Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

In the name of doG

Had a nice little brew session this past Presidents’ Day. Great use of a day off work especially because Minneapolis got hit with a big snow storm (13 inches) the day before. Fortunately I’d purchased all my supplies to get my yeast starter going the day before the storm.

Boil additions, in order

Holed-up in the house and brewing on my day off? Sounds good to me.  I did a Belgian honey ale, calling it “In the Name of doG” as a play on the common religious phrase and the fact that many strong Belgian beers like this one are often brewed by monks.

After discussing sparging methods with another brewer at the recent Nordeast Homebrewers Alliance meeting I attended, I decided to move things along a bit quicker during this brew day, so I only fly-sparged for about an hour as opposed to 2+ hr. sparges I’d done on previous all-grain brew days. I also researched a little during the boil on how to calculate efficiency in sugar extraction, and… bah, that’s too complicated for me to care about yet.

Here’s the recipe:

Base: 7lbs Rahr domestic 2 row, 4 lbs. wheat malt
Specialty: 8 oz. Cara II (was supposed to be Caravienne but Midwest was out of that malt), 8 oz. Carapils
Hops: 1 oz. Liberty (60″), 1 oz. Liberty (50″), 1 oz. Styrian Goldings (2″)
Adjuncts: 1 lb. Clover honey (25″), 2 or 3 cups light DME (20″), 1 lb. Clover honey (10″), 1-2 tsp Wyeast yeast nutrient (8″), 1 lb. Belgian Candi sugar (8″), .5 oz bitter orange (5″), .5 oz. coriander (5″), 1-2 tsp Wyeast yeast nutrient (8″)
Yeast: White Labs Belgian Ale WLP550 (2000 ml yeast starter with 1 cup light DME  at 1.038, 36 hrs. prior to pitch)

Pre-boil SG = 10 brix or 1.040…  uh, whoa! Whoops, way too low. I probably sparged too quickly. I started the boil with maybe 8+ gal., which was a little much. I need to either try a true batch sparge or keep with my extended fly sparging routine next time. No more hybrid methods.

In attempt to make up for the low SG, I added almost another pound of honey and a few cups of whatever light DME I had left into the boil in attempt to pump up the SG. Also I let the boil go maybe 70-75 min. to increase the sugar ratio. It worked. I ended up post boil with an SG of roughly 18 brix or 1.074-1.070, which is just a little under where I was supposed to be for this recipe.

I started this brew day at 7:00am and was able to pitch the starter at 1:25pm. I decanted 1000 ml of wort off the top of the 2000 ml yeast starter prior to pitch. Fermentation was vigorous at roughly 6:15pm that evening, just under five hours post-pitch. Lucky I followed my new policy of always attaching blow-off tubing. No mess this time!

I read up a bit on this yeast strain here on White Lab’s site. It looks like the strain imparts much more of a “Belgian” characteristic at higher temps, so I’ve been fermenting this batch at mid- to upper-70’s all this past week. Fermentation has slowed a bit from necessitating blow-off tubing, so I have the airlock on now. It’s still chugging away as of Sunday, though getting slower probably as a result of the intense fermentation it experienced for the first two or three days after pitch.

This will be the 2nd strongest beer I’ve made, and I underpitched the last strong batch. I’m excited to see how this strong brew turns out, as I know so much more about brewing than I did just last summer. If this batch truly started at 1.074 and if it then finishes on the high range (1.018-1.014) at 1.018 it will come out to be 7.8% ABV.

Taken 6 hrs. after pitch.


7 responses

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