Saturday, January 10, 2009

Operation Dunkelweizen: Brew Phase (or in the alternative, Brew Day: Cloud-to-Cloud Dunkelweizen)

After tasting some tasty Dunkelweizens and developing a recipe, the time finally came to brew the beer with which we will celebrate our son's (or possibly daughter's, if the ultrasound tech goofed up) birth. While this one will have a special "It's A Boy!" label (as illustrated to the left; I decided to blur out the name in case we change our mind in the next month), future versions of this recipe will be called Cloud-to-Cloud Dunkelweizen (as illustrated further down in this post). The brew day had a few snags--what's new?--but nothing I couldn't deal with.

After having a few online discussions, I decided to skip a protein rest, do a regular saccharification rest, and do a decoction for the mash-out (as opposed to my previous method of using the decoction to go from the protein rest to the sacc rest). As such, I started to mash in with 167°F water at a 1.25 qt./lb. ratio. However, after adding half the grain I realized something: I had forgotten to re-attach the mash tun manifold to the hose out before adding the sparge water and half the grain. This meant I had to scoop out half the mash, tip the mash tun so the remainder flowed away from the manifold-hose connection, and re-attach the manifold. And all that maneuvering meant I ended up mashing in around 141°F. Crap! I heated up another two gallons to near boiling and added that to the tun to bring it back in the 154°F range; I didn't even bother to take the mash temp at that point because I didn't want to waste any more heat. I fear it may not have totally done the job, as by the end of the 60-minute rest my temps were in the upper 140's again. Oh well.

After that I decocted 9 quarts for a 15-minute boil and returned them for a ten-minute mash-out rest. I recirculated for fifteen minutes and sparged for 1:15, collecting 12 gallons (about a half-gallon more than I needed, but no big deal). During the boil I ran into my second problem... I couldn't find my carboy brush, and my three carboys (a 6.5-gallon one and two 3-gallon ones) were all still a bit dirty from after I racked the Munich Helles. We searched all over but couldn't find it. Fortunately, my buddy Paul--who lives a block away--was home, so I was able to snag his. However, this meant frantically rushing to get everything set up to chill the wort, and I ended up boiling about 75 minutes instead of the intended 60. I was probably better off doing a 75-minute boil anyway, but it made the last half-hour of the boil quite frantic.

When it was time to chill, I got to bust out my new toy: a Thrumometer. It was pretty sweet, though I learned that slight changes in the flow of the hose water can really affect the temperature of the wort. In any case, I ended up with probably 11 gallons of wort at around 72°F. I also got a gravity reading of 1054, a couple points above my target. That's particularly good considering I also had a high yield. I figure this was due to mashing out. I pitched a 1000mL starter of White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen yeast, and I'll let it get started at room temperature before throwing it into my chest freezer tomorrow morning.Not a bad day, over all. And despite the fact that it snowed all day, the temperature sat right around 28°F the whole time so I never got too cold. Now I'll just have to wait and hope the Dunkelweizen doesn't come out too thin. Of couse, I'm guessing by the time the little one's here I'll have more pressing things on my mind than mouthfeel and final gravity!


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