Crisis Brewing

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PeeBee
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Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:27 pm

I was involved in a monster thread recently, mainly concerning water treatments but also using a particular recipe as an example. The recipe was for a "blonde ale" and is a very fast brewed style that in this case was intended for a BIAB setup. I'd volunteered to attempt this recipe using a Grainfather to "emulate" BIAB (as I normally do) together with a few other tricks I developed for "low-alcohol" brewing. The aim to get a Corny keg full of moderate alcohol (about 4% ABV) ready within 10 days, and with minimum effort. The original thread was viewtopic.php?f=35&t=82202 (it is huge, might be a bit slow to start, but then starts to blossom - well I think so!).

Brewing this beer got interrupted by the February floods, quickly followed by virus crisis. But the latter has amplified the recipe's appeal - get beer ready quick, with minimal effort 'cos attention is often diverted elsewhere. And of course, it still needs to be excellent beer!

So a few days ago I got the brewing kit sorted and launched into the project ...




(to be continued)
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:44 pm

Let me start with a bit of preparation before launching into the "brewday".

EQUIPMENT
30L+ Boiler with bag for BIAB, else Grainfather or similar one-pot system. Plus a stirring spoon and perhaps a hop spider.
19L Corny keg or similar.*
Spunding valve on a Corny keg gas-in disconnect or suitable secondary regulator.
Gas cylinder.

There is nothing simpler than the "Brew-in-a-bag" technique. But I'm using a Grainfather to "emulate" BIAB. Any one-pot system should do? BIAB is supposed to be a no-sparge technique, but if boiler size forces some sparging to make up the volume, so be it. The Grainfather has a 30L capacity and will handle an 18L batch "no-sparge" with ease. Grainfather seems to discourage "no-sparge" even to the point of having an article suggesting no-sparge produces inferior beer ... utter cobblers. Some very minor alterations makes no-sparge in a Grainfather easier and involves having two small jubilee clips. If using BIAB you can make some modifications to gain one of the advantages of using one-pot systems (i.e. recircuation) ... see here viewtopic.php?f=35&t=82202&start=135#p847727

I use a "hop spider" when boiling the hops 'cos I'm using pellets which disintegrate into mush.

A 19L Corny keg or similar pressure vessel. What, no fermenter? Nope, we're skipping that step completely! Along with all the time consuming transfers, priming or carbonation, spoilage risk, etc. (*EDIT: My Corny kegs are all modified to use floating beer extractors not the original rigid dip-tube - see "caveats" later, you may need to be creative if you can't fit floating extractors).

A spunding valve. I don't like spunding valves 'cos they're so crabby. I use small regulators (Shako NR200, but others may work). Regulators have the disadvantage of requiring "back-pressure" on the input port (connected to gas supply even though it doesn't use the gas), but you can turn this to an advantage. You can also get "Blowtie" devices for spunding valves, but I've yet to try one.

And a gas cylinder to serve the finished beer (and for "back-pressure" as above). Not forgetting a tap for serving.



RECIPE
The recipe mashes at 66C for 1 hour:
65% Lager Malt (3EBC)
15% Dextrin Malt (2-3EBC)
10% Cara Malt (30EBC)
10% Vienna Malt (9EBC)
Looking for a SG of about 1.040.

But you can use 97% Pale Malt and 3% 100-150EBC Crystal Malt and anything in between and I doubt they'll be much difference.
It is then boiled for an hour with four about equal hop additions at 0, 25, 40 and 55 minutes; the first two Centennial hops and the remainder (late) hops as Cascade. I used the "BBC pellets" because they have superior keeping qualities and the American "C" hops are otherwise pretty dismal if not fresh. Looking for 20-22IBUs.

1/2 Protofloc tablet was added near end.

I used "Beersmith" as the recipe builder, but use whatever you are comfortable with. Beersmith includes a BIAB (full-boil-volume-mash) mode which simplifies the volume calculations. You may need to tune the "grain absorbance" and "boil off" volumes to customise the water calculations; I'll need to do a bit more tuning of these before another attempt (you can of course just roughly "wing it", but I like the comfort these calculators bring when tuned right).
CenntenialMelyn.JPG


WATER
I chose a fairly inane "yellow, dry" profile out of "Bru'n Water" because this is a new-world recipe with little emphasis on malt and more emphasis on the perfumed hops. In this exercise I was pitching "Bru'n Water" against "Mash-Made-Easy"; the salt calculations were the same using Gypsum, Calcium Chloride solution (7.4%) and Epsom Salt but the pH predictions were quite different (using same quantities of Phosphoric Acid).

