Sunday, April 22, 2012

Brew day: Village Green Mild Ale/Desperate Dan Dark Mild Ale

As I've mentioned before, we have a kegerator in the basement with four taps; my general goal is to keep one light beer (by which I mean light-colored, obviously), one dark beer, and one wild card on tap at any given time. The fourth tap is reserved for a non-alcoholic selection. I'm usually pretty good about this, and while occasionally we might have one tap empty for a week or so, that's by far the exception rather than the rule.

Until last week.

As recently as three weeks ago we had our Helles Lager, our Doppelbock and our Gose on tap. When our Helles and Doppelbock kicked in short succession, I replaced the former with our Witbier but didn't have anything to replace the latter. Then we brought our Witbier to a small gathering where I thought, at most, a couple gallons would be consumed, and we ended up killing that keg. Plus, when rearranging the kegerator I noticed the Gose keg is feeling rather light. I do have 10 gallons of Altbier lagering, but one of those kegs is reserved for Beerfly Alleyfight and the other won't be ready for at least another week (preferably two).

Bottom line is I need beer, and fast. Last time I was in this situation I came up with our Village Green Mild Ale, a light mild (perhaps better categorized as an AK, an obscure sub-style of the classic British bitter). Leah loved it and has been bugging me to brew it again. But I need both a light beer and a dark beer. At the same time, I've also been itching to brew a dark mild. If only there was a way to do both...

That's when it hit me: I can do both! My light mild ale was just a traditional dark mild ale without the dark grains, and dark grains don't need to be mashed; they can be steeped. As such, since I have two brew kettles and two burners, I could simply split the wort after mashing and steep the dark grains in the kettle for the dark mild ale. And that's just what I did.

Since I have a couple 3-gallon carboys, I decided to shoot for a 6-gallon batch yielding three gallons of each beer. I did a simple infusion at 154°F (two degrees below my target) and collected 7.5 gallons over the course of about an hour. At that point I pumped half from my one kettle to the other. In my second kettle I steeped 2.5 oz. of chocolate malt and 2.5 oz. of dehusked Carafa III malt for about twenty minutes while I brought the first kettle to a boil.

Things were delayed a bit when I ran out of propane and had to run to Walgreen's (pretty much every time my buddy Mark comes over to help me brew, I have to make an emergency trip somewhere), but ultimately I boiled each for an hour, with one hop addition at 60 minutes and Irish moss added at 15 minutes. Also, I had a bit of a problem with the invert sugar Leah and I made the night before (the webpage that I used the last time I made the syrup no longer exists, and apparently the new recipe I found had some problems since I ended up with a mason jar full of a solid, sugary mass) so I just added regular ol' turbinado sugar (un-invert sugar?) at 15 minutes.

As usual, my original gravity was high but my volume was low; I started with ~2.6 gallons of 1049 wort for each batch but diluted each with 1.5 liters of water to get to roughly 3 gallons of 1040 beer (you can see the difference in color in the picture on the right).  I aerated each carboy and pitched one packet of S-04 dry yeast in each carboy. Both were fermenting away within eight hours.

The last thing for me to consider was the name of the new beer. The light mild was named "Village Green" after the most British thing I could think of: the Kinks' "The Village Green Preservation Society." For its dark counterpart, I wanted to stick with the same theme, so I turned to the second verse of the same song. And thus Desperate Dan Dark Mild Ale was born. Can't wait to try the two side-by-side and see the difference 5 oz. of dark malts can make!


Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

Russ, split batches are now my SOP; two different beers in roughly the same amount of time--Yay!

I have the answer to your propane problem, a natural gas burner. I know you have nat gas there on the SoutSide, make the leap and pipe it into your brewing area. Natural gas is at a 20 year low too!

Shameless plug for my brewblog with photos of my natural gas burner:

7:17 PM, April 23, 2012  
Blogger Russ said...

I like the idea of natural gas in theory, but brewing out in the garage I would think that running a line out there would be cost-prohibitive, no?

10:08 AM, April 24, 2012  
Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

I forget, is your garage detached? If so, maybe? How far from the closest point of gas line in the house to where you brew? They sell hoses for gas grills in many lengths with safety shutoff disconnects. You could probably get a longer one custom made if necessary and only hook it up while brewing.

I'd bet your walgreens propane exchange cost you at least $20, off the top of my head an equivalent amount of nat gas might be $4? I'm making a lot of assumptions here, but I'm guessing you can get the gas piped outside the house, the hose, and the burner for under 4 bills.

So your breakeven is maybe 20 exchanges? If you include the convenience of not exchanging tanks ever again, the ability to hook up a nat gas grill (think of the boost to your property value!), and the bragging rights to say, "I'm cool-- I brew like Señor Brew™" then you'll breakeven on your first batch!

6:12 PM, April 24, 2012  

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