Hey, brew day with Jay


The Berliner Dunkelhop received a big dose of Calypso hole cone hops as it was packaged into a firkin. To add some tartness, a fresh-squeezed lemonade priming solution was added at this time as well.  With our lone conical empty, it was time to brew again!

j grain

This time, Brewmaster Jay would be involved. This would be our second collaboration brew, after the Doppel Dubbel.

Brewing with two people makes the process infinitely easier, especially if you work well together. It also gives you a fresh perspective on your process.  Needless to say, this was the most enjoyable brew session yet.

Jay is the master masher. The brew-house efficiency makes a huge leap forward with his help.  A combination of doughing-in, extra sparge water, and raking during the sparge gives us an efficiency of 86%. This means that we are extracting 86% of the potential sugar from the grains.

My previous life as a home-brew shop employee made me aware of those “efficiency” people. I couldn’t be paid to sit through another grizzled home-brewer’s 20-year quest to achieve perfect efficiency. Certainly, it is a critical issue for commercial brewers. However, if you are doing food coloring tests on a corn cob mash (and your name isn’t Palmer), you may have a problem.

j grain 2

The mash was a mix of two pale malts, German dunkel wheat malt, and a little bit of of our favorite crystal. Wheat made up 25% of the grain bill, enough to give it a heft wheat character without creating other problems.

Anytime an adjunct mash is created, extra attention must be paid to ensure a good lauter. Let me explain: Barley is a husked grain. When the barley is milled (crushed), the succulent endosperm is opened up to the mashing process, along with a bit of husk. This husk is very important in creating a filter bed in the mash tun. Malted wheat is a husk-less grain, and so the more wheat that is used, the more problems a brewer can encounter, including the most vile of all brewing villains: the stuck sparge.

A stuck sparge is usually the result of two problems: grain bed compaction, or if the mash temperature drops and your grist turns to gelatin (or cement). Rye is notorious for stuck sparges, and is responsible for a few mad brewers, although this could be the ergot. For rye, wheat, rice, or other husk-less grains, a simple remedy is available: rice hulls.

You may be familiar with rice hulls as the dominant flavor of your Lite Beer, but they are also used to great success improving lauter efficiency in the mash tun.

spoony mash

Hopbursting, a concentration of flavor hops toward the end of the boil, was used to create a hoppy flavor profile.

Perhaps you have heard of the three Cs? The three Cs are three of the most popular American hops: Cascade & Centennial are the most widely known. Cascade is America’s most famous hop, and rightfully so. It has notes of pungent grapefruit and citrus. Centennial is often described as a super-charged Cascade, but I notice a brighter citrus character and less grapefruit.

Columbus, the final C, is a high alpha acid hop with an earthy and herbal flavor. Columbus made it’s debut at the Papa Louie’s brew-house, hopefully instilling its herbaceous flavor, and big bitter bite.

After the boil is finished, we KO’d our beer with whole cone Calypso hops, hopefully instilling an apple-pear aroma. As the beer was chilled and transferred into the tax vessel, we realized how much fun this is.

Pale Red IPA is fermenting away, with an OG of 1.062 and 55 IBUs.


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