Friday, December 04, 2009

Brewday: Sled Crash '09

Right. Way too many distractions at home. Way behind after Thanksgiving. So I've relocated to the Dray, got a nice glass of La Folie in front of me, and it's time to write.

It's been really nice here this last week, clear and crisp, cold but no rain. So it was time to get outside brew while the sun shines. Above is a photo I took yesterday while taking Ase for some walkies in the park. Of course they're forecasting it to get into the 20's tonight, maybe the teens with windchill.

Sled Crash is my annual Winter Ale, and is pretty special to me. My first proper brew ever, once I got serious about brewing, was Sled Crash '04. Brewed nearly six years ago to the day comes Sled Crash 09. The recipe evolves but at it's heart it is a standard NW Winter Warmer, a hoppier version of an English Old Ale.

Recently I've been working on cutting back on my crystal malts. I feel that in past years I've been overdoing it, and at high percentages crystal can give a bit of a caramel-sour taste that I'm not going for here. This year I added two biscuit malts to up the Englishness a bit, give it a bit of toasty-bready. Special B just for a little sumpin sumpin. Hops were just an ounce and a half of Cascade and some leftover Magnum and Nugget I had around. Yeast was Safale 04, the dry British yeast. This will be a starter for the next two beers: Buckwheat Honey Stout (on Nitro!) and round two of Triticus Maximus, my wheatwine.

One thing I did differently this time was I really got into the water chemistry. Seattle's water is pretty darn close to distilled, and while that's great for making Pilsners it needs some more buffering capacity if you don't want darker beers to over-acidify the mash. I used John Palmer's spreadsheet to calculate the mineral additions. It was actually pretty instructive, I ended up using four times more chalk than I normally would. It must have worked, I ended up getting exactly the gravity I calculated for, 75%. Not bad considering the problems I've been having in the previous batches.

Otherwise a largely uneventful brewday. Missed my target mash temp of 152, got 147-149. Two kettles of boiling water brought it to 153 pretty quickly. No prob. Also the knockout was cold, 163, but I blame the fact that it was 40 degrees out. So here's there recipe:

Sled Crash 09

5.25 gallons, All Grain
Est O.G. 1.073, Act O.G. 1.073
Est F.G. 1.017, Act probably 1.015
ABV 7.5%
21 SRM, 39 IBU

  • 9lbs US Pale
  • 2lbs Munich II
  • 8 oz Crystal 80
  • 8 oz Special Roast
  • 8 oz Victory
  • 4 oz Chocolate Malt
  • 2 oz Special B
  • 1/4 oz Magnum (Leaf, 14%) at 90
  • 1/2 oz Nugget (Pellet, 12%) at 90
  • 1/2 oz Cascade (Leaf, 5.5%) at 30
  • 1/2 oz Cascade (Leaf, 5.5%) at 15
  • 1/2 oz Cascade (Leaf, 5.5%) at 2
Mash Water Modification (for 3.8 gallons mash water)
  • 8 gm Chalk, 1 gm Baking Soda, 1 gm Kosher Salt, 1 gm Gypsum
  • Whirlfloc tablet at 15
  • 1 lb. Dark Brown Sugar at 15
  • 2 packets dry Safale 04
Mash in at 152-54 for 60 minutes. Knockout at 168 for 10. Collected 7.5 gallons, boiled 90 minutes, got pretty near 5.25 gallons. Fermenting away at ambient house temp, 65 degrees.

I had a request for some photos and explanation of my cooling setup, so here it is.

From Left to Right. Ball valve from the converted keg-kettle goes to a high-temp hose line into an NPT fitting in the Wort-In on the Shirron plate chiller. Below that is the Hot-Water-Out, connected to a short hose that drains the waste water. In the Summer I collect it and water the plants with it. Top Right is the wort-out, an NPT fitting that goes to a Blichmann Thrumometer to a hose with a spray tip and into the carboy. Below that is the Cold-Water-In, which has a plastic garden hose quick disconnect, so I can just click my hose right into it. The basic idea is that cold water and hot wort run past each other in opposite directions and separated by copper plates in the plate chiller.

On this day I had to really throttle the cold water end, almost to a trickle. The ground water is pretty cold right now and at first the Thrumometer was showing temps off the bottom of the chart (58). I'm planning to put a butterfly valve there at the connection so I can throttle it there, rather than having to run to the side of the house. But I got the 5 gallons cooled in about 8 minutes. In the summer I have to run the water full blast and throttle the wort valve to deal with warmer groundwater temperature.

UPDATE 12/14/09


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