flavors and much more alcohol.

Just a few days before brewing, an edition of Zymurgy came to the door with articles all about brewing a small/mild beer as a big batch. This influential zymurgical coincidence happened right before brewing my first Tripel. Each time, the mag enhanced my recipe and approach for brewday.

For this batch, 15 gallons passed through a mash with only 14.3 pounds of grain. Borrowing some equipment from Felipe's new all-grain setup made this much easier. The mashtun was luckily filled to the very brim with mash-out water. It's cool to note that the volume lowers about a half gallon after absorption during the mash. After 4 gallons drained, Ryan and I proceeded to fly-sparge with an additional 8 gallons on the stove.

Knowing the final wort would get really thin, I made sure the acidity of the 168°F sparge water was around 5.3pH to prevent any tannin extraction (or so they say that's what happens). Never before running this much water through a mash, I was very curious to see how low the gravity would get as we sparged. It was cool to see the final reading at 1.007. See all the readings below.

This small beer was originally much lighter in color, but was deepened with some darker crystal malts to create a distinctive visual appeal among the other two beers being served. Guests will clearly see a difference in there cup, as the Tripel is straw-like golden, the Porter is ruby-black, and this one has a sunset amber hue to it. The deeper color will also give an illusion of being a bigger beer than it really is.

Two kegs of this ale will be served. One straight. The other will get an infusion of fresh lemon basil from the bride and groom's very own urban garden.

Check out the other matrimony ales...

Cocoa & Ancho Chili Smoked Porter
Belgian Tripel

Big Batch Small Beer

11 lbs. Organic 2-Row
1 lbs. CaraPils
1 lbs. Amer. Crystal 20L
.5 lbs. UK Crystal 45L
.18 lbs. Belg. Special B
.35 lbs. Belg. Aromatic
.35 lbs. Belg. Biscuit

3 oz. Willamette, 4.5%, plug, 60min

Wyeast 1056: American Ale

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 8/28/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .75 tsp Acid Blend
Fly Sparge: 1 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp Acid Blend, .5 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.6 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/70min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 168°F
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4 gal/1.044

Fly Sparge H2OTemp: 168-170°F
Fly Batch SG 1: 1.028
Fly Batch SG 2: 1.015
Fly Batch SG final: 1.007

Pre-Boil Vol: 15 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.028
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 13.25 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 84.4%

OG: 1.033
IBU: 22
Color/SRM: light amber/6-9
Ferment Temp: 72-65°F



Russ said...

I suck when it comes to water treatment. I understand the acid blend in the sparge water (I always add a little to my hot liquor tank) but why did you add the gypsum and salt as well?

Ted Danyluk said...

Hey Russ, good question.

Instead of dumping all of the gypsum for the batch into the strike water, I ration the gypsum (for the total volume of water) into two vessels...strike and sparge. Usually, I'll skip any addition in the mash out water.

Not sure if I read this somewhere in the past, but I add the salt to the sparge water in case it may interfere with the enzymatic mashing process of the sacch rest.

Here, I checked the pH of the water, and it definitely needed some acid blend to get it into the right 5.2 range of pH. I added this gradually.

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Will Jackson said...

I have yet to brew my first batch and it will probably be with an extract kit. Is lowering the alcohol content as simple as lowering the sugar? Or, should I not even try it until I have some experience?