Tag Archives: All Grain

Helping the grain, and back

Back in late July last year I went around to Chas’s place and helped with an all Grain pale ale. Chas is now focused of his site Brew In Review and I wanted to do a write up. I’ve finally done it, here we are.

Chas had done a few brews back around middle of 2015. You might remember I mentioned he gave me a bottle of The Friedlieb IV back in June 2015. Review of that is in draft and I’ll get up soon. Then there was an all grain pale ale. That turned out too strong. The next brew day, 25 July 2015, was about redoing the all grain with less fermentables.

The equipment used was from one of Chas’s mates, a big esky/cooler box converted into a mash tun. Nice and easy to use. Didn’t get a photo on the day, but here’s a pic of it from another day after it got cleaned out.

Esky mash tun, clean and dismantled

Esky mash tun, clean and dismantled

16 litre batch
4 kg traditional ale malt + 40 g malted wheat + 40 g dingman’s biscuit malt + 20 g rye.
Mashed at 67.5°C for one hour
16 g chinook + 8 g fuggles for 1 hour.
16 g cascade for 20 minutes
16 g Citra + 8 g Willamette for 2 minutes.
US 05 yeast
OSG 1.045

Mash was an hour, target of 67.5°C and landed pretty much there. That was easy. Next was the sparging. Drain the liquid and some hot water poured over the top of the grain. That took ages, about an hour or more. Finally pressed the grain to get extra liquid out.

Next up, bring to a boil and keep going for an hour. Three hop additions: 60 minutes, 20 mind and 2 mins. Next, the pot moved to ice bath. Then drain and fill bath a few times. Maybe 40 minutes or so to bring down to low 20’s. Finally into the fermenter and dry yeast pitched straight in. Gravity sample came in at 1.045 which was in the range Chas was after.

It was a long day. Chas started the mash about 10:30 before I arrived and we finished up around 3:30. That’s a long brew day and a one of the reasons I still haven’t moved to all grain brewing.

Fast forward two weeks to bottling day. Woo! This was a real easy bottling session. Chas bulk primed the beer in the fermenter before I got there and the whole lot was bottled in about 15 minuets.

2015.08.08 - bottling doneThe final gravity reading came in at 1.006 and will be a 5.5% beer after bottle conditioning. The sample tastes great. Plenty of body and citrus hop flavour.

Chas gave me a four pack to take home. The test batch seamed promising and I was really looking forward to seeing how these turn out.

This beer has been reviewed and I’ll get a post up in the next couple weeks.

Worth noting, this recipe was an early version of what became the Priestly Pale Ale. You can read up all about that recipe on Chas’s site Brew In Review.

-Mikey

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Home Brewers R&D Vic Secret – Review

Quite a few moons ago I finally did my first all grain brew, Home Brewers R&D Vic Secret. It was an interesting process and at the end I had some beer. I’ve tried it and shared it with a few people. This review will try to do capture all that feedback, not just my take.

Firstly let me be clear, something went wrong with this beer. Not sure exactly what and most likely it was a number if things. Process is probably the main culprit, maybe water too.

R&D Vic Secret

R&D Vic Secret ready for tasting

This beer was part of a group of beers. An attempt with some other home brewers to all make the same beer but with different hops. The other two guys have been making all grain beers for a while and their beers turned out good. What is important is that the recipe was fine. My brew was a smaller batch due to equipment. Keeping ratios right wasn’t an issue as calculations weren’t left up to me. All I needed to do was get the grain, hops, yeast and follow the instructions.

I got a bitter and dry beer. When I say bitter, I mean chemical and tart. Not good. The aroma is nice. You can smell the passionfruit and pineapple, a nice sort of fruit hint. That sort of comes out when you taste it. Then the bitterness kicks in and takes over.

This is a quite clear beer as brewbrite was added. It’s a lot clearer than every other beer I’ve made. Will be using this for a lot more brews in the future.

The body here is nice enough. Clearly being an all grain makes this better than quite a few of my extract beers. It has a nice mouth filling element as well. Alcohol is lower than it should have been, coming in at only 3.4%. That’s because there wasn’t enough maltose converted from the grain.

Overall this is a hard beer to enjoy. The bitterness is too much. If it was half as bitter it would be about right. As a result I’ve been mixing this with the Super Stout (which was also a bit stuffed). Next time there will be a lot more care in making an all grain.

-Mikey

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The Friedlieb, Coffee Porter III – Review

Way back on 29 July Chas made the third version of The Friedlieb, his coffee porter. This latest version is an all grain. And it’s pretty bloody good. All the relatively fresh coffee that went into this helps drive this beer.

