Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Bourbon Barrel Project, part 3

March 23, Filling the barrel. Derek brought over his CO2 regulator and two picnic taps, so we were able to transfer two kegs at a time. It filled up pretty quick. The barrel has about an inch of headspace remaining and there are still 10 gallons of beer to pick up and add, 5 gallons from Gordon, and 5 from Steve D.

Filling the barrel, two kegs at once

Filling the barrel

I put on an airlock because there is enough gas escaping that the solid stopper kept getting pushed out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Batch 106, Oktoberfest

It's that time of year, time for Oktoberfest brewing!

Last year I did a full on, triple decoction mash. This year, I went with a double decoction instead.

10 gallon batch

10 lbs 2-row (I know, I should have made the trip and got some Pilsner malt)
10 lbs Munich 10L
1 lb wheat

3 oz Hallertau, 60 min

1 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min

Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager yeast

OG: 1.060 actual

Mash process:

Heated 6 gallons of water to 120F, dough in with 1 qt/lb. Using Palmer's equations, I should have hit around 104F, but I was a little high (110F? I should have paid more attention), so I added 3 qts cold water to get to 104F, for a total of 24 qts for dough in.

An actual dough in at 104F on the dot.

I let that sit for about 20 minutes, then again using Palmer's equations, I added 9 qts of 180F water, which should have brought the temp up to 122F for a protein rest, but it didn't. I ended up adding 6 more qts of 180F water and then overshot a little and ended up at 126F. Close enough, my fancy thermometer says I'm in the protein rest range.

A little high on the protein rest, I was aiming for 122F, but added a little too much hot water and got 126F. That is still in range.

I let that sit for about 15 minutes, then pulled the first decoction. I had 12 gallons total in the mash tun, so I pulled out 4 gallons of fairly thick mash to another pot. I covered the mash tun so it would stay at 126F, then heated the second pot of mash to 155F and held for 20 minutes, then raised to boiling and held for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. I appear to have been successful -- no scorching, and when I added the decoction back into the main mash, I hit 150F. Last year I missed the temps and had to adjust with my heat exchanger. I was actually aiming for 148F, but I am not complaining.

I'm using the canning pot. It's a little small, but I can lift it and pour it back in the main mash tun.

I let that sit for 30 minutes, then pulled the second decoction. I did an iodine test, conversion is complete at this point. I pulled 4 gallons of regular mash, that is, I stirred, got the mash fairly consistent, then took out 4 gallons. I should have taken 6 gallons, but my pot isn't that big, so after bringing it to a boil and holding for 5 minutes and adding it back, I didn't get up to mashout temp. I added more hot water from the HLT to get to mash out, then recirced and sparged. I collected 13.5 gallons in the boil pot. The rest of the brew day went well. I'm going to ferment this in the freezer in the basement using my new Johnson controller. The fermenters are still a little warm (62F vs target 50F), so I'll pitch the yeast in the morning.

That's Buddy, checking things out. I had to put up the fireplace screen because he wouldn't stay away and singed his hair.

Sacchrification rest, right at 148F. Nice!

Boiling the last decoction for mash out.

OG: 1.060 actual

Update, Mar 23: pitched the yeast. The Johnson seems to be working well, the thermometer I put in the freezer says 50F.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Bourbon Barrel Project, part 2

Part 1

I got the stand for the barrel built. It's just some pieces of 2x6 with a couple of 2x4 feet.

Barrel stand

I added the two pieces on the bottom because I thought of putting the tray from my dog crate under the stand after I'd already built it. The tray and the original stand were exactly the same width, so the stand plus the weight of the barrel would have crushed the tray. Adding the two "feet" alleviates that problem. I don't expect leaks, but I figure it can't hurt. The basement drain is just out of the picture to the left.

I bought about a gallon of reasonably affordable bourbon and am adding it to the barrel.  That ought to help bring back some of the bourbon flavors we are hoping to get out of this barrel aging.

Adding Old Crow Bourbon

On a furniture dolly

I turned a furniture dolly upside down and put the barrel on it. This makes it easy to rotate the barrel every now and then and let the bourbon contact more of the oak.


Lunch while working on the barrel. Red Seal from a Red Seal glass! That is an excellent beer.

Part 3

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Bourbon Barrel Project

Derek from my brew club talked to Rick at Brewforia about the bourbon barrel that has been sitting at the end of the bar for a while. Derek's idea was that people from the club would brew a Russian Imperial Stout and age it in the barrel. Rick agreed, so 12 of us brewed 5 gallons each. One thing lead to another, and I ended up volunteering to put the barrel in my basement. I picked up the barrel from Rick last Wednesday. Yesterday, I got the bung pried open and filled the barrel to check for leaks.



