Sunday, February 07, 2010

Brew day: Road House Red

St. Patrick's day is around the corner, and while I'm not really sure what will be going on around here this year (as the annual South Side Irish Parade is no more, though some are pledging to show up anyway) I figured just to be safe I should brew up a five-gallon batch of my Road House Red, an Irish red ale.

The day started out rather inauspiciously. When we got back from church I discovered our dog Ogie had knocked down the doggie gate and strewn garbage all over the kitchen. Then Leah took Jonas and headed to the store, leaving Dorrie to hang out with me while I got things started out in the garage. However, Dorrie's going through this separation anxiety phase where she freaks out if Leah's not around, so she wouldn't go out. As such I had to wait for Leah to get back to get my water heating.

Once Leah got back, I went outside only to discover that I couldn't find my sheet of paper with my keggle calibration (I keep track of how much water is in my keggle by measuring the depth of the wort). A long time ago I posted the calibration for my other keggle, but since that measurement was taken without a false bottom I didn't think it would be accurate. Anyway, I eventually figured out a way to estimate the volume, though I wasn't entirely confident in my accuracy. I guess I'd have to wait and see what I yield and what my gravity is to determine how close I was.

Last but not least, once I measured out the strike water and started heating it, I discovered my thermometer was being wonky (it was reading "HI" when I knew the temp was well under boiling). After changing the batteries and cleaning the wire well, I finally got it to work, though at times if I moved the probe a certain way it would go back to reading "HI." With that in mind, I'm not entirely sure what my mash-in temp was, though the last temp it showed before it crapped out again was 152°F--my target mash temp.

Fortunately, once I mashed in the rest of the day went really smoothly. I mashed in at 2pm, recirced from 2:40 to 2:50, sparged from 2:50 to 3:40, and boiled from 3:40 to 4:40 (with hop additions at 60 min. and 5 min.). I was chilled down to 75°F and pitched by 5pm; definitely my shortest all-grain brew day to date. I ended up with closer to 5 gallons than the 5.5 I was shooting for, but I overshot my target gravity by five points, ending up at 1056.

One quick note on the recipe... Last time I brewed this I wasn't too happy with it (I had both melanoidin and Caramunich as specialty malts as well as the requisite roasted barley and it just had this pungent maltiness to it that was offputting). This time I ditched both the melanoidin and Caramunich and instead went with a little Caravienne to give it a touch of maltiness and upped the roasted barley. I also went with an American yeast (SafAle US-05) instead of the English ale yeast I used last time. We'll see if that all makes a difference or not.

I have a few ideas up my sleeve that I hope to get to soon (including a barleywine and a Pilsner) but for now it was good to get back on the brewing horse.


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