Friday, May 20, 2011

NCBB Double Ale

Good evening beer lovers,

It was quite a day on Saturday, May 14th as I embarked on my first solo brewing adventure.  Not that brewing solo is a big deal, really, but I've always thought of brewing as a communal thing and doing it alone seemed to go against my inclinations.  Regardless of this, I decided it was high time I try this on my own so I did. (in the photo to the left I'm enjoying a NCBB Heavy Mellow Stout)

My adventure started on Friday the 13th when I headed out to purchase a new brew kettle.  MoreBeer had a modified brewing kettle - heavy duty (32 Quart/8 Gallon) on sale and even though HopTech is my home brew place of choice I couldn't pass up the great deal.  Sean at MoreBeer couldn't have been more helpful and I decided to get my ingredients while there.  Their set up is different from HopTech's in that it is DIY and HopTech will measure out the goods for you.  There's something graduated about the process - meaning - you gotta be a big kid to know what you're doing at MoreBeer, but the downside is that their malts are pre-measured as are their hops so for someone like me who likes to press the edges when brewing (I don't like to stick to recipes) I'd end up with extras.  In the case of this batch I now have Mt. Hood and Northern Brewer hops that I'll need to add to the next recipe (I guess a good problem to have).

The beer I decided to take on this time was a Double Ale ala The Pike Brewing Company's Tandem Double Ale.  My wife and I spent a few days in Seattle and I really enjoyed this beer when visiting the brewery.

So, I bought...
8.00 lb Pale Malt Extract

2.00 lb Munich Malt
1.00 lb Wheat Malt
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt
0.25 lb Roasted Barley

0.75 oz Northern Brewer (60 min)
0.50 oz Northern Brewer (0 min)
0.75 oz Mt. Hood (15 min)
0.50 oz Mt. Hood (0 min)

0.50 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 min)

1.00 lb Candi Sugar, Clear

1 Pkg Belgian Ale (White Labs #WLP550) Yeast-Ale
Irish Moss
I was psyched to use my new kettle since I could do a full boil.  I had been reading about using filtered or bottled water so I thought I'd try filtering some water.  After getting three gallons done (in my Brita pitcher) I said to heck with it and added the remaining three and a half gallons to the kettle.  My water tastes great out of the tap, but I plan to build a brew filter for future batches anyhow.  My goal is to leave nothing to chance.
After I got the water up to 150 degrees I added the grain bag.  I was instructed to keep the water at 150 degrees by Sean at MoreBeer.  I steeped the grains for 60 minutes.
Next up was the malt extract.
I added the first round of hops (Northern Brewer - 60 minutes).
I added next round of hops (Mt. Hood - 15 minutes).
With ten minutes left to go I added the Belgian candi sugar.

Ground coriander seed went in with five minutes left.
Then it was time to chill the wort.

Once I reached a little under 75 degrees I aerated the wort into the carboy and pitched the White Labs #WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast.
During the brewing process I kept cleaning bottles in an effort to make the bottling process a few weeks from now easier.
Since this was my first time not using a Wyeast smack pack I wasn't sure what to expect (in terms of fermentation).  My experience was that fermentation started fairly quickly.  I actively watched the carboy for the next few hours.

The next morning I got up and there was little activity.  I was worried.  Had I botched my first solo flight?  I went online and read and felt a little better knowing that these things take time and with brewing (and life) patience is a virtue.
Sure enough, less than 24 hours later and fermentation was going strong.  I put the airlock on and felt good to go!

Well, a few hours later (after returning home from a party) fermentation was going CRAZY. The activity on this one is HUGE. Glad I set this one up with a blow off tube (Thanks to Doug G I did on this beer based on my concern of the sugars taking off).

I'm nearly a week in on this brew - one more week left in the primary and not sure if I will go secondary or not.  I've read pros and cons - thoughts?
I'm hoping to brew my next solo batch in the next week or so.  We'll see how that goes.

Thanks for reading!


Mark Harvey

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