February 14, 2013

Probably my last post before the bar...

The bar exam hits the last three days of February so I'm really getting into the serious-only-think-legal-rules-at-all-moments-for-fear-one-will-slip-out-before-the-exam study time. I'm putting in about 12-14 hours of practically non-stop studying. It's very boring. Not because it's memorizing legal rules to apply to a test that challenges memorization, application and endurance, because that's what law school was. Here, it's memorizing twenty-five pounds of books-worth of material of which 90% will have little or no direct application in the fields of law I will practice. Ok, I am sure if you have read any part of this blog for the past few months you are tired of my blabber about law school finals, studying for the bar and taking the bar. So am I. So I thought I would just take this time to talk about what I will be writing about/working on once I get past the terrible exam. Here's what will come up shortly:

  • The mild from the partigyle is going in the party pig so I will have an opportunity to report whether my party pig-cask conversion technique is successful.
  • I will taste the first bottle of year two of the lambic solera in a vertical and update that project with notes about the tasting and where everything is with it.
  • I will finally get around to completing my fermentation chamber and show off some awesome pics. 
  • I am going to drink some of my commercial sours and feed the dregs to my petrus aged pale clone to help it get sour because it's not doing a very good job right now, even though it's been several months since I added dregs.
  • I will report the results of my coffee oatmeal stout.
  • I have Belma hops I've been waiting forever to use and will finally get a chance to test them out.
  • I have a black IPA, American wheat, ESB and doppelbock to brew.
  • I have Hops and Brewing Lager Beer to read and review.
  • I have some other general ideas I've been meaning to get in writing. 
  • I have some older recipes to publish.
  • I am currently doing some work on my yeast project and need to finish up the current round of yeast in fermentors so I can post some more results.
  • I will ferment out the remaining strains in my yeast project.
  • My hop garden is on the rebound already so I'll post an update or two about it.
  • I am heading down to Austin with my wife and friends for a drink-a-thon immediately after the bar so I'll have some new Austin brewery adventures to discuss. This time we are cramming a lot of action in. The plan is to hit Thirsty Planet (again), Jester King (again), Hops & Grain, North by Northwest (maybe), Freetail and if we can score the tickets, the legendary Live Oak. We plan on hitting some beer bar favorites, like Whip In (now a brewpub) and Gingerman but we might sneak in a trip to Pinthouse, a new-ish brewpub with beers brewed by a former Odell brewer. 
  • In April I'm heading to Las Vegas with my wife for some more R&R and no doubt a lot of drinking will be involved. I don't want to get into too much beer reviewing but if anything crazy pops I'll be sure to give it some recognition here. 
  • I'd also like to flesh out some ideas about possible saison year 2014 that I discussed a month or so ago. 
So lots of good stuff on the horizon. I likely will not be working in the months following the exam while I wait for results (they are published first week of May) but I won't have too much downtime. As you can see, I have plenty of brewing and writing to do. I'll also be sorting out our house and trying to clean up three years of stuff piling up during law school, trying to reconnect with friends from before law school and perhaps most importantly, preparing to open my firm once I get positive results from the exam and receive my license late May. Busy times will continue but at least it won't be more studying for stupid exams. For those of you kind enough to read my blog, it means I will finally shut the fuck up about the law and go back to writing just about beer.

See you in March.

February 12, 2013

Bar Exam Barleywine & Dark Mild Partigyle

With all the delicious barleywines released this past fall/current winter, I got a serious hankering to try brewing one of these brewing behemoths. I've spent the past year or so focusing on lower ABV brews (while drinking down gallons of higher ABV beers from prior brew years) so I thought it would make a nice excuse to do something different. I have some leftover grains from past brews in my fridge that need to get used up, an ounce or two of this and that, and a barleywine makes for an easy excuse to use them because small amounts of grain can come together in a bigger beer without the risk of making a muddy beer (one with too many different types of grain that doesn't have distinct flavors) like a smaller beer will. I also thought it would make a good opportunity to revisit the partigyle brewing technique. Partigyle brewing is a common English technique, making it perfect for brewing a barleywine.

