Sunday, 7 September 2014

BIAB #9 - Rye Citra...

A few months ago ripples were being made across Twitter in regard to organising a brew camp, initiated by some of the folk at the Manchester Homebrew. The gist is that homebrewers will gather together in a field one weekend to enjoy one another’s brews, swap bottles and generally talk stuff and nonsense. However, it looks like they weren't the only people with brew camp on their minds as the Doncaster homebrew guys had already held a successful event last year and plans for this year were already in motion for the end of August. Conveniently for me, it’s due to take place just outside of Bakewell, which is just a quick jaunt over the peaks for the missus and myself.

So, with just over a month to go, I had to get my arse into gear and start working on a couple of brews. If the glorious weather holds out, it makes sense to go with a couple of tasty, refreshing pale brews. Having some rye left over from my last brew, and still an ample amount of Citra to use up, the recipe built itself. Also, I had a pack of Summit pellets just begging to be opened and I figured a couple of small additions would bump up that citrus punch nicely. As the last couple of my brews had been saisons, I decided there would be no faffing around with yeasts this time, I wanted a clean, bright beer so WPL001 was my weapon of choice. 

As mentioned in my previous brewday write ups, I have recently upgraded to a 29ltr Brupaks boiler, and so my BIAB method now employed a giant piece of voile material pushed inside the vessel, which has been working an absolute treat. Along with increasing my mash time to 90 minutes, my efficiency had shot up considerably. The only problem arises when you come to lift it out and drain out all those valuable sugars. An initial 5 kilos of dry grain pretty much triples in weight when sodden, making it a bit difficult to squeeze and suspend for anything longer than a few minutes. I've seen some of the contraptions people make to hoist the sacks out, but that’s a project for another day. Having put my thinking cap on I came up with a solution - why not split the grain bill between multiple smaller sacks that I had employed for my old 11ltr stock pot? It made total sense! Instead of struggling to lift it out in one go I could just grab a sack at a time and give it a dunking in the sparge water with minimal effort. Bingo!

The plan worked absolute my own mind! In practice I stumbled across a few problems. Firstly, as the sacks were not very wide, so I struggled to get all the grain submerged properly and had to squash the sacks down a little, and despite the grain being wet, it was a little compacted. Secondly the tighter weave of the cotton sacks lead to basically what was a stuck mash due to the use of rye. The sacks just totally blocked up! This didn't occur when using the voile in my last brew, despite using over double the amount of rye. I did manage to squeeze some wort out, but it was a real struggle and I even split the seam of one of the sacks, but spotted the impending stitch failure before the grain came tumbling out. Despite looking like I had a decent runnings of wort, it actually equated to around 3.4% as opposed to the predicted 5.5%. Ahh well, I had accidentally made a session ale, so it wasn't a complete disaster and valuable lessons have been learnt.

Kegs, made easy.

The rest of the brewday proceeded without issue and the beer fermented out as predicted. As I was planning on taking this to the brew camp I had canvassed Twitter for a suitable, and affordable, kegging solution, just so I didn't have to take a hundred plus bottles with me. After a few promising leads I decided to go for some Easy Kegs. These are 5 litre aluminium vessels that come with a built in pouring tap, which a few breweries use to package up their beer as ‘party kegs’. Furthermore they’re not all that expensive either, coming in at around the £6 mark. I ordered four of them, with the plan being that I’d use two for each brew and then bottle the rest of the beer for swaps. Thanks to some useful advice from Twitter courtesy of Dean Regler, I dropped 10 grams of sugar into each keg and placed on my digital scales and zeroed, then began filling them up to just shy of 5kg. If I previously thought filling bottles was boring, filling mini kegs was even worse. I need to look into using a syphoning tube for the future instead of the bottling wand.

I filled bottles with the rest of the beer and then I had a lightbulb moment, I could enter this one into the Thornbridge competition too as it accidentally ended up in a different category. The only problem was, it wouldn't actually have been ready for sampling before the deadline. It was a risk, but I took the plunge and sent it off anyway! What’s the worst that could happen? Thankfully when I did get to try my wares it had turned out quite good and hid it’s low ABV well. Having also tried it again at brewcamp it was definitely drinkable and my fellow brewers seemed to enjoy it, so in the end I was pleased with my botched brew.

 Name Type EBC Percentage Amount
Pale Ale MaltGrain5.991%4.55 Kg
Rye MaltGrain6.96%300 g
Torrified WheatGrain3.93%150 g

 Name AA% Amount Use Time
Citra11.1%20 gBoil30 mins
Citra11.1%50 gBoil15 mins
Citra11.1%50 gBoil10 mins
Summit (Pellet)17%15 gBoil10 mins
Citra11.1%50 gBoil0 mins