Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 351: Return of Leap Beer

A long, long, time ago, in a brewery far away... uh, OK, 15 years ago, several blocks from here, I made my first beer with rye as an adjunct. I had seen scant mention of rye in the brewing literature, but knew it was used occasionally in some way. I picked up a small amount of flaked rye on a whim one day, and decided to include it in a batch of simple ale to see what it was like. My wife-of-those-days questioned the wisdom of using this unknown adjunct without following some sort of recipe or procedure, but I countered with the point that it was February 29, and I was taking a leap. Not much of a leap, really- it was a pre-gelatinized cereal, and only 15% of the grist, the bulk of which was good old super-diastatic Briess 2 row. But Leap Beer was kind of a fun name, so it stuck. And we loved the beer. It was your basic blond ale with a little spicy something extra, and the unexpectedly heavy body that rye brings. Many subsequent batches of beer included rye, but I never made anything like that first experimental ale again, until today. Technical geekery below the fold:

There's been a bit of improvising, as I try to translate the stovetop step infusion mash of the original beer into my basement brewery of today. The main problem is that in the stovetop days, I could apply heat to my mashing pot if needed. Fire would ruin my plastic cooler based mash/lauter vessel pretty quickly, which means I have to depend on infusions of boiling liquor to boost the mash temp. These have proved hard to calculate in advance, mainly due to lack of practice. In recent years, I've only done a few step infusion mashes, for a couple of reasons:

  • Most  beers made from modern malts don't require it. Protein and enzyme levels are carefully controlled by the maltster.

  • The small efficiency gain is not worth the extra trouble. Add another pound of malt to the mash, and cut a half an hour or so off of your brew day.

  • The aforementioned thing about melting the mash tun.

    Every once in a while,  a recipe might make it worthwhile. You want your saison to be super-dry, for example, or you are using a weird adjunct with a lot of gums and proteins. Actually, in the case of today's beer, it's very likely unnecessary, since we're only talking 15% of the grist. The only reason I opted for the 'more work' option is that this beer is going to be pretty pale, and I would like it to be bright and clear. Time will tell, or more accurately, hint, as to whether the extra work is worth it.

    This lot is prelude to including an actual recipe, which I'm told would be appreciated. (Hey, Kenny!)

    Leap Beer #2, 10 gallons

    12   lb. Briess 2 row
    2    lb. Flaked rye
    1    lb. Briess crystal 40
    2.6  oz. Willamette hops, 4% alpha for 60 minutes
    1    oz. Cascade hops, 5.9% alpha for 20 minutes
    Wyeast 1056 American Ale starter

    Doughed in with 1qt./lb. at 132F for 122F protein rest (of questionable value, as noted above,) for 30 min.

    Boosted temp to 148F with infusions of boiling water. Rested approx. 60 min.

    (I'd probably do 1qt./lb. at 150F if doing the single infusion.)

    Total kettle boil is 90 minutes. This allows for a good hot break before the first hop addition, which helps clean up some of the products of a less than picture-perfect mash.

    We'll see what we get....

    Update: Those hop additions were set up to yield 25 BU, and the target OG was 1.045, with 1.046 actual....

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