Monday, April 01, 2013

Brewing Some Buckwheat BPA

I don't have a favorite beer. I drink way too promiscuously to profess one beer to be my preferred. My wife, on the other hand, does say that she has a favorite, and it just happens to be a SheppyBrew creation. As it is my wife's official favorite beer, it is the one beer recipe that I have brewed the most. It is also the beer I have experimented with the most.

The beer is called Buckwheat's Belgium Pale Ale , and I brewed it again on Saturday.

The recipe is pretty close to how it started. The recipe has gone from a partial mash to the old 2.5 gallon single infusion mash to BIAB to my bigger all-grain batches. I've experimented with different yeasts, picking based on my wife's blind taste test. But, basically, the recipe is still pretty close to where it started.

It is a beer with a history and much character.

Gnasty the Gnome helping out
I got started Saturday (like usual) before the sun came up. I got the mash where I wanted it very quickly and let it go for a little over an hour and a half. It stayed right at 150 pretty much the whole time.

I did have to get Helles in a Hand Bock-sket out of the fermentor to make room for this batch. During Buckwheat's mash, I transferred Hand Bock-sket into a secondary fermentor. Hand Bock-sket is doing real well. Its gravity is at 1.014 making it a 7.5ABV beer at the moment. The sample yesterday tasted great .. .just what I think a Maibock should taste like. I am looking forward to having it on tap in early May.

Had to move .Helles in a Hand Bock-sket out of primary to make room for BBPA.
After the mash was done, I collected the wort with no issues. I do think this batch is lighter in color than I remember any of the others being. It is certainly going to be lighter in color than the picture on Buckwheat's Belgium Pale Ale official web page. I did use Castle Caramunich, whereas in the past I have used Weyermann's Caramunich III. My guess is that my wife won't mind the lighter color, and it should taste the same. 

First wort is a beautiful gold color.
My almost-8-year-old son made the family breakfast yesterday. Isn't that cool? I had French toast during my boil.

My son making breakfast.

I collected almost exactly 8 gallons of wort. The pre-boil gravity was a little low, but nothing majorly off. I ended up compensating by boiling a little longer. The boil went smoothly. I added in everything right as planned. At the last minute, I decided to add the whole ounce of EKG hops instead of the .75 that the recipe called for. I did not use a hop sack this time.

The cool-down went pretty quick this time, and the wort went into the carboy pretty clear. I did leave behind quite a lot of "gunk", but I still did end up with almost 5.5 gallons in the carboy. My OG was a bit low, but I am ok with that. I had been thinking this beer should be a little lower ABV than the past couple batches anyway.

After the wort transfer, I set the carboy in my mash tun with ice water, getting the temperature just below 60F. I pitched two packs of S-33 and added White Labs' "Clarity-Ferm".

Then, I put the fementor in the basement to allow the yeast to do its thing. I was cleaned up before noon.

My son and I had lunch and then went for a bike ride.

Easter Sunday morning, the yeast was active. Fermentation is underway.

It has been quite awhile since there had been something in the keggerator for my wife. She is really looking forward for this to be there in a few weeks.


  1. Do you ever use the ball valve on your brew pot to transfer to your Better Bottle? In all of the brewing photos I've noticed on your web site, you seem to always use an auto-siphon. Have you experienced issues with a pot with a ball valve? I ask just because I'm in the market for a new brew pot and was considering getting it "tricked out" with a ball valve and thermometer. Thanks! - Clint

  2. Excellent question, Clint. I have used the ball valve, but am beginning to prefer the auto-siphon because I am starting to pay a little more attention to clarity. The auto-siphon gives me more control over how much of the "gunk" I leave behind in the brew pot. In lots of cases with higher gravity beers and / or lots of hops, the ball valve is right at the trub level of the kettle, so lots of that will end up in the fermentor if I don't use the auto-siphon.

    That being said, it is entirely possible that I will go back to using the old method. It is easier and I am not really that sure I am buying myself much by being so concerned over a little more trub.