Now that that is out of the way, I would like to deliver a short rant. Normally, I take a “just the facts” approach to Beer and Wine Journal articles. Opinions are fine, everyone has them, but the facts are much more interesting and are actually worth reading. It takes time and energy to uncover facts, and therefore they have value. In contrast, it takes no time to develop an opinion and hence they are worthless . . . but they might have some entertainment value. So, with that in mind, enjoy my rant (or skip it) and I will return to explaining the nuts and bolts of brewing beer in my next post.
Archives for June 2014
This is the seventh article in this series on Russian imperial stouts.
Whenever you brew a big beer, there are several options for wort collection. One of them is to only collect the first wort, or the first wort and a limited amount of sparged wort. That way, you have high-gravity wort that does not need to be boiled for an extended period to hit your target OG and volume. In order to utilize this method of wort production, however, you must add more grain to your mash tun to compensate for the loss in extract efficiency.
Many times, there are enough sugars left over in the grain bed that you can brew a second beer. Brewing a second beer from a Russian imperial stout grist poses two types of challenges – the usual challenges associated with brewing a second beer, and those challenges specific to brewing a second beer from a partially-spent Russian imperial stout grist.
I was sidelined from brewing earlier this year, due to an injury. Now I’ve recovered, and it’s time to get back in the saddle again. I’ve got a couple brewing sessions planned in the coming days, but first I wanted to clear some fermenter space. And so I bottled my porter, a cherry mead, and a berry wine.
The porter was my usual Colby House Porter. It was a 3.0-gallon (11-L) batch, so I decided to put it in 22-ounce (650 mL) bottles rather than kegging it. From a preliminary sample, I wasn’t sure if it was as hoppy as I like it. I also wondered if it turned out too dry this time around. Then again, the sample was warm and flat and I’ve learned not to start dissecting a beer until it’s carbonated and conditioned. I’ll let it bottle condition for a couple weeks before cracking one open.
Instead of the usual listicle to kick things off, here’s an interesting map from the Washington Post — the relative proportion of bars vs. grocery stores across the US.
Gassy, Visible in the Night Sky, and Yet to Be Probed by Man
Bell’s Brewery is about to debut a series of beers based on Gustov Holst’s orchestral suite “The Planets”. Get ready for the Uranus jokes.
On Wednesday, I posted a method describing how to make 15 gallons (57 L) of beer (relatively) quickly, with a basic a 5.0-gallon (19-L) brewing setup. The idea was that you could make 15 gallons (57 L) of beer — something that would normally take three brew days at the 5.0-gallon (19-L) scale — in two brew days. If you were brewing for a party, but your brewing equipment was limited to the 5.0-gallon (19-L) ballpark, this could be just the thing.
When 2014 rolled around, I made big plans to brew a bunch. Then . . . a whole bunch of crap happened. The crappiest bit was injuring my elbows such that I lost sensation in, and the ability to move, some of my fingers. (Yes, those fingers. The ones I was going to use for brewing.!) Luckily, if you you wear an uncomfortable brace every night and are diligent about doing some exercises that make you look like an idiot every day, nerves can heal and suddenly you’re healthy again — and chomping at the bit to brew.
The other thing I have been doing is losing weight. For general health reasons, I decided I needed to drop some weight and I’ve lost about 25 lbs. (11 kg) since February. And now I’ve decided to get back into running — which brings me to today’s recipe. I’ve always thought it would be great to brew an “exercise recovery beer,” a beer to replenish some water and electrolytes after a workout. After some thought — and taste trials of mixing things into finished beer — I’ve hit on this recipe.
This is the sixth article in this series on Russian imperial stouts.
Once you have produced your sweet wort, it’s time for the boil. Depending on the volume of wort you have collected, you may have a “regular-length” or extended boil ahead of you. There are a couple considerations that will apply when boiling any Russian imperial stout wort.
A Russian imperial stout is a big, hoppy beer. As such, there will be a lot of hop debris mixed in with the trub after the boil. You can lose a lot of high-gravity wort to this hop/trub mixture, so you will want to separate as much usable wort from it as possible.
If you have a hop jack, this is a great beer to use it with. Just move the aroma hops you would have added at knockout to the hop jack and use it to strain the hot wort on the way to your chiller. An in-kettle hop strainer or a funnel with a straining screen can also help filter the wort as it is being moved from the kettle to fermenter.
If you don’t have a hop jack, or other means of straining the wort, you could let the chilled wort settle after the boil for an extended amount of time — up to two hours. This will give the hop debris and trub some time to compact. After it has settled, you can draw the clear wort off the top. Additionally, you can save the remaining wort/trub/hop debris sludge in sanitized Mason jars in your fridge overnight. This will allow for additional settling time and allow you to recover a little extra usable wort.
If you have a 5.0-gallon (19-L) brewery, but want to generate 15 gallons (57 L) of beer quickly — perhaps for a party — here’s one way to do it. Normally, this would require three separate brew days. However, with the method I described here, you can do it in two brew days — and only have to make one yeast starter.
The drawbacks are that the two brew days need to be back to back, all 15 gallons (57 L) will be of the same kind of beer, and the beer can’t be over 13 °Plato (OG 1.052). Also, you will want to consume the beer fairly quickly (within a couple months), as it will go stale faster than normal homebrew. This method is best for generating 15 gallons (57 L) of beer for a party.