Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quick Rauchweizen update

It's been a busy week for me, so I was a little tardy in finally racking the Rauchweizen. Anyway, finally took care of things last night and racked to the keg after a whopping 18 days in the primary (good thing it's supposed to be cloudy). The aroma is much more prevalent than it was right after brewing... it's got that nice smoked ham aroma that you associate with Bamberg-style Rauchbiers. It's also heavier on the clove than the banana (as I intended), and the clove really works well with the smoke phenolics.

My only concern is the final gravity was a bit high at 1016. The mouthfeel seemed thin (though it's always hard for me to judge sans carbonation) so I don't think it's because of my mash temp. I'm wondering if I should start to worry about my aeration more, as this isn't the first time my beer finished a tad high despite pitching a healthy yeast starter. I'm also wondering if the light mouthfeel means I should have done at least a protein rest (I know I should really do a decoction, but I just don't have the equipment right now).

Anyway, it's currently chomping on a half-cup of corn sugar, so I'll probably give it a taste in a week. Stay tuned for a final report...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Brew day: Smoke Stack Lightning Rauchweizen

After a month-plus hiatus, we busted out the mash paddle yesterday to brew 10 gallons of Rauchweizen/smoked Hefeweizen, affectionately named Smoke Stack Lightning (explanation here). Leah ended up feeling under the weather, so we were lucky to have our good friends and fellow homebrewers Marta and Kevin over to help us.

I got the water going a little after 10:30am. At 11:45 our water hit 164°F (a compromise of BeerSmith's 161.7°F mash-in temp and the 165°F temp recommended by the Green Bay Rackers' mash calculator) and we mashed in at 151°F (1°F below our target temp of 152°F--in the future I'm going to go with the Rackers' number). Our mash pH was 5.5, so I didn't have to add any acid blend.

I should note that this was the first time I used Weyermann Rauchmalz (our grain bill was 50% Rauchmalz and 50% German wheat malt), and I was surprised how mild it was. I had heard from others that it loses its bite by the time it gets to the U.S., and that seemed to be the case here. Nonetheless, it still had that unmistakable barbecue-like aroma.

At 12:50pm we began to recirculate and by 1:05 we had recirculated over a gallon and began to sparge. We collected 2.5 gallons over the first half-hour, 7.5 gallons after an hour and 11.25 gallons by 2:20pm when our sparge water ran out. We were a little short of our target of 12.5 gallons, and while I'm not totally sure why I'm not going to worry about it. I should also note that we added 1/2 lb. of rice hulls to help with the sparge since this is the first time I've used this much wheat; we didn't seem to have any problems with a low run-off. One problem we did have is I sort of forgot I clamped the sparge hose and one point and this led to the water level dropping below the grain bed about three-quarters through the sparge. Overall it didn't really seem to cause too much of a problem, fortunately.

At 2:30 the wort started boiling and we added our only hop addition. Things were pretty routine from there on out. We boiled for an hour, the pumped the wort through our chiller into two carboys. It took close to a half hour to chill the wort since my attempt to use our old busted wort chiller (with the holes duct-taped up) as a pre-chiller was only quasi-successful and we had to slow down the wort flow into the chiller to get the wort temp below 80°F. We pitched a 600mL yeast starter into the carboys and fermentation was off and running this morning.

Our original gravity came out to 1050, three points above our target. I forgot to measure our final yield, but since our sparge came a tad short I'm assuming that explains the slightly high gravity. As such, I figure we were pretty much right at the 76% efficiency I assumed when formulating the recipe.

Overall, a pretty good brew day. A few bumps in the road as usual (like when I had to run to my local homebrew store with 20 minutes left in the boil because I couldn't find my sanitizer) but all's well that ends well. I'll be curious to see how this turns out, as the smoke flavor seemed quite subdued when I sampled the wort. Stay tuned for an update!