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

Experimental batch(es): amber with kölsch yeast

My dad came over last Saturday to brew an amber ale with me for an upcoming NBA club meeting (we’re all brewing off the same recipe with different yeast strains to taste the effects certain yeast strains have on beer). Though it was good to hang out with him, man was it ever a disaster of a brew day. Why? I think I can break it down to one crucial error: I sparged too quickly. Yes, I’m aware of how gross that sounds. Har har.

Cat pee.

In an effort to shave time off my brew day, I sparged in about 10 min. and while I’ve heard a fast sparge like that can work ok for some, clearly for me it does not. Prior to last weekend, I don’t think I’d ever sparged in under 45 minuets. It was a ballsy move, and I rightfully got kicked in the balls for doing it. My OG post-boil was 1.020 or something horrendously low like that. Without much time to think, I pitched directly onto the Frosty Dog kölsch yeast cake. While fermentation took off right away, it was pretty much done by Sunday morning. Took a sample for a gravity reading. It tasted like cat pee. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more mad at myself after a brew day.

In the spirit of not being defeated, I went back to Midwest that morning and got supplies for a re-do. This time, I planned to sparge for close to an hour. And juuuuuuust to make sure I got my gravity up, I upped the 10 lb. recipe to 14 lbs. while keeping the ratio of pale vs. amber the exact same, percentage-wise (which is like 8.4 lbs. pale, 5.6 lbs. amber) . I upped my 60″ and 30″ hop additions from .25 oz. to .5 oz. to help balance out the increased gravity. My OG came in right around 1.055 (but that’s with 14 lbs. of grain — man my efficiency fukcing sucks…). I just syphoned the cat pee off the kölsch yeast cake (which was pretty big and healthy at that point after having done what essentially amounted to 5 gal. yeast starter with it Saturday) and sent that cat pee straight down the drain. That was a first.

Dropped the amber batch version 2.0 on the obese yeast cake and it went bezerk in under two hours. Go obese yeast!

Here’s the recipe:

Base: 8.4 lbs. Pale Ale Malt (Briess), 5.6 lbs. Amber malt (Crisp
Specialty: none
Hops: .5 oz. Columbus (60″), .5 oz. German Magnum (30″), 1 oz. Glacier (5″)
Yeast: White Labs WLP029 German Ale/ Kölsch, 3rd generation
1 tsp Irish moss (15″) and 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient (10″)


50 min. sparge with maybe 6 gal. at 170*
Pre-boil = 6.2 gal., 9 brix/1.036
Post-boil = 5 gal., 13.5 brix/1.055

Dad with the last Snaggletooth IPA that we brewed on 4/10/10

My favorite part of the whole weekend was probably tasting the last bottle of Snaggletooth IPA that my Dad and I brewed together 364 days prior. For being the second batch I had ever brewed, and for being an extract batch, it tasted really good! It had clarified quite well over the past year and all the hop aroma and flavor appeared to have remained, while maybe loosing a little bitterness. Before trying this beer, I was worried about how long my homebrew could hold up, especially when it’s relatively light in alcohol. This 4.7 % beer did just fine, so I’ll now feel much better about letting this stuff hang around for a year or so.


4 responses

  1. Pingback: A productive spring « Barking Dog Beer

  2. Pingback: 2011 State Fair Homebrew Competition « Barking Dog Beer

  3. Pingback: Byggvir’s Big Beer Cup homebrew competition « Barking Dog Beer

  4. Pingback: Wet Dog Pale Ale « Barking Dog Beer

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