Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Polecat Porter

With a limitless number of beers to be created, it’s rare that I’ll spend the time re-brewing something I’ve made in the past.  If I do, it’s usually because the first batch wasn’t quite right and I want to tweak the recipe to see if I can make the final product match my expectations.  With our Baltic Porter however, the first batch was so delicious that I’d rather not make any adjustments to it and rather just see if I can replicate it exactly.

Back in early 2010, we designed this beer for entry in to the Puget Sound Pro-Am.  While we fanaticized about having our beer brewed on a commercial scale, we figured the odds were against us and the chances long.  As luck would have it though, not only did a brewery select our beer, but our favorite local brewpub at that:  Elysian Brewing.  Although the beer didn’t place in the top three in the pro-am competition at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival,  the commercial version turned out just as good as we could have hoped for. 

Whether or not it’s due to the history that I have with this beer or because of my general liking of the style, our Polecat Porter easily has edged its way into my top 3 favorite beers we’ve brewed.  It’s probably a little less roasty than a classic example, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much too.  Hopefully this re-brew will not disappoint and once again we’ll have managed to capture lightning in a bottle.

 Polecat Porter

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 6.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 19.88
Anticipated OG: 1.085
Anticipated SRM:  25.9
Anticipated IBUs:   39.1
Wort Boil Time:  90
Anticipated ABV:  8.7%
Final Gravity: 1.0195
ABV: 8.7%

57.4% - 11.5 lbs Munich Malt
33.7% - 6.75 lbs Pilsner
2.5% - ½ lb Special B
1.9% - 6 oz. Carafa
1.2% - ¼ lb CaraMunich47
1.2% - ¼ lb Chocolate Malt
1.2% - ¼ lb Crystal 80
0.9% - 3 oz. Molasses

60 grams Czech Saaz (pellets, 5.0% AA) @ 65 minutes
20 grams Hallertau (pellets, 4.1% AA) @ 25 minutes

Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager (3rd generation slurry from a 10 gallon batch)

Water Profile and Additions
Charcoal filtered Seattle Water
Mash and HLT Additions:  1.3 grams/gallon of Calcium Chloride

Mash Schedule
60 minute rest at 151°
15 minute mash out rest at 168°
Sparged with 170° water


8/27/2011 – Yeast slurry had been in my fridge for 2 weeks, so I decanted off what little beer was sitting on top and transferred the yeast to 4000ml flask with 1600ml of fresh starter wort. 

8/28/2011 – Brewed solo

Doughed in at 157 and came to a rest at 151.  Added mineral additions and then let rest for 60 minutes.  Sparged until I had 8 gallons of 1.0745 wort.  Because of the higher efficiency, I replaced a half gallon of the wort with filtered water.

Boiled for 90 minutes with hop additions as noted.  Molasses added at 20 minutes, Irish moss and yeast nutrient were added at 15.  After the boil, I ended up with exactly 6.5 gallons of 1.085 wort.

Chilled wort down to 60°.  Air temp was about 75, so I didn’t want to let it sit and settle for as long as I would normally like.  As a result, when I racked into the carboy, a bit more hop material made it in.  Carboy was then placed in fridge and left overnight until temp reached 53°.  Aerated for 60 seconds with pure 02 and then pitched in all but a small amount of trub in the yeast slurry (which was also at 53°).  
Brewing our Polecat Porter with Dick Cantwell at Elysian Tangletown back in June 2010.
10/1/2011 - Racked over to secondary.  Gravity down to 1.021

12/16/2011 - I needed the carboy, so I racked over to a keg.  Gravity down to 1.0195.  Since there was about 1.5L left in the carboy, I sanitized and C02 flushed a 2L bottle fitted with a carbonator cap, and then transfered in the remaining volume.  I'm low on time, but when I get the chance, I'll try eising the remainder.

1/2/2012 - Placed 2L bottle in the freezer and swirled about every hour.  Once a significant portion of the mixture was frozen, I placed it in the fridge while I prepared for bottle conditioning.  I mixed 100ml of sterile water with 1/4 tsp dry t-58 yeast and let bloom.  From this mixture, I placed 0.5ml into each of my 4 bottles.  Next, I mixed 5 oz of table sugar into 8 ounces of boiling water, which resulted in 10 oz total volume, and then placed 6ml of the solution into each bottle.  From there, I flushed each bottle with C02 and then racked over the eised beer.

After the ice melted in the 2L bottle, the left over beer had a gravity of 1.011.  If the alcohol transfered over in the same manner that the gravity units did, then I expect the Baltic Eis to have about 10.5 - 11% ABV.

2/19/2012 - First Tasting

Wort Convenience

Over the years, few things have helped improve our brewing more than fermentation control and proper yeast management.  Pitching the appropriate level of yeast for each batch is key; if you under-pitch, the cells are forced to maximum reproduction and in doing so, produce off-flavor byproducts.  The cells also run the risk of an incomplete fermentation.  If you over pitch, the cells won’t have to replicate much during fermentation and the end beer potentially can be lacking in complimentary esters and phenolics.  

