My process

UNDER TRANSLATION

Craft a recipe

There are many batches to brew. Especially if you’re new at brewing.

My ambition is to learn how to master a few base recipes in order to develop a small but solid portfolio. I want it to include a number of Americans, such as a pale ale, an IPA or two, a double IPA, an amber an a brown. I want the recipes to be  my own and I wish to have a constant supply of those base beers in my fridge. This means that I need to brew them fairly often both in order to develop the recipes and the techniques and also to keep the fridge full.

Then I want to try several other styles that I am curious about since I began brewing. These include porters and stouts, English ales, California Common (I always have a couple of Anchor Steam at home), blondes, whites and so on.

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If you’re an impatient person and still want to satisfy those two needs, you have to brew often. That’s why I have chosen to brew smaller batches than home brewing norm stipulates. From the beginning my equipment has been set up for 11 liter, or 3 gallon batches. Thus, I bought a 20 liter/5,3 gallon kettle and fitted a standard 20 liter cooler with a bazooka screen for my mash/lauter tun, and a bunch of 15 liter/4 gallon fermentation buckets. It was cheap, didn’t take up much space, and produced about 30 bottles of beer, which is far more than I need. There are so many commercial beers out there to be tested and enjoyed that I seldom enjoy my own beer. Actually, I only need a few bottles for evaluation of my recipes and process, and a couple of bottles to give away. 11 liters is quite sufficient.

This also means that I constantly have a handful of prioritized recipes in the pipe. And when I have decided one which one to brew I start to plan the brew session in detail by finalizing the recipe in BeerSmith.

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To do this I evaluate my previous recipes for that particular beer (if I have any), study recipes online and use a number of books, particularly Palmer and Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles.

If I use an external recipe I enter it into BeerSmith and scale it down to my equipment, and if I depart from one of my own I simple save it as a new recipe and make any desired changes. I usually brew on weekends so the planning has to be done way ahead so that I can order any required ingredients.

Preparations

Prepare the malt

I used to mill all my grains with a Corona. Adjusting the crush in a Corona is a bit tricky and requires some experience and washers, but it works fine.

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After about 75 batches I decided to invest in a Monster Mill 3.

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We have not gotten along perfectly though. Actually, the instructions for setting up the rollers could have been better. And due to the  construction of the hopper you need to remove when you wish to measure the distance between the rollers. Irritating. However, when it works it works well. It’s money well spent if you’re brewing 5 gallon batches every two weeks.

Prepare the water

I started treating my brewing water during my 12th batch. I can’t say that I’m fully immersed in the subject, or that I understand the chemistry, and I probably can’t determine whether a beer is made from untreated or treated water either. But since I’m interested in the history of the styles as well as their geographical connection, I fell that water treatment is an important part of the brewing process. I try to keep it simple though. First I depart from my own water profile (Ca 35, Mg 3,8, Na 10, SO4 36, Cl 12, HCO3 53). That’s the municipal water of half of Stockholm and is probably fine for brewing without treatment. I have entered that as a separate water profile in BeerSmith.

Here’s an example with a California Common. In Ray Daniels’ Designing Great Beers, the suggested water profile for that style is San Francisco water ca 1953 (Ca 36, Mg 25, Na 17, SO4 20, Cl 26, HCO3 80). It’s not a predefined profile in BeerSmith so I need to create it first. Then I ope the Water Profile Tool in BeerSmith:

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I start by selecting my Base Profile (1) in the Water Profile Tool, enter the desired water profile as the Target Profile (2) and let BeerSmith calculate the best additions (3) which gives me the general required additions in grams (4).

I can then save the additions to the target profile (5). This is how the new CC profile looks like after that:

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Then I can create a new recipe and simply add the required amount of the new CC profile to the recipe and let BeerSmith calculate the actual additions.

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I can even add the mash water and sparge water separately (the amounts are shown in the Brewsheet in BeerSmith) and let teh application calculate each addition. A suggestion to Brad is to implement that function in the software…

Then I prepare the additions for my mash and sparge water using my scales.

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A simpler way to treat water is to stick to two basic profiles like Tasty McDole does, one for dry, hoppy beers and one for maltier beers. This is particularly doable if you concentrate on American West coast styles like Tasty does. For example, his water profile for dry, hoppy beers stipulates a calcium level of 80 ppm and a sulfate level of 350 ppm. So all you have to do is to adjust for that and leave the other salts out of the equation (if you have a fairly healthy water to begin with that is).

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Early on I added the salt directly to the brewing water during heating. But since not all of them dissolve that easily and since you might need to adjust the mash temp with hot or cold untreated water, I began to add them to the mash and the boil instead.

