Thursday, April 11, 2019

We Brewed in a Hailstorm -- Hail Storm Surprise Altbier Brew Day

The last brew day at my little condo was quite extreme. It also happened to be the latest in the day I've started brewing.
This brew my buddy from the Dunkelweissen brew day came to join me going half-in on this batch. We initially discussed making some kind of amber ale, but those plans got slightly.... altered. From my Trader Joe's Beer Reviews, I really liked the flavor of the Alternate Dimension Altbier enough to try a brew of that style. Here is the recipe we came across for that style:

Hail Storm Surprise! Altbier (10 gal)
12 lb Munich Malt
10 lb 2 Row Malt
1 lb Aromatic Malt
0.25 lb Chocolate Wheat

2 oz Hallertau (60 min)
1 oz Perle (60 min)
1 oz Perle (30 min)


Now the forecast had rain listed for the morning and cloudy skies in the afternoon the days prior, so we felt in the clear for starting our brewing later in the day. Our opinions changed pretty fast when we were buying grain.
Hail! Lots of hail! Our homebrew shop has a corrugated metal roof; the sound of all the hail hitting the roof was deafening.

Going back with our typical three tiered system for maximum apartment brewing efficiency, 7.25 gallons of water were heated for the mash.
Following the water, the grains were added in. In the video (coming soon), you will see we did not hesitate to get those grains in. The mash thickened as it was supposed to and started our 90 minute timer. The temperature of the mash started at 150F and dropped to 143F during that time. We are expecting this brew to come out with similar mouthfeel to the Dunkelweissen.

While this was going on, we were either setting up and checking to see if the burner was good or watching assorted YouTube videos indoors.
With the mash complete, we started draining the wort into my assorted buckets and dumped the sparge water ontop of the grains once the level in the cooler dropped below the grain level. We collected 13.75 gallons of wort, which went straight into the boil kettle.

After firing up the burner and filling the kettle, we started to heat the wort. We noticed that it was starting to get a bit more cloudy. We were a little worried that it would start raining, so we assembled a "cover" to keep any rain out of the kettle. Although at this stage, water entering the boil kettle wouldn't be the worst thing in the world because we'd just boil it off anyway.
Wow what do you know? It actually started hailing! The kettle had just reached 80C when the hail started coming down. Surprise! But you know what? Our little rain cover actually worked! No hail was getting in the batch.
And then the rain started coming down! At this point I was more worried about the flame going out than anything else. Getting the flame relit during this downpour would be nearly impossible.
The rain eventually did pass and with some manipulation of the burner, we eventually got the boil going. There was a ton of steam coming off of that kettle!
Twice during the boil, the flame went out. We let this boil go for 90 minutes to compensate for the flame outs. Relighting the burner with the giant kettle above was no fun.
Thank goodness that the rain and hail stopped before we started the cooldown. With the immersion chiller in place, the wort cooled really fast and we transferred the wort to our fermenters.
We got about 11.5 gallons of wort out of that, so I guess our boil calculations were a bit off, or maybe the flame outs caused not enough water to boil off. In any case, a little US-05 for all the fermenters and this beer is fermenting!
The OG was 1.050, which was slightly lower than I had anticipated. This should finish up at 4-5% ABV depending on how much of the caramel malt remains. I will be transferring this to secondary or bottling within a week due to having to move, so keep an eye open for that post when it comes up. Until next time, cheers!

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