Saturday, January 17, 2015

Snowball's Brew Day

In 2013, when I did my little SheppyBrew Styles project, my Category 1 Light Lager beer was Snowball's Chance (in) Helles. The beer was a disappointment mostly because I bottled it and the carbonation was very inconsistent. Some bottles were practically flat and some were way too carbonated. I tried to fix some of the bottles by adding more priming sugars and that just made things worse.

The beers that were close to the right carbonation level were pretty good. I did enter this beer into a competition, and it did fairly well on its scoring, but I never felt I enjoyed the beer as much as I thought I should.

Obviously, I knew that I would have to brew this recipe again so that I could find out how it would be when properly carbonated. I thought I would have gotten to this re-brew quite awhile ago. I never did....

.... until this past weekend.

I finally got around to brewing Snowball's Chance (in) Helles on Sunday.

The brew day went well. I didn't get started as early as I often do. My first post on the SheppyBrew Facebook Page (please go like if you have not already) was at 6:25am. At that point the mash was well underway. My first infusion had the temperature pretty low (142ish), so I had to bring the temperature up with more hot water. That second infusion got me to the perfect 150 degrees.

I collected the wort right before I left for church. The wort then sat in the brew kettle for a couple of hours until I got back home.

When I got home, I started up the boil. My pre-boil gravity was high, so I diluted it with about half a gallon of water over that first 15 minutes or so of the boil. You may remember that I have a new refractometer (see First Brew of 2015: Arctic Vortex) that I was able to get that pre-boil gravity with.

There was really nothing remarkable about the boil.

I got the wort cooled to 65ish and then racked into my fermentor. I put the fermentor in my gott cooler filled with ice water to get the temperature down into th 40s. I actually pitched the yeast at this cold temperature.

By the next day, the beer was right at 50 and fermentation had taken off.

My lager procedure is unorthodox in that I don't maintain the lager temperatures all the way through fermentation. In fact, on the last couple of lagers, the fermenation temperature has only bee in the 50's for the first couple of days. This is because I have discovered that strict temperature control only appears to be critical for me early in the fermentation. I have heard (and my own experience seems to confirm this) that almost all of the flavor components that warm fermentation causes will appear in the "growth" phase of the yeast. Once the beer is past that first 24 to 48 hours, off flavors don't seem to creep in there.

So, my lager is fermenting now in the mid-60's. And I'm sure it will turn out great.

After-all one of my award-winning beers is a lager.

Anyway, the beer has been fermenting for less than a week. I'll be sure to let you know how this one turns out.

Keep an eye on this blog, the SheppyBrew recipe page for Snowball's Chance, my twiter feed, and the SheppyBrew Facebook Page. You'll be sure to see an update if you keep an eye on all those.

Go Blackhawks!


  1. I may be moving soon, my hopes see WA or CO, and it sucks because I want to brew several lagers & BarleyWine, pretty much just styles that take time and control but I don't want to get too far into them, just in case. Granted I have no actual word yet, and emails & phone calls are going unanswered.... but I know, once I get into something rather than the standard ale, I'll find out... I'm still brewing a Kolsch soon... the end of January... but I really want to do a Helles. I guess that's where this was going lol. Helles & Bocks... and a Vienna Lager... the list can go on.


  2. Ha. Good luck with your move. I hope you end up where you want.

    I turn around my helles pretty quick. You could probably get away with one.

    1. Well, WA is home & CO... is... well, :D lol I'd be happy with either... and try to get a job with some of my favorite people after my time with my current job is up.

      I can probably look into doing a Helles, actually. Even with the amount of time I would have after it's completion, it would drink fairly easy. Not like trying to give away and choke down 5g of a high abv beverage.