This week on Brew Disasters: Bottling Batch #2 of Laurel IPA

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A two and a half weeks ago on Brew Disasters we had checked the specific gravity of our Laurel India pale ale using a wine thief.

It tasted fine. There were hints of buttery diacetyl, but not overwhelmingly so. The specific gravity was 1.026. The original gravity was 1.068, which would give the beer an ABV of 5.6%.

But when we checked it again after a week it had dropped to 1.020. But when we checked it again a few days later it was still 1.020.  We had really muffed the mashing temperature.  Apparently there had been some fermentable sugars produced during the mash, but not enough for this batch to drop to 1.012 (7.8% ABV) as had December’s batch.

This batch of Laurel IPA had started with an original gravity of 1.068. Its final gravity was 1.020. That calculates to an average alcohol by volume (ABV) of 6.4%.

Batch two tasted great. The diacetyl taste had departed and the dry hopping with an ounce of whole-leaf centennial hops, and one-half ounce each of zythos and simcoe hops really made the aroma and flavor pop. It was time to bottle.

While the use of the whole hops made the beer taste great, the leaves got stuck in the mouth of the auto-siphon making the transfer to the priming bucket exceedingly slow. And, the further down the level of beer in the carboy dropped, the more frequently the siphon needed to be unclogged.

We are not putting whole hops in primary or secondary fermenters again. Once was enough.


Intermediate Follow-up on “This week on Brew Disasters: Laurel IPA”

A hydrometer showing the hydrometry principle....

Image via Wikipedia

I took a sample yesterday of the Laurel India pale ale brewed on Friday using a wine thief.  It tasted fine. There were hints of buttery diacetyl, but not overwhelmingly so. The specific gravity was 1.026. The original gravity was 1.068, which would give the beer an ABV of 5.6%.

So, despite muffing the mash’s temperature, it seems some fermentable sugars were produced during the mash. Whether this batch will drop to 1.012 (7.8% ABV) as December’s batch did remains to be seen. The airlock has stopped percolating every minute, so the ‘rapid’ fermentation has ceased.

This week on Brew Disasters: Laurel India pale ale


English: Malted Barley, more specifically a &q...

Milled malted barley before it is mashed into heated water. (From Wikipedia Commons)

This week on Brew Masters Disasters: Julian Shrago’s Laurel India pale ale.

Well, there’s trouble in Laurel Land. We really screwed the mash temperature and may have to throw the whole batch down the drain. Tens of dollars could be lost.

Mash, as you know, is the result of combining hot water and milled barley grain to make a grain soup that resembles oatmeal.

According to Wikipedia, mashing is the process of combining a mix of milled grain (typically malted barley with supplementary grains)… and [heated] water. Mashing allows the enzymes in the malt to break down the starch in the grain into sugars, typically maltose to create a malty liquid called wort.

Depending on the temperature, certain enzymes will be activated which will break down starches into sugars. The higher the temperate, the greater the non-fermentable sugars (top end 156), which will give the beer a sweeter taste with more mouthfeel. The  lower range releases more fermentable sugars for a drier taste (low end 148). There are temperatures that are  too low which will not activate any enzymes. There are temperatures that are too high that will denature enzymes.

My desired mash temperature was 151°F. I heated my water to 161°F. My expectation was that when I added the grain to the hundred and 61°F water it would drop about 10°F and give me my desired mashing temperature of 151°F. Instead, it dropped to 144°F when I added my grain. To low. Since I mash in converted cakes I decided to try slowly heating the mash to reach 1 51°F. I used a very low flame and monitored the change in temperature every 3 min.

I use a Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer to get my readings by poking it into the porridge-like mixture. I checked it didn’t seem to be raising much and in fact the temperature would peak and then begin to drop on my digital thermometer. I set my timer for another three minutes and checked my mash temperature after the timer went off. Well, lo and behold, my mash was now at 175°F, high enough to denature the grain’s enzymes. Oh crap! I added some cool water and brought it down a little not below 171°F. I added a little more cool water and finally I was able to get it down to 151°F. Then, the mash rested for an hour.

I continued on because as Charlie Papazian advises, “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.”

I did a 90 minute boil and added hops according to the recipe, and pitched the yeast at 3:30pm. Fermentation had started by 5:30pm. I have my fingers crossed that it is good yeast-caused fermentation and not from lactobacillus or pediococcus.

Here is Julian Shrago‘s of Beachwood Brewing‘s recipe:

– 5 gallon batch at 75% efficiency –

* 11.5 lbs. American 2-row malt
* 0.4 lbs. Carapils malt
* 0.3 lbs. Crystal 40 malt

Mash @ 151 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

90 minute boil

* 0.8 oz. Amarillo pellets (9.6% AA) for first wort hop (FWH)
* 0.55 oz. Summit pellets (18% AA) for 60 minutes
* 0.75 oz. Centennial pellets (9.2% AA) for 30 minutes
* 0.3 oz. each Simcoe (12.2) and Columbus pellets (14.0) for 10 minutes
* 0.5 oz. Amarillo pellets (9.6% AA) at flameout/whirlpool
* Dry hops: 1.3oz each Amarillo, Centennial, and Summit pellets for two weeks

Ferment with White Labs California Ale Yeast WLP001 or Wyeast 1056

OG/FG: 1.064/1.010
SRM: 5.2
IBUs: 108

Note: I subbed Zythos hops for the amarillo hops.