In order to assure that you’re brewing with the correct cell count of healthy yeast, a starter is often key.  A lot of books recommend that you mix up a small batch of wort for a starter a day or two before brewing.  I did this for a long time, but the inconvenience eventually got the best of me and I’ve since moved on to canning wort so that I’ll have it on hand at all times.  One of the great things about doing this is that once they’re canned, they can be stored at room temp for an indefinite period of time.

Typically when I make a up a batch, I’ll brew up about 8.5 gallons and fill various sized mason jars (24 quart, 12 pint, and 12 half pint).

Here’s the process that I use:
  1. Determine the total volume of wort needed to fill all of your canning jars.
  2. Using the lightest extract available, mix up an unhopped extract batch of 1.025 - 1.035 wort, add yeast nutrient, and boil for 10-15 minutes to create whatever minimal hotbreak might occur. 
  3. Chill down to room-temp.
  4. Fill up each of your jars, leaving any break material behind.
  5. Run jars through your pressure cooker for about 15 minutes at 15psi. It’s amazing how the wort darkens and becomes so clear after this step.
  6. Allow to cool, and then store at room temp in a dark place.
In theory, you could just mix up your batch of wort and fill the jars without running the liquid through the boil/chill process first.  The pressure cooker will sterilize everything, but I’ve found that you’ll be left with a lot more hot break in your canning jars.  Regardless of your method, nothing beats being able to create a starter in a few minutes, or add to an existing one, using the stockpile of canned wort that’s now always on hand.

Right: Pre-Pressure Cooker.  Left: Post-Pressure Cooker

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summertime Gose

As a home brewer, people are naturally interested in what you’re making.  It’s always fun to share your beer, but one of my favorite things about the hobby is introducing people to flavors in beer that they never knew existed or even could exist.  Since my brewery is located off of a well-traveled alley, I constantly get people stopping by to ask questions and sample some of my beer.  It’s a lot of fun…not only because I get to meet people and talk beer, but it’s a great feedback loop to have while being able to introduce folks to random styles of beer.

For the warm months of summer (the few that we actually get here in Seattle), I wanted to have something that would be refreshing, yet unique, on tap.  Since Goses are rarely seen, except by those that seek them out, I thought it would fit the bill nicely with its lemon tartness and orange flavored nuttiness from the coriander.  Add in a little salt to the mix and you’ve got a brew that is sure to turn a few heads.

For my first batch of Gose, I decided that I wanted to stay fairly traditional.  I kept the grain bill pretty simple and standard by using about 60% wheat malt and just a touch of Munich to add a little depth to the malt profile.  In addition to the sea salt and Indian coriander, which I lightly toasted in a pan and pulsed with a coffee grinder prior to adding, I threw in a few black cardamom seeds for that sort of smoky, mintiness that I feel they sometimes give off.   Hopefully it’ll intrigue and not disappoint.

Traditional Gose

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal):  6.5
Total Grain (Lbs):  9.25
Anticipated OG:  1.046
Anticipated SRM:  3.3
Anticipated IBU:  6.2
Wort Boil Time:  90
Anticipated ABV:  4.8%

59.5% - 5.5 Lbs Wheat Malt
32.4% - 3.0 Lbs Pilsner
8.1% - ¾ Lb Munich

20 grams Libery (Pellets, 3.0% AA) @ Mash Hop
15 grams Indian Coriander seeds (toasted and pulsed) @ 10 minutes
24 grams Sea Salt @ 10 Minutes
10 Black Cardamom seeds @ 10 minutes

WLP Lactobascillus (400ml starter)
Wyeast 1007 German ale (750ml starter)

Water Profile and Additions
Charcoal filtered Seattle water
Mash Additions: 1 gram/gallon Calcium Chloride
Boil Additions:  2.5 grams Calcium Chloride, 2.1 grams Epsom salt

Mash Schedule
Doughed in @ 139°
Immediately raised temp to 149° via HERMS, rested there for 90 minutes
15 minutes @ 168°
Sparged with 170° H20

5/2/11 – Added WLP Lactobascillus to 400ml of starter wort and left at ambient temp (68°).

Brewed on 5/7/2011 solo

Doughed in at 146° and mash stabilized at 139°.  Immediately raised the HERMs control to 149°, which took about 6 minutes for entire mash to reach.  Left for 90 minutes before raising HERMS for mash out.

Collected 5.5 gallons of 1.054 wort.  Topped kettle to 8.15 gallons so that after the boil I’d end up with 6.5 gallons of 1.046 wort.

Boiled for 90 minutes with spice additions at 10.

Chilled down to 120° and let rest covered for 45 minutes.  Temp dropped to 112° after which I racked the clear wort into a carboy and then pitched in the lacto culture.  Moved into the fermentation chamber with temp set to 110°.

5/9/2011 – Dropped temp dial down to 68°.  Created a 750ml starter for the German Ale strain.

5/10/2011 – Carboy down to 68°, so I pitched in the German Ale yeast.

6/7/2011 – Transferred into a C02 flushed keg since I needed the carboy space.  Keg was moved up into my office which was about 70° and left unpressurized.

11/11/11 - 1st Review/Tasting
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