Monday, May 27, 2013

KGB Stout Brew Day!!

It's finally here! The KGB Stout brew day!!

I picked up the ingredients about a month and a half ago and I've been DYING to brew ever since.

All the grains before I crushed them.
So awesome to see the different colors and to think that each brings a different flavor to the party!

Here's all the ingredients: (click here for the final recipe, and to catch up on the full story of this brew in case you missed it)

Sorry it looks like we have no electricity -- either the flash on my phone did that,
or we forgot to pay our bill...

I was trying to work out another brew day with some friends, but it just wasn't working out. And since I had the time this holiday weekend, I just went for it.


Of course, I'm using that as an excuse to schedule another brew with the guys. At this point we're only limited by how many empty bottles we have to fill.

The first step was to heat up 4.5 gallons of water for mashing. I was aiming to mash (ie - steep the grains) at around 149* for 60 - 75 minutes, and since the temperature drops when you add the grains in you have to bring the water up about 15* above your target mashing temperature. That meant I needed my water around 165*, but since my setup loses more heat than it probably should I went just a touch hotter.

You want to make sure you don't go above 170*, though, as that will pull unwanted tannins out of the grains.
Once the water was up to temp, it was time to kill the heat and add the grains.

17.25 lbs of grain! Just about twice as much as last time!

The grains were packed so tightly in the bag that it took a few minutes to stuff everything down in the pot. (Note for anyone using this method for the first time -- go slowly (or maybe put the bag in the pot first and pour the grains into that). If you try to drop the bag in too fast the mash water might come shooting up at you.)

I bet this would make amazing granola bars!

I made sure to stir it around really well. I wanted as much sugar out of the grains as I could get!

I stirred the grains once about halfway through the hour-long mash, then I used the pulley I installed a few weeks ago to suspend the bag above the boil kettle to let the wort (sugar-water) drip out of the grains.


While the grains were dripping I heated up my first round of sparge water. (The sparge water is just more hot water that you run over the grains to pull whatever sugar was left behind.)


Here are my "first runnings" -- this is some seriously sugary water:



Since I got terrible efficiency during my first all-grain brew (in other words, I didn't get very much sugar out of the grains), I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to do better this time. So instead of doing one 3 gallon sparge, I decided to do two 1.5 gallon sparges.

Sparging in a bucket for about 10 minutes.

I used the pulley to let the grain bag drip after each step, and I squeezed it as much as I could (keeping in mind that it was about 150*).


Notice how big of a mess I was making? Yeah, I REALLY could've used a hand during this part. The grains alone weighed about 17 lbs, so the wet grain bag was probably around 30 or 35 pounds. It was too difficult to lift and hold with just my hands, so I knotted the bag and tied my nylon rope around the knot to lift it with the pulley. The only problem there was the nylon rope really dug into my hands, and it was just about impossible to hold it in place and tie it off all by myself.

That was when I got smart and left the bag tied up and used a step-stool to raise the bucket up enough to dunk the grains in the water. I'll definitely remember that in the future!


The gravity sample I took before adding in the liquid malt extract was 1.056 at 120*, which adjusts to 1.066. If I'm calculating it correctly, the maximum gravity I could have gotten out of the grains would have been 1.092, which puts me at about a 71% efficiency. Not the best, but definitely MUCH better!

Then it was time to get the boil going.


I made sure to have everything ready to go.

Just before the wort started boiling I cut the flame and added the extract and malto-dextrin. I always turn off the flame before adding liquid extract so it doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pot.

Then it was back to boiling. Notice how foamy it gets!







After adding the hops it was time to wait around for at least 45 minutes before the next addition, so I took the down-time to clean up and feed the baby.

Yep, I made him help me.

You call this fun?

Okay, I'm having a little fun I guess.

The BEST part about brewing in the garage is being able to make a mess and not worry about the cleanup. A quick spray with the hose and all the sticky stuff on the floor was gone!


After the boil finished I used the new wort chiller to cool it down to pitching temps (under 75*), pitched the yeast and sealed it all up. I didn't have time to grab any pictures because I had a very sleepy (read: fussy) boy on my hands.

I pitched two packets of yeast since this was a high gravity beer.

After getting my little helper down for a nap I went back and grabbed a sample to get a gravity reading. I was hoping for something over 1.100, and I came in at 1.103!


Depending on where this thing finishes, it will be 9.5 - 10% alcohol!

I ended up with right around 5 gallons in the fermenter. I lost some wort during the boil because it boiled over on me twice (while I was inside cleaning up and taking care of the baby), and I spilled a little trying to pour it into the fermenter, but I should still end up with around 50 bottles total.

All in all it was a crazy brew day, but it was relaxed at the same time if that's possible. I went into it just having fun with it. And since this is such a big beer, I could totally miss my numbers and still end up with a "normal" beer.

Plus, it was nice to brew my first batch with my little helper!

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