Reinforced with some newly acquired knowledge from reading Barley Wine from the Classic Brewing Series I decided to whip up a barleywine/dark mild partigyle for the end of winter while I study for the bar exam. The mild will get a quick fermentation, since it's a low gravity beer perfect for a quick turnaround. It will go into my party pig to test out my cask theory (yet another reason why I want to brew this partigyle batch). The barleywine, however, is going to get some long term aging with some oak and dry hops before getting bottled. Right now I plan on letting the barleywine ride out until next fall or winter but we'll see how it progresses. I'll talk a little about partigyle brewing for those unfamiliar with the process, then move on to some general nonsense about recipe formation and then I'll show the recipes and discuss the actual brew.

Since the recipe is really just about clearing out some old grains with good use I don't expect to brew the recipe again. As a result, I didn't take the time to pull the recipe out and organize it at the end of the post although the pieces are fairly clear through the post. This is more of a "show your work" kind of explanation for how partigyle can work.

Partigyle Brewing


Partigyle is not a party with Guile
Partigyle brewing is a technique that allows you to obtain multiple beers from a single mash. When you mash a beer, you get a series of runnings of decreasing gravity and flavor. Your first runnings consist solely of the wort drained off the mash itself. These runnings are very high gravity. Then you add sparge water and those runnings are your second runnings. It is lower gravity and will be lighter in color and flavor. If you add another dose of sparge water you will drain off third runnings, still lower in gravity, color and flavor. In a typical modern beer you just add all those runnings together in the kettle and create a single beer. Your sparge-based runnings improve efficiency by rinsing off additional sugars while increasing your boil volume, creating a single beer that is stronger than the latter runnings but weaker than the first runnings.

With partigyle brewing you follow the same process except you don't combine all your runnings in the same beer. Often the first runnings create a single high gravity beer, such as a barleywine or scotch ale. The second runnings might make a moderate strength beer, with the third runnings making a session or table-strength beer, or the second and third runnings may be combined to make a moderate strength beer. You can combine runnings however you prefer to make different beers. You could, for example, separate your first and second runnings but then split the third runnings between the first and second to lower the gravity of each to make a stronger beer, but not quite a beer over 1.000 gravity, and a beer just above session strength. Your ability to combine runnings is limited by the number of runnings you take and your imagination. It isn't necessary to do more than one batch sparge but the more batches of runnings you have the more you can play with creating different beers.

You are also not limited to the grain you mash. Some brewers will also "cap" the runnings after the first with additional specialty malts to create different beers out of the subsequent runnings. For example, you could make a barleywine by mashing just two row grain, drain the first runnings, and then add dark specialty grains to produce a porter or stout out of the sparge-based runnings. Since specialty malts do not need to be mashed, they can be added after the mash is complete and drained. You can also boost the latter runnings in the boil kettle with extract and/or adjunct sugars like honey, table sugar, or brewing syrups. This can help flesh out very weak runnings both by boosting gravity and flavor. You may not necessarily want a 10% scotch ale and a 2% scottish ale.

Partigyle brewing is not limited to English or Scottish brewing. It has a rich history in European brewing and has a place in history in the brewhouses of abbeys all across Europe, not just in the Belgian region. It is reported that abbeys would brew a beer from the first runnings for the monks, a weaker beer from the second runnings, and an even weaker beer from the third runnings as a table beer. However, as time has changed, particularly in terms of how beer is efficiently brewed and the taxation of beer by the size of the mash tun, brewing has favored techniques other than partigyle brewing. Although the technique continues to be used in some breweries in the United Kingdom, such as Fuller's, you can apply partigyle brewing to any brewing region. Any combination of beers with similar grain bills between a large and small beer can work well, especially if you cap the mash or add extra sugars in the kettle. You can also produce very different beers with different hop schedules, yeast and fermentation schedules. It would be easy to brew an American wheat wine with a neutral yeast and lots of hops but use the latter runnings and a weizen strain to produce a hefeweizen. Similarly you could brew a Belgian tripel with an estery Belgian strain with the first runnings but donate the latter runnings to a kolsch strain to produce a lighter, less estery kolsch.

Good Fuller's Beers

Formulating the Partigyle Brew


The grain bill I am starting with is a strange mix. It will produce a barleywine far too dark for BJCP guidelines and contains a mess of grains not common for a barleywine. It's more American in the sense that there's a lot of grains and unconventional grains at that. However, I am going to use EKG to give it more of an English feel. So maybe it's more of a trans-Atlantic barleywine. Maybe it's not even really a barleywine, more of an undefined strong ale. I'll just keep calling it a barleywine. Anyway, here's the grain bill:

4lb two row
4oz crystal 80
4oz carahell
2oz black malt
6oz biscuit malt
1oz rye malt

Like I said, a strange mix and not at all a traditional barleywine. All but the first two ingredients are leftover odds and ends from my fridge. Under normal circumstances I'd never pair that combination together but I think it will work ok in a beer like this. The crystal malt, carahell and melanoidins from the long boil will help create a sweet beer but the black malt, rye and biscuit malt will work with the hops to keep the sweetness in check.

