I’ve been trying to sneak some brewing into the schedule the last few weeks – it’s something I wholly enjoy doing, and while I was able to get a pretty decent batch out while I was repainting the kitchen just before Thanksgiving, I figured now was a good time with the weather shift we’ve had. With the new Kegarator, I’m excited to not have to spend a couple of hours bottling and hoping that it comes out well, or that I don’t wind up with a case of bottle-bombs making a mess of the basement. I can move the beer over to a corny keg, throw it under pressure, wait a few days, and give it a try! This last weekend I also got my new electric kettle – I was pouring through online looking for which way to go and decided on a Brewers Edge Mash and Boil 2.0 because of its flexibility, mobility, and I was able to get it for a reasonable price off a small, online brew shop.
The reason for upgrading to an electric kettle was actually cost related – I’ve burned through a few nylon grain bags to date, and they’re not cheap, hovering around $10-15 each, and I contemplated going to a stainless insert, however those run around $100. For the cost, I started looking into what electric systems run, and figured it was pretty cost effective to try an electric system out. Not to mention I can stop taking over the whole stove, and just relegate myself to a corner of the kitchen and one sink bay.
For my first batch in it, I was looking to try a Dunkles Bock, but what I wound up with was more along the lines of a Porter/Baltic Porter. This wound up with a lower starting gravity than I was targeting – 1.060 vs. 1.069, which means it’ll likely wind up hitting a lower ABV, not a bad thing though as it’ll still likely be a 6.5% beer. This mistake was likely due to slightly over-sparging. This could have been corrected by some additional boil time which would have also slightly increased the bitterness, but I was running short on time unfortunately, so decided to roll with it.
Grain Bill was as follows, mashed at about 153 degrees for 60 minutes:
12.6 Lbs Total
7.65lbs 2-Row Pale Malt
3lbs Rye Malt
1.2lbs Cara 60
.25lbs Chocolate Malt
.5lbs Melanoidn Malt
Hops – I went for neutral, low AA varieties that work well with balancing malts, ones that are traditionally used for English Ales
1oz East Kent Goldings (Bittering) @ 60 mins
2oz Fuggle (Aromatics) 1oz @ 30 mins, and 1oz @ 10 mins
Yeast – While Labs WLP-004 Irish Ale Yeast; This wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened to be the yeast I had on hand as I was originally playing around with other recipe ideas and had previously ordered it. I also decided to give a can of Proper Starter a try in all of this, as I was originally targeting a pretty high OG, I figured a starter would be a good idea.
I don’t own a chiller, so in the few years I’ve done this I’ve always done No-Chill. Up until last year I trusted just the lid, and this worked well, but for added measure in recent months I’ve taken to wrapping the meeting point of the lid and pot tightly in a few wraps of saran wrap. The Brewers Edge system, however, has a silicone gasket and clamps to keep it airtight, so I just locked those down and let it cool. It took about 25 hours to get from boiling temperature down to 80 degrees, at which point I transferred to my fermentation vessel (a conical plastic fermenter) aerating well to help drop it down a bit further for safe yeast pitching. Once it was mostly full, I dumped the yeast starter into the batch and closed it up!
The next morning the airlock was showing crazy activity, so I think we’re in good shape! I’ve always had struggles with White Labs yeasts, but a lot of people swear by them, so I figured I’d give it one more go.. Excited to see how this turns out with so many changed variables to hopefully improve the flavors I get – extra temperature control over the mash, quality aeration going into the fermenter, something that I don’t always do, and the yeast starter to boost and encourage healthy activity.
Through the magic of scheduled posting, we’ll check back next week to see how it fermented out!