This Saturday, July 5th started out overcast and appeared to be threatening rain. This will not stop a die-hard outdoor brewer like me. I brew outside on the deck, and I have a brewstand with I wrap in a tarp to help it withstand the elements. If it looks like rain, I will get out my ladder to act like a tent pole, and stretch the tarp over my brewing area to shed the rain.
This setup accomplished, I set about brewing my first ever Light American Lager Fizzy Yellow Beer. I decided to have 25% of the grist be cooked rice. I boiled water and cooked this on the stove, and then poured it directly into my mash. I was able to recirculate my mash for about a half hour, but then as I was about to sparge, my volume of wort circulating began to dwindle and then stopped. I tried my usual method to clear a stuck sparge, I forced some of my sparge water backwards through the system. This usually does the trick to free the stuck sparge, but not this time, not even after three tries.
It was time for “Plan B”. I went into the basement and located the cooler and mash braid I have not used for two years, since I inherited my current brew system. I gave it a rinse and then scooped all of the mash out into it and began to fly sparge form the cooler. This worked and I was able to collect my wort for boil. I was off to the races again.
It will be a few weeks from now after fermentation when I can see how it went. In the meanwhile, there are a couple of options I need to think about to help prevent this stuck sparge if I brew this recipe again. One common option is Rice Hulls. This give some larger particles in the grain bed to help set up the grain filter and should allow for better lautering. The second option is to perform a cerial mash rather than just adding the boiled rice to my main mash. This option begins the conversion of starches into sugars during the gelatinization of the rice starches. Given how gummed up my system was with the rice starch, I think the latter option is probably in order.
Hope to see everyone at the next meeting.
It’s right before the rule about needing to always use a secondary fermentor and somewhere after the rule about waving a chicken bone over every mash.
But then you learn that it’s OK to boil a little longer and that in some cases that’s actually beneficial (but don’t boil too long!). But what happens if you boil for 4 hours? Or 40 minutes? Or not at all? Does it ruin your beer? Does it bring shame to your family and ancestors and require you to live out the rest of your life in solitude? Or does it not really make all that much difference and we’ve all been wasting our time?
I don’t really know, but I plan to find out. I’ll be doing this month’s educational on The Boil – what it is, what it does, do you need it, and how should you use it? Hopefully, I’ll even have a sample or two. Before that, though, I’d like you to vote on the poll on the right side of the page here. How long do you typically boil a batch of beer? If you typically brew all-grain, select from one of the answers starting with “All-Grain:”. Do the same with the extract answers if you brew more extract than all-grain. I’ll reveal the answers and more on Sunday, July 27th!
The seminars at the American Homebrewers’ Association Conference this year were better than ever. Ron Pattinson’s guide to vintage English beer and John Mallet and Andrea Stanley’s talk on the history of malting (with samples of a 100% traditional brown malt beer) appealed to the history geek in me. Matthew Brown’s Double IPA with no kettle hops blew my mind with its hoppiness. Homebrew celebrities like Randy Mosher, John Palmer, and Ray Daniels gave some great seminars as well.
If you went and couldn’t make it to everything you wanted, or you didn’t get to go at all, but still want to fill your brain with beery goodness (sorry, no samples), check out the AHA site where they’ve posted the slide deck and audio for every.single.seminar. Free if you’re a card carrying AHA member. If you’re not, then it’s time to sign up!
Most seminars had a video camera running as well, so if you’re good at Google, you should be able to find the video for a few of these as well!
In the January MUGZ meeting I had attendees sample two different beers without any prior knowledge of what they were drinking (our members are pretty gullible that way, but I like ‘em!). Fortunately for them, the samples were totally safe. In fact, the only difference between these two beers was that one was brewed with whole hops and one was brewed with pellet hops.
I’ve wondered the benefit of brewing with whole hops over pellets since I began homebrewing. No brewing resource really seemed to settle on one being better than the other, so I eventually decided to find out for myself. I took the “Ordinary Bitter” recipe from Jamil Zainasheff’s excellent “Brewing Classic Styles” book and split the wort into two kettles on the same stove. From there, I boiled them simultaneously, taking care to keep the boil rates and stirring as close as possible to rule out any other variables beyond hops. I also made sure the hops came from the same retailer with the same alpha acids.