With Papa Louis sitting across from me at my restaurant drinking the beer I named after him, I can say that one of my major goals has been achieved. I had a very nice visit with Louis, Anna Mae, Donna, and my father. I think I had built up this special moment in my head, but relaxing with family is one of life’s real joys.
The Papa Louie’s we were drinking was a light Scottish 60 /. A bit undercarbonated and very green, it needs at least another week of aging. A slightly orange hue with gentle carbonation, aromas of toast and biscuits, and a subtle malty/grainy flavor are the trademarks of this beer.
Naturally, I want to do something completely different. So Test Batch #2 has more than twice the grain, three times the hops, and a big dose of flavor. These are Sterling hops, an American hybrid blend of Mount Hood and Saaz. I was introduced to them by Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. Mount Hood hops are an aromatic hop with a mellow flavor, useful for lagers. Saaz is the king of the hops, picked by college coeds in the fields of the Czech Republic. They have a spicy quality and epitomize the “noble” hop character. I believe that hops grown in America offer me more freshness than those shipped overseas. I believe this about a lot of things, ever since I drank Boulevard Wheat at the Boulevard Brewery. It was so, so fresh.
Test Batch #1 was more about the process and thus was scant on measurement. This time, everything needed to be recorded. Also, now I have a scale!
After mixing the malt with the hot liquor, I waited 90 minutes at a relatively higher temperature. This will give our beer more body, a creamy mouth-feel. The fancy insulated mash tun? Well, there was an improvement, but I still needed to recirculate the sweet liquor. Next time, preheat the mash tun!
During the sparge, we are lautering the sweet liquor from the mash tun into the boil kettle. As the kettle slowly fills up, we introduce some hops. This is called First Wort Hopping, a technique that mellows bitterness and adds hop aroma.
As the beer boils, I basically go into frantic cleaning mode. However, it’s fun to poke your head over the kettle and watch the magic happen. After a big dose of aroma hops at the end of the boil, I send the wort through my plate chiller and into the tax vessel. The first runnings are a bit hot at 80 degrees, so I pull back the throttle and watch in amazement as it is chilled down to 40 degrees! After this, I fill my conical fermenter, pitch the yeast, then drink the beer. Oh wait, I need to wait a bit for that.