Summer time definitely wreaks havoc with homebrew schedules. The kids being out of school, the in-laws up from FL, the high temps… havoc. But, I have at least managed to get a couple brews done in the past month or so.
In my previous entry, I discussed what was my 4th bath of my rye IPA, and the problems I ran into resulting in a lower gravity version. Well, just yesterday I racked it from the secondary (where it was dryhopped with an ounce each of Amarillo and Cascade) into the keg and have it carb’ing up in the kegerator.
I also brewed what I intended to be a clone of Three Floyds’ Zombie Dust. I was lucky to have a twitter friend from Ohio send me a sample of this all-Citra pale ale a few weeks ago. I’ve never brewed with Citra, but enjoy several beers that use it (Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo and Victory Brewing’s Headwaters Pale Ale). Three Floyds has quite a reputation, but their beers are not distributed to MA/NH. So I was jazzed to get to try a bottle, and one that was very fresh by the bottle date.
So, I set out to brew a similar beer after doing a little online research. I decided on one recipe I found on homebrewtalk.com. I had already received a 4 oz package of Citra when I did a little hop shopping at Farmhouse Brewing Supply. The recipe called for 5 oz I believe, with 2 for dryhopping. I used Magnum to bitter, saving some of the Citra as I don’t feel bittering hops really offer much flavor after 60 minutes in the boil. I typically use something like Magnum which is high in alpha acids (offering more bitterness than those low in alphas) but is relatively clean in that it doesn’t add much flavor/aroma.
So, off to my local homebrew shop on Friday evening. Was shocked to find them out of US 2-row, which was to be the base malt for my brew. So, I substituted with Maris Otter, a British base malt that offers up a bit more flavor and color than standard US 2-row malt. So already this was going off-course, but that just meant it may be less like Zombie Dust, not that it would be a bad thing. I went with 40L crystal vs the 60L in the recipe to offset the color added by the Maris Otter. Some carapils, aromatic, and Munich finished out the grain bill. I had my 9 year old with me, and she was happy to help me scoop and weigh the grain. We used the shop’s grain mill together as well. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that the mill gap must have been adjusted at some point, and the crush was extremely course. I didn’t realize it until I started mashing in. If I had paid closer attention, I know the owner would have adjusted the mill, or I could have at least tried to run it through a second time. The husks were pretty much in tact, and I could tell it was going to be an issue, but I had the water heated and ready to go, so I figured I’ll learn what the difference in crush like this has on a beer. After mashing low (around 150°) for about 75 minutes, I took my first runnings. I could already tell. But, I (batch) sparged and took a reading on the pre-boil gravity. 1.035 vs the intended 1.050 preboil gravity. WAY WAY off. I hopped on the road and hit a little market about 15-20 minutes away that sells beer, convenient market junk, and has a section of homebrew items. I learned to avoid their ingredients as they tend to be old, but in a pinch, a bag of dried extract is all I wanted. I had about 1/3 of a pound of DME at home, so I picked up 1 pound and added it all to the boil. I knew it wouldn’t bring me all the way up to the 6+% abv intended, but I then adjusted the IBUs in the recipe to accommodate a lower ABV.
The OG end up only around 1.051 (original recipe was 1.060). I chilled and pitched dry English yeast (S-04) last night and it was bubbling slowly in the airlock this morning. Not sure if I’m going to get half the malt flavor I should have given the crush issue.
It’s intended to be all about the Citra hops, but I hope the malt isn’t completely lost.
So this leads to the next purchase. A Barley Crusher. This way I can control the gap and crush of the grain. Finer crush, more efficiency. Plus, I could buy base malts in bulk and save $ overall. Was about to order online, but my lhbs says they are getting some in and can pretty much price match (a bit less actually given that there won’t be the big shipping charge).