Mash and lauter

In the beginning (i.e. several months ago) I mashed in a 20 liter/5 gallon cooler and sparge lautered in a double bucket lauter tun. I even tried mashing in a stainless pot that I placed in the oven at around 65-70 degrees C (works great BTW). I never got along with the lauter tun though. The results were inconsistent and it felt very amateurish. So I bought a Bazooka screen and installed it in the cooler and began batch sparging. And it works like a charm both because the consistency is much better and also because it allows me to separate the first and later runnings and to mix them as I please.

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However, I saw that many American home brewers used big, cool, orange, cylinder shaped coolers so eventually I bought one from the US and swallowed the shipping cost. I simply transplanted the Bazooka screen (which I might replace with a LauterHelix) and the ball valve, which I have since replaced with a proper one in stainless..

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I love this setup. Not only does it keep the temperature well and allow for larger batches, it also allows for brewing two to three reasonably large batches simultaneously by partigyling. And has a mash efficiency of 82 %. My method is to:

  • heat the strike water in my 20 liter/5 gallon HLT/BK while I’m preheating the MLT with boiling water
  • transfer the strike water to the MLT
  • add the salts and stir in the grain
  • measure the mash temperature adjusting it if necessary with boiling or cold water
  • measure the mash pH and adjusting it if necessary with Lactol or baking soda.
  • stir the mash a couple of times
  • heat the sparge water to 73 degrees
  • vorlauf and collect the first runnings
  • add the sparge water and wait 10 minutes
  • vorlauf and collect the second runnings
  • mix first and second runnings to achieve the correct amount and gravity of the pre-boil wort.

This is an easy way to do it and it gives you great control over the numbers.

Early on I didn’t realize the significance of controlling the specific gravity throughout the process. During my first batches the original gravity was way off, and I – stupid – thought that a higher OG meant a better beer. Many books for beginners doesn’t stress the importance of controlling the gravity during the brewing process, which I find peculiar. There seems to be a rather established attitude that the measuring of gravity is to measure “what was”, or “the way it turned out”. That is wrong. pre-boil gravity, specific gravity during the boil, original gravity and final gravity are target that you should hit in order to accomplish your recipe.

Admittedly, this is not trivial for the home brewer. Things will vary, like the grade of the crushed malt for instance. Also, as you constantly upgrade your system, parameters change. It takes a couple of batches with the same system setup to learn its performance.

My approach is to focus on gravity instead of volume. I don’t pour a specific volume of wort into the kettle – i pour a wort with a specific gravity into it. That means around 28 liters of pre-boil. If I get 30 liters from the sparge I can toss away 2 liters (no, not really) or save it for starters, or boil it all which means I have to recalculate the hop additions. Regardless, the volume is not important – the beer is.

Anyway, after full conversion (I measure it with Iodine) I open the valve on the MLT

 

När mäskningen är klar (jag har inte försökt få tag på jod ännu så jag går på tiden) så öppnar jag kranen (45 grader för att få ett ganska långsamt flöde) och recirkulerar ca 2 liter tills jag har en klar vört. Därefter låter jag det sköta sig själv i en 10-15 minuter tills mäsktunna är tom på vatten. Under tiden värmer jag lakvattnet till ca 85 grader.

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First runnings brukar bli 8-9 liter så ett 12 literskärl är lagom. Därefter ställer jag det åt sidan och slår på lakvattnet (med den andra hälften av mineralerna och salterna i), rör om och låter stå  10 minuter.

Under tiden mäter jag volym och SG på first runnings, vilket är det första steget i att kontrollera SG genom processen. Vörten är drygt 50 grader vid det här laget så jag mäter temperaturkorrigerat.

Därefter är det dags att extrahera second runnings på samma sätt. Recirkulera, låt rinna, mät SG.

När det är klart har jag två kärl med olika vört – en stark och mörk, samt en ljus och svag.

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När jag bryggde Batch 23 såg det ut så här:

First runnings:      V = 7,95 liter, SG = 1,056 @  55 grader (+ 13 GU) = 1,069
Second runnings: V = 6 liter, SG = 1,017 @ 60 grader (+ 16 GU) = 1,033

Total gravity för respektive mängd är alltså 548 (7,95 * 69) respektive 198 (6 * 33) 198.

Sammanslaget blir det 13,5 liter med TG 746 dvs SG lite drygt 1,053.