The Friedlieb coffee porter III

The Friedlieb coffee porter III ready for drinking

The aroma is simply great. Big coffee and molasses hit in the nose. Good smoke end to the aroma, long and lasting but not harsh. This really draws you into the beer.

Up front this beer is a little deceptive. The dark malt feels somewhat light but the smoke is there. Plenty of peated malt. Chocolate is there at the start and coffee too. The rye malt is a little harder to pick up. Slightly overpowered, but giving some backing to the rest of the malt. The hops are not really there, but more to help balance.

There’s a big mouth feeling to this beer. Small bubbles give it a sort of creamy hint to it. After the first impressing the smoke and coffee take over. They’re mixing around and washing together. The alcohol in this is 6.8%, though you don’t really notice any of that anyway. The smoke and coffee cover it very well.

All the peated malt takes over and this does get slightly too much. That’s when it’s cold. Once this beer warms up there’s more of a slight sweetness to this. The chocolate malt comes out a bit and the brown malt flavour comes out a lot more. There’s a biscuit/toast flavour to it. But it’s the coffee that really becomes the king flavour and reminding you that there really was a LOT of coffee put into this beer.

The downside for me is the smoke from the peated malt. When I reviewed the second version of The Friedlieb I mentioned that Chas was really looking for this. It’s too much for me. Chas really wanted to push this, and I think it’s something he really likes. Don’t get me wrong, this is a well made beer with good complexity, nice body and long lasting flavour. For me one bottle is enough.

This is a beer for the end of the night. At home, settling in for the night and have next to a fire. Don’t need anything to eat because this beer is full of character and flavour. Maybe not the last beer, ‘cos the coffee will keep you going. But a good solid flavour hit to slow things down.

-Mikey

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Making the Friedlieb all grain

DSC_0410Back in October 2013, we made a second version of a coffee porter called the Friedlieb. It used malt extract and some specialty grain. Now we figured we’d try to make it an all grain.

We basically had to start again to try to adapt what was about 1.5 kilograms of liquid malt and 250 grams of dry malt (for 12 litres). The liquid malt was a golden light and the dry was a dark malt, so we decided to replace this with 2 kilograms of traditional pale malt and up some of the other darker grains as well (for 8 litres).

The beer might not turn out “portery” enough, but this is just the start of things, so if we need to up the dark malts a little more, we will. All that being said, this has always been a fairly light porter, so we’ll see.

We also upped the peated malt to try and bring out even more smoke in the brew. Some would say we’re pushing it too much, but it’s hard to get the peat to come out above the large amount of coffee we’re putting in there, so…

The ingredients were (for an 8 litre batch):

  • 2 kilograms of traditional pale malt
  • 180 grams dark crystal
  • 100 grams chocolate malt
  • 150 grams peated malt
  • 100 grams melanoidin
  • 120 grams rye malt
  • 6 grams Willamette (bittering) – 30 minutes
  • 6 grams Fuggles (taste) – 15 minutes
  • 6 grams Fuggles (aroma) – 0 minutes
  • 16 shots espresso
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • Windsor style ale yeast

All the grains were mashed for an hour in eight litres of water at 65 degrees. We were able to keep the temperature pretty constant, and this seemed like a good amount of water for the grains.

DSC_0413We played around with the pots a bit to do everything right. Basically, we just let the grains mash in the biggest pot we could get (about 12 litres) without a bag or anything like that. After the mashing process, we strained all this (through a few bags) in a couple smaller pots. With the grain now in a couple grain bags, we transferred all the wort back to the big pot and sparged. It worked pretty well! But we still need a bigger pot…

From there, it was pretty standard.

The brown sugar and coffee went in with 5 minutes left to the boil.

Cooling was pretty easy and we were left with about 7 litres of liquid, so there wasn’t a whole lot of topping up to do to get it up to 8 litres.

The original gravity was 1.063 which isn’t bad considering we were approximating the grain from a previous extract brew with an OG of 1.073. Depending on how things turn out, we may up the malt a bit and/or mash the grains for a bit longer to bring that original gravity up a little bit.

Anyway, the beer is currently bubbling away and should be ready to bottle pretty quick. I’m eager to see how it turns out and modify further!

-Chas

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Journey continues, onto all grain

Yesterday I finally did my first all grain brew. It’s been a long time coming and Chas has already done a couple all grain brews. I’ve been putting it off for a while. That’s partly because I was trying to knock out a few batches I’ve been thinking about. The other part was because I didn’t have a pot big enough to do a proper batch. Now that’s all sorted it was time to go all grain.

