YES! It's been less than three weeks since I last brewed! One of my ongoing goals is to brew more often. (You can't improve if you don't practice -- am I right?!) So here we are.
Given how unsure I was (am?) about my last batch, a Triple, I felt the need to invest more time reading up on various types of malt, especially what grains are available for steeping. John Palmer's How to Brew and the Northern Brewer website were good resources. In the end, I wanted to find a straightforward ale. I landed on the Osmosis Amoebas German Alt in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, p. 199.
My parents recently mentioned hosting a German heritage dinner with some relatives in the coming months, so an alt bier would be perfect. I hope it's good enough to share. Moreover, the recipe seemed especially fortuitous as my music choice turned out to be drummer extraordinaire Bill Cobham's "Spectrum." The final track: "Snoopy's Search/Red Baron." Perfect. We have a name.
|Adding wort to carboy|
- 3.240 kg (~7.5 lb) Amber Malt Extract Syrup
- ~⅜ Chocolate malt (Briess) (~350L)
- ~⅛ Black malt (Briess) (~500L)
- 1 oz German Northern Brewer (boiling) [A: 9.6%, B: 5.5%]
- ~½ oz German Perle (boiling) [A: 7.8%, B: 4.0%]
- Wyeast 1007 German Ale
- 1¼ c Light Dried Malt Extract (for bottling)
Add crushed chocolate and black malts to 2 gal cold water and steep at 150-160 'F for 30 min. Strain. Add Amber MES and hops and boil for 60 min. Strain. Add two gal cold water to fermentor. Chill wort to 180 'F and add to fermentor. Top off fermentor with cold water to 5 gal. Pitch yeast at 65 'F. Ferment at 60-70 'F. After primary fermentation is complete, siphon into secondary fermenter. Age two weeks at 55-60 'F. Bottle.
Pitched yeast 3+ hrs after activation. Placed yeast packet in warm water to speed activation.
|Krausen pushing out the tube.|
The overall brewing experience was almost zen-like. Almost. Everything was going smoothly -- I had Billy Cobham playing in the background, and the whole process was speeding along -- until I needed to strain the hops from the wort at the end of the boil. As per usual, this meant that I had to pour the hot wort into two separate containers (I don't have another boiling pot large enough for all the wort.) Once this was done, I brought the wort in the two separate containers back up to a boil one last time to ensure sanitation. However, because one pot is substantially larger than the other, the smaller came to a boil MUCH faster than the other. I took my eyes off it for a second and it boiled over. I managed to catch it pretty fast, so I didn't lose too much of the precious wort. Somehow, though, I didn't turn the heat down enough, and when I took my eyes off it again to tend to the larger pot, the smaller boiled over again. Damnit. In the end, I wound up with a very dirty stove. At least the rest of the transfer went fine.
As mentioned above, I placed the yeast packet in a pot of warm water to fully activate by the time I needed to pitch. It was definitely good and ready. I pitched at a solid 70-75 'F, attached the blow-off tube, covered with a blanket (to limit exposure to light), and left for a few hours. By the time I returned, maybe 7 hours later, the yeast was more active than any I've experienced before. The krausen had traveled the full length of the tube and was coming out the other end (thankfully into the cup of water I submerge that side of the tube in for sanitation purposes.) Thinking that had to be as active as the yeast was going to get, I decided to leave the fermentor alone until morning. Wrong. The next day, I found that fully two or more inches of wort and yeast had pushed out of the fermentor, into the tube and down, and overflowed the water cup. Thankfully, I had the whole mess contained in the large plastic party tub I keep the fermentor in.
|Close up of the krausen. No picture of the next day's mess.|
We are now in uncharted territory. Should I have pulled out the blow-off tube entirely? Would this have allowed CO2 to escape without losing the wort and yeast? Or would such an action threaten sanitation? At the very least I didn't afix a fermentation lock. May have had an explosion on my hands. I guess the yeast was activated. That, and I had more than enough sugar from the malt, even with losing some during the boil.
As of today, the fermentation is still cruising along. I use the heat wrap in the evenings. During the day it's been comfortably warm. I'd estimate the air temp averages around 60-65'F.
Once signs of fermentation end, I plan to transfer the beer to a secondary fermentor to condition for a few weeks.
Original gravity: 1.022 (1.020 @ 68 'F). Beer has a rich nut-brown color. Sweet taste, light chocolate coffee flavor. Fairly clear.
- Use 15% less hop pellets for recipes not specifying hop pellets.
- Use 20% more malt extract syrup if substituting for DME.