March 14, 2013

Disaster? Maybe. Beer? Definitely.

Last entry I said I’d walk us through the process with high def pics of me doing my thing. Since it was a disaster, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll drop some wisdom.

I don’t know my equipment as well as I should. It’s the only way to succeed in brewing. That’s where the rubber of theory meets the road of reality. I don’t read manuals or go through tutorials, I prefer to flail around until I learn to swim. Consequently, I just learned that even if I had my bearings, which I’m nowhere close to having, I’d still be lost. Some of you might read that and say, “Shit, he’s bad at this, why am I reading this again? I don’t even homebrew.” To which I’d reply, I am kind of bad at this. So there.

I took notes! Like a good lab coat wearing Ph.D. I took notes, damn it. It’s as tedious as I remember it being in school, it didn’t pay off then or now. Those notes should point the way to how efficient my setup is. But they’re all over the place. I figured I’d keep at it, document everything, and slowly zero in on my efficiency. No dice. The issue is either the mashtun or the home brew shop that grinds my malt. I’m pretty sure it’s the tun, but if it’s the grain mill at the shop, I’m going to lose my shit in public an dmake an ass of myself. Serves ‘em right. But it’s the cooler, gotta be.

It’s pretty ingenious to use a cooler, but it really wasn’t made to hold hot gruel in it for hours. I’ve had misgivings about mine from the start since it’s designated “Marine” series. There’s nothing about my garage/driveway that resembles a marine environment. Must be the color, all white to fit in on the yacht. I knew my tun lost a good bit of heat, thanks to the notes, so I decided I’d use two thermometers to see what’s going on in there. I must be damned. Instead of one iffy temp reading, now I’ve got two. The floating milk thermometer reads low. Big Daddy (brand name), the metal dial thermometer, reads low if it changes at all. This wasn’t in any of the books. The fuck am I supposed to do with that?

Keep brewing, no point in not making beer, right?

This is going to be a saison, which is my favorite style of beer to drink and brew. I get the most positive feedback on them, so when I was asked to brew something for a party, this was my go-to. I’m sure I’ll love it, I hope the guests love it. Full disclosure, I get leftovers.

One of the secrets to my rendition of success is that I only use yeast I can manage. Different strains have different optimal temperature ranges they like to ferment at. I opt for a set-it and forget it method, finding a cool or warm enough spot to leave the bucket and walk away for a while. Saisons ferment with yeast that like their wort 70F and up, which is my habitat too, one reason I make them frequently. Honestly, it’s all the yeast. I just need to be good enough to pull this off. This is going to be a 9 gallon batch, 5 gallons for the party and 4 for the FermeLab private reserve, my liver.

My notes, the software, it all points to the 70’s. So I am high at 70%. And this day, you know what it was? 54%. Instead of 9 gallons of 5.6% beer I’m getting 5 gallons of 7.5% beer. And it took 2 extra hours, and nearly double the cost. Son of a bitch. Shit happens I guess, cause it just did so, shit.

I’ll have a review of the finished product posted in about a month. Stay tuned.

Keep scrolling for the specifics.

Rye Saison

Grain Bill

15.4 lbs. Belgian Pilsner Malt

1.4 lbs. Rye Malt

1 lb. Flaked Rye

4 oz Melanoidin Malt

Hop Schedule

.25 oz. Sorachi Ace First Wort Hop (in while transferring from mashtun to keggle)

.25 oz. Amarillo Gold FWH

1.00 oz. Sorachi Ace 5 min from end.

1.00 oz. Amarillo Gold 5 min.

Whirfloc Tablet 5 min. (basically seaweed, which is positively charged and helps clear the beer because of the science)

Ferment with Wyeast 3711 French Saison (furious little fuckers, a beginner's dream really, they'll ferment your pets if you let them.)