American Brown Ale done

American Brown Ale done in the carboy

Before I get into that, we also bottled the American Brown Ale. Didn’t bother with bulk priming due to the small batch size. Carbonation drops into bottles liquid in an capped. The final gravity came in at 1.022 which was a bit higher than the 1.014 expected. Final alcohol will be 4.6% and I’m happy with that.

So, my first all grain brew was a brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) style. The recipe is part of a Research and Development brew, an American Pale Ale, with a few home brewers from work. The idea is that we all brew with the same grain ratios and IBU target but with different hops. Due to my ‘small’ 19 litre pot I did an eight litre batch, rather than the 16 litre version the others did. Given my fascination in Vic Secret hops, that was the hop selection for me. The recipe is below.

  • 1.8 kg Joe White Traditional Ale grina
  • 0.15 kg Joe White Cara grain
  • 4 g Victoria’s Secret hops (for 60 min)
  • 11 g Victoria’s Secret hops (for 20 min)
  • 13 g Victoria’s Secret hops (for 5 mins)
  • 1/2 pack of Safale US-05 yeast
  • 14 g Victoria’s Secret hops (for dry hopping at day 7)
R+D Vic Secret mash

Home Brewers R+D Vic Secret mash in the pot

The brew was a very long one. Longer than I expected. Main reason is it took an hour to get the 14.4 litres of water for the mash. Reason for that was I want to filter all my water before I use it and I didn’t get any prepared before hand. Once water was ready we brought it up to about 69-70 degrees Celsius. Grain bag went over the pot and grain in. This sat in the pot for about 60-65 mins at 67 degrees Celsius. It was meant to be at that for 75 mins but there was too much head added and the last 10-15 mins it got up to about 72+ Celsius. Mash out was meant to be 75 Celsius, so we called it done at that point.

There was a lot of liquid that was at the start of the boil. The recipe said it should be about 13 litres. After the boil it was meant to be 10 litres, then batch size of 8 litres. Not sure where the last two litres were meant to go. If anyone has some info on this please post below.

Due to the excess water we let the boil go for about 30 or so minuets before first hops. This was to try and reduce liquid, which was a good idea. The hop additions went pretty smoothly. My alarm wasn’t loud and missed a couple additions by a couple minuets here and there. Shouldn’t make much difference. Also used some Brewbrite to clear it out. Added a teaspoon to a cup of water and dissolved it. Then into the boil with about 5 mins to go.

Chilled the wort down by putting the pot in an ice bath. This was pretty good. Also added some big blocks of ice to the wort directly which worked a treat. It was only later that I realised this was a problem. Once down in temperature the wort was poured into the fermenter and I realised that I had way too much liquid. It came in at 13 litres! No surprise that the gravity reading came in a lot lower than expected. It was 1.033 and should have been 1.049. That’s a big difference.

The re-hydrated yeast went in along with the yeast nutrient. I’m expecting, or rather hoping for, a good conversion from the yeast. If things go well it should reduce down to 1.008 and that means after bottle conditioning It should be about 3.5% alcohol. Will wait and see.

-Mikey

 

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When you don’t brew, go brew

Chas is still overseas having fun and tasting beers. I’m still naively waiting on the Super Stout. So… what to do when not brewing? Help a mate with his brew!

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparge

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparging away with hot liqueur pot, mash tun, pump and boiling pot

Last weekend here in Melbourne was a long weekend thanks to Queen’s Birthday public holiday. No, it’s not her Birthday, the holiday is about something else. Anyway.

On Saturday I went around to my mate Michael‘s place. He’s been doing all grain for a while. Last time I was there I had to leave early and missed a few things. This time I was there from start to (nearly) the very end. This was a very long day. Started at 10:30 am and at 5:15 pm both the airing of the wort and pitching of the yeast were still left to do. That’s one very long brew day for a home brew.

Like last time Michael was doing a Belgian quad, which didn’t work out that well. This time a Strong Belgian Golden Ale, which hopefully turns out well. The process was mainly the same. Fist heat the water for the mash and then put that in the mash tun. Grain goes in, stir and wait. Recirculate the liquid to settle the grain bed. Next was a bit different. Fly sparge rather than batch sparge. What you do is slowly drip water over the top while letting the liquid drain out the bottom. Apparently, if done right you get a better conversion (getting sugars from the grains) than batch sparing.

Hop leaf

Hop leaf in a hop bag

Boil was next. A long boil as Michael needed to reduce volume. After that was done a hop bag with loose leaf hop flowers went in. I’ve never seen loose leaf hops before. Most people I know use pellets. Had a taste and wasn’t sure what to think about them. Interesting, but not sure if it’s for me.

