This post is one in a series following six brewers collaborating to each make a small adjustment to a single recipe in order to improve it, then pass it along to the next brewer. We hope to learn more about the art of recipe creation as we see how other brewers approach the same recipe. The rest of the series can be found here.
Author: B. Crochet
My setup is a typical 3-vessel rig. I have an HLT, a 10 gallon cooler MLT, and a 20 gallon boil kettle. For this brew, I brought my strike water to 168°F and then transferred 4 gallons of water to the mash tun (which had been preheated with boiling water). I then mashed in with all the grains, hitting my target of 154°F. I then let the mash rest for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
While the mash was going, I heated the sparge water in my HLT to 180°F. After the 60 minute mash, I mashed out to a volume of 8 gallons in the MLT. I gave it a stir and let that rest for about 10 minutes.
After the rest, I started a vorlauf with a pump recirculating back into the mash tun. Then I proceeded to collect the sweet wort. I collected about 3 gallons, and then seemed to have a stuck sparge. Normally, I would have just stirred, vorlaufed, and restarted, but instead I added the rest of the water needed to collect 8 gallons of wort. I think I made an error here in that I didn’t let it rest at all—just vorlaufed and continued to collect wort. I did collect 8 gallons, but I think the gravity was far below my target. My refractometer showed a measured pre-boil gravity of 9.8 brix (1.039 SG). Unfortunately, here I just started the boil instead of calculating if this was too low for the pre-boil gravity.
Once the wort was at a vigorous boil, I added the first hops of 1 oz. of Nugget (12.4% AA), and set timers for my next additions. 15 minutes to the end of the boil, I added my chiller to the wort, and made sure it got back up to a boil. 10 minutes from the end, I added one teaspoon of Irish Moss, and with 5 minutes to go, I added 1 oz. of Willamette (3.8% AA).
The final volume of wort in the kettle was 6.75 gallons, and it finished at 11.1 brix (1.045 SG). At this point, I realized that the gravity was too low, but I felt that if I tried any sort of remediation it might throw off the results of this exercise, as I felt my options were to boil longer (and therefore extract too much bitterness from the hops, throwing off the bitterness of the final product) or add some DME strictly for gravity points (throwing off the recipe in general). I decided to just go with what I had and hope for the best. Looking back, I believe I either went too fast when sparging, or I didn’t scale the recipe well enough for my system.
I chilled the wort down to 70°F and started to collect the wort into the fermenter. I collected about 5.75 gallons. I then pitched the yeast, aerated the wort, and set it in a 68°F room. Fermentation activity was observed 12 hours later.
My impression upon opening and pouring Iteration 2 was that it was a little under-carbonated. Only a small head formed, with a light tan color. The aroma had some coffee notes and a bit of chocolate, just as a stout should. There was also a bready character that came through more as it warmed. The color was dark brown. I definitely tasted roasted coffee flavors. The hop character was very balanced, showing its presence, but not too bold to take over. The mouthfeel was pleasing. The aftertaste was a nice roastiness.
My biggest observation was that I did not think it was dark enough. I decided that switching the amount of roasted barley with the amount of the Victory would achieve the darker color, while still maintaining the character contributed by the Victory. The increase in roasted barley would also achieve a darker head as well—something that I find pleasing in a stout. I ended up with the following recipe:
- Mashed at 154°F for 1 hour
- 80% 2-row
- 10% roasted barley
- 5% Victory
- 5% Chocolate
- Boiled for 60 min.
- 1oz Nugget (60 min.) at 12.4% (47.7 IBUs)
- 1oz Willamette (5 min.) at 3.8% (2.9 IBUs)
- Pitched US-05
- OG: 1.045
- FG: 1.005
- ABV: 5.25%
- Kegged, then force-carbed with a carb-stone lid. Started at 4 PSI, then ramped up 2-3 PSI every couple of hours until reaching 12 PSI, then rested for 24 hours at 12 PSI
- After force-carbing, bottled with a counter-pressure filler
The biggest differences I could detect from the previous iteration were the color and the mouthfeel. The color is definitely darker than the previous iteration, so I achieved that aspect of what I set out to change. The mouthfeel was definitely thinner than I would have liked, and I attribute that to the lack of residual sugars in the beer. The head was a nice brown color, and the carbonation levels were more pleasing to me. The bready character from the last iteration was definitely more muted, considering the reduction in Victory malt. The coffee and chocolate notes were still present in the aroma, and the roastiness in the flavor was still present.
If I were to brew this beer again, obviously, I would make sure that I hit the target OG range of 1.054-1.056. But putting that aside, I think I would change the percentages of the roasted barley and Victory to be equal parts at 7.5% each with the goal of keeping more of the baking bread contribution of the Victory.
|Iteration 1||Iteration 2||Iteration 3|
|Base Malt 2-row||80%||80%||80%|
|Specialty Malt 1||10% Victory||10% Victory||5% Victory|
|Specialty Malt 2||5% Roasted Barley||5% Roasted Barley||10% Roasted Barley|
|Specialty Malt 3||5% Carafa III||5% Chocolate Malt||5 % Chocolate Malt|
|60 min. hop||Nugget: 47.7 IBUs||Nugget: 42.5 IBUs||Nugget: 47.7 IBUs|
|5 min. hop||Willamette: 3.6 IBUs||Willamette: 3.3 IBUs||Willamette: 2.9 IBUs|