Sunday, July 13, 2008

Retirement Plans

I think I've spent enough money at MoreBeer to warrant them giving me a 401(k) plan that matches my investment in their products. They had their annual 15% off sale yesterday, and, so help me, I may have upgraded my mash tun. You see, the homemade 5 gallon water-cooler mash tun works great for low to normal gravity beers in a 5 gallon batch. Sounds great, you say? It is!
Yes, but, not so great for high to very high gravity beers. I ran into the problem with brew 17, the Ruination clone. Anything above an original gravity of say, 1.06 becomes difficult due to the thick mash required to fit all the grain in the cooler. My water ratio was about 1:1 quarts water to pounds of grain, and temperature maintenance was trouble because the top of the cooler didn't fit on all the way. I think I managed to semi-rescue this delightful double-IPA with the extract and sugar additions, but I wasn't happy about it. So, I resolved to improve my arsenal. After a couple weeks of looking, I discovered that I would save a whopping $5 by building my own 10 gallon tun ($50 cooler, $34 false bottom, $30 in fittings, etc., +tax) compared to buying one new at a 15% discount ($128 after tax). Not worth the time and gas. And, why the hell not, another keg. As a result, I am trying to sell my old mash tun and avoid the store for a few weeks to save some dollars. Also, the guy recognized my voice on the phone. Definitely time for a break.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Updated 7/31/08 - Well, it's not Ruination. But it's pretty good anyway.

Five gallon mash tuns are a funny thing. They work great. They really do. So long as you're mashing less than about 14 pounds of grain. But when you want to mash 15.6 pounds for an OG of 1.075, your water to grain ratio quickly falls to almost one quart to a pound. The first lauter had a great SG of about 1.08, but I had to batch sparge twice to get the seven gallons needed for a 90 minute boil. My initial boil gravity came out to about 1.052. I added some corn sugar and DME to boost it a little bit and wound up with an OG of 1.065 after the boil. Even with the target FG of 1.010, this is going to be a little weaker in alcohol than we were shooting for. Between all of that mess and some hop substitutions, well, we'll see...

Batch #17
Stone Ruination Clone - "Rumination" (so Brad can say it right). Recipe from BYO's 150 Clones special issue.
--14.6 lbs 2-row
--1 lb Crystal 15L
*--8 oz Corn Sugar
*--1 cup Light DME
--36 AAU Magnum (60min); *I used 4 oz of 9.3% Newport
--15.7 AAU Centennial (Steep 5min at flame out); *2oz 6% Cascade pellets + 1oz 7.4% Cascade whole
--2 oz Centennial (Secondary 3-5 days); *2 oz Cascade
--Whirlfloc (20min)
OG: 1.065 [1.075 target]
FG: 1.008 [1.010 target]
ABV: 7.1% [7.7% target]
IBU: ~120 [100+ target]

*My subs and fixes

Mash grains at 149°F for 60 minutes, 90 minute boil. My mash was funky because of the capacity of my mash tun. I extracted 1 gallon after an hour, and pulled out 6 more over the next hour. I had lots of temperature fluxuation due to heat loss out the top (no tight seal when it's that full) and hot water additions combined with difficulty stirring such a thick mash. Moral of the story: 10 gallon mash tun for OGs over about 1.065. Racked to secondary after 8 days. Cascade added. Kegged after 5 days.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sweet 16th

I do admit I was intrigued by a recipe for DuClaw Vanilla Bean Oatmeal Stout. I like oatmeal stouts, and I like vanilla. It seems like this should be an easy gap to bridge. When talking about it with some friends, someone said "put chocolate in it - vanilla and chocolate are always separate". Not always, but it sounded like a good idea, so I borrowed some tips from a clone recipe of Young's Double Chocolate Stout and threw in a little lactose and cocoa powder. In the end, this might be more like drinking a milk shake, mouthfeelwise, anyway. The cocoa is of course unsweetened, and the vanilla should just add aroma.

Batch #16
Chocolate DuClaw Vanilla Bean Oatmeal Stout
--9 lbs 2-Row American Pale Ale Malt
--17 oz Black Roasted Malt
--1.25 lbs Flaked Oats
--6 oz German Chocolate Wheat
--6 oz Crystal 60L
--8 oz Lactose
--4 oz Cocoa Powder (15min)
--3 vanilla beans (secondary)
--2 oz Kent Goldings 4.5% AA (60min)
--Whirlfloc (20min)
--White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.1%
Calc. IBU: 24

Mash all the grains for one hour at 152°F. I added 1 tsp gypsum to the mash water. Collect 6.5 gallons of wort. My efficiency was around 72%, giving me a gravity of 1.048. Add the lactose and boil. Add the hops. At 20 minutes remaining, add the clarifier and dissolve the cocoa in hot water. Add the cocoa to the boil with 15 minutes left. Flame out, hops out, start chillin'. I pitched the yeast slurry from a 1 pint starter. Dry English wasn't my first choice, but it'll do. Spent 1 week in primary. Three beans added at secondary, kegged after 5 days (a little rushed on everything because I was juggling with brew 17).