Bottling from the Chronical

15 gallons is a lot of bottles for one person

Bottling from the conical setup including rinsing and capping equipment.

I bottled for the first time using the Chronical last night.  It was quite a bit of work; roughly as long as a brew session including clean-up time. A lot of the extra time can be eliminated after applying the fixes I’ll list below. But for now, let’s walk through the process and I’ll describe The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Recirculating – The Good

The first step of the evening was to dump the existing yeast that had collected at the bottom of the conical during fermentation and aging.  I picked up two 48 oz Nalgene water bottles with graduated markings.   After sanitizing them, I connected a tri-clover 1.5″ to 3/8″ barb fitting, opened up the bottle, next the dump butterfly valve.  A slow stream of yeast soup pushed out and then much faster some amount of beer.  I quickly closed the valve and had about 40 oz of yeast sludge which has gone to the fridge.  I may or may not reuse it.  That ended up being really painless.  I like the bottom dump!

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Next, I needed to mix in the priming sugar (approx 13 oz of table sugar) and yeast (.5 Liter starter stepped up).  I mixed the yeast into a second Nalgene bottle, opened the top port and dumped it in.  I replaced the bottom barb tri-clover fitting with a hose to connect the bottom port to the input-side of the diaphragm pump from Morebeer.  The output side of the pump has a host connecting it to a 90 degree 1.5″ tri-clover elbow into to top of the conical.  As a pre-caution around pressure build-up, I loosened all of the lid clamps; the were over the lip of the top but not locked down.  I then opened the bottom butterfly valve and then started the pump.  This ran flawlessly for about 15 minutes, then there was some foaming and the pump lost prime and stopped.  I’ll save the explanation for the Ugly section.

Recirculating – The Bad

I had planned to do both recirculation and pressurized transfer from the conical and had purchased additional fittings to make this easier.  However, none of the vendors have exactly what is needed.  The blow-off accessory includes a built-in pressure relief valve in the 3″ fitting and then an open 17mm hole which is filled with a 1/2″ NPT to 1/2″ Barb fitting to allow you to connect a blow-off tube.  The SSBrew Tech store will sell you a 3″ fitting with a 90 degree elbow barb, but if you want to use different connections, then you really want a 3″ fitting with 1.5″ tri-clover adapter *plus* the pressure relief valve.  I didn’t end up having any pressure issues, however, I do plan on creating my own by modifying the current fittings with a small change.  Instead if having the barb on the outside, I’ll reverse it and expose the 1/2″ threads through the top and connect that to a 1/2″ FPT to 1.5″ Tri-clover adapter.  This allows me to connect any other tri-clover fittings (like a 90 degree elbow barb), but I can also put something different on it since it ends in a tri-clover fitting.

Recirculating – The Ugly (my fault)

The recipe had been dry-hopped. I put the hops into a stainless steel mesh container and let it float in the conical for about two weeks. It was still floating when I started recirculating. After about 15 minutes, it started to appear foamy in the site-glass at the bottom of the conical. Then the pump struggled for prime and stopped. It slowly filled up and I restarted the pump. Same thing happened again; I thought something must be blocking it … oh NO! Yes, the mesh had been pulled down to the bottom of the conical and was blocking the flow. With some long sanitized gloves and a stainless spoon the hops were recovered with no issue. This did not help reduce oxygen exposure though. Note to self: Remove dry-hop container before recirculating.

Bottling from the Conical – The Good

The good news is that I got things working and 5 gallons of beer ended up in 49 750mL bottles, 10 gallons into kegs. That’s about it.

