August 8, 2016: Amber Ale v. 3.0

As discussed in a previous post we have returned our Amber Ale recipe to the development stage (water chemistry, altitude, yeast strain, hop availability).


  • Starting gravity: 1.065
  • Brewhouse efficiency: 75%
  • Final gravity: 1.004
  • Approximate %ABV: 8.11
  • Approximate IBUs: 90 (Rager)/68 (Tinseth)/67 (Garetz)/131 (Daniels) as determined using the Hopsteiner,, and IBU calculators.

Grain bill:

  • All grains Great Western Malting and purchased through More Beer.
  • 10 lbs 2 row domestic (#46080)
  • 1 lb 2 row pale (#45958)
  • 1 lb crystal 75L (#45744)

Hops (Pellet, * Whole cone):

  • 2 oz Magnum 12.4% alpha acids
  • 2 oz Amarillo 8.4% alpha acids
  • 2 oz Cascade* 7.9% alpha acids


  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II (#0721160, mfg 6/8/2016)


  • The city of Loveland has great water. We will pass the water through an activated charcoal filter to remove any chlorine that may be present.
Wyeast 1272 propagation culture after refrigeration.
Wyeast 1272 propagation culture after refrigeration.

Procedure: Yeast was propagated in 1 L of media (0.5 c DME in 1L/~1qt water, boiled) in a 3L flask with stir bar that had been sanitized with boiling water. Media was inoculated from Wyeast Smack Pack. Propagation culture was grown at room temperature with stirring for 24 hours and was then lowered to 4 degree Celsius for 18 hours.

Strike temperature was 80 degrees Celsius. A ~2:1 water to grist ratio was achieved with 11.5 liters of water. Mash in temperature was 68 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees below target. Mash out was conducted at 77 degrees Celsius. Sparging was a combination fly/batch and was conducted at 75 degree Celsius until the volume of sweet wort in the boil kettle was approximately 9 gallons. Hydrometer reading of the last wort remaining in the mash tun was 4.0 Brix.

Samples of sweet wort (left) and the last runnings from the mash tun (right).
Samples of sweet wort (left) and the last runnings from the mash tun (right).

Sweet wort was brought to a vigorous boil and boiled for 90 minutes. All hop addition times are listed as time remaining in the boil. Magnum pellets – 60 minutes; Amarillo pellets, Cascade whole cone, and 1/2 tablet Whirlfloc – 5 minutes with 1/2 tablet Whirlfloc. After whirlpooling and allowing the trub to settle, the hopped wort was cooled to 20 degrees Celsius with a counter-flow plate chiller with a recirculating ice/water slurry. Liquid was decanted from the settle yeast culture until a total volume of 500 mL was achieved; the settled yeast was suspended in the remaining liquid and the yeast slurry was pitched into the Speidel fermenter. The fermenter was placed in an incubator that was set to a maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.

Yeast 29.5 hours post inoculation.
Yeast 29.5 hours post inoculation.

Primary fermentation was complete after 72 hours and the diacetyl rest was allowed to proceed for 48 hours. The green beer was

then transferred to secondary fermenter and will be allowed to stand at room temperature for 24 hours. The fermenter will then be chilled to -2 degrees Celsius which will help precipitate proteins and any remaining yeast cells. After the cold crash, the beer will be transferred to a 1/3 keg and pressurized to 30 psi, rolled. These steps will be repeated. Tasting notes will follow.

Specific gravity and pH profile during fermentation with WYeast 1272.
Specific gravity and pH profile during fermentation with WYeast 1272.


  • In order to achieve a faster fermentation start, we will likely shorten the propagation time for the yeast. At 24 hours, the yeast has likely entered stationary phase and may be exhausting glycogen stores due to the depletion of fermentable sugars from the media.
  • We started taking pH readings! Unfortunately, we forgot a reading at time point zero and did not take readings at our last two samplings. We will test the final pH of the beer.
  • Our brewhouse efficiency increased 10% compared to our last brew day. Possible explanations are the different water profile in Loveland, CO or a larger sparge volume. The water profile could have resulted in improved enzyme activity which increased the amount of fermentable sugars available to the yeast. A larger sparge volume would have extracted more sugars from the mash, increasing efficiency.
  • The 94 hour time point sample had a strong aroma, best described as ‘cidery’. This is the result of acetaldehyde released by yeast. The yeast, if reasonably healthy, will reabsorb it and scrub the green beer of this off flavor. Happy yeast makes great beer.
  • The estimated alcohol content takes this out of Amber Ale territory. Maybe a Red IPA? Looking forward to tasting this beer.

March 20, 2016: Belgian Blond

This is another extract/grain kit. Not because we were short on time, but because we didn’t think far enough in advance to order our grains from More Beer for delivery by Saturday. The local home brew stores we are familiar with did not have the grains we wanted for another attempt at an amber ale. So we settled for the Belgian Blond kit from The Brewmeister.

Graph of Belgian Blond wort specific gravity during fermentation.

The milled grains were steeped at 72 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, with the steep temperature decreasing to 70 degrees Celsius over the time course. The liquid malt extract (LME) was added to the water and mixed to ensure the mix was homogeneous. Initial volume was approximately 8 gallons. The sweet wort was brought to a vigorous boil for 60 minutes. Hop additions were made at 45 and 5 minutes (1 oz each addition). Hopped wort was cooled to 20 degrees Celsius and transferred to a Speidel 30L HDPE fermenter and aerated for 90 seconds with oxygen. The wort was inoculated with 1 L of 36 hour starter culture of WLP500. Original gravity was 1.043. Gravity readings were taken at 8 to 24 hour intervals over the course of fermentation.

What went well?

  • The stand proves its worth every time we brew on it.

    800X bright field microscope image of WLP500 starter culture.
    800X bright field microscope image of WLP500 starter culture.
  • Captured more relevant data.
  • The microscope purchase was well worth it. This yeast strain had an extended lag phase and sampling the starter culture 8 hours after inoculation showed actively budding cells.

Areas for improvement

  • Data capture. Still need to get a form together.
  • Rather sporadic time intervals of gravity readings and the long gap between pitching and the next reading.
  • Water usage. Estimate of 4 gallons of water used for every gallon of finished beer. We will keep looking for ways to decrease our water consumption.


  • 6.6 lbs Briess Pilsner LME
  • 1 lb Pilsner malt
  • 1 lb Munich malt
  • 2 oz Styrian Goldings (1.4% alpha acids), split (45 minutes, 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 tablet whirlfoc (5 minutes)
  • Yeast: WLP500 (Monastery Ale, Lot #: 1023586)