Sunday, February 16, 2014

#19 Irish Red Ale - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

Brewday 2/15/14:
It's always a relief when things go as planned, and today was one of those few instances.  I had to run a few errands before I could start brewing, and after yesterday's dry stout had so many mishaps I seriously considered just sleeping in and bagging the whole thing.  Thankfully I didn't.

Step one was to find parts to repair the immersion chiller, pickup some propane, and find some new brewing water.  Lately I've been using Seattle municipal water because it's unusually soft and I found a water report online that tells me exactly what I'm working with (I switched over from using well water because it's nearly undrinkable).  However this means I have to lug two plastic carboys back and forth between my brewing operations at the family "estate" and my apartment in the city.  It also means after brewing yesterday, I have nothing left.  As it turns out, Home Depot had everything I needed including some distilled water, but that meant I had to rework the water profile a bit.

After that things were uneventful.  I made sure to setup shop undercover so I wouldn't get drenched again.  Mash temps weren't perfect, but as close as can be hoped for with brew-in-a-bag.  I'm going to have to attribute some of the success to the Smithwick's I was drinking for inspiration (I have to admit I wasn't a fan, so hopefully mine turns out better).  Compared to yesterday, there's not a whole lot to report, so I'll just throw in more pictures.

Actually, there was one change that I forgot to mention yesterday.  It seems that the homebrew shop where I get my supplies has tightened their mill, so the grain I bought for the dry stout and this Irish red had a noticeably finer crush.  This makes the starches in the barley kernel more accessible to the mash water, increasing starch solubility and conversion.  The finer crush can also tear the husks in to smaller pieces which, in traditional mashing, can make lautering more difficult, but with brew-in-a-bag that's not an issue.  Moral of the story, I had much higher efficiency in these two beers, jumping from 55% brewhouse efficiency up to 65% which was nice, and definitely within the limits of the style.  After the mash, I had a bit more boil off than expected, so the final volume came out at 4.75 gal.  It wasn't off much, but between the high gravity and the already high hops (30 IBU), I decided to add a bit of top up water, bringing the volume to 5.25 gal.

Decanted and pitched the second of the Irish yeast starters (see dry stout notes for starter information) at 55F.  Placed in fermentation refrigerator with temperature set to 65F.

After 2 days, things are bubbling along nicely.  Temp bumped up to 68F to ensure it finishes strong.

Kegged at two weeks.  Tastes pretty good already, can't wait to try it carbonated!  It's a little bit darker than I hoped but as long as it tastes good that's all that really matters.

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