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Bottling from the Conical – The Bad

The biggest issue I faced was that the conical does not have any easy way to apply CO2 pressure. All of the connections are tri-clamp (save the sampling port) and the recommended way requires one to build an adapter. It would be very nice if the Chronical came with it, or SSBrewTech sold it as a kit. Most of my hair-pulling this evening was related to this as all of my gas lines have female Flare fittings for easy attachment to check-valves and ball-lock quick disconnects. The Last Straw bottling equipment I purchased to compare to my Blichmann Beergun did not come with a 3-way flare tee for splitting the CO2 gas between the filler and the source (though NB lists them as a required part). I had to build one which was rather leaky and quite a bit of CO2 was lost while in use. The liquid line from the Chronical to the where I was filling and capping was probably 12 feet. This extra length is useful for when your filling with already carbonated beer as it slows the flow down. For uncarbonated beer, this just slowed down each bottle fill. The Last Straw itself appears designed specifically for filling already carbonated beer as the diameter of the liquid tube is very small, certainly smaller than the Blichmann.

Bottling from the Conical – The Ugly (my fault)

I have a 3-way flare tee but I couldn’t find it.
I have a 1/2″ barb to ball-lock post adapter, but I couldn’t find it.

The Fix!

First, I’m building the 3″ pressure relief tri-clover adapter to 1.5″ tri-clover. From there, I can switch between elbows and other things. Second, the fancy folks at brewershardware make tri-clover to ball-lock posts, both gas and liquid which allows instant connection to any of my current kegging and bottling equipment. Third, reducing the length of line used to as short as possible since I want to maximize fill-speed for bottling uncarbonated beer. Last, I’ll likely switch to the Beergun as it has a faster flow. I’m really torn as the single-handed orientation of the Last Straw was much more comfortable than how you have to hold the BeerGun.

New parts I’m ordering (Updated 2016-10-07):

Smoking malts for a Sour Smoky Stout

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I remember when I really fell in love with Jester King sours. Years ago I volunteered at Jester King with my good friend Mark on a bottling day. Turns out it was a Funk Metal day which is an amazing beer to bottle. Back then, the volunteers got to take some of the failed QC (almost always underfills or busted labels) bottles home. The other benefit was being able to drink Jester King beer on the job. It so happened that along with Black Metal Stout (non-farmhouse, aka OG BMS) and the ever present Le Petite Prince they had Salt Lick Saison, renamed Censored Saison due to the ridiculous laws here in Texas which don’t allow breweries to endorse a product by putting the name on the label. The massive level of smoke was initially too much but strong sour really wom me over; the combination was amazing. At the end of my shift I knew why Jester King prefers something light like Le Petite as I was feeling the 6% smoked saison.  Salt Lick Saison hasn’t been produced since that summer but the other smoked beers by Jester King, namely Gotslandricka, has similar levels of smokiness and a touch of sour.

My cellar is almost bare of these great smoked sours so I decided it was time to brew something of my own. Last summer Jester King brewed Black Metal Stout  for the first time in years and due to the time of the year, winter, the cold fermentation favored sour acid production resulting in an amazing combination of roast and sour. In this homebrew I’m hoping to clone that combination and add some smoke as well.

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This is my first experiment with smoking my own malt. Cursory reading of the homebrew forums indicated that a low temperature, about 100F,  is best, as is the use of some sprayed water to help the malt absorb the smoke. I didn’t make my own basket but I did find a sink colander which does the right thing for exposing the malt to the smoke. I smoked 15# of Maris Otter, roughly 50% of the base malt bill in the Black Metal Stout recipe for approximately 45 minutes with a combination of oak and mesquite smoke. Only time will tell if this was enough, or too much (ha!).