Obviously, there are significant leaks. Tom L from the brew club posted some instructions about how to condition used barrels. This barrel is actually from Widmer Brothers Brewery, and previously held some of their beer for aging. I used a hot water treatment, which means putting in about 6 gallons of hot water (the instructions didn't say how hot, so I used 150F water), then standing the barrel on end for an hour or so, then repeating with the other end. That did a pretty good job of sealing the leaks. I filled the barrel and let it sit overnight, but unfortunately, about a gallon had seeped out. I did another hot water treatment while brewing today, then filled the barrel again. There is still some seepage, but the instructions say to let it sit for a few days and the wood should continue to swell and seal the leaks.

A little seepage.

I had to head out to LA on Monday morning for work, so Sunday evening I filled the keg full with cold water. I'll be back on Thursday, and hopefully that will be enough soaking time to get the wood to swell and seal the leaks.

Update, Mar 18, 2011. I'm back from LA, and checked the barrel when I got home. A little bit of the water had seeped out, I'm guessing somewhat less than a gallon. The weather has been dry, and I don't see any wetness anywhere around the barrel. The area where it was seeping (at the bottom of the rim in the above picture) feels quite dry on the outside.  I'll take pics tomorrow.

Part 2
Part 3

Batch 105, Panama Hat

This is a "lite" version of Panama Red. It's still red, and still an IPA, but not quite as strong, alcohol-wise. This is a 5 gallon batch with a new pack of 1272, I went 'lite' to grow the yeast cake for future use.

Panama Hat

Recipe Panama Hat Style American IPA (14B)
Brewer Batch 5.00 gal
All Grain

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.047 OG Estimated FG 1.012 FG
Recipe Bitterness 59 IBU Alcohol by Volume 4.6%
Recipe Color 14° SRM Alcohol by Weight 3.6%


Quantity Grain Type Use
0.12 lb American chocolate malt Grain mashed
0.50 lb American wheat Grain Mashed
8.50 lb American two-row Grain Mashed
0.75 lb Crystal 120L Grain Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Mt. Hood Whole FWH
0.75 oz Centennial Whole 60 minutes
1.00 oz Cascade whole 30 minutes
1.00 oz Cascade whole 5 minutes
1.00 oz Mt. Hood Whole 5 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Irish Moss Fining 1 tsp 15 min
1.00 unit American Ale yeast Wyeast 1272

Recipe Notes

I was side-tracked with bourbon barrel maintenance, so I mashed a little hot, 160F rather than the 154F I was aiming for. Again, not paying attention, it was a little cold and windy outside, so the mash dropped to about 150F after an hour. I meant to keep an eye on it and keep it at 154F when it got there, but I forgot. I think I need to reset the efficiency setting on qbrew also. I have it set at 65%, but I overshot my OG (again), getting 1.052 instead of the expected 1.045. It looks like setting it to 70% will be just about right.

I used Centennial instead of Nugget this time. The Nugget I have looks a little odd, I think maybe it wasn't completely dry before I put it in the freezer.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beer Coaster Project

My son has been gathering beer coasters for a while, and so have I. Many of the ones I have I picked up when I lived in Germany, which was 20 years ago. My son brought over a grocery sack full of coasters, which turned out to be about 260. I dug out all of mine, and had about 150 more, so just over 400 altogether. It turns out there were a lot of repeats, mostly doubles, but there must have been 50 Guiness coasters. After sorting and removing duplicates, I ended up with almost 300 coasters. Here is most the ones from my son:

And here are most of mine:

I actually had more than would fit in my basement. I ended up stapling 266 coasters to the top of the wall.

I see I need to dust on the top of the molding... :)

Bock photo

I was drinking a glass of the Bock I made back in October. It is one of the clearest beers I've ever made. I've been working on clarity, and it turns out there are a few things that really help that I hadn't been doing until recently.

  1. Use Irish Moss. I've used it every now and then in the past, but it really does help.
  2. Lagering, of course, is a big help, even for ales.
  3. Transfer several times. From primary, I transfer to a keg and leave it at fermentation temp for a few weeks. Without moving the keg, transfer to a conditioning keg. This is the same as a bright tank. Put this keg in the fridge until a tap is empty. Without moving the keg, transfer to a serving keg.
  4. When tranferring, run the beer into a bucket until it runs clear. The first pull will suck up some trub, which goes into the bucket.  Connect to the transfer keg when that first bit of trub is gone and the beer is clear. Watch as it gets near the end, and stop immediately when the murky beer appears as more trub will be sucked up at the end.
Here is a picture of the Bock in front of a copy of the Northwest Brewer's News.