Monday, January 21, 2013

BIAB Series- Micro-batch #1- The Embrouiller

I typically brew 15-20 gallon batches. Occasionally I will brew ten if I am doing something with really high gravity or experimental. My system really will not allow me to go much smaller than that. In addition, brewing on this system is a bit of an undertaking and commitment. Add to that if the outside temperatures are sub zero. Unfortunately where I live I am currently dealing with freezing temps. My last brew session was in 9 degree weather. That's 9 Fahrenheit.

So on this Holiday I was thinking about brewing, but the thought of pulling everything out in freezing cold was  killing my motivation. If I was going to brew I needed to do it inside and on a tiny scale!

To make it a little more interesting, I challenged myself to only use things I had on hand, including equipment.

I have a big box of remnant malts. It's full of 1-10 pound bags of various malts. I also have a freezer full of hops so no problem there. My choice of yeast was limited to exactly one kind... Wyeast 1581 Belgian Stout. Not a bad yeast to be stuck with if you ask me!

So I was obviously going to brew something Belgian but I mostly had base malts on hand. I thought about something super simple like a Patersbeir, but I was able to dig up a few things to make something a bit bigger.

The following are things I was able to pull together for the Embrouiller, a Belgian Dark Strong ale.

The Embrouiller
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Type: All GrainDate: 1/21/2013
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.00 galBrewer:
Boil Size: 4.5 galAsst Brewer:
Boil Time: 90 minEquipment: 8 Gallon BIAB

7 lbs 8.0 ozPilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.5 SRM)Grain175.5 %
2 lbsVienna Malt (3.5 SRM)Grain220.1 %
6.0 ozGolden Naked Oats (10.0 SRM)Grain33.8 %
1.0 ozChocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)Grain40.6 %
0.50 ozAurora (Super Styrian) [10.30 %] - Boil 50.0 minHop523.4 IBUs
0.50 ozAurora (Super Styrian)[10.30 %] - Boil 15.0 minHop612.2 IBUs
1.0 pkgBelgian Stout (Wyeast #1581)Yeast7-
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.088 SGMeasured Original Gravity: 1.087 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SGMeasured Final Gravity: ?
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.3 %Actual Alcohol by Vol: 
Bitterness: 35.5 IBUsCalories: 297.0 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 9.3 SRM (I think it is slightly darker than this est)

Now I had my ingredients, but I still needed a way to mash my grains and boil. I have a round 5 gallon cooler which I could use to mash, but I did not want to hijack the cooler by adding a ball valve and braid to it. Then I found it... a beat to hell 8 gallon aluminium pot that my wife acquired someplace. Yeah, aluminium would not be my first choice, but it was my best and only option. It would be perfect for mashing and boiling if I could find a way to lauter in it.

Heating mash water
The obvious method to lauter seemed to be BIAB or Brew In A Bag. Essentially it is a no sparge, all grain, one pot brewing method. All I needed to accomplish this was a large mesh bag. So I did end up purchasing one item to complete the days brewing. I ran down to the home depot and bought a 2 pack of 5 gallon nylon paint strainer bags. The cost was under 3 dollars.

Any extract brewers take note. I just upgraded extract brewing equipment to all grain brewing equipment for $3.00. There is no reason not to do this!

My double crushed grain after doughing in.

The bag is made to fit in a five gallon bucket. It has elastic around the top. This fit very snugly on my kettle. I was a little worried it would fall down, but it never moved. The mash went very smooth and I maintained my mash temp much easier than I expected.

With the 8 gallon pot I targeted a full boil 3 gallon batch of beer. I don't even think I could recirculate 3 gallons of wort in my main system. If one were to do 5 gallon stove top BIAB, you would need a 10 gallon kettle, or you would have to top up with water after your boil (don't do that!).

I only ran into one issue today. I wasn't able to boil on my lame electric stove. Well maybe I could have but I ran out of patience. So in the end I did go outside to use a burner to boil the wort. For chilling I just left my pot out in the snow and sub zero temps. It took just over an hour to cool off to pitching temp.

I hope this is the first of many small batches of beer from the labs of Revival Brewing. And so begins my BIAB micro-batch series.

My tiny 3 gal better bottle and The Embrouiller.

Look at that little guy! It just barley fit on the burner.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The first brew of 2013 - Water into Wheatwine

I usually do not post anything about upcoming brew sessions, but it is a slow day and I am pretty excited about what we will be attempting.

Once again we will be brewing a style that I have never had a chance to try. I would guess that many a beer lover have never tried this style either. It's sort of a hybrid and has no official BJCP category.

Sundays brew will be a wheatwine. It's closest relative is the barleywine, but it uses a large amount of malted wheat instead of being all barley. There are no official style guidelines, but in my mind you need at least 50% of the malt bill to come from wheat. There are less than 100 wheatwines listed on beerAdvocate (there are almost 600 barleywines). Wheatwine seems to be one of those styles created by the American craft brew movement. Rubicon Brewing Company claims to be the first brewer of the style back in 1998. They have won several awards with it including gold at GABF.

In building the recipe I did some research on other brewers attempts to create this beer. Some people seem to take a Weizenbock recipe and scale it up to get a high ABV. The big difference is that you want a more neutral yeast and American hops.

My take on it is slightly different. I definitely wanted to use German wheat, but I am forgoing some of the more traditional Weizenbock ingredients such as Pils, Munich, Vienna, and/or CaraMunich/Vienna.


Batch Size: 15.00 galStyle: American Barleywine (19C)
Boil Size: 19.64 galStyle Guide: BJCP 2008
Color: 14.6 SRMEquipment: Stainless Pots (26 Gallons) - All Grain
Bitterness: 76.9 IBUsBoil Time: 60 min
Est OG: 1.105 (24.6° P)Mash Profile: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge (155°)
Est FG: 1.021 SG (5.3° P)Fermentation: 14 days @ 65
ABV: 11.2%Taste Rating: ?
30 lbsWheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM)Grain1
20 lbsPale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)Grain2
2 lbs 8.0 ozHoney Malt (25.0 SRM)Grain3
8.0 ozMidnight Wheat (550.0 SRM)Grain4
3 lbsDememera Sugar (2.0 SRM)Grain5
4.0 ozApollo[17.0%] - Boil 60 minHops6
2.0 ozWillamette [5.5%] - Boil 30 minHops7
4.0 ozWillamette [5.5%] - Boil 15 minHops8
8 pkgsAmerican Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)Yeast9

The idea was to use more traditional American malts because of the roots of this style are entirely American. As for the honey malt, a lot of people feel honey and munich malts are pretty similar, but I feel it gives a bit more complexity and of course sweetness. For color I have always been interested in a newer offering form Briess called midnight wheat. It was mainly created for use in Black IPAs where very dark color is desired, but little to no traditional dark malt characteristics are wanted. While I am not going for big color, I do want some, and it's wheat!

For the rest of the recipe I went all American hops and yeast.