Sunday, June 17, 2012

Irish Red Ale

Earlier this month I visited a lot of new breweries popping up around northwest Arkansas with some friends and had a great time sampling and talking over some good pints.  In one of the pubs I actually ran into Andy from Basic Brewing Radio and owner of "The Home Brewery" local Fayetteville home brew shop.  I  talked with him for some time about brewing in general and I came to the realization that in general I brew high gravity beers and really haven't brewed that many beers that would be considered "session" beers.  In other words a beer that is relatively low in alcohol (3.5-4.5%) in which several can be drank in a "session" and still have some hope of driving home.  I still have at least one monster brew left on my to-brew list but I need to start practicing on brewing good session beers especially if I plan on opening up my own brewery one day.  So I decided to brew a style that I haven't brewed before and shoot for a session beer in the style of a Irish Red Ale.  Killian's Irish Red is really a lager and probably not a good example of the style but it is one that is well known.  Although the original recipe was an ale and dates back to 1864, the rights to the name was purchased by Coors in the mid 80's.  Coors just slapped the name on one of their lager recipes.  To me it is a decent beer if you can find it on tap.
Grains and Pre-heating the mash-tun
    I have two cats, Ronon and Rodney.  During brew day Ronon pays no attention and generally stays out of my way.  On the other hand Rodney (in picture above) gets into everything and drives me insane because he prefers to not only get in my way but lick all my sanitized equipment forcing me to re-sanitize and lock him in a room for the remainder of the day.  
    My strike temp for the mash was 163*F to hit a mash temp of 152*F.  I over shot the strike and waited to dump the grains in till it cooled to 163.  The mash temp really hit around 154-155 but I decided not to try to cool it off.  It ended spending most of the time between 151-153 anyways.  As with my recent recipes I targeted an efficiency around 65% and that seems to be giving me plenty of grain that I come close enough to my target O.G consistently.    
Left to Right: Beginning of Mash; End of Mash
I collected 8 gals in my boil kettle from the mash and sparge runnings.  I started the boil off using a propane tank that I only used on one batch.  So my thought was that it should be close to full, but even with the gas turned all the way up the flame wasn't enough to get a very good rolling boil.  So I ended up killing the boil and making a propane run.  The new tank worked out great though.   
Since my goal was to make a session beer all I needed to shoot for was an O.G of 1.045.  I boiled for 60 mins and hit an O.G of 1.047 with 6 gals at 72% efficiency.  That should put me around 4.5% ABV.  With Arkansas temps in the upper 90's it is very hard to chill the wort below 80*F even with a counter-flow plate chiller and ice-water.  So typically for an ale in the summer I chill for 15-20 mins which usually gets me in the low 80's.
Next Day
  Recently I've been preparing my equipment/brewing methods to be able to take on my next extreme high gravity brew.  I'm planning in the future to brew a beer akin to Sam Adam's Utopias (around 28% ABV) maybe by using freeze distilling and aging for a very long time.  I have several beers lined up before I take this monster on but I'm in the planning stages now.  
Pure O2 Through a Diffusion Stone
  One of the changes I'm employing is using pure O2 to oxygenate my chilled wort before pitching the yeast.  By injecting pure O2 through the wort with a diffusion stone I reduce the amount of time it takes to oxygenate to my wort (35-45 sec blast) and add a higher level and purer quality of O2 in the wort for the yeast.  This strengthens the cell walls of the yeast and allows for healthier and better prepared yeast in a high gravity environment.         

No comments:

Post a Comment