Thursday, August 16, 2012

I finally got around to brewing a Kölsch kit that I had got from Northern Brewer a while back. Of note here is the first us of my converted keg boiler and DIY wort chiller.

Click image to uncrop and embiggen.
Style Kölsch
Yeast WYeast 2565
Original S.G. 1.047
Current S.G. 1.011
ABV 4.8%

This was an extract kit so the ingredients and process were simple (1# dry malt extract, 6# malt syrup, two types of hops). The trick to a Kölsch is it's somewhat longer, cooler fermentation. Unfortunately, it got warm again so I'm probably going to be fermenting it too warm. I don't think this will ruin it but it won't end up quite like I'd hoped.

One of the things I wanted to do with this was a try a full boil in my converted keg boiler (literally an old, discarded, half-barrel keg that I cut the top off, welded some legs onto, and installed an output valve into). While the boiler worked just fine, the propane burner I had was underpowered. It took three hours to get 6.5 gallons of water to a light boil. I am going to have to look into getting a more powerful burner if I want to do this again.

Also, the converted keg has a volume around 15 gallons which is way more than I need for making 5 gallon batches. Oh well, as the Subgenius say, too much is always better than not enough. (Except that since it's so wide, with only a few gallons of wort there isn't enough depth to float my hydrometer. I still needed to decant wort into my hydrometer's cylinder to get a readying. Do they make shorted hydrometers? I can't see why not. Though the resolution probably isn't as fine.)

The other interesting thing is that I used my DIY wort chiller for the first time. It's 50' of 3/8" copper tubing with two hose adapters on the end. I guess it worked pretty well. It didn't leak and it cooled the wort down a lot faster than any other method I could have employed. (The keg wasn't going to fit in my sink.) Since it's made of relatively thin tubing it's a little janky. I just have to be a little careful not to kink it.

Because of the poor power of the propane burner the whole process took over 5 hours. But in the end I had five gallons of wort; which is now bubbling away in my basement. O.G. 1.047 @ 68

[Update Tuesday, August 28] Primary fermentation was pretty much done having expended itself, IMO, too quickly. The recipe calls for a maximum optimum temperature of 64°F for the kind of WYeast I used. Actual temperature ranged from 72°F to 77°F (it got unseasonably hot here at the end of August). On reflection, I should have used the dry Safale US-05 Ale Yeast because its optimum range extends to 75°F. I'll try to pay more attention to that in the future.

In any case, I racked it into secondary and took a gravity measurement (1.011 at 77°F => 1.012). It should be, at this point, 4.7% ABV which is just about fine. I'm hoping the 2-4 weeks spend in the secondary will help mellow some of its flavors or it will be a little difficult to drink.

[Update Tuesday, October 2] After five weeks in secondary I finally kegged this beer. Final gravity reading was 1.010 @ 71°F, with an alcohol yield of 4.8%. The flavor of the Kölsch is significantly different than it was five weeks ago. It's surprisingly light but there's still something a little off. With some bubbles and some chill I'm sure it will be JUST FINE when serve it at my Halloween party.

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