Vacation Brew Day #2

A favorite brew around the Kafer-Wiberg house is Denny Conn’s Rye IPA.  It’s a big beer with a fantastic blend of rye, hops, and malt.   Make. This. Beer.  You and your friends won’t be disappointed.

Today I’ll use the 5 gallon setup.  I picked up a decent 36 quart stainless steel turkey fryer a few years ago at Sam’s Club.  Even the stand is stainless steel. It can take rigorous scrubbing, unlike aluminum. It’s perfect for making 5 gallon batches of beer.

The recipe is plugged into my Excel brewing template which automatically calculates all the parameters I need like water volumes, temperatures, expected and actual yields etc.  This recipe calls for 16 lbs of grain: Maris Otter Golden Promise, 60oL Crystal, and Cara-Pils. Print and off we go!

First thing is to get the 5 gal of mash water heating. While that’s going on, crush the grain, assemble the water additions, and just generally get organized.  An efficient day in the brewhouse is a good day!  Checklists are a good thing.

Anyone using municipal water (in the U.S.) should know that there is a chemical in their water called chloramine.  It has taken the place of chlorine as a water sanitizer for a number of reasons.  The point here, for brewing purposes, is that it is stable in the water and should be removed.  Chloramines at high enough concentration can cause some off flavors in the final product sometimes described as “band-aid”.  I remove the chloramine by using a little bit of potassium metabisulfite.  Maybe a 16th of a tsp in 5 gallons.  You can also crush a campden tablet and put that in to your water as well (1 tablet will treat 20 gallons).  Is this strictly necessary?  I’m not sure, to be honest, but it’s so easy and costs a few pennies, so why not?

In Raleigh, we’re pretty lucky to have excellent brewing water.  Our naturally soft water profile is easy to modify for any style of beer.  I almost always add some calcium in one form or another to my mash water as it is required by the enzymes that break down the starch.  For this recipe, some calcium sulfate is called for.  The sulfate serves to make the hops flavor “crisper” and cleaner.

Water is setup so now it’s time to crush!  Rye malt is a really small grain so it is crushed first and run through twice.  No worries about over-crushing since rye doesn’t have the hull that barley does.

Rye malt before and after crushing

Rye malt before and after crushing

16 lbs of grain crushed and ready to mash.  Target mash temp of 153oF (67oC)…quick calculation courtesy of Excel…strike temp of 164oF (74oC) to give me my mash temp.  Stir after water addition. Take temp reading in several spots in the mash…..spot on!  Cover and let sit for an hour.

The first run-off gives me 3.5 gallons.  Another 3.5 gallons of hot water goes into the dry grain bed.  Mix well and let it run-off into the boil kettle after recirculating about 1 gallon, until it’s clear of particles.  Now I’ve got 7 gallons of wort ready to be boiled.

The hydrometer tells me I hit 1.063, which is right where I want it pre-boil. Right on 82% mash efficiency.  Boiling for an hour will further concentrate the sugars and I should hit a specific gravity of 1.073. Final alcohol concentration should be right around 8%. Perfect for chilly winter nights!

Specific gravity pre and post-boil

Specific gravity pre and post-boil

This recipe calls for 4 additions of Mt. Hood and Columbus hops throughout the boil and 1 addition in the keg as a dry-hop.

Into the hop bag they go.  The bag is a thoroughly washed 5 gallon nylon paint strainer available from any hardware or big box store.  Using this keeps the hops from clogging the plate chiller.

Boiling with the hop bag.  A  4" PVC coupling, some threaded rod and a few 1/4" nuts hold it in place.

Boiling with the hop bag. A 4″ PVC coupling, some threaded rod and a few 1/4″ nuts hold it in place.

After an hour of boiling, the wort runs through the plate chiller and into the bucket in which I’ll ferment this batch.

This batch will ferment in a clean food grade bucket.

This batch will ferment in a clean food grade bucket.

Pitch the yeast, cleanup, pour a pint and pat self on back for another successful day in the brewery!

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