Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brew Day #8: "Burning Bear" Amber Ale + Recipe

Bear on fire
No bears were immolated in the creation of this brew
Today marks the first brew we've done since the Vanilla Porter. The house agreed upon making an amber ale using the California ale yeast we had in the fridge. In the two month gap since our last brew day, our apartment complex had microwave/hood units installed above each stove, effectively replacing all the old vent hoods. At first I was worried that the new microwave would block our kettle from being placed on the stove, but luckily there was at least 2-3 inches of clearance. Aside from that trouble, nothing else stood in the way of making some great beer.
A fine selection of grains
"Burning Bear" Amber Ale

  • 8.5 lb 2 Row
  • 1.5 lb Crystal 10
  • 0.5 lb Special B
  • 1 oz Challenger
  • 2 oz Willamette
  • WLP 001 California Ale Yeast
We started the day before by creating our yeast starter. It didn't take long for the yeast to revive as foam was everywhere inside the bottle the next morning. California Ale yeast works quickly, as we found out when making our IPA.
Yeast starter 1
Nothing exciting happening here
Yeast starter 2
Lots of excitement here
Once our kitchen was clean the day of, it was time to mash in. For our 10.5 lbs of grain, we used 2.5 gallons of water. Looking back at it, we should have used maybe 2.75 gallons of water because the grain absorbed a bunch after the mash.
Mashing in
Always pour the grain slowly to avoid clumping
Mash in
Beginning of the mash
We mashed in at around 55°C and slowly raised the temperature to 62°C during the 90 minute mash. The house was starting to smell good at this point. Next came lautering.
Grains prelautering
We were a little slow getting all the water needed to lauter the grains with. At one point during the sparge, we had to stop the flow entirely because we ran out of sparge water at the top. Luckily our sparge didn't stick like last time. We used about 6 gallons of sparge water total due to absorption and equipment loss.
Color from vorlaufing
If you need a quick refresher on how this lautering setup works, watch the video below.

Sparging the grains
Sparge arm in action
Sweet Liquor production
Sweet wort near the end of lautering
Getting this wort to boiling didn't take too long at all. This time, the foam was manageable and was no where near close to causing a boil over.
Foamy wort
Our hop schedule required 60 minutes on the Challenger hops and 5 minutes on 1 oz of Willamette.
Boiling with hops
At least the new microwave gives us a new point to tie things to.
After boiling, it was onto cooling the wort. This was also the time most of the equipment was cleaned as the flow rate was unusually slow and all three of us were working on the batch this time. I think we used less water in cooling this time than any other time.
Cooling the wort
Time to chill out
Since there was a lot of sugary sediment floating around in the wort, (I sampled the unboiled stuff which had started to settle) we opted for the dump the kettle contents into the fermenter method rather than autosiphoning. We were careful to not overfill the fermenter like in our last batch as that caused some trouble.
Wort prior to pitching
Ignore the Frodo foot again
We sampled the wort left over in the kettle and got an original gravity reading of 1.045. I'm not sure why it's this low compared to the other batches, especially with the 90 minute mash. I think my bias comes from the Vanilla Porter because that one had maltodextrine added, which boosts the gravity slightly. This will ferment down to below 1.010 and give an ABV of about 5%.
Pitching the yeast starter
Pitching the yeast
Since we had a good starter, we expect this to finish fermenting in about 7 days. Then will come another week of dry hopping followed by a week of bottle conditioning. Until then,cheers!
Brew closet
A temporary solution to the airlock cracking is duct tape.
Amber Ale not meth
A rich tradition

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