Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brown Ale 1.0 v 2.0

Brown Ale:
  • 12 lbs Pale Ale 2-row (all malts US/American)
  • 1 lb Crystal 40L
  • .5 lb Chocolate
  • .5 lb Wheat
  • 2 oz Fuggle 4% (60 min)
  • 1 oz Fuggle (15 min)
  • US-05

I brewed the 1.0 version of this beer about 3 weeks ago and had many problems. The first problem I had was with the crush. I've been having troubles with my 'maltmill' not working properly and in my efforts to get it working again I didn't realize that the gap was set too wide. I ended up getting something like 50% efficiency, so my beer that was supposed to have a starting gravity of about 1.075 ended up with about 1.044. With a F.G of 1.013 this gives my beer about 4% A.B.V. I'm glad this happened on what was to be a strong ale, otherwise I would have ended up with very light beer.

The second problem I had was that I forgot to turn the water on when I ran the wort through the CFC! I had to wait almost two days before I could pitch the yeast. After I came home from work the day after brewing It was still to hot to pitch. I was then able to put some ice packs in the fermentation cooler and the next night when I came home I was able to pitch. The beer is on tap in my keggerator now and there are no off flavors to speak of.

I played around with the 'maltmill' again and set the gap nice and close (somewhere arount .039) and brewed the exact same recipe again. This time I came out with a S.G of about 1.055 - 1.058. Still not great, but better.

In the process of working on my 'maltmill', which I bought used with a lot of other brewing supplies,I found that the mill I have is one of the earliest models and is about 15 years old. I'm still having problems with it and decided after this last brew to go ahead and purchase a new Barley Crusher mill (it's on it's way now). Hopefully with the new mill I can stop worrying about the crush and spend more time improving my efficiency.

It will be interesting to have both versions on tap to compare side by side with the only difference being the efficiency of the crush.

I also realized that the software that I have been using to calculate how much water to add to the mash/sparge is not giving me the results I should be getting. It's a program that I wrote but I think I must have changed the default settings for the amount of water per pound of grain and the absorption rate. I have been ending the boil with more wort than I can use, so either my absorption setting is wrong, or my boil off rate is wrong. I'm hoping that with the new mill I can focus on getting the right amount of wort at the end of the boil.

So far I've been lucky that no matter what problems I've had during the brewing process, my end result has always been very good and drinkable beers, even it the finished product is not exactly what I set out to brew.