Monday, September 07, 2009

Brew day (2 of 2): Gust Front Leipzig-Style Wheat

Our Gust Front Leipzig-Style Wheat was a two-day affair (you can read about day one here) and today we finished up our attempt at a Leipziger Gose AND took care of a few other tasks as well. I guess Labor Day lived up to its name for us.

After enjoying chocolate chip pancakes courtesy of my lovely wife (this weekend: two brew days, two pancake breakfasts; life is good), I carried six gallons of lactobacillus-inoculated wort from our second-story bedroom out to our garage. In the just-under-48-hours since I pitched the lacto, it went from a pH of 5.5 to 3.81 and from a temperature of 104°F to 82°F. It had also gotten a milky white webbing that looking kind of like Kraeusen but not exactly and was stinking fairly bad (I would describe it as similar to tomato soup). I tasted it and it was sweet and tangy (much like our starter) but also a tad funky. I was a little worried but what could I do, right?

After siphoning into the brew kettle, I noticed it smelled kind of corny, and that's when it hit me: I was probably smelling DMS. It seemed logical since the beer was 50% pils, was only boiled for about ten minutes, and was then left around 100°F with bacteria in it. The good news is DMS is very volatile, so with this in mind I decided to do a 90-minute boil to drive it off. I added 15 IBU's of German Tradition hops at the beginning. With two minutes left I added 0.5 oz freshly ground coriander and 5 grams of salt (sorry to mix English with metric; addition pictured to the right). I then chilled to around 70°F and pitched on top of the WLP 320 yeast cake from our Altbier. I'm a tad concerned about pitching a sour wheat beer on top of the cake from a bitter Alt, but I siphoned off any visible liquid so I don't think it should be a big deal.

While chilling, I drew a sample and was shocked to find it was at 1065, well above my target of 1047. It then occurred to me that, when scaling my recipe from ten gallons to five, I stupidly cut my estimated boil-off in half even though your boil-off for a given vessel is independent of the amount of liquid in it. Plus, I boiled for 90 minutes instead of 60, so you put two and two together and I ended up with just over four gallons of 1065 beer instead of five gallons of 1050 beer. The good news is that's pretty easy to fix; after lunch I picked up a gallon of water and dumped it in the carboy. Voila! My final gravity after dilution was 1050 and my pH was 4.01. At first I was confused as to how the pH could have gone up after the boil, but then I realized I added salt to the boil, which raises the pH. Good thing I paid attention in chemistry class.

I guess I should add that I tasted a sample at the end and I'm VERY excited. It's definitely got a tang that I'm assuming will be enhanced once the sugars are fermented out, and the salt gives it a nice mineral bite but isn't salty. Oh, and it appears that the boil indeed got rid of any unwanted funkiness.

A couple other things I did today that are worth noting. First, I racked the 6.5 gallon carboy of Altbier (it would have been difficult to pitch onto the yeast cake without racking the beer first). It's down to 1016 but that's still a little high so I'll leave it out to hopefully drop a few more degrees before crashing the temp. Tasting it, it's definitely a little more malty and a little less hoppy than my last version, but I think it actually needs more hops. Apparently I was right in concluding that I screwed up the IBU's in my last batch as, according to my notes, this should be the same bitterness as the last one. I still think it's pretty promising even if it needs further tweaking.

Finally, the last thing I did today (well, technically it was the first thing but it's the last I'm writing about) is I filtered one of my kegs of Hoar Frost Oktoberfest (the Frink keg is the filtered one, for the record). I had some issues with the threading on my Culligan housing unit which resulted in a very, very small leak but overall it seemed to filter just fine. It's brilliantly clear and tastes great. I have another keg that I've yet to filter so I can do a side-by-side comparison. It takes a while (particularly to back-flush afterward) but overall is pretty simple for filtering my lagers and German-style ales so that I can schlep my kegs around wherever without worrying about kicking up sediment.

So that was my beer day/weekend. That makes 45 gallons of beer that we've brewed since mid-June. Whew. I think I'm ready for a break (by which I mean maybe three weeks?). Of course, I've already got our Christmas beer on the brain... Look for a return of our Scottish-style Christmas ale (which was last brewed before we even started blogging).


Blogger Adam said...

Wow! You are busy, busy. Thanks for taking time out to stop over at the site.

Good luck I think I'll be revisiting these posts for info once I've done a few all grain batches.

Christmas beer...egads man you're right. I gotta get on the stick.

8:33 PM, September 07, 2009  
Blogger BarryM (Adeptus) said...

That sounds great, Russ. Looking forward to reading how it goes.

Out of curiosity, how long will you be lagering your alt for? I made an alt-alike, but I'm missing the gear to lager it. Would love to try it to see what difference it makes.

10:54 AM, September 08, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...


I usually lager my Alts for a minimum of two weeks before putting them on tap. If you want to get an idea of the difference, just throw a couple bottles in the fridge for a month or so and compare them to a bottle that was kept at room temp... Of course, that requires you to keep three beers around for a month without drinking them, which can be quite difficult. ;-)

8:34 PM, September 08, 2009  

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