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.


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.


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.

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).

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).


Tasting Notes: Квас Experiment 18.02.15


Appearance: Slightly effervescent muddy red brown. Head retention not good.

Smell: Sulphuric, sour and yeasty.

Taste: Brown sugar, bread, and apples (this is a bit surprising, but it’s undeniably in there) all come to mind. Notable carbonation that cuts the sweetness a little bit. But still, this is a quite sweet drink.

Overall: This is much like what I expected homemade kvas to taste like. I enjoy it, but it’s not really an experiment, since the WLP001 I pitched wasn’t responsible for fermentation. This is still a mystery to me. Perhaps it got a little too cold in the fridge and the yeast froze? Upon opening the highly pressurized bottle, the bread yeast sediment was immediately kicked up into suspension, so the initial few glasses were extremely yeasty. I would recommend letting the bottle sit in the fridge for a bit after venting it, and even then, possibly pouring through a paper towel.

Квас Experiment 18.02.15

Have yeast sitting around? Why not use it for something? Why not kvas? Probably because you don’t know what kvas is. All over Eastern Europe, kvas has been a staple for ages, sold in bottles and from kvas carts. It’s made by steeping bread in water, adding various other stuff and fermenting. It’s sweeter than beer, with a lower OG as well, and hence ends up with only a little alcohol in it. I expect the reason attenuation is low in kvas is the absence of important yeast nutrients that are contributed to brewer’s wort by malted grain.

Flavour-wise, kvas tends to be polarizing. I love it, and a few of my friends think it’s great, but in general it’s not always well received by the western palate. We’ll see if I can convert anyone.

The procedure is simple enough. Find a loaf of dark bread with as much rye flour content as possible, and toast it. Add the toast to a pot of boiled water. Leave it for a while. Remove the soggy toast and add sugar. Boil and cool the water (or don’t boil at all). Add yeast and let it ferment. Once yeast activity peaks out, bottle it in 2L soda bottles. The timing varies widely between recipes, and dried fruits and herbs are often added to steep with the toast.


Note that I’m massively overpitching, and I have no idea how the timeline for fermentation and carbonation will go.

Protip: The bread will soak up a lot of water, so start steeping with much more liquid than you intend to ferment.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size: 2L
Boil Time: 5 min

Grain Bill
8 Slices 100% Rye Sourdough (Toasted)
230mL Turbinado Sugar
30g Leftover Crystal 120 (Pulverized with a Hammer)
Handful Dried Cranberries

Steep Schedule
Boil 3L of water. Remove from heat and immediately add the toast and cranberries. Throw in the pulverized malt (in a cheesecloth sac) when the temperature drops below 75C.

1/3 Vial WLP001 (Woken up with a tiny starter, crashed for a few hours, then pitched)

Fermentation Notes:
18.02.15: Pitched yeast and went to bed, temp at around 17C.
19.02.15: No signs of fermentation? Tablespoon dry bread yeast pitched at noon.
19.02.15: Dry yeast took right off, fermented for eight hours right in the pot, then bottled. Left for three hours more while periodically off-gassing by hand, then put in the fridge.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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

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.


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.

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

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.

Tasting Notes: Fall Dry Stout 13.10.14


Appearance: Yep. Looks like stout. Very very dark brown with thick, persistent tan coloured head kicked up using the syringe trick.

Smell: Very mild, slightly sweet, with no detectable hops. This yeast seems quite subdued, in terms of the aroma. (Guest taster describes slight milky/vanilla/marshmallow)

Taste: Again subdued. Slightly roasty, but I would have liked more oomph. Imagine a very mild vanilla-choco-frappucino. Some classic british ale type sweetness in there, though no dark crystal flavours.

Overall: No flaws, but there’s just not enough there to be great. This probably goes back to the milling issue on brew day. I wouldn’t change the proportions in the grain bill at all, but I would scale it up by a factor of 1.2 or 1.3, and mill the dark grains separately using an extremely tight gap.

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.


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.

40g Fuggles 3.9% AA @ 60 mins

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).