Dawson's Multi-Grain

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My first attempt at an all-grain brew. (Spoiler: it didn't go well.)

Style Red Ale
Yeast WYeast 1335
Start Mar 23, 2013
Original S.G. 1.034
Final S.G. 1.020
ABV 1.9%
Last Update Jun 9, 2013

This started off bad and didn't really get any better. March 23 was our scheduled Big Brew Day in which several people come over, bring their equipment, and we make a lot of beer. I decided to try my first "brew-in-a-bag" all-grain beer. The first problem was that there was some three feet of snow on the ground (and on the decks), and it was a anti-balmy 0°C outside. BRRR.

The cold weather made it difficult for me to maintain the correct mash temperatures. Ideally I would have steeped my grains for an hour at 152°F (the "saccharification rest") followed by a ten minute steep at 170°F (the "mash-out"). I overshot the sacch temp by ten degrees or so, but I managed to hit 170 for the mash-out. The sixty-minute boil proceeded uneventfully. Chilling the beer was actually a bit quicker than usual (due to the cold, cold, cold ambient temperature). I had some clogging trouble while decanting the wort to the carboy. I need to get a screen for the interior pipe of the pass-through valve.

I ended up with ~6 gallons of wort (which is one gallon too many for the amount of grain I had). This, and the poor sacch rest, contributed to the low OG of 1.034 (the goal OG was 1.044). Next time, I will start with less water (I started with eight gallons here).

Oh, yeah, it gets better. I put the carboy (primary fermenter) in my office to try to maintain a 68°F fermentation - but the thermostat on the space heater must have gotten jostled because, the next morning, the office had risen to 80°F and the carboy was showing 78°F. The top of this yeast's range was 75°F so I'm sure some damage was done by having the beer spend the first half of its fermentation quite a few degrees above the optimal range.

In April I racked the beer to secondary (6 gallons into a 5 gallon carboy). I bottled the difference into three bottles and added a bit of priming sugar to each. A couple weeks later I chilled and opened one of the bottles. It was terrible! Neither my brother nor I could even finish a glass of it. I'm hoping that the extra eight weeks of resting in secondary mellows this beer out enough to be drinkable. (Side note: sxoidmal tasted it and actually liked it. I gave him the other preview bottle.)

Finally, today, I racked the remaining five gallons into a keg and am currently force-carbonating it. If it's not any better, I think I'm going to donate this keg to Vice City (along with the new Cream Ale) to see if they can trick some suckers con-goers into drinking it.

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