This will be the 4th beer that I brew.
My first 3 were extract brews. Extract brew means that I did not use actual grains to create my wort. I boiled extract powder in about 1.5 gallons of water to create my wort. Using extract powder does not provide as much creativity as using grains, but it is a good way to learn the process. It is really hard to mess up using the extract powder, because you really just open it and dump it in to the boiling water. Unless you dump half of it on the floor, you are probably going to be ok.
As a reference, my first 3 beers required the use of 6 pounds of extract, each.
My 4th beer, the mighty Scottish Ale that I call ARGYLE TIGER will require 8.5 pounds of extract PLUS 1.5 pounds of assorted grains. Needless to say, this beer will be big, heavy and powerful, just like an axe wielding Scotsman.
So, since this beer will be part extract and part grains, people call this a “partial grain” brew, or a “partial extract” brew. The terminology is terribly complicated and sophisticated, I know.
Choosing the grains is part of the potential creativity that I am starting to recognize. I followed a Scottish Ale recipe that I found, but once I have a better understanding of the grains and their effect on the beer, I will concoct my own recipes. Just to give you an idea, Home Brew Mart had at least 30 – 40 different types of grains. The grains ranged from light wheat grains to black and heavy, roasted pirate grains that looked like chunks of coal. The grains have a number and then an “L” after the number. The “L”” stands for LOVIBOND. The higher the number, the darker the beer will brew from that grain.
Using grains with your brew really only adds a half hour to your brew time. My boiling pot was filled with 1.5 gallons of water, then heated to 170 degrees. Once it hit 170, I removed the pot from the flame and plopped the grains in. IF you use a steeping bag like I did, you will not have to filter out the floating sediment – the bag does all the work.
Once the grain has been in the water for half hour, I removed it. My helpful pal at Home Brew Mart told me “DO NOT wring out the bag.” Apparently, wringing out the bag will release tannins into the beer water/wort, and you do not want that because it will add some odd, unpredictable flavors to your beer.
Once the grain has been steeped, follow your normal extract brewing instructions.
For me, this is weird because I am dealing with almost 9 lbs of extract instead of the 6 pounds that I am used to. Also, this time I used the bulk liquid extract that Home Brew Mart carries. Previously, I had used powdered extract. 6 pounds of powdered extract cost me about $40.00, where 8.5 pounds of liquid extract cost me $25.00. Brewing is shaping up to be an expensive hobby, so I will take the savings where I can thank you very much.
So, the grain was steeped, I brought the water back to a boil. From that point, I opened the bucket of liquid extract. It was like an amber colored syrup that took an extremely long time to pour into the boiling water.
The boil time was 105 minutes. The first addition of hops was Fuggle hops, 1 ounce at 10 minutes.
3/4 oz. of Fuggle hops and 3/4 oz. of Willamette hops at 75 minutes.
While the boil was happening, I washed out the steeping bag. I put 1 oz. of Heather flowers into the steeping bag and added them to the last 30 minutes of the boil.
After the boil was complete and the wort was cooled using my immersion chiller, I took a hydrometer reading. The reading was 1.07. After fermentation and before bottling, I will take another hydrometer reading. By subtracting the first reading from the second, I will know my ABV (alcohol by volume). With this big, heavy beer, I am hoping for something around 9.0 ABV. Lets wait and see what happens.
THREE DAYS LATER
Last night, the temperature in my house was well over 70 degrees. Due to the fermentation generating its own heat, the wort was sitting at about 76 degrees. This gave me a case of the panics, so I carried the heavy ass glass carboy out into the garage, where it was cooler.
I got back from work today and checked the carboy. There was no foam, there was not visible indication that the beer was fermenting. TERROR isn’t the right word, but its the first word that came to mind.
Did the yeast die?
Was the sudden/drastic temperature change so brutal that it killed the fermentation process?
In between sobs of agony, I took to the internet. A basic google search brought me many results indicating that everything was ok. Just because the airlock was not bubbling does not mean that the yeast is not working. The consensus of cyber beer nerd opinions was that I should leave the beer alone for a few days and then do a hydrometer reading.
I thought about pitching some more yeast, but I already pitched two vials of White Labs Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast. Those damn things are expensive, and I refuse to believe that TWO vials of yeast have died and are refusing to do their jobs.
So, I will chill the F out and wait a few days, then I will do a hydrometer reading.
In the meantime, I need to research Harvesting and Washing Yeast. Apparently, once your brew is done fermenting, the yeast is alive still in that sludge at the bottom of the fermenter. If you bottle that stuff in sealed mason jars, you can reuse it. You do have to do a YEAST STARTER, which is a way to amp up the yeast before using it.
So, I am currently looking into HARVESTING YEAST and YEAST STARTERS.
I will update the SCOTTISH ALE situation. Keep fighting the good fight. \