June 18, 2017: Amber Ale Brew Day

With a the vast majority of the house projects started since purchase completed, it is back to brewing beer! We are starting with our tried and true Alex’s Amber Ale. This recipe is dialed in and it is extremely consistent. That being said, some substitutions were made due to sourcing limitations on home brew supply shopping day. Specialty grains and hops were purchased from CO Brew in Denver.

Brew Record: BrewLog

Grain bill:

  • 10 lb 2-Row (domestic)
  • 1 lb Pale (German) << Substitution for domestic
  • 1 lbs C-80 <<Substitution for C-75

Hops (Pellet) and other boil additions:

  • 2 oz German Magnum 13.3% alpha acids (60 minutes) <<Substitution for Magnum
  • 2 oz Cascade 6.3% alpha acids 6.6% beta acids(5 minutes)
  • 2 oz Amarillo 8.6% alpha acids 6.5% beta acids (5 minutes)
  • 1 table Whirlfloc (5 minutes)

Yeast:

  • Inland Island INISH007 American Ale blend package date 5/30/2017

New Equipment:

Admittedly, making this many changes to the recipe is not ideal, but combined with the brew equipment changes, this just may be a disastrous day.

Our day started late because we didn’t dry fit any of the equipment. If we had done this, we would have realized we needed some extra parts to make everything work. This set back our day and resulted in the extension of some steps of the process.

The day was also a wee bit windy and the propane burners could not maintain the desired vigorous boil. Evaporation was reduced, resulting in a higher volume of lower gravity wort.

Efficiency:

When calculated from the sweet wort, the calculated efficiency was 93.4%. When calculated from the hopped wort (sampled taken after heat exchanger) the efficiency dropped to 75.4%. Why the loss of 18 percentage points?

Most likely answer, greater homogeneity of the cooled hopped wort sample. The sweet wort was sampled through the bottom port of the brew kettle; we did not allow the residual wort in the sample port to flow through the valve in order to get a sample representative of the entire brew kettle. This summarizes to the simple statement that a poor sampling technique was used.

Why the low efficiency? Our sparge was too fast. As seen in the gallery pictures, our brew space is set up under out deck on the some of the rare flat space on our property. We were unable to mount the sparge arm due to the low clearance and sparged through the vorlauf port. The fast sparge likely resulted in poor sugar extraction from the grain bed.

Other Issues:

We discovered the thermometer on the HLT reads 4 degrees high and the thermometer on the mash tun reads 4 degrees low. We completely undershot our target mash temp, but not nearly as bad as initially thought.

What the future holds

  • A brew shed. Currently our brew equipment is buried and it is a fight to set everything up. We could brew on the deck and have sufficient room for our sparge arm, but we would have to disassemble the brew tree to get it up the stairs. It would be nice to have a dedicated space to brewing.
  • Thermometer calibration
  • Purchased more valves. Goal was to use the whirlpool port on the boil kettle, but after thinking about the set-up, we realized we failed to purchase a valve that would help prevent the back flow of hot wort. This is a peril of failing to dry fit a new set up at least a week in advance.

Gallery

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