Saturday, April 09, 2011

Brew day: Trans-Continental RyePA

This year is the fifth annual Beerfly Alleyfight. Leah and I have been fortunate to participate every year since the first Alleyfight in 2007. But this year, there's a problem: we'll be in Germany on May 21st, when this year's Alleyfight will be held at the Haymarket Pub and Brewery. Not wanting to be left out, we asked our good friends Klavs and Mary if they'd like to team up with us and take over the gameday duties of pouring the beer and serving the food. They graciously accepted, and we quickly worked on a plan for our beer. Turns out this year's theme is Belgian IPA's, so it's a good thing we asked Klavs since I have little experience with Belgians or IPA's. My one contribution was the idea of using about 20% malted rye; Klavs took care of the rest.

Today they came over to brew (and drink and eat, but also brew). I feel like my posts lately are always about what random thing went wrong. Fortunately today, nothing went wrong. Well, okay, there was one thing at the end of the brew day, but I'll get to that later.

Unlike my crazy German mash schedules lately, this beer was a simple infusion. We mashed in at 152°F (adding 1/2 tsp. acid blend for pH) at 11:20. We recirculated from 11:30-11:50 and collected 11.5 gallons of wort from 12:50-2pm. We boiled from 2:05-3:05 with hop additions at 60 minutes (courtesy of my daughter Dorrie, as you can see to the left), 15 minutes, 5 minutes and flame-out; our late hops were a mixture of Athanum, Amarillo and Cascade. We also added 2 tsp. Irish moss at 15 minutes. We chilled to around 68°F.

The one problem? I took a gravity reading after we chilled: 1064--significantly lower than the 1072 pre-starter gravity we were shooting for. I wasn't sure what the problem was until I looked over our recipe and realized we forgot to add the 2 lbs. of turbinado sugar our recipe called for. Oops. We immediately added a little water to the sugar and brought it to a boil, and then added it to each carboy. I didn't take a gravity reading after that, but according to my calculations it should be 1072. And it only raised our wort temps a couple degrees. Crisis averted.

After adding the sugar, I aerated each carboy and we pitched a half gallon starter of WLP 550 Belgian ale yeast. Now we wait . . . and start to plan our food pairing! I'll post more on that when we figure out what we're doing food-wise. For now, we had a great time brewing, snacking and drinking with Klavs and Mary (and, towards the end, our buddy Chris who's also a HOPS! homebrewer). And remember, if you want to taste the fruits of our labor, keep your calendar open for May 21st. Cheers!

UPDATE: As of Sunday morning our carboy is fermenting away. Hooray for starters!


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