Nu gäller det att hamna på det SG som receptet anger. I det här fallet var det enkelt eftersom målet var 1,052. Jag kunde alltså utan problem slå ihop de två satserna utan att få ett för lågt SG. Jag kunde också hälla i lite vatten för att komma ner till målet, men eftersom skillnaden var så liten så struntade jag i det. 13,95 liter var också lite mer än vad BeerSmith hade räknat ut, närmare bestämt 1,6 liter. Förutom att det innebär (knappt) 5 extra flaskor i slutänden så innebär det också att jag kommer att bli tvungen att korrigera mitt humleschema innan koket, men det återkommer jag till.

Om jag däremot hade räknat ihop mina satser och hamnat under målet, t.ex. 1.046, så hade jag kunnat räkna ut hur mycket av den svagare vörten jag skulle hälla i den starkare vörten utan att få en för svag vört i slutänden. Jag skulle möjligen få lite mindre vört än jag räknat med, men skillnaderna ligger på 10% och det tycker jag är försumbart. Innan jag började med den här metoden så fick jag antingen acceptera en lägre densitet, vilket innebar att brygden inte skulle smaka som receptet avsåg i slutänden, eller tillsätta DME för att få upp SG, vilket dock inte skulle ge samma egenskaper som orginalmalten. Nu behöver jag aldrig hamna under SG. Det är bara att kontrollera hur jag blandar mina first och second runnings.

Boil

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Den blandade vörten slås i grytan och värms till kokpunkten. Under tiden mäter jag upp mina humlegivor.

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Ferment

 

Package

I’m a bottle kinda guy. I like bottles. So sue me. I don’t even mind the work. Its when I bottle that I feel the most artisan, like a local honey producer or cheese maker. Also, my batch size is so small that bottling isn’t much labor. 30 bottles are done within an hour.

I did get a small keg system a while back though, mostly to try it. Its a small 9 liter/2.5 gallon Cornelius keg with a Soda Stream tank and a picnic faucet. But its been sitting there, with a batch of Punk IPA clone in it.

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It took 7 months before I tried bottling from it, and surprisingly enough the beer was still carbonated and still tasted  great. So I built me a Poor Man’s BeerGun and bottled what was left in the keg. And it worked like a charm!

 

 

 

Så. Flaskningen går till så här.
Först ser till att ölet är 20 grader om det har varit kallcrashat.
Därefter iordningställer jag flaskor. Jag håller ett lager av tre flasktyper ute i mitt förråd: Longnecks, Heritage (som Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada och andra använder) samt flaskor från Anchor. Mitt och min grannes ölintresse skapar ett kontinuerligt tillflöde av flaskor vilka rengörs i ChemiPro och lagras i plastbackar från IKEA:

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Flaskorna decinficeras med StarSan i en flasktvätt och får rinna av på flasktorken medan jag förbereder primingen.

Först rackar jag ölen från jäskärl till ett rengjort och desinficerat tappningskärl med en desinficerad siliconslang.

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Om så krävs, till exempel om jag har torrhumlat i jäskärlet, sätter jag en strumpa av Saritatyg över änden på slangen. Därefter mäter jag mängden öl, förbereder primingen med socker och vatten, låter svalna en kort stund och slår sedan i det i ölet. Därefter fyller jag flaskorna från tappningskärlet med en flaskfyllare, kapsylerar och sköljer flaskorna.

En framtida investering är en Coronakapsylerare. De här trehundrakronorsvarianterna duger inte.

Slutligen får flaskorna kolsyrejäsa i två veckor i rumstemperatur innan de (får stå kvar i rumstemperatur pga kylskåpsbrist eller) ställs ut i ölkylen.

En framtida investering är en Coronakapsylerare. De här trehundrakronorsvarianterna duger inte.

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5 comments

  1. Vad trevligt att läsa kring dina bryggarerfarenheter. Håller själv på sedan en tid och är väl ungefär där du beskriver att du började, med mäsk i gryta och höga OGn. Ingen fullträff hittills, några drickbara dock. Spännande också med dina vattenprofiler, nåt att kolla upp ytterligare för mig tror jag. Håller till i Träkvista, så vi har väl samma vattentäkt antar jag.

    Lycka till!

    Jonas

    Like

      • SG kan man mäta när som helst. SG står för specific gravity och är densiteten vid ett givet mättillfälle. Sen finns det särskilda mätpunkter som har egna beteckningar, t.ex. original gravity OG som är SG efter kok/innan jäsning, och final gravity FG som är SG efter jäsning. Jag tar även flera SG-mätningar i samband med lakning och innan kok så att jag vet vad jag häller i kokkärlet. Gustav Lindh kallar pre-boil densiteten för BG vill jag minnas. Men det förekommer säkert en mängd olika uttryck för dessa saker där ute. John Palmer pratar t.ex. om pre-boil kontra post-boil OG. Det viktiga är att följa densiteten genom processen.

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