Boil Day

Following the completion of my second home brew, Switch 61 Cranked and Clamped into the fermentation bucket, I wasted no time to find the next beer to brew. After a few days of searching home brew sellers and the Internet, I decided to attempt my first cloned recipe, 3 Floyds, Zombie Dust.

First experienced Zombie Dust in Munster, Indiana, in May, 2017. The beer, food and 3 Floyds experience was amazing! My local More Beer store sold a Zombie Dust clone, but I passed on it and found a recipe on Brewers Friend to use. Still using extract, as I’m not set up for mash, I found a recipe that seemed to get some good reviews and got all the ingredients needed to brew this clone.

CLEANING & SANITIZING

Next to temperature control, I never slack off when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing my home brew equipment. I go through the entire process when I set up to brew and when I am done, I clean all my equipment before I put it away, until next time.

I’ve developed a good process to get the vessels and equipment clean, while there is no quick and easy away around this step, it’s something you must do in order to get a good flavor from your brew and not introduce unwanted organisms into your beer. It took about 45 minutes to clean and sanitize all my equipment as I let it air dry, in preparation for the boil.

BOILING THE WORT

As the saying goes, “third time is a charm.” That was the case with this boil, as I had very good temperature control, while steeping the grains and adding the LME (liquid malt extract) to the boil. Following the Palmer Method, I only boiled about 3 gallons (11 liters) of water ad added half of the LME. However, the problem I ran into was needing more water in order to steep the grains and to reach the level of the 6″ thermometer I have in my boiling pot.

As the water warmed to approximately 150F, with the LME added, I poured the grains into a muslin bag to steep for 15 minutes. The color and smell were excellent as I pulled the grains from the boil and let them strain for about 60 seconds before setting the bag aside and turned up the heat to bring the wort to a boil.

Leaving the top of the pot off, there was never any time the hop additions got close to the top of the pot. Once I hit boiling, I started adding the hops,  1 oz. at a time. Starting with 60 minutes, the hops were then added at 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1 minutes, with 6 oz. of hops being held back to double dry hop the beer after it’s been fermenting for five days.

HOPS

As the last hop addition went in, I made preparations to get the wort chilled as quickly as possible. This was my second attempt at a single hopped beer, maybe it was done more to understand the sort of flavor I get from brewing with individual hops. After failing to create a juicy, single hopped IPA, in the vein of Slooow Mo from Knee Deep, I had big expectation for Switch 61 Cranked and Clamped that possibly came up a bit short on flavor.

This time around, Zombie Dust was a big undertaking, as that 3 Floyds beer is simply amazing. However, it was “Sierra Nevada Brewing Company helped popularize the Citra hop when they used it as a dry hop in their Torpedo IPA in 2009.” Citra has a high alpha acid, good for the initial boil and tend to have mango, guava and lychee fruit flavors imparted on beer.

The recipe called for a total of 8 oz. of Citra hops, but I added 3 oz. extra to double dry hop for a total of 11 oz. The smell imparted on this boil was wonderful as I looked forward to what the outcome would bring.

MALT

Using the Palmer Method, I used approximately half the DME in the initial boil, which consisted of about 3 gallons of water. This method called for 2.5 gallons, but that amount did not reach the thermometer in my boil kettle, so I added a bit more. The idea surrounding this is to bring the water to a boil faster than attempting to brew with a full pot of water. The malt went in on top of cold water, as I stirred it up, slowing adding heat. It was recommended to add the LME to cold water, as it dissipates better.

After the initial boil, with heat removed the remained of the DME was added and stirred in, as I let the wort sit for approximately 15 minutes.

COOLING ^ FERMENTATION

This step continues to my Achilles heel, as the wort chiller I has works, but I am realizing the water from the garden hose isn’t cold enough to properly chill the wort down to an acceptable temperature, which sends me scrambling to find ice to chill the wort down to fermentation level.

For the third time, I was able to get the wort down to about 80°F, but needing it down near 66-68°F has made me rethink my next batch in order to chill the wort quicker, with a recirculating pump, pushing ice cold water through the chiller.

Once the wort was chilled to the proper level, the English Ale Yeast S-04 was pitch, as I snapped on the top and added the air lock. I moved the fermentation bucket into the hall closet, set it in a pan of water, added ice. I then cut a slice in the chest of a used t-shirt, place this over the fermentation bucket and let it drape into the water. I then turned a small fan on the water and let the water work its way up into the shirt to help keep the wort in the proper temperature range.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was my most anticipated batch yet! While the first two batches had been good, I was looking to improve on what I have previously learned. Home brewing is about experimenting and improving to make the best tasting beer you can. It was my hope that my friends I shared beer with would provide honest and real feedback that I could use in order to fix problems. To some degree I believe they have done a great job with smells and flavors, but have fell short when it comes to improvements.

While they can say, “this smells great, but there is more malt flavor than fruit,” how do I as a brewer go about correcting this issue? That is where my local home brew retailer came in, allowing me to bring in my beer and having them sample it to offer suggestions on how to improve.

My beer has been very drinkable, in all honesty, it’s been better than some beers I have purchased or been given. My main test taster agrees and he provides worthwhile and honest feedback that I have been interested in using in an upcoming batch.

In this batch, I was able to hit the O.G. 1.063. When I dry hopped the beer after seven days, I took a second reading that was pretty close to the F.G. of 1.018, snapping the lid back on the fermentation bucket to let the yeast finish doing what yeast does. The beer spent 14 days fermenting before I took it to bottle this IPA.