Thursday, March 13, 2014

Giant Freaking Barleywine - Brewday

I thought I'd give a little update in the Barleywine from my last post. The brewday itself was one of those stories you hear about on the "Brewing Disasters" shows on the homebrew podcasts (and I may send this one in if I find the time to write up the gory details). But the results were just about what I had hoped for, so it seems like it may end up being worth the frustration.

I missed low on the temp for my initial mash (156F instead of 160F), so I held it a bit longer to be sure I got the most alpha amylase activity out of it. I pulled the first grain bag after 60 minutes, and squeezed out as much as I could from the bag. I was left with about 3.8 gallons of wort in my cooler at 152F, at a gravity of 1.063.

I added my second grain bag and the second 8 lbs of Maris Otter. This brought the temp down to 140F. I let it sit for about 15 minutes, then added back 1 quart of boiling water to bring my final rest temp to 145F. I held this temp for an hour. I ended up with a preboil gravity of 1.113. After a 90-minute boil I got about 2.8 gallons of 1.142 wort into my fermenter. I'm pretty happy with this number. Any higher and I'd be concerned whether it would ferment down as low as I wanted it. But if it was much lower, then I could have easily hit that OG with a more standard single-mash using an extended boil.

Right now we're 8 days into fermentation. The Yorkshire Square yeast is still chugging away. I have it at about 56F right now, and will hold it there until fermentation starts to slow. I have some extra yeast tucked away from an earlier batch in case I need a "rescue" starter, but I think I'm going to hold off until I can get a gravity reading.

Speaking of gravity readings - the WLP037 is one crazy yeast. It is super flocculant - way more than even WLP002/WY1968. I literally could not get a gravity sample from my thief today because the wort was so chunky.

More details to come...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Giant Freaking Barley Wine

I keep starting to write up some posts that go into the specifics of my all-grain setup and procedures, but haven't found the time to finish them up and get them on the blog. I've gotten quite a few questions on this, so I do plan to get into the full, gory detail at some point in the near future. For the time being, let me sum it up simply. I brew 3-gallon batches using a 2-vessel system (kettle and 5-gallon cylindrical cooler), with no sparge. Essentially, I do brew-in-a-bag, but using a separate cooler for a mash tun to help hold my temps so I don't have to police the mash.

So, how does this tie into the big tease of a post title? I am going to be brewing a big barleywine that will essentially max out my mash tun capacity twice. My particular setup is very well suited to performing this kind of iterated mash. Instead of using a false bottom or bazooka screen, I simply line my cooler with a BIAB bag. This will let me pull out my grains after the initial mash, then add a fresh batch of grain back to the mash water for a second mash using the wort from the first mash as my liquor.

The goal here is two-fold. The primary goal is to achieve a pre-boil gravity that is well beyond what I could possibly produce on my system from a single mash. The second goal is to maximize fermentability by being able to perform a true reverse-step mash. So what the heck does that mean?

First, here's a quick refresher on enzymes in the mash. I'll try to keep this at "for Dummies" level. Most all-grain brewers are at least a little familiar with alpha and beta amylase. Beta amylase is most active at lower mash temperatures (140-150F), and tends to produce more simple sugars, which in turn leads to increased fermentability. Alpha amylase is most active at higher mash temperatures (162-167F), and tends to produce more dextrins, which leads to a less fermentable wort.

But here's where it gets interesting. The action of alpha amylase produces more food for beta amylase to do its thing. Even more interesting is an enzyme that we don't really target in a typical mash: limit dextrinase. Limit dextrinase is able to break down the dextrins that are left over after alpha and beta amylase have done their thing. The problem is that it is active at temperatures lower than even beta amylase (133-140F), and it is gone before alpha amylase even gets started.

In a typical mash, once you raise the temp above the point where an enzyme gets denatured, you essentially lose that enzyme from that point on. In a single mash, once you raise the mash temp to alpha-amylase's optimum range, you start to lose beta-amylase activity, and limit-dextrinase is already long gone. You can't begin a traditional mash with a high-temp alpha rest, then drop the temp to beta rest range, then drop it again to limit dextrinase range. The enzymes have already been denatured at the initial high mash temp.

If only there was a way to bring back beta amylase and limit dextrinase after your high mash rest. But wait - there is! Just add more malt. And we finally get back to what I'm trying to do here. Basically, I'm going to do a high temperature mash with 8 pounds of grain in my mash tun. Then I'm going to pull my grain out, and add another 8 pounds back in. This second mash will be held at a low enough temperature where both beta amylase and limit dextrinase will be active. Hopefully, I'll end up with a super-fermentable wort that will enable me to brew a giant beer that can still ferment down to a reasonable FG.

So without further ado - here's the recipe. I have no clue what my efficiency is going to be, so this is calculated on 60%. But I typically hit 80% or so, even on beers this big. If so, this is going to be a really big beer.

Title: Giant Freaking Barley Wine

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: English Barleywine
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 3 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 3.7 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.099
Efficiency: 60% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.122
Final Gravity: 1.024
ABV (standard): 12.77%
IBU (tinseth): 68.83
SRM (morey): 11.65

8 lb - United Kingdom - Maris Otter Pale (50%)
8 lb - United Kingdom - Maris Otter Pale (50%)

1 oz - Magnum, Type: Pellet, AA: 15.4, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 63.04
1 oz - East Kent Goldings, Type: Pellet, AA: 7.1, Use: Boil for 5 min, IBU: 5.79

1) Infusion, Temp: 160 F, Time: 45 min, Amount: 16 qt, Mash #1
2) Infusion, Temp: 145 F, Time: 90 min, Amount: 14 qt, Mash #2

White Labs - Yorkshire Square Ale Yeast WLP037

Profile Name:
Ca2: 85
Mg2: 25
Na: 11
Cl: 78
SO4: 150
HCO3: 0
Water Notes:
2 g Gypsum
4 g Epsom Salt
2.5 g CaCl2
2 mL Lactic Acid
(All added to initial mash water)