I’ll be sure to report back on how this one turned out.  Happy New Year!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
11 gal 60 min 31.3 IBUs 69.2 SRM 1.082 1.014 9.0 %
Actuals 1.082 1.014 9.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Imperial Stout 13 F 1.075 - 1.115 1.018 - 1.03 50 - 90 30 - 40 1.8 - 2.6 8 - 12 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) 14.938 lbs 39.12
Smoked Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) 14.938 lbs 39.12
Black Barley (Stout) 2.467 lbs 6.46
Black (Patent) Malt 1.599 lbs 4.19
Chocolate Malt (Thomas Fawcett) 1.599 lbs 4.19
Brown Malt 15.21 oz 2.49
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 15.19 oz 2.49
Crystal Dark - 77L (Crisp) 12 oz 1.96

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Citra 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 14.4
Goldings, East Kent 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 5

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 5.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 5.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
JK01 (JK01) Jester King Brewery 86% 60°F - 90°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 40 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Kunsei (smoked) Makkuro-Kurosuke

Mosaic IPA v3

Mmm, Yellow Rose

Homebrew Mosaic IPA on the left, Yellow Rose on the right.

Brewing and IPA just the way you want has always proved to be more difficult that I’ve wanted.  The Mosaic IPA is no different.  I’ve had plenty of Lone Pint’s Yellow IPA to know what I really liked about it:  huge amazing Mosaic nose and aromatics, sweet, but light malt flavors, and a solid bitter and dry finish.

V1 was a small batch and didn’t quite attenuate exactly as intended, partly due to learning temps and mashing in the small batch setup but it was in the ballpark for what we wanted in a clone.

V2 was a scaled up to a 6 gallon batch.  When I brewed V2 I did have a slight shortage of Mosaic hops and had to go with a Mosaic/Simcoe blend.  In tasting, this had almost zero impact in aroma and flavor.  That wasn’t too surprising considering Mosaic’s heritage.   Color was spot on as well as clarity.  The real difference was in the taste.  In a side-by-side with a bottle of Yellow Rose, it was clear that my V2 was sweeter than YR; something I knew as I was sampling V2.  V2 finished around 1.016 or so which is much sweeter than my palate enjoys nowadays.  However, beyond the sweeter malt flavors it was lacking some of the hop bite.

The reviews of V2 were all similar: good, but not quite right, needs more hops.  Well, that’s not a problem.  So on to V3!  I wanted to achieve two things.  First, and foremost, the beer needed to finish drier than V2.  Considering the yeast I have, Dry English Ale, which already does a really solid 75 to 80% attenuation, I decided I’d employ some step mashing to maximize beta amylase hoping to reduce the final gravity.  The second goal was to bump up the bitter a bit as well, oh and this time use all Mosaic for sure.

The recipe below includes these changes.  Brewing of V3 was picture perfect.  However, somewhere along the mash, we accidentally bumped the efficiency from 72% to around 93%.  The pre-boil gravity target was to be 1.045 and we ended up with 1.055.  The final O.G ended at 1.083 instead of 1.067 meaning we had a 9% beer bordering on double IPA rather than a solid 6.5% IPA.  Worse things have happened.

Upon tasting V3 though it wasn’t significantly more bitter than V2 and it immediately dawned on me that the additional efficiency was the source of the trouble.  Since the boil gravity was much higher than expected, that resulted in a lower alpha-acid isomerization, and lower IBUs in the final product.  I should have adjusted the amount of hops in the boil to combat the higher gravity wort.  Clearly a V4 will be needed.

V3 finished at 1.016, but considering the starting gravity I don’t think I can expect WLP 007 and mash techniques to get any lower.  80% attenuation is the top end for this ale strain.  But I know some other strains that can go a bit higher.  For V4, I’ll brew another 6 gallons of wort but this time pitch my favorite strain, the Jester King mixed culture.

The Jester King blend attenuates just about anything down to 1.000 SG.  Jester King already produces a number of highly hopped beers, namely Wytchmaker Rye IPA and El Cedro, Cedar IPA.  I’m also interested in their collaborations with many breweries in which they use wort produced by their partners and then pitch the mixed culture and see what sort of beer it becomes.

