Tuesday, 23 October 2012

What The . . . Ferment (AKA Bad Santa Update)

Saturday was not a good brew day.  But it is long past, and my angst has receded.  This years Bad Santa brew session did not go as planned...but there are hopeful signs that things may have worked out - perhaps even for the better.  A short-list of the issues I had:

  1. Mash tun developed a new leak - I jury-rigged a washer to fix the seal, but I'm going to need to re-visit my design to find a permanent fix.
  2. I brewed in my garage, with doors open, on a cold-and-windy day.  Turns out hurricane-force 5C winds will cool even a well insulated mash tun (66.5C -> 58C in ~40min).
  3. To fix issue #2 I had to decoct (remove some grain and bring to a boil) a couple of times to get temps back to 66.5C.
  4. Dropped & broke my good thermometer, meaning I had to use my poorly-calibrated one while preparing my sparge water.
  5. I got a stuck sparge while batch sparging - something which is supposedly impossible.
  6. Collected ~2L less wort from the sparge than expected
  7. Had a massive boil-over; we're talking at least a litre of the good stuff on the floor.
  8. Melted my wine thief while trying to grab a sample of wort for a SG measurement.
Despite that, somehow, I managed to hit a S.G. of 1.085 - instead of the expected 1.067.  The difference means, assuming a normal FG, the beer will be an extra 1% in alcohol concentration - 8.6% instead of 7.5%.

Just goes to show that even mistakes may produce desirable brews...assuming it tastes good.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Video on Yeast

A must-watch video on yeast and yeast management.  Lecture provided by Wyeast.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Bad Santa Holiday Ale

It's a little late, but I'm finally brewing a holiday ale for the Christmas season. This is an old recipe - named and brewed a decade before BYO magazine stole my name for what appears to be a inferior beer (I jest, it looks pretty good).  My Bad Santa is a great winter beer - strong (~7.5%), medium-bodied, with cinnamon, honey and ginger adding to the already great dynamic provided by hallertauer and cascade hops, aromatic malt, and wheat. Assuming this one replicates previous batches, it'll be ready for the holiday season and well into 2013.
Not your usual brew - honey, ginger and cinnamon round out a strong ale brewed with wheat, roasted barley, caramel malt and hallertauer/cascade hops.

Recipe below the fold...

EDIT: and update on a miserable day brewing this beer can be found here...