An ambitious attempt for a third beer

Yo! This wasn’t meant to be the next post, but Anni has been a bit busy lately and I brewed (with some friends) this last weekend. So this post will be about the beer we brewed and the lessons learned.

If you know me personally, and more specifically, if you know my personal beer tastes, you’ll know that I’m particularly fond of Imperial IPA’s. Given spring and summer are getting close and we have some beer plans we need to work on in the coming months I figured it was a good time to make an attempt at one of my favourite styles of beer.

The recipe used was the Hannah’s Ambrosia IIPA obtained from the Homebrewing for Dummies book. I changed some hops and malts due to availability and scaled it down a bit since we don’t have big enough equipment to brew a full 19L batch. The following recipe was obtained by the BrewMate software and scaled down to 15L.

Grain

  • 5.36 kg Maris Otter malt
  • 716 gr Pale malt
  • 178 gr Melanoidin malt (Replacement for DMC Aromatic malt)
  • 178 gr Amber malt (Replacement for DMC Biscuit malt)
  • 178 gr Carapils malt
  • 178 gr Wheat malt

Hops

  • 89 gr (reduced to 80 due to Alpha acids) Centennial for 60 min
  • 44 gr Cascade for 10 min
  • 44 gr Centennial for 10 min
  • 44 gr Willamette for 10 min
  • 22 gr Mount Hood for 10 min (Replacement for homegrown Cascade/Liberty  blend)

Dry hopping

  • 22 gr Centennial (time not specified, but will be 10 days)
  • 22 gr Willamette (time not specified, but will be 10 days)

Yeast

  • WLP002 English Ale

Mashing

The recipe specifies a 45 min mash at 68°C but I did it for 60 min, the strike water was a bit too hot when the mash started, so I decided to leave it a bit longer.

Boiling

60 min, normal boil. 15 min hot break boil before adding first hops.

Unusual/special ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon of rehydrated irish moss as a clarifier

Fermenting

  • 7 days in primary
  • 16 days in secondary

That’s it for the recipe… as you can see the amount of grain used was huge, around 7 kg, the hops were also quite “abundant”… more than 200 gr for a 15L batch is a bit overboard; but I’m a hophead so I’m not so worried.

One particular issue with this beer was the aimed OG of between 1.09 and 1.1 (≈9.x ABV), which is considerably high. This “forced” me unto a new project, namely, a stir plate. I’ll make a post on the subject later, but suffice to say for the moment that it’s a device that allows you to double or triple the amount of yeast cells produced by a yeast starter. The starter was maintained for 48hrs before being put in the fridge for decanting on brewing day. Palmer and Nachel suggest that yeast starters be made for any beer over 1.045-1.050 OG. It allows the yeast to not be overwhelmed by the amount of sugars and enables the yeast to finish fermentation.But yeah… this is a subject on its own which we will address later…

Lessons learned

Ok… I have to admit this was an ambitious beer for a 3rd full grain batch… but it was also a very educational attempt. Just the amount of grain brings up new challenges. Some of the problems and lessons are listed below:

  • The strike water volume has to be carefully chosen so that it fits in the pot for example, likewise, the sparge water might be less than the amount used in normal mashing
  • Sparging should also be done slower and left longer to drip, the grain can hold huge amounts of wort, so if you’re too impatient you’ll waste a considerable amount of wort
  • Huge amounts of grain produce huge amounts of grub so you might want to consider filtering
  • Huge amount of hops merit the usage of hop bags, if not you’ll end up wasting a couple of liters of wort (unless you have a proper false bottom or filtering system)
  • High gravity beers might require 2-3 step yeast starters, plan well and use a starter calculator if necessary

Those are the lessons I learned this time. The cost of these lessons?

  • Shitty mash efficiency (OG of 1.072-1.076)
  • Barely 15L of beer in the fermenter with about 2-3L of grub

As I said previously, this was an ambitious beer for the 3rd try, but I don’t regret trying it, it taught me big lessons in one day.

Special thanks to Ville H., Ville A. and Antti P. for dropping by and helping/keeping me company.

l8rs!

/R

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4 thoughts on “An ambitious attempt for a third beer

  1. Awesome job! Push yourself to learn the limits of your equipment. One thing you might consider if sparging becomes a problem is to brew two beers, one with the first runoff and a smaller beer with the sparge runoff. You have to start with more material to make up for the loss in efficiency but something to consider in the future…plus you end up with two beer with the same grain bill but wildly different feels.

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