As much as it must seem that I spend all my time making beer gadgets, I still brew. Though I will admit that I have been on a sporadic summer schedule. I have some big plans, have had some success and some not-so-success. Here goes:
This past weekend I tried two new things with my Barley wine. First I treated the water to get it down to 5.5Ph before I mashed. I also used the Ph to track the progress of my mashing process. Now I decided to do all of this after reading Ted’s post on brewing with Ph and reading the BYO article on Ph Brewing as well. It seemed easy enough and I had wanted to try treating my water since I heard James from Basic Brewing Radio and an interview he did with John Palmer on Ph. As much as the science was cool, I was really hoping to see a sudden jump in my efficiency.
The brew I tried all this on was a 2 gallon batch of Barley Wine that decided to brew, here is the recipe:
BeerSmith Recipe Printout – www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Barley Wine
Style: English Barleywine
TYPE: All Grain
Batch Size: 2.00 gal
Boil Size: 3.45 gal
Estimated OG: 1.115 SG
Estimated Color: 17.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 77.1 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 59.0 %
Boil Time: 70 Minutes
Amount Item Type % or IBU
8.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) Grain 72.7 %
2.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 18.2 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 9.1 %
0.50 oz Target [11.00%] (70 min) Hops 42.0 IBU
0.50 oz Challenger [7.50%] (30 min) Hops 21.3 IBU
0.50 oz Challenger [7.50%] (15 min) Hops 13.8 IBU
1 Pkgs London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [Starter Yeast-Ale
First off, before I started I drew 4.5 gallons of water for my mash. I took a Ph test and it came out to 6.6. Since my brew shop is down the road from me and on the same watershed I asked what he recommended for treating the water and said 1-2 tablespoons of gypsum for our water. I added 2 table spoons of gypsum and took a Ph reading…5.5, good stuff.
After heating the water up and adding to the mash tun with a grain bed temp of 152f, I let it go for (what was supposed to be an hour) an hour and a half. I did not take any Ph readings while the grain was in the mash tun (forgot) and took my last reading before I started to sparge. It was reading at 5.2 so everything seemed fine.
When I started to draw the wort from the mash tun though, my gravity was only reading at 1.050 and that seemed REALLY low for the amount of grain I had in the ton. Without a clue of what to do to make this work better I just continued brewing and took what the brew gods gave me. In the then I had a barley wine with a 1.061 OG. Not anything to get fired up about.
The good news is that it tasted very sweet. I am not sure what that means in the big picture, but I hope that it means that I was either way off with my gravity readings or it’s just going to have a lot of flavor.
Any advice on this is much appreciated.
In the face of adversity I don’t back down, I step up. That’s why I am going to pull of an “after work” all grain brewing. It’s a balls out move because of how damn long they take but I think I can pull it off. I am going to brew an “Old Ale” with the recipe I will post up with the notes after I brew.
One of the factors that may have contributed to my piss poor brewing performance was that I did not mash out. Because I use a cooler as a mash ton, I have always skipped out on the mash out. However, after posting something up on Beer Advocate, I decided that I am going to do a single decoct as a way of bringing the grain bed up to temperature before I sparge. Hopefully this will help get things back on track.
As I said, any observations are welcomed. As a note, I asked my LHBS to double grind my grain this time as well.