2017-02-26 Brewer’s Journal

26 Feb

A short entry today, I think. I am shifting from the now habitual bumper crop of home brew at the turn over of the year into my regular, steady cadence. The special project beer, my cream ale made with local malt, is waiting bottling. The bulk aged beer, my Burton ale, is conditioning nicely from a bit of a rough start. My last beer is happily bubbling away in the cellar.

Maryland Common

I have brewed my 2nd beer using Dark Cloud’s 6-row. The recipe was the 1st of the two I came up with but involves more specialty malts. I will bottle the cream ale next weekend and arrange to give a bunch of it to the guys in gratitude for giving me their malt and in hope that it can help them lift their business in some small way. I look forward to the day that Danny and Jesse are making their own higher kilned malts broadening the palette of available local malts.

Unlike the cream ale, I missed my gravity target for this beer. I am not sure why unless the ratio of 6-row to corn has something to do with it. The cream ale used 4:1 and this beer was more like 1.5:1. It is the most likely culprit. I didn’t have much dry extract on hand, this beer may end up more of a Maryland mild. I am kind of OK with that. My low gravity beers have been turning out well, thanks to upgrades in my fermentation technique.

I believe I rushed the lauter a bit, compared to the cream ale, another possible factor in the lower yield. The grain bed was submerged more deeply and for longer. I was feeling lazy, I did not control the pump as closely. That may have lowered the amount of extract I was getting during sparge. My next beer is likewise a low gravity recipe, I will be sure to pay more attention to my flow rate through the grain bed and compare notes between the batches. I may pop for an upgrade to my sparge arm between now and then so that the process doesn’t have to be quite as fiddly as it is now.

Otherwise, the flavor of the sweet wort was great. I was pleased with the color though reminded that left to my own devices, I really do pretty much make brown ales all year round, even if the details of each may differ significantly. What comes of being a whisky drinker rather than a gin drinker, I suppose. Regardless of missing my gravity target, my starter was healthy and the wort well made. I was rewarded with a vigorous bubbling this morning. The rest is patience and temperature control, the latter being my most recent focus in improving my skills.

One last lesson from the brew day. My GFI had been a little flaky two sessions back. I was not sure why. It simply cut out on me yesterday, refusing even to reset. I unsafely switched to a surge protector to finish out the day. Thankfully, nothing untoward happened. In looking for a possible replacement, I realized I probably should only use my GFI with my pumps. My kettle’s electric element needs a 30 amp circuit and probably is safe enough without the GFI since there is a dedicated controller with its own fuse. Routinely putting the kettle on the GFI likely wore it out, drawing 2-3 times as much as that little pig tail is rated for. The joys of being an electric brewer.

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