The chilling was very cool (pun fully intended). Michael has a counter flow plate chiller. Brew goes in one end and out the other, while cold tap water goes in the reverse direction in a different channel. Long story short, lots of liquid moves really quickly and your brew gets chilled a lot.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled with pot and plate chiller

Like I said, had to leave before the brew was aerated or the yeast pitched. But, you can get an idea from the photos how much goes on. Lots of steps and lots of equipment. I have to say, I’m slightly jealous of all the equipment. But that’s offset by the idea of having to (a) take so long to make a beer and (b) that thought of cleaning all that equipment.

Then Monday went around to my good mate Ian‘s place. He wanted to do An American Brown Ale. Something nice to have over the cooler months. And, to be completely different to the all grain brew, it was an all extract brew.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done, except aeration and yeast

For this brew I was there from the very start to the very end. Plus it was a lot quicker. Dry malt extract and hop pellets measured out. Boil the water, first addition of dry malt, hot break, add hops 1, add hops 2, add hops 3 and the last of the dry malt. Then onto chilling, which went a lot quicker than expected. We chilled it so well that it was almost too cool to pitch the yeats. But before the yeast went in I made Ian take a gravity reading. Hopefully this means we’ll known the alcohol percentage on his beer.

An American Brown done

An American Brown done and ready to start fermenting

Thinking back on the long weekend, I’m not sure which brew day I enjoyed more. They were both laid back in their own way. Ian’s was pretty easy, but a fair few things on one after the other. And once it was all done we hung out for a while which was fun. The brew day at Michael’s was a lot longer. And as a lot of steps took a chunk of time there was plenty of down time. That said it was also a lot more complex and a few things were nearly missed. One thing I know for sure, brew days are fun.

-Mikey

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Return of the Red Dog Pale Ale

Back in October we made a small batch of the Red Dog Pale Ale and enjoyed it so much thought we might up it to 12 litres.  It was a good brew day and a great way to get back into it for the new year, but I think we bit off a bit more than we could chew.  The main lesson: we need bigger pots if we’re going to try an all grain above about six litres…

The recipe we did is the same as what was posted the first time, so I’m not going to both to re-post the recipe.  The first time we did it we only did four litres, this time it was twelve litres, so we just did three times as much of everything…

This resulted in a total grain bill of about 2.4 kilos, so we wanted plenty of water to mash in.  Unfortunately the biggest pot I have is about nine litres so we were only able to mash with 7.8 litres of water without filling the pot too much.  As with the previous recipe we mashed for 90 minutes at 65 degrees, which seemed to work well last time.

After an hour long boil with hop additions, we were left with an OSG of only 1.034, which was much lower than last time’s 1.042 (which had been watered down by mistake!).  I think that due to the pot size we were unable to get adequate water to all the grain; we were still attempting the brew in a bag technique which was probably inappropriate for this sized grain bill.

Red Dog IIShould we try this again I think we’ll need two things: at least one bigger pot to do the boil in and probably a proper mash tun.  This would really make things a whole lot easier and we’ll be able to use much more water for mashing.

The other problem we ran into was during the cold break.  By the end of everything we had about eight litres of boiling water, and we wanted to get it cold fast.  Our usual method of giving it a bath in the sink – even with some ice added – failed to get the temperature down in a reasonable amount of time.  We’ve had trouble with this before, even with smaller batches.  I think I have an excuse to buy a wort chiller now though!

All in all it was a great brew day, and as mentioned a great one to get back into it for the year – with no bottling, a long mash, and a bit of time between hop additions, there was plenty of down time!

We’ll report back in a couple weeks to see how the beer turned out, but I’m not too optimistic!

– Chas

 

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When is it cheating?

Hi all!

Yes, I haven’t written anything in awhile.  Since the fifth of November to be precise.  Don’t worry, Mikey has had stern words to me.  I haven’t done a brew in a few weeks either!  Once again, Mikey has had stern words to me.

Since I haven’t brewed in awhile, I figured I’d share some thoughts.  This comes from a conversation Mikey and I had a few weeks ago.

With a variety of brewing methods available: extract, steeped grains, mini-mash, all grain, and combinations there of; when is it cheating?  At what point can you no longer say “I made this beer”?

Purists will probably say all grain is the only way to go.  If you’re not mashing the grains yourself, and therefore not making your own malt, you’re not actually making your own beer.  I’m sure there are even those who say one must even mill their own grain!  But then you should also be growing your own grain and therefore your own hops… you should have your own lab to culture your own yeast.  Where does it end?

