A good brew day keeps me coming back!

So after the Saturday fiasco I had with my Barley Wine (I will update on this at the end of the post) I was in need of a good brew day. Plus, I didn’t want to waste a good yeast. So I went ahead and planned a rare week night all-grain session. Since I had London ESB as my yeast I decided to go ahead and brew an Old Ale. Here is the recipe that I used:

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.82 gal
OG: 1.071 SG
FG: ~1.017
Color: 14.8 SRM
IBU: 63.4 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 59.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
13.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) Grain 74.3 %
2.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 11.4 %
1.50 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 8.6 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 5.7 %
1.00 oz Centennial [8.00%] (60 min) Hops 33.3 IBU
0.50 oz Target [11.00%] (60 min) Hops 18.3 IBU
0.25 oz Pearle [8.00%] (30 min) Hops 5.1 IBU
0.50 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (15 min) Hops 5.0 IBU
0.25 oz Saaz [4.00%] (15 min) Hops 1.7 IBU

Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 17.50 lb
Name Description Step Temp Step Time
Step Add 6.56 gal of water at 168.4 F158.0 F 60 min
Decoc to get up to temp Decoct 1.47 gal of mash and boil168.0 F 20 min
Batch Sparge: 2 gal 168f 10 min
Batch Sparge: 1 gal 168f 10 min

This brew day went off without a hitch. I was home by about 4:10 when I started my water on heat. I decided not to treat the water this time. I thought about treating the mash directly, but decided I was going to do some more research on the Ph thing.

I struck 6 1/2 gallons for the mash at 168f, my grain bed wound up only being 150f so I drew off some of the mash and did a small decoct to heat up the grain bed. That took about 10-15 min to get up to temp. I added the decoct grains back to the tun and was at a nice 156f.

I let it go like this for a little over 45min before I drew off some more of the grains for a second decoct. I boiled the decoct for about 5 min and re-introduced it to the mash tun for the mash out temp of 168f (hold for 10 min). It worked like a charm!

I used almost 2 gallons for the decoct at a pretty thick consistency. I am willing to bet there are people out there who will tell you how thick or thin your decoct should be, but for me, I like it like oatmeal; think, but enough liquid so you can stir it around. I think the key is to have enough liquid so your grains don’t scorch or burn, but dry enough so that it’s not like you are boiling your mash.

Anyway, I did 2 batch sparges on the advice of my blog friends Ted and Brian (if you don’t already read Ted’s blog I recommend it, he really knows what he is doing) which went really well. Actually the mash out wait of 10 min was about the perfect time to heat up my first batch of water for the sparge so that’s a good argument for mashing out. My first runnings were about 1.070 and my runnings after the first batch sparge were 1.052.

My pre-boil gravity was 1.052 and about 6 3/4 gallons, dead on with what Beer Smith told me I should be at! I have to say, at this point having hit all of my targets in temp, time and gravity I was very pleased. I had the wort up to a boil by 8pm and pitched a cooled wort to my London ESB by about 9:20.

Before I went to bed, I checked and it was already bubbling aggressively!

UPDATE: On the Barley Wine, I racked this over into my 2 gallon storage containers. I got an FG of about 1.010. I drank the sample I took to see what I thought and I have to say, it tasted REALLY strong. It had a definite alcohol burn. Now this leaves me with an even greater mystery; why the strange readings if all other signs are pointing to a high OG?

Who knows. As long as I keep having the occasional brew night like I had last night, I am going to be brewing for a long time. It’s like a great drive out of the tee box. It keeps you playing!


Categories: All Grain Brewing, Old Ale Tags:
  1. Ted Danyluk
    August 28th, 2007 at 20:26 | #1

    Thank you Travis for crediting me here in your post. That’s very kind of you.

    Congrats on a your great brew night. This old ale looks like it’s gonna turn out absolutely great. Any plans for extended aging with part of the batch…maybe with brett?

    All this recent talk about barley wines has caused me to go ahead and brew one of my own. The OG ended up at 1.107…2 points below target. Its now fermenting (unfortunately on the warm side, but should be fine). I’ll get around to posting about it later.

    Now we three just need to find a way to have a barley wine/old ale tasting in about 6 months or so. It would be fun.

  2. Travis
    August 30th, 2007 at 15:32 | #2

    That is not such a bad idea. I have a few bottles I have had sitting around for a while and I will bottle up some to age and maybe two to age and enter into a competition.

    I have yet to post about it, but I got my first feedback from a brew competition. It was encouraging. More to come on that though.

    Thanks again for all of the input, it was a big help.


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