So now taking that grain bill and creating two beers will take some juggling. There's not a good piece of software to create a partigyle, especially this way, but one can rig different tools together to get the job done. I used Beersmith and Kai's batch sparge simulator.

I started off using the batch sparge simulator described and linked here. I input the 5.07 pounds of grain and started off assuming one gallon of mash water. According to this fantastic tool, I could expect to get back 0.4 gallons of 1.137 gravity wort. That's very potent wort and not a lot of it. Assuming a 10% boil off, which is about what I get on my stove, at 90 minutes I can use the 15% boil off calculation in the simulator to know what my post-boil gravity and volume should be. At that rate, I'd end up with a third of a gallon, less trub, of 1.165 gravity beer. Too little beer and too strong.

First runnings
So to get a larger volume I'll need to sparge and use the second runnings to dilute the first runnings. I played around with inputting amounts in the first recharge until I got a volume I liked at a gravity I wanted. I ended up deciding on adding 0.9 gallons to create a combined pre-boil 1.3 gallons of 1.089 gravity wort to create a post-90 minute boil volume of 1.1 gallons at 1.107 gravity, good for about 10.50% ABV.

I realize one gallon is an extremely thick mash for a little over five gallons but by my calculations playing around with this tool I actually get better efficiency doing it this way instead of putting the first and second water additions together for the initial mash water.

First and second runnings
Alright, so that looks pretty good. I just need to arrange the hop schedule and figure out how I want to age it. Before jumping into that, let's go ahead and set up the mild. The mild will be made out of a big third batch sparge (or recharge as the simulator calls it). A big batch sparge will produce some really week wort. That's ok for a mild, we don't need much sugar coming out of the mash tun for a session beer. Three gallons ended up being the magic number. Three gallons of sparging will create three gallons of very weak 1.016 gravity wort that, after a 90 minute boil will be 2.5 gallons of 1.019 gravity wort, good for about 2% ABV beer. Now for a mild that's actually acceptable but it's still a little too weak for my taste. So I'll make a kettle addition of some sugar to boost ABV. 2.5 gallons will be about the right amount after racking off the trub to fill my party pig and try it out as a cask.

Third runnings
So far, so good. Now that I know what my gravity and water volumes will be I need to figure out the rest of the details, such as hop schedule, yeast volumes, water chemistry and aging timetables. I'll leave out the water chemistry and yeast volumes because there's nothing particularly different about partigyle brewing and these subjects that you would not do elsewhere. So I'll just include that data in the final recipes. To figure out the rest I had to back in the recipes into beersmith (because I'm too lazy to do it by hand). Since I knew my final gravity, batch volumes and grain bill I could plug in the data and then adjust the grain bill volumes in each recipe to match the final gravity of each recipe. Then the yeast and hops could get plugged in.

First will be the barleywine recipe. Beersmith, by way of miscalculating the mash efficiency has figured out based on the full grain bill I can reach my desired post-boil gravity of 1.107. I'm sure I could adjust some figures to make it realize it's overshooting mash efficiency but it doesn't really matter for my purposes. It just needs to match the right gravity. (The color might be a little off.)

How the barleywine began

I decided to add a bittering addition and a twenty minute addition to create balance and carry forward some hop flavor. I'm using exclusively East Kent Goldings, not just to create an English theme but also because I have a lot of it in my freezer. So 2.5oz of hops later I get 75 IBU good for a BU:GU ratio at 0.699.

With hops and yeast
Good so far. I may dry hop the beer if I feel like it needs some aroma hopping but I am definitely keen on oaking it. I plan to let it undergo primary fermentation and clean up a few months before I hit it with some oak. I'll probably add the oak to some bourbon or other whiskey (maybe revisit the Canadian whiskey). I'll let it sit on the oak for several more months or so to mellow out the flavor. If I decide it needs the dry hopping I'll add that a week before bottling. I'll want to bottle with champagne yeast to make sure it gets carbonated with a yeast capable of working through the high ABV. Since those are issues I can address at a later time I'll table them for now.


