Beer Quotes & Wisdom

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it

helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear

weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -- Frank Zappa

Monday, February 7, 2011

Adventures in Lager Brewing

The lager season is once again in full swing at the Tin Whisker brewhouse.  The yeast starter that will become Susie's experimental flavored beers did its job and created a nice batch of yeast for the first "real" lager of the year, Dr. Pavlov's Salivator.
This year the 3gal. American Light starter is being divided into 4 - 3qt mini-batches to be dosed with flavorings to make them interesting.
As in last year's experiment, one will have olive juice added.  Another will have lime juice, and this year the zest of 1 lime.  New for this year is dill pickle and a jalapeño spiced beer.
I made some mini-fermentors from the suggestion of Cary at the Tinman's brewery.  The local GFS has 6 & 8qt, food grade plastic buckets that have very tight sealing lids.  Just drill a hole & insert a gasket for the airlock in the lid, and they are perfect for small, experimental batches.

This year's doppelbock was once again an adventure in brewing.  I've learned it is good to be flexible on brewday.  Last year's inaugural attempt went on to win a blue ribbon in the 1st round of the NHC.  It was basically a kit beer from Northern Brewer and this year I decided to convert it to an all grain recipe.
Using Beer Smith to do the conversion for me, I really didn't pay much attention to the numbers that were generated until I started to measure out the grain.
14lbs of Munich, 4lbs Pilsner, 12oz of Vienna & 6oz of Crystal 60 made this the largest grain bill I've ever used.

It basically filled the 10gal mash tun, and I hadn't added the 6gal of water yet.  Fortunately much of that water is absorbed by the grain, but the tun was filled to the top.
It was at this point that I had to get clever.  Using a single infusion mash schedule, the brewsheet said that I had to add another 9.6qts water to raise the temp for mash out.  That was not going to happen!
Since this is a traditional German doppelbock, I decided to go with a traditional brewing technique.  Decoct 9qts from the mash and boil to bring the temp up to 168 degrees.  This however, left me 9.6qts short of total water needed to get the 6.5gal to boil.
Looking at the brewsheet again, it said I only needed 1gal of sparge water (which didn't sound like much of a sparge), so I just added the missing volume of water to the sparge which brought everything up to where it should.
It will be interesting to see how this will fare in the NHC this year.

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