So much for consistency: RyePA batch #4

Went with a tried and true recipe this past Thursday. Hadn’t brewed in about 2 months, and my rye IPA is typically in demand, so I figured I’d go with what I know. Had a pound of amarillo hops sent up from a twitter bud in FL not long ago, and it’s the primary hop in this beer.

Middle of the heat wave hitting New England, the brew day temp was in the 90s and humid. Everything went fine other than the fact that I simply over sparged. I added a bit too much sparge water (I batch sparge using Denny Conn’s technique). That gave me 8 gallons of 1.054 wort instead of 7.5 gallons of 1.061 wort. Plus the high temp and humidity, which meant a lower boil-off rate, also contributed to the lower starting gravity.

I therefore also ended up with a bit more wort in the fermenter. More beer is great, but only if it’s not too bitter now due to the lower OG, as I bittered the beer for the higher ABV. I made up a starter of Wyeast 1056 Cal Ale yeast the night before, which was fairly active when I pitched it. As I didn’t build the starter a few days ahead, which would have given me enough time to ferment the starter wort AND let it cold crash (yeast settling at bottom allowing me to decant the starter liquid), I had to pitch the entire starter into the fermenter. So I have I’m guessing about 5.5 gallons of wort as opposed to 5.

Within within 14 hrs the headspace of the glass carboy was  full of krausen and eventually I had krausen in the blow-off tube and in to the bucket of sanitized solution where the tube lead to. In the recent couple batches of this beer, I’d used the dry version of this yeast, Safale 05. I’ve never had so much krausen. Always plenty active, but the layer of krausen was typically just an inch to two inches. Will be interesting to see where this one finishes.

I opted for a different bittering hop this time. I had an ounce of Nugget in the freezer with a pretty high alpah (12%). 3/4 of an ounce at 60 minutes, the remaining 1/4 at 30. Then an ounce of Amarillo at each 20, 10, and 1 minute remaining in the boil. Given the low OG I may back off the amount of dry hops. Typically this beer comes in around 6.3-6.5 ABV, but with the lower starting gravity this time, it’s likely to be around 5.5-5.8 depending how dry it finishes. It’s going to be fairly bitter at the lower ABV now, and with all the amarillo added in the boil, the typical 2 ounces I dry hop with may be a bit much.

In the end, I may bottle some of this, to allow me to hand out a few bottles, with the bulk going into a keg. I’ve hoped to stop bottling with my new keg set up, but the rye IPA is often requested, so a few bottles may be wise.


2 comments on “So much for consistency: RyePA batch #4

  1. I feel you. I have yet to really brew the same beer twice, but my inability to pull off consistent numbers at times is mind boggling. I wish brewing was like cooking dinner, and I did it 3-5x a week so I could just do it consistently.

    • The seasonal changes wreak havoc on my boil-off rates (mid-winter, low temps and low humidity I boil-off a lot more), but this was more my own fault, not being careful enough with my volumes.
      The previous 3 batches of this recipe have all come out within close range of one another. The only changes I’ve tried had more to do with the late hops (1st was all amarillo, 2nd I used some columbus with the amarillo, 3rd some simcoe with the amarillo) and once I tried 2.5 lb of rye vs 2.0 lb). All came out around 6.4-6.6% ABV, and they all tasted very similar. I was feeling pretty good about my process given the results of those 3 batches. Ah well!

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