V4 will use the same recipe as V3, but will use the JK mixed culture instead. Fermentation temperature will change as well, the JK blend tends to produce a more sour wort at cooler temperatures, so a minimum temp of about 75F or higher will be used to encourage the yeast to dominate and keep the bacteria in check (at least for a while).  As a bonus, cold conditioning in bottle will keep hop aroma as the brett is an oxygen consumer and the bacteria like to produce some lactic acid!  Who doesn’t want a hoppy sour beer? =)

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
6 gal 90 min 81.0 IBUs 4.1 SRM 1.066 1.015 6.7 %
Actuals 0 1.01 -75.8 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American IPA 14 B 1.056 - 1.075 1.01 - 1.018 40 - 70 6 - 15 2.2 - 2.7 5.5 - 7.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 14.764 lbs 100

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Mosaic 0.99 oz 90 min Boil Pellet 11.6
Mosaic 1.62 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 11.6
Mosaic 1.62 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 11.6
Mosaic 3.17 oz 5 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.6

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 4.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.90 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Whirlfloc Tablet 1.00 Items 15 min Boil Fining

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Dry English Ale (WLP007) White Labs 75% 65°F - 70°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Beta Rest 140°F 45 min
Saccharification 152°F 20 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Beta Focus for dryer beer:
Mash in 140F, hold 40 mins
Raise to 152, hold for 20 mins

Some like it hot!

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Quite a departure from what we normally do but my good friend Mark Hamzy has been playing with using Jester King’s mixed culture in many places, including making hot sauce!  Mark shared with me his first small batch and it was a resounding success. Full of hatch and smokey flavor, noticeable sour bite; oh and hot!  Mark asked me, how can we make it bigger this time?

Why not do 5 gallons and age it in a whiskey barrel?  Neither of us had done this before and we didn’t exactly have a recipe.  Our best guess was to come up with a ratio of hatch roasted chilis to beer and yeast.  We brewed up a smoked-malt base beer, about 4 gallons, unhopped and targeting 1.040.  While the wort was boiling we worked on de-skinning and blending up roughly two cases of freshly roasted hatch chilis.

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After we’d collected enough chili we would mix in a couple ounces of fresh wort, some of the mixed culture and then pour into the barrel via a funnel.   We’ll age this combination for many months, checking on it as we go, topping it off with both fresh mixed culture and wort to ensure we get it sour enough.

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Wunder Hatch

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
4 gal 90 min 0.0 IBUs 7.0 SRM 1.045 1.009 4.6 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Wild Specialty Beer 28 C 1.02 - 1.09 1 - 1.016 5 - 50 2 - 50 2 - 3 2 - 10 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 3.5 lbs 50
Smoked Malt 3.5 lbs 50

Miscs

Name Amount min Type
Phosphoric Acid 6.50 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 1.30 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 0.90 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (0001) Jester King 83% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 40 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Mini Batches

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It’s that time again; cooler weather in Texas brings on the lambic-style season. I’ll be brewing a second batch of Woxbic in a few weeks. In the last post I mentioned that things would be slowing down and the rate of posting shows.

Since the last post, the two batches of Saison with wild yeast fermenting at different temperatures have been bottled. It’ll be another few weeks before we have carbed bottles for tasting but the whole experience was interesting. Initially the hot fermentation produced a more sour beer, but eventually the tartness faded before bottling. The cold-side took quite a while to take off, mostly due to my lack of yeast starter. I had a huge pitch, but it wasn’t fresh. The cold side ended up much smoother in flavor profile. The hot fermentation picked up an odd flavor (not mousy, though that showed up as well). In any case, I dry-hopped both with some tasty hops and shortly we’ll have a tasting.

The whole experience of brewing 11 gallons, fermenting two batches, dry-hopping, and then bottling, possibly leaving me with 4 cases of beer that may not work out seems a bit excessive given the experimental nature of the batches.

This though has led me to work with smaller batches. In fact, one of the local homebrewers who has won NHC medals uses exactly this method for honing and tweaking a recipe. With that decided, I picked up a 5 gallon pot and a mini siphon and decided to have at it.