Note Calcium Chloride is a pain to use dry, because it is so hygroscopic. Making a solution of 8-10% and knowing its OG is much easier (warning: it can get very hot when dissolving). Bru'n Water appears to stick to grams when configured to use a solution: Ignore it, it is measuring in millilitres really (March 2020, may change in future?).
CenntenialMelynBW.JPG
CenntenialMelynMME.JPG



(Next-up: Brewday!)
Last edited by PeeBee on Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Mon Mar 30, 2020 7:06 pm

Okay, we get started by printing out the "worksheet":
CentennialMelyn-page-001.jpg
Ignore the clap-trap about "hydrate yeast". I'll do that when the time comes and wont be wasting time with "GoFerm". You can also ignore the "strike" mash step ... that's my kludge to get the Grainfather to automate the "strike" step (Grainfathers have no concept of "strike"), but "Connect" connectivity with the Grainfather Website is pants at moment (victim of "lockdown"?) so the Grainfather is being used manually.

I prepped the water the previous day to allow chlorine to vent off (no chloramine here).
20200326_111206_WEB.jpg
Note the jubilee clip on the telescopic centre tube. This fixes the tube to stop it "telescoping". Another jubilee clip fastens the overflow nut onto the top plate. So when the top plate is fitted, it stays in one place 'cos there isn't much grain in the mash to support it.Note that is the entire quantity of water for the recipe (water to grain ratio is about 8 litres per Kg grain, Beersmith calculated this for me).
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Mon Mar 30, 2020 7:32 pm

20200326_121740_WEB.jpg
The mash is on. Note the top-plate is high and dry, but still doing its job of diffusing the circulation flow so it doesn't dig up the mash grain. The glass lid can be fitted and the re-circulation pipe. The temperature has been set at 66C (it was previously 69C for heating strike water) and the pump switched on.

After 15 minutes the pH was taken. So which water calculator wins? pH is 5.25. Damn, Bru'n Water steals the day. I was convinced on recent measurements the higher prediction of Mash-Made-Easy would have it win easily. Especially as the tap water was coming out as 9.0, the highest I've ever measured it! I re-calibrate quick ... seems my meter is over-reading by 0.1, which makes matters worse! Guess my water hasn't stabilised to 2017 levels even now. Minor digression, now lets get back to the job in hand ...
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:13 pm

Mash is finished and malt-pipe raised to drain grains. This may be a BIAB emulation, but you can't squeeze the malt-pipe like you can a bag! Just let it drain while the wort heats up to 98C. But draining is very efficient. Collect 23.7L when only expecting 22.9. Tweak the grain absorption next time.

Malt-pipe off, ramp up to boil, fit hop-spider, boil for 20 minutes to get rid of excess wort and throw in first lot of pellets.
20200326_144456_WEB.jpg
Continue boil, adding hops at right times, and 1/2 protofloc tablet near end.

Start cooling in the boiler until output below 20C (I've got a GF "Wortometer" fitted), at which point the outflow pipe is put into the keg. Yes, that isn't a mistake! I'm skipping the fermenter and filling the keg now!
20200326_162050_WEB.jpg
The yeast is hydrated. No aerating the wort, this isn't strong beer and the dried yeast is supplied with enough oxygen requirement to see it through. In goes the yeast and the keg is sealed.

Next, the fermentation ...
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:59 am

I left the keg in a warm place (16-17C) overnight without the spunding valve (risky?)and next morning there was a distinct "phsss" released from the PRV. Fermentation was starting. So the improvised spunding valve was attached. Paranoia had me fit a large trap because this was the first time I'd fermented a moderately highish OG beer in a keg and I imagined a "foam-over".
20200328_100055_WEB.jpg
That evening, with the pressure having been maintained at 12PSI, it was obvious there was going to be no "foam-over" (I suspect the pressure will discourage foam) so the trap was removed. I'd be confident now to fit the spunding valve without the trap at the start in future.
20200328_185638_WEB.jpg
After a couple of days the SG was 1.011 and fermentation pretty much done. This is where using a regulator as a spunding valve has a clear advantage: The regulator was dialled up to 18PSI and the keg moved somewhere cooler (12-13C). It is force carbonating to about 2.3 volumes (it will be served at about 7C which should see the pressure drop to about 12-13PSI).
20200329_135231_WEB.jpg
Pinching samples is easy, just fit a tap to the keg! This is where it's at towards end of day 4:
20200329_142616_WEB.jpg
Very fragrant! But this is very green beer and has that distinct "grab". It's not ready yet!

The regulator was removed a few hours later. But this could have been premature. Into the sixth day the pressure had built to 25PSI and SG dropped to 1.006. I thought it would stop about 1.009-1.010, but the beer had other ideas. It was vented back to 20PSI and prepared for sinking in the "fridge" (an unfinished kegerator build) set at about 7C.
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CAVEATS!

