Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brew day: Mr. Kim's Secret Microbrew (California Common)

Today we had a full house for brewing. As I explained earlier this week, we had been talking with my good friends Mark and Marlowe about collaborating on a beer, and I found inspiration in the awesome TV show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Today we would put our plan into action. Additionally, my friend Mike--a fellow Rock Bottom Mug Clubber--expressed interest in seeing how all-grain brewing works, so he and his wife Melissa stopped by to help out as well. The only bummer was that Marlowe ditched us. In her defense, she had to work until 1pm or 1:30 or something like that. But seeing that we didn't wrap up until almost 4pm, she could've come over for a good two hours, so I'm officially considering us ditched.

Anyway, the brew day itself was pretty straightforward. We mashed in at 154°F at 10:10am, and I added a half-teaspoon of acid blend (as is my custom with light grain bills). I ended up heating a little more sparge water than necessary (for future reference, 8.5 gallons is pretty much the max for our hot liquor tank) so by the time we heated up the water and started recirculating it was 11:20. We collected 12 gallons by 1pm and reached a boil by 1:10.

We went with a 75-minute boil, with a bittering hop addition of Simcoe and German Tradition hops initially, a flavor hop addition of Simcoe and German Northern Brewer (along with Irish moss) at 15 minutes, and an aroma hop addition of Simcoe at knock-out. I also meant to add a half ounce of Northern Brewer at knock-out, but I didn't really mention that to Mark, so while I was cleaning up I found the remaining Northern Brewer hops. I'm figuring it won't be a big deal, and if it is I can always dry-hop with the remaining hops.

It took at least a half-hour to chill and fill both carboys. We ended up with a final gravity of 1057, which is a couple points below our pre-honey target OG, but we ended up 11.5 gallons instead of the 11 we planned, and we had an extra half-gallon in the kettle that we had to dump because we didn't have the capacity. For whatever reason, it seems like my boil-off rate has been inconsistent lately. Regardless, our efficiency seemed pretty good. We pitched a decanted one-gallon starter of WLP 810 San Francisco Lager yeast.

We'll give it a couple weeks for primary fermentation and then we'll be adding three pounds of Wisconsin wildflower honey. According to Beersmith, that will add another ten gravity points, so I'm expecting the beer to have an "effective" original gravity of 1067, leaving us with a beer around 6.5% ABV. Stay tuned to hear how the honey addition goes.

EDIT: Woke up this morning (the next day) and there was a good inch-and-a-half of foam on top of the carboy. I had left the carboy out in the basement (~62°F) to get started, and now that it's fermenting away (with an internal temp of 66°F, I should add) I've thrown it in the chest freezer set to 55°F. Ordinarily I'd be inclined to go with 60°F for a steam beer, but since Mark will be fermenting his at around 60°F I figured it would be interesting to ferment mine a little cooler to see what kind of difference it makes with the finished product.

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