Mini-BIAB
I completed a 1G recipe, Brew in a Bag (BIAB) mash to reduce the number of vessels and work with the grains I had on hand rather than purchasing Dry Malt Extract or Liquid. I had hoped that this smaller batch would mean for a shorter brew night, but it was roughly equivalent.  Mostly due to the stove burner being just adequate for the 3 gallons of liquor. 20 minute strike temp, 1 hour mash, 10 minute raise to boil, 75 minute boil, 20 minute chill, plus cleanup and prep time. About 4 to 5 hours.
Stove-top Boil
The good news was all of that brewing at a larger scale translates just fine; I didn’t forget anything and I netted about 1.5 gallons (slightly under gravity target, but I didn’t want to boil any longer for fear of raising the IBUs too high). I had recently stepped up a fresh dump of Jester King Brewery yeast picked up from Jester King itself. My friend had fermented a few beers with it and was astonished at how violent it ferments at sub 60F temps.

Let’s just say, it’s still working =)
JK Yeasties going to WORK

Ill let you know how it’s going in about 4 weeks.

Updated: Added recipe file and notes.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
1 gal 90 min 23.1 IBUs 7.0 SRM 1.078 1.015 8.3 %
Actuals 1.068 1.005 8.3 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Straight (Unblended) Lambic 17 D 1.04 - 1.054 1.001 - 1.01 0 - 10 3 - 7 1.8 - 2.6 5 - 6.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 2.613 lbs 73.8
Wheat Malt, Ger 13.7 oz 24.18
Carapils (Briess) 0.9 oz 1.59
Chocolate Malt (Thomas Fawcett) 0.25 oz 0.44

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Styrian Goldings 0.47 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 3
Cascade 0.17 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.9
Centennial 0.17 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.4

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric 11.80 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 0.30 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 0.30 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
French Saison (3711) Wyeast Labs 84% 65°F - 77°F
Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (WLP650) White Labs 70% 65°F - 72°F
Brettanomyces Lambicus (WLP653) White Labs 70% 65°F - 72°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Mash went fine, though lost about 2 to 3 degrees with pot in the oven, preheated to 200.
Dough in should have been 160, but stirred in at 157. Ended up with a 154 strike temp and ended up at 150.

Boil was easy, probably took 20 minutes to get there from 150s. Held for 15 minutes with no hops to reduce water, added hops (60 minute addition), after 60 pulled hops, boiled for another 15, for total 90 minutes.

O.G was low (1.068) but yield was high, 1.5G instead of 1. Can't tell if I had too much water or not. Recipe called fro 3.2 gallons, and measured by weight (8.35 lb per gallon => 26 lbs of water).

Chilled in sink, accidential minor dillution. Chill time approx 20 minutes, with vigorous stirring until temp is about 117, then rested in water for another 10 minutes. Pitching temp was about 72F. Stored in 58F garage, signs of fermentation present in 12 hours.

2015-01-12 full active fermentation in full swing. Ambient 55F, infrared reading of top layer of wort about 57F.

2015-01-17 -- pull 2 oz sample. Not enough for hyrometer, so utilized a refractometer. Reading was 6.8 Brix, with no correction factor, and O.G of 1.068, this puts the S.G at 1.009. pH reading shows 3.63. Lots of barnyard funk in the nose, cloudy yellow. Taste is a bit hoppy, slight tartness, some malt flavors. Obviously green beer, but not entirely bad. Drank the whole sample.

2015-01-22 -- (Pulled from .5 gallon jar vs. 1G jar) Reading 6.5 Brix with no correction, O. of 1.068, calc says S.G at 1.08. pH reading at 3.50 @ 66.6F. Nice funk, a bit flora, less cloudy. Solid sour bit, followed by some sweet pilsner flavors, a touch grainy, subtle hopiness. Tastes really good right now. Not much oak in there, yet; might add a few more cubes and see where it is in a week.