Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brew day: Debris Cloud Roggenbier

When we first started brewing six years ago, we wanted to focus on German beers but didn't have the capability to lager so I did a lot of reading up on German ales. Our first beer was a Hefeweizen, and we quickly followed with Kölsch, Altbier and Weizenbock. However, our desire to try new styles led us to discover some of the lesser-known German ales. We brewed a Berliner Weisse and then a Leipziger Gose--two soured wheat styles. Then we bought a chest freezer and started lagering, and our German ale quest was diverted...

...until today. Two German ales that have been on our radar for a while are Roggenbier and Dampfbier. Both are variations on the Hefeweizen: the Roggenbier substitutes rye for wheat and Dampfbier just sticks with barley malt, but all three share the unique Bavarian Weizen yeast. Anyway, I like to keep one light beer and one dark beer on tap at all times, and we're good on light beer right now (we're about to put our 59°F Maibock on tap), so I decided to go with the darker Roggenbier over the lighter Dampfbier at this time.

After two aborted brew days (due to some problems over at Midwest Homebrew Supplies my malted rye didn't get here in time to brew two Saturdays ago--when I meant to brew--and then last Saturday I couldn't get into my garage, but that's another story...) I finally fired up the ol' brew kettle this morning. I was worried about a stuck mash (rye is notoriously prone to stuck sparges and it would comprise of 50% of my grain bill) so I opted to both add rice hulls AND do a beta-glucan rest at 90-95°F and then employ a single decoction to bring the malt up to my sacc rest.

I ended up mashing in a little high (right around 100°F), let that rest for 15 minutes, and then drew off just under three gallons for the decoction. I brought the decoction up to 156°F, rested at that temp for 15 minutes (during which time it dropped down to 146°F) and then brought it up to boil for 15 more minutes. At that point I returned it to the mash where it reached a temperature of 156°F. That was a bit high (my target was 150°F) so I added 1.5 qt. of water at 63°F. According to BeerSmith, I needed 2 quarts to drop my temp down to 150, but it turned out that the 1.5 quarts dropped it down to 146°F (I should have known better than to trust BeerSmith when it comes to water-temperature adjustments). Fortunately, most of the mash was in the decoction so I doubt I'll have a problem with the mash being too thin.

After letting the mash rest for 45 minutes, I went to recirculate. It was the moment of truth: would the rye prove too much for me? I opened my valve and... nothing. Crap! I checked and the manifold hadn't come detached. I blew through the hose in case something was blocking the flow but still nothing came out. What the hell? I looked at my valve (which is opaque plastic) and noticed there was some grain stuck in there. So I clamped my hose with some pliers, took off the valve, blew the grain out and reconnected everything. The wort started flowing freely. Crisis averted.

Since I had to disturb the mash to check on the manifold connection--and the wort was really muddy-looking--I recirculated for twenty minutes. Once I started to collect wort, I went really slowly at first (only collecting one gallon in the first 25 minutes) but then ramped up quite a bit at the end (collecting FOUR gallons in the last 25 minutes). Maybe that's not the best way to do it because I ended up a little short on my target gravity: 1049 instead of 1052 after a 75-minute boil. I only did one hop addition at 60 minutes and then added Irish moss at 15 minutes. I chilled down to around 65°F and then pitched 1000mL of starter I made yesterday from the yeast slurry from our Kokopüffenweizen. I'm guessing it will take off like gangbusters.

Overall, a pretty efficient brew day. Now to (ugh) mow the lawn...


Blogger Mark said...

Can't wait to try it!

4:22 PM, May 16, 2010  

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