Category Archives: Recipes

Demi-Quad 23.09.15

In Quebec, the only way to access imported beer from Europe, save for a few macrobrews which make it to deps (corner stores), is through the SAQ, the provincial retailer. This means that the list of great European beers I can get is extremely limited. Saison Dupont for example, which I would name as my ‘desert island’ beer, is not available in Quebec. However, the list of beers that the SAQ chooses to stock does include a few truly spectacular ones, and these sell for a fraction of the price you would pay in the states. One of these is Rochefort 10,  which is a real gem.

The fact that I can find such a great quad at such a reasonable price begs the question: why make one yourself? Well, it gives me an excuse to experiment with a new process. In this case, brew in a bag. With my standard mash / transfer / fly sparge procedure, I can only use about 2.5 kilos of grain at most, resulting in an OG of around 1.060. This batch used a brew in a bag / batch sparge hybrid procedure with almost double that amount of grain to see what kind of extraction numbers I could get.

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The idea was to mash as much grain as I could get into my kettle, brew in a bag style, and then remove the grain bag and place it into another vessel filled with sparge water, leave it there for ten minutes, pour the runnings back into the kettle and begin boiling. A ‘double dip’, if you will.

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The mash, which used 4.4 kg of grain at 2.4 L/kg, filled my kettle right to capacity as you can see above. The double dip idea was a bit of a disaster, as the vessel with the sparge water in it had a smaller diameter than the kettle, so the grain bag wasn’t so much placed into it as onto it. After making a mess and losing a bunch of runnings it was eventually squished in. Oh well, lesson learned.

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The rest of the brew day went smoothly, and I made some date syrup (actually more like date broth) to add to the boil along with some simple sugar in the last ten minutes. Just a pile of thinly sliced dates boiled in a bit of water for half an hour. OG ended up at about 1070, dismal efficiency. I knew I would lose a lot with this process, but I expect the ‘double dipping’ fiasco had a huge additional efficiency cost since a good deal of the runnings went onto the stove top or into the sink. The upside of the low OG is that I only needed one and a half vials of yeast, so I was able to save a half vial to use for something unusual.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 80 min
Measured OG: 1.072
Measured FG: 1.007
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 30
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): ?
Estimated Extract Efficiency: ?

Grain Bill
3000g Belgian Pilsner Malt
500g Munich 20L
300g Wheat Malt
300g Cane/Table Sugar Mix
200g Aromatic
200g Special B
200g Melanoidin
250mL Date Broth

Mash Schedule
Rest for 70 min at 66.5C, 2.4L/kg, transfer grain bag into 3L of 75C sparge water.

Hops
20g Mandarina 7.5% AA @ 80 min

Yeast
WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale @ ~13 Million Cells/mL

Fermentation Notes:
23.09.15: Yeast pitched, temperature at 19.5C.
27.09.15: Temperature to 22.5C gradually over past three days.
30.09.15: Temperature at 22.5C, krausen subsided, slowly ramping down.
08.10.15: Temperature at 21C. Tiny yeast rafts all over the surface.
14.10.15: Bottled 7.5L with 60g of table sugar (3.0 Volumes).

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Saison Des Pluies II 22.04.15

This winter and spring, I’ve been iterating past recipes and attempting to converge on some ‘regulars’ to be made repeatedly with small variations. Among these are a pale ale, a saison, and a baltic porter.

The pale ale is essentially done, in the guise of the Gyle Interrupted APA. The grain bill, yeast, and fermentation profile are set. I’ll throw in whatever fresh and fruity hops are available. The Powrót Maji Baltic Porter is fantasic, and I’ll likely enter it in competition in the fall, but I’ll still play with the recipe. I’d like to sweeten it up a little. I typically prefer very dry beers, but I expect I can make this one more well-rounded and complex with a little lighter crystal. I think it will take a long time to settle on a subtle enough chocolate/crystal/smoked malt balance.

The saison recipe is Saison Des Pluies. I love the Dupont yeast strain. There’s something very distinctive in the aroma that’s hard to pin down, and I can’t get enough of it. This is iteration number two of that recipe. A bit bigger than the first, I wanted the OG to land in the low 1050s. The NZ Wakatu hops were unavailable (no surprise there) as well as any form of Golding, so I went with a decent dose of Spalt and Saaz. Not really optimal, but this one isn’t about the hops anyway.

