Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Little Extra Beer - Part I

I began my day with plans to brew a big beer, an all-grain Belgian Tripel, one of my favorite styles and worthy of having a keg on tap at all times. But in the brewing process, I ended up with about a gallon of additional running's at the end of the sparge.

I didn't plan for this extra project when I started out this morning brewing my take on a Belgian tripel. I simply went about my business as usual but was unaware of the gallon or so of additional water in my hot liquor tank or it could be that I just didn't care that much, once the water was there. Normally I'm careful to calculate the amount of sparge water I will need in order to run all of it out of the HLT, through the mash, and finally end up with thirteen gallons of wort to begin my boil. This time, when I got to thirteen gallons in the boil kettle, my mash tun was still flowing and so I diverted the flow to a separate vessel and waited to see how much I would collect. I eventually ended up with close to a gallon of wort. Now, even though I got a great efficiency from my sparge, I checked the gravity of this extra gallon and found that it was still at 1.025, I couldn't bring myself to toss it so decided to boil it on the stove top.

Cooper's drops to increase gravity

In the mean time, I still had my brew session going on outside and in that process had used up all of the cane sugar I had on hand for the recipe. Thinking quickly, I dug into my brewing supply bin and came up with an open bag of Cooper's carbonation drops. The bag still had about eight ounces in it, perfect to raise the gravity of my little beer. Then, I measured out about 2/10th's of an ounce of Saaz pellet hops and added that directly for the entire 45 minute boil. After the boil, I chilled the wort to 65f. by placing the boil pot on a bed of ice. At this point I had about 1/2 of a gallon for wort and checking the sugar content, I came up with an original gravity of 1.064 or about twenty gravity points lower than the 10 gallon batch of the same. I then poured the wort through a sanitized funnel into my tiny fermenter, a Martinelli's apple juice jar, and added a small portion of the yeast starter that I'd held back when I pitched for the ten gallon batch. I was just lucky that the airlock fit this jar but if it didn't I guess I would have simply covered the top with a piece of foil, I personally don't think it makes that much difference having an airlock unless you plan to keep the beer in the fermenter for an extended period of time.

mini fermenter to the rescue

As of this moment, the mini fermenter is percolating nicely with happy yeast activity. I have no idea about how this will taste and frankly don't have any expectations, but going off the beaten path every now and again makes for a more enjoyable hobby and could lead to new possibilities. Maybe I'll make this a regular part of my brew day, mixing up my tiny batches with weird and unusual ingredients just to see what comes of it. In part II of this project I'll talk about crash cooling, transferring and carbonating on a miniature scale and talk about how this small beer tastes.

1 comment:

Antigua Capilla Bed and Breakfast said...

I've heard of "microbrews" but this is ridiculous! Can't wait to read how it turns out.

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