Post by PeeBee » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:33 am

The preceding picture of a glass also shows small gas cylinders in the background. These are being used as gas reservoirs and pressured up to 60PSI ("bus" line pressure) when the CO2 cylinder is opened. The CO2 cylinder can then be closed and these cylinders provide the back-pressure without me risking the entire CO2 cylinder. Without back-pressure on the improvised spunding valve (small secondary regulator) the regulator will vent all the gas pressure in the keg! It's just how they are made.

What I should have mentioned in the first post ... All my Corny kegs are fitted with floating beer extractors. Fermenting in the keg will obviously result in more yeast than normal. If using an unmodified Corny keg with the usual rigid "beer out" dip tube, the amount of yeast might be a problem when trying to get a clear pint out.

The other problem with having all that yeast in the keg, is that given time it can generate "bad" flavours. I don't expect it after a month, perhaps not after two either. I'm drinking perfectly fine "low-alcohol" beer that was fermented in the keg 8 months ago, but those recipes will not generate so much yeast.
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by f00b4r » Tue Mar 31, 2020 3:58 pm

You really need to try a diagram based spunding valve, I don’t think you would ever use your overly complex, requiring gas, setup ever again; you are right about the poppet ones not being great though (they can stick and/or be inaccurate).
I’m tempted to get one of those regulators to try with a spare gas bottle and Fermentasaurus combination (for kegging/CPF/serving direct), to see how they perform and the ease of preventing leaks (not been an issue with me before as I throughly test my setup before I will leave on 24/7 but I have seen it catch a lot of people out and I may also have just been lucky, although certain things like eg shear pressure on JG fittings seem to be the main culprits).

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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:15 pm

Hi "f00b4r".

"... overly complex ..."? But did you see the switch between spunding valve and carbonation mode above (a couple of turns of the dial). I've got some of those diaphragm "blowtie" spunding valves but haven't tried to deploy them as spunding valves yet (one does great service as a "wet" pressure relief valve for a CIP pump). Those little secondary (Shako) regulators are diaphragm types, but I never solved the need to apply gas to those regulators ("back-pressure"), I just worked that "disadvantage" with them into an "advantage".

Another "feature" I did discover with those Shako regulators was that the relief mechanism will go down to 12-13PSI, and no further. So if set at 5PSI they relieve at 12PSI, and if set at 9PSI they relieve at 12PSI too. I have no bother with this, but some folk may try to have valves relieve at 5PSI, and the Shako regulators used in "spunding mode" wont do it (neither will the crappy "poppet" valves, but you can't tell some people that).
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:38 pm

Almost the end of Day 7. The beer dropped another point of gravity (1.005), is now at serving temperature (7C) and has cleared a lot. This beer hasn't been fined so I expect it to be a bit hazy for a while yet (I have fined a pressurised beer before now - injecting the finings from a "carbonation capped" bottle into the "gas in" disconnect - but I haven't bothered for this beer). The green beer "grab" has diminished but could moderate a bit more (couple more days). Very lemony - I'm surprised that there is no hint of the usual US hop 'grapefruit', just lemon.
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:24 am

I was drinking it on Day 8, the photo is day 13:
20200408_143206_WEB.jpg
20200408_143206_WEB.jpg (71.69 KiB) Viewed 1476 times
Still hazy. Still a monstrous rocky head. Light, bright, refreshing and moderately hoppy. I've got the ingredients for a "red" version to try next.
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by guypettigrew » Fri Apr 10, 2020 5:05 pm

Hmm, bread and almonds! Must be something else there.

Guy

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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:32 pm

Nope! Nowt else there. I'm just addicted to nuts and have an ample supply (I didn't have to resort to panic buying, they just "turn up" by the kilo being on subscription, or perhaps that should be prescription?).

I'm rather pleased how this method has turned out and so already have my next attempt sorted (grain order will hopefully turn up in a few days):
CenntenialCoch.JPG
Same brew, but replaced the Lager Malt and Vienna Malt with "Red X" and the caramalt with "Cara Red". So it'll be red then?

Note I'm still using "dextrin malt" which I always used to rant about. But apparently the maltsters manipulate the malting so the dextrins created cannot be converted further by mashing. Weird, but something is responsible for that Styrofoam head so I'm guessing it is that malt?
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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by WalesAles » Sun May 17, 2020 6:58 pm

Great post there PB! =D>

WA

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Re: Crisis Brewing

Post by PeeBee » Mon May 18, 2020 8:32 pm

WalesAles wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 6:58 pm
Great post there PB! =D>

WA
Thanks very much!

A few weeks on and the beer did fall bright, but I think I'll have to rethink how I clarify these beers - its taken too long:
20200515_203142_WEB.jpg
Still got its outrageous head!

Oh aye. The marvellously fragrant hop scent dissipated after about a week. But it still has a very good hop "character", just not one you can easily put your finger on (well I can't).
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