Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Polecat Porter Revisited

It’s been said that one of the marks of a good brewer is repeatability.  As long as you have some basic processes down, it’s possible to get lucky now and again and produce a fantastic beer.  To be able to make that exact same beer a second time though, one that’s not just close but a mirror image, well, that’s a different story.  Back in August of 2011, I attempted this by re-brewing my Polecat Porter for the first time and even though I followed my recipe and processes to a tee, the end beer was a far cry from the original.  It lacked body, color, malt complexity and just ended up being an overall disheartening experience.    

Looking over my recipe and notes, it was hard to tell exactly where things went wrong.  The mash was identical, I hit all of the same numbers, and the fermentation proceeded in the same manner.  The only place where there was any room for differentiation was in the grist itself.  Even though I used the same recipe, I never recorded which maltsters supplied my grain and with chocolate grain as an example, SRMs can vary from 300 to 650 depending on which variety you select. 

With NHC being a huge focus of mine for the last year or so, my brew schedule was pretty tight and I wasn’t planning on re-brewing my Polecat for the event.  However, since my homebrew club (The Homebrewers Guild of Seattle Proper) picked up a second Hospitality Suite shift, we decided to re-brew and showcase all of our previous Pro-Am winning beers during the Thursday night shift.   Only being two months out, I was low on time for a Baltic porter since I normally would lager it for at least 3 months, but I selected the maltsters with the most appropriate grains (based on what was lacking in my original re-brew) and set to brewing.

As expected, the beer is and will be a little green on Thursday, June 21st, but it’s significantly closer to my Pro-Am version than my first re-brew.  If you’re coming out to NHC, come by the Hospitality Suite after Pro Night on Thursday, give it a sample, and let me know what you think.  I also managed to salvaged my first re-brew by eising it and I’ll be serving that at our booth on Club Night as well.  Try ‘em both and see what you think.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 19.88
Anticipated OG: 1.087
Anticipated SRM: 32.8
Anticipated IBUs:   37.2
Wort Boil Time:  90
Final Gravity: 1.021
ABV: 8.8%

57.4% - 11.5 lbs Munich Malt (Weyermann)
33.7% - 6.75 lbs Pilsner (Weyermann)
2.5% - ½ lb Special B (Castle)
1.9% - 6 oz. Carafa 3 (Weyermann)
1.2% - ¼ lb CaraMunich 3 (Weyermann)
1.2% - ¼ lb Chocolate Malt (Crisp)
1.2% - ¼ lb Crystal 80 (Breiss)
0.9% - 3 oz. Molasses (Grandma's)

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

Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager (2nd Generation, from Chocolate Rye Lager)

Water Profile and Additions
Charcoal filtered Seattle Water
Mash:  0.5 g/g Calcium Chloride, 1.5 g/g Baking Soda
HLT: 0.1 ml/g phosphoric acid
Boil Additions: 1 g/g Calcium Chloride, 0.35 g/g Epsom Salt   

Mash Schedule
60 minute rest at 151°
15 minute mash out rest at 168°
Sparged with 170° water
4/5/2012 – Racked Chocolate Rye Lager off of the yeast and washed.  Placed in fridge.

4/8/2012 – Brewed solo.

Doughed in at 157° and mash settled at 151.5°.  Mixed mash every 20 minutes for a total of 60 minutes before raising temp to 168°.  Sparged with 170° water for a long time, collected 7 gallons of 1.078 wort, and topped off to 8 gallons.

Boiled for 90 minutes.  All hop additions were placed in their own hop sacks with plenty of room inside, but I pushed the sacks down and around every 15 minutes or so with a long spoon.  Molasses went in at 30 minutes.  Ended with 6.3 gallons of 1.087 wort.

Chilled down to below 60° and then moved entire kettle to fridge with temp set to 40°.  In the morning, I racked over 5.5 gallons of clear wort and oxygenated for 60 seconds.  Since the yeast slurry was kept in the same fridge, I decanted any liquid on top, added some of the Polecat wort, swirled around to thin it, and then pitched it in to the carboy.  Temp set to 50°.

5/1/2012 – Raised temp to 59°.

5/3/2012 – Gravity down to 1.023.  Slowly started lower temp to 35 over the course of the next 7 days.

5/13/2012 – Transferred to a keg for lagering (34°).  Gravity down to 1.021.

6/7/2012 – Racked over to new keg and carbonated.

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