While I’ve developed a trend of posting an update every 4-6 months since I became a father in 2016. I’d like to try a different type of post that may help me post on The Brewed Palate more often. Hence the name of this post…One way to become a better homebrewer is to keep meticulous notes of each brew day in order to correct mistakes and or replicate a recipe that turned out great. In turn, while this post is in essence another “update”, its format will reflect what future posts (specifically ‘Brew Logs’) will look like. Though I should note that many of my homebrewing experiences have involved recovering from a step or 2 of the brewing and or fermentation process that did not go to plan. So I will try to include thoughts on those experiences as well. Cheers!
Brew Log – November 2019
Zing of Nostalgia – Green Tea and orange blossom honey base w/ ginger and lemon zest added.
- Batch size: 3 gallons
- Honey: Orange blossom – 10.25 lbs OG 1.110
- Yeast: Lalvin D47 (Nutrient schedule as per TOSNA calculator)
- Green Tea – 17.5 tbsp whole leaf (Stash tea)
- Ginger – .33 lb / gallon in primary -> Ended up almost doubling in secondary
- Lemon Zest – 1 lemon / gallon steeped for 2.5 weeks in secondary
- FG 1.000 -> backsweetened in secondary to 1.015
- When I took my post-primary fermentation gravity sample I wasn’t sure whether I was tasting ginger or yeast character so I spoke to a fellow mead maker and he recommended that I add some honey to the sample to see if I could still pick out that flavor and I couldn’t. I also couldn’t taste the green tea, but I reasoned that green tea has mild flavor characteristics anyways so this didn’t bother me as much. When I racked the mead to secondary I added almost the same amount of ginger that I did in primary which lead to the mead having a very powerful ginger character, which I hoped that the backsweeting and lemon zest would tame.
- After 2 weeks on the extra ginger I racked the mead off the ginger, stabilized it, and after 2 days backsweetened it to 1.015 with more OB honey. I then put the zest of 3 lemons into a muslin bag with a sterilized metal straw a weight. I also used unwaxed/unflavored dental floss to suspend the lemon zest in the middle of the mead. After 2.5 weeks I tasted the mead and was happy with the lemon zest flavor in the mead and removed it. I then let the mead bulk age for about 2-3 months before bottling it on 11/2/19.
- When I drank a glass of the mead after I finished bottling, the ginger was still very strong. However, when I opened my first bottle at a bottle share on 11/6/19, the mead tasted more balance. Most likely due to the fact that it was served chilled (in a refrigerator all day at work and taken to the bottle share in an insulated bag).
Bies Please! – Blueberry Melomel aged on vanilla beans (started 8/7/19)
- Batch size: 5 gallons
- Honey: Clover – 15.25 OG 1.110
- Yeast: Red Star Premier Rouge (Pasteur Red) (Nutrient schedule as per TOSNA calculator)
- Blueberries – 13 lbs Costco organic frozen blueberries in primary / 12 lbs in secondary
- 5 vanilla beans added in secondary / 1 vanilla bean added in tertiery
- FG 0.998 -> backsweetened in secondary to 1.015 with a combination of dark brown sugar and clover honey
- Sparkalloid used help clear the mead
- This mead was made for a homebrew club event that pitted high gravity against low gravity beers and meads and I only had 2 months to get it from raw ingredients and into bottles. Therefore, when I was assigned standard strength mead I chose to tweak a recipe from Mead Made Right database based on my previously successful mixed berry melomel.
- Primary fermentation – 4 weeks / Secondary Fermentation – 2 weeks / Stabilization and “bulk aging” – about 2 weeks / Bottled just in time for the event on 10/6/19
- While I was unable to attend the event I was able to get someone to pour for me and I recieved a lot of positive feedback after the event. Thankfully the blueberries and backsweetening added enough volume that only with the leftovers from the event, I have more than even of this mead to age and enter into competitions.
- When I make this recipe again I may stabilize before adding the second portion of blueberries in order to achieve a more jam-like flavor profile. I’ll probably also add more pectic ensyme at that point too, as I felt that the secondary blueberries didn’t break down as much as I would have liked.
Gorbachev’s Gift 2019 (Imperial Stout) – Brewed 11/24/19
14 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
1 lb Flaked Barley
1 lb Flaked Oats
1 lb Crystal/Caramel 120L
1 lb Roasted Barley
1 lb Chocolate Malt
12 oz Brown Malt
8 oz Carafa III
1 lb 2.3 oz DME
2 lb Dark Brown Sugar (primary)
1 oz Chinook @ 80 minutes
2 oz East Kent Goldings @ 20 minutes
1 oz Centennial @ 10 minutes
0.75 oz Chinook @ 10 minutes
1 smack pack each of Wyeast 1056 and 1098
Batch Size: 5.5 gallons Estimated Brewhouse Efficiency: 65% (lowered from 68% after brew day)
- Out of the 3 big beers that I brew annually my imperial stout aka Gorbachev’s Gift has been the hardest to brew.
- Because I wanted to see if managing the mash pH would ensure that I would achieve better mash efficiency than in years past I mashed all of my grains together (instead of adding the dark grains in later). I was able to raise the mash pH to 5.32, but as in years past my runnings at 7 gallons were 12 points lower than expected with my estimated brewhouse efficiency set at 68%. In addition, runnings that I collected afterwards had a gravity of 1.050 (post mashout/batch sparge) i.e. much higher than they should be…
- I took about half a gallon of the extra runnings and boiled them down to 3 cups in order to boost color and gravity. I also decided to use the about of DME listed above rather the then 2 lbs in my original recipe because I realized that I didn’t need to shoot for an overall OG of 1.122.
- OG prior to added the 2 lbs of dark brown sugar 3 days after pitching my starter was 1.092 at 5.7 gallons. My Beersmith calculated overall OG was 1.109.
- When the krausen dropped after the first week I panicked (unnecessarily), roused the yeast and eventually raised the fermention set temp to 21.5C (70.7F).
- My FG was 1.018 (almost 12% abv) due to my low (150F) mash temp and the brown sugar. Next year I’ll definitely mash at a higher temp to make my FG close to 1.025.
- While the beer was fermenting (3 weeks) I soaked 4oz of medium toast oak cubes in Four Roses small batch bourbon. When it came to racking to secondary I added the cubes, 1/4 cup soaking bourbon, and just under 1/2 cup “fresh” bourbon. In addition, to dark the color of the beer I steeped 8oz of Carafa III malt in 3 cups of water, resulting in about 1.25 cups of cold brewed wort, which I poured into my secondary carboy prior to racking along with the aforementioned additions.
- I plan on bulk aging this beer for at least a month proir to bottling it using dark brown or demerara sugar and CBC-1 yeast.
Bonus: Outrageous Accent braggot
I decided to boil and then combine half a gallon of extra runnings with 1.5 lbs of wildflower honey and ferment it with a packet of Safale US-O5
- OG 1.092 FG 1.017 ABV 9.84%
- Because I wasn’t a huge fan of the post-primary (3 weeks) taste I decided to rack the braggot to secondary with 2oz of cocoa nibs and 0.45oz french oak chips. I’ll age it for a week and then bottle it.