The rest of the recipe details are identical to the earlier version. Long low temperature sacc rest with a ten minute dextrinization rest after. Eighty minute boil. Pitch a vial of WLP565 at 18C. For the first two days, keep the fermentation temperature between 18 and 19C, and then begin ramping it up around 3 degrees a day until it hits 27C, stay there for a few days until indications of activity almost totally subside, then start going back down to 22C or so.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 80 min
Estimated OG (brewtoad): 1.053
Measured OG: 1.050
Estimated FG (brewtoad): 1.016 (nope)
Measured OG: 1.002
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 28
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): 4
Estimated Extract Efficiency: 75%

Grain Bill
1700g Belgian Pilsner Malt
300g Wheat Malt
100g Belgian Aromatic Malt
100g Golden Cane Sugar

Mash Schedule
Rest for 70 min at 64.5C, 3L/kg, raise to 70C for 15min, sparge to 9.5L, top up to 13.3L.

Hops
20g Spalt 3.5% AA @ 80 min
10g Spalt 3.5% AA @ 10 min
20g Saaz 3.5% AA @ 0 min

Yeast
WLP565 Saison I @ ~8.7 Million Cells/mL

Fermentation Notes:
22.04.15: Yeast pitched, temperature at 18.5C.
23.04.15: Airlock active, temperature to 19C.
24.04.15: Temperature to 21.5C.
25.04.15: Temperature to 23C.
26.04.15: Temperature to 26C.
28.04.15: Temperature to 25C.
30.04.15: Temperature to 23C.
13.05.15: Bottled 7.9L with 60g of Table Sugar (2.8 volumes).

Gyle Interrupted APA 18.03.15

This is an APA version of the Optic Extra Pale recipe, with loads of Chinook and Centennial late in the boil, and a decent dose of Amarillo in the fermentor. Optic base malt was not available, so I went with Maris Otter instead. Otherwise, the grain bill, mash profile, and other details are identical. I also used lactic acid to acidify the mash and sparge water, and added a very small dose of gypsum to the mash.

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Everything went according to plan on brew day, until the city decided to do some water main repairs and shut down my water supply in the middle of the mashout. At this point, I wasn’t sure whether to dump everything and buy new grains, or hold the mash at 75C and wait for the water service to resume. I opted for the latter, and fortunately had to wait only a few hours. In theory, all relevant enzymes should be denatured at this temperature, but it will be interesting to see whether the finished product has any characteristics that could be attributed to the monster mashout.

When it comes to the brew day numbers, I had very high extraction efficiency by my standards, at 80%, which makes some sense, plenty of time for any sugars to dissolve. There were no problems with sparging, although I did need to vorlauf for quite a long time before I saw reasonably clear wort.

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After the boil I actually had a little too much volume, so I ended up hitting the predicted OG right on the nose, despite the higher efficiency.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 60 min
Estimated OG (brewtoad): 1.056
Measured OG: 1.056
Estimated FG: (brewtoad) 1.013
Calculated FG: 1.011
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 44
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): 4
Estimated Extract Efficiency: 75%
Measured Extract Efficiency: 80%

Grain Bill
2100g Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett)
200g Toasted Flaked Barley
100g CaraHell (Weyermann)

Mash Schedule
Saccharification rest for 60 min at 66.5C, 2.7L/kg, with 1/8 tsp gypsum and 1/8 tsp 88% lactic acid. Mashout for 15 min (2 hours) at 75C. Sparge to 11.5L and top up to 13L.

Hops
10g Chinook 13% AA @ 60 min
10g Chinook 13% AA @ 10 min
15g Centennial 9% AA @ 5 min
10g Chinook 13% AA @ 0 min
15g Centennial 13% AA @ 0 min
30g Amarillo Leaf 9% AA @ Dry Hop (Day 8 – Day 14).

Yeast
WLP001 California Ale @ ~8.5 Million Cells/mL

Fermentation Notes:
18.03.15: Yeast pitched, temp at 17.5C.
19.03.15: Lovely small white krausen, temp at 18C.
23.03.15: Small krausen still going, temp at 18.5C.
25.03.15: Krausen subsiding, temp at 19C.
27.03.15: Dry hops in, temp at 19C.
31.03.15: Bottled 7.7L with 58g of table sugar (2.8 Volumes).

Wee Weizenbock 11.02.15

This one was thrown together on a whim, inspired by Schneider Aventinus, but more of a dunkelweizen than a weizenbock due to brewery restrictions (lauter tun size) and my refusal to make two recipes in a row that require iterated mashing. The grain bill should hopefully give it some nice body and complexity. The only weizen yeast available at the LHBS was WLP351, which seems to be something of a mystery. Internet hearsay suggests it’s the black sheep of the weizen yeast family, producing more than just the banana/clove ester combo typical of the style. The vial was a bit old, so I made a small starter to get a higher cell count before pitching.

The mill gap was set a little wider than usual, because of the significant portion of wheat malt in the recipe, and extraction numbers suffered a little bit, presumably for this reason.

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During extraction, a special guest photographer appeared. Hence the action shots below, in which I’m vorlaufing and taking the first runnings gravity sample, draining the first runnings into the boil pot, setting up the fly sparge, and then taking the first runnings gravity reading.

