Saturday, March 26, 2011

Worst brew day ever?

Today was sort of fun. I had intended to make my world famous Phat & Tyred Ale, but things did not go as planned.  I should have known things were not destined to go smoothly when I went downstairs and burst into the guest bedroom (otherwise known as the SheppyBrew fermentation room) and turned on the light to find my wife sleeping there.  Well, she was sleeping until I turned on the light.

After my wife got up to go up to our bed, things went better for awhile.  I hit the strike water fine.  The mash temperature was a little high, but not so much so that I even had to compensate.  Things were going well ... until about half way through draining the "first wort", my drainage stopped.  I would call it a stuck sparge, but I had not even started sparging yet.  That sucked.

To recover, I got my old "partial mash" grain bag and poured my grains into it.  It was in the brew pot, but the bag is not big enough to cover the whole outside rim.  This was difficult, and I didn't get all the grain in the bag.  Some of it ended up in the pot.  Then over a series of misjudgments, I ended up with way too much wort.  The recipe calls for a little less than 7 gallons into the brew pot.  I had about 10 diluted gallons.

I took some gravity readings and using BeerSmith, made calculations to figure out that if I boiled 8 of the gallons for about 2 hours, the beer would end up close to a decent original gravity.  At this point, I decided that this was not going to be Phat & Tyred, and I came up with a new recipe "on the fly".  I had some Wheat LME that had been in our basement for a few weeks.  I put that in.  I decided to save my Willamette and Fuggle hops for next time I made Phat & Tyred, and instead used a few leftover hops that had been in the freezer for awhile (Columbus for bittering and Saaz, Pearle, Centennial for flavor / aroma) .

And so, today, I created a new beer that I am calling "Fat and Stoopid Amber Ale".  I ended up with almost 6 gallons of wort with a 1.060 OG.  There is going to be a bunch of trub in this finished batch because of the extra grain matter that ended up in the wort, but even so, it will be a decent sized batch (for me).

I did put a recipe on the SheppyBrew website (as you might have figured out since there was a hyperlink to it in the last paragraph).  Unfortunately, if it turns out to be the best beer ever, recreating the the process I used to create it will be nearly impossible.

And, so that was my fun day.  I'm actually not even being sarcastic saying that it was fun.  I enjoyed figuring out ways around my bad luck and (stoopid) mistakes.  Luckily the Beer Smith software makes all the calculations very easy.  Disaster diverted.

My more-full-than-usual Boil Pot

Transferring from Brew Pot to Carboy

Almost 6 Gallons of Beer

Another cool thing about today is that while I was watching the pot boil, getting ready to add my 10 minute hop additions, a guy came walking up and said "I know what you're doing".  Apparently this guy (Eric as coincidence would have it) is a home-brewer who lives close by.  Close enough to be out walking past my house.  We talked for awhile about brewing.  He says that next time he is going to be brewing he will stop by and let me know.  I've never really had a real-live brewing buddy before.  All my brewing friends are from my beer forums and / or facebook.  Eric is actually a real person just down the street.  (Really, he is.  I'm not making him up at all).

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