Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dark Night

I set out this morning to brew my third (and most likely final) batch of beer to be fermented on my Bugfarm III yeast cake from Al B of the Burgundian Babblebelt forums. After doing a Flanders Red inspired brew and a Sour English Brown, I wanted to do something REALLY DARK, and REALLY STRONG. Having had crappy luck with the efficiency on my mash tun since I built it, I generally haven't set out to do anything over about 1.060. Even a couple of the 1.060 beers had to have a shot of dry extract to up the gravity a bit before I got a handle on just how poor my efficiency had been. Well, that's all changed now. I fixed my mash tun before my last brew day (under a week ago!) Nonetheless, I didn't set out to do anything super crazy like a barleywine or anything.

If I had to pick a favorite brewery out of everything I've tried from the US, it'd have to be Jolly Pumpkin, hands down. (For the record, we don't get Russian River distributed here. Nor have I gotten my hands on any Lost Abbey yet, among others. This, of course, needs to change, but that's for another day and another post. . .) I started with a recipe based off of JP's Madrugada Obscura, which is a Belgian inspired stout w/ brett clocking in at just over 8% abv. From there, I upped things a bit, shooting for closer to 10%. With all my recent mash tun issues, I wasn't holding my breath on actually hitting anywhere near the mid-1.080s.

After giving my mash a good 90 minutes, I had sparge water heating up and got ready to drain the mash tun, I opened the ball valve and. . . nothing. The grist was ground a little finer than usual, and something gummy had gotten through the false bottom and actually plugged up the ball valve. In the end it wasn't as big a deal as I was worried it'd be. With my wife's help we poured the entire mash into the kettle, unstuck and rinsed out the tun/valve, and dumped everything back in. A bit of vorlauf and everything went fine. I *did* have to heat up new sparge water since we dumped it to free up the big kettle, but it wasn't a problem. That said, I'm going to see if I can fine some appropriate screen at the hardware store to cut to match the false bottom to give it a finer mesh in the future.

Everything went smoothly from there out, although the boil was longer than usual since I used a higher water/grain ratio than usual (1.4qts/lb.) In the end, my final gravity reading really surprised me! I ended up with a 1.105 batch of beer!

I racked my Sour English Brown into a secondary carboy and pitched this new (and taste, I might add) wort onto the Bugfarm yeastcake. I've gotta admit though, I'm still debating boiling a bit more water to dilute it a bit. Between the 20+ sacch, brett, lacto, pedios, and even kombucha, I don't doubt that it has the capability to take this one down relatively low, but I'm still just floored it ended up this much higher than I expected! Jolly Pumpkin's Madrugada Obscura is 8.1% abv, I was shooting for around 10% and now my expected abv is in the 11.5-12% range! I'm going to sleep on this decision. I don't think it'll hurt it too much, should I decide to boil/add more water if I wait until tomorrow at this point. In the meantime, here's the recipe:

Dark Night

brewed on: 2/14/10
expected OG: 1.085
actual OG: 1.105
IBUs: 34
mash temp: 150F

9 lbs Belgian pilsener malt
2 lbs UK roasted barley
2 lbs US 2-row malt
1.5 lbs german Munich malt
1.25 lbs Belgian pale wheat malt
9 oz US Crystal 80L malt
5 oz debittered black malt
2oz German melanoidin malt

in boil (diluted in a bit of boiling water on stove, then added to boil):
12 oz turbinado sugar
7 oz honey
5 oz table sugar
5 oz brown sugar

0.6oz US Nugget @ 13.5%
1.5oz UK Fuggles @ 4%

Al B's Bugfarm III

Ferment at ambient temp (mid-60s F)

2/16 - Craziest primary ferment I've had. The airlock is going crazy, even in a bucket that I'm pretty sure normally has little leaks in the lid seal. The temp is 6-8F higher than the ambient room temperature in our living room as well, whereas most buckets I have going out there get maybe a couple degrees higher tops! The difference is great enough that the bucket actually feels warm to the touch.

2/17 - Temp up to 74F. Moved to basement (Ambient temp 62F.)
2/22 - SG @ 1.040. Sample has a slight sourness bordering on fruity that is offset by the flavor & mouthfeel of chocolate syrup.
3/23 - SG @ 1.32. Sample is *very* sour, but the thick body and sweetness balances it. There is an intense chocolate taste that feels completely separate from the sourness to me, but I think the added oak (later) and time will bring these competing elements together while it ages.
5/1 Topped off with a little under a gallon of wort for the 'Archaic' dark strong I brewed.
5/18 1.033 aroma: chocolate, sour, hints of roasted coffee; taste: dark fruit, tart, chocolate, roasted coffee
8/22/10 - SG: 1.017 aroma: roasted coffee. flavor: roast, tart, chocolate, coffee

add French & Hungarian oak?

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