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After sparging, I ended up at 72% extraction efficiency. As I mentioned earlier, this is a bit low, but not unexpected given the wider mill gap. It’s interesting to note that the use of wheat malt makes a significant difference in the volume of the mash. In past batches with 2.4kg of grain, the lauter tun was overflowing, but I had room to spare here.

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You can see the pre-boil hot break and the heat exchanger at work post-boil above, as well a small part of the aftermath of brew day below. The photos don’t typically document it at all, but any brewer will tell you that brew day consists of 90% washing and 10% everything else.

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Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 75 min
Estimated OG (brewtoad): 1.058
Measured OG: 1055
Estimated FG: (brewtoad) 1.015
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 27
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): 14
Estimated Extract Efficiency: 75%
Measured Extract Efficiency: 72%

Grain Bill
1400g Wheat Malt
500g Pilsner Malt
400g Munich I (6L)
100g Pale Chocolate
50g Crystal 120

Mash Schedule
Rest for 60 min at 67C, 2.7L/kg, heat to 74C for 5 min mashout, drain then sparge to 11L, top up to 13.5L.

Hops
25g Hallertau 3.5% AA @ 75 min
25g Hallertau 3.5% AA @ 10 min

Yeast
WLP351 Bavarian Weizen @ ~10 Million Cells/mL

Fermentation Notes:
11.02.15: Decanted starter wort and pitched yeast, water bath at 17C.
12.02.15: Water bath got above 18.5C, nice looking small krausen, notable sulphur.
13.02.15: Airlock still active, but krausen gone by the end of the day.
15.02.15: Not much activity, water bath temp held at 18-18.5C by upping ambient.
17.02.15: Airlock activity slow, water bath temp steady at 18.5C.
25.02.15: Bottled 7.8L with 68g of table sugar (3.1 Volumes).

Powrót Maji Baltic Porter II 10.01.15

It’s that time of year again; time for more baltic porter. I used last year’s recipe and process completely unchanged since it turned out so well. If you’re interested in seeing the process you can check out last year’s recipe.

I milled the two dark grains on their own using a very narrow mill gap, essentially turning them into flour. This should help to get as much colour and flavour from them as possible. I had better extraction numbers this time (I think the mill gap used for the base grains was also narrower than last time). I ended up with a little bit higher OG, a bit more wort in the fermentor, and a bit more wort left in the kettle. The larger total volume, relative to last year, was due to a slightly shorter and less vigorous boil, and the use of pellet hops in place of whole hops.

I didn’t make a starter this time around, instead opting to purchase two vials of yeast to get a high enough viable cell count. Pitched the yeast at 18C, and raised to 19C over 24 hours. The longer lag time after pitching was notable and expected, but I’m not convinced this means the beer will finish any sweeter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the longer adaptation phase in a more sugar-rich environment helps the yeast attenuate. Hearsay would suggest that more ester production will occur, which isn’t so desirable in this recipe, but WLP001 is known for its low ester production.  We’ll see what happens in the tasting notes.

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Powrót Maji Baltic Porter

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 65 min
Estimated OG (brewtoad): 1.078
Measured OG: 1.080
Estimated FG: (brewtoad) 1.018
Measured FG: 1.017
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 31
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): 36
Estimated Extract Efficiency: 65%
Measured Extract Efficiency: 74%

Grain Bill
1600g Maris Otter (Baird’s)
1600g Munich I (Weyermann)
200g Smoked Malt (Weyermann)
200g Crystal 80 (Baird’s)
200g Pale Chocolate (Fawcett)
100g Carafa Special III (Weyermann)

Mash Schedule
Mash I (1700g MO/Munich Mix, 200g Smoked, 200g Crystal):
Rest for 30 min at 67.5C, 2.5L/kg, drain then sparge to 8L.
Mash II (1500g MO/Munich Mix, 200g Chocolate, 100g Carafa):
Rest for 50 min at 67.5C, 4.2L/kg, drain then sparge to 13.3L.

Hops
10g Magnum 10% AA @ 60 min
15g Northern Brewer 7.7% AA @ 15 min

Yeast
WLP001 California Ale @ ~15 Million Cells/mL

Fermentation Notes:
10.01.15: Yeast pitched, temperature at 18C. No activity.
11.01.15: Oxygenated once more 12 hours after pitching, temp at 18.5C. Still no activity.
11.01.15: Blowoff active with an inch of krausen, temp at 19C.
12.01.15: Blowoff active with two inches of krausen, temp at 19C.
14.01.15: Almost blew krausen out the top yesterday (see image above), temp at 19C.
15.01.15: Activity slowing, krausen down to reasonable level, temp raised to 20C.
25.01.15: Persistent krauseny goo. Just yeast? Possible infection? Temp at 19C.
31.01.15: Swirled carboy to rouse yeast. Still waiting to bottle. Temp at 18C.
08.02.15: Bottled 8L with 56g of table sugar (2.7 Volumes). Tasted Great.

