Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brew day: Bear's Cage Schwarzbier and Incredibly Deep Doppelschwarzbock

It's about time for our crazy late-summer brewing blitz (as we have to brew for our homebrew club's Oktoberfest, our church's Oktoberfest and our own Novemberfest party). To get things started, on Sunday I brewed one of my favorite beers: our Bear's Cage Schwarzbier. Leah and the kids are visiting her parents up in Michigan, so I didn't have my usual helpers. Fortunately my good friend Marta was happy to come over and give me a hand.

Now, before I get to the brew day, a quick note on the "Doppelschwarzbock" (yes, I made up that style). My buddy Brent got one of those make-your-own-whiskey kits and gave me the 2-liter barrel when he was done. I decided to take the first runnings of the Schwarzbier, boil it separately with twice the hopping rate of the regular Schwarzbier, and ferment it in a growler. When it's done it'll go in the barrel for about a month.

As for the recipe, last time I brewed my Schwarzbier I decided to test the limits of Carafa III, going with a full pound for ten gallons. This time I went with 3/4 of a pound and only added 4 ounces to the mash, reserving the other half pound for a cap (adding it to the top of the mash when recirculating).

I stuck with a simple infusion mash, hitting my target temperature of 149°F. After an hour-long mash, I recirculated for about fifteen minutes and then sparged for roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. My first half-gallon collected weighed in at a hefty 1.094. The remaining ten gallons hit 1.060 (a bit over my target of 1.052) but as usual my yield was way low so I'll dilute with another gallon of water which should bring it right around 1.052.

I did three bittering hop additions (Magnum and American Saaz at 90, 60 and 45 minutes) and Marta took care of the late hop additions (Saaz and Tettnang) at 10 minutes, 5 minutes and knockout. Later Sunday night I boiled the half-gallon of first runnings for 90 minutes, doing the same hop additions but at double the rate per volume. Unfortunately my kitchen scale only goes down to intervals of 0.05 ounces, and many of my additions were 0.05 or 0.10 ounces, so the exact hop rates are a bit of a crap shoot, but hopefully it turns out halfway decent (I just want enough bitterness to keep it from being cloying).

Wort wagon!

I chilled to roughly 70°F and then threw the carboys (and the growler of Doppelschwarzbock) in my chest freezer overnight to get them down to 50°F. I aerated and pitched yesterday morning, and this morning there were early signs of fermentation.

So part one of my fall beers is out of the way (at least the brewing part). Next up will be our Oktoberfest. Damn, I'm ready for fall...


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