Boil Day

I was hoping to follow up my first boil day with a second inside of a month, but as things worked out, it was  close to two months before I had time to to start my second batch. The success of the pale ale was a pleasant surprise, as everyone who tasted it, enjoyed it. The decision was made to brew a DDH (double dry hopped), all Mosaic IPA.

CLEANING & SANITIZING

What is touted as the most important step in homebrewing, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment before brewing.  There is no quick and easy around this step, it’s slow and time consuming, especially when you want to get to the brewing process.

The equipment was cleaned when I finished my few homebrew back in April, but it had been sitting, unused, so I took the extra time to clean all my equipment using PBW. The cleaning started with the fermentation bucket, as I placed all the equipment inside this bucket to soak for a few minutes. Once that equipment was cleaned, I rinsed each piece and transferred the cleaning solution to the bottling bucket.

The PBW soaked in the bottling bucket, pouring the solution into the brew kettle before rising, both the bucket and the kettle. With all the equipment cleaned, I proceeded to use Star San to sanitize all the equipment, following the same process just completed with the PBW.

BOILING THE WORT

This boil was going to be different, as I picked up an electronic copy of ‘How to Brew‘ by John Palmer, a “definitive book on making quality beers at home.” It took less than two chapters before I realized I would follow the “Palmer Method” of brewing, where by I used fewer gallons of water in the boil, as well as half of the LME (liquid malt extract). The method really caught my eye, but wasn’t too different than how I brewed the pale ale a few months prior. What was interesting, was saving nearly half the LME, added to the wort after the boil. The other difference was steeping the grains in wort, as opposed to just a kettle of water.

Unlike DME or dry malt extract, LME really requires warm water to dissolve easier, but the heat was added to the kettle and stirring commenced. It didn’t take much time at all before the malt dissolved and we had the start of our IPA wort warming up. After letting the water warm for about 15 minutes I added the Crystal 15L grains to a muslin bag and began steeping them in the kettle, as the heat was raised.

The steeping begin in cold water, as the muslin bag was submerged and allowed to steep for 30 minutes into the wort. “Steeping grains in wort as opposed to plain water improves the wort pH and along with moderating the steeping temperature also reduces the risk of bitter tannin extractions from the grain husks,” from Palmer’s book.

Once the 30 minutes were completed, the bag was removed and allowed to drain, as heat was added to the burner in order to bring the wort to a boil. Once the wort had a nice rolling boil, it was allowed to continue boiling for 5-10 minuets before the first hop addition was added. This is to allow the “hot break” stage to pass, where a foam creates on the top of the wort.

HOPS

Mosaic hops were selected as the hop of choice that would be used for the flavoring, aroma and dry hops, once the wort was in the fermentation bucket. The boiling hop used was 0.6 oz of Magnum hops (9.9% Alpha Acid) that would be allowed to boil for 60 minutes, once added. Magnum hops are a German hop (also grown in the US) that were bred in 1980 and released in 1993, adding a spicy, fruity profile to beer. This hop can be used as a bittering hop due to the high Alpha Acid content ( % AA),

I purchased four, 2 oz bags Mosaic hops that would be added for the last 10 minutes and 1 minute of the boil, adding flavoring and aroma to the IPA. The final 8 oz of hops were to be used to dry hop, adding hops into the fermentation bucket, to add more hop aroma to a beer. Just because this was an “experimental IPA” I decided to “DDH” or “double dry hop” my IPA, which will take place approximately 72 hours after fermentation begins.

MALT ADDITION

Once the wort hit the 60 minute mark, the kettle was moved onto a cool burner as I readied the last 2.5 lbs. of LME to be added to the wort. In the Palmer Method, this is known as “Wort B.” All the remaining contents were emptied into the kettle and stirring began to get it complete blended into the cooked wort.  Using hot water,  poured in the LME bag, I made sure to get all the malt out of the bag to maximize the sugar content. The kettle was then allowed to rest for 15 minutes before cooling began, to  pasteurize  of the newly added LME.

COOLING & FERMENTATION

While the wort was cooling, I ran the garden hose from the backyard patio, through the kitchen and screwed it to the wort chiller, which would be placed into the kettle to aid cooling. Bringing the temperature of the wort down to an acceptable temperature quickly is important. However, the wort chiller didn’t seem as effective as it was on the pale ale. The water didn’t feel as cold as expected out of the hose and the temperature quickly dropped but stalled around 80°F (26°C), with my goal being 68°F (20°C). in order to pitch the yeast.

I started to run into a time constraint, as I was supposed to be out the door, on the way to Father’s Day lunch, but had to put that on hold in order to continue cooling the wort. I decided to added water to the sink basin and dump all the ice I had, creating an ice bath to improve cooling.

While the wort was cooling, I grabbed a rectangular plastic pan, a fan and an old t-shirt. Water was added to the plastic pan. The plan was to place the fermentation bucket in the pan of water, place the t-shirt over the bucket, allowing it to soak up water and allow for the fan to add in cooling as the t-shirt soaked up the water.

This time around I used Imperial Yeast, A01, which was in liquid form, not dry like I used on the pale ale. Keeping the liquid yeast cool, in the refrigerator, I mixed it well in the package before pouring it into the fermentation bucket. The bucket was sealed and the air lock added. It was time to start the clock on fermentation of my first IPA.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall the process for my second batch was my more streamlined using the Palmer Method. There had been some confidence gained from brewing a successful pale ale, known as Engineering Hold a few months earliers, which received some good reviews from friends who had a bottle. Before this IPA was done boiling, I was already considering my next recipe to try.

Unlike the pale pale, this experimental IPA recipe kit hit the mark when it came to the O.G. The expected original gravity was listed between 1.049-1.054 on the recipe kit, with this batch coming in at 1.054. Felt good to see my wort was on the high end of the O.G., leaves me thinking this batch will turn out better than the previous pale ale.

A concern I have is with the rapid cooling of the wort. The wort chiller is a great piece of equipment, but I feel I need to improve the efficiency to chill the work quicker. I have seen recirculating pumps used in a bowl of ice water to have better effectiveness when running through the copper tubing to decrease the wort temperature in order to pitch the yeast.

Cooling concerns remain after the yeast is pitched and the fermentation bucket is put away for 7-14 days. From the daily readings I took, the average temperature during fermentation appeared to be 66°F (18°C), this with active fermentation adding heat to the wort. The decision to place the bucket in a pan of water, with a shirt over the top to allow water to be soaked up, then cooled by a fan worked well. However, I think cooling is an area that requires I need to address before my next brewing session.