Sunday, March 30, 2008

Brew day: Hail Shaft Pilsner

Another week, another brew. Not that I plan on keeping up this pace, but it was two weekends in a row with relatively few things going on, so I figured I would take advantage of it. Today we brewed a German-style Pilsner in the hopes that nicer weather will finally arrive by the time it's ready. Here's the recap...

The plan was to use 96% German (Weyermann) pils malt and 4% Carapils malt for body/head retention. Unfortunately, my local homebrew store came up a bit short on the German malt, so I had to substitute five pounds of Dingeman's Belgian pilsner malt. No biggie, I'm assuming. Anyway, I mashed in at 150°F at 11:45am. After discussing the pros and cons of a protein rest with both the homebrew forum and Horst Dornbusch (I love how big shots in the brewing community are willing to take the time to answer emails from dorks like me), I decided to go with a simple infusion mash for now. I had a little bit of an adventure with the pH (initially it was at 5.0, and I stupidly added gypsum salt to raise it over 5.2 when gypsum, in fact, lowers the pH, which then led me to add baking soda to get it back up, but then I added too much so I had to add acid blend to get it down again... yeah, I'm a moron), but after a 75-minute mash (during which the temp dropped to 145°F--d'oh!) I was ready to sparge.

I recirculated from 1:15 to 1:30, at which point I began to sparge. Over the next 65 minutes I collected 12.5 gallons of wort. (Just for the record I took a gravity reading of my final runnings and I was at 1013.) I did a 90-minute boil to drive off all the DMS, with hop additions at 90 minutes, 45 minutes, 15 minutes and knock-out (all Hallertau hops). I chilled using my awesome plate chiller and ended up with ~11 gallons of wort at 62°F. To my surprise, my final gravity was 1059, 8 points higher than my target of 1051! I would swear I screwed up my measurement, as this gives me an efficiency of 83%. However, I took a gravity reading shortly before sparging and another right as the boil began (with part of the sample being taken from the bottom of the kettle and part from the top) and while I didn't write down the numbers, they both suggested an original gravity (after boil-off) of around 1060. So I think it might actually be right.

While filling up my carboys, I ran into one final problem. Leah had sanitized one 6-gallon carboy and two 3-gallon carboys (the easiest way to get 10 gallons into my chest freezer), and for reasons I won't get into I dumped 1 liter of my 2-liter yeast starter in the 6-gallon carboy and 1/2 liter in one of the 3-gallon carboys prior to filling them, but I kept the remaining 1/2 liter of starter in a flask. I filled up all three carboys and then, despite the fact that I had clearly marked the 3-gallon carboy that needed the remaining yeast starter, I dumped the starter into the OTHER carboy that already had yeast in it. So I ended up dumping wort back and forth between the two, hoping to get them sufficiently mixed. I guess we'll see if they start fermenting at the same time. [EDIT: I forgot to mention initially that the yeast used for this beer was WLP 800 Czech Pilsner yeast... kind of worth noting, eh?]

Well, despite a couple dumb moves on my part (and it wouldn't be a brew day if I didn't do something stupid), I think they day went extremely well. Now we play the waiting game...

Awww, the waiting game sucks! Let's play Hungry Hungry Hippos!


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