Turning to the mild, that's a little trickier because I'll have to play around with the grain amounts to reach that ultra-low OG. As you can see in the picture below, if I leave the grains as they are, beersmith thinks I am making 2.5 gallons of 1.047 gravity beer. I am not.

Mild recipe begins


Fortunately beersmith has a neat feature that lets you adjust the gravity by selecting a new one. The result below is the new hypothetical amounts that contribute to the third runnings I'll make into the mild.

Gravity adjusted to correct number

The easiest way to give this beer a bump in ABV is adding sugar, so I'll do that here. To give it a little extra flavor and keep it from being a really watery version of the barleywine, I am going to add four ounces of piloncillo and four ounces of table sugar. Beersmith doesn't have piloncillo as an ingredient so I've used treacle as a substitute.

Recipe with sugar additions

The last thing that needs to be added is some hops. I've also used EKG here, which is a good fit for a mild. I've kept the bitterness low but added both flavor and aroma boil additions to develop some hop character. The amounts are very low but one does not need a lot of hops for a 3% beer.

Plus hops
So that creates the basic frameworks for the two recipes. I'll add irish moss to each beer for clarity. For one gallon batches I usually all about 1/4 teaspoon. For the three gallon batch I'll add a full teaspoon. No need to be very specific with this ingredient.

The water & the heat

The water is obviously a key part of the partigyle brew (as it is every beer, really). In the way I have constructed the recipe I have an extremely thick mash which means I will probably have terrible efficiency. To combat that I plan on making the first round of sparge water the same temperature as the mash to allow for additional conversion. I realize I could have just combined these two amounts together for a thinner mash and better conversion the first time around but with a big beer it's hard to get really good conversion so I want to test double mashing the grains to see if I can improve overall efficiency. Then the second batch of water will actually hit sparge temperatures.

I am using distilled water so I will treat the water, which I have been doing very diligently for the past several batches and found it's making a big improvement in my beers. I'll stick with my usual London water profile for English-style beers. I'm only going to adjust the initial mash water for conversion purposes and for flavor to a lesser extent. I'm not concerned about the conversion for the mild portion nor am I worried about adding salts for flavor because I expect the piloncillo has enough concentrated stuff in it to make up for it. I can always make a small kettle addition if need be.

So the profile I'm looking for is:

Calcium - 52ppm
Magnesium - 32ppm
Sodium - 86ppm
Chloride - 34ppm
Sulfate - 32ppm
Alkalinity - 85ppm

I'm settling on:

Calcium - 58ppm
Magnesium - 10ppm
Sodium - 65ppm
Chloride - 59ppm
Sulfate - 42ppm
Alkalinity - 149ppm

With additions of 2 grams chalk, 1 gram calcium chloride, 2 grams epsom salt, 3 grams baking soda, 1 gram kosher salt. I don't find it necessary to get exactly dead on to a particular water supply but I do think the London profile I follow for English-style beers does a good job creating the right colors and malt/bitter balance. That's why I don't worry too much about trying to get dead on. Plus, it's really hard to try to measure under a gram on my scale with any accuracy.

Once I have all the runnings I plan on doing both boils side-by-side. The barleywine will go into the 1.5 gallon stock pot I used to use for BIAB mashes for one gallon batches. The pre-boil volume should start around 1.4 gallons and end at 1.1 gallons so I'll have to be careful with the hot break to avoid boilover. The 2.5 gallon mild will start just under three gallons pre-boil and go into the fermentor right around 2.5 gallons.

Now, the actual brew day

I hope the excessively long process of how I thought out this recipe and process was useful. Here's the actual brew process. I started a one liter starter of 1.035 wort going with some S-04. It's a voracious fermenter perfectly suited to battle the rough conditions of the barleywine and blaze through the mild so I can get it in the cask in time to be conditioned by the last day of my bar exam. I'm really liking the aroma of a couple of my yeast project strains currently in the fermentation chamber that I thought about using but since I don't know how well they will attenuate I figured a barleywine was not the right place to test that out.

Brewing equipment -- my new refractometer
In the morning the starter was pumping away so it looked good on that front. I pre-heated the mash and added one gallon of mash water at 166F with the grain and brewing salts. I checked the gravity of the mash and it was around 1.095, a little short of what I had hoped I could get. (In retrospect, I should have expected far less efficiency.) So I decided to go ahead and make the second water addition at the end of the mash while the first runnings were still there so I would have all the enzymes available and try to gain better efficiency with another thirty minutes of mash.