However, the steeped grain process offers a great opportunity to experiment with the flavours from various (unmalted) specialty grains.  All this process is doing is freeing the brewer from the “burden” of mashing their own grains.  And mashing isn’t terribly difficult; while it’s possible to “get it wrong” or do it well/badly, it’s actually a simple process.  So, at the risk of being extremely controversial, it’s not the be all and end all of home brewing.

Even with extract brewing, the brewer has the opportunity to add their own hops for extra flavours.  Either the brewer is inexperienced and still experimenting, wants something simple for whatever (completely valid) reason, or that’s simply the brew they want to do.

So I guess the real question is: is extract brewing cheating?  Is the idea of a kit and kilo a little too easy?  The process is extremely simple: dump some pre-made stuff in a bucket, add water, and you’re done.  Ignoring the fact that this is a great way for people to learn the basics and realise the importance of sanitising, it is a bit like ready to eat cake mix.  If you just add water and stick it in the over, can you still say you baked a cake?

Well… ultimately who cares?  For a hobbyist, it really just matters that you’re enjoying yourself.  Home brewing is a great hobby not only because it’s excessively fun, but you also get a great product at the end that you can share with your friends.  And friends always enjoy sharing beer with each other.

I was at a mate’s party a few weeks back and he asked me to bring some home brew.  He didn’t give me enough time to make a batch just for the party so I just brought what I had on hand: and extract brew.  Everyone loved it!  Of course I said it was an extract brew – I wasn’t going to take credit for a brilliant all grain – but people were still interested in it and interested in the process.  I enjoyed making that beer and I enjoyed drinking it with friends.

So really, it’s never cheating.  Do what you enjoy!

-Chas

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Let’s do this! Red Dog Pale Ale

Well, another weekend another brew day.

We decided to step it up a notch this weekend and go for an all grain batch.  It was a relatively small notch though.  While the batch was an all grain, it was kept to only four litres and the mashing was done in a bag using the brew in a bag (BIAB) technique.  No malt extract was used though, so it wasn’t a mini-mash.

Anyway, the recipe we used was courtesy of jyo on the Aussie Home Brewer Forums and can be found here.  You’ll note that the original recipe was for a 23 litre batch, however we modified the quantities to only make four litres.

The modified recipe was:

Brewing in a bag!

Brewing in a bag!

  • 782 grams Joe White Traditional Ale Malt
  • 7 grams Crystal
  • 5 grams Weyermann Carapils
  • 7 grams Cascade hops (bittering) – 60 minutes total boil
  • 5 grams Cascade hops (taste) – 15 minutes total boil
  • 5 grams Chinook hops (aroma) – 1 minute total boil
  • DCL US 05 American Ale Yeast
  • 4 grams Cascade hops (dry hopping) – after 2 days

Mashing temperature was called for 65 degrees C.

The recipe called for a 90 minute mash, which is what we did.  The BIAB technique is pretty simple.  First we calculated the strike temperature which was pretty simple and got three litres of water up to this temperature in a pot.

This technique is called brew in a bag because the grains were kept in a bag while submerged in water.  While this was easy, keeping the temperature at exactly 65 degrees was fairly difficult.  The pot seemed to keep heat fairly well, but there were large discrepancies in different areas when we took temperature readings.  If anything we probably should have used more water.

For those more interested in the procedure, Craig from Craigtube does a great demonstration here.

While we waited for the grain to mash, Mikey and went ahead and bottled the Honey Bomb Wheat Beer we made a couple weeks ago.  There was a fair bit of time to kill during the mashing process, so between checking it and adjusting the temperature we bottled and knocked back a couple home brews on the Home Brew Couch.

About to get the hot break

About to get the hot break

With the mash done, it was sparged with another couple of litres of water and we started the boil.  During the sparge we could really tell that the sugar had come out of the grain.  We were left with a great, thick liquid that was a beautiful brown colour.  And it smelled amazing.

From there it was pretty much the same as any other brew.  The hops were added for bittering, taste, and aroma.  Two days later I added some more hops as a dry hopping.

When we were all done, we got a OSG of 1.042.  Unfortunately the recipe stated an OSG 1.053, so we were a bit off…  I attribute this not only to our temperature difficulties with the mash, but also because we ended up topping the carboy up to four and a half litres rather than four; so it was watered down a little more than it should be.

I’m expecting quite a bit from this brew.  I think it should turn out to be a fairly decent American Pale Ale.  The wort tasted great and full of grain, but it should be fairly well combated by the hop additions.  We’ll see how it is in a couple weeks!

– ChasRed Dog1

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