Wednesday, October 6, 2010
SR5/JDP2/FW1: Three beers and one long day
Saturday was a long day. It was a good day. A lot of beer was made and bottled on Saturday, but it was a long day.
Initially, I planned to bottle SR5 on Saturday. Just a quiet few hours sipping beer and bottling my wet hop IPA. No muss, no fuss.
Then I found out my buddy Andy got a homebrew kit, so I decided to go ahead with the next version of the JD Project and show him how to brew a batch of beer. I needed to do this anyway if I'm going to have the recipe worked out by the time the bourbon barrel is ready. Not a big deal though. Because I'm still tinkering with the American Scotch Ale recipe, I only make 2.5 gallon half batches.
A small batch of beer and then some bottling; eh, it'll be busy, but easy.
Then I got an email from my buddy Mike Roy. Turns out he's having trouble firing his kettle at the brewpub and is giving away wort before he has to dump it out. Well shit, I'm not going to turn down free wort. It's the most expensive part of the brewing process. Besides, it's for a stout, a style I enjoy, but haven't made yet. So last Thursday, Savannah and I headed over to Franklin's with my carboy. The catch was I needed to get it reboiled and fermenting as soon as possible. That meant adding it to Saturday's to-do list.
So what was to be an easy bottling day turned into a double brew day and bottling. Good thing I had an extra pair of hands. Andy was also good enough to shoot all the photos for this post. His camera is exponentially better then mine.
Let's start with JDP2. I cut 2.5 pounds of extract from the recipe, as well as the brown sugar. I kept the secret ingredient (rye), the crystal malt and added smoked malt. The subtraction of the extract made a huge difference in the O.G. JDP1 started out with a monster O.G. of 1.130, while JDP2 came in at a more manageable 1.066. Frankly, I think that might be a bit too low, so the brown sugar might return in the next batch. I'm also very curious about the smoked malt. I was concerned that it would dominate the flavor, but when I tasted the wort, I could barely detect it. As the beer ferments and the sugars are processed, the smoke flavor might come through a bit better. Otherwise, I'll increase the amount next time.
Speaking of JDP1, I entered it into a homebrew contest a few weeks ago. The contest was part of the inaugural D.C. State Fair. The whole thing felt a bit thrown together (I had to leave the competition to run and get the judges some cups to use), and I knew JDP1 was far from being perfect. Still, it was an opportunity to have a few unbiased opinions. The good news was, the judges picked up that it was a scotch ale. The bad news, they thought it was too boozy and sweet, both of which I knew. Next year, I'll be better prepared for the contest. Hopefully, the organizers will be, too.
In addition to JDP2, Andy and I worked on the wort Mike gave me (FW1: Free Wort 1). Because it was free, I screwed around a little with it. Rather than finish making a stout, which I would have done if I were starting from scratch, I decided to do an espresso milk stout, a cafe con leche stout, if you will. I also decided to punch up the alcohol percentage a bit. The wort was at 1.050 when Mike gave it to me. By the time I was done, the O.G. was up to 1.072. This was a result of adding an extra half pound of pale dry extract and reducing about a gallon of the wort by half to concentrate the flavors. I also added a quart of espresso and half a pound of lactose. All of this was on top of Mike's original grain bill of maris otter, crystal 120, roasted barley, chocolate malt, black patent and carafa III.
Generally, I feel pretty good about all of this. However, the wort had a slightly sour flavor when I was done with it. Now, I don't know if this was a result of the espresso or the lactose, neither of which I've worked with before, or reducing the wort as much as I did. As long as it's not an infection and gone by the time I bottle, I'll be happy. Still, I'm worried that the two days the wort had to sit before I could boil it again might have damaged it. We'll see.
Finally, there was the bottling of SR5, the dry hopped, wet hop, single hop IPA. That beer smelled fantastic. The color was a beautiful light orange and should be great by the time I crack into it on Halloween. I am starting to rethink the use of whole hops for dry hopping. It's a pain in the ass to scoop out the hops before bottling and I'm always concerned that I'm adding extra particulate to the beer. For my next IPA, SR6, I think I'll try using pellets and a hop bag.
Now it's back to waiting. I'll bottle JDP2 and FW1 next weekend and open them up in early November, a week or so after SR5. Hopefully, juggling so many projects in a single day didn't result in me screwing up all three of them.