I took this opportunity to prepare some extra ingredients. This piloncillo stuff is rock hard. I had to take a hammer to it to break it up into pieces. And not just one strike, it took several strikes to break it up. It tastes pretty good so I'll be interested in putting it to use in other beers.
Before I beat it up


After I beat it up

My combined first and second water additions are coming out at a pre-boil gravity around 1.075, which is a little lower than I was expecting but not terribly far off. It's still over 10% ABV based on pre-boil gravity so it will be a big, big beer once boiled down. The third batch of water (formerly producing the third runnings, now technically the second runnings) came in at a pre-boil gravity of 1.017 so very close to what I had anticipated for this wort.

The barleywine was boiling off much quicker than I expected so I went ahead and added some extra boiling water to the kettle around twenty minutes to refill it back to the desired volume. I know that will push the gravity lower but even if I end up with an 8-9% barleywine that's still a big enough beer. After the boil the barleywine was showing a 1.095 gravity and the mild 1.035, so not terribly far off from where I wanted to be. I ended up adding another 32 ounces of water to get back up to the desired volume. I kept adding water until I got to 1.1 gallons, which left me with a beer right around 1.070. The mild clocked in at 1.032. Not too bad. The barleywine is a little under what I was shooting for but a 8-9% barleywine is still good enough and will make a nice winter 2013 beer.

After the brew day

Well, the barleywine made a nice mess in my fermentation chamber like I feared. I thought I could get away without a blow off tube but I was wrong. Actually it wasn't too big of a mess but the airlock popped off. I've cleaned it up and I think I only lost about 6-8 ounces of beer, which I think will keep it around a gallon between blow off and trub. By day three the bubbling was slowing down but there is still plenty of visible activity in the fermentor. I will cut off the temperature control once the yeast appear to be dropping out so it can warm up for a diacetyl rest. My plan is to let it sit at ambient for several months. I am going to brew a doppelbock later in the spring so I plan on lagering both together for several weeks in the late spring and then pull both back to ambient for some long term aging. I'll give the barleywine a taste late fall to see how I want to bottle it. I am open to both oaking it and dry hopping it but if it has good flavor on its own there's no reason to doctor it up unless it seems lacking. I might split and bottle half straight and half with oak and/or dry hops if I'm feeling particularly ambitious.

The mild, on the other hand, fermented out quickly and by day three is looking at terminal gravity. I fermented these beers on a ramping temperature schedule of 63F day one, 65F day two and 67F day three. The mild is sitting at 1.004, which is about what I expected and calculates out as a 4% beer. It's about half a percentage point about what I had expected but still within a sessionable level. It is out of the fermentation chamber and sitting at ambient in the low 70s for a day before it goes into the party pig.  I'll continue its story in a separate post about how the party pig works as a cask but update the flavors here.

Sorry this post is rambly, I wrote it up over the course of a few weeks while studying. I don't have time to edit it right now with the bar a couple weeks out but sometime later this year I might break this down and repost a more condense and efficient version.

Updates

4/24/13: Checked gravity of barleywine -- 1.003!!! I used my refractometer to check gravity, which is not a perfect method but even if it's a little off that is a substantial beer around 11%, far above what I was expecting. I didn't end up with the OG I expected but I also wasn't expecting the beer to be so attenuative. I know S-04 is a beast but wow, that's a fierce fermentation. The flavor is similar to the mild, as it should, but due to the more substantial alcohol content and heavy handed bittering it might be more balanced than the mild. It's not quite the hop character of an American barleywine but it's not too far off. I plan on letting it age in the fermentor for another four to six weeks and then bottle condition with some wine yeast for carbonation. Right now I am opposed to dosing it with either dry hops or oak. I think there is enough going on to leave it as is. I also expect some of the hop bitterness to smooth out over the next few months to make a nice late fall barleywine.

February 6, 2013

Still plugging along...

This bar exam really sucks and I'm not brewing anywhere near what I thought I would. However, I do have my coffee oatmeal stout that needs to get bottled tomorrow evening (today, actually) and I have three more strains from my yeast project that are going to get bottled this weekend so I'll have some new stuff to post up later this week. I'd like to get one more beer brewed before the exam but we'll see. The stress and intensity of studying is about to get worse as I wind down to the last two weeks before the exam.