Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brew Day, Batch 381: Buster 2012 (Delayed Post)

Today, I am racking 2012's Buster, which was brewed 2 weeks ago. I skinned out a typical "Brew Day" post, but with all of the brewing, noshing, and drinking I and co-conspirator Skip were doing, it kinda fell by the wayside. This year's Buster took a while to gel as a concept; I started with the idea of something on a line between English-y barleywines such as Thos. Hardy's, and Scottish wee heavy, and then thought maybe some non-traditional or archaic seasonings might be in order. Earthy herbs like sage and thyme were considered but ultimately left behind. As well, we thought that some heat-bearing spices like various kinds of peppers such as cayenne and Sichuan peppercorn might be interesting. After a bunch of tasting, smelling, and cogitating, we settled on these things:

Mashed 55# Hugh Baird Pale Ale malt at 153-155F for 90 minutes, with 1 quart/lb. of liquor, collected about 13-1/2 gallons of sweet wort in the kettle, boiling well as the kettle filled. When the kettle volume reached 12 gallons, we started timing; after 30 minutes, the kettle hops were added. We used 2.4 oz. of Northern Brewer at 10% alpha, selected for its notes of wood, mint, and tea. With 20 minutes left, we added 2 oz. of Fuggle, and 1t of dried ground ginger; Fuggle for its simple woody, earthy spice, and ginger for some earthiness and heat/zing. With 5 minutes left, we added 3 oz. of crushed Sichuan peppercorn for its subtle zing, and its exotic, sweet aroma. Our target BU level was 50, compensating for the high gravity wort.

Everything went fine until we chilled down and tried to drain the kettle into the fermenters. It seems that despite using low protein British malt and thus having a quite moderate kettle break, and using plenty of whole hops in the boil, the kettle simply would not drain faster than a trickle unless someone dredged a spoon across the drain strainer the whole time. Tiring, to say the least. Our leading hypothesis is that the cracked peppercorns were just the right size to evade the hop filter bed and lodge in the drain. Eventually, all the wort was in the fermenters at an impressive 1.113 density, and given over to a hefty slurry of Grizzly Peak's house ale yeast. After two weeks, it is still at 1.044, but steadily bubbling away; if it hasn't attenuated significantly more in a week I'm bringing in a 'relief pitcher.'

Having not yet had enough, I added 1-1/2 lbs. of British 60L crystal malt to the top of the mash, and sparged to collect another 12 gallons of sweet wort. This was bittered to an estimated 35BU with US Goldings in the kettle, plus 2 more oz. at 20 minutes. This yielded 11 gallons of wort at 1.042. At racking today, it is clear and clean at 1.011; we will be drinking this as soon as it is carbonated.

No comments:

Post a Comment