Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brewing Snowball's Chance

As I mentioned last week (see 1D. Munich Helles), I was planning on brewing Snowball's Chance (in) Helles this weekend. I followed through with the plan Sunday.

Snowball's Chance (in) Helles  is a Munich Helles, a German light lager which I am brewing to take care of BJCP Category 1, Light Lagers (see SheppyBrew Styles). Of the Light Lager styles, the Munich Helles is the most flavorful with a significant, slightly sweet, somewhat rich malt profile.

Brew day started early. I was wondering as I dug my propane and burner out of the shed how many home-brewers have to use a flashlight as part of their brewing equipment. It is an important part of mine, as the sun is usually not up when I start brewing.

I overheated my strike water a bit, knowing that my mash tun had not been pre-heated and my grains had been stored in the garage the past few days. I was expecting to have to adjust the mash with ice and/or more hot water, but the mash came it at a perfect 150F. I let the mash sit through church and sparged after I rode my bike home (how many brewers out there use their bikes as a brewing tool?).

My pre-boil volume was right on, and the gravity was a bit high, so I did get good conversion efficiency.

When I went to get the bittering hops (CTZ), I discovered that I had less than I had thought, so I had to adjust the recipe to make up for missing IBU. Luckily, I had some Magnum I could use to bring up the bitterness. While I was in there, I decided to up the IBU just a bit so the final beer would not come across quite as sweet as it had originally been planned. It is probably a good thing I had to adjust.

Other than this little adjustment, everything went perfectly to plan. My OG was a few points high (no surprise as the pre-boil gravity was also high). I diluted the wort a bit with water to get the gravity more in line with the plan.

I cooled with my wort chiller to about 70F, and then put the carboy in an ice-bath for about 20 minutes to get the wort slightly below 50F.

I pitched the wort into 2 Mr. Beer fermentors and they are currently bubbling away inside two 120 quart coolers with frozen milk jugs to keep the temperature in the 50's. I almost forgot the White Labs' "Clarity-Ferm", but I got it in there.

So, this was another smooth brewing day. I will be harvesting the yeast from this batch and using it in my next lager, a Schwarzbier that I am calling Khazad-dûm Black Lager.

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