Fall Dry Stout 13.10.14

Saison season is over, so any ale is game for the next seven months or so.  This one is very similar to last winter’s dry stout, but with with the dark grains consisting of both roasted barley as well as some chocolate malt, and a real significant proportion of flaked barley in the grain bill. Intended to be served at a lower carbonation level, and with the aid of the syringe trick.

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Fell a little bit short of efficiency targets, which was surprising given the consistent efficiency numbers I’ve had in the past. While brewing, I figured that the thicker than usual mash was likely responsible, at least in part. A few days later, I discovered one of the mill gap setscrews in my grain mill was loose the next time I used it, and I recall the milling being bumpier than usual, so I’m now pretty confident that was the culprit.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 60 min
Estimated OG (brewtoad): 1.044
Measured OG: 1.039
Estimated FG (brewtoad): 1.011
Measured FG: 1.009
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 37
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): 32
Estimated Extract Efficiency: 75%
Measured Extract Efficiency: 69%

Grain Bill
1500g Maris Otter
500g Flaked Barley
150g Roasted Barley
100g Chocolate Malt

Mash Schedule
Rest for 60 min at 65.5C, 2.6L/kg, raise to 72C for mash out, sparge to 10.5L, top up to 13L.

Hops
40g Fuggles 3.9% AA @ 60 mins

Yeast
WLP007 Dry English @ ~7.5 Million Cells/mL (bit of an overpitch I suppose)

Fermentation Notes:
13.10.14: Yeast pitched, temperature at 18C.
18.10.14: Temperature gradually raised up to 21C over the first five days of fermentation.
20.10.14: Yeast has really flocced out, essentially no activity.
26.10.14: Fermentor still occasionally burps. Giving it a few more days before bottling.
30.10.14: Bottled 7.5L with 48g of table sugar (2.5 Volumes).

Ommegawd Belgian Amber Ale 04.08.14

This recipe is essentially a clone of Ommegang’s Rare Vos. Many details of the recipe are easily available, as Rare Vos was featured on the can you brew it podcast, which includes a rather awkward interview with a brewer at Ommegang. There were a few modifications I needed to make because of availability issues, the yeast strain being the most significant.

I stuck with the same mash schedule I’ve used for other Belgian styles this summer. A one hour 64.5C beta-amylase rest, followed by a short alpha-amylase rest at 70C.

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The spice additions make me a bit uneasy. Spices in beer tend to be either undetectable or completely dominant. In this case, I scaled down the numbers used in the can you brew it clone recipe, which was reported to be a convincing clone. By the way, grains of paradise smell fantastic.

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The groundwater was quite warm, and I was only able to chill the wort down to 23C before racking it to the carboy to ferment. To further cool the wort I immersed the filled carboy in a water bath held at 20C (ice packs) for an hour and a half before oxygenating and pitching the yeast. The yeast had to go through the ordeal of being taken out of the fridge and gradually heating up to the ambient temperature in the apartment, about 28C, and then being pitched into wort that was only around 21C. Twelve hours later the krausen is forming up, as you can in the picture above, and it seems to be doing fine.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 9L
Boil Time: 80 min
Estimated OG (brewtoad): 1.054
Measured OG: 1.053
Estimated FG (brewtoad): 1.013
Measured FG: 1.008
Estimated IBU (brewtoad): 21
Estimated SRM (brewtoad): 5
Estimated Extract Efficiency: 75%
Measured Extract Efficiency: 76%

Grain Bill
2000g Pilsner Malt (Weyermann)
150g Belgian Aromatic Malt (Dingeman’s)
150g CaraHell (Weyermann)

Mash Schedule
Rest for 60 min at 64.5C, 3.1L/kg, raise to 70C for 15min, sparge to 11L, top up to 13.5L.

Hops
20g Styrian Goldings 3.6% AA @ 75 mins
20g Styrian Goldings 3.6% AA @ 5 mins
10g Styrian Goldings 3.6% AA @ 0 mins

Extras
2g Coriander Seed (Smashed) @ 15 mins
4g Grains Of Paradise (Smashed) @ 15 mins
Zest of one Navel Orange @ 15 mins

Yeast
WLP575 Belgian Ale Blend @ ~7.7 Million Cells/mL

Fermentation Notes:
04.08.14: Yeast pitched, temperature at 20.5C.
05.08.14: Airlock active, krausen forming, temperature up to 21C.
06.08.14: Nice fluffy krausen, temperature up to 22C.
07.08.14: Fermentation slowing, temperature up to 23C.
11.08.14: Away for the weekend, temp got to almost 26C. Oh well.
17.08.14: Bottled 7.1L with 